Tag Archives: novels

Forget Fabio

This photo of John Gilbert was taken by MGM photographer Ruth Harriet Louise.

This photo of John Gilbert was taken by MGM photographer Ruth Harriet Louise.

Is it any wonder that the protagonist in THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER: A Modern Gothic Romance is a John Gilbert look-alike?  John Gilbert should replace Fabio on the cover of romance novels.



La Boheme (MGM, 1926)


"Mimi" reads "Rudolphe's" play.
   John Gilbert played “Rudolphe” and Lillian Gish played “Mimi” in the 1926 MGM silent film, LA BOHEME.  The producers at MGM were so eager to get Lillian Gish to star in the film that they allowed her to choose the cast.  She picked John Gilbert, Renee Adoree, and Karl Dane because she was impressed with their performance in THE BIG PARADE (MGM, 1925). 
   The film differs from the novel and Puccini’s opera in that Lillian Gish portrays “Mimi” as innocent, virginal, and selfless.  The “Mimi” described in Henri Murger’s novel is quite the opposite.
   Lillian Gish took the part so seriously that she prepared herself for the death scene by going without food and water for three days.  The scene was convincing enough to alarm the director, King Vidor, who had also directed THE BIG PARADE.
   The DVD is available at Warner Brothers (WarnerArchive.com). 



John Gilbert plays a master of escape (like Houdini) and a master of disguise in THE PHANTOM OF PARIS (MGM, 1931).  The film is based on the novel CHERI-BIBI, by Gaston Leroux, who also wrote THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  Leatrice Gilbert Fountain loaned me this photo years ago to publish when I was editing the John Gilbert Society Appreciation newsletter.


This is the dust jacket of a small copy of THE MERRY WIDOW novel, which was made into a film, starring John Gilbert and Mae Murray in 1925.  The fly leaf reads “THE MERRY WIDOW; A NOVEL FOUNDED ON FRANZ LEHAR’S OPERA AS PRODUCED BY HENRY W. SAVAGE.”

The book was published by The Readers Library Publishing Company LTD. in London, England.  The “Editor’s Note” includes a brief history of THE MERRY WIDOW as an on-stage musical comedy and pays homage to the 1925 film version.  The novel does not include movie stills. It is old and fragile and probably dates to 1925.

However, I have a larger photoplay edition (A. L. Burt Company in New York) that’s missing a dust jacket but includes four movie stills.