In the early days of Hollywood, Gloria Swanson (March 27, 1899--April 4, 1983) was the biggest movie star in the world. She was born in Chicago to Adelaide and Joseph Swanson.
In 1914, Swanson landed her first acting job at just 15 as an extra in 'The Song of Soul.' She later landed a contract with Paramount Pictures in 1919, which resulted in leading silent film roles in hits like 'Don't Change Your Husband,' 'Male and Female,' and 'Something to Think About.' By 1926, and with tons of experience under her belt, she was the undisputed queen of the screen, receiving 10,000 fan letters a week, earning around $30,000 a month. She was dubbed the "movie stars of all movie stars" by legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, with whom she worked often.
Her romantic life, on the other hand, was nowhere near as successful, having married six separate times throughout her life. But it was her third marriage in 1925 to French nobleman Marquis Henri De la Falaise that transformed her into genuine European aristocracy.
In 1927, Swanson became an independent producer at United Artists, making and starring in her own films. She would later partner with the notorious Joe Kennedy, a brash 37-year-old Wall Street millionaire. It was a disastrous decision, both commercially and personally, eventually ruining her marriage to the Marquis.
She would marry three more times in her life. But by the end of WWII, her star had waned. She did, however, score a surprise hit later in her career with the 1950 film, 'Sunset Boulevard,' where she portrayed Norma Desmond, an aging movie star that falls in love with a young screenwriter.
Swanson continued her acting career at a slower pace by starring in a few more films, theatre, and television productions throughout her life. In 1983, she died of a heart ailment.