Gertrude Astor — She Outgrew Stardom (1927) 🇺🇸

Gertrude Astor — She Outgrew Stardom (1927) |

October 28, 2023

That, in a manner of speaking, is exactly what happened to Gertrude Astor.

by Ivan St. Johns

Gertrude Astor has beauty, acting ability and experience. Time and again, since she went into motion pictures back in 1913, she has been considered for great roles to which she seemed eminently suited. She has made tests for all sorts of pictures. And in Hollywood they consider her one of the best troupers who ever put on a make-up. She has a big following among the fans.

So you see in many ways she has been qualified for a chance at stardom. During the six years she was with Universal, she was featured in serials and in comedies and she played a few leads. But that was all.

Of course I didn't understand about all this. I had always admired her work and her statuesque blonde beauty. Once in a while when I'd see her at an opening or a party, I'd sort of say to myself, "I wonder why she never got to be a star."

Then a few nights ago, me and the girl friend happened in to see a picture called The Taxi Dancer. Joan Crawford was the star, dainty and alluring, but the great performance of the piece was that given by Gertrude Astor. She was cast as a contrast for Joan, with an ugly make-up and a hard-boiled characterization, and yet for all that her work stood out as vivid and clean-cut as a pine tree against a mountain top.

And the old question revived in my mind.

So when I bumped into her a few days later in the Hollywood Plaza, which is the equivalent for the famous Algonquin in New York, I decided I'd ask her about it. We got oft in a corner of the lobby all by ourselves — like the Algonquin, the Hollywood Plaza will eventually show you at least half the interesting people in town — and I asked her.

"Why haven't you ever had a chance to star?" I said. "Or at least why haven't you had a real chance at some big parts:"

She got right up off the davenport and stood erect, very haughty and dignified, and gave me a glance that seemed half indignant and half reproachful.

I thought she was going to walk out on me without any further explanation. But she didn't, she just stood, looking at me.

I didn't know exactly what to say, so I got up, too. and then she laughed.

"I was just trying to show you why," she said. "It's my height. I'm too tall. I'm five feet seven and a half inches tall. And that is just three inches too tall to play opposite almost any star in this business.

"If I were a star there aren't two leading men I could get to play opposite me.

"Of course I don't say I could have been a star. But I'm sure I could have had a chance at it if it hadn't been for my height.

"Sometimes I wish I hadn't 'growed’ quite so much. I outgrew stardom, I guess."

Of course there isn't really anything to feel exactly sorry for Gertrude Astor about. She is one of the props of the industry. She's one of the people you always see playing the difficult roles, the big character parts. And her salary is as big or bigger than many leading women's. She has an assured position, and as a matter of fact it may last longer than that of lots of the pretty, fluffy little girls who star for a day and then wither away. Gertrude Astor can go on indefinitely, because she has brains and ability.

But — but I don't know. I got a tear out of it, somehow. I just had a feeling that there were a lot of nights when she'd heard the old verdict of, "Sorry, Miss Astor. We did want you, but you're too tall," that Gertrude Astor cried into her pillow.

Gertrude Astor — She Outgrew Stardom (1927) |

Gertrude Astor — beautiful and clever, but just three inches too tall to be a star

What they say while the camera grinds: "My God, my flask!"

Illustration by: McNerney

Gertrude Astor — She Outgrew Stardom (1927) |

Collection: Photoplay Magazine, July 1927