The shorthand version is her talent never translated.
This promo photo shows Ukrainian actress Anna Sten, who's someone we've talked about before. She was a big star in Europe, but an inability to conquer her heavy accent curtailed a ballyhooed attempt at Hollywood success. It's a story with a fascinating footnote, which we talked about here. The image dates from 1932.
They only have eyes for you.
We were researching our recent post on fascist-era femme fatale Isa Miranda when we stumbled across fourteen sets of eyes from some of the most famous starlets of the 1930s. They were on a Brazilian fashion blog (seemingly defunct, since it hasn’t been updated for more than a year), and we gather they came from a book—Fashion at the Time of Fascism—which we’d love to read if we could find a copy. Anyway, just a little eye candy for Friday.
She fizzled on the screen, but achieved immortality in song.
A nice piece of Chinese pulp fell into our hands. It’s a shot of Ukrainian actress Anna Sten, née Anna Stenska or Anna
Sudakevich, from a Chinese newspaper circa 1934. Sten began in silent movies in Germany, transitioned smoothly into talkies, but saw her career founder after mogul Samuel Goldwyn brought her to Hollywood to make her a star. It was the accent that did her in. She tried like hell but couldn’t shake it. But even if she never wowed them in Tinseltown, and her roles are mainly forgotten, she lives forever in song thanks to Cole Porter, who mentioned her in his timeless hit “Anything Goes.” Anna’s bit comes in about two thirds through, with the lines:
When Sam Goldwyn can with great conviction,
instruct Anna Sten in diction,
then Anna shows,
Not quite a star on the Walk of Fame, but as consolation prizes go, it’s pretty damned good. Anna Sten died today in 1993, aged 84.