Nita Naldi: Life Story and Glamourous Photos of the Most Outrageous Vamp of the 1920s

Nita Naldi was a famous Stage performer and actress from the Silent film era. She was often cast as a vamp in stage and screen productions, a persona popularized by Theda Bara. Spanish author Vicente Blasco Ibáñez assigned her the role of Doña Sol in the film version of his novel, ‘Blood and Sand (1922)’. The role was her first collaboration with screen idol Rudolph Valentino, and Famous Players-Lasky signed her. Naldi’s performance in the film cemented her reputation as a vamp, a reputation she would carry for the rest of her life.

Nita started her career with modeling and stage. She decided to try her hand at film after a successful career on the stage. She achieved instant fame. In 1920, she starred with the legendary John Barrymore in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at 25. She seemed to have solidified her film career from the start. Her beauty and accomplishments were praised. The vamp roles she played were incredible. In 1921, she appeared in three fine productions: ‘The Last Door,’ ‘A Divorce of Convenience,’ and ‘Experience.’

Nita starred in one of the famous silent drama films ‘ Blood and Sand’ in 1922 with
Rudolph Valentino. Nita also made several other appearances with Valentino later in her career. During Valentino’s disgrace and dissipation, Nita played the part of Dona Sol. Her performance was an absolute hit at the box office. The movie ‘Blood and Sand’ was a huge success. 1922 brought her two more hits, ‘The Snitching Hour’ and ‘Anna Ascends,’ but neither was as successful as Dona Sol. In 1923, Nita made several good films, but Cecil B. DeMille’s ‘The Ten Commandments’ was her best.

Nita left for Paris in 1926, where she eloped with J Searle Barclay, who she had been dating since 1920. She returned to New York and filed for bankruptcy in 1931, causing the couple to separate. She made her last three films in Europe, La Femme Nue, The Golden Mask, and The Mountain Eagle. Although Nita attempted to make another film in the 1940s, despite an acceptable voice, she failed to do so. She continued to be active on the stage and later on in the infant medium of television for financial reasons. Nita died of a heart attack in her room at the Wentworth Hotel on February 17, 1961.

Below are some fabulous photos of Nita Naldi from her acting and stage career.

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Written by Alicia Linn

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