Diva of the Silent Screen

Annex%20-%20Johnston,%20Julanne_01SOnly one word adequately describes this beauty, and that word would be diva with a capital ‘D’. This particular beauty was Julanne Johnston born 1900 in Indianapolis, Indiana and died 1988 in  Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She was either interred in her husband’s family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, or cremated and scattered in the rose garden of Chapel of the Pines, Los Angeles, California.  As she is listed in both places, it must be reader discretion to decide which is accurate.

Julanne was an American silent film actress whose most notable role was starring opposite Douglas Fairbanks in ‘Thief of Baghdad’; however, she is best remembered for being on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht during a fated outing in November 1924 when the film director and producer Thomas Ince died of heart failure.

The other thing Julanne is remembered for is that during the zenith of her career, she stepped from a train in Grosse Point, Michigan to meet some friends on her way to New York City, but met the love of her life while there, David W Rust (1899 – 1962), and never left. They had one son, and father and son are definitely interred at Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit. She took her lovely self to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and did volunteer work.

Why should anyone remember this diva or any other star of the silent screen? Aside from being the vixens they were, these women were trailblazers. In a time before women could vote, they walked away from family farms and cities to make their way to Hollywood in search of stardom. Every now and then, as in this case, they found it.

‘The Thief of Baghdad’ is still available at Amazon.com, and makes for good viewing.

2 thoughts on “Diva of the Silent Screen

  1. Interesting… my husband’s grandmother had an all girl band during the same era. She wound up in Hollywood, eventually, but she was in Detroit during the 1940’s. She went by the name of Bonnie Churchill because she was a Churchill and claimed she was related to Winston. I can not find out anything about her band. My husband believes she also had can can dancers. Her daughter, my husband’s mother went to Grosse Pointe High School and played hockey there. I have looked and looked but I can’t find anything. There’s a great story about Bonnie. She took her band to play in Berlin in the late 1930’s and because she had two Jewish girls in the band, she was arrested by the Nazis. Her friend, Mae West bailed her out. When she was coming home on the boat, she met a wealthy playboy and married him on the boat. The marriage did not last long. They had one daughter. She was my husband’s mother. She died when he was only ten.

    Bonnie also had a line of cosmetics called Bon-Joy.


    • You should write a post about her. I love stories about the flappers. This article has been my highest read article with 40 views on Sunday, and still going. Apparently, others like to read about these ladies as well. Who would have thought?


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