A self-admitted movie addict from the time she was a child, Colleen Moore broke into films not through arduous years of study and sacrifice but because of a simple debt.
Her uncle, Walter Howey, the tyrannical Chicago city editor immortalized by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur in "The Front Page," had helped D.W. Griffith get "The Birth of a Nation" and "Intolerance" past the censors.
When the prodigious director asked how he might repay that debt, Moore recalled in her 1968 autobiography, "Silent Star," Howey told him about his film-struck niece, Kathleen Morrison.
But her uncle realized that her given name wouldn't fit a theater marquee, "so after a half-dozen beers and a longing to do something for the Irish, they made up the name Colleen Moore."
If the myth of hard work reaping its own reward wasn't true in her case, the show business tale of quick recognition was.
She made her first film, "Bad Boy," when she was only 16. In a few brief years she became the first star to earn $10,000 a week. She snipped off her curls in what F. Scott Fitzgerald was later to dub "the most fateful haircut since Samson's" and cut a wide swath during one of the most flamboyant periods in American history.
The executives and the men who ran the studios were not much older than the stars they partied with: Irving Thalberg was 28 and shortly would be the power behind Louis B. Mayer's throne at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Bud Schulberg of Paramount was 33, Bernie Fineman, who would head RKO, was 30 and John McCormick, Western representative of First National Studios, was 29. He became the first of Moore's four husbands.