Actress Pauline Starke, whose wistful face and emotive eyes helped make her a silent film star, was discovered by director D.W. Griffith and gained fame playing the lead in the 1921 film “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.”
Shortly after graduating from Los Angeles High School, Starke accompanied a friend who was a studio extra to the set of Griffith’s production of “Birth of a Nation.”
While filming a mob scene, Griffith spotted Starke, according to a Feb. 22, 1925, Times article. “You’re just the person I want. Get into a costume,” Griffith said.
The 1925 Times article continued: “Although she was just one of 10,000, her wistful face registered sufficiently in a close-up to attract the attention of other directors. One part followed another and each one was larger than the last.
“Starke has never played a role in which her part has not been one of deep sympathy. This is especially true of her three most recent Paramount productions ‘Forbidden Paradise,’ ‘The Devil’s Cargo’ and Jack London’s ‘Adventure.’
The Times raved about her work in “The Devil’s Cargo.” “She plays the gambler’s daughter who is loved by the editor,” wrote critic Herbert Moulton on Feb. 9, 1925, “and she plays it with exceeding finesse. In many of her close-ups she reveals an amazing resemblance to Gloria Swanson.”
Starke’s 1927 marriage to Jack White, a producer-director of comedies, was well covered. The Times called it “one of the most romantic and enduring love affairs in film land.”
The couple married in San Francisco after an eight-year off and on romance.
Their happiness didn’t last. They were divorced in 1931, Starke receiving a $28,000 property settlement. Two years later, Starke sued White, claiming she had been coerced and intimidated into making the settlement.
White denied the charges, The Times reported on May 2, 1933, making the “general denial that he plied the actress with liquor, asserting that he pleaded with her to stop drinking, but without success, or that threats were made to ‘break’ her in the motion-picture business.”