Viola Dana was a raven-haired star of the silent screen whose career became mute as pictures began talking.
Dana was once Broadway's youngest star at 16. She first came to films as an unheralded bit player at the old Edison Studios. But after starring on Broadway as the "Poor Little Rich Girl" in 1913, she became one of the best-known ingenues in film at a time when few players received feature credit.
She signed a long-term contract with Metro Pictures before it became part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and was soon seen in "Rosie O'Grady," "The Parisian Tigress," "Merton of the Movies," "Kosher Kitty Kelly," "Revelation" and more than 50 other films.
At one time she was earning a tax-free $1,750 a week, then an uncommonly high salary.
But her voice was not judged suitable for sound pictures. After a vaudeville tour in Anita Loos' skit "The Ink Well," she retired from show business and for many years toured with her golf professional husband, Jimmy Thomson. They divorced near the end of World War II and she became a volunteer aide at the Motion Picture Country House before moving there permanently in 1979.