Silent Film Actress Jetta Goudal Dies

Jetta Goudal, the tall, regal French stage actress who became a popular screen siren in the heyday of silent pictures, died Monday in her Los Angeles home.

Harold Grieve, an art director and her husband for more than 50 years, said she was 86 and had been ill for some time.

Born in Versailles, Miss Goudal came to the United States after World War I. She had appeared on stage in France and elsewhere in Europe and began her career in this country on Broadway.

She moved to films in 1923 with “The Bright Shawl” and for the next 10 years made a string of successes under the aegis of such famous directors as D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille.


Her early silent films included “The Green Goddess,” “Salome of the Tenements,” “The Forbidden Woman” and “Lady of the Pavements.”

She stayed in pictures until the beginnings of sound films but retired soon after her marriage to Grieve. Her last picture was “Business and Pleasure” with Will Rogers in 1932.

Life magazine last year said that in the 1920s Miss Goudal “was the most alluring femme fatale in silent movies, also the smartest, best dressed and feistiest.”

But she also told Life, “I don’t like being called a silent star. I was never silent.”

Most recently she appeared in public for DeMille’s centenary tribute in 1981 and with a group of other silent stars at an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences symposium in 1979.

Grieve said there would be no funeral, at her request. They had no children.