Anna Luther (July 7, 1897 - December 16, 1960 Hollywood) was
an American silent film actress, born in New Jersey the daughter of a New
York sewing machine sales representative, her mother’s maiden name was
Limonick. Anna had married a New York attorney by the name
of Samuel E. Driboen in 1913, but it ended in divorce, around the time
she started her film career. She loved being in front of the camera.
Anna seems to be a woman of open passions.
She was making films as early as 1913, working for Reliance Films. She
went to leads within two months after having been cast for her first screen
drama. Anna entered motion picture as the result of a wager. “I’m
going to stay in the motion picture forever.” Little Miss Anna Luther in
an interview stated as she showed her pearly white teeth in a fascinating
laugh. Newspapers described her hair as having an orange hue. She was the
daughter of a New York sewing machine peddler. She was married to Edward
Anna Luther was known as the little lady who was not afraid to take
a chance. She was ready and willing to undertake any “stunt” that
will add realism to the picture. Anna never appeared on the stage doing
“spoken drama” but by 1914, she appeared in the serial “The Changeling”
and “The Wolf” for Lubin working in Canada at Hudson, Quebec. Anna
was called a "Fifth Ave, Girl of Movies" when she was working at St. Augustine
Florida. Tom Terriss signed her to play the part of the wife in “A Man’s
Shadow,” later called “The Pursuing Shadow”.
It wasn't long before Anna came west to join Selig Pacific Coast
again in Moving Picture World dated May 8, 1915, is an announcement
that Anna would be undertaking leading roles in dramas for Selig.
In previous motion picture dramas, Anna had been thrown from a yacht in
mid-ocean, dropped from an airplane in a parachute but had never worked
with animals. “I want to work in a Selig wild animal picture; I am
anxious for the opportunity. I want to take a chance,” said Anna
Luther and she smiled. So began Anna in a number of Selig Polyscope, many
directed by Mabel Normand’s friend and co-star, George Nichols.
Isle of Content” (Lubin 1915) was a three-act Lubin feature drama featuring
Vivian Reed, Anna Luther and Eugene Pallette, a beautiful story, a love
and sacrifice of a girl discovered on a desolate island by a shipwrecked
man is cast up on the island and together they live happily and together
they live happily for a year until he finds a bag of diamonds, then his
desire civilization brings them back to civilization and later marries
her rescuer. He later tires of her and plans to elope with another
woman. His wife frustrating his plans by drugging him and taking
him back to the island. After seeing where he is and finding his
wife bending over him, he holds out his arms and with one glad cry, she
is in them.
Anna was getting little stories put in the Daisy Dean, column,
News Notes from Movieland by the Keystone Studio in May 26, 1916.
She was working at a 10 days shot at a comedy at Huntington Lake, in September
1916. According to an article in The New York Times in the week's
specimen of studio repartee is taken from the Fox press bulletin.
September 17, 1916:
"Here is the eighth wonder of the photoplay
world: Anna Luther, the famous William Fox star, has a 125-power automobile
and yet she has never, never been stopped for speeding. Miss Luther
boasted of this herself when Willard Louis cut in with:
"'What's the matter? Can't the
cops catch you?'"
“Her Moment” (1918 Author’s Photo-Plays) Anna tried her hand at modeling
during 1918, as a way to promote her motion picture career. As a
“role model”, she showed her fans the type of coat that promised "not to
crush the daintiest of gowns as the smart little misses motoring during
In 1919, Anna was filming in Florida making “The Jungle Trail” in Miami
& Everglades and in 1920, “Why Women Sin” (Barton King Pro/Wisteria
filmed in Miami FL).
It may be that Anna aspirated to move on to head her own production
company like Ruth Roland had done. Anna had a good start, she had
played important parts and with success in serials for Pathe in 1919, perhaps
she could have her own company. In 1920, newspapers referred to Anna
Luther as (and I quote)…"one of the great actresses of the day.”
term of Gallagher & Shean were a tremendous hit at the Ziegfeld Follies
earning an unheard high salary of $1,500 a week. At the peak of their fame,
Edward Gallagher married Anna Luther in Greenwich, Connecticut just before
Christmas on December 17, 1923. When Gallagher married Anna he was
a man of 50 and Anna admitted to being 26, she was wife number 4. Al Shean
was the best man. Anna and Ed separated in February 1924, just 2
months later, Ed continued to play on the road and Anna returned to making
In 1925, Gallagher suffered a nervous breakdown perhaps due to
stress, alcoholism and problems with his marriage to Anna, and other ailments,
he entered the Rivercrest Sanitarium in Astoria, Queens, where he died.
Edwards’s third wife, a former Ziegfeld girl, Hilda Moreno cared for him,
paying for his hospitalization.
Anna's separation from Ed opened a rather strange chapter in Anna’s
life. Jack White was a married millionaire, who undertook to promote Anna
while she was in New York in 1923. Jack accompanied Anna to California
in a private drawing room on their journey west, in violation of the Mann
Act. The Act prohibited white slavery; it banned the interstate transport
of females for “immoral purposes.” Its primary stated intent was to address
prostitution, immorality, and human trafficking.
Jack (J. Frank) White had promised Anna a four motion picture deal that
he would produce and she would star in once they got to Hollywood and he
would pay her $1,500 a week. Anna sued him for breach of contract
for $100,000. Jack testified that Anna had a bad reputation and that she
had solicited him to finance a corporation to make movies and that she
told him that she was unmarried. Jack demanding a return of $10,000
he had spent on her film career. Jack maintained that Anna had attacked
him verbally and physically when he told her that various sources had explained
that she was a “has-been” without any prospect in the movie industry in
California once they were in Hollywood.
Anna charged that Jack had made “violent love” to her during a transcontinental
trip to Hollywood. Both attacked the character of the other, which
were bad enough that they couldn’t be printed in the newspapers.
The vivid stories of Anna’s romantic relationships were aired in court,
however. Anna explained that she was “duped into compromising situations.”
Jack had a very
good attorney. He got Anna to admit that she only had $141 in the
bank account and yet the rent on her place in Great Neck, New York was
$2,500, the attorney claimed that Anna had told Jack to either pay her
the money she wanted or “watch out for what happened to William Desmond
Taylor”. The judge stated that Anna had no contract and he dropped
her suit. She filed a motion for a new trial. She brought unwelcome shame
to the Hollywood community and became a social pariah.
She continued to work in films throughout her life but after 1924,
largely in uncredited roles. At an annual get together of the Sennett’s
Keystone Kops and Bathing Beauties in May of 1950, Anna insisted that she
was one of Sennett’s few dramatic actresses because she never got hit with
a pie. She laughed: “They just slapped me on the posterior. That
made me a dramatic actress.”
Anna lived her last 20 years in California, she died at the Motion Picture
Home on December 16, 1960 and the burial was at Mount Sinai Memorial Park
in Los Angeles, plot: Maimonides 1, L-9530, space 4.