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 as the daughter of a New York sewing machine peddler. She was married
to Edward Gallagher.
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 w
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.”
comedy 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 films.
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
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.