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Jane Novak William S. Hart

Jane Novak and William S. Hart

Jane Novak (1896-1990) American Actress. A soulful, fragile-looking blonde beauty, silent screen star Jane Novak was born in St. Louis, Missouri on January 12, 1896, and supposedly began her film career at age 17 when a director took to a photo of the young girl on the makeup table of her own aunt, the film star Anne Schäfer. From 1913 Jane appeared in a host of short films from the Vitagraph Company, a few of her earliest being Anne of the Trails (1913), At the Sign of the Lost Angel (1913) and Sacrifice (1913/II) all of which starred her Aunt Anne. Jane almost immediately moved into female leads and second leads with such films as Deception (1913) and Any Port in a Storm (1913).

She continued to make Vitagraph shorts during the years 1914 and 1915, including a couple of comedies vehicles for Harold Lloyd -- Willie's Haircut (1914) and Just Nuts (1915) -- before gradually moving into feature films. At Universal she appeared opposite Harry Carey in the serial Graft (1915) and with actor/director Hobart Bosworth in The Iron Hand (1916). Elsewhere, she, like her equally successful younger sister/actress, Eva Novak, got a handle on the western genre with her delicate looks slightly belying a vitality for the outdoors. Jane appeared opposite William S. Hart, who directed many of his own productions, in The Tiger Man (1918), _Selfish Yates (1918), The Money Corral (1919), Wagon Tracks (1919), and Three Word Brand (1921). At one point she was Hart's fiancée after divorcing actor Frank Newburg, but it ended and their professional relationship ended as well. The actress also appeared alongside her sister's favorite co-star, Tom Mix, in Treat 'Em Rough (1919), .

Throughout the productive 1920s, Jane's high-caliber male co-stars included Charles Ray, Sessue Hayakawa, Lewis Stone, Wallace Beery, Tom Moore, House Peters, John Bowers, Buck Jones, Ken Harlan, Earle Williams, James Rennie, John Harron, and even Lightning the Dog. Sisters Jane and Eva did appear on screen together in The Man Life Passed By (1923). Two of Jane's finest performances came in melodrama -- Thelma (1922) and The Lullaby (1924).

Like her sister, Jane's leading lady career faltered come the advent of talking pictures. Following her sixth billed role in the Richard Dix western Redskin (1929), she would not return to the screen until seven years later with the Harry Carey western Ghost Town (1936) in which she had a prime supporting role as a gun moll. From then on, small, often uncredited roles came her way sporadically in such notable films as Foreign Correspondent (1940), Gallant Lady (1942), Desert Fury (1947), The File on Thelma Jordon (1950), The Furies (1950), and her last, About Mrs. Leslie (1954).

Jane made a fortune in late 1920s real estate and film production but lost it all following the 1929 stock market crash. In 1974, Harper & Row published her cookbook entitled "Treasury of Chicken Cookery". Sister Eva died at age 90 of pneumonia at the Motion Picture Country Hospital in Woodland Hills, California in 1988. Jane followed her two years later (of a stroke), about a month after her 94th birthday also at the Woodland Hills Hospital.


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