The American Venus

For the 2007 Canadian film, see American Venus.
The American Venus

Lobby card
Directed by Frank Tuttle
Written by Frederick Stowers (scenario)
Robert Benchley (titles)
Story by Townsend Martin
Starring Esther Ralston
Ford Sterling
Edna May Oliver
Louise Brooks
Cinematography J. Roy Hunt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • January 31, 1926 (1926-01-31)
Running time
87 min.
Country United States
Language Silent
English intertitles

The American Venus was a 1926 American silent comedy film directed by Frank Tuttle, and starring Esther Ralston, Ford Sterling, Lawrence Gray, Fay Lanphier, Louise Brooks, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The film was based on an original story by Townsend Martin. The scenario was written by Frederick Stowers with intertitles by Robert Benchley.[1]

The film is believed to be lost, although pieces of the film's trailer survive and can be viewed on YouTube.[2]


Production notes

Before shooting began, the film became the subject of a minor controversy when the New York Graphic, a newspaper known for its use of yellow journalism, claimed that the film's distributor, Paramount Pictures, had "fixed" the Miss America pageant. In a series of articles, the paper claimed that the eventual winner, Fay Lanphier (Miss California), had been chosen before the pageant because she signed on to star in the film before the pageant was held. Paramount publicly admitted it had been involved with the pageant's promotions and had agreed to pay for pageant's reviewing stand. The studio also agreed to sponsor an "American Venus" contest to be held before the Miss America pageant to determine which of the contestants had the best "photographic possibilities". Lanphier won the American Venus title and was chosen by Famous Players-Lasky then production manager Walter Wanger a role in the film.[3] The New York Graphic was later forced to retract their claim that the contest had been fixed.[4]

Fay Lanphier was the first Miss America winner to star in a feature film. While the film was a popular draw upon its release and played in theatres for two years after its initial release (mainly due to the heavy publicity and the inclusion of two sequences that were shot in two-strip Technicolor), The American Venus received mixed reviews and Lanphier's contract was dropped.[5][6] The American Venus proved to be more helpful to the careers of star Esther Ralston and Louise Brooks who was cast in a supporting role. Ralston had previously played supporting roles in the silent features Huckleberry Finn and Beggar on Horseback (1925). The success of The American Venus effectively established Ralston's career as a leading lady.[7] The film also helped to boost Louise Brook's burgeoning career. It was her first significant role (her first role was small part in 1925's The Street of Forgotten Men) for which she received good reviews.[8]

The American Venus was shot at Famous Players-Lasky's Astoria Studios on Long Island while the Miss America pageant sequences were shot on Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.[9][10]


  1. "The American Venus".
  3. (Paris 1989, p. 113)
  4. Roberts, Russell; Youmans, Richard (1993). Down the Jersey Shore. Rutgers University Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-813-51996-9.
  5. Warwick White, Wendy (2007). Ford Sterling: The Life and Films. McFarland. p. 104. ISBN 0-786-48220-6.
  6. Watson, Elwood; Martin, Darcy (2004). Watson, Elwood; Martin, Darcy, eds. "There She Is, Miss America": The Politics of Sex, Beauty, and Race in America's Most Famous Pageant. Macmillan. p. 42. ISBN 1-403-96301-0.
  7. Soister, John T. (2012). American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929. McFarland. p. 534. ISBN 0-786-48790-9.
  8. (Paris 1989, pp. 111, 114)
  9. (Paris 1989, p. 111)
  10. Eames, John Douglas (1985). The Paramount Story. Crown. p. 38. ISBN 0-517-55348-1.
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