Orval Hixon

Portrait of Jan Rubini

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Jan Rubini was an actor, concert violinist, and composer. He was known for Clancy Street Boys (1943), Bal Tabarin (1952) and Jan Rubini and Orchestra (1937). He stands erect in this photograph in concert attire while holding his violin in ready position. His facial expression appears focused. Although the light that illuminates his face obscures his violin in shadow, one still gets the sense that the expressive potential of this portrait is channeled through his instrument.

Portrait of Jan Rubini in Profile

Originally born in Stockholm, Sweden, Jan Rubini was an actor, concert violinist, and composer. He was known for Clancy Street Boys (1943), Bal Tabarin (1952) and Jan Rubini and Orchestra (1937). Hixon manipulated the background of this portrait with sweeping brushstrokes that fade into solid white along the left-hand side. The white narrows in on Rubini's profile to create a cameo shape emphasized by dark sketched lines echoing from the breast flap of his suit jacket.

Portrait of Janette Hacket in a Peacock Costume

This portrait depicts Janette Hackett, acclaimed dancer of the early twentieth century. Hackett’s first career performance came as a teenager when she appeared in the Shubert’s Passing Show. During this time, under the tutelage of Kitty Doner, Hackett learned to dance. After studying Hawaiian and “Oriental” dance, she went on a five-week tour performance with Nora Bayes and later replaced Billie Shaw in the established act of “Seabury and Shaw”.

Portrait of Janette Hackett

This portrait depicts Janette Hackett, acclaimed dancer of the early twentieth century. Hackett came from a famed family. Her mother, Florence Hackett, was a noted silent film star. Her brother married Blanche Sweet, also of silent film stardom. Hackett’s first career performance came as a teenager, when she appeared in the Shubert’s "Passing Show". During this time, under the tutelage of Kitty Doner, Hackett learned to dance.

Portrait of Janette Hackett with Genie Bottle

This portrait depicts Janette Hackett, an acclaimed dancer of the early twentieth century. Hackett’s first career performance came as a teenager when she appeared in the Shubert’s "Passing Show". During this time, under the tutelage of Kitty Doner, Hackett learned to dance. After studying Hawaiian and Oriental' dance, she went on a five-week tour performance with Nora Bayes and later replaced Billie Shaw in the established act of “Seabury and Shaw”.

Portrait of Joan Archer

The photograph depicts the young woman Joan Archer. She stands in profile showing her from the waist up. She gazes upward toward the left corner of the pictorial space. She is dressed in a lace top with floral motif and wears a glass beaded necklace. A striped scarf with flowers and faux grapes adorn her short hair. Her features are thin and delicate. She holds a small stringed instrument, perhaps a eukalalee. The shadow in the background echoes the petite shape of her knows, lips, and neck of the instrument. A few flowers decorate the upper right hand corner of the photograph.

Portrait of Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford's journey to screen stardom began with a poor childhood moving from Texas to Oklahoma and finally Kansas City where she worked to help support her family while attending school. She won a Charleston contest at a local café in her early teens. Later, Crawford moved to Detroit where she danced under the stage name Billie Cassin. Coincidently, Billie Casssin is the name she was using at the time this photo was taken. It is in Detroit, that she caught the eye of a Hollywood talent scout.

Portrait of Julia Arthur

Julia Arthur, born with the name Ida Lewis, began acting at a young age. She began her professional acting career with the Bandmann Company in 1880 and began going by her industry alias Julia Arthur. After her majorly successful role as the Queen in "The Black Masque" (1892), Arthur was cast in many more leading roles such as Ophelia, Juliet, and Lady MacBeth. Her clout in the industry translates in her dress in this photograph, as she wears a suit coat and narrow suspenders with ornate embellishments.

Portrait of June Elvidge

June Elvidge was a silent film actress with a relatively brief but highly productive career. Elvidge established her character in "The Lure of Women" (1915) as a seductress and was then on primarily cast in roles as vamps or vixens. She starred in over 70 silent films before the sound era, after which her film career declined and resurfaced in a series of vaudeville theater performances before she retired from show business altogether in 1925. In this photograph, Elvidge is presumably nude from the waist up with her torso turned away from the camera.

Portrait of Kill Kare Kouple, John Hennings

John and Winnie Henning were early vaudeville performers who comprised the Kill Kare Kouple. They adopted this name with a popular act they performed together wherein Winnie would play various instruments while John danced his famed "Grasshopper Dance", the two exchanging comedic banter all the while. They toured overseas and with the onset of World War I, John would perform in hospitals and on military bases for servicemen and women.

Portrait of Lawrence Newman

This portrait of Lawrence Newman, depicts a very dapper figure. Newman attired in a very distinguished fashion wears a dark suit accentuated with a light colored pocket square. He wears a white button up shirt, black tie, and dark fedora. Newman is centered in this photograph gazing intently at the viewer, with his right hand resting in his suit pocket. The bright backdrop appears chemically enhanced, creating vertical patterns to the left of Newman. The stark background enhances the darkly garbed figure, resulting in a striking character.

Portrait of Leo F. Forbstein

Leo F. Forbstein was an American film music director and orchestra conductor. He was originally from St. Louis, Missouri and worked with orchestras throughout the state including that of the Newman Theater in Kansas City where he was the principal conductor. He later signed with Warner Bros. as one of the directors of the Vitaphone Orchestra, earning his first screen credit on "The Squall" in 1929. It was with this company that his success in the field began to gain recognition. At the 1937 Academy Awards, he won an Oscar as the head of the Warner Bros.

Portrait of Lester "Charles" Henderson

Lester "Charles" Henderson stands on the right side of the frame. The left side of his face is in the light and visible to the viewer with the right side of his face in shadow. Henderson is dressed dapperly in a dark suit and tie. The pocket square peeks adds some variance to the darkness of the suit and the newsboy cap adds a little playfulness. Henderson holds a lit cigarette in his right hand and a monogrammed cigarette case containing the initials “CLH” in the other hand. The background surrounding Henderson is chemically manipulated to accentuate Henderson’s profile.

Portrait of Louise Riley

In this portrait, Louise stands in a dramatic theatrical pose. Garbed in a strapless white dress gathered at her waist and again at the hips, Riley gazes up to her left as if in thought. Flowers secured to her bodice and hair act as harbingers of tender gentility. She delicately holds a piece of white fabric aloft behind her which Orval Hixon employs to create an ethereal quality to the portrait. She stands barefoot and on pointe as if yearning for something just out of reach. Her back-lit figure remains partially engulfed by eerie darkness.

Portrait of M'lle. Rhea

Mademoiselle Hortense Rhea (September 4, 1844 – May 5, 1899) was a Belgium-born French actress whose popularity extended to the Russian Empire and later the United States of America. The charm of her accent, as well as her beguiling smile, would help endear her to her audiences. Orphaned at an early age, then raised in a convent, Rhea would later be accepted to study at the Conservatoire de Paris. From there, her career would take her to far-flung climes an orphaned child of the era would normally only read about.

Portrait of Margret Breen

Margret Breen was originally born in Missouri but moved to California to pursue an acting career. She was busy in the 1930s, starring in films such as "Heads Up" (1930), "Selling Shorts" (1931) and "It Might Be Worse" (1931). She was married to fellow actor Art Hamburger. Here we see a frontal view of her holding her hands listlessly over her chest as she looks over her left shoulder. A large rose in her hair greets the viewer while her expression appears slightly annoyed. A photomanipulation by Hixon circumvents the shadow of her profile with a bright halo effect.

Portrait of Marie Dressler

Although she did not consider herself movie-star petite or pretty, Marie Dressler's expressive face and superb comedic timing made her a beloved figure during Hollywood's Golden Age. The Canadian born actress was 42 when she moved from the stage to her first feature film alongside Charlie Chaplin in 1914. She became a top box office attraction in the early 1930s. Dressler won a best-actress Oscar in 1931 for "Min and Bill" and another nomination a year later for "Emma". This full body-length photograph conveys the expressive presence that Dressler had on her public.

Portrait of Marilyn Miller in Black

The number of girls named Marilyn rose exponentially in the 1920s and early 1930s in homage to Marilyn Miller. Miller was one of the era's most popular Broadway stars. She was an actress, a dancer and a singer. As the daughter of Vaudeville-performing parents, by the age of 5 she had become a member of the family act. Miller joined the Ziegfeld Follies, cemented her fame by singing "Look for the Silver Lining" in the musical comedy "Sally" and starred in the 1925 hit "Sunny" for Ziegfeld rival Charles Dillingham. Two of her three film appearances came in adaptations of those shows.

Portrait of Marilyn Miller in White

The number of girls named Marilyn rose exponentially in the 1920s and early 30s in homage to Marilyn Miller, one of the era's most popular Broadway stars. An actress, dancer and singer, she was the daughter of Vaudeville-performing parents who incorporated her into their family act when she was 5 years old. Miller joined the Ziegfeld Follies, cemented her fame by singing "Look for the Silver Lining" in the musical comedy "Sally", and starred in the 1925 hit "Sunny" for Ziegfeld rival Charles Dillingham. Two of her three film appearances came in adaptations of those shows.

Portrait of Marjorie Gateson

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Marjorie Gateson was an actress of stage, film and television. At the age of 21, Gateson made her Broadway debut in the 1912 musical “The Dove of Peace”. Other Broadway productions were soon to follow including the 1913 play “The Little Café”, the 1917 musical “Have a Heart”, the 1927 musical comedy “Oh Ernest!”, and the 1930 comedy “As Good as New”. Gateson relocated to Hollywood where her film career would begin. Gateson was cast in secondary roles where she often portrayed aloof socialite characters.

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