Barbara Kent

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In 2011 (a few years ago), Barbara Kent left the earth. She meant a lot to me. As a fan of the Silent Era, she was one of the people I tended to look up to. When she was alive, I was young and she was quite old. Her story was told to me by my paternal grandfather. He said “I know your granny should be telling you about her, but I want to do the honors on this one”. He brought out a picture (as the one above). “Take a look at that gal, what you make of her?” He asked me. I looked up at him and nodded. I was 6 years old. She kinda reminded me of Jobyna Ralston, but a little more innocent. She seemed to be exotic like Jobyna. Immediately, I remember that my grandpa had told me that he bumped into her one day (this was way back before I was even on the drawing board!). He said that she was one of the most adorable women he had ever encountered (of course, he loved my granny for a longggg time and they remained together till the day they died). He said that Barbara (Kent) (my granny’s name was also Barbara, really weird isn’t it!!) always will and would remain in his heart. She told him that when he gets married and has grandkids, to always let them remember the past. He did just that. I held onto her as she might have held onto me. I never got a chance to meet her, for my grandfather thought she had passed. I thought she had too. But, in 2009, after my paternal grandparents had passed, I had realized that she was still alive. However, there was no way to contact her and frankly, she reminded me to much of my grandpa, that I couldn’t even bare to contact her (it wasn’t like Moira Shearer- when my granny was alive and I contacted her).  But with my history teacher’s help, I managed to send her a letter. She surprisingly wrote me back.  Her Rep replied on her behalf. She said how surprising it was to get something from a senior in high-school who really cared about Silent film and how wonderful it was to hear that I would help preserve it.She did recognize my last name and she said at the end “I think I knew your grandfather”. I about cried. She did include a lovely picture of her early days. On the back, it was signed with this message: “Never let go of the past, always fight for it Kate-Best Wishes!” Since then, I have done just that-fight for this era to not be forgotten. When she died in 2011, I was crushed. But, I saw how old she was. 103! Then I was thinking : “Ok, I have no room to bawl, she lived her life”. But, let alone we still have Baby Peggy and Carla Laemmle. Barbara Kent, when I saw her in “Flesh and the Devil”, I’m sorry but I didn’t care much for Garbo, I cared for her. I really prefer her with Gilbert than Garbo (that’s just me). She was the cutest thing I ever saw and I first saw the film with my grandfather. I understood where  he came from when he said that she was the most adorable woman he had ever encountered. Like Deanna Durbin and Mae Marsh, she was the mix of the two. I couldn’t even stop myself from loving her again. Her name just came up in a school assignment for my history of film class. I am to write something about some leading ladies that we are not familiar with. Oh you can imagine my paper, filled with women such as Barbara and Marguerite Courtot to Janet Gaynor. My heart is filled with the adoration of more leading ladies, than leading men (I know that sounds weird.) My grandparents wanted good leading and strong women for me to look up to and after. I think they picked great women. Barbara Kent being among them. I just wish that she had children, because then I could tell the children how much their mother meant to me. Now, when I have children, you can imagine how I am going to raise them, She will be among the film stars that I show him or her or they. My babies will be named after them and will know how to preserve this life as well. My heart broke when she died, but I know that she’s in my heart and forever.

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