People active in the silent era and people who keep the silent era alive.
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Virginia Lee Corbin
Born 5 December 1910 in Prescott, Arizona, USA, as Virginia LaVerne Corbin.
Died 5 June 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, of tuberculosis.
Married stockbroker Theodore Krol, October 1929; son, Phillip Krol, born 1932; son, Robert Krol, born 1935; divorced, 1937.
Married stockbroker Charles Jacobson; until her death.
Beginning at age two, Virginia Lee Corbin was modeling for calendars and acting on the stage. It is not known when the family left Arizona, but they did live in a variety of California towns where her father was a pharmacist. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1915.
There are conflicting stories on how Corbin entered films. Despite latter-day rumors, she is definitely not one of the children in the final scene of D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916). However, beginning in 1916, she did make several films for Universal, with a couple thrown in for Metro and Balboa. In 1917, she began in the Fox Kiddie Features under the direction of Chester and Sidney Franklin, which soon made her and her ‘leading man’ Francis Carpenter stars. These were usually film versions (with much literary license taken) of popular fairy tales, such as “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Babes in the Woods” and “Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp.” Her work at the Fox studio gave her the opportunity to appear in a couple of westerns with Tom Mix in 1918.
As she approached adolescence, Corbin’s film parts became fewer with only one in 1919 and one in 1920 followed by a two-year stint in vaudeville singing and dancing. She returned to films in 1923, and although she was only 13 or 14 at the time, Virginia was given somewhat older roles to play usually as a flapper in films such as Wine of Youth (1924), Sinners in Silk (1924), The City That Never Sleeps (1924) and Broken Laws (1924). As she matured, the quality of her roles improved somewhat, with Corbin often playing the younger sister caught up in an older sister’s problems in films such as The Chorus Lady (1924) and The Three Keys (1925). After playing the female lead to stunt-pilot-turned-actor Al Wilson in The Cloud Rider (1925), she starred again as a flapper in Lilies of the Street (1925).
Corbin’s career never did take off, but she did work steadily. In the mid-1920s, she costarred with Rin-Tin-Tin competitor Strongheart in North Star (1925), and was the love interest in Raymond Griffith’s Hands Up! (1926) with Marian Nixon. The next year, she costarred with Monty Banks in the comedy Play Safe (1927). A widely circulated two-reel version of the final train chase scene is available for viewing today and was included in the silent movie compilation The Great Chase (1962).
One of her most popular films is Bare Knees (1928), made for the low-budget studio Gotham Productions and available today on home video, in which she played the charming leading role as a young flapper who reveals her older sister’s critical hypocrisy. Her first sound film was First National’s Footlights and Fools (1929), which starred Colleen Moore and a young Fredric March.
In October 1929, Corbin married Chicago stockbroker Theodore Krol. After almost a year in England, she returned to the United States to make four more films three with bit roles in low budget films, and one as Tim McCoy’s leading lady in the Columbia western Shotgun Pass (1931). Krol and Corbin had two sons, Phillip and Robert, before the couple divorced in 1937. Soon after, Corbin married another Chicago stockbroker, Charles Jacobson. Plagued by a nagging ‘cough’ for many years, she endured a short stay in a sanatorium near Chicago before passing away of tuberculosis at age 31.
Biography by Tim Lussier
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