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Vera James

Vera Gwendoline James was born in Wellington on 2 April 1892 but her parents soon moved to Dunedin where her larger than life father worked the totalisator at local race meetings. He was the expansive, inventive, entrepreneurial, generous, engaging man whose daughter wanted to be a movie star.

Vera sang at Dunedin amateur theatricals and concerts, danced in the competitions, sang in opera, and in 1919 was Sydney bound, sang in revues and eventually landed a film role in The Girl of the Bush in 1920. In 1921 she and fellow New Zealander Nada Conrade co-starred in Know they Child.

Then off to Hollywood: She stayed at Hollywood Apartments and got work as an extra in a Douglas Fairbanks film, then came her first break: Actor Fred Datig got her a role in Attic of Felix Bavu, with Stuart Paton directing. There were small parts in several more films but although she did act in On with the Show, an early talkie in 1929, she never made it into the big time, eventually settling for singing and stage work in California.

She returned to Australia in 1930. Her brother Fred got her the position of managing the Max Factor outlet in Her Majesty’s Arcade. She was with the firm for 22 years.

Vera James took part in ten films.

Vera James
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