Olive Borden was an American actress in silent and early talkies. Nicknamed “The Joy Girl”, Borden was known for her jet-black hair and overall beauty.
Olive Borden was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1906. Her birth name was often reported erroneously as Sybil Tinkle until the 1990s when it was discovered that another woman with the same name had been confused with Borden. Borden’s father died when she was a baby and she was raised by her mother, Sibbie, in Norfolk and Baltimore, Maryland where she also attended Catholic boarding schools. She was a distant relative of Lizzie Borden. As a teenager, she persuaded her mother to take her Hollywood to pursue a career in show business. To support themselves they opened a candy store and Olive worked as a telephone operator.
Borden began her career as one of Mack Sennett’s bathing beauties in 1922 and was soon appearing as a vamp in Hal Roach comedy shorts. Producer Paul Bern chose her for a role in his film The Dressmaker In Paris. She was signed by Fox after being named a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1925. Borden quickly became one of their most popular and highest paid stars earning a salary of $1,500 a week. She had starring roles in 11 films at Fox including Three Bad Men and Fig Leaves both costarring her then-boyfriend George O’Brien. During this time she worked with some directors who would go on to achieve major fame, including John Ford, Howard Hawks and Leo McCarey.
When Fox cut her salary in 1927, she walked out on her contract. By this point she was a major star but she found it difficult to make the transition from silent films to “talkies”. She worked to get rid of her Southern accent but could not overcome her reputation as being difficult. She was still in demand as an actress and continued to work for Columbia and RKO. Borden cut her trademark hair into a short bob and turned herself into a modern flapper. She made several movies in the early 1930s but her career stalled. Her last screen credit came in 1934 in the film Chloe, Love Is Calling You. She moved to New York and had a brief stage career which was derailed by her numerous personal problems. For a while she made a living working the vaudeville circuit.