Legendary stage star Minnie Maddern Fiske made her screen debut in the 1913 version of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Ubervilles. Unfortunately, on that occasion the camera ventured too close to Fiske, rather cruelly revealing that she was no spring chicken. Thus, when the actress gamely stepped before the cameras again for the 1915 production Vanity Fair, director Charles Brabin was careful to photograph her in medium shots only, using clever lighting devices to camouflage her advanced age. As a result, the public was generally pleased by Fiske's re-creation of her famous stage role as William Makepeace Thackeray's remarkable resourceful heroine Becky Sharp (a character later played by actresses as varied as Joyce Compton and Miriam Hopkins). Still, film historian Richard Griffith, who evidently was able to screen a print of the now-lost Vanity Fair, was moved to remark in 1957 that "Mrs. Fiske's fascinating, sinister stage performance as Becky Sharp became. . .a distressing example of an elderly lady being kittenish."
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