Most people may not associate the silent movies with music, but in fact, there were several strong correlations. Most films in the Golden Age of the silent movie (1894-1929) had organists, and sometimes, even full orchestras playing along to the images up on the screen. The music publishers soon realized another great marketing tool when adding a movie stars’ image to the cover of their sheet music. Sometimes, the song might not have anything to do with the movie advertised, but it sold because a favorite star such as Mary Pickford or Charlie Chaplin would be on the cover. Some of the songs would merely be inspired by a movie title, which was just enough to link the sheet music to a big celebrity name. To showcase this point, the NAMM Resource Center has a small collection of sheet music relating to the great stars of the silent movie era including the aforementioned Mrs. Pickford and Mr. Chaplin (who was also a songwriter) as well as Rudolph Valentino, Vilma Banky, Fatty Arbuckle, and Harold Lloyd.
NAMM Archivist & Oral History Coordinator
Dan Del Fiorentino