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Staunton’s silent-movie star the subject of Historical Society talk

William Haines, a native of Staunton who was the leading male film star in the world in 1930 before he rose to even greater heights as one of the nation’s most influential interior designers, will be the subject of the next Augusta County Historical Society’s Stuart Speaker Series held at the Smith Center on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.

The program, which is open to society members at no charge (non members pay $5), will be presented by Haines authority Sergei Troubetzkoy who has spent more than a decade researching Haines and interviewing people associated with him.

Born on Jan. 1, 1900, on North New Street in Staunton, Haines grew up in Staunton and frequently returned throughout his lifetime to visit friends and relatives. While living in New York City in 1922, Haines entered a “New Faces” contest that was sponsored by Goldwyn Pictures and it led to one of the most successful film careers of the 1920s and early 1930s.

By 1926, he was one of only five stars at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios who was considered important enough to have their name listed above the film title. In 1930 he was named the leading male film star in the world, and his close friend Joan Crawford was named the leading female star for that year.

After appearing in over 50 films, Haines left films to begin another career, which brought him even more fame and fortune. Using his contacts in Hollywood, he launched an interior-design career with many of his clients being prominent members of the film community. Self-taught, Haines was able to capture the glamour and style that many of the film stars of the era were associated with through their performances on film.

His clients included such luminaries as Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, Joan and Constance Bennett, Marion Davies, Frederic March, Claudette Colbert, Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Frank Sinatra, Director George Cukor and studio head Jack Warner.


Augusta County Historical Society’s Stuart Speaker Series
When: Thursday, Oct. 29, 7 p.m.
Where: Smith Center for History and Art, 20 S. New St., Staunton
Program: Sergei Troubetzkoy will speak on Staunton native William Haines, a silent movie star and interior designer for the rich and the famous
For more information: ACHS office 540.248.4151 or


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