Anita had become a prominent figure in the movie colony, appearing as a specially invited guest at such notable events as the West Coast premiere of D. W. Griffith's masterpiece, Intolerance, at Clune's Auditorium in October of 1916. Demonstrating a sense of compassion and social responsibility emanating most probably from her own early adversities, she took a strong interest in the plight of the inexperienced, penniless young girls who were starting to pour into Hollywood in hopes of movie stardom and who, she said, "either go wrong or become morphine and drink fiends or public charges." (20) She became a Deputy City Mother of Los Angeles, and with the help of the YWCA, organized a recreation club for the girls trying to find work in the studios. She lectured clubwomen and young people in schools on the need for training in order to work in films and also spoke out against the misleading advertisers luring young girls to the movie capital with fraudulent promises of instant success.

Additionally, she spoke out against censorship of motion pictures, a burning issue of the period, declaring: "The endeavor to create a local board for passing upon films is purely a political move, and it reflects not only upon the moving picture actors, but upon the individual acumen of the citizens. It means that what the average person approves of is castigated by some small minded person who has been chosen through some political 'pull.' "It may be a presentation of some of the great classics, and yet because a censor is biased, the general public will be deprived of its educative influence. . . . "As for the mind of the child, local censorship will do much toward retarding its evolution. If a child is brought up to see things through a narrow lens, he is more apt to come to grief than if given a good, broad grasp on life, enabling him to discern evil and avoid it." (21)

Her career as an actress continued to prosper as well. Lasky capitalized on the fame of her trip by starring her in The Race (1916) in which, once again, her leading man was Victor Moore. Cast as a woman chauffeur who wins a transcontinental auto race, Anita did all her own stunts including a scene in which she drove her car off a burning bridge at 65 miles per hour. Reportedly, when one of her sisters learned about the forthcoming stunt, she filed an injunction to stop it. But Anita proceeded to undertake the daring feat and, despite some bumps and bruises, came through successfully. (22) W. Stephen Bush reviewed The Race for The Moving Picture World:

Anita King, the girl who made such a remarkable transcontinental trip in an auto, is the support of Victor Moore in this thrilling feature. The qualities of courage and modesty which endeared the former Paramount girl to so many motion picture audiences are with her in this production. She combines youth, beauty and fearlessness in charming proportions. Of the work of Victor Moore nothing more need be said than that he is at his best in this film. He manages to get into complicated situations consisting of strange mixtures of humor and pathos and he utilizes his opportunities to the utmost. Humor and sensation are the two dominating characteristics in this film and they make the feature highly acceptable to every audience. The story is quite simple, but it is not at all hackneyed and it leads to a number of amusing "denouements." The father of the daring auto girl gives a splendid portrayal of the inventor, who, absorbed in his work, loses all sense of proportion and even responsibility. Exciting scenes abound; they all grow out of the plot quite naturally and the law of dramatic probabilities is never flagrantly violated. The scenes showing the race and its thrilling incidents will hold every audience. Altogether The Race deserves a good place in the galaxy of Lasky successes. (23)
Paramount soon began featuring Anita's name over Victor Moore's in their advertising for The Race, eventually billing her as the sole star and "The Bravest Girl in Pictures." In a publicity tie-in with Firestone, the tire and rubber company heralded the film's release with newspaper ads proclaiming: "Anita King won 'The Race' on Firestone Non-Skid Tires. In her famous race across the continent from Los Angeles to New York, daring Anita King, the Paramount Girl, used Firestone Tires and completed her arduous journey with California air still in the tires." (24) At screenings of the film, the actress made personal appearances "in an act in which a panoramic set of rapidly passing scenery will be the background against which she will sit in a touring car like that in which she made her transcontinental trip. She will tell some interesting incidents of this journey, . . . many of the episodes of which were used in the making of the thrilling photodrama, The Race." (25)

Copyright 2003 William M. Drew

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 |
Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Endnotes

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