A post-WWI depression in England made work almost impossible to find, so in October of 1920 Colman headed across the Atlantic to America, with a change of clothes and seven pounds to his name.

"To be penniless in a powerful city like New York is one of the worst experiences in the life of a man," Colman said later. "I tramped the streets, going from studio to studio. I could not get work as an extra, so I tried the stage doors." He did find a few walk-on roles, but he was reduced to sleeping on park benches and practically starving to death

Gradually he began to obtain small film roles from the New York studios as well - his first one a programmer with the amazing title of "Handcuffs or Kisses?". He also was in a play that toured all the way to Hollywood, California. While there, Colman visited agents' offices but to no avail.

In the Fall of 1922 he landed a good part at last - that of 'the other man' in a triangle story called
'La Tendresse'.  Critics singled him out as giving a 'fine, direct performance',   and at last he began to be noticed.

 

The White Sister

 

Director Henry King and his star, Lillian Gish, saw Colman's performance in 'La Tendresse' and knew immediately that they had found the leading man for their film 'The White Sister.'

After a screen test Colman was offered the part of Captain Giovanni Severi - needless to say, he accepted. The film was a tremendous break for Colman - he was co-starring with one of the greatest silent film actresses of the time, Lillian Gish, and under skillful direction by Mr. King. The film, shot on location in Italy and Algeria, was a romantic tear-jerker that was wildly popular.  Colman was quickly proclaimed a new screen star.

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