Friday, January 31, 2014

Rex the Marvelous Stallion in The Devil Horse -- January 31, 2014

In honor of the beginning of Chinese New Year, the Year of the Horse, here is Rex, King of the Wild Horses, starring in The Devil Horse.  Rex was a big stallion who appeared in features produced by Hal Roach and serials for Mascot. 

The Old Corral ( has some nice stories about Rex and links where you can download some of his movies. 

The ad is from the 06-June-1926 Film Daily

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Clara Bow #12 -- January 30, 2014

Red haired Clara Bow was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford. She married cowboy star Rex Bell in 1931 and soon after they retired to a ranch Nevada.  He later served as Lieutenant Governor of Nevada.  From New Movie, February, 1932.  Click on the image to see a larger version. 

I moved this series over from my other blog, The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier DelusionHere are the entries from this series on that blog

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Eagle Man Who Smiles at Death -- January 29, 2014

After serving in the US Army Air Service during World War I, Ormer Locklear became a barnstormer who specialized in wing walking. He and his partner Skeets Elliot toured the country thrilling audiences. The Great Air Robbery was Locklear's first starring movie role. While shooting his second starring movie, The Skywayman (great title), pilot Elliot was blinded by spotlights during a night dive and both men were killed. The producers left the scene in the movie.

The ad comes from the 12-April-1920 Evening Missourian. The extra set of eyes is disturbing. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

George E. Middleton Weds Miss Michelena -- January 28, 2014

George Middleton, a San Francisco automobile dealer, married  musical comedy actress Beatriz Michelena in San Francisco in 1907.  She left the stage for while, then returned in 1910.  In 1912, Middleton, son of a famous family in the lumber business, founded the California Motion Picture Company in San Rafael, north of San Francisco.  At first he made promotional films for his auto business, but in 1914 he began to produce dramatic features starring his wife.  Salomy Jane still survives and is very impressive.  Most of the CMPC movies were destroyed in a fire. 

Marriage Comes as Sequel to Romance of School Days

George E. Middleton Weds Miss Michelena

A romance, dating back to school days, had a happy culmination yesterday afternoon, when Miss Beatriz Michelena became the bride of George E. Middleton, a prominent automobile dealer of this city. The ceremony was performed by Judge Thomas F. Graham at the residence of Mrs. Phillip
McGovern, 232 Devisadero street. Only relatives and a few friends of the couple were present. Miss Margaret McGovern, a lifelong friend of the bride, acted as bridesmaid. William H. Middleton, a brother of the bridegroom, was best man.

After the ceremony a wedding supper was served, at the conclusion of which the couple left for Los Angeles, where they will remain a few weeks before returning to this city.

Monday, January 27, 2014

DVD: Accidentally Preserved -- January 27, 2014

One of my Christmas presents was Accidentally Preserved, a DVD made by famous film accompanist Ben Model.  He dug into his collection of old 16mm prints, which were mostly made for the home rental or purchase market.  Some of the movies only exist in old Kodascope prints.  Naturally he also created the musical scores.  He got the funding for the project through Kickstarter. 

The DVD contains nine short films, eight one-reel comedies and one promotional film, plus one bonus comedy clip.  Three of the comedies are Cameos, released by Educational. 

"The Lost Laugh" stars Wallace Lupino, Lupino Lane's brother.  I don't know why he periodically burst into laughter after falling down or getting burned.  Monte Collins played an obnoxious washing machine salesman. 

"Loose Change" stars Jack Duffy as a tight Scotsman and Neal Burns as his nephew.  It was produced by Al Christie. 

"Wedding Slips" starred Monte Collins as a newlywed speeding around the countryside with his wife Lucille Hutton.  There are gypsies and a gorilla.  It was directed by Jules White. 

"Shoot Straight," a Hal Roach production, starred Paul Parrott, Charley Chase's brother, as a luckless hunter.  He has trouble catching squirrels and ducks.  Jobyna Ralston, who later starred with Harold Lloyd, is the leading lady. 

"The House of Wonders" was a two-reel promotional film for Elgin Watches.  It would be very interesting for people who like watches. 

"The Misfit" was made as a two-reeler, but it only survives in a one-reel version.  Clyde Cook joins the Marines to get away from his harridan wife.  It includes many of the standard service comedy marching jokes. 

"The Water Plug," a Reelcraft comedy, starred Billy Franey, who was acting very Chaplin-like. 

"Mechanical Doll" was a Fleischer Out of the Inkwell comedy.  Koko had a nice journey though the city, running along telephone wires.  He had more closeups than I remember seeing in silent cartoons. 

"Cheer Up" starred Cliff Bowes, who I had never seen before.  Virginia Vance had to choose between two suitors.  It was directed by Jack White. 

I liked the fact that some of the prints were scratchy.  I miss that. 

Accidentally Preserved 2 came out this month.  I hope to order it soon. 

I also ordered a book by Steve Massa that collects all the notes from the films on the two Accidentally Preserved sets.  It is printed in a size that fits nicely in the DVD case. 

The Accidentally Preserved website:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ben Turpin in When a Man's a Prince -- January 26, 2014

Mack Sennett produced a number of two-reel parodies of Hollywood genres starring the inimitable Ben Turpin.  In "When a Man's a Prince," Ben impersonated actor/director Erich von Stroheim.  "Back again, cross eyes and all, and funnier than ever!"  At this time, Sennett's short films were released by Pathé (Pathécomedies).

Ben Turpin, a native of New Orleans, starting appearing in films for Essanay in Chicago in 1907.  A 1909 Essanay one-reeler, "Mr Flip," turns up in some video collections.  When Charlie Chaplin joined Essanay in 1915, Turpin supported him, especially in "A Night Out."  Chaplin went to Hollywood, then left Essanay. 

Turpin moved on to Vogue "Slapstick with a Reason." In 1917, Turpin joined Mack Sennett's studio, where he fit right in with his crossed eyes and wild pratfalls. With sound on the way, Sennett closed his studio in 1928. Turpin moved on to Weiss Brothers-Artclass. In 1929, well off from real estate investments, he retired. He was an active Roman Catholic. Turpin made gag appearances in features and shorts until he died in 1940.

As I mentioned in another post (, "he had a very long career and made a lot of people laugh."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Zep Diner and Brown Derby -- January 25, 2014

Dining out in Los Angeles?  Visit the Zep Diner, loosely inspired by a Zeppelin, or the famous Brown Derby, "obviously" inspired by Al Smith's hat. The Zep Diner was at 515 West Florence Avenue, near South Figueroa. "Home of the Hinden Burger."

The original Brown Derby, on Wilshire Boulevard, opened in the late 1920s.  There was later a chain of Brown Derby restaurants, but the original was the only one shaped like a brown derby.  I remember when the building, which had been moved a block in the 1930s, was torn down in 1980 to make way for a shopping center.  The crown of the derby is part of the center.  Partner Bob Cobb, namesake of the Cobb salad, also owned, along with some Hollywood stars, the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League. 

The image is from the March, 1930 New Movie.  Click on the image to see a larger version. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Famous Burns-O'Brien Contest -- January 24, 2014

From the 18-May-1907 Moving Picture World

Heavyweight champ Tommy Burns, a Canadian, met Philadelphia Jack O'Brien for the second time on 08-May-1907 in Los Angeles.  Their first fight had ended in a draw.  Burns won the second fight, but spectators thought the results smelled like a fix.  Retired heavyweight champ Jim Jeffries was the referee.  Miles Brothers, famous now for producing "A Trip Down Market Street," distributed the film.  Boxing films were very important to the early industry.  Note that the film could be purchased or rented for a week or a day. 

From the 05-May-1907 Los Angeles Herald

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thaumatrope -- January 23, 2014

From The Young Folk's Cyclopædia of Games and Sports by John Denison Champlin and Arthur Elmore Bostwick, 1890. Several times when I was young I took a book out of the Anza Branch Library that explained how movies work.  I can't remember the title.  I tried to make several of the devices in the section on early moving picture devices.  The Thaumatrope was easy. 

THAUMATROPE. A toy consisting of a square or a disk of pasteboard having pictures on both sides. The disk has strings, by which it can be twirled so rapidly that the eye can see the pictures on both sides at once. This is possible because the image of anything seen remains in the eye about one-eighth of a second, and as it does not take so long as that for the disk to turn around, the images of both sides are in the eye at the same time. Parts of a figure may be represented on one side of the disk and the rest on the other in such a way that when the disk is twirled the figure is seen complete. Thus, the man in the illustration will appear to be riding the horse.
Drawing Thaumatrope Figures. The simplest figures to draw are those whose parts do not have to fit together very exactly. For instance, a cage may be drawn on one side and a bird on the other, and when the disk is twirled the bird will appear in the cage, but its position does not matter much. The figure on the opposite side of the disk from the spectator must be upside down, so that when it turns over to his own side it will be upright. In the case of parts of figures which must fit together exactly more care is required, as for instance when some of a man's limbs are drawn on one side of the disk and the rest on the other. The required figure should be selected from a book, or drawn entire on a sheet of paper, and then the parts to be drawn on each side of the disk must be traced on separate pieces of tracing paper.
Two straight lines, A B and C D, must be drawn across the picture, and their traces lightly penciled across both the partial drawings. One of the partial drawings is now pasted on one side of a piece of pasteboard and pinholes are pricked through it at A, B, C, and D, or points near them on the lines ; the other partial drawing must be pasted on the other side of the pasteboard upside down, but so that the lines A B and C D join the pinholes made from the other side.  Thus the two partial pictures will exactly correspond in position. The pasteboard is now cut into any convenient shape —a disk is best, but not necessary— and the figures may be painted or details added to suit the maker. It is best to put only outlines on the tracing paper, so that the work will not be wasted if a mistake is made in pasting. The middle strings must be fastened at the ends of the line A B, and the others, if there are more than one, at equal distances above and below, so that the card will twirl about this line; otherwise the figures will not blend correctly. It does not matter how the lines A B and C D are drawn in the first place so long as they cross, but their position must be traced exactly on the partial drawings.
Many comical effects can be produced by the Thaumatrope. A man may be drawn on one side and a bottle on the other so that the man will appear to be drinking when the disk is twirled. In the same way can be shown a house, and the same house in flames; a sleeping man, and the same man attacked by rats, and countless other designs. If the axis on which the card twirls is changed a little, the position of the figures changes. This can be effected by using two strings only on each side, and having one of these on one side made of stiff elastic.  When the string is pulled the axis of the card will change, and with it the relation of the figures.  Thus, in the case of the man drinking, the hand may appear slightly raised at first, and, on tightening the string, may be visibly lifted to the mouth. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Duck Soup -- Ride Like Fury -- January 22, 2014

"Ride like Fury," says President Rufus T Firefly to Pinky, "If you run out of gas, get ethyl. If Ethel runs out, get Mabel! Now step on it!"  There is a running gag involving the motorcycle and the sidecar. 

Duck Soup was the Marx Brothers' last film for Paramount and the last one that starred the Four Marx Brothers; it is a favorite of mine. Director Leo McCarey brought along his experience with Hal Roach shorts and some Hal Roach regulars, including Edgar Kennedy and Charles Middleton.

The ad is from Motion Picture Daily, 12-October-1933.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

DVD: Treasures 6: From the New Zealand Film Archive #2 -- January 21, 2014

One of my Christmas presents was the sixth Lost and Found: American Treasures From the New Zealand Film Archive.  This edition was shorter than the others, consisting of a single DVD, but it contains some wonderful items. 

"Won in a Cupboard" is the oldest surviving film directed by Mabel Normand.   In the US, it was titled "Won in a Closet," but "closet" is used differently in the British world.  The plot was a bit hard to follow, but that is not uncommon with early Keystones.  The strangest scene has Mabel and her ideal, Charles Avery, walking towards each other in a split screen, and meeting at a tree in the middle.  The subtitle said "Like a Dream," and it was correct. 

"The Active Life of Dolly of the Dailies #5" was an episode of an Edison series, not yet a serial, starring Mary Fuller as a newspaperwoman.  It was largely set in Chinatown, and mostly featured actual Asians, although there were one or two white men in yellowface.  I was shocked at the end when the newspaper editor told Dolly not to let the kidnap victim's family know she had been recovered until the newspaper broke the story. 

"Stories From American Newsreels" had two sets of stories.  A "Co-Operative Weekly Review" has two World War One stories, about high school girls learning factory jobs and nurses being trained.  A Selznick News has a woman driving an ostrich cart at the famous Pasadena ostrich farm and a man with a radio set installed in his car.  At the end, he drives the car remotely. 

"Andy's Stump Speech" was a two-reeler starring Joe Murphy as Andy Gump.  I remember reading reprints of The Gumps comic strip in books and finding it ugly and unfunny.  I can usually understand old topical humor, but this was beyond me.  The movie was funny.  Poor Joe Murphy looked like Andy Gump. 

"Virginian Types" is a fragment of a longer movie about the Appalachian community of Old Rag, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley.  The short was colored using the Pathécolor stencil process. 

The White Shadow is a large part of a British film directed by Graham Cutts.  It is the earliest surviving film on which Alfred Hitchcock worked.  Back in 2012, on my other blog, The Pneumatic Rolling Sphere Carrier Delusion, I took part in a blogathon to raise funds to allow the National Film Preservation Foundation to stream the film on the internet, For the Love of Hitchcock, The Film Preservation Blogathon:
Dial HOllywood 9-2411 for Hitchcock
Hitchcock -- Berdarold, Piccy, London
 Alfred Hitchcock, SRO, RKO, UA, Univ
Hitchcock -- Club: Royal Auto
Hitchcock -- He Has Had a Non-Stop Career
On my other blog, The Pneumatic Rolling Sphere Carrier Delusion, I reviewed the fifth Treasures From the American Film Archives, The West:
Disc one:
Disc two:
Disc three:

Monday, January 20, 2014

DVD: Treasures 6: From the New Zealand Film Archive #1 -- January 20, 2014

One of my Christmas presents was the sixth Lost and Found: American Treasures From the New Zealand Film Archive.  This edition was shorter than the others, consisting of a single DVD, but it contains some wonderful items. 

Almost every review of the set that I have read talks about "Lyman H Howe's Famous Ride on a Runaway Train," a single reel released by Educational in 1921.  He had made earlier versions in 1908 and 1914.  Most of the footage in this version was shot before the 1920s.  The print, found in New Zealand, matches with a sound track disk from the Library of Congress.  It starts with an animated title sequence.  A little boy oils a large locomotive.  A title says his dad in an engineer.  There is some nitrate deterioration over the title and a shot of an engineer starting a locomotive.  There are scenes of trains passing through nice scenery.  Then the trains go faster, some in undercranked shots.  The "runaways" include at least three inclines.  One I recognized as Southern California's Mount Lowe.  Another stretch may have been shot on the down track of Mauch Chunk Pennsylvania's Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway. The movie was fun and I need to spend more time trying to identify locations. 

The second movie was a Paul Terry Aesop's Fables, "Happy-Go-Luckies."  A dog and a cat ride on a freight train and arrive at a dog show.  They impersonate a unique dog and win the show.  It was fun. 

The trailer for Strong Boy, a John Ford film, is all that remains. 

Upstream was a John Ford feature set almost entirely in a theatrical boarding house.  I enjoyed the various types from vaudeville and the legitimate theater.  I liked the ending, where the ham villain got his comeuppance. 

"Birth of a Hat" was an industrial film from the Stetson Company.  It began with a short history of hats and then went through the process of making a hat, from the pelt through every step.  It was a very manual process and workplace safety was minimal. 

"The Love Charm" was a Tiffany-Stahl one reeler shot in two color Technicolor.  It was set in the South Seas.  I was surprised to see that Duncan Renaldo had written it.  Ann Christy, who had been Harold Lloyd's leading lady in Speedy, played the daughter of a trader.  On seeing the handsome captain of a yacht, she tells her father "He is white, just like me."  Hoo boy. 

I'll write about the second half tomorrow. 

On my other blog, The Pneumatic Rolling Sphere Carrier Delusion, I reviewed the fifth Treasures From the American Film Archives, The West:
Disc one:
Disc two:
Disc three:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Love Em and Weep -- January 19, 2014

This item, from the 06-June-1927 Film Daily, is an ad for "Love Em and Weep," a two reel Hal Roach comedy, distributed by Pathé, starring Mae Busch and Jimmy (Fin) Finlayson.  Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy appeared in the movie, but not as a team. 

A note at the bottom says that this ad is a cornerblock provided to theaters to use in newspaper advertising. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Larry Semon, Vitagraph's Comedy King -- January 18, 2014

 Larry Semon's father was a magician, Zera the Great.  Larry grew up touring the South with his father's act.  Larry became a newspaper cartoonist and performed on stage.  He joined the Vitagraph Company of America as a writer, director and player of small parts.  Over time, he became a lead comic in movies with the Big V Riot Squad and others.  He was a major slapstick star in the late teens and early 20s, playing a weird-looking character.  He directed his own movies and became more and more extravagant, running up huge costs for elaborate special effects.  He parted with Vitagraph and tried to go into features.  The only one I have seen is The Wizard of Oz, where he played the Scarecrow.  Oliver Hardy played the Tin Man.  Semon's wife Dorothy Dwan played Dorothy.  The movie was not a success and Semon lost a lot of money.  Semon went back to making shorts for Educational release.   He appeared as a character actor in some serious features like Josef Von Sternberg's Underworld.  Semon died in 1928. 

His movies are still popular in Italy, where he is known as Ridolini. 

The image is Semon's entry in the 1920 edition of Who's Who on the Screen.  It calls him "Larry Semon, Vitagraph's comedy king." 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Graumans Chinese #34 -- January 17, 2014

In July, 2012 we paid a return visit to Hollywood and Grauman's Chinese Theater.  Sid Grauman was a San Francisco showman who came to Los Angeles and built three major houses, the Million Dollar, the Egyptian, and the Chinese. The theater has hosted many film premieres, but is most famous for the hand and footprints (and hoofprints and nose prints and other types of prints) in the forecourt.

 French actor Charles Boyer left his hand and footprints in the forecourt on 24-July-1942.  He appeared in some interesting movies in France and the US, like Algiers, Gaslight and The Constant Nymph.  His voice inspired the Warner Brothers cartoon character Pepe Le Pew.  He was a chevalier of the Légion d'honneur.  (31/DSC_0049.JPG)

I moved this series over from my other blog, The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier DelusionHere are the entries from this series on that blog

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kick a Cripple and Get a Laugh -- 16-January-2014

This ad, from the 17-March-1915 Washington Times, promotes Universal's movies, particularly Billie Ritchie's L-KO comedies. "Kick a cripple and get a laugh" is such a wonderful tag line. I considered using it as the title of this blog, but then I thought that might not be such a good idea. Note how they spelled "subtle."

"Come out and see how the movies are made" at Universal City. "The largest film manufacturing concern in the universe." 

Billie Ritchie claimed that Charlie Chaplin copied his makeup and costume. 

Be sure to click on the image and see a larger version. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Krazy Kat Cartoons -- January 15, 2014

When I was a kid, a local television station would show Krazy Kat cartoons, which had been made in the 1960s.  Krazy Kat was female.  I found this confusing a few years later when I started reading books with old comic strips.  George Herriman always referred to the Kat as "he."  I didn't see earlier animated versions until much later.  They tended to completely ignore Herriman's style, especially with their backgrounds. 

This ad, from the 11-May-1927 Film Daily was for a series released by Paramount, through Charles B Mintz, who is famous today for taking Oswald the Lucky Rabbit away from Walt Disney.  Animator Bill Nolan's Krazy Kat was an imitation of Felix the Cat.  Nolan had worked at Pat Sullivan's studio, where Felix was produced. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Oz Film Manufacturing Company -- January 14, 2014

The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, located in Los Angeles, was formed in 1914 to produce movies based on stories by L Frank Baum, the creator of The Wizard of Oz.  The company made some movies, but was not a financial success. This logo is a detail from a double page ad in the 29-September-1914 edition of Moving Picture World.  The full ad is below.  It refers to their first two movies, The Patchwork Girl of Oz and The Magic Cloak of Oz.

I moved this series over from my other blog, The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier DelusionHere are the entries from this series on that blog

Sunday, January 12, 2014

1916, A Funny Year -- January 12, 2014

Film Fun, January, 1916

This post is part of  the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently, Ruth at Silver Screenings and Aurora at Once Upon a Screen.   Each participant is posting about a year from 1915 to 1950.  Be sure to click on most images to see larger versions.  

1916 was not a funny year for the 300,000 men killed at the Battle of Verdun or the one million killed at the Battle of the Somme.  1916 was not a funny year for the 8500 men killed at the naval Battle of Jutland.  1916 was not a funny year for the 12 members of the IWW killed at the Everett Massacre.  1916 was not a funny year for the 64 men killed during the Easter Rising in Dublin and the 16 later executed by the British.  1916 was not a funny year for the 16 people killed in San Francisco by the Preparedness Day Bombing, nor for Tom Mooney and Warren Billings, who were convicted of the bombing and sent to prison for 23 years even though neither was guilty.  1916 was not a funny year for Mary the circus elephant, who was hanged in Tennessee for killing her handler, nor was 1916 a funny year for her handler. 

So why do I call this post "1916, A Funny Year"?  I call it that because among the important cinema events of 1916, which included the premiere of DW Griffith's Intolerance and the rising popularity of movie serials, was a great deal of growth in the genre of slapstick film comedy. 

The 03-September-1949 issue of Life Magazine carried an article by James Agee, "Comedy's Greatest Era."  He looked back at the era of silent comedy, which had been dead for about 20 years, if one doesn't count Charlie Chaplin's City Lights from 1931 and Modern Times from 1936.  Agee said that he was trying to "suggest what it was like in its glory in the years from 1912 to 1930, as practiced by the employees of Mack Sennett, the father of American screen comedy, and by the four most eminent masters: Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, the late Harry Langdon and Buster Keaton."  Note that Mack Sennett and three of the "four most eminent masters" were still alive when Agee wrote the article. 

Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1916.

Back in 1916, Mack Sennett was going strong, even though he had lost some of his independence in joining the Triangle Film Corporation.  Triangle was founded in 1915 by Harry and Roy Aitken. The three points of the Triangle represented its three prestigious producers, DW Griffith, Thomas Ince and Mack Sennett. 

Moving Picture World, October, 1916.

The advertisement, from the 14-October-1916 Moving Picture World, features several current Keystone stars like Roscoe Arbuckle, who might have been a member of Agee's Pantheon if not for a scandal in 1921 that unjustly ruined his career.  Gloria Swanson and Bobby Vernon often worked together as a team.  Miss Swanson went on to become one of the biggest stars in the movies and Vernon had a long career as an actor and writer in comedies.  Louise Fazenda and Harry McCoy worked in comedy into the sound era.  I don't remember much about Ora Carew or Harry Booker.  Arbuckle left Sennett in 1917, as Chaplin, Ford Sterling and others had already gone because Sennett would not or could not pay them what they were worth. 

Moving Picture World, January 1, 1916.
At the end of 1914, Charlie Chaplin had left Sennett to go to Essanay.  At the end of 1915, Chaplin left Essanay to make a wonderful series of shorts for Mutual release.  Essanay took his penultimate production for the studio, "Burlesque on Carmen," and expanded it from two to four reels by adding outtakes and a whole subplot featuring Ben Turpin, who wasn't in the original movie.  Chaplin sued but lost. 

Moving Picture World, May 20, 1916
Chaplin's last production for Essanay, "Police," is commonly called his best for that studio.  I like the design of the ad. 

Moving Picture World, May 27, 1916
Mutual knew it had a hot property in "The Floor Walker," Chaplin's first two-reeler under his new contract.  They were paying Chaplin $650,000 a year, and they wanted to get their money's worth. 

Moving Picture World, June 10, 1916
Essanay knew it had a hot property in the second to last film Chaplin made under his old contract. 

Chaplin's second Mutual release, "The Fireman," played at 14 theaters on Broadway during its first run. 

Moving Picture World, July 8, 1916

I like the image in this ad for Chaplin's third Mutual, "The Vagabond." 

Moving Picture World, July 15, 1916
This Mutual ad touted Chaplin as "the greatest laugh maker that ever lived."  It also says, for some reason, that "This year under the Mutual environment he has acquired UNCTION -- that indefinable something which marks the difference between the bread worker and the true artist." 

Moving Picture World, August 19, 1916
I remember seeing "One A.M," which is a solo performance by Charley, except for the appearance of a cabbie, on television.  Note the warning about "Chaplin Fakirs!!  Ancient films are being dug out of the grave, duped and retitled to be sold to exhibitors as parasites on the fame of Charles Chaplin."  Keep in mind that Chaplin had been making movies for just over two years. 

Moving Picture World, September 9, 1916
Essanay contined to tout its last two Chaplin movies.  Note that they were released through two different companies, General Film Service and V.L.S.E. (Vitagraph-Lubin-Selig-Essanay). 

Moving Picture World, September 23, 1916
I remember seeing a version of "The Count" with sound effects on television when I was young. 

Moving Picture World, September 23, 1916
The same issue of Moving Picture World carried an ad for Essanay's next attempt to squeeze all it could out of Chaplin's legacy, the five reel Essanay-Chaplin-Revue.  "Especially arranged by the Essanay Company from the Essanay-Chaplin comedy successes 'The Tramp,' 'His New Job,' 'A Night Out.'"  It warns infringers that all the Essanay-Chaplins were protected by copyright.  Note that this is listed as the "FIRST Essanay-Chaplin-Revue."  Essanay would do this again in 1918 with Triple Trouble

Moving Picture World, October 7, 1916
In his wonderful book The Silent Clowns, Walter Kerr gives a loving description of the scene where Charlie, as the pawnbroker's assistant, evaluates an alarm clock, treating like a succession of different objects. 

Moving Picture World, November 11, 1916
The image shows Chaplin's regular nemesis, Eric Campbell, Charlie, and his regular leading lady, Edna Purviance. 

Moving Picture World, December 16, 1916

I remember a television station showing "The Rink" in the 1970s when roller skating became popular. 

Motography, April 1, 1916
By 1916, Chaplin may have been the most popular man not only in film but in the whole world.  Everyone wanted to see his movies, especially the soldiers in the trenches. 

Film Fun, April, 1916
Lots of people wanted to be Charlie Chaplin.  Kids could be Charlie by sending ten cents to the NUIDEA Company of Brooklyn.  They would receive a "Chas. Chaplin Mustache," an imitation gold tooth, a $1000 bank roll of stage money an "Ish Ka Bibble" lapel button and the "Great Chaplain Coin Vanisher."  I wonder why it includes a gold tooth.  The "Ish Ka Bibble" button is interesting.  I remember Ish Kabibble, Mervyn Bogue, who performed with Kay Kyser.  According to Wikipedia, "Ish Ka Bibble" is a fake Yiddish expression that is said to mean "I should worry?"  I'd love to own a Great Chaplain Coin Vanisher. 

Film Fun, January, 1916
Adults often participated in Charlie Chaplin look alike contests.  The Film Fun images are from such a contest in Dublin.  There is a popular story that Chaplin himself entered a look alike contest and came in second.  This is probably not true, but it is a good story. 

Moving Picture World, December 9, 1916
Other people who wanted to be Charlie Chaplin did it professionally.  Billy West used the tramp costume in a long series of comedies for different studios.  Note the large top photo.  The round insert shows West out of makeup. 

Moving Picture World, June 3, 1916
The Juvenile Film Corporation presented Joseph Monahan imitating Charlie Chaplin in a burlesque on Charlie Chaplin's "Burlesque on Carmen." 

Moving Picture World, November 11, 1916
Billie Ritchie was a special case.  He dressed in a tramp costume and wore a small moustache, but Ritchie claimed he was wearing the tramp costume two or three years before Chaplin was born in 1889, and that Chaplin was imitating his act. Chaplin and Ritchie are seen in the Film Fun cover at the top of this post. 

Moving Picture World, April 8, 1916
Harold Lloyd, another of James Agee's "four most eminent masters," starred in a series of Lonesome Luke comedies.  Lonesome Luke resembled Chaplin with some variations, like a thin moustache instead of a toothbrush, and tight pants instead of baggy.  The Rolin Film Company was founded by Hal Roach and Dan Linthicum.  Note that Lloyd's name does not appear in this April ad. 

Moving Picture World, August 5, 1916
Harold Lloyd's name is featured prominently in this August ad for "Luke Crystal Gazer." 

Moving Picture World, September 9, 1916
This ad for "Luke Joins the Navy" includes photos of Lloyd's two frequent co-stars, Bebe Daniels and Snub Pollard.  Bebe Daniels left Lloyd in 1920 to star for Cecil B DeMille.  She became a major star.  Australian Snub Pollard had a long career in comedy. 

Moving Picture World, September 23, 1916
This ad for "Luke and the Mermaids" mentions Luke, Snub and Bebe by name.  It does not use Harold Lloyd's real name.  Lloyd got tired of imitating Chaplin.  In 1917, he got the idea for the "glasses character" that he used to become a member of the comedy pantheon. 

Moving Picture World, December 16, 1916
Meanwhile, back at Essanay, partner George Spoor was looking for a comedian to take Charley Chaplin's place.  He signed international star Max Linder.  Linder had appeared in early Pathé slapstick comedies in France. He became a major star before World War One.  There is some confusion about what he did in the war, but he was wounded or became seriously ill and newspapers reported that he had died.  This was not true, but the French film industry, the most powerful in the world before the war, had mostly shut down.  Max took the offer from Essanay and came to America, signing a deal to make six short films.  The first two did poorly and the third did only a little better, so that was the end of the series. 

Tacoma Times, December 2, 1916
James Agee's "four most eminent masters" included my personal favorite, Buster Keaton.  In 1916, Keaton was still appearing in vaudeville with his father Joe and his mother Myra.  This ad for the Pantages Theater in Tacoma bills the Three Keatons as "Fun's Family."  I like way Ricker and Winifred are billed as "Riotous Funsters."  Keaton made his film debut the following year with Roscoe Arbuckle. 

New York Tribune, November 12, 1916
The last of James Agee's "four most eminent masters" was Harry Langdon, who didn't make his film debut until 1923.  In 1916, he was appearing at the apex of the vaudeville world, New York's Palace Theater, with his wife in "Johnny's New Car."  Irene Bordoni was an important actress and singer.  George Whiting wrote the lyrics for "My Blue Heaven." 

Moving Picture World, June 24, 1916
Walter Kerr argues in The Silent Clowns that James Agee's list of four was limiting.  He said that Laurel and Hardy need to be considered among the great silent comics, although he allows that their sound career was more important.  Oliver "Babe" Hardy was a veteran of silent comedy in 1916.  He appeared in a series of Vim comedies partnered with little Billy Ruge as Plump and Runt.  Vim's other comic team was cleverly named Pokes and Jabs (Bobby Burns and Walter Stull). 

Variety, April 14, 1916
Hardy's future partner, Stan Laurel, would make his film debut the next year, using his original name, Stan Jefferson.  In 1916, Stan was appearing in vaudeville with his wife, Mae, and another person, billed as the Keystone Trio or the Stan Jefferson Trio.  Stan Jefferson imitated Charlie Chaplin in the act, which was appropriate because he had been Chaplin's understudy with the Fred Karno pantomime troupe. 

Bryan Daily Eagle and Pilot, 18-July-1916
Walter Kerr suggested that another candidate for the pantheon might be Lloyd Hamilton, who starred in short comedies into the sound era.  In 1916, we was usually teamed with little Bud Duncan as Ham and Bud.  These were some roughneck comedies.  Sadly, many of the solo movies Hamilton made for Educational during the 1920s are lost.  The Dixie Theater featured Ham and Bud in "The Great Detective."  Harry Myers, who would appear on the next day's bill with his regular partner Rosemary Theby, later played the drunken millionaire in Chaplin's City Lights

Daily Capital Journal., 24-March-1916
Walter Kerr said that women did not have the same opportunities as men to star in slapstick comedies.  Mabel Normand made many wonderful comedies, but her career was cut short by scandal and ill health.  "Fatty and Mabel Adrift" was one of several movies she made with Roscoe Arbuckle. 

Moving Picture World, August 19, 1916
Another person who did not get the same opportunities as some men was the Bahamian-American comedian Bert Williams, who made two short films for the Biograph in 1916, "A Natural Born Gambler" and "Fish."  Williams appeared in vaudeville and the Ziegfeld Follies.  He died tragically young in 1922. 

Moving Picture World, October 14, 1916
Henry Lehrman got his nickname, "Pathé," when he showed up at the Biograph studio and claimed to have had lots of experience with the Pathé company in France.  Director DW Griffith, amused by his audacity, gave him work as an extra and a stuntman.  Lehrman worked his way up to directing comedies before Mack Sennett left to form Keystone.  Lehrman came along, and wound up directing Charlie Chaplin's first movie, "Making a Living."  Lehrman left Sennett along with Ford Sterling to make movies for Universal.  Lehrman broke up with Sterling to form the L-KO (Lehrman Knock-Out) Komedy Kompany.  Lehrman was also nicknamed "Suicide" because he was known for risking the lives and limbs of his performers.  L-KOs had a reputation for being rough and ready comedies.  I assume that this L-KO ad includes an image from "The Surgeon's Revenge."  I include a detail view below. 

Moving Picture World, October 14, 1916
Moving Picture World, October 28, 1916
Cross-eyed Ben Turpin will never make it into the pantheon of slapstick comedians, but he had a very long career and made a lot of people laugh.  "He Died and He Didn't" is an interesting title.  Notice the Vogue motto: "Slapstick with a Reason." 

Moving Picture World, October 14, 1916

I don't remember reading much about Marcel Perez, who played a character called Tweedledum or Dweedledum or Tweedie in slapstick comedies for various companies.  He started out in pre-World War One French comedies, then moved to Italy, then came to America because of the war.  He worked for various companies, performing and directing. I learned about his career from a chapter in Steve Massa's book Lame Brains and Lunatics.

Moving Picture World, October 21, 1916
Comedy producer and director Al Christie left Nestor in 1916 to form the Christie Film Company with his brother Charles.  The Christie Brothers produced comedies in competition with Mack Sennett and Hal Roach until 1933.  "Christie Comedies set a high mark in clean wholesome fun -- not slapstick but funny." 

Moving Picture World, January 1, 1916
Sammy Burns was an obscure slapstick comedian.  I don't know why Vogue chose to omit his last name from this ad and call him "Sammy???"  Notice that Vogue's motto is stated as "Slapsticks with a Reason."  His previous release, "Sammy's Scandalous Scheme," involved Sammy's character imitating Charlie Chaplin. 

Moving Picture World, April 8, 1916
Handsome Harry Watson, Jr played Musty Suffer in a series for George Kleine. 

Moving Picture Magazine, November 1915
And finally, I thought I would end with a surprise.  It is from 1915, but I couldn't resist.  I think I know what it is.  Would anyone else care to offer an opinion?  Nice drawing of Charlie. 

This post was part of  the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently, Ruth at Silver Screenings and Aurora at Once Upon a Screen.   Thank you to all three of them for all the hard work.  Thank you to everyone who visited and I encourage you to read and comment on as many posts as you can.  


I participated in several movie blogathons at my other blog, The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion. You can visit them here.