Thursday, April 25, 2013

Potpourri is the Bees' Knees

Boy, this week really got away from me!   I had wanted to post a Silent Stanzas poem for you this week -- been so long since I did one -- but between doctors and plumbers and personal drama I never got a chance!
Next week, I promise.  

Your consolation prize post: some weird / interesting assorted stuff I've collected the last few weeks.

They were really gaga for legs in the 20s.  From Photoplay, January 1926:

No home should be without one.  Presenting the John Bunny statue, Motion Picture, August 1914:

I AM SMUT!  Film Truth, Nov 1920:

And finally, everyone's favorite Keystone comic: GEORGE Chaplin?  Motion Picture, August 1914:

See you next week!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Carol Holloway, Not Just a Pretty Face

Going along through old copies of Photoplay and Motion Picture (as you do) and I'm stopped in my tracks by the most beautiful woman:  Carol Holloway.  I instantly dropped everything and started digging.

[Motion Picture, October 1914, image courtesy the MHDL]

(C'mon, with a photo like that, wouldn't you want to know more about her?)

Carol Holloway (sometimes billed as "Halloway") was born in MA in 1892, and entered stock theatre early, which took her across the US.  She began filming one-reel shorts for many different studios, most notably the "Billy Van Deusen" series of comedies for American Film ("Flying A") starring John Sheehan and John Steppling.  Eventually she moved away from comedies to specialize in westerns and rugged outdoorsy cliffhangers; after Vitagraph (home of our favorite smokestack), where she made a number of films with William Duncan, she was teamed with Antonio Moreno in serials with names like "Perils of Thunder Mountain" and "The Iron Test". The latter was where she suffered the Perils of Serial Filming:

A knock-out blow! That what Carol Holloway, the Vitagraph star, received at the hands of Craven [actor Barney Furey] in the thirteenth episode of "The Iron Test".  Craven misjudged the distance of the blow he was supposed to deliver lightly in a scrimmage with the heroine...[t]he blow deprived the Vitagraph star of consciousness for several minutes. [Photo-Play Journal, Feb 1919]

EDITED TO ADD:  Speaking of perils...just came across this -- from Motion Picture, May 1917:

However, lest you think she was a delicate flower: Carol was a tough cookie, both on- and off-screen:

Do you think Carol Holloway of "Beauty" [the comedy division of American for which she worked] comedy fame is afraid of a hold-up man?  I guess not.  The other night, while on her way home with her mother, a footpad tried to snatch her mother's handbag.  At this point the celebrated beauty...took a smash at the brigand, who took to his heels with much gusto.  But he did not get the handbag.  [The Deseret News, Jun 3, 1916]

[photo courtesy]

Her busiest and best time was in the Teens, although she did seem weary at times of the repetitive nature of serial work.  Even with a bright and happy facade, her words betray her, in this interview with Elizabeth Peltret for Motion Picture ["When the Celluloid Clock Strikes Twelve", Feb 1919]:

People don't realize how much work there is to the making of a serial...[i]f there is an almost inaccessible location within three hundred miles of the studio, you can trust the director of a serial company to find it.  [M]y dear, I've climbed every rock that anybody in the State has ever heard of!
I like the adventures we meet doing serials...and the chance they give me to be always outdoors.  Still, I realize that by impersonating the same girl every day for six months, I don't have as many opportunities to strike twelve as I would if my parts were a little more varied...

She also seemed highly aware of where she fell on the motion picture food chain:

"Yes," she remarked, "my future is all before me -- I hope.  Perhaps some day I will be famous."
"What do you mean, will be?" I asked.
She laughed.  "My dear, I have no illusions; I'm not now.  Professionally I'm just about striking nine on a clock that strikes twelve."

Carol never truly "struck twelve", as she put it; in the Twenties, she starred opposite Hoot Gibson and Tom Mix in a few westerns, and turned up in minor roles in pictures like Beau Brummel with John Barrymore and The Saphead with Buster Keaton, but by the Thirties had devolved into bit parts, largely uncredited.  Her resume stops in 1940 when, as both her IMDb and Find A Grave pages state, she retired and "was never heard from again".  

Wherever she went, I hope she was happy -- and didn't have to climb anything.  She died January 3, 1979.

[photo courtesy Find A Grave]

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Silent Stanzas From the Silent Era

In lieu of my own work this week, I thought I'd share some of what I've come across on the Media History Digital Library website.  Fan magazines, especially the early ones, contain some well-written and downright  lovely poetry!  Here are two of my favorite pieces.  The first one is a terrific example of the complete infatuation and amazement that early film audiences felt, seeing such larger-than-life beauty for the first time:

"My Shadow Girl" by George Wildey, Motion Picture Story, December 1913

Whate'er of dreams from mem'ry's store
May come unbid to thee
I only dream of crimson lips
That were not meant for me.
More blest than I, the heedless cup
May drink its fill of wine,
While I must ever thirst in vain
For lips not meant for mine.

The ruse whose perfume greets the day
At night may quaff the dew;
For thee the kindly God of Love
A draught of bliss may brew;
The sparkling wine may freely flow
To cheer the cup supine,
While I must ever thirst in vain
For lips not meant for mine.

The kine may seek the limpid stream
That threads the meadow green;
The fount of youth may purl for thee
Whose smile illumes the screen;
The hero in the Photoplay
May cull the bloom from thine,
While I must gaze thereon athirst
For lips not meant for mine.

The second just plain cracks me up.  Motion Picture Story had a section (with the long-winded title of "Appreciation and Criticisms of Popular Plays and Players by Our Readers") where one could submit their attempts, and Louise Vaughn did just that in the February 1914 issue:

I've always been a bachelor-maid,
Quite heart-whole and quite free,
For never have I met a man
Who really pleased me.

I could not love a man who's fat
(Apologies, Mr Bunny),
And yet--alas! the old men
Are the only men with money.

But I have seen a face and form--
They've made of me a slave;
Sometimes he is a lover bold.
Sometimes a hero brave.

I think that I am destined
To fall in love, it seems,
With handsome Carlyle Blackwell,
The ideal of my dreams.

Mr Blackwell, for the uninitiated.  (We've met him here before.) 
One wonders if she spent her remaining years mooning over this picture:

Believe me, there'll be more of these in the future -- they are too fun to pass up!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Five Facts About: Muriel Ostriche

[photo courtesy Immortal Ephemera]

      1.   The lovely Muriel started her film career at Biograph in 1911, but it wasn’t until Thanhouser in 1913 that she became a star.  In between, she worked at Powers, Pathé, Éclair, and Reliance. Whew!

      2.  Her work was so well-received that Charles J Hite, president of Thanhouser Studios, created a separate film division just for her – Princess – and made her its leading lady.

Muriel in a scene from The Decoy (1914), 
a Princess film you can watch in its entirety on the Thanhouser website

      3.  Muriel enjoyed dancing and had a talent for it.  She and a taxi-dancer friend would often impress the patrons at Rector’s, a popular restaurant.  Her friend eventually went on to his own success in films...maybe you’ve heard of him?

      4.  At the height of her movie stardom, she was also the official face of Moxie, a popular soft drink which once outsold Coca-Cola.  You can still buy it today!

      5.  When Muriel died at age 93, in 1989, she was the last surviving major Thanhouser star.

      Interested?  Good!  For more about Muriel:

      (on my to-read list, of course!)