Week of November 23rd, 1918

Ted Gale had had enough of the flu closures, too. (November 23, 1918)

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley scraped the bottom of the story barrel: her main Sunday story for a second week in a row was a round up of all the improvements theaters had made during the flu closure. Plainly, this thing had gone on long enough. This time she was even more optimistic and fulsome:

Hurray! The Rialto is on tip-toe, preparing to celebrate! The footlights will soon spring into multi-colored flowering, canned romance will commence to once more unwind, and orchestras will resume again their melodious tootings, hittings and blowings!

Pretty sad looking places those closed theaters have been; but it’s a busy lot of brains behind those doors, where managers are thinking pink thoughts about how best to dazzle their patrons once the dread flu ban is raised and when the public once more in long streams is purchasing pink slips from the pretty girl with self-indicted blond hair who decorates the little glass cage in front of the theater. And as for health measures—say the theaters are so clean and hygienic that any lone germ which happens to wander into one of them will feel as lonely as a Boche at a Fourth of July celebration.

She went through a similar list of theater improvements that she did last Sunday: they were cleaning, painting, and refurbishing everything they could think of. She added the promise of coming attractions from Douglas Fairbanks, William S. Hart, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Mack Sennett.

However, not everything would go back to the way it was (but cleaner), because the end of the war would cause big changes:

not only as regards the character of offerings, but as regards the personnel of companies, since a large number of artists will be released from service and will return to this country.

She was right. Audiences soon stopped wanting to see films about the war, and the return of servicemen caused women to lose their new jobs in film production.

There was one interesting side effect from the war. All of its disruption caused people to see new things and meet new people. As Will Wyatt, manager of the Mason vaudeville theater, put it:

…the war will affect a great mutual interchange of artists and of dramatic productions between England and this country, I am sure, which will naturally make for a fusion of ideas and a consequent raising of standards in dramatic art in both countries.



Poor Grace Kingsley couldn’t find very much else to write about this week. Mary Pickford started shooting Daddy Long-Legs. Edna Purviance, Chaplin’s co-star, was in a car accident, but she was only shaken up, not injured. The National Association of the Motion Picture Industry had a six-hour meeting in New York where they complained about “ruinous” taxes and high star salaries (businessmen wanted to keep more money for themselves—what a surprise). Happily, this was the last week of closed theaters. The re-opening wasn’t a moment too soon.

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