A Second Chance: Week of August 30th, 1919

Georgia Woodthorpe

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley gave us a story that showed that the best trope in fiction can sometimes come true:

When harsh parental edicts thirty-six years ago tore apart two newly-married San Francisco elopers known at the time as Billy Wallace and Georgie Woodthorpe, they did not extinguish but only banked love’s fires, which now have flamed again to reunite Mr. and Mrs. William T. Wallace in a home of happiness in Portland, OR, the two being wed there a few days ago…

Back of the remarriage which took place recently lies the unusual romance of the quickly-thwarted marriage of 1883, the interval of the marriages of the two to others, the rearing of children, and the smoldering of the love that brought the couple together again. During that time Mrs. Woodthorpe-Cooper made a name on the stage, appearing with both [Edwin] Booth and [Lawrence] Barrett.

The romance started when the two were schoolmates. Both ran away from their homes in San Francisco to San Jose, where they were wed, but swift parental interposition prevailed before the marriage was a day old, and finally Mrs. Wallace consented to divorce her young husband.

Aside from a brief meeting seven years ago, they had not seen each other until last February.

All that’s missing is a “you pierce my soul” letter (hooray for Captain Wentworth!). William Wallace had become a paving contractor in Portland Oregon, while Georgia Woodthorpe married Fred Cooper, a theater manager, and kept acting on the stage. Cooper died in 1912. Woodthorpe had started working in the movies in 1918, and she continued after her third wedding. Her most memorable role was as the lodge keeper’s wife in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). Mr. and Mrs. Wallace were together until he died in 1926; she died a year later.

Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, Charles Coburn in The More the Merrier

However if that early romance hadn’t been thwarted, we wouldn’t have The More The Merrier (1943), which would be awful. The Coopers had three daughters and a son; one daughter, Georgie Cooper, married John Stevens and they had two sons, John and George, who became a film director. He made quite a few other movies that people like at lot, including Swing Time (1937), Gunga Din (1939) and Shane (1953). I’m selfish enough to be glad everything turned out the way it did.

Kingsley’s favorite film this week was Wagon Tracks, a “great desert screen epic.” She enthused:

Never has William S. Hart appeared to such splendid advantage as in this smashing drama of the California desert. In fact, it seems as if all of his former efforts were mere training for this big epic of the outdoors. His vigorous downrightness of characterization, his power to convey deep dramatic feeling, and to impress with a sense of utter sincerity, have never revealed themselves so incisively as against the backdrop of the masterpiece of Mr. [C. Gardner] Sullivan’s—this strikingly original story of the pioneers who faced death in the olden days in order to build our empire in the West.

Hart played Buckskin Hamilton, a wagon train guide, who gets revenge for his brother’s murder. It’s been preserved, and it’s available on DVD.

Alice Brady in His Bridal Night

Kingsley’s least favorite film this week was His Bridal Night, a not-very naughty bedroom farce (“don’t be frightened—they spend the evening in a decorous sitting room”). After the show she overheard:

“It might have been worse!” sighed a fat lady behind me yesterday. “Or better!” responded her escort.

The Syd Chaplin Airline Company

Mr. Chaplin’s publicists were working overtime this week. On Monday Kingsley reported:

Laying aside for the time being his high-brow aspirations to play Hamlet and consenting to be the idol of high-brow, low-brows and no-brows for awhile yet, Charlie Chaplin announced yesterday that today he will commence the making of a new comedy along the lines that have made and kept him famous, and in which, despite his detractors, he is known as a real artist. The theme which Chaplin’s comedy will have is one in which the public is becoming more and more interested, viz. aviation. One scorns, of course, to suggest that an aviation comedy made by Charlie Chaplin will boost Brother Syd’s airplane business!

She’d heard a rumor that it was to be called Sky Jazzing. However, it never got past the tell-the-newspaper-about-it stage, and Chaplin kept working on The Kid. Syd Chaplin did help start the first privately owned domestic American airline, but he got out of the business about a year later, when the government started taxing it and requiring pilots’ licenses.

Chaplin at work

On Thursday, she ran a sweet story about Reginald Over, a Chaplin superfan who talked his way into the studio by claiming he had a camera innovation. After Chaplin finished shooting his scene and came over, Over immediately confessed that he didn’t, but he said:

“For the past three years I have religiously visited the studios where you have been working; wanted to see you in action. Never got a ‘look in.’ Thought it about time to invent something. So sorry to have troubled you. Mr. Chaplin, many thanks for the entertainment. Good-bye.”

He turned to go, but Charlie invited him to stay for tea.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any Reginald Overs living in Los Angeles at the time. But it would be nice if the story were true.

Kingsley attended these fights on August 26, 1919

A few weeks ago, we learned that on Monday nights, film people went to the theater. This week Kingsley reported that Tuesday night was fight night for the male part of Hollywood. Professional boxing was illegal in Los Angeles until 1924, so they all trekked to Vernon, a tiny unincorporated town five miles south of downtown L.A. She infiltrated Jack Doyle’s boxing ring there, where she heard “a great roar, the loudest human noise you have ever heard.” The stars she saw did their part to contribute to it:

  • “Bryant Washburn, who, you know, always plays the polite, home-broken husband, never misses a Tuesday night. Washburn is always loaded down with cigars when he arrives, because he invariably forgets to take his cigar out of his mouth when he commences to holler—says he never knows when an attack of hollering is coming on—and so drops cigar after cigar to the floor, and has to light another.”
  • “Charlie Chaplin forgets he’s a great artist when he arrives at the ringside. He hollers the loudest when he disagrees with the referee, which is nearly always.”
  • “Monte Blue puts his hands over his ears when there’s a din—and then hollers his own head off!”

There were a few exceptions, such as Tom Mix. Every Tuesday,“Tom sits as solemnly and quietly as if he were in church.” In addition, Roscoe Arbuckle had the most remarkable reaction to the din: “Fatty goes to sleep—but always wakes up just at the right places!”

Maybe in the coming months, we’ll find out what they did with themselves the rest of the week.

A New Fun Factory: Week of August 23, 1919

Henry Lehrman’s first independent comedy

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley announced that there was a new film studio in town:

After many months of preliminary activity, actual production of the first of the Henry Lehrman comedies for the First National Exhibitors’ Circuit was started this week, at the new Lehrman studios in Culver City. This marks the entry of Mr. Lehrman into the ranks of independent producers as the head of Henry Lehrman Productions, Inc., under a long contract with the First National, and the inauguration of a series of pictures in which he will be permitted unhampered scope in every detail of production. The first subject is expected to set new standards for Lehrman productions, and will be made without regard to time or expense.

Gee, they always liked to claim they were throwing unprecedented amounts of time and money at filmmaking in these sorts of announcements. Lehrman was a comedy veteran: in 1912 he went to work as an actor at Keystone, then he became Mack Sennett’s assistant and in 1913 he started directing. He founded L-KO Comedies in 1914 at Universal, then in 1917 he moved to Fox where he started their Sunshine Comedies unit. So with that much experience, it wasn’t unreasonable to think he could run his own comedy studio. According to his biographer, Thomas Reeder, independence and full artistic control were Lehrman’s dream. He knew it was a risk, saying he’d “either end up in a palace or the poorhouse.”

Unfortunately it was the poorhouse. He made a total of five shorts, then went bankrupt, losing his studio and his house by July, 1921. Worse was yet to come, and now it’s what he’s most known for: after his leading lady and fiancée Virginia Rappe died in September, he inserted himself into the biggest scandal of the early 1920’s, the Roscoe Arbuckle trials. He continued to find occasional directing and writing jobs until his death in 1937.

Kingsley’s favorite film this week was one she saw in a preview:

The Miracle Man is a miracle picture! Its like, as I saw it revealed at the Kinema the other morning, has never been made before: that of faith healing. I do not doubt it will be the sensation of this year, and maybe of many years, in its particular field….The great crashing thrill of the play is adroitly worked up to. It occurs when the four crooks, seeking to exploit the poor old Miracle Man of the hills—a simple soul, deaf, dumb and nearly blind—and staging a fake healing, are appalled to see tow real cripples, a little boy and a beautiful young girl, throw down their crutches and run to the Miracle Man, healed!

That one scene is among the few bits of the film that aren’t lost. It got preserved in a Paramount “best of “ reel called Movie Milestones No. 1. It really must have been exceptional. However, the film is occasionally still remembered because it was a huge hit, and it was the breakout film for Lon Chaney, who played The Frog, a con man who pretended to be handicapped then healed.

George Loane Tucker

However, Kingsley barely mentioned him in her review. Instead she predicted, “George Loane Tucker, who directed this film, doubtless will achieve a reputation as one of the few great directors of screen plays.” Unfortunately, he didn’t get much chance to do that. The following year he came down with kidney disease and he died on June 20, 1921, only completing one more film, Ladies Must Live.

This week, Natacha Rambova, a future noted costume and set designer, appeared for the first time in Kingsley’s column (though photos of her dancing had run in the Times before). Unfortunately, it was buried inside a piece about a man who really had more than his fair share of ego.

Kingsley got invited to a dinner party at dancer turned De Mille actor/costume designer Theodore Kosloff’s house, which he shared with two members of his dance troop, Natacha Rambova and Vera Fredowa. Her article began by reassuring her readers that despite the rumor she’d heard that “Mr. Kosloff is a wee bit in love with either Mlle. Rambova or Mlle. Fredowa,” absolutely nothing untoward was going on. There was a chaperone (a distant “austere” relative of Kosloff’s). Furthermore:

and then you learn he has a wife and baby in England to whom he is deeply devoted. So it’s just no use your trying to stir up a romance for him, though he is so very picturesque and romantic in his tweeds and his open-throated artist’s collar.

Of course he was in the midst of an affair with 19-year-old Rambova. Kingsley went on to describe the party, which involved listening to Kosloff monolog about his rare books and prints, as well as his efforts at painting. Then they got to hear him play his violin. Meanwhile, Rambova served her “delicious Russian cookery.”* It’s a shame she didn’t say more about her.

Natacha Rambova

Surprisingly, it took awhile for Rambova to leave him, even after he tried to steal the credit for some of her costume designs and shot her in the leg! She soon got hired by Nazimova as a costume designer and art director, who introduced her to her future collaborator and husband, Rudolph Valentino. You can learn more about her at the Women Film Pioneers site.



*She wasn’t actually Russian; she was born Winifred Shaughnessy in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Adventures in Film Production: Week of August 16, 1919

Cathrine Curtis

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley’s column had an unusual headline: WOMAN HEADS FILM COMPANY. She wrote:

Cathrine Curtis is the name of the adventurous lady, and the company is known as the Cathrine Curtis Corporation, Miss Curtis herself being president, George M. Taylor vice-president and Dorman T. Connet, secretary and treasurer.

A rare combination of gifts has Miss Curtis, since she possesses both the artistic and business faculties. She will be remembered as playing the role of Sammy in Harold Bell Wright’s picturization of his novel, The Shepherd of the Hills in which she scored an artistic success.

“But I’m fond of business,” said Miss Curtis yesterday, “so I decided on this venture—or maybe you’d call it adventure.”

This announcement was at a lunch the company gave to newspaper writers at the Alexander Hotel, which they’d decorated like a newspaper office, with a feature that hadn’t been tried before (or since, I think):

An electric wire furnished ‘shocks’ and ‘thrills’ to various writers, and while its purpose wasn’t clear at first, it proved another vast improvement over similar occasions, inasmuch as it kept in check anybody who attempted to make a speech. J.C. Hessen, World correspondent, admitted it hampered his style a good deal.

It sounds like Kingsley had had enough of bellicose mansplainers!

Several women had already done the duties of a producer, which include arranging financing, developing a script, hiring the cast and crew, coordinating filmmaking logistics, supervising editing and overseeing marketing and distribution. However, they either directed (like Alice Guy Blache) or acted in (like Mary Pickford) those films. Curtis was if not the first, at least among the earliest of women who were only producers.


Cathrine Curtis Taylor was born in Syracuse New York on November 9, 1889. Her parents, George M. and Flora Beach Taylor already had one daughter, Blanch.* Flora Taylor died just a few years later in 1897 and Mr. Taylor became a hotel keeper. He ran the Rockwell House in Glens Falls, New York. Curtis later told interviewers that he was a “New York capitalist,” but the Federal and New York censuses disagree.

Perit Coit Myers

She married Perit Coit Myers, a hardware salesman from Yonkers, in December 1911 and they moved to Phoenix, Arizona where they bought a ranch in June, 1912. They had a daughter, Gretchen, on March 6, 1913.

She met author Harold Bell Wright, a fellow Arizonan, who was preparing to make his novel, The Shepherd of the Hills, into a film. He thought she looked so much like the main female character, Sammy, that he cast her despite her lack of acting experience. Shooting took place from 1917 to 1918 in California and the Ozark Mountains in Missouri. As she told the assembled journalists in 1919: “I became immensely interested in the subject of picture making while playing in Mr. Wright’s feature.”


The rest of her family also left Arizona: on the day of the 1918 draft Perit Myers was living at the Yonkers YMCA, and by the 1920 Census Gretchen Myers was living with her aunt and uncle, Blanch and Garrett Veeder, in Schenectady, New York (he was the vice president of a paper company there).

Tom Santschi

After her press luncheon, Curtis got right to work on her first feature, hiring George Foster Platt (who’d just directed Helen Keller in Deliverance) to direct, Edward S. Curtis, noted photographer of Native Americans as the cameraman, and Western star Tom Santschi as the leading man. No leading lady was announced, so there might have been truth in Kingsley’s speculation that Curtis planned to act in it herself. They traveled to Hayden Lake, Idaho for some location shooting. In October, Camera reported that Santschi had been twice kicked by a horse, breaking three ribs and fracturing his arm. He went to the hospital in Spokane, Washington where the local Chamber of Congress honored the cast and crew with a dinner. After that, there was no more news about the project and it was never finished.

Next, in June 1920, she bought what she thought were the rights to make The Lost World, so after quite a bit of script work and planning, she got to be part of the messy lawsuits that were eventually settled after the film got made by First National in 1925.

Undaunted, she dove right in to her next project and had more success. She bought the film rights to Ralph Connor’s book The Sky Pilot and hired King Vidor to direct. Colleen Moore starred as the evil cattle baron’s daughter who gets injured in a stampede, but regains the ability to walk when she saves a minister (aka the sky pilot) from a burning church. They shot it on location in the Canadian Rockies and Truckee, California in September to December 1920. The film opened in New York City on April 17, 1921. It was the only time Vidor and Moore worked together, but they stayed friends for the rest of their lives.

On April 17, 1924 Curtis married Joseph S. O’Neil in Baltimore, MD. He was a lawyer in private practice in Binghamton New York. However, by early November of that year she was living under the name Cathrine Myers at the Hotel Vanderbilt in New York City – that’s the address she gave when she filed a petition for personal bankruptcy. They divorced in July, 1929.

Cathrine Curtis, 1925

Nevertheless, she kept trying to produce films. In June 1925 the New York Times announced she had bought the film rights to a biography of Buffalo Bill, written by his sister Helen Cody Wetmore. Phil Rosen (The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1924) had signed on to direct. In August, the Exhibitor’s Trade Review wrote that she’d hired a member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show to round up cowboys to be in the film, but the project disappeared from the press after that. The Cathrine Curtis Company went bankrupt in March, 1926. Her sister Blanch was one of the chief creditors; she was owed $168,000.

Her final attempt to make movies was a collaboration with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs; at their June 1927 meeting they announced that they would sponsor her production of “motion pictures emphasizing the finer qualities of the American home,” with advice from their Motion Pictures Committee. No films got made.

In 1934 Curtis started hosting a biweekly radio show called “Women and Money” for WMAC in New York. In addition to teaching women about basic finances and investing, she used her program to criticize Roosevelt’s New Deal. When the show was canceled in February 1935, she blamed communist sympathizers. Then she founded Women Investors in America in May 1935, a non-profit educational organization. According to historian Karl Frederickson “camouflaged as financial seminars, the national meetings of the Women Investors became forums for criticizing the New Deal.” So in 1939 when FDR wanted to assist Great Britain in their fight against Germany, she quickly organized the Women’s National Committee to Keep the U.S. Out of War. After the attack on Pearl Harbor she eventually supported the war, but not enthusiastically. She continued to support right-wing causes, particularly anti-communism (she was an ardent supporter of Joseph McCarthy), but her reputation as a financial expert had faded. Her last appearance in the New York Times was in 1958 when she addressed a AT&T shareholders’ meeting:


They didn’t mention what she had to say. She died in California in August 1962.


I’ve heard that “meh” reviews are the hardest to write, but Kingsley did a good job of it this week:

One of the Finest is an innocuous little picture, in which nothing happens except that Larry the policeman turns into Larry the lawyer and gets the girl. Both laudable achievements, but nothing to make you chew your fingernails with excitement.

Nevertheless, leading man Tom Moore was charming and leading lady Seena Owen was beautiful, plus as Kingsley observed, “after all, what’s the use of being excited all the time?” It’s a lost film.

De Mille Field at Wilshire and Fairfax

Grace Kingsley got her excitement outside of a movie theater this week: she got a ride in an airplane! She wrote:

We no longer have champagne. But we have airships! And for exhilarating thrills an airship had champagne looking like denatured bevo.

What she saw: aerial view of Wilshire and Fairfax, 1920

She loved looking down on all the tiny people below, and the feeling of being all alone in the universe (her pilot, “the handsome Lieut. David Thompson,” was so busy with the controls that he didn’t count) but the very best part was when they glided:

Ah! That’s when you make connections with heaven! The pilot shuts off the motor, and you fly softly along for a few brief seconds—but they are seconds worth living years for. Nobody can call you on the phone; nobody can tell you to get a story; nobody can ask you questions about things you’re supposed to know about and don’t. Nobody can give you good advice; nobody can tell you a funny story; nobody can show you Kodak pictures taken on their vacation. Yes, for just once in your life you’re free! That’s when you fly!

Apparently, life was not all quiet simplicity in the good old days. I think our Miss Kingsley needed a vacation – she’s barely had two days off together in the three years I’ve been writing this blog.

*I have no idea why their parents didn’t like the letter “e,” but they deliberately left it out of both Catherine and Blanche. It wasn’t even helpful to researchers, because they get misspelled often. Harumph.

“AT&T Sounds Optimistic Note,” New York Times, April 17, 1958.

“Broncho Charley Engaged By Miss Curtis For Film,” Exhibitor’s Trade Review, August 15, 1925, p.28.

“Curtis Schedule Filed,” Film Daily, March 4, 1926 p.1.

Davis, Mildred. “Social Fricassee and Capers,” Camera, October 25, 1919.

Frederickson, Karl. “Cathrine Curtis and Conservative Isolationist Women, 1939-1941,” The Historian, v. 58 no.4 (Summer 1996) pp.825-839.

“From Busy Studios to the Tranquility of the Picture Theatres,” New York Times, June 28, 1925.

“Where to find people you know,” Camera, October 11, 1919, p.8

“Women Will Show Movies of Home, New York Times, June 6, 1927.

I happened to be visiting New York, so I stopped by the NYPL Archives to see if the Cathrine Curtis Papers included anything interesting about her film career. There’s only one folder from that time. It holds several letters and telegrams from Harold Bell Wright, begging her to accept the role of Sammy and arranging logistics after she accepted the part. They were all addressed to her in Glen Falls, NY, so it seems her marriage had ended before she got involved with the movies. There’s also one undated letter from him that looks like it was written after they worked together; it’s almost a love letter but not quite (he wrote, “There is so much that I would say if I were permitted…Whatever comes to you and to me I shall never, never forget your wonderful goodness to me.”)

Her clippings folder at the NYPL Performing Arts Library holds only a letter from a rare documents dealer, offering to sell her papers concerning The Lost World for $4800. NYPL didn’t buy them; they ended up archived at the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming, Laramie.

A Night On The Town: Week of August 9th, 1919


This week at the Mason

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley reported that “all the film actors, especially those who formerly graced the stage, are on hand at the Mason every Monday night.” The Mason Opera House was the top theater in Los Angeles for traveling Broadway productions from 1903 until the mid-1940’s; it seated around 1600 people. I don’t know which is more astonishing: that the actors had the energy to get dressed and go out on a work night, or that they could just sit with everybody else in the audience without any security precautions.

Kingsley spent more time watching the stars in the audience than watching the show. She reported on their habits:

Douglas Fairbanks likes to slide in for an act and make his getaway.

Charlie Chaplin is a restless little wight, who likes to rush out and smoke between acts, but always a little apart, where he can watch the crowd.

Dorothy Gish and Bobby Harron, the Gold Dust twins of picturedom, are the most decorous in the crowd. Dorothy doesn’t gish at all—nary a gish. She sits like a little lady with her hands folded in her lap, according to the manners Mommer Gish taught her years ago, and Bobby goes out an smokes one cigarette between acts one and two and brings Dorothy back a box of candy.

Mabel Normand isn’t an inveterate first-nighter but she’s likely to come flitting in with Edna Purviance.

Mabel Normand and Cullen Landis in Upstairs

Miss Normand also appeared in Kingsely’s favorite film this week, Upstairs:

there’s a real sparkler on the Rialto this week, with that high candle-power comedienne, Mabel Normand in the star part. The name of it is Upstairs; it is adapted from Perley Poore Sheehan’s story, and it is on view at the Alhambra, and don’t miss it if you want to see a really breezy, diverting fun film, with Mabel Normand at her very brilliant best.

There’s a light but skillfully-spun plot about a poor girl in love with a bellboy of a big hotel, who sets about getting a thrill out of city life in her own way, deciding the best playground for the game is the hotel…she starts to sample the hotel’s delights, from tea dansant down to running the elevator rapidly from top to bottom until they shut off the power. In short, Mabel is the mischievous little sprite we know and love, in a setting that is suited to her cleverness.

Unfortunately, it’s a lost film.

Kingsley mentioned that even movie stars could be star struck. Zasu Pitts suffered a bout of it when she went to tea with Nazimova. Kingsley wrote:

Miss Pitts tells about the meeting in characteristic fashion:

“What did you do when you met Nazimova?”

“Oh, I don’t know—guess I just skipped around some.”

“What did you say to her?”

“Why,” answered ZaSu, “I didn’t say anything. She said all the right and nice things, of course, but poor me—my mouth got so dry I couldn’t speak at all! I guess she thinks I’m an actress of the silent drama all right!”

This week, Kingsley interviewed theater actress Carroll McComas, who had returned from entertaining the troops in France. She mentioned something that doesn’t usually turn up in biographies about General John J. Pershing:

“Though he’s military in bearing and very dignified most of the time, “ said Miss McComas, “when he unbends there’s a sweet and wholesome boyishness about him which is completely captivating. After the show there was a dance, and please let the world know, Gen. Pershing is a wonderful dancer!”


‘The Timeliest Picture Ever Filmed’: Week of August 2nd, 1919


One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley went to a preview of a movie ripped from the headlines:

Bolshevism on Trial is the name of a vivid satire on Bolshevism just put out by the Mayflower Photoplay Corporation. It was given a private showing at the Alexandria last Friday night and was received with acclaim by the crowd of producers, critics and other who were present…Bolshevism on Trial is capital entertainment which doesn’t preach at all except indirectly. Two young idealists, a girl and a youth, decide to uplift humanity. The boy is a millionaire’s son, and pledges money to a Bolshevist organization for the purchase of an island for which to try out the theories of the crowd who belong to the society. Needless to say, human nature soon begins to work, everybody wants to be the fellow to run things.

The charm of the picture, in fact is its utter logic. There is no vilifying of anybody—merely a situation is worked out to its reasonable conclusion according to the laws of human nature.

The summer of 1919 was right in the middle of the first Red Scare. The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia had frightened industrialists and the government; they feared that Communism might spread to the United States. It also briefly energized the labor movement. There were a record number of strikes in 1919, according to Adam J. Hodges in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History (2019). The Scare culminated in the brutal arrests of hundreds of suspected leftists in the Palmer Raids later this year. Public alarm over the violence, plus less labor unrest, helped calm things down until the post-World War 2 Red Scare.

Bolshevism on Trial didn’t get a public showing in Los Angeles until early November, when it ran for four days right after the first Palmer Raids. It played at the Hippodrome, which was usually a vaudeville theater, and it was on a bill with acts like Miller and Rainey (comedians and saxophone players) and Sherman and Rose (variety dancers). It seems like film theater owners either wanted to avoid politics or they didn’t think it would be a money maker. It you’d like to take a look at it, it’s available on the Wikimedia Commons.

Kingsley reported that this week, Samuel Goldwyn held a lunch for newspaper and trade journal writers, where he “dispensed not only good food, but information and movie wisdom.” He mentioned that costume dramas were making a come back (he was currently producing two of them) then the subject moved on to censorship.

Concerning the subject of censorship, that ever-fertile topic of conversation where two or three film folk are gathered together, Mr. Goldwyn expressed the belief that the cure for the virulent sort of censorship which had been hacking right and left in film plays would come about when producers possessed part ownership at least in picture theaters.

He didn’t explain how a change in theater ownership would affect local censorship laws (though it would certainly increase his profits). Next, luncheon guest Rex Beach, the adventure novelist, spoke on the topic, suggesting:

that censorship be laughed to death, and he said the way to make the public laugh would be to show to the people of the big cities of any given state in one or two reels, handed gratis to the exhibitors, portions of a number of notable film productions which had been cut out by censors in other States, but which they themselves had been privileged to see. As censors never agree as to what should and should not be shown, the results of the Beach plan would be to reveal to people how utterly inadequate, piffling and ridiculous film censorship is.

Nothing came of that idea–it was probably too much work. Nobody was interested in making a stand for either art or the First Amendment, they just wanted one set of rules. As Beach alluded to, there were hundreds of inconsistent decency laws throughout the country. Discussions about how to solve the multiple jurisdiction censorship problem went on until 1934, when the Production Code started to be rigidly enforced.

This week, Kingsley reported on a novel advertising campaign for a comic actress in her first drama:

If a little blue Salvation Army bonnet should drop right down and land on top of your head today, don’t be surprised. The fact of the matter is it will be a message from Billie Rhodes of the National Studios, who is going to fly over the city in an airplane today and drop these mementos, which will serve the double purpose of calling your attention to the Salvation Army and its works and to The Blue Bonnet, her feature photoplay which is coming to the Kinema next week…Speaking of her projected trip, Miss Rhodes admitted flying was a bit scary (she’s already been up twice) “especially,” she said, “when they go into nose and tail spins. However, I like it, and I mean to own a machine of my own some day.”

Motion Picture News (September 13, 1919) reported that her trip aloft to drop 5,000 paper bonnets was only part of the “spectacular advertising” effort that “worked wonders in putting the Rhodes feature across.” They also reconstructed a set from the film in the theater and installed a large paper mache bonnet over the marque:


Additionally, at four of the evening screenings Rhodes appeared at the theater and sang with a newsboy quartet. I think I’d like that more than the Q&A sessions we occasionally get now.

Plenty of entertainment!