One hundred years ago this month, Grace Kingsley included a brief paragraph about a now-forgotten woman among her usual reports of film industry comings and goings:
Diane Pascale, picture actress, has just returned from New York where, in addition to working on a picture, she contracted for the writing of a number of serials for popular magazines. One of these serials deals with life in the Hollywood picture colony.
There’s a good reason you’ve never heard of her: Pascale had at most bit parts in movies. Nevertheless, her story is full of unexpected turns. You never know what might be hiding behind one of Kingsley’s short items!
While her film career wasn’t remarkable, Diane Pascale was awfully good at self-promotion. She’d been in the L.A. Times before, in May 1921. They ran her photograph and a short interview with her before Queen of Sheba opened in Los Angeles, and she told them all about her adventurous past:
With life in European courts as the background of her youth, as well as stage training in the Conservatoire and at theaters in Paris, and later experience as spy in the service of France during the late war, Mme. Diane Pascale is proving one of the most interesting figures seen in the production of The Queen of Sheba, soon to show at Philharmonic Auditorium.
She said she was reared and educated in Paris and St. Petersburg, attended the Sorbonne, then worked as an interpreter and spy for France during the World War. She first saw American film studios when she was working on an important case for them in Los Angeles. She mentioned she’d had small roles in Enid Bennett, Louise Glaum and Nazimova films. It was much more publicity than might be expected for a role that didn’t appear in any cast listing.
A month after Kingsley’s mention of her in December 1922, Pascale’s photo accompanied this terrific example of the promotional arts:
Diane Pascale was recently chosen by a group of artists and oriental-art connoisseurs in New York as representing an unusually fine type of Far Eastern beauty. Miss Pascale posed for more than a hundred photographs, many of which will be used on magazine covers. She is well known in the Hollywood film colony both as an actress and writer. Several of her stories are in current numbers of popular magazines. Miss Pascale is of French parentage.
Un-hunh, Asian art experts had nothing better to do with their time. The editors at the Times really needed a lot of stuff to fill up the paper! Nevertheless, in June 1923, Kingsley interviewed her when Pascale announced a new film venture. She filled in many more details of her colorful life.
Diane Pascale is the latest entry into the realm of picture stars drafted from the ranks of cultured women—college bred, a writer accomplished in many lines of artistic endeavor including acting, dancing, and music. Miss Pascale has just signed a contract with Fred Caldwell to play leading roles in five feature pictures which he is about to produce.
With a brilliant background of professional training and cultured contact, with experience in life as a war worker, as a young society woman of this city, as a young wife and mother, the announcement of Miss Pascale’s film ventures will doubtless come as something of a sensation to those who know her merely socially.
Pascale said her French mother was a fine musician and a pupil of Franz Liszt. She decided to be an actress when she was a child living in Weisbaden where she visited backstage with the players. She and her mother moved to Switzerland where she was befriended by the Empress of Austria and a list of other nobles. Her American businessman father insisted that she go to college in the United States, so she was sent to Bryn Mawr. After that, “being young and romantic, she married, but ran away to go on the stage.” Then she “listened to the siren voice of a picture producer” and decided to come to Los Angeles. She had a bit part in a Fred Niblo picture, followed by several others, but she thought “I wasn’t progressing fast enough to suit me.” So she took the trip to New York that was mentioned the previous December. Kingsley added:
Miss Pascale is a striking brunette, well-fitted to dramatic roles. She has a marvelously beautiful figure and has from time-to-time written articles for Physical Culture regarding the proper exercises, as well as the proper sports for women. “Don’t eat too much and don’t wear too many clothes; exercise and keep your mind alert!” This is the new star’s advice to women.
That isn’t the worst advice from an actress I’ve seen. Alas, the interview was the high point in her Hollywood career. Fred Caldwell never did produce five films featuring her; instead he was soon hired to direct short comedies that featured Alice Howell and Chester Conklin. Pascale has only one credit in the IMDB, a “minor role” in Rose of Paris (1924).
However, her writing did appear in magazines. One piece had a Hollywood connection: her piece on screenwriter June Mathis was published in Metropolitan Magazine in November 1923. Her article in Vitality magazine about the horrors of eating in cafeterias, cabarets, and lunch counters was quoted at length in the L.A. Times that same month. She complained about noise and poor table manners of her fellow diners and blames them for dyspepsia and even “the deterioration of the American stage, the triviality of the American screen, the most asinine other kinds of amusements created and devised to relieve this poor tired business man of mental stress.” Nobody else saw that link! Her career as a magazine writer seems to have dried up soon after that, but she didn’t stop trying new things. In 1929 she copywrote an unpublished one-act play, The Passion of Salome, and in 1931, she copywrote a song, “Bayou gal, lovin’ me’s her specialty.” After that, she seems to have disappeared, yet another person thwarted in her artistic ambitions.
Lucky for me, she used her actual home address in her trade ads so I could find out that aspiring actress Diane Pascale was really named Elsie Amelia Wallace Moore, and she was the wife of a cement magnate, Aman Moore.* It’s remarkable how hard she worked to escape being ordinary and tried to make her acting aspirations come true.
She cherry-picked her own biography for the story of Diane Pascale. Elsie Wallace was born March 22, 1885 in New York City** to Jacob and Henriette Calm Wallace. Unlike what she told reporters, while her mother had a French first name, she was born in New York City too (her parents, John and Hannah Calm, were Bavarian immigrants). The Wallaces had two more children, William (1886) and Adrienne (1890). Jacob Wallace took the whole family along on a business trip and vacation to Europe in 1896, according to their passport applications, so at least she’d visited some of the places that she later claimed to be raised in. Then her family moved to Denver, Colorado where he was the vice president and general manager of Union Oil.
Elsie Wallace did attend Bryn Mawr and was in the class of 1907. Shortly after graduating, she married Aman Perry Moore in New York City. He had discovered a mountain of limestone, a key component of cement, near Croyden, Utah in 1904 and he was working for a cement company in Oregon. The couple moved West, and in 1909 he became the plant supervisor of the Oregon Portland Cement Company. They had a daughter, Elsa Adrienne, in 1912.
Elsie Wallace Moore became a writer. Her 1909 article “The Suffrage Question in the Far West” in The Arena is a good summation of the state of women’s voting rights at the time. She wrote an unpublished three-act play that she copywrote in 1912 called The Devil’s Slide, named after the small company town that sprung up by where her husband had discovered limestone.
Aman Moore died in 1935 following a heart attack in New York City. Later that year Elsie Moore had the contents of their house sold at auction, and she traveled the world. Unfortunately, in 1942 she was in the wrong place at the wrong time: she was one of the nearly 4000 civilians interned by the Japanese in Santo Tomas University in Manila, Philippines Islands, from 1942 to 1945. After she was released, she continued to travel; on an arriving airplane passenger list from Amsterdam to New York in 1950 she gave her occupation as “writer.” She died on September 6, 1965 in Manhatten.
*Pascale also helpfully mentioned that her brother was named William K. Wallace, and he was working as a diplomat in Rome. His passport application agrees.
**She was 36 when Kingsley interviewed her. That’s younger than springtime, of course, but an advanced age to break into acting.
Harry Ellington Brook, “Care of the Body,” Los Angeles Times, November 11, 1923.
“Chosen as Ideal Far Eastern Type,” Los Angeles Times, January 28, 1923.
“Death of Mrs. Jacob Wallace in Denver,” The Landmark (Statesville, North Carolina), February 28, 1902.
Jeffrey Frank Jones, Japanese War Crimes and Related Topics: A Guide to Records at the National Archives.
Grace Kingsley, “Exit Dolls; Enter Adults,” Los Angeles Times, June 3, 1923.
“Parisian Star has Role in The Queen of Sheba,” Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1921.
“Turkish Notable Give Turkish Party,” Camera, June 2, 1923, p. 9.
Elsie Wallace Moore, “The Suffrage Question in the Far West,” The Arena, July 1909, pp. 414-424.
2 thoughts on “Yet Another Aspiring Star: December 1-15, 1922”
What an interesting POV on history. Thank you for doing this. 🙂
Thank you, Dorothy!