1917 Thanksgiving menu for Camp Williams, France, from the George C. Marshall Foundation Library. It’s not radically different from a 2017 menu, except for the dessert: suet pudding instead of pumpkin pie. Suet pudding involves suet (beef or mutton fat), flour, bread crumbs, raisins, and spices (it sounds nicer when its called Spotted Dick or plum pudding).
One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley was reporting on stars’ plans for the upcoming holiday:
Despite the war and the various vicissitudes of life, the picture play people are planning to enjoy themselves at Thanksgiving time. Their Hooverizing* for the most part will take the form of expansive hospitality.
Most of them were looking forward to a big meal with their friends and families, including Charlie Chaplin, Roscoe Arbuckle and the Gish sisters. However, some had alternate plans:
- Both Tom Mix and William S. Hart were arranging big dinners for their film companies;
- Dorothy Phillips, who had been working night and day, was looking forward to spending the day at home, thankful for a little extra sleep;
- Franklyn Farnum and Gladys Brockwell both intended to go hunting;
- Edith Storey wanted to continue her custom of taking a long hike, then dining wherever she found herself;
- The Fox kiddies (Virginia Corbin, Violet Radcliffe, Francis Carpenter) “all declared in a chorus they meant to just eat all day long—but their parents bring me private information to the contrary;”
- Lon Chaney planned to treat his wife to a café dinner.
The war was affecting some peoples’ festivities:
- Triangle Studios was sponsoring benefit shows for patriotic charities featuring their stars, including Texas Guinan, William Desmond and Alma Reuben;
- Mary Pickford hoped to dine with the 600 soldiers she “adopted” at Camp Kearny;
- “Jackie Sunders, though lonely without the brother who has gone to the front, will try and keep Popper and Mommer Saunders from thinking about it.”
Finally, only one star was willing to admit how Los Angeleians really spend the day: Viola Dana “intends to stay out of doors as much of the day as she has left over from dinner, and look at the snow-clad mountains and gloat over the fact she doesn’t have to trot around in the New York slush.”
Kingsley’s favorite film this week was The Outsider:
A barrage of mystery surrounding a plot is the proper thing nowadays on both stage and screen, and The Outsider has one guessing from start to finish…it tells of robbers robbing other robbers, and has as many ingenious twists as a Sherlock Holmes story.
She thought it was “the best picture Metro has shown in many moons.” She also mentioned “by the way there is a lot of beautiful photography in this picture.” Unfortunately, it was cinematographer John M. Bauman’s second to last film. A former Thanhouser cameraman, after he shot Life’s Whirlpool (1917) he quit the film business and went to work as a salesman for the Storage Battery Company. I guess good reviews don’t pay the bills. Happily, The Outsider survives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In her review of A Mormon Maid, Kingsley used the cinematography to deliver a frank opinion about the rest of the film: “there is some bewilderingly beautiful photography in the picture—so lovely, in fact, that it almost takes your mind off the story.” That might seem like an exaggeration until you learn that the DP was Charles Rosher, and unlike poor Mr. Bauman, he went on to have a spectacular career. He soon became Mary Pickford’s chief cameraman, and he and Karl Struss won the first cinematography Oscar for their work on Sunrise (1927). Later he shot Technicolor films like Showboat (1951) and The Yearling (1946), for which he won his second Oscar.
On Saturday, Douglas Fairbanks and his A Modern Musketeer company returned from a location shoot at the Grand Canyon. Director Allan Dwan told of Fairbanks’ first impression:
“Oh, I’m so disappointed!”
“Disappointed? Why?” asked Dwan.
“Because I can’t jump it,” explained Fairbanks.
If anyone could, it would have been him.
Kingsley told of one star’s sensible plan for keeping nervous drivers off the road. Louise Fazenda:
owns a fine automobile, but she is afraid to run it. ‘I just let it stand in front of my bungalow so folks will know I own one,’ she confided, ‘but when I want to ride, I hire a machine with a chauffeur attached.’
If only more bad drivers did the same!
*Herber Hoover at that time was in charge of the U.S. Food Administration, and he was calling on all Americans to economize on food for the war effort.