Week of June 29th, 1918

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Harry Barndollar, L.A. Times sketch artist and political cartoonist, came along for the visit, too.

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley took another trip to Charlie Chaplin’s studio to watch him at work. She happened to be there for when he was drinking tea and brainstorming a name for his next film. She recorded the scene:

All the name had to suggest was patriotism and fun, and drama and punch and a few other things like that. Of course, the christening wasn’t effected without a lot of skirmishing. Syd Chaplin must have his joke, for one thing.

“Call it The Bums of Berlin!” he suggested.

But Brer Charlie wasn’t going to have any low-comedy names, because his bright necklace of laughter is really strung on a stout little thread of seriousness.

The Fat Comedian, who is inclined to be sentimental, suggested it be called Hearts of Fate. [this was probably Henry Bergman]

“Hearts of Lettuce.” parodied Syd Chaplin.

“Why not call it Charlie Carries On, suggested the thin heavy, which sounded reasonable, too. [Albert Austin, perhaps]

But the comedian took a reflective munch on his third slice of cake and a quick glup of tea, got up and walked into the door of a set, emerged on the other side and triumphantly announced:

Shoulder Arms.”

Which you must admit has punch in its sound, suggests either comedy or pathos, and altogether, like the mother hubbard of the senator’s speech, ‘covers everything and touches nothing’.

 

And that was that. Maybe if we all eat more cake, we can have Chaplin-caliber ideas, too!

However, the film was far from finished. A bit later, this happened:

“And now, Syd,” said Charlie, “tell this lady the plot!”

Syd looked perplexed.

“Don’t you just wish you could!” laughed Charlie. “The story is a sketchy thing,” explains Charlie seriously.

 

Eventually they did figure it out, and the film came out in October. I imagine there was more cake and tea involved.

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Kingsley’s favorite film this week was a two-reel comedy.

Fay Tincher, glory be, has returned to the screen, with her professional chewing gum and her trade-mark stripes. Filled with all her old pep and drollery she is appearing at Miller’s this week in a whimsical little comedy entitled Main 1-2-3, in which she is a shop girl, who, longingly gazing into a furniture shop window showing a furnished flat, is hired to live in the window for advertising purposes.

 

Tincher had been away from the screen for over a year. In 1916, she starred in Triangle two-reelers, wearing her trademark black and white striped costume and playing everything from a traveling saleswoman to a socialite. According to Steve Massa in Slapstick Divas “the unifying theme in these roles was Fay’s no-nonsense demeanor and feistiness, which were in comic contrast to her tiny stature.” Main 1-2-3 was her first film for her own production company. The Fay Tincher Comedy Company made three shorts, then she abandoned her striped outfit and went to work for Christie Comedies in 1919.

 

Week of June 8th, 1918

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One hundred years ago this week, Famous Players/Lasky Studio held a very successful auction, show, dance and carnival to raise funds for the families of solders and sailors who had been studio employees. A good time was had by all. Not only Lasky stars turned up; Motion Picture News wrote, “Virtually every star of importance in California was present and did something to aid.” Grace Kingsley was there too, and she reported on the highlights:

Clara Kimball Young, who appeared in evening dress and wearing a magnificent hat, auctioned off her wearing apparel, delivering the hat and gloves at first hand, and thereafter retiring behind a screen, over the top of which she sold her dress and some other garments, and whence she emerged following the sale, mysteriously clad in street clothes. Charlie Chaplin purchased a bit of lingerie for $80, and thereafter wore it about his neck.

Even dignified dramatic actresses got to join in the fun. Of course Douglas Fairbanks was there, doing Fairbanksian things:

Douglas Fairbanks offered to box Kid McCoy, but the fight closed after the second round for the simple reason that Mr. Fairbanks, in the heat of the contest, fell into the swimming pool on the platform adjoining which the dance was held.

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William S. Hart in Every Inch a Man

In addition to the auction, they sold food and drinks; the “booths were presided over by Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Constance Talmadge, Gladys Brockwell and many others.” But the most popular area was no surprise:

The bar, which was presided over by William S. Hart and his cowboys, took in a small fortune, and sister Mamie Hart sat near by as a sort of guardian angel to see that nobody drank too much, but even at that Fred Stone reeled away following his fifth chocolate ice cream soda.

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Fred Stone

Moving Picture World added more details, including the reason Stone drank so many sodas: Fairbanks had challenged him to a drinking bout, and he had to quit after five. They reported that it was the first time the studio had ever been open to the public, 1500 people attended and it was “so crowded it was almost impossible to turn around.” They took in $9,000 to assist the families of the 91 men from the studio serving the country, and they had a good time while they were at it. If you ever build a time machine, this might be a fun night to visit.

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Life or Honor?

Kingsley’s favorite film this week wasn’t a timeless classic, but just another pleasant little movie that’s been forgotten.

Getting a criminal to confess by using the spiritualistic medium’s tricks is the unique and fascinating feature of Life or Honor?, which is the offering at the Symphony this week. An incidental exposé of those tricks makes this phase of the story additionally absorbing. There are the old familiar cabinet, the illuminated hand, the floating ghostly forms, and even in the picture these are eerie enough to make you confess anything anybody might want you to confess if used upon you.

She thought the plot was “unusually adroit” and “all the parts are well and humanly played,” and everyone involved continued to work, but nobody became very successful. The film survives at Gosfilmofond in Russia.

 

Kingsley gave a rare negative review to A Soul for Sale, the new Dorothy Phillips film. She pointed out “they are always selling souls in picture plays—usually pretty young women’s souls.” Nevertheless, she liked well enough until the last reel:

Then, alas, it tumbles. The scene, which doubtless the author intended as the great denouement, when the heroine, returning from a midnight visit to the hero’s room, here she went to restore money which had been stolen from him by her mother, meets the two old rakes who have been bargaining for her, takes on the aspect of cheap comedy, and yesterday the audience actually laughed where it should have been spellbound with suspense.

Also in the last scenes it is hard to believe that a steel fireproof skyscraper would be gutted by fire and in addition would show not a single broken window. Here again, the suspense should be extreme, with the lovers in danger of perishing as they stand on the roof, a cheap comedy effect is obtained when firemen tear them apart as they stand oblivious to death clasped in each other’s arms.

Then as now, a critic’s opinion didn’t affect the box office. Later that week the Times said the film “continues to prove a box office attraction extraordinary” and the theater planned to hold it over a second week.

Four of its six reels survive at the Library of Congress (they were part of the Dawson City trove). The last reel didn’t. Maybe that improves it?

 

 

 

G.P. Harleman, “Carnival at Lasky Studio a Success,” Moving Picture World, June 29, 1918, p.1846.

“Lasky Dance and Carnival a Big Success,” Motion Picture News, July 13, 1918, p.2

“Studio Plans Big Home Folks Fete,” Los Angeles Herald, June 6, 1918.

Week of June 1st, 1918

One hundred years ago this week, studio head Jessie Lasky made an announcement:

At last the secret is out. The mystery is solved. For behold, the identity of the new Lasky-Famous Players’ star, about whom there has been so much speculation and to whom Jessie Lasky has been making such mysterious, smiling but inscrutable allusion, is discovered.

It was ‘Cuddles’ Edwards, a featured singer and dancer in Gus Edwards’ vaudeville act, Bandbox Revue. She had been touring with the troop of children who performed musical comedy for six years. Lasky caught the act at the Palace in New York City and gave her a two-year film contract. Befitting her new stature, she got a new name: Lila Lee (her birth name was Augusta Appel).

She arrived in Los Angeles on June 7th and went to work on her first film, The Cruise of the Make Believes, which told the story of a slum-dwelling waif who meets a wealthy young man. Even though she was only sixteen, the studio decided to shave two years off her age, probably so she keep playing that sort of girlish part for as long as possible.

However, after the war ended stories about innocent girls being rescued from poverty by rich men stopped selling tickets. Lee was saved from Violet Mersereau’s and Ella Hall’s fate by Cecil B. De Mille when he cast her as a maid in Male and Female in 1919. She made the most of her first adult role, and she went on to a solid career in films ranging from Blood and Sand (1922) with Rudolph Valentino to The Unholy Three (1930) with Lon Chaney. Remarkably, Jessie Lasky had actually found a new star.

Kingsley’s favorite film this week wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough:

One of those adventures of the huge adventure of Russia is chronicled in The Firebrand at the Alhambra. It’s really thrilling, almost Tolstoian in its portrayal of human passion and mixed motive, up to the last reel, when alas, in a scene in which the heroine, pointing a revolver, declares to the hero whom she thinks has betrayed her family, ‘We’ll both fire when the clock strikes eight’ the story descends to Fox melodrama at its Foxiest. Nevertheless, its bigger moments are big enough to leave the picture drama in the topmost niche of this week’s photodramas.

Unfortunately, it’s a lost film, so we can’t see what melodrama at its Foxiest looks like. It’s surprising how little Kingsley worried about spoiling the film. Maybe, because according to the AFI Catalog the heroine only slightly wounds the hero, it wasn’t such a big deal.

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He didn’t look quite like this

A story from the Chaplin studio this week demonstrated how almost any story could be turned into publicity. Kingsley tactfully left the names of the two actors, who, knowing of Chaplin’s fondness for animals,

went forth for a ramble in the near-by foothills. They were tramping along, when one of them discovered a beautiful little kitten. It was dark, with a lovely white stripe down its back.

‘Let’s get it for Charlie,’ suggested one actor.

‘Right,’ said the other.

So, sneaking up on the poor little creature, the two Thespians finally cornered it and made the capture.

Returning toward the studio, it was remarked by the two actor-hunters that the fertilizer used this year is of a peculiarly pungent odor. When the studio was reached, the overwatchful gateman refused admittance to the trophy-bearers, suggesting they bury their clothes in a near-by lemon grove.

Chaplin’s publicity people were true professionals. I hope Mr. Le Pew got back to the foothills.

Week of May 25th, 1918

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley was already reporting on Charlie Chaplin’s next film, which he started shooting on May 28th:

Yesterday he completed the casting of his picture. While the fact may or may not be considered a clue, still it is known that ten children, ranging from 3 years old to 12, have been engaged to appear in the picture with Chaplin; all day yesterday the Chaplin studio was besieged by youngsters who had heard about the chance that ten happy kids were to have to work with their idol. Kids to the right of Charlie, kids to the left, they swarmed up the steps, and two of three of the bravest even tumbled over the fence.

Chaplin’s publicist certainly did a good job of keeping him in the paper between films. As usual, Chaplin was cagey about the new film’s plot:

’So the new picture may turn out to be an educational feature,’ Mr. Chaplin smiled quizzically, ‘or it may be a war feature. Who knows?’

It was indeed a war film, Shoulder Arms. Chaplin played a private who dreams of doing heroic deeds. Unfortunately for the eager children, they didn’t appear in the final version. Chaplin said in his autobiography that originally planned to have three sections: home life, the war and a post-war banquet, but in the end he cut all but the war. He did shoot some of the first part, which included three of the boys. The Chaplin Office has footage on their web site.

Boardman and Lee were almost in a Chaplin movie

Even without the deleted scenes, when it was released in October it was around 40 minutes long, or double the usual length a comedy short. It seems like it was time for him to start making feature length films.

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Kingsley’s favorite film this week pleased her simply because it was different. “William Farnum appears at Miller’s this week in a story as un-hackneyed as any the screen has seen in some time. It is entitled True Blue and presents half a dozen fresh angles.” Farnum played Bob, “the disowned cowboy son of an English lord.” He runs in to his half-brother racking up gambling debts, so he drags him to his ranch to work them off. Hard work does reform him, and their father the lord is impressed enough to make Bob his heir. He refuses, preferring to stay on his ranch. Kingsley concluded that it was “a very refreshing story,” and she was right–it isn’t a plot that turns up often. It’s a lost film.

Triangle’s glory days

The beginning of the last phase of Triangle Pictures was in Kingsley’s columns this week. On Monday Kingsley mentioned that lay-offs were coming, and the next day the company announced “radical changes” including firing their 30-member stock company and hiring actors for only one film at a time. They also replaced studio manager and the head of the publicity department.

Triangle Motion Picture Corporation had quickly gone from being a major studio with directors like Griffith, Sennett and Ince and stars like Hart, Fairbanks and Arbuckle to being on the brink of bankruptcy after they left for better contracts. They completely stopped producing films in 1919 and sold the studio facilities to Goldwyn. It’s stunning how quickly fortunes can change in Hollywood.

 

 

 

 

Week of May 4th, 1918

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Billie Rhodes and ‘Smiling Bill’ Parsons in Dad’s Knockout (1918)

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley enjoyed a new two-reeler from “Smiling Billy” Parsons:

Of course, nature endowed Mr. Parsons with his make-up, but that elusive something called “personality” is his own. Billy’s Baby, which, I believe, is his initial comedy production, is funny enough to make into a stage farce, and has to do with an engaged young man who has gambled away the engagement ring he was to give his fiancée, and who steals a baby to put into a baby show in order to win a prize and buy another ring. Billy is a newspaper reporter who starts out owing $500—which in itself is, of course, funny enough to get a laugh.

Some comedy shorts had a real mean streak in the good old days – now baby theft doesn’t seem funny. Nevertheless, William Parsons was not a typical aspiring comic. Born in in 1877 or 78 (sources differ), he studied medicine then he became a successful life insurance agent and executive. By 1910, he and his wife Bertha had moved to Los Angeles where he was a manger for the Prudential Company. Then in his late 30’s he got bitten by the movie bug. He became an actor for the Lubin Company and appeared in short dramas like A Girl of the Cafes (1914) and Love’s Savage Hate (1915).

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In the spring of 1915, he became even more ambitious and with five partners and $100,000 he co-founded the National Film Corporation. They signed contracts with up-and-coming stars Norma and Constance Talmadge. Unfortunately, the first films they made weren’t successful, including the short comedy Parsons made with Constance, You Can’t Beat It. Moving Picture World quite liked it:

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His wife divorced him in 1917, but he kept acting and producing films. Film historian James Neibaur wrote “Parsons had a strong reputation for being a rather dazzling and persuasive salesman and his success was often based on his friendliness and likability resulting in a successful deal.”

In 1918 Parsons had his greatest success: he produced Tarzan of the Apes, the first Tarzan film. It was such a hit that the National Film Corp made a sequel, Romance of Tarzan. They also launched the “Smiling Billy” series, which sold well enough that they made over a dozen of them. Parson’s co-star was comedienne Billie Rhodes, and they soon married.

 

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Sadly, Parsons died suddenly on September 28, 1919 either in a diabetic coma or due to kidney problems – source differ on that, too. At least he got to realize his ambitions – not many people get to be a successful film executive and comic film star!

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Madame Sphinx

Kingsley demonstrated how hot gossip was written in 1918:

Nowadays, declares Wallace MacDonald, who is playing opposite lovely Alma Rubens, Triangle star, in Madame Sphinx, whenever there is a love scene between himself and the charming Alma, a mysterious interruption always occurs. In other words, whether due to thought transmission or what not, a certain ardent suitor in Los Angeles always seems to be tipped off at the psychological moment, with the result that Miss Rubens is invariably wanted on the phone, and when she returns her thoughts are always far away (Franklyn Farnum please confirm).

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Alma Rubens

The story of two single people courting wasn’t particularly scandalous, and Rubens married Farnum a month later. Unfortunately it was an unhappy marriage: they were together only for a few weeks and she accused him of physical abuse in her divorce petition. She went on to star in successful dramas like Humoresque (1920), but her life took a turn for the worst after she became addicted to heroin. She died in 1931 of pneumonia, only 33 years old.

 

Kingsley reported on one of the biggest hits of 1918:

Charlie Chaplin continues to play the Pied Piper to the fans at Tally’s Broadway this week in A Dog’s Life, every show being packed.

Since it was three reels long, it had a different co-feature each week. This week it was running with a Constance Talmadge film (her career had improved since her National Film days). The Shuttle was based on a Frances Hodgson Burnett story and Talmadge played “the smart American girl who flies to the aid of her sister married to a bullying English lord.” Kingsley declared it one of the best films of her screen career, and one of the best films Tally’s had shown.

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This was the last week

Tally’s ad warned that this was the last week for A Dog’s Life, but it lied. The film played one more week (on the 15th, Kingsley noted that people were seeing it two or three times), then it got replaced by a Clara Kimball Young film, The Reason Why.

 

Sources for William Parsons:

1910 U.S. Census

“Billie Rhodes,”

“Clothes Cost Her Fortune,” Los Angeles Times, October 23, 1917.

“National Film Capitalized at $100,000,” Motion Picture News, May 29, 1915, p. 65.

Neibaur, James L. “Women in Silent Comedy: Billie Rhodes.

“Roll of States,” Motography, May 29, 1915, p. 895.

“’Smiling Bill’ Parsons, L.A. Film Producer, Dies,” Los Angeles Herald, September 29, 1919.

 

 

Week of February 16th, 1918

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Motion Picture Magazine, August 1918

One hundred years ago this week, an actor chose an unusual scene to tell Grace Kingsley about from the religious film he was currently working on:

The famous character of the Drain Man is being played by Jack Curtis, who says he has always longed to appear in that big role. But as a fly comes with every box of ointment in the world, so Mr. Curtis didn’t relish crawling through that noisome bit of sewer in Chinatown last week, and art might have gone hang for all of him when it came to playing the scene in the drain where a hundred rats were his co-actors. However, he went through the scene bravely though he says he found the rats altogether too enthusiastic in their energetic desire to play their parts thoroughly, with the result the battle he had with the creatures is very realistic indeed.

I imagine the crew enjoyed their surroundings just as much. The project was The Servant in the House, the film version of a well-known play, and the director Jack Conway was doing his best to make it cinematic by including “certain features of the play, merely suggested in the stage version, which lend themselves to fairly sensational and spectacular effect” like actually showing the symbolic sewer (what a treat!)

Servant told the story of Robert, the Drain Man, who sacrificed for his brother Bill’s education that allowed him to become a vicar. Robert then grew resentful of Bill and the church. Bill’s bishop, disguised as a servant (with a startling resemblance to Christ), visits and effects a reconciliation. The sewer is beneath the church and it needs cleaning up – that’s where the rats come in.

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This early publicity proved to be very much too early: the film wasn’t released until late 1920 because it was caught up in litigation as Triangle Films fell apart. According to Photoplay, Harry Orville Davis, the company’s vice-president and general manager, sued for breach of contract, wanting to recover $83,000 in back salary. They compromised; Davis surrendered his 100,000 shares of stock and his interest in the corporation in exchange for the exclusive rights to Servant.* He sold it to the Film Booking Office, which released it through independent exchanges.

When it finally did come out, Kingsley thought it was exceptional. “Once in a while some free soul among the picture makers throws off the shackles of tradition, arises and produces an epoch-making picture. That’s what Jack Conway did…So delicate is the treatment of the spiritual influence of a mystic and mysterious servant in a household divided against itself, that it would appear to be a difficult subject for the screen. But in the transcription Jack Conway proves himself to be an artist.” It’s now a lost film.

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Jack Conway

Jack Conway had a long and successful career. He was a contract director at MGM from 1925-1948, so while you might not know his name, you probably know the names of the films he directed, like Red Headed Woman (1932) Tale of Two Cities (1935) and Dragon Seed (1944).

H.O. Davis produced one more film, The Silent Call, in 1921. Then he left the film industry and became the editor of the Ladies Home Journal for a year. After that he was the Pacific Regional Director of Hearst Newspapers. He briefly tried retirement, then he worked on the executive council of the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He and his wife Laura later moved to Palm Desert where he bought and operated two date gardens. They celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary in 1964.** He died later that year.

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Madame Du Barry (1917)

This week, Kingsley was back to writing film reviews. Antony Anderson was still writing about the “notable” films like William S. Hart’s Wolves of the Rail, but she got to cover Madame Du Barry (a Theda Bara drama), The Fibbers (a Bryant Washburn comedy) and The Beauty and the Rogue (Mary Miles Minter’s best film “in a long time”). She liked Du Barry best, because Bara’s performance was so strong – she went from from “the elfish, witty, adorably natural and ingenious Du Barry of the early scenes” to her end, with unforgettable “terror in her eyes as she looks about on the sea of unfriendly faces, as the crowds thrust her up to the guillotine.” Kingsley summed it up as “a masterpiece of Miss Bara.”

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Arbuckle gets some help with moving from Buster Keaton and Al St. John

Kingsley reported that two Orange County cities, Santa Ana and Anaheim, were competing to be the new home for Roscoe Arbuckle’s studio, and both were offering to build it for him. She mentioned that his production company spent an estimated $300,000 to make eight comedies per year (I hadn’t seen a cost estimate before). She speculated that Santa Ana might have an edge, because Arbuckle had spent some of his childhood there. It was just like states offering tax incentives to film productions now. However, neither city won: Arbuckle chose to move to Edendale (now called Echo Park) not far from downtown Los Angeles. Kingsley didn’t mention why he wanted to leave his current studio site in Long Beach.

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Chaplin meets the Navy, 1918

Kingsley wrote that Charlie Chaplin had led a tour of his studio for a group of sailors, and “not one feature of the big studio was left unexplained by the artist.” Even more remarkably: “the welcome sign has been hung out at the Chaplin plant for all of Uncle Sam’s soldiers and sailors. In the future they will be permitted to visit the new studios, either singly or in a body, after 4:30 every afternoon.” Can you imagine a modern film studio doing that now?

 

 

 

* “Plays and Players,” Photoplay, May 1919, p.90.

**”Birthday, Wedding Anniversary Feted,” Desert Sun, July 28, 1964.

Week of January 19th, 1918

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Grace Kingsley at work, by Ted Gale

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley got to visit Charlie Chaplin’s brand new studio. It was a “little bit of a quint old English street amidst the pampas plumes and tiny orchards of Hollywood.” She went on:

The camouflage is very deceptive. Inside the building which looks like a church, for instance, there is a mean old commercial time clock, like a conscience, where the workmen ring in, and where dwell—shades of St. John the Scribe—the Chaplin Boswells, the publicity department. Also, just as you fancy there will step from one of the half-timbered Elizabethan doors a clanking knight of old, instead there emerges an overalled Pete Props. ‘”Say,” he says, “whada you thing the boss wants now? A crowd o’ tarantulas! I ain’t no tarantula hound, and I don’t know no tarantulas. Can you beat it?”

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Chaplin himself showed her and LA Times cartoonist Edmund “Ted” Gale around, “making amusing little comments:”

“I think I could like this place if I didn’t work here…See, here’s a lemon orchard back of the stage…No, I’m not going to live in the studio—Brother Sid and Mrs. Sid [Minnie Gilbert Chaplin] are going to try it, but none of the put-out-the-dog-and-let-in-the-cat-and-lock-the-cellar-door stuff for me at my workshop. But you see I’ve got a beautiful apartment”—it’s a large corner room, where there are bay windows and odd little dormer windows—“this is to be a combination office and reception-room, and there’s a door I can dodge out of and climb a tree in the lemon orchard if I want to get away from anybody…Yes, there’s a nice big swimming pool and there’s a tennis court, both to be used for business and pleasure.”

There was also a film lab, a screening room, dressing rooms, a garage, a film vault and stables. She observed that “so far as the studio is concerned, Charlie is like a kid with a new toy.”

 

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Chaplin Studio today

The lemon orchard soon became the back lot, where they built open-air sets. Chaplin kept the studio until the end of his film career. He made his most famous films there, including The Kid (1921), The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), and The Great Dictator (1940). After he shot Limelight (1952) there and moved to Switzerland in 1953, he sold it to a real estate development firm who leased it to a television production company. Over the years it was owned by Red Skelton, CBS, A&M Records and most recently, the Jim Henson Company. It’s still a studio.

If you’d like to see what Kingsley saw, here’s Chaplin’s documentary about his studio called How to Make Movies (1918):

John Bengtson has a photo-filled chapter about the studio in his book about Chaplin, Silent Traces. He also blogged about his visit to the studio at Silent Locations.

 

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Kingsley reported that advance sales for Cleopatra at Clune’s Auditorium were brisk, and she repeated a story from Theda Bara’s secretary:

A lady interviewer called at the studio to see Miss Bara, who was dressing, and who sent out word. ‘I cannot possibly see you now. I have nothing on at all.’

The lady interviewer wrote on a card, and sent it in, ‘My dear Miss Bara, Shouldn’t recognize you if you did.’

The journalist was sent right in. Theda Bara had a fine sense of humor.

 

Because a new film critic had started last week, Kingsley was devoting more of her column space to vaudeville. She mentioned that despite wartime transportation problems, the Orpheum was still sending big acts, like Gertrude Hoffman and her fifty-person dance troupe and Joseph E. Howard and his song and dance company of forty. I had no idea that touring vaudeville acts could be so large.