How Quickly They Forget: Week of October 4th, 1919

They were so happy, just last December!

One hundred and one years ago this week, all of the theaters in Los Angeles were about to be closed to help prevent the spread of influenza. They didn’t re-open until December 2nd. One year later, neither Grace Kingsley nor anybody else wrote about the anniversary. Only three very short articles about flu appeared in the LA Times in late 1919: two reporting that the State Board of Health said the return of the epidemic was improbable, and one about insurance payouts for flu deaths. The trade papers also ignored the anniversary, except to give theater closures as a reason that revenues were down the previous year.

This was the beginning of people forgetting all about the epidemic, which now seems to be the first thing everybody mentions if they do cover it. For instance, The Guardian’s article on the hundredth anniversary was called “A century on: why are we forgetting the deaths of 100 million” and the Backstory Radio podcast episode was titled Forgotten FluNobody paused to be happy that they got to go about their ordinary business. Perhaps they were saving it for the Armistice Day celebrations coming up next month.

No surprise, Kingsley’s favorite film this week came from her favorite actress:

That amazing young woman, Mary Pickford, has done it again! She has succeeded in The Hoodlum, which is at the Kinema this week, in again putting over a film blue-ribboner. The surprising thing about this young lady is that she never fails to surprise you…In fact, Miss Pickford seems to be slowly but surely evolving a fresh, new quality—a power that has nothing whatever to do with pouts and curls, but depends on a really brilliant mind, a keenness of dramatic perception, and an unlimited sense of humor and of fun.

The Hoodlum tells the story of a spoiled rich girl who goes to live with her sociologist father in the New York slums. There, after learning how to play craps and shimmie, she meets a wrongfully accused young man whom she is able to exonerate by stealing papers from her grandfather. However, as Kingsley noted, that wasn’t the attraction:

But the plot, ha ha! Like the dentists’ ads say, doesn’t hurt a bit. It’s Mary Pickford’s bubbling, genuine humor, which will charm dull care away if you’ll let it. That a lot of people want to let it was shown by the crowds which besieged the Kinema yesterday.

The Hoodlum is available on DVD.


Kingsley had news of Pickford’s soon-to-be husband as well:

That arch kidder, Douglas Fairbanks, made the life of Charlie Chaplin more or less miserable, the other night down on Broadway. Charlie and Doug had been dining together, and as they sat in the machine awaiting the coming of other friends to join the party, Douglas would ever and anon arise in his seat, wave his arms, and announce to whoso would listen:

“This is the great Charlie Chaplin! None other! Take a good look at Charlie Chaplin!”

Poor Charlie shrunk back inside his overcoat, and looked as if somebody bit his dog.

Oh, Mr. Fairbanks. It’s only surprising that the story doesn’t end with “so Charlie bopped him in the nose and no jury would convict.”

From a review of The World to Live In I learned a new word: tinpanner, which is a young woman who consorts with rich old men. It was invented by W. Carey Wonderly, the author of the 1918 novel the film was based on. Another writer, Owen Johnson, tried to call them “salamanders” in his 1913 novel of that name (and 1916 film), but neither word caught on the way the term Jack Lait came up with did in his 1916 book, Beef, Iron & Wine: gold digger. The Oxford English Dictionary says that was the first time it was used in that sense (and tinpanner isn’t in the OED at all). I guess Wonderly was playing off of that, since you use a tin pan to find gold in a stream. While is seems like there can never be enough words to insult women with, “gold digger” is easier to catch the meaning of if you don’t already know it. I can see why it won out.

Nevertheless, The World to Live In wasn’t a bad little movie, even if it utterly failed as a cautionary tale:

But if the author didn’t want all our little Maudie Freshies to go right out and be tinpanners, he shouldn’t have made this one have such an awfully good time, with numberless rich and devoted beaus, and come out all unscorched and unscathed as she did, from numberless fascinating adventures.

Gee, just like Anita Loos did a few years later in her book, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In this story, Rita Charles (Alice Brady) meets a handsome settlement worker (William P. Carelton) with a “noble pompadour—why is it, pompadours look so noble in pictures?” and marries him, ending her tinpanning ways. Overall, Kingsley thought this now lost movie was very entertaining and not in the least profound.



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.

Plans That Came to Nothing: Week of July 12th, 1919

Let’s go make movies someplace else!

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley indulged in hyperbole:

One of the biggest announcements of the year in filmdom is to the effect that Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin are going to South America next fall to make pictures. The announcement was made yesterday at the Fairbanks studio.

The trip is to be made on a boat, either specially built or chartered for the occasion. The company will embark at San Pedro, and will stop along the coast, wherever the fancy of the famous pair or the interests of the picture business may dictate…The boat in which the two world-famed comedians will travel will be equipped with laboratories, projection room, developing room, and all necessary photographic paraphernalia connected with the development ant printing of films.

Never have these two screen idols been more popular than they are at present, and their reception in South American will, of course, be an ovation. As both speak Spanish to a certain extent, it may be expected the trip will prove a great holiday as well as a wonderful business venture.

Fairbanks said they probably wouldn’t be going until late October or early November, because he had two films to finish before he could leave.


They never went. Chaplin got busy making The Kid, and Fairbanks had plenty to do in Los Angeles, between making films, setting up United Artists, and convincing Mary Pickford to marry him (which she did the following March). Daydreams about escape are pleasant for movie stars, too! This shows why it’s a bad idea to tell a newspaper reporter every stray thought that crosses your mind, even if you’re Douglas Fairbanks.

Kingsley’s favorite film this week was The Crimson Gardenia, an adventure-comedy adapted from a Rex Beach short story. Set during Mardi Gras, a bored millionaire (Owen Moore) meets a pretty women (Hedda Nova) and is promptly mistaken for an escaped prisoner who is being chased by both the police and a gang of cut-throats. Such a durable plot! Kingsley wrote:

Which really, after all, doesn’t give you the least notion of the fresh, crisp charm which Reginald Barker, director, has put into Mr. Beach’s story. And let him who thinks there is no such thing as subtlety on the screen, who believes that delicate nuance is not conveyable in the medium, and that a story, nicely balanced, so as to dip thrillingly one moment toward romance and adventure and next into the frothiest suggestion of comedy, just take a peep at this thoroughly delightful film.

I’m sold. Do you suppose he escapes? Could he marry the woman? An incomplete version survives at the Eastman House.

The director Kingsley admired, Reginald Barker, directed nearly 100 films during a fine career that lasted until 1935, but the most successful crewmember was Hugo Ballin, the art director. In just a few months, he started his own production company because he wanted to direct. His films included Jane Eyre (1921) and Vanity Fair (1923), but they weren’t very successful. He went back to his first career as a artist, and he went on to create some of the most memorable public art in Los Angeles, including the murals at the Griffith Observatory:


Caroline Luce has written an excellent, fully illustrated website about him called Hugo Ballin’s Los Angeles.


This week, Kingsley reported a bathing girl controversy – but it wasn’t the usual one about the immorality of scantily-clad women:

“Can Chicago rightfully boast prettier bathing girls than Los Angeles?” inquires a dispatch from Chicago.

The question was asked by Chuck Reisner, usually Chaplin’s assistant director but he’d been lured to Chicago by fledgling film producer William S. Bastar to direct bathing beauty comedies. He continued:

“Chicago bathing girls are prettier, more attractive and make better actresses than the girls of any other city in the world,” said Reisner the other day, according to word just received.

Naturally, Kingsley printed a rebuttal from the genre’s originator:

“How can that be?” retorts Mack Sennett. “Can’t our girls bathe and swim all year round in the ocean, whereas your girls can only be outdoor girls, so far as bathing is concerned, a few months a year. Besides, bathing in a lake is pretty tame—something like bathing in a big bath tub!”

Despite Reisner’s skill at getting publicity, only one short in Chicago was completed, Dog Days. It played in Los Angeles in early December, but it barely appeared in the theater’s listing or advertising. The promoter emphasized the live show featuring young women who sang and danced while wearing bathing suits. It was so popular, it got held over for a second week. Reisner was already back to work for Chaplin as the assistant director on The Kid. He got to be a director again in a few years, first on a series of Brownie the Dog shorts, and later with Syd Chaplin (The Better ‘Ole) and Buster Keaton (Steamboat Bill, Jr.).



Shimmie if You Want to: Week of June 28th, 1919

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley had it on very good authority that the new dance craze wasn’t immoral:

You may shimmie, if you wish! So says Marion Morgan, producer of the Morgan dancing act, which is creating a sensation at the Orpheum this week. And you may take Miss Morgan’s word for it, ‘cause she used to be a school ma’am in days gone by, of course no school-teacher would ever tell you to do anything wrong. And now that the dance has climbed up into the social class where it is referred to politely as the ‘lingerie tremulo” that makes it seem different, too.

Morgan pointed out that it was healthful exercise, and “dancing is really cleansing to the brain and body” but “there are shimmies and shimmies, you know—nice little expurgated wriggles that are not suggestive at all—and then there is the shimmie that is decidedly vulgar. That’s why I say shimmie if you like—and according to your lights…And if you are so vulgar that you don’t know when you are doing a vulgar shimmie—why, it probably won’t hurt you any!” In the late teens to early twenties the shimmie/shimmy did occasionally get banned at dance halls, and the censors in Boston didn’t let Mae West perform it on stage in 1921,* but it looks like the fuss died down fairly quickly.

Kingsley asked Morgan about it because a shimmie dance act had been selling a lot of tickets at a rival theater, the Pantages, for the last month. Nevertheless, Morgan didn’t seem to mind giving her opinion, possibly because her act was so different. Kingsley had reviewed the ballet she’d choreographed at the Orpheum earlier in the week, and she thought it was a sensation: “it was as though I were witnessing a play—but a play done in such exquisite fashion as to be a new sort of poetry. The subject of the ballet is historical, and is in three scenes, all staged with such real and vivid appeal to the imagination the spectator feels he is in the midst of the scene itself, rather than on the outside.”

Marion Morgan was a former dance instructor who ran a troupe which toured the vaudeville circuits, performing interpretive dances based on Egyptian and classical Greek and Roman themes. She also did choreography for films. In 1927 she became director Dorothy Arzner’s partner and they worked together on several pictures.

This week there was a demonstration of just how popular Charlie Chaplin was: his new film, Sunnyside, played in two theaters at the same time, which was very unusual then. Both the Kinema (1850 seats) and Tally’s Broadway (900 seats) were owned by T.L. Tally, and according to reports, Chaplin didn’t have trouble filling all those seats. Kingsley’s review didn’t hurt; she said, “Sunnyside has so many funny touches it has to be seen to be appreciated. All lovers of Charlie Chaplin—and if there is anybody who isn’t he keeps it in the dark nowadays—will rejoice in Sunnyside.” It spent one week at both theaters, then two more just at Tally’s Broadway. Now Sunnyside is not as well regarded as many of Chaplin’s other films; however, that’s stiff competition.

Because it was a short (its run time is between 29 and 41 minutes), they felt they needed to show other films with it – even though they didn’t bother to mention them in the advertising! Here are the neglected movies: at the Kinema, they showed The Haunted Bedroom, “a good old-fashioned mystery story,” according to Motion Picture News. Meanwhile, at Tally’s Broadway during the first week they ran a Chester travelogue called Up in the Air After Alligators,** which was about alligator hunting. For the second week it was a Major Jack Allen hunting short and for the third it was The Indestructible Wife. This was a particularly odd paring; Motion Picture News called it a “matinee picture…it is one of those soft, tender kind of attraction, whose predominating feature is artistic beauty.” It told the story of a society wife (Alice Brady) who liked to go to parties, but her husband (Saxon Kling) got tired of it so he had a friend kidnap her. He rescues her so she decides to stay home. I don’t get it. I wonder how many people stuck around to watch the rest of the bill – maybe more people saw them than would have otherwise.

Charlotte and Mary Pickford

Kingsley had news about another big star:

That Mary Pickford is going to retire, following the completion of nine pictures for which she has contracted with the Big Four, was the statement made by Mrs. Charlotte Pickford, Mary Pickford’s mother, according to a telegraphic dispatch received last night by this department from Boston, where Mrs. Pickford is at present, attending to details connected with the showing of a Pickford play.

“Only nine more pictures and Mary will settle down to enjoy the fruits of her hard-earned savings,” is the way Mrs. Charlotte Pickford put it. “It will take a number of months to complete the present pictures contracted for and then Mary is going to settle down to enjoy life, as I have entreated her to do for a long time. The pictures to come are to be the biggest and the best ever developed by her and she has been given free leave to spend all the money she likes to make the productions successful.”

Miss Pickford herself could not be reached last night, as she was absent from home, but her manager, F.E. Benson, states, when informed regarding Mrs. Pickford’s statement:

“I do not know of any such idea on Miss Pickford’s part. We are in the middle of a production and have a large number of stories already purchased. Of course, I don’t know what understanding Miss Pickford and her mother have regarding Miss Pickford’s retiring, but I am her manager, and I have heard no such talk.”

Of course Pickford was nowhere near retirement – that didn’t happen until 1933. It seems odd that Charlotte Pickford felt the need to alert the media about it. It could be that she though Mary really meant it. Regarding this year, Mary Pickford’s biographer Eileen Whitfield quoted the Chicago News: “Mary Pickford’s threatened retirement from professional life is becoming as chronic as Sarah Bernhardt’s farewell stage appearances.” Whitfield said that she talked about quitting because she was miserable, trying to decide if she should divorce Owen Moore and marry Douglas Fairbanks and she was quite worried about bad publicity if she did. Eventually she made up her mind, got her divorce in February 1920 and married Fairbanks a month later (and stopped threatening retirement).

Finally, this was the week when Prohibition went into effect and it was on everybody’s mind. Tom Mix said, “just think of all the family skeletons nowadays that will be moved out of closets to make room for that which cheers and also inebriates!”


*”Whirl of the Town,” Variety, April 22, 1921.

**The intertitles for the Chester travelogues were written by Katharine Hilliker, and her forgotten career is exactly what the Women Film Pioneers website was made for. She continued to work as a title writer and film editor on movies like Seventh Heaven (1927) and Sunrise (1927).




Mermaid Clothes: Week of May 31st, 1919

from the National Woman Suffrage Publishing Company

One hundred years ago this week, Congress finally passed the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution which would eventually allow all American women to vote. It still needed to be ratified by 36 states. Since state legislations weren’t in session year round, it took over a year but the 36th state, Tennessee, approved it on August 18, 1920 and it was signed into law on August 26th, in time for the presidential election

Grace Kingsley, who’s been able to vote since 1911, didn’t mention the big news for she was too busy on an assignment from her editor: getting Annette Kellerman, the Australian Mermaid, on record about clothing, since she was so famous for not wearing much of it. The two career women did as well as could be expected. Grace Kingsley had some jokes about how with a packed rehearsal schedule it was difficult to find Kellerman in street clothes. Kellerman politely answered her questions, but not without saying “doesn’t it seem a bit ridiculous to ask a mermaid about clothes?” She told her that she mostly wore tailored frocks, because that’s what her husband liked. Her advice to other women was “in general, women should dress to suit their personalities. But some people have awfully funny ideas of what their personalities are!” Happily, she included men in that, too.

Oh well, if entertainment journalists cut out all of the ridiculousness they wouldn’t have much to write about.

This week, Kingsley finally found one profession that doesn’t want to be in the movies. While shooting The Speed Maniac on location in San Francisco, Tom Mix and his director Edward Le Saint needed someone to play the part of a pickpocket, and they decided they wanted realistic casting. So Mix went to his friend, the captain of police Dan O’Brien. They looked in the holding cell and chose a likely candidate, However, when they asked him to be in their film, the pickpocket said “Where do you get that stuff? Mug me, would ye, so that I would been seen by all the coppers in the world. Ruin me in me profession! I should say not! Besides, picking pockets is a good enough job for me. I don’t want to be a picture actor. Picture actor! Hunh!” None of the other crooks wanted the job, so they made the second cameraman, Walter Williams, do the dirty work.

Kingsley mentioned that “the wife of Chaplin’s cameraman, Jack Wilson, on May 28, gave birth to a daughter at the Wilson home on Crenshaw Blvd.” Some months later, both Edith Wilsons got to meet the boss on the set of The Kid:

An excuse for a cute photo!


Chaplin’s Visitor: Week of March 29th, 1919

Charlie Chaplin, Marcel Dupuys, Peter Kyne

One hundred years ago this week, the war’s effects were still being felt. Kingsley told the story of a visitor to Charlie Chaplin’s studio who’d suffered more than most, Marcel Dupuys:

the fourteen-year-old French lad who went into action at Chateau Thierry and Pont a Mousson. His mother passed on in 1911 and his father fell in the battle at Verdun.

The authorities placed him in an orphan asylum where restlessness and discontent soon mastered him. One day he ran away, and finally reached the front trenches where he attached himself to the Seventy-Ninth French Infantry. Many stories are told of the ‘handy boy around the front line dressing stations,’ whose particular job was crawling around amongst the wounded, giving them rum. While giving cheer and stimulant to his stricken comrades he was twice wounded. As the ranks of his countrymen grew thin and scattered, the little man was separated from them, and later attached himself to an American unit, the 143rd Field Artillery. The 143rd came home on the transport “Matsonia,” in which Peter B. Kyne commanded Battery A. The soldiers of the 143rd smuggled Marcel aboard the transport, and he turned up two days later at sea, which was Christmas Day. Later he was adopted by Mr. Kyne.

It was mighty good to see Mr. Chaplin and Marcel romping over the studio grounds. The wistful little fellow of sad memories was once again the happy boy.

“Father,” said Marcel whose English is quite good, “you have been nice to me all the time. But when you bring me to play with Charlie—oh boy!—I think you are quite too wonderful.”


Once again, Chaplin’s publicity department was very good at their job. This time (unlike the story of Charlie saving a girl from drowning), I was able to verify some of the story. Marcel Jules Dupuys was born February 21, 1904 in Dangeutin, France, so he’d just turned 15. He really did sail to America from Bordeaux on December 23, 1918, according to the ship’s manifest.

Marcel Dupuys, Peter and Helene Kyne

Kyne wrote an expanded version of the story Kingsley was told for Sunset magazine. He explained that his experience as an army commander prepared him for the challenges of adopting a teen that was “equal proportions of angel and devil.” The stories he told about Marcel shooting birds, crashing through the glass roof of the conservatory and getting into fights with neighborhood boys were supposed to be cute, evidence that he was “one hundred and fifty per cent boy.”

By September, 1920 the Kynes had changed their minds. Kyne sent him to the Alameda County Detention Home to await deportation proceedings after Dupuys had run away from home for four days. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Marcel admitted to not always doing what was right, but he was brokenhearted that “Mr. Kyne does not want me any more.” At a hearing, Kyne blamed Helene Kyne, saying “the boy’s actions has so unnerved his wife that she was compelled to go on an extended cruise of the West Indies,” but they found a new foster mother and he left with her. This arrangement only lasted a few days and Dupuys disappeared again. He was found and arrested after he robbed Kyne’s house in Del Mar, California. His deportation hearing was held in San Diego in December, where he was found to be of “constitutional psychopathic inferiority” and was sent back to France.


However, he didn’t stay there for long. He stowed away on the steamer Westwood and arrived in Baltimore on May 6th, 1921, only to be quickly deported again. So he signed up as a crewmember on a ship bound for Galveston, Texas and he deserted. He enlisted in the army signal corps and even managed to get himself naturalized as an American citizen on June 5, 1922. He got caught at Camp Travis and was ordered to be deported again.

That’s where his trail ends. I can’t find out if he returned to France, because their census information is only available there (it hasn’t even been indexed!). However, given his history, I wouldn’t be surprised if the minute the authorities’ backs were turned, he either escaped in the States or was on the first boat back, this time with a new name.


This week, Kingsley saw a film that finally answered Sigmund Freud’s question:

It was a large order which the Vitagraph undertook when they strove to include in five reels of film the desires of women, as implied in the name of their latest photoplay starring Grace Darmond and which is entitled What Every Woman Wants. All the same the title is a good one and drew a lot of people to Ray’s Garden yesterday—probably the men went to find out what the women wanted, and the women went to find out what they themselves wanted.

Evidently what every woman wants is excitement.


Darmond’s character got plenty of that, what with getting arrested for murdering her husband. Kingsley’s description of what happened next in the now lost film delivered some grade-A snark:

just at the tip end of the last reel, when you’re getting awfully nervous, the little housemaid up and confesses she killed her master because, being on probation from the reform school, he’s threatened to send her back, for no reason which can be found out, as she seems always to be a busy soul and neat and tidy into the bargain. She cries and says she didn’t even know the gun was loaded—and on her unsupported testimony the court lets her go and she walks out happily on the arm of her policeman lover, who tells her not to be a careless little thing with guns like that any more.

Oh dear. This one’s not going to get a remake. Well, they couldn’t all be classics.

T.H. Gibson Gowland

It’s interesting who was top-billed in the publicity for an upcoming film from Universal:

T.H. Gibson Gowland, whose characterization in Maurice Tourneur’s production of White Heather is said to be as fine a bit of acting as the screen has seen, has been engaged by Universal to play a leading role in a picture called The Pinnacle, which Erich von Stroheim is directing and in which von Stroheim also plays a leading part, with Francolla Billington and Sam de Grasse featured. Gowland’s three-year-old son also appears in the picture.

Now when the film is remembered, it’s for Von Stroheim. It got a title change, becoming Blind Husbands and it was von Stroheim’s directing debut.


Gowland went on to star in Greed (1924) and he had a long career as a character actor. His three year old son was named Peter, and he became a glamour photographer with a six-decade long career. His web site is here.


“Former Protégé of Kyne Missing,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 24, 1920.

“Former Protégé of Peter B. Kyne Will be Deported,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 29, 1921.

“French Orphan Gets Home in San Francisco,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 11, 1920.

“Marcel Bad But Will Try Again,” Observer (Montague, MI), September 7, 1922.

Peter B. Kyne, “Fathering a War Veteran,” Sunset, pp.17-19, 54-68.

“Peter B. Kyne to Send his War Orphan Back to France,” Chico Record, February 12, 1921.

“Peter B. Kyne’s Protégé Denies Being Bad Boy,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 9, 1920.

“Peter Kyne’s Ward May be Deported,” Riverside Daily Press, December 8, 1920.

“War Waif Adopted by Author Faces Deportation,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 8, 1920.








Week of November 9th, 1918


People came downtown to read the special edition.

One hundred years ago this week, world events crowded entertainment news out of the newspaper for the most part. On Monday, November 11th at 12:10 a.m. the L.A. Times announced on its public address system that German representatives had signed the armistice. A special edition of the newspaper quickly followed. Hostilities officially ended at 11 a.m. Paris time, which was 3 a.m. Los Angeles time. Naturally, nobody bothered to go to bed that night or went to work the next day. As the Times’ November 12th article, “Bedlam is the Kaiser’s Dirge As All Los Angeles Celebrates Peace” said, “The war is over. Nothing else mattered.” It continued:

Los Angeles has had many great days. Yesterday was her greatest day. Through the dark hours when enemies sore pressed she maintained her poise and smiled through her tears…All that time her emotions were damming back a great lake of feeling, and when The Times siren roared the news to a waiting city that the war was over the dam burst and out into the glorious morning of Victory Day the people poured to give their outward expression to the joy that came with daybreak.

Fifth and Broadway

There were no plans for an official celebration, but the mayor declared the day a holiday and prohibited all alcohol sales. The crowds were amazing:

By 8 o’clock in the morning the downtown streets were jammed and flags were being placed. Everywhere the Stars and Stripes were floating, apparently they had risen with the sun…. Gradually the crowd grew. By 9 o’clock Broadway, Spring, Hill, Seventh and the cross streets were filled.

After noon Broadway was a solid mass of color waving north and south like some sublimated ribbon counter on a spree, while at every intersection a cross current of humanity struggled against the tide, finally to be caught up in its flood and carried on whither it flowed and ebbed and flowed again.

Sixth and Broadway

The whole police force was on duty, but crowd control was impossible. They estimated that half a million turned up (two years later, the census said that only 576,673 people lived there!)

The streets were so congested that they had to shut down the trolleys in downtown. The noise was astonishing, too. Every car horn was being honked, “tens of thousands of portable horns, rattles, pans, cans, hanging chunks of pig iron, skillets and wash basins from the kitchen pantry added to the tremendous din.”

Workers from the Boos Brothers cafeteria celebrate

The Times report concluded:

The wonderful day was so filled with incidents that it was impossible to acquire more than a passing impression. The spectacle was en masse. It had no beginning, no middle, no end. It was unlike everything which ever was before, and its like may never be seen again.

Cartoon by Ted Gale

There was one unfortunate consequence of the massive public celebration: it caused an uptick in flu cases, so re-opening the theaters was delayed.

Chaplin speaking at a Liberty Bond rally

Grace Kingsley did manage to write a few columns this week. She told how one person celebrated:

This is a story of Charlie Chaplin, some hell-bent cowboys and a peace celebration, and it all happened in the wee small hours of Monday morning.

The cowboys had been celebrating peace all Sunday night by shooting up the town and, while tearing down Seventh street, one of them happened to look through the window of a little all-night restaurant. There sat Charlie Chaplin, eating chop suey and cogitating on the success of Shoulder Arms. Those cowboys yelled in chorus—“Oh, you Charlie Chaplin?” but didn’t wait for Charlie to answer. Instead they swung their trusty lassoes, with the result the noose slipped over his famous head and landed him in their midst in a jiffy.

“Well, boys?” demanded the little comedian good-naturedly.

“Speech! Speech!” yelled the boys, and rapidly hoisted Chaplin to the top of an automobile, where he made a speech that ought to rattle down through the corridors of time even if it doesn’t. A crowd speedily gathered, even at 3 a.m. and when it was all over the cowboys heaved the comedian to their shoulders and bore him home.

Mildred Harris

Kingsley didn’t remark on one reason it might have been odd to find Chaplin alone in a Chinese restaurant in the early morning: two days earlier, news had broken that he’d secretly married seventeen-year-old actress Mildred Harris on Oct 23rd. This was a bad idea for both of them from the start. On November 13th, the Times reported she was in the hospital with a nervous breakdown and Chaplin was once again living at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The two formally separated in autumn 1919 and divorced in 1920.



Week of September 21st, 1918


One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley used her Sunday column (usually devoted to an interview) to write an appreciation of Roscoe Arbuckle in The Sheriff:

Up the street gallops Fatty’s steed with the whooping cowboys close at his heels. They’re gaining on him, and he wants to escape, so he does exactly what you’d never expect a man built like Fatty to do. He makes a flying leap right up the side of a church and bounces onto the roof. After which you realize that Fatty isn’t really fat at all—that he’s made of India rubber. He bounces to the belfry and hangs on to the church spire.

Then you laugh until you weep, probably. For the spire suddenly bends in his grasp, then sways this way and that under Fatty’s weight, while the chubby comedian dodges the bullets from the guns of his pursuers.

And right there is where you “get” Fatty, and realize there are other ways to Boswell a man besides using long words to write about him. For in The Sheriff, Fatty admittedly give us a perfectly delicious and at the same time the most kindly and gentle of satires on the world’s most famous athletic comedian. In fact, Arbuckle takes the ‘ire’ out of ‘satire.’ And to Roscoe Arbuckle’s genius must go a huge share of praise for his radiant and cheerful comedies, in which he provides the warm glow of humor around which humanity eagerly hovers in these stressful days.

Unfortunately, this cheerful comedy can’t help our current stressful days: it’s a lost film. So Kingsley’s description of his impressive stunt work, as well as the publicity and other materials written about the film, are all we have left. It seems that Arbuckle’s sheriff was a Douglas Fairbanks super-fan who must rescue his kidnapped sweetheart. I’m sorry we don’t get to see that!

Arbuckle and Betty Compson

Kingsley had a point about what makes Arbuckle films so enjoyable: they aren’t mean, the way some slapstick comedies can be (I’m not sure I’ve recovered from a Ham and Bud short I saw a few years ago that involved gassing a houseful of people). I’m glad that Kingsley called the character he played Fatty, but the filmmaker was Roscoe, which was exactly what he wanted.


After months of anticipation, Kingsley got to see a preview of Charlie Chaplin’s new film:

I have no hesitancy in saying the world is going to pronounce it is the greatest picture comedy that has ever been made. And the preview was perfectly ‘dry’, too! If one were disposed to go into a high-brow analysis of it, one would say that Chaplin has succeeded by his artistry in fairly creating a new art form. For, despite the fact that Shoulder Arms has a ripple of laughter running all through it, which rises to the happy crescendo of laugher in its boisterous moments, it has all the time a resonant undertone of war’s rumblings and war’s mighty pathos.

Chaplin was clever to let her see it early – he thought she was important, even if her editors didn’t let her review the big films. Kingsley was one of the first critics to call Shoulder Arms great, but other film writers at the time admired it nearly as much. Peter Milne in Picture-Play Magazine said it was “proof conclusive that Charles Spencer Chaplin is the king of all comedians” (February 1919) while Film Daily gave it the highest praise possible from a trade paper: “if you don’t clean up with this Chaplin, you should get out of show business.” (November 17, 1918)


Kingsley’s favorite film in the theaters this week was yet another re-release. The intervening three years had turned it into an unusual film for its leading lady:

My goodness, how we used to sob over the sorrows of those lovely and hapless virgins, The Two Orphans, in the good old days of beer-barrel thunder and paper snowstorms! But there was something vital and fascinating in the old drama, else it never would have played all through the years. And now screen magic has touched it, as it touches so many of the beautiful old stories, and has turned it into quite a fresh new play by reason of the showing of the scenes that heretofore we’ve been obliged merely to conjure up in our imaginations, due to the limitations of the stage. The Two Orphans is on view at Miller’s this week, with no less a persona than Theda Bara in he leading role. The story is beautifully played—even if it is hard to imagine Miss Bara an orphan after the opulent orgies of Salome.

Orphans was made a few months after Bara made such an impression as a vamp in A Fool There Was in 1915, but before her studio typecast her. This lost film was based on the same play as Griffith’s Orphans of the Storm (1921); Bara played Henriette, the sighted orphan who gets kidnapped. The blind orphan, Louise, was played by Jean Sothern, who’d already quit acting in films by 1918. Bara’s popularity in 1918 must have been immense, because the film hadn’t done well at the box office when it was originally released, so it’s a little surprising they’d try it again. Maybe wartime austerity was another reason Fox mined their back catalog. Bara’s next picture in 1915 was a return to bad women with Sin, which was a great big hit and sealed her fate as a vamp.

Kingsley mentioned an unusual contribution to the war effort:

That athletic hero, Douglas Fairbanks, set a wartime example of abstemiousness by disposing of his automobile, and will be the first star in Los Angeles to go riding in his own handsome carriage. He has a fast trotting and racing pony, which will draw his equipage down Broadway.

It’s a shame that they didn’t print a picture of him and his carriage, navigating the streets of downtown Los Angeles. But here’s a nice one of Fairbanks in 1918 with the car he wasn’t using instead.


Week of June 29th, 1918

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.


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



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.

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.

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.

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.