Why can’t good girls drink coffee? : Week of March 20th, 1920

Edith Roberts

One hundred years ago this week, Grace Kingsley wrote yet another profile of an up-and-coming star, Edith Roberts:

She knows right where she’s going. And she’s on her way, too. For though Miss Roberts is but 18, Universal has just raised her to stardom, and given her a nice contract. And from now on, watch the young lady.

She’s a very tame little girl, is Edith, but oh, how she yearns to be wild. I mean professionally, of course. Otherwise she is perfectly willing to have her tameness remain intact: in fact, like a sensible little girl, she and her mama carefully preserve this tameness. Why, she even drinks milk instead of tea or coffee.

So wild women drink coffee? I imagine Miss Kingsley knew her way to the newsroom coffeepot – how else would she have the strength to write this stuff? It must have gotten tiresome writing about virginal young women. The only thing more tedious would have been being such a well-behaved girl.

Edith Roberts, 1916 (she told Photoplay she was 14, but she was actually 16–she’d been shaving two years off of her age for awhile)

Kingsley tried her best to find something different to say about her, and found this:

An interesting thing about Edith is that she is a child of rare psychic powers. She can tell fortunes. When she was 12 years old she told a good one for herself, and now it’s coming true.

ER_missdoddRoberts told Kingsley her fortune (which she didn’t divulge) as well as all about living with her nice quiet mama and her 9 p.m. bedtime and her earlier work as a Universal contract player, mostly in comedies and Westerns. Her big break was getting the title role in Lasca, a drama about a young woman who sacrifices herself to save her love in a cattle stampede. Kingsley said “she stole the picture,” and Universal decided to make her a star. Her first vehicle was Alias: Miss Dobbs, which told the story of a book binder who foils a thief’s plans and finds love. She didn’t become a star, but she worked steadily and made films with directors such as John Stahl and Cecil B. DeMille. Her most famous role was in the melodrama Backbone (1923); she appeared opposite noted stage actor Alfred Lunt. She also played May Mingott in the first version of The Age of Innocence (1924). Her film career lasted until 1929.

Lon Chaney and Edith Roberts in Flesh and Blood (1922)

She escaped “tameness” in 1923 by marrying insurance broker Kenneth Snoke after breaking off her engagement to Christie comedian Neal Burns (could she have possibly been tame only in interviews?). Presumably she got to drink whatever beverages she wanted to by then. Sadly, she died of septicemia in 1935 after giving birth to her son with her second husband, Harold Carter.


This week, Kingsley took one for the team when she reviewed a particularly dull movie. Despite a “convincing, even brilliant” performance from Bert Lytell, nothing could save The Right of Way. It took and hour and a half to unreel his character’s search for belief in God and:

in the end the search comes to nothing, the whole dreary string of happenings which befall the hero up to the time of his death meaning naught in particular for the theme…There are also some absurdities. When the hero is branded with the red hot cross, nobody seems to think even to put Vaseline in the wound. And when he is shot, the heroine puts her arms about him, and pleads with him not to die, but nobody goes for a doctor!

No wonder she preferred sprightly comedies. The Right of Way was a remake of a 1915 film, which hasn’t been remade since. It’s lost.

Pauline Frederick

She also had news of what another serious actress was doing for the sake of publicity:

Pauline Frederick, Goldwyn star, has been chosen as queen of the California Raisin Festival to be held in Fresno, April 30. She will make her entry into the city at the head of a pageant which is planned to make one of the most spectacular ever held in the West.


Even the most dignified actresses rode on parade floats in Fresno, in front of one carrying Fresno’s oldest grape vine. On April 30th she was not only the Raisin Queen on the Sun Maid float for California Raisin Association, she also presented the trophy to the winner of the auto race.

Frederick looked like the Sun Maid Raisin Girl, but the actual model was Lorraine Collett.

Fresno is still the world raisin capital, but the festival is held in Selma now.


However, here’s the best trivia I found while looking up raisin history: in 1906, Fresno’s Pacific League ball team was called the Raisin Eaters. That’s a great name that really ought to be brought back, even though they were terrible at playing baseball and they only lasted one year.