Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Miss Pearl White

I had almost forgotten about Pearl! Not a big deal though considering a lot of people have forgotten about her over the years. I was reminded of her when I was scrolling through TCM's schedule and saw that they were going to show The Perils of Pauline in October, and I got really excited because I have wanted to see that movie for awhile. It is a film about Pearl's life, but I am already thinking it's going to be one of those old Hollywood film adaptations where everything is painted rosey posey and it's fictionalized. But, oh well. Still worth a look I think. I hope it's nothing like that trash can of a movie Harlow. Ugh! I hated that movie!!

Pearl could be seen as the female Buster Keaton because like my man Buster, Pearl did her own stunts! Gotta love and respect her for that! And like Buster, she also let alcohol take control of her life. Unfortunately, it ended up killing her.

Pearl White was born Pearl Fay White on March 4, 1889 in Green Ridge, Missouri. She was the youngest of 5 children born to Edgar and Inez White. Sadly, Inez White passed away when Pearl was only 3 years old.

While growing up, Pearl had a keen interest in theater, and she made her stage debut at age six playing Little Eva in a production of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

When she was 18 years old, she joined a traveling theater troupe. At first, she only traveled in the evening due to the fact that she needed a paying day job to help put money on the table for her family. Eventually though, she joined a full time traveling troupe which is how she ended up in New York.

A few months later, she made her way down to South American where she performed as singer in clubs. In 1910 she suffered a setback when her voice began to fail her night after night. As a result, she returned to New York and made her film debut in one reel comedies.

Pearl jumped around from studio to studio until she signed with Crystal Film who gave her top billing in comedies.

In 1914, Pathe' Studios offered her a starring role in a new serial called The Perils of Pauline. The role of the lead, Pauline, was an adventurous woman who got involved in very action oriented situations, something that Pearl seemed apt to do. The series contained 20 episodes in all and made Pearl White famous. Stunts like airplane stunts, driving fast cars, and other dangerous situations were all performed by her, and she had the injuries to prove it. If the injuries were bad enough, a stunt double stepped in...but only when Pearl was too hurt to continue filming.

While filming Plunder in 1922, her stunt double John Stevenson was killed while attempting a dangerous stunt. A flurry of publicity arose saying that it in fact was Pearl who had been killed in the stunt. A bit of a scandal then came about when it was revealed that it was her stunt double who was killed. The idea of her this woman who was known for these daring stunts using a stunt double upset her fans.

The scandal caused Pearl to experience a breakdown and she ended up moving to Europe. She was a star overseas as well, so she made a few films and appeared on stage in Paris and in London.
Her attempt at making full length features did not go well, and caused Pearl to retire from films in 1923. Her last film, Terror, was released in 1924.

For most of her adult years, Pearl had a taste for alcohol and this taste began to increase overtime, possibly due to injuries she sustained from her films. Sadly, her last few years were spent in a drunken stupor.

Pearl White passed away on August 4, 1938 in a hospital in Neuilly, France. The cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver caused by chronic alcoholism. She was 49.

She was buried in Cimetiere de Passy in Paris.

Pearl was married twice. First to actor Victor Sutherland from 1907 to 1914. Her second husband was actor and war hero Wallace McCutcheon Jr. The couple married in 1919 and divorced in 1921. McCutcheon suffered after effects of a gassing in while fighting in the war which later led to his mental troubles. This coupled with his broken marriage led him to disappear for awhile, leaving people to believe he had killed himself. He resurfaced in May of 1923. Five years later in 1928, McCutcheon shot himself. In his pockets were filled with pictures and press clippings of Pearl.

She was famous for having blonde hair, but in real life, she wore a wig. She thought that blonde hair photographed better than her natural brown hair, so she wore a wig in all her films. When she walked on the street, she removed the wig so she wouldn't be recognized and plagued by fans.

Sadly, only about nine reels of The Perils of Pauline are in existence and are stored somewhere in Europe. A likewise serial she made, The Exploits of Elaine is still around and is on the National Film Registry (YAY!!)

Oddly enough, it is believed that Pearl never set foot in Hollywood, California. All her films were made on the east coast or overseas.

Even though she succumbed to alcoholism, she was actually a very shrewd business woman and was financially comfortable. She had invested in Parisian nightclubs, hotels and casinos. She also owned a stable of thoroughbred horses.

At the time of her death, she was involved with Theodore Cossika, a Greek businessman. The two loved to travel and actually bought a home together in Cairo, Egypt.

"There is no acting in a serial. You just race through the reels." ~ Pearl White

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grave hunting

It occurred to me the other day that some of my followers on here hadn't seen my grave photos, but only heard me mention them. I wanted a chance to share them here. I saw the other day that I have 14 followers, which may seen small, but it makes me really good to see that many people are interested in my blog. I really appreciate every single one of you because silent film is something very close to my heart and something I really love to talk about.
So, these are a few of my pictures. I have many more of non-silent stars too. Enjoy!
Oh, my one and only...it was truly amazing to be able to see his grave for the first time. I had to look around for it, until I realized he was located behind a service that was going on. And, I don't bother people at cemeteries. That is rude. I have heard of people writing on graves and being obnoxious, and I swear, if I ever see that, they will be buried alive. Anyway, I knelt down and just sat there and just relished the fact that I was there. Amazing.I put my fingers to my lips and left him a kiss, and it stayed! The second time I went and visited him, I was by myself, so I had a chance to just sit there for awhile and just reflect and talk to him. It was amazing. I could even smell a perfume in the air that made me feel like he was there with me. It was so incredible that I didn't want to leave.

Florence's grave is so simple and so hidden away that it is sad. But, it is not that surprising considering that she is barely remembered today. My favorite part of this picture is that the sun is shining right on the word "first" and I thought it was making a real statement. The next time I visited her, I left her a rose and kind words in remembrance. She deserves a bouquet. That will be for next time! Also, as a side note, Roddy McDowell actually bought her this headstone. Love him!

Very hard to get a decent picture here because of the reflection, but what you are seeing here is the cremains of Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyons on the right. I wish they would put a picture of them in there like they do for other people's niches. Maybe it was their wish not to, who knows. Bebe and Ben were too cute!

Douras aka Davies aka Marion Davies! A tomb fit for the mistress of William Randolph Hearst and a great comedienne. I wish you could see inside the tomb, but the doors are locked. Oh Marion, love her.
The Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn is forbidden territory, even more so now that Michael Jackson is buried there. I got in by asking to see the giant Last Supper picture. It actually is a very beautiful picture and has a neat narration to go with it. But, I was still squirming in my seat and looking down the halls to see if I recognized any of them. The Mausoleum is also where such names as Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, and Theda Bara are buried. Meaning: I want to go exploring. But, they are very strict there. I managed to sneak this picture of the Dolly Sister's urn when the usher at the mausoleum turned the corner, hence why it is kinda fuzzy.

The garden where the Pickford family is buried is also a private section. However, the garden next to it is not. In order to get this picture, I had to climb a ledge and then climb a tree in order to look over the wall. I am quite proud of myself :)

Miss Dove's grave was very easy to find. I walked down the stairs in the Freedom Mausoleum, and she was right in front of me at the bottom.

How cute is this? I love the handwriting name plates and the quotes. Sue Carol was just an adorable little star.

I love being able to visit Clara. The place where she is buried is sectioned off with a big chain, so being the little ninja I am, I duck under it. I am always scared someone is gonna bust me because again, Forest Lawn is quite strict. When I visit Clara I leave a quick kiss and say hello to her and that I love her and may she rest in peace. It's only a quick visit, but it means so much to me to be able to visit her.

This is the first time at this cemetery and so first time I visited Bela. I imagined a big Gothic tomb, but he just has a simple marker. I really liked the little skeleton hand and roses that someone left though.

Again, another easy one to stop. Walk up the steps in the garden and he is on your right.

It's amazing that such a vibrant woman has such a modest little grave in a wall. But, there she is!

I should find out more about her nickname "Muzz." I wish the Flugrath sisters were all buried together, but gotta respect them for being buried with their husbands.

This was pretty cool, to be in the presence of the great Barrymores. Lionel and I actually share the same birthday which is awesome. I don't think John is still buried here though. I think he was moved to New York, but I am not 100% on this considering he still has his name up here.

This was f-ing awesome. To be standing in front of Pola Negri's grave. Pola was just larger than life and being able to visit and leave her a kiss was quite amazing.

I could barely find her little niche. The corner where she is is so dark that I had to use my phone for a light. Thank goodness for flash cameras!

Now this is how you go out. The Fairbanks plot is just breathtaking. Swans and a huge marble tomb and backing structure...cheers all around. It's nice to sit on the steps in the sun and say hello to Doug...and Doug.

Charlie Chaplin's mother. She was also a vaudeville actress. I remember watching Chaplin and feeling so sorry for her, and also for Charlie and Sydney for what they had to go through in order to help their mother any way they could.

This is the grave of William Desmond-Taylor, the director who was murdered in 1922. One of the great unsolved mysteries (although my personal opinion is that Charlotte Shelby, Mary Miles Minter's mother, was the culprit). I like paying my respects to him.

Oh Rudy. I love visiting him. I always leave him a kiss. He melts my heart.

I love visiting Barbara and seeing flowers on her grave. The purple flowers and lei were there last time I visited as well, the rose was from me. I don't know a lot of people personally who love silent movies like me, so knowing that someone still cares enough to remember a star who died too soon and is almost forgotten today means a lot to me (I do know some people who I have met online that love silent movies, I just mean friends of mine that I can do see silents with and whatnot).

Mildred Harris, screen ingenue and once Charlie Chaplin's young wife. It is kinda hard to see the name plate, but she is all the way at the top so it is hard to get at a good angle to get the picture.

I don't know why or how I have missed his grave the other times I have been at Hollywood Forever, but I found him!

Same thing with Clifton! I couldn't find him until this past May. I love him in Cheaper By the Dozen and was quite surprised when I read about him dancing on stage with the Dolly Sisters. Small world, eh?

I always say hello to the Talmadge sisters. I am never disrespectful or say anything mean there...if you remember, I am not a fan of Natalie Talmadge for what she did to Buster Keaton. You don't talk bad about the dead (Same thing applies when visiting the grave of Virginia Rappe). Being in the presence of such great silent film stars is awesome.

Not a well known actress at all. Even I haven't seen any of her movies, in fact, I am not even sure her movies are available. She has some of the most beautiful pictures/postcards I have ever seen though. Look them up when you get a chance, she is beautiful.

Renee is always the first person I visit when I go to Hollywood Forever. She is really easy to find and such a beauty who died too young.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mr. Larry Semon

I had a chance to see a Larry Semon short when I visited the Silent Movie Theatre in California...and it is really pissing me off that I cannot remember the title of it. I am gonna so some more checking so hold on...............................................................UGH! I still can't find it! If any of you can help me out, I would be very appreciative. I believe it was a short, and in it Larry plays a bass player who is not good at all. He gets kicked out of his home because he is driving the family crazy and not earning enough money. That is pretty much all I remember that is accurate. Any help, I would love you forever! :)

I do remember that I really enjoyed the film and felt a bit sad at the fact that he didn't keep his star status. At the time, he was as big a name as Keaton, Lloyd, and Chaplin. But poor decisions stopped him from being remembered as one of the great silent comedians. And apparently stopped me from remembering what the hell that movie was!

Larry Semon was born Lawrence Semon in West Point, Mississippi on February 8, 1889. His father was a magician that went by the name of Zora the Great, and his mother was his assistant. He, like Buster Keaton, joined his family's act. (He also had a sister, but I am not sure whether she was older or younger. I don't even know her name)

His father's death put an end to the performing and Larry eventually went back to school. He attended school in Georgia and New York, which is where he found a job working for a newspaper as a cartoonist. On the side, he continued to work on the stage in vaudeville acts, where he caught the eye of a member at Vitagraph Studios. He signed with the company in 1915.

At first, Larry worked behind the scenes as a writer, director, producer, etc. Like many directors/writers, he cast himself in bit parts in some of these films. Eventually, he began starring in comedic shorts usually surrounding him involved in a basic setting but manages to stir things into chaos (Like so many slapstick comedy films). Pretty soon these shorts were turning into one and two reelers.

His biggest downfall was that Larry liked to splurge on his productions. He loved extravagant chase scenes, airplane sequences, fires...anything that made a big noise pretty much. Also, as was recalled later by fellow comedian Oliver Hardy, Larry wouldn't built just everyday painted sets and false fronts. Instead, he would build functioning sets, including a cabin with running water. He really went all out.

In 1925, he directed and appeared in (as the scarecrow) the first major film adaptation of Wizard of Oz. I surprisingly haven't seen this version. Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie, so I definitely have to love Larry for being a part of an adaption of this. I have seen the 1910 version with Bessie Love that is pretty cool though. Sadly, the 1925 version was not well received and it caused more problems for Larry.

Not surprisingly, the heads at Vitagraph were getting fed up with the exorbitant costs of Larry's films and eventually told him that he would have to pay for his own productions. So, with this change, Larry decided to make feature films. This didn't pan out and eventually he was back to making shorts for poverty row studios.

In 1928, Larry had to file for bankruptcy. He tried to get back to his roots in the vaudeville circuit, but he suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be placed in a sanatorium.

Larry Semon passed away on October 8, 1928 of a combination of pneumonia and tuberculosis. He was 39 years old. He was cremated, although the whereabouts of his ashes are unknown.

Larry was married twice. First to actress Lucille Carlilse until 1923. Although there is speculation that the two merely announced their engagement, never married, and then just broke up, but who knows. And secondly to actress Dorothy Dwan from 1925 until his death three years later. He never had any children. It's kinda interesting that his wives were very pretty ladies, and...well...Larry wasn't much of a looker. He was a lil guy! But, good for him all the same!

There is a rumor that Larry didn't actually die in the sanatorium and the he may have faked his death to escape creditors. One reason for this rumor is that his wife Dorothy never got to see his body after he died. Also, there was only a handful of people at the funeral supposedly at Larry's request. Dorothy continued up until her death to be quite confused about the nature of her husband's demise. (It's kind of a long shot...the whole faking death thing. You would think his face would be too recognizable to fake a death. And not letting his wife know? I don't know. There are some things out there that will just be mysteries forever)