Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mary Kornman

By popular demand I am back to covering silent film child stars! I was pretty intrigued and geeked at seeing people ask for more child stars and more pics. If you remember, I took a little break because the research into their lives was getting a little too time consuming, but I think it has been long enough! 

I wanna focus on the Our Gang kiddies, beginning with the first leading lady of the Little Rascal gang, the adorable Mary Kornman.

Mary Kornman was born December 27, 1915 in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She was the oldest child born to cameraman and still photographer, Eugene 'Gene' Kornman and his wife, Elvernia 'Verna' Betts. Younger sister, Mildred Gene was born in 1925. Mildred also worked as a child actress and would later find success working as a model under the name Ricki Van Dusen. Mildred is one of the few remaining actors from the silent film era still alive!

Time for a little detour because I find this next bit uber interesting. Verna Betts came from a family of eleven children, one of which was a younger sister named Mildred Alma. Mildred was born in 1907 and would later become a Ziegfeld Girl under the stage name Jerry/Jerie Rogers. This is where the story gets interesting. In 1933, at the age of just 26, Mildred died after falling from a hotel window. Almost from the beginning, rumors began circulating about what exactly had happened in that hotel room. Reportedly she had left a note describing how disillusioned she was with Broadway, which led people to believe she committed suicide. Some thought that she may have been intoxicated and in a horrible accident, tripped and fell out the window. One of her sisters claimed that she was pushed out of the window by a woman who accused Mildred of having an affair with her husband. The truth will probably never be known. 

Mildred Alma Betts aka Jerry/Jerie Rogers

Anyway, back to Mary!

Mary, Joe Cobb, and Mickey Daniels (in drag)

Mary was spotted hanging around the studios one day and was offered a role in one of Hal Roach's shorts featuring little kids as the stars. The director was reportedly looking for a little girl to play the 'leading lady' role in the newest "Hal Roach's Rascals" short, The Champeen. Mary was deemed the perfect choice and she appeared as the love interest of Mickey Daniels and Jackie Condon, who were to duke it out in the boxing ring to see who would win Mary's affections. 

"Little Mary Kornman was brought along by her dad, Gene Kornman, who is Harold Lloyd's 'still' cameraman. The first Our Gang features were devoid of feminine interest, but they wanted a little girl for The Champeen and Mary was soon adopted by the boys as one of themselves." -- Pictures and the Picturegoer, June 1924

Mary appeared in around 40 "Hal Roach's Rascals" shorts, including Derby Day (1923), Dog Days (1925), Boys Will Be Boys (1925), and Monkey Business (1926). Fans just loved Mary's blonde, curly hair and big, expressive eyes. 

Like all child stars, the cuteness eventually wore off as Mary grew into a young adult. She went from appearing in popular Hal Roach shorts to being cast mainly in B movies, with the exception of appearances in 1934's Madame DuBarry starring Dolores Del Rio and 1935's The Desert Trail starring John Wayne. 

Mary made her final film appearance in On the Spot (1940) which she starred in with fellow former child star, Frankie Darro. 

Mary Kornman passed away on June 1, 1973 in Glendale, California after a battle with cancer. She was 57 years old. 

She was buried in Linn Grove Cemetery in Greeley, Colorado. 

Mary was married twice. Her first husband was cinematographer Leo Tover. The couple married in 1934, but would divorce four years later. Her second husband was animal trainer, Ralph McCutcheon, who she married in 1941. Mary and Ralph remained married until her death, and he proceeded her in death just two years later. 

During her years as a child star, Mary took dance lessons from silent film actress, Katherine Grant. Pretty groovy connection!

Mickey Daniels, Mary, Jackie Condon, Joe Cobb, and 'Farina' Hoskins

"More than half her life has been spent in pictures and she's only ten years old. She's Mary Kornman, Mary, Queen of Tots." -- Photoplay, June 1926

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Katherine Grant Updates

Well, we did it! We reached our goal and within the coming weeks Katherine Grant will have a headstone marking her final resting place. 

Where we stand now is the headstone has been completed and delivered to the cemetery. There is no specific date that the headstone will be placed, unfortunately. I just have to give them a couple of days and I will give them a call to find out the status and if it has been placed. 

About two weeks ago I met with the man behind the Silent Film Quarterly, Charles Epting, and what started off as just him interviewing me turned into a brainstorming session about an unveiling ceremony for the headstone as well as ideas for future headstone projects. Right now we are working on settling on a date for the ceremony, but we know it will probably be in late August. He is also working on a special edition of the SFQ dedicated to Katherine Grant. We hope to announce the next headstone project at the ceremony too.

I wanted to take this opportunity to not just give everyone a heads up about what is going on with the headstone project, but also to thank everyone who has been involved in making this possible. First, I would like to thank the donors. As far as I am concerned, every one of you is a part of that headstone!

Michael DeVito
Wayne Britton
Frank Stewart
Paddy Adamson
Alan Abrams
Elliot Hearst
Richard Lanham
Joe Libby
Tim Lussier
Elizabeth Ann and
Minda Powers-Douglas
Dave Sikula
Dave Samuelson
Michael Aus
Melinda Bailey and daughter
Rosemary Hawkins
Kayla Sturm and
Jill Feldman
John Bickler
Tom Suhs
The Charley Chase Fan Facebook page
Gil McAuliff
Ren Kessler
Tracy Terhune
Malachi Fonseca
Jennifer Epting
John TerVeen
Jessica Beagle
Patricia Lemoine 
...and every donor who wished to remain anonymous

Next, I wanted to thank those who have been behind the project since the beginning and have helped in many ways. First, Tom Suhs who was the one who emailed me and asked to get the ball rolling to get a headstone for Katherine. Without his help, this project would not have began when it did. Tom also first reached out to the next person I want to thank, Katherine's great-niece, Kelly Flick. Without Kelly's permission and enthusiasm, we really wouldn't have been able to start this project. Roger Tran at Panda Memorials also deserves a thank you for helping with the design of the headstone and for communicating with Evergreen Cemetery. 

Charles Epting of the Silent Film Quarterly for taking such interest and helping me see how big this project could really be. Likewise, Paulette Reynolds of for also taking an interest in the project and helping me see my love of silent film and cemeteries in a different (dare I say cosmic?) light! Jordan Burch, for reminding me that even though this is my passion, I don't have to get stressed out and expect to accomplish everything at once. 

Also deserving of thanks is each and every one of you who shared the GoFundMe link to help get the word out. Without your help this project wouldn't have reached out as far as it did. 

Keep an eye out for more updates! They will hopefully be coming soon. Also, I had requests to cover more silent film child stars, so I will be doing some entries on the Our Gang kiddies! Mary Kornman will be first! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

July Birthdays!

Happy July! 
July is a great month for talent, especially July 29th. Theda Bara, William Powell, Clara Bow, and Thelma Todd? What a special day to be born!

As far as the next entry goes, I am stuck on who to cover! I am bouncing between Bobby Vernon, Edna Murphy, and Jewel Carmen (since I just finished a Thelma Todd biography.) Jewel will probably be next, but we shall see. Stay tuned for that!

Rene Dary ~ July 1, 1905

Madge Evans ~ July 1, 1909

Madge Titheradge ~ July 2, 1887

Bessie Eyton ~ July 5, 1890

Eugenia Clinchard ~ July 5, 1904

Annette Kellerman ~ July 6, 1887

Peggy Hyland ~ July 7, 1884

Lillian Wade ~ July 7, 1907

Jackie Morgan ~ July 7, 1916

Frank Farrington ~ July 8, 1873

Anna Fougez ~ July 8, 1894

Cullen Landis ~ July 9, 1896

Gail Kane ~ July 10, 1887

Slim Summerville ~ July 10, 1892

John Gilbert ~ July 10, 1897

Lili Damita ~ July 10, 1904

Edna May Weick ~ July 10, 1905

Sally Blane ~ July 11, 1910

Jetta Goudal ~ July 12, 1891

Jewel Carmen ~ July 13, 1897

Zoe Rae ~ July 13, 1910

Martha Mansfield ~ July 14, 1899

Olive Borden ~ July 14, 1906

Miriam Battista ~ July 14, 1912

Marjorie Rambeau ~ July 15, 1889

Enid Bennett ~ July 15, 1893

Larry Semon ~ July 16, 1889

Mary Philbin ~ July 16, 1902

Mabel Van Buren ~ July 17, 1878

Lily Cahill ~ July 17, 1885

Richard Dix ~ July 18, 1893

Florence Deshon ~ July 19, 1893

Barbara Bedford ~ July 19, 1903

Lenore Ulric ~ July 21, 1892

Gladys Hulette ~ July 21, 1896

Vivian Martin ~ July 22, 1893

Emil Jannings ~ July 23, 1884

Aileen Pringle ~ July 23, 1895

Florence Vidor ~ July 23, 1895

Helen Ferguson ~ July 23, 1900

Alice Terry ~ July 24, 1899

Dorothy Dalton ~ July 25, 1893

Lila Lee ~ July 25, 1901

Philippe De Lacy ~ July 25, 1917

Kenneth Harlan ~ July 26, 1895

Evelyn Preer ~ July 26, 1896

Donald Crisp ~ July 27, 1882

Vera Karalli ~ July 27, 1889

Marie Walcamp ~ July 27, 1894

Barbara La Marr ~ July 28, 1896

Gonda Durand ~ July 28, 1896

Blanche Mehaffey ~ July 28, 1907

Theda Bara ~ July 29, 1885

William Powell ~ July 29, 1892

Clara Horton ~ July 29, 1904

Clara Bow ~ July 29, 1905

Thelma Todd ~ July 29, 1906

Wanda Hawley ~ July 30, 1895

Ethelmary Oakland ~ July 30, 1909

Vera Sisson ~ July 31, 1891

Billy Jacobs ~ July 31, 1910