Fan Fiction? Ha! Check out these fan-penned limericks celebrating silent movie stars

There once was a site on the web
That showed love for films on the ebb
Though you never would know it
The site loved its poets
The rhymsters abound, sheik and deb

Motion Picture Magazine held a monthly limerick contest celebrating popular film stars of 1916 and so I thought it would be fun to share these rhymes. And should the urge strike, you are welcome to present your own. (This is a family site so no hanky-panky!)

Entitled Drafts in Your Gloom Attic: A Limerick’s the Only Weather-Strip to Keep Out the Chilly Blues, the article also included caricatures of many of the actors.

ROSCOE, THE TRAGEDY CHASER

When I’ m tired of watching “vamping” by the mile,
And I wish to clean my mind out and to smile,
I go where that dimpled “Fatty”
Makes me laugh until I’m batty,
With his innocent and cunning baby smile.

Mabel W. Burleson.

Mabel rhymes “smile” with “smile” and while repeated rhymes are okay in limericks, I do have to deduct points.

HAZEL DAWN

Her charm is alluring and rare,
There are sunbeams enmeshed in her hair;
She heralds a day
Never gloomy or gray —
And I would that all dawns were as fair !

Frederick Wallace

Alas, I cannot remark on the accuracy of this description as I have never seen Dawn on the screen but still photos show her to be quite lovely.

A PAIR OF BEAUTS!

My face is so funny it’s farcial,
It’s homely all over — not partial;
But I’ve found a “guy”
Who’s as homely as I —
Pleased to meet you, indeed, Tully Marshall !

Harry J. Smalley

ALL IN A “CAST” OF ONE “REEL”!

Poor Enid, ’tis always her fate
To be cast in the drama as “bait”;
The men take one look,
And just dive for the hook —
Which proves father’s wisdom is great !

Frederick Wallace.

RYE USED TO BE “WET”

Here he is, folks, Frank Daniels of Rye;
Oh, my! but he’s droll and he’s dry.
This is why it is dry
On Sundays in Rye.
(Did you ever see Frank wink his eye?)

Jos. S. PIaight.

C. GARDNER SULLIVAN

The garland of Fame is his lot,
His brain never misses a shot;
When he clutches his hair,
With a Byronic stare,
You can bet that he scents a good plot !

Frederick Wallace

Seeing that Sullivan wrote Hell’s Hinges, I must concur!

NOT THAT WE CARE, BUT—

Don’t it give you a pain in your bones,
And make you emit cries and groans,
As you read, with a sigh,
Of your favorite “guy,”
“He’s married to Annabelle Jones!”

L. C. Hale

Not sure about this reference, if it’s a real person, a character, or a generic name.

EVERYTHING BUT POISON GUMDROPS!

I’ve heard it said — is it true?
Dear Mae. just give us a clue;
You’re so sweet and fair,
Now say, on the square,
Were Marsh-mallows named after you?

D. C. Stewart

CHANGING THE SUBJECT

In one of her plays Mary Minter
A barrel head-first she falls inter,
Showing all of us there
A be-you-tiful pair —
What wonderful weather for winter !

Harry J. Smalley

Oh my!

“CIVILIZATION” TOM

The super-dynamic Tom Ince
Is of Western directors the prince
The extras turn pale 
And the props simply quail,
When he thru the camera squints!

Frederick Wallace

RATHER, ON A MANLY BOSOM

The ostrich, pursued by a man, sir,
Will bury its head in the sand, sir
I wonder if she —
Miss Muriel — gee !
Would try it ? I pause for an answer !

Harry J. Smalley

HOLD YOUR BREATH— YOU’LL CATCH IT!

Johnny Hines, ’tis surely outrageous
To harbor a smile so contagious ;
‘Twould be wise, it would seem,
To compel quarantine,
Where laugh-germs would spring up cage us !

Gordon B. Dexter

This caricature is horrifying.

HER SMACKS ARE ALL CERTIFIED AND SCREENED

There is an appealing young Gish,
With a quirk to her mouth, and I wish
I might have the delight
Of being the knight
She kisses — it must be delish !

Mabel W. Burleson

AND THE VILLAIN STILL PURSUED HER!

Poor Myra is dogged by the master,
Who brings on her woe and disaster,
And we hope her next play
Will be lively and gay,
For she’s had enough trouble to last ‘er.

Frederick Wallace

I think this refers to the serial The Mysteries of Myra, then in release.

MR. WILSON, GET BUSY!

“Helen Holmes is a girlie I like,”
Said a railroad employee named Mike;
Give her six hours per day,
And, with her winning way,
She’d soon stop all talk of a strike!

Earl W. Johnston

GIVING HIS STRENGTH AWAY

A cripple saw William S. Hart
In a typical William S. part;
He shouted “Hooray!”
Threw his crutches away —
And beat up a cop as a start!

Theodore A. Tinsley

All clippings courtesy of the Media History Digital Library.

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11 Replies to “Fan Fiction? Ha! Check out these fan-penned limericks celebrating silent movie stars”

  1. These are great! I might as well have a go at a limerick:

    Marvelous Mabel, a lass so fair,
    Crimson-lipped and devil-may-care.
    Knockabout when it suits,
    Diving Venus to boot,
    Paired with Roscoe…beyond compare!

  2. One, two, three, four,
    Charlie Chaplin went to war,
    He taught the ladies how to dance
    And this is what he taught them.
    Heel, toe, over you go,
    Heel, toe, over you go;
    Salute to the king,
    And bow to the queen,
    And turn your back
    On the Kaiserine (or ‘submarine’)

    Children’s game song
    New York City 1938
    San Francisco 1950

    From ‘The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren’
    Iona and Peter Opie

    (A little off-topic, but where else to post)

    1. Takes me back, this does. Remember a variation on it as a schoolyard jump-rope chant in which the jumper had to do all Charlie’s movements and not trip the rope or you’d be sent back to the end of the line. I’ve often wondered if the long chant that began “Mabel, Mabel, set the table if you’re able, light the lamps, backwards dance, shut the door and say no more” referenced Mabel Normand. Some of that schoolyard stuff is fascinating re: possible silent film origins (Down By The Seashore, A Tisket A Tasket, Pretty Maid Pretty Maid Turn Around, Barny and Bill, etc.).

  3. The Gold Rush, Modern Times, City Lights,
    Just three of his many delights,
    To the Little Tramp
    His approval we stamp
    King Charles and his moustache of might.

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