I am working on my annual “Top Stars of 100 Years Ago…” article but I thought it would be fun to step further back in time and look at some stars who were considered at least a little famous back in 1912.
One thing I noticed about my 100 Years Ago series is that movie stars from before 1916 or 1917 or thereabouts are a lot less recognizable even to silent movie nerds. I have seen films from nearly everyone on the 1918 list but the 1913? Not so much.
Let’s test our collective knowledge with the eighteen stars featured in a random issue of Motion Picture Story magazine. Click on any image in the gallery to enlarge.
An interesting mix, no?
Poor Vedah Bertram passed away just days after this gallery was published. If dates of birth are to be believed, she was only twenty. She was Broncho Billy Anderson’s leading lady and I am sure I have seen her but I don’t have any firm memories.
Here are the stars I think I have seen in a significant role (not as an extra):
☐ Vedah Bertram
☐ Harold Shaw
☑Harry C. Myers (looks a lot like Bobby Harron, doesn’t he?)
☑ John Bunny
☐ Marshall P. Wilder
☐ Evelyn Selbie
☑ Florence La Vinci (you probably know her better as Jewel Carmen)
☑ Cleo Ridgely
☐ Margarita Fischer (I am pretty sure there is a typo in the magazine caption)
☐ Jennie Nelson
☐ Ruth Roland
☑ Augustus Phillips (original Frankenstein, as in doctor not ‘s monster)
☑ King Baggot
☐ Elenoria Courtan (could find almost no info on her)
☑ Beverly Bayne
☑ Gene Gauntier
☐ Eleanor Caines
☐ James Morrison (I’ve seen films listed in his filmography but I honestly do not remember him)
How about you? How many have you seen?
Isn’t this fun? It’s really an illustration of how little we know about films of this era. Now I have a list of players I need to keep my eye out for.
All clippings courtesy of the Media History Digital Library.
Like what you’re reading? Please consider sponsoring me on Patreon. All patrons will get early previews of upcoming features, exclusive polls and other goodies.
Hi Fritzi. I think I have seen the same people you have. Groucho Marx, on a live performance late in life, told a story about Marshall Wilder, who suffered from dwarfism and kyphosis (a hunched back). I won’t repeat it here. Wilder was known for having a very positive attitude.
I am quite curious about these stars! It looks like the humor anthologies that Mr. Wilder edited are available for free reading:
I’ve seen John Bunny, King Baggot, and Beverly Bayne. I think I’ve seen Cleo Ridgely, and Gene Gauntier, but maybe I’ve just seen their names a lot. I’m familiar with James Morrison’s work with the Doors. 😉 If the Edison version of Frankenstein is the original then I’ve seen Augustus Phillips. Most of the others I’ve never heard of.
Cleo Ridgely starred in The Golden Chance and you can catch Gene Gauntier in From the Manger to the Cross, along with the Kalem Irish productions. Yes, that’s the Fronkonsteen.
A shame Mr. Morrison’s screen work isn’t as famous as his singing career. 😉
I only recognized John Bunny, Cleo Ridgely and Margarita Fisher. I expected to do better! Oh well.
This is a pretty deep cut, so three is pretty good! I certainly didn’t do much better. It’s amazing to see how quickly these stars are forgotten. I mean, not all of them were superstars but they were big enough for publicity photos in fan magazines.
John Bunny was such a cutie
He had good taste. I see some John Phoenix, Petroleum V Nasby and Gelett Burgess.
I have seen a picture of Margarita Fischer removing the “c” from her name to show her disapproval of Germany in the time of the Great War.
I gather that Gustav von Seyffertitz also modified his name, temporarily, to C.Butler Clonebaugh!
Yes, given the tendency for Americans to rename German things “liberty” at the time (liberty cabbage for sauerkraut, liberty pup for dachshund) I am amazed she didn’t go for Margarita Libertyfish. 😉
Let’s see…Harry Myers, John Bunny, Florence La Vinci, Cleo Ridgely, Augustus Phillips, Ruth Roland, King Baggot, Beverly Bayne, Gene Gauntier, James Morrison.
An Aside: I used to get all my party supplies (paper goods, balloons, decorations, etc.) at The Party Shop in Studio City- long shuttered now. The owner’s name was Henry Baggot (a large, friendly guy), but he called himself “King” Baggot. Had the name stenciled on the shop door, even. Yep, a huge silent film aficionado!
Hurrah! King Baggot fans unite!
It’s always fun to watch television and movies and see his son and grandson, both of whom also went by King Baggot, in the technical credits.
Beverly Bayne and John Bunny, of course, and Jewel Carmen but didn’t know her by her other name. King Baggott and James Morrison in some shorts or fragments, also Harry Myers, and maybe Ruth Roland in something (I remember thinking of the similarity of her name to Ruth Roman’s.)
Yes, I thought she looked familiar but Florence la Vinci is a name I would remember. Then again, so is Jewel Carmen so well done, publicity department. Like you, I suspect I might have seen Ruth Roland in something but I have no actual memories so I couldn’t really count it.
John Bunny is the only one whose face I recognize. This shows how quickly stars come and go, and how silly it is to assume that the stars who retired in the late ’20s did so because of the talkies. But the myth persists.
Yes, at least three people on this list, Bunny included, didn’t even survive past the mid-1910s, let alone to the talkie era.
The snap of Fischer removing the “c” from her name made a big impression on me when I saw it in my first silent movie book (Christmas gift, 1953): Daniel Blum’s “Pictorial History of the Silent Screen,” p.152. I still browse through this wonderful treasury from time to time.
Hi, again, Fritzi.
I just wondered if, perhaps, you have seen a movie with Ruth Roland after all. I went and found my set of Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934–which I’m assuming you must own. Right in the middle of program 3 is Who Pays? Episode 12 (1915, 35 min.), a lumberyard strike brings deadly consequences. Ruth is the tragic heroine.
Ah ha! That’s it!
Comments are closed.