Dear Reader

Dear Reader #162

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s first movie was Beyond the Rainbow. Filmed in New York in 1921, when Clara was sixteen, the movie went on public release on February 19, 1922. A 16mm print of the film still survives.

The plot is a decent one: guests arrive at a party and are passed a mysterious note saying, ‘Consult your conscience. Your secret is common gossip.’  All the guests have something to hide, so panic and murder ensue.

The note was written by Clara’s character, Virginia Gardener, as a mischievous joke. It’s ironic that in her first movie Clara was the instigator of chaos because, in her own iconic way, that set the tone for her career.

Clara appeared in five scenes in Beyond the Rainbow, but strangely those scenes were cut from the final print, only to be restored when she became a star. Her billing also moved up from ninth to third when she achieved stardom.

📸 A still from Beyond the Rainbow featuring Helen Ware, George Fawcett and Clara Bow.

Do you remember those Saturday morning serials that always ended in a cliffhanger? Even though the cliffhanger was not employed in this serial, What Happened to Mary is widely regarded as the first of the genre. Released in 1912, the serial starred Mary Fuller and ran for twelve episodes.

What Happened to Mary (a statement, not a question) also appeared in The Ladies’ World magazine . It was adapted for the stage and published as a novel. The basic plot involved action, adventure and peril for the heroine.

Sadly, Mary Fuller’s star waned and from 1917 she struggled to obtain roles in film or on stage. Nervous disorders plagued her life and effectively brought an end to her career.

📸 Miriam Nesbitt, Mary Fuller and Marc McDermott in What Happened to Mary.

Highest grossing movie of 1922: Robin Hood.

A silent adventure film starring Douglas Fairbanks and Wallace Beery, Robin Hood was the first motion picture to receive a Hollywood premiere, held at the Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre on October 18, 1922.

The castle and twelfth century village sets were constructed at the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio in Hollywood. Wood, wire and plaster constituted the castle with wood also covering the concrete floor.

The story was adapted for the screen by Fairbanks (as “Elton Thomas”), Kenneth Davenport, Edward Knoblock, Allan Dwan and Lotta Woods. Fairbanks also played a major role in the movie’s production and distribution. 

This version of the Robin Hood legend established the elements that served later filmmakers. Indeed, the popular modern perception of Robin Hood is largely due to Fairbanks’ film.

Continuing my research into Eva Marie Saint’s ancestry using public records. I’m looking to answer two questions: was Eva’s talent the result of nurture, or nature? And why am I drawn to her as an actress? Can I find the answers to these questions in her roots?

I’ve traced Eva’s ancestry back to William Saint, born 3 March 1781 in Perquimans County, North Carolina. I discovered William in the 1810 United States Federal Census. This record also provided a shock. The census lists that the household contained a slave.

Obviously, I was aware that slavery existed at that time, but I didn’t expect to discover a slave in a Quaker household. This has given me pause for thought. I would like to understand the Saint family’s connection to the Quakers, and their connection to slavery. More research required.

NameWilliam Saint
Residence Date6 Aug 1810
Residence PlacePerquimans, North Carolina, USA
Free White Male 0 to 91
Free White Male 26 to 451
Free White Female 16 to 251
Number of Enslaved Persons1
Number of Household Members Under 161
Number of Household Members Over 251
Number of Household Members4

Claire, Series 1, Episode 17 of The Rockford Files was originally titled Lady on the Run. Linda Evans played Claire Prescott, an ex-girlfriend of James Rockford, who found herself in trouble. Naturally, she turned to Rockford for assistance.

The episode offered a prominent role to Noah Beery Jr (pictured) as Rocky, Rockford’s father. Noah Beery Jr was a character actor who specialised in warm, friendly roles. His uncle, Wallace Beery, was a prominent actor as was his father, Noah Beery Sr. Indeed, Noah Sr began his long career in silent movies.

Rocky was noticeably shorter than Rockford but, as writer Stephen J. Cannell pointed out, this was okay because, even though it is not always portrayed in movies, each generation tends to get taller.

My latest article for the Seaside News appears on page 34 of the magazine.

Clara Bow Quotes: “I was an expert in make-up, which always mystified my mother. Appearing in her presence with lips heavily smeared with red and whiteish powder, I never failed to draw the parental wrath. 

For days she searched my bedroom for cosmetics, but found nothing. The truth of the matter was that the wallpaper in our flat had a decided tinge of red colouring. I discovered that this colouring would come off quite readily, and so with the true touch of an artist I coloured my lips with dabs of tint from the paper itself by dampening my finger.”

Intertitle #2 🙂

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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