Dear Reader

Dear Reader #187

Dear Reader,

Filmed during the summer of 1925 and released on December 15, 1925, Clara Bow’s twenty-sixth movie was The Plastic Age, a breakthrough movie professionally and personally. Clara played Cynthia Day in a tale of “flaming youth in rebellion”. 

With a bigger budget and a decent director, Wesley Ruggles, Clara was offered a chance to shine. And she did to the extent that through this movie she became a major star.

When the film company travelled to Pomona College in Claremont for location shooting, male extras, including Clark Gable, greeted Clara’s appearance each morning with wolf whistles. She captivated everyone on the set, and movie audiences when The Plastic Age went on general release.

In addition, Clara also enjoyed her “first really big love experience” with her co-star, Luis Antonio Damaso de Alonso who was billed in this, and future movies, as Gilbert Roland. 

The Plastic Age revealed Clara’s potential. She was on the road to stardom, with all that that entailed.

Clara Bow Quotes: “I’ve been back in Hollywood a dozen times since the first baby was born, but with no thought of going back into the studio again. For some time to come, I want to concentrate on being a mother.”

In 1637, aged 14, my 10 x great grandfather Thomas Papillon was apprenticed to Thomas Chambrelan, a London merchant. A year later, Thomas was admitted to the Worshipful Mercers’ Company. In 1646, he became a Freeman of the City, but remained with Chambrelan until 1650. 

For political reasons, Thomas was committed to Newgate prison, being released only after a character reference supplied by Thomas Chambrelan, and a large bond provided by his uncle, Pompeo Calandrini.

🖼 Thomas Papillon as a young man, portrait attributed to Robert Walker.

My 10 x great grandparents Thomas Papillon MP and Jane Brodnax married, in Canterbury Cathedral, on 30 October 1651. Together they had 8 children.

David (Died young)
Thomas (Died young)
Jane (Died young)
Anne (Died young)
Elizabeth (Married Edward Ward)
Philip (Married Anne Jolliffe)
Sarah (Married Samuel Rawstorn)
Anne-Marie (Married William Turner) – my 9 x great grandparents.

It’s a curious fact that many of my ancestors were the last born in their family.

My 10 x great grandfather Thomas Papillon enjoyed an illustrious career as a businessman and MP. From 1653, he worked on various customs and excise cases such as the import of lead and the duties payable on brandy. He became a keen investor in the East India Company. Also, he was made master of the Mercers’ Company on no fewer than four occasions. 

In 1667, Thomas travelled to Breda in Holland as a representative of the East India Company to observe progress in the Treaty of Peace between England and Holland. By 1669 he was an active member of the council of trade, advising the government on mercantile affairs. 

Politically, Thomas was a Whig. He was elected MP for Dover 1674-81 and for London 1695-1700. He was known as an effective speaker, and sat on 68 committees. 

In 1689, William III made Thomas a commissioner for the relief of French refugees. Descended from refugees, this office meant a lot to him.

🖼 Westminster, c1700.

In his will, my 10 x great grandfather Thomas Papillon left legacies to his children. He also left significant sums to: Christ’s Hospital, the Mercers’ Company, the apprentices of Dover, the poor of his parish of St. Katherine Coleman, London, the poor of the French Church in London, and his servants.

Throughout his life, Thomas appropriated one tenth of all his income to the poor.

Mastodon Movie Poll, Round Two latest results

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 59% v 41% Frankenstein

Vertigo 76% v 24% It Happened One Night

The Best Years of Our Lives 34% v 66% Spartacus

The Wizard of Oz 59% v 41% All About Eve

The Bridge on the River Kwai 78% v 22% Rebel Without a Cause

City Lights 42% v 58% Duck Soup

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 62% v 38% An American in Paris

Her greatest role was as the Blind Flower Girl in Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, but who was Virginia Cherrill? Through her genealogy, movie career, and public records I intend to find out and shed some light on the person who, in the opinion of film critic James Agee, delivered with Chaplin, “The greatest single piece of acting ever committed to celluloid.”

Virginia Cherrill was born on 12 April 1908 in Illinois to James Edward Cherrill, a dealer in livestock, and Blanche Wilcox. The couple married because Blanche was pregnant. She gave birth to a daughter, Sydney Rose, who sadly died in 1908, a month before Virginia was born. James was a womaniser and, in due course, Blanche obtained a divorce.

During her childhood, Virginia was known as Dolly. She lived with her mother, and with uncles and grandparents. At school, she befriended Evelyn Lederer, who changed her name to Sue Carol when she became an actress. Later, Sue became an agent and married Alan Ladd.

More next week.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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