Dear Reader

Dear Reader #174

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s thirteenth movie was This Woman, produced during the summer of 1924. This Woman went on general release from November 2, 1924. Clara was very much a ‘jobbing’ actress at this stage, appearing in bit parts. She was listed eighth (out of nine) on the bill. To add insult to injury, the New York Times miscredited her as ‘Clare Bow’.

This Woman ran for seventy minutes and was released by Warner Bros. Clara played Aline Sturdevant, a jealous young lover. The movie was considered lost, but a complete print can be found at Lobster Films, Paris.

Joan Woodbury (December 17, 1915 – February 22, 1989) enjoyed an acting career that began in the 1930s and lasted well into the 1960s. She appeared in B-movies and as the heroine opposite cowboy actors such as Roy Rogers.

Joan appeared in fifty films between 1937 and 1945. Her most memorable role arrived in 1945 when she played Daily Flash newspaper journalist Brenda Starr in the serial Brenda Starr, Reporter.

Technicolor, a series of colour motion picture processes, dates back to 1916. In the 1930s three black and white films ran through a special camera to produce Technicolor, a process that continued into the 1950s when the 3-strip camera was replaced by a standard camera loaded with a single strip ‘monopack’ colour negative film. 

Technicolor’s three-colour process became famous for its highly saturated colour. Initially, the process was used for musicals, animations and costume dramas, but it also featured in film noir, in movies such as Leave Her to Heaven.

Betty Compson (March 19, 1897 – April 18, 1974) acted and produced during Hollywood’s silent era. Her notable performances included The Docks of New York and The Barker, the latter earning her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Initial success enabled Betty to establish her own production company, which gave her creative control over screenplays and financing. Unlike a number of female stars of the silent era, Betty’s voice recorded well and she extended her career into the talkies.

In common with many actresses of the era, Betty married three times: to director James Cruze; to agent/producer Irving Weinberg; and to Silvius Gall, a marriage that lasted until Gall’s death in 1962.

A Christmas present. An excellent version of The Great Gatsby.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

My 4 x great grandfather, Richard Morgan, was baptised on 2 December 1792 in Llantrisant, Glamorgan, the ninth of twelve children born to James Morgan and Hannah David. Sadly, Hannah died when Richard was ten. Richard’s family were associated with inns and horses, and he spent a long working life as an ostler.

At the relatively advanced age of 43, my 4 x great grandfather Richard Morgan married Margaret Jones in St James’ Church, Pyle (pictured). St James’ was originally built in the medieval town of Kenfig. However, over a period of 200 years sand encroached upon the town and, eventually, buried it. The burgesses moved their town to Pyle, c1481, where they rebuilt St James’. They rebuilt one wall ‘upside down’ using the smaller stones on the bottom as they arrived from Kenfig.

During my research, I wondered what persuaded Richard to travel twenty miles west to settle in Pyle. Then, I hit upon a theory. As an ostler, he moved there to work at Pyle Coaching Inn, the main inn on the main highway. Then, while researching the births of Richard and Margaret’s children, I discovered that Richard was listed as a horse keeper at Pyle Coaching Inn, and living in nearby Cefn Cribwr, or Tythegston Higher as it was also called. It’s lovely when your theories are confirmed in the facts.

Mail deliveries became available to the public in 1635 and the introduction of national mail coaches in 1785 further increased the traffic travelling along the highways. The ongoing war with France meant that the gentry could no longer take the ‘grand tour’ of Europe and so they looked around for alternatives, their eyes and minds soon focusing on Wales with its romantic landscapes and medieval ruins. All of this led to the building of Pyle Coaching Inn during the 1780s by Thomas Mansel Talbot of Margam.

Thomas Mansel Talbot took a private apartment at the Inn and he would stay there while indulging in his passion for hunting and fishing. He built the Inn in the fashionable Georgian style with three floors and rooms of various sizes. The largest room was five metres by four and a half metres, and the building contained forty beds and twelve double-bedded rooms. Moreover, the Inn also boasted a spacious dining room and stables for eight coaching horses. My 4 x great grandfather Richard Morgan tended those horses.

Many 18th and 19th century antiquarians who travelled through south Wales visited the buried medieval town at Kenfig and invariably they also stayed at the Inn. Furthermore, it is rumoured that Admiral Lord Nelson resided there on one occasion.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel did stay at the Inn in 1849 – 50 to oversee the construction of the south Wales leg of the Great Western Railway. Another distinguished guest was Josiah Wedgwood and it is said that he gained inspiration for some of his pottery from the colour of the rocks and pebbles on the beach at Pink Bay.

📸 Pyle Coaching Inn, c1950, shortly before demolition.

When the railways arrived in Glamorgan in the 1840s they took passenger and commercial trade away from the horse carriages. As a result, my 4 x great grandfather Richard Morgan lost his job as an ostler at Pyle Coaching Inn. However, Richard adapted. He became a colt breaker then a horse keeper. With his love and knowledge of horses, he worked with the animals for the rest of his life.

🖼 Bridgend Railway Station, the commemorative opening, 1850.

When Richard lost his job as an ostler at Pyle Coaching Inn, due to the development of the railways, his wife Margaret decided to create her own ‘inn’ where she boarded navigators who had travelled from their homes in Ireland to help construct the railways. You could say life gave her lemons, so she made lemonade.

📸 Residents of Pyle Coaching Inn, c1900.

Clara Bow Quotes: “Romance had touched lightly upon me up to this time. Of course, I met many nice boys and went to dances and to the theatre with them just as any other girl would do. But even the intimation of love was far from my thoughts. I had a career to think of.”

Intertitle #14

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Golden Age Actresses

Golden Age Actresses #1

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979) enjoyed a career that spanned five decades. A movie pioneer, she co-founded Pickford-Fairbanks Studios and United Artists. Furthermore, she was one of the thirty-six founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

During her career, Mary Pickford was known as “America’s Sweetheart”, “The Girl with the Curls”, and the “Queen of Movies”. One of the earliest stars to receive a billing under her own name, Mary enjoyed great popularity in the silent movie era of the 1910s and 1920s. 

Mary Pickford defined the ingénue role in motion pictures. She received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound movie role as Norma Besant in Coquette, 1929. However, the arrival of the “talkies” signalled a decline in her career.

In 1909, Mary Pickford appeared in fifty-one films, most of them shorts. She starred in fifty-two features throughout her career. However, she didn’t adapt to the arrival of sound. She said of the “talkies” – “Adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo.”

Mary Pickford retired from movie acting in 1933. An astute businesswomen and producer throughout her career, she switched her focus to life behind the camera. A co-founder of United Artists, she finally sold her remaining shares in that company in 1956, for $3 million.

Mary Pickford married three times. First, to Owen Moore, a silent film actor, and an alcoholic. Second, and most famously, to Douglas Fairbanks. Their “marriage of the century” took place on March 28, 1920, after a secret relationship. Later, the couple were referred to as the “King and Queen of Hollywood”. And third to actor and band leader Charles “Buddy” Rogers, star of the highly acclaimed 1927 movie Wings.

After a glittering career, the lights dimmed on Mary Pickford later in life. Her divorce from Douglas Fairbanks and the end of the silent film era induced depression. Like her father before her, she turned to alcohol for comfort. Owning the rights to her early silent movies, Mary intended to burn them at her death but, thankfully, she donated them to the American Film Institute instead.

Dear Reader

Dear Reader #173

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s twelfth movie was Empty Hearts, produced during the summer of 1924 and released on September 15, 1924. Fourth on the bill, Clara played Rosalie. 

A drama, the plot of Empty Hearts centred on a blackmail letter, relationships, and misunderstandings. The screenplay was based on a story written by Evelyn Campbell a screenwriter, author and actress active during Hollywood’s silent era. Evelyn also wrote Westerns.

At this stage of Clara’s career, B.P. Schulberg was loaning her out to various studios. Indeed, not one of her eight movies made in 1924 was produced by Schulberg. On the whole, these movies were beneath Clara’s talent, and she must have felt frustrated.

Serial Stars

Kay Aldridge

Although she was screen-tested for the part of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, Kay Aldridge made her name as a heroine in serials. She starred as Nyoka Gordon in Perils of Nyoka, 1942. In the series, Nyoka confronted a host of villains while looking for her father, who’d disappeared while on expedition in Africa. Each episode ended with the traditional cliffhanger.

Kay also played the heroine in Daredevils of the West, 1943, and Haunted Harbor, 1944. She retired from acting in 1945.

After ten years, I’ve completed the preliminary research on my family tree. Of course, because of missing records, there are gaps, but I’m delighted with the stories I’ve discovered. Now, I intend to trace a branch back in greater detail, starting with my 3 x great grandmother Hannah Morgan, 30 July 1848 – c1881. How far back does this branch go? Stay tuned and find out 😉

The basics of Hannah’s life, outlined below, look ordinary. However, as the mother of five children and the wife of a coal miner, she was one of the women who formed the backbone of Welsh society during the Victorian era.

Hannah’s father was an ostler, so it’s likely she was familiar with horses. Her mother lodged Irish navvies, so from a young age she became accustomed to the Victorian norm – a crowded house.

The points on this modern map highlight where my 3 x great grandmother Hannah Morgan was born and where she lived at the time of each census. The birth records of her five children indicate that her family was constantly on the move as her husband Thomas Jones sought employment in the newly developing coal mines that were transforming the culture and landscape of Glamorgan. Llandyfodwg, highlighted to the north, was Hannah’s last known address.

Hannah Morgan’s family chart and timeline reveal that, in common with many parents of her era, she named her children after her parents. Two of the major events of Hannah’s life occurred during her teenage years when her father died and when she married.

My 3 x great grandparents Hannah Morgan and Thomas Jones married on 22 February 1868, a Saturday, at Ruhama Baptist Chapel, Bridgend. As newlyweds establishing a home maybe they paid attention to advertisements like this one, which appeared on the day of their wedding.

Unfortunately, no pictures of Hannah Morgan or Thomas Jones exist. However, I have managed to find a picture of their son, Richard Morgan Jones, 1874 – 1954. Like his father, Richard was a coal miner in Glamorgan.

My 3 x great grandfather Thomas Jones started his working life as a ‘cow boy’. After that he worked as a coal miner, dicing with death, every day. At random I have selected ten Joneses who worked alongside Thomas in the local coal mines. The brief notes that follow record their fate.

Thomas Jones, aged 22: killed by falling from a byat while moving a stage in the shaft.

Evan Jones, aged 14: killed by a full train passing over him.

William Jones, aged 38: killed when the mineshaft roof fell.

William Jones, aged 37: killed by a fall of coal.

William Jones, aged 16: killed by a fall of coal.

Richard Jones, aged 34: killed when the side of the pit gave way.

David Jones, aged 45: killed when the mine roof collapsed.

Thomas Jones, aged 48: killed by an explosion of firedamp, one of two people killed.

David Jones, aged 26: killed by a gas explosion, one of eleven people killed.

Lewis Jones, aged 12: run over by trams through breakage of coupling chains.

📸 Aberbaiden Colliery

My 3 x great grandmother Hannah Morgan disappeared from the historical record in the 1880s. Some researchers think she emigrated to America. The historical record and my DNA profile confirm that a number of my ancestors did emigrate to America. However, I have found no records that suggest Hannah joined them. With her family, she moved around the Glamorgan coalfields. I suspect that her death record was lost due to the transient nature of her life.

Clara Bow Quotes: “Mr Schulberg could not use me in any of his productions at the time but there was nothing to prohibit him from ‘farming me out’ to other producers for small roles. Looking over my records I find that I played in twenty-seven productions in not so many months. But as time went on, I was getting no place. Always the instructions were the same: ‘Clara, X Blank wants you for a “bit” in their production, which starts Thursday’. Always a “bit”. If this was Hollywood, I wanted no more of it.

Gradually, I became better known. Occasionally, my name would creep into the billing on pictures and executives of the various studios were nodding now and then when I ran across them on the lot. I was getting somewhere.”

Intertitle #13

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #167

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s sixth movie was Maytime, a silent romantic drama produced during August and September 1923 and released on December 11, 1923. The movie starred Ethel Shannon, Harrison Ford and William Norris, with Clara fourth on the bill playing Alice Tremaine. 

After a stunning screen test, producer B.P. Schulberg gave Clara the part of Alice in Maytime. Within a week, the film’s crew were urging Schulberg to ditch Ethel Shannon and give Clara the lead role. He didn’t. Nevertheless, Clara had made her point and established her breakthrough.

📸 Clara Bow and Ethel Shannon in Maytime.

Highest Grossing Movie of 1926, For Heaven’s Sake.

A silent comedy, For Heaven’s Sake starred Harold Lloyd and was directed by Sam Taylor. The movie was a great success for Lloyd and earned $2,600,000 at the box office, which made it the twelfth highest grossing film of the silent era.

In the 1920s, Lloyd alternated between making what he called “gag pictures” and “character pictures”. He regarded For Heaven’s Sake as a “gag picture”. Despite the film’s success, Lloyd wasn’t happy with it. Indeed, he was so disappointed with the final cut that he considered abandoning the project.

A large number of scenes were filmed and later cut from the final movie. Some of those scenes, especially an underworld sequence, resurfaced (no pun intended) and were incorporated into Lloyd’s 1928 film Speedy.

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

Roundabout, Series 1, Episode 22 of The Rockford Files was the last broadcast episode in the first series. This episode contained some great one-liners. Obnoxious Hirer: “I should warn you, I have a blackbelt in judo.” Rockford (picking up a golf club): “And I have a blackbelt in seven-iron.” 

Bank Manager: “She’s strange.” Rockford: “You don’t call people with $300,000 in their account ‘strange’.” Bank Manager: “What do you call them?” Rockford: “Eccentric.”

The climactic chase scene at the Hoover Dam was originally scripted as a car chase. However, someone suggested that Rockford and the villain should run through the Hoover Dam instead, creating one of the iconic moments in the first series.

Time for a break. I look forward to catching up with series two of the Rockford Files in the new year.

Coming soon, our new magazine, The Golden Age of Hollywood, available from all leading Internet outlets. Here’s a preview of the cover.

Clara Bow Quotes. After the director cut her role in Beyond the Rainbow, Clara enrolled in a business training school. However, Fate intervened again. “A month or so after my first motion-picture ‘flop’ I was called one day to the telephone. The man speaking at the other end of the wire introduced himself as Mr Elmer Clifton, and asked if I could see him that afternoon. My heart took a leap. Elmer Clifton was a motion-picture director and, hardly daring to believe my good fortune, I readily agreed to see him. I was so excited, I could hardly talk.”

Clifton offered Clara a two-week trial period and a salary of $35 a week. The two-week trial period stretched to thirteen weeks as, impressed by Clara’s natural talent, Clifton developed her role as Dot Morgan in Down to the Sea in Ships (pictured). This time, Clara was truly setting sail.

Intertitle #7

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 32 occasions.

A special offer from my publisher and the Fussy Librarian.

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #165

Dear Reader,

Coming soon, our new magazine, The Golden Age of Hollywood, available from all leading Internet outlets. Here’s a preview of the cover.

Clara Bow’s fourth movie was The Daring Years aka The Folly of Youth. The movie was produced in New York during the first half of 1923 and released on September 15, 1923.

The Daring Years was adapted from a photoplay by Richard Ellison. Clara was listed fourth on the bill, as ‘John’s Sweetheart, Mary’. Unfortunately, this movie is regarded as lost.

A silent melodrama, The Daring Years features a love triangle and a man wrongly accused of murder. The man, John Browning, is strapped into an electric chair when a lightning bolt (!) and Clara Bow save the day. 

The premise for The Daring Years, an accidental shooting, is sound, but maybe the movie could have done without the lightning bolt.

After the completion of The Daring Years, Clara embarked for Hollywood where she released a few lighting bolts of her own.

🖼 Advertisement for The Daring Years.

Joint Highest Grossing Movie of 1925: The Big Parade.

The Big Parade was a silent war drama directed by King Vidor. It starred John Gilbert and Renée Adorée. Written by World War One veteran Laurence Stallings, the movie has been praised for its realistic depiction of warfare. Furthermore, it heavily influenced a great many subsequent war films, especially All Quiet on the Western Front.

Regarded as one of the great World War One movies, The Big Parade told the story of an idle rich boy who joined the US Army’s Rainbow Division. Sent to France to fight in the war, he befriends two working class men, experiences the horrors of trench warfare, and finds love with a French girl, played by Renée Adorée.

Through public records, I’m tracing the ancestry of actress Eva Marie Saint. I’ve discovered that she’s directly descended from Sir Thomas Pope, 1507 – 1559, founder of Trinity Church Oxford, Councillor to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Further royal connections are highly likely.

At this stage, I need to pause and double-check because it’s probably that one of these branches will connect with noble pedigrees.

The Four Pound Brick, Series 1, Episode 20 of The Rockford Files was written by the all-female team of Leigh Brackett and Juanita Bartlett from a story by Leigh Brackett. 

Leigh Brackett wrote science fiction and fantasy, and novels in the style of Raymond Chandler. Indeed, there are noirish elements to The Four Pound Brick that suggest Chandler’s influence. Leigh Brackett also wrote the screenplay for Chandler’s classic The Big Sleep.

Rocky, Becker and Angel are well to the fore in this episode, and the closing scene with Becker in Rockford’s trailer highlights how these characters have become members of the Rockford ‘family’.

Clara Bow Quotes: “What a thrill! I was now a fully-fledged motion-picture actress, and only fourteen years old (census returns suggest that Clara was sixteen when she broke into the movies). I was the idol of the neighbourhood. Those children who had heretofore passed me by now were my staunch friends. For hours I had to relate my experiences in the motion-picture studio. This certainly was the ultimate in happiness. But little did I know how fickle Fate can be…”

Intertitle #5

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 32 occasions.

A special offer from my publisher and the Fussy Librarian.

Don’t forget to use the code goylake20 to claim your discount 🙂