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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #177

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s sixteenth movie was Capital Punishment, produced in December 1924 and released on February 1, 1925. Clara Bow played Delia Tate, the witness to a murder.

The storyline for Capital Punishment was devised by Clara’s producer, B.P. Schulberg. It centred on a man condemned to die for a murder he did not commit. However, Clara saves the day and identifies the real murderer.

The New York Times published a scathing review of Capital Punishment. Nevertheless, the picture gave Clara her biggest break since her seventh movie, Black Oxen.

Over the past few days I’ve watched Clara Bow in It and Mary Pickford in Secrets. Mary wanted Clara to appear in Secrets, but it didn’t happen. At that time, Mary offered this insightful comment about Clara: “She is a very great actress and her only trouble has been that she hasn’t known enough about life to live it the way she wanted to live it.”

Betty Blythe (September 1, 1893 – April 7, 1972) appeared in 63 silent films and 56 talkies over the course of her career. She excelled in exotic roles – in The Queen of Sheba, 1921, she wore nothing above her waist except a string of beads.

In 1919 Betty married movie director Paul Scardon. The couple remained married until his death in 1954. Apparently, Betty made $3,500,000 when she sold a section of land that is now part of the Sunset Strip. However, she lost her fortune in the 1929 stock market crash.

This Week’s Family History Anniversaries

On 15 January 1842 my 3 x great grandmother Mary Hopkin gave birth to Thomas Reynolds, out of wedlock. Thomas’ father, also Thomas, died in 1845. He did not marry Mary.

On 24 August 1850 Mary married my 3 x great grandfather William Howe. The couple had four children. Thomas Reynolds lived with the family until adulthood when he found work on the local farms.

Later, William and Mary gave a home to Thomas’ son, Edward, after Thomas’ wife died. And they took in an orphan, Anne Price, after her parents, local shopkeepers, died. 

Mary used to walk fifteen miles to the local markets to sell bonnets. Her friend, Mary Francis, who walked with her to the markets, achieved great fame and attracted newspaper articles when she died at the remarkable age of 110.

My ancestor Mary Jones died on 19 January 1919. She died in an asylum. On 5 June 1879, Mary gave birth to her fourth daughter, Esther. On 19 May 1880, aged 29, Mary entered Angelton Asylum, pictured. Later, she was transferred to Parc Gwyllt. She never left that asylum. I have a full copy of Mary’s medical record. Victorian asylums were grim places. Her record makes for grim reading. 

Mary’s medical record states that, ‘She says she has committed a sin against the Almighty for which she will not be forgiven. And that she is eternally lost and that I (the doctor) have sold her to the Devil.’ In September 1880, she stated that she had ‘done something seriously wrong.’ 

A medical note dated 12 December 1883 is potentially revealing. ‘This woman is rather reserved. Her memory is deficient and her morals have apparently been loose.’ Could this imply that Thomas, her husband, was not Esther’s father?

On Christmas Eve 1886, Mary stated that she had been in Heaven and that it was a room with glass walls, which housed Jesus. 

In August 1908, Mary imagined that she was married to Samuel Butler, 4 December 1835 – 18 June 1902, author of the semi-autobiographical novel, The Way of All Flesh, a book that attacked Victorian hypocrisy. 

Was Mary’s sin real or imagined? I’m inclined to believe that it was real and that, after depression and poor physical health following the birth of Esther, it triggered a psychotic reaction.

And what of Esther? As a young adult she worked as a servant, caring for a young man who was mentally ill.

Died on 20 January 1866, my 4 x great grandfather William Stokes. William was a ‘corn meter’. Corn meters had the exclusive right of measuring all corn delivered within the city and port of London. They were the link between the cargo ships and the markets.

🖼 William’s workplace, the Customs House on the Thames.

William married Jane Esther Axe, an impressive lady who took an active interest in the family’s financial and legal affairs. William and Jane posted their marriage banns in April and May 1835. However, something cropped up because they cancelled the marriage and posted the banns again in August and September. They married on 20 September 1835 and produced four children.

***

Died on 21 January 1886, aged 27, my ancestor Mary Ann Howe. At the time, Mary Ann was with her brother, Hopkin, a Methodist minister. They were visiting a newly refurbished chapel.

Mary Ann’s first language was Welsh. However, I have a letter written by her in English. 

South Corneli, October 3, 1877

Dear Cousin,

I have taken the pleasure of writing these few lines to you in hopes to find you well as I am at present. Dear Cousin I could understand in Mary David’s letter the note you sent me that you was greatly offended to me and I don’t know the cause of you being so offended to me unless it is the cause of not sending your hat. The reason I did not send it because you told me you was coming to the tea party. You said that nothing would not keep you from not coming and I have not had no chance of sending it after unless I send it by train. Please write and let me know for what you are offended to me for. I am very uneasy ever since I did receive the note and I do think you don’t care much about me ever since you went away. I do only wish for you to write to me to tell me the reason by return.

So no more at present. From your cousin,

Mary Ann Howe

Pennsylvania 

I’m trying to make sense of my ancestors’ connection with Pennsylvania. Starting with my 9 x great grandparents John Bevan and Barbara Aubrey, here are the basic facts.

John Bevan 

Born 1646, Treferig, Llantrisant, Glamorgan, Wales

Parents: Evan ap John and Jane ferch Richard

Both descended from the nobility 

Married 1665 Llantrisant, Glamorgan, Wales 

Died 1726, Treferig, Llantrisant, Glamorgan, Wales

Barbara Catherine Aubrey 

Born 1637, Pencoed, Glamorgan, Wales 

Parents: William Richard Aubrey and Elizabeth Thomas 

Both descended from the nobility 

Married 1665 Llantrisant, Glamorgan, Wales 

Died 26 January 1710, Treferig, Llantrisant, Glamorgan, Wales

Children Jane Bevan married John Wood

Evan Bevan married Eleanor Wood (my 8 x great grandparents)

Ann Bevan married Owen Roberts

Elizabeth Bevan married Joseph Richardson 

Barbara Bevan

Ann Bevan (born and died 1666)

Katherine Bevan 1675-1683

I’m hoping to learn more about my ancestors’ lives before they travelled to Pennsylvania, their lives in Pennsylvania, and why they eventually returned to Wales.

More details as my research unfolds.

Clara Bow Quotes: “Don’t think for a moment I was ungrateful. I know full well what Hollywood has done for me. I appreciate this to the utmost. But, after all, I paid for everything. If not with money, which I earned myself, then with heartaches. I was brittle in the Hollywood sense of the word. I was not able to shake off that sensitiveness of my early childhood. I never shall be able to shake it off. And it ground deeply into my soul when hurt.”

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #175

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s fourteenth movie was Black Lightning. The movie, produced during the Fall of 1924 and released on December 8, 1924, starred Thunder the Marvel Dog, supported by Clara Bow and “An All Star Cast”.

Thunder the Marvel Dog was a male German Shepherd that appeared in movies between 1923 and 1927. During this era, he had plenty of canine ‘rivals’ including Peter the Great, Napoleon, Rex, Strongheart and, more famously, Rin Tin Tin.

Clara loved dogs. However, the plot of this movie was convoluted and, given her ambitious, she could not have been happy as a support player to a dog. Greater days lay ahead, but at this stage of her career Clara was certainly paying her dues as she made her way in Hollywood.

Frances Gifford’s acting career blossomed in the 1930s and 1940s. Her breakthrough arrived in 1941 when she was cast as Nyoka in Jungle Girl, a fifteen-chapter movie serial. The serial was successful. However, tragedy struck on December 31, 1947 when Frances was seriously injured in a car accident. She attempted a comeback, but sadly that accident effectively ended her career.

Sister of actress Mary Pickford, Lottie Pickford (June 9, 1893 – December 9, 1936) also appeared in motion pictures, although her main passion in life was partying.

Lottie’s first starring role arrived in 1914 in The House of Bondage. She played a prostitute, in stark contrast to her sister Mary’s image as “America’s Sweetheart”. 

In 1915 Lottie appeared in The Diamond from the Sky, a silent adventure serial of thirty chapters. The serial was jeopardized when Lottie became pregnant, an incident that placed her on an unofficial Hollywood blacklist for a short time.

Lottie was a socialite who loved to party. Indeed, her parties were notorious all-night affairs that featured an abundance of alcohol, drugs and nudity. This hedonistic lifestyle took its toll and cut short the life of a woman who, despite her socialite status, was regarded as down to earth, friendly and unpretentious.

Tallulah Bankhead (January 31, 1903 – December 12, 1968) amassed nearly 300 film, stage, television and radio roles during her career. Her main forte was the stage – she was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1972.

A hedonist who loved men, women, cigarettes, drugs and alcohol, Tallulah rebelled against her family, prominent conservatives, by supporting the civil rights movement. She also helped families escape persecution during the Spanish Civil War and World War Two.

Marion Davies (January 3, 1897 – September 22, 1961) ran away from a convent to become a chorus girl, a performer in the Ziegfeld Follies and an actress. While performing in the 1916 Follies, nineteen-year-old Marion met fifty-three-year-old newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. She became his mistress and he promoted her career, often to her detriment.

Throughout her life, Marion was mistakenly associated with the character of Susan Alexander Kane in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.  Susan was a singer who lacked talent. However, Welles himself said that Marion was a talented actress, and that he did not base Susan on Marion.

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

My 5 x great grandmother Hannah David was born in Llantrisant, Glamorgan in 1757. She married James Morgan on 9 November 1776 in Llantrisant. Thomas Morgan, their first child, of twelve, arrived ten months later. In the 1700s, on average a woman gave birth to eight children so, maybe, the excessive strain of giving birth to twelve children contributed to Hannah’s death in 1802, aged 45. However, there was more to Hannah’s life than motherhood. Read on…

When my 5 x great grandmother Hannah David wasn’t pregnant or nursing one of her twelve children, she was helping her husband James Morgan to run the Swan Inn in Llantrisant.

William Aubrey of Llanwynno owned the property from 1767 until 1801. Hannah’s branch of our family tree connects with the influential and well-to-do Aubreys, so it’s likely that she became the landlady of the Swan through this family connection.

📸 The Swan Inn (Llantrisant.net)

One of the largest inns in the town, the Swan stood near Zozobabel Chapel on Swan Street. Taliesin Morgan’s 1898 history of Llantrisant referred to the Swan Inn as the venue for a number of eisteddfodau held by the Cymreigyddion Society. As such, the inn was a hotbed for promoting Welsh literature, poetry and music.

🧭 Location of the Swan Inn

In the fourth quarter of the 18th century my ancestor’s inn must have been the place to be, a venue reverberating with music and dancing, a place to listen to poems and stories. Hannah must have heard some tales. Maybe she told one or two herself. Maybe I can trace my love of stories to her.

***

Clara Bow Quotes: “Something every girl who goes into motion pictures must learn…if you do make a success of your work, your name is of public interest and where a girl in non-professional may be allowed certain liberties, a screen player is allowed none without attendant publicity.”

Intertitle #15

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.

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #170

Dear Reader,

Our latest translation, the Portuguese version of Operation Watchmaker, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE book eight.

Clara Bow’s ninth movie was Daughters of Pleasure, a 1924 silent romantic comedy. The film had a unique release date – February 29, 1924. Clara played Lila Millais, one of the support characters.

Clara was still finding her feet in Hollywood at this time and was dependent, probably over-dependent, on producer B.P. Schulberg for guidance. Schulberg undoubtedly helped Clara with her career but, it could be argued, was less supportive of her personal development. Indeed, Clara felt that Schulberg was betraying her trust.

Arthur Jacobson had an affair with Clara Bow. After that affair, they remained friends. Around the time of Daughters of Pleasure, he offered this insight into her character: “Clara was the sweetest kid in the world, but you didn’t cross her, and you didn’t do her wrong.”

📸 Clara in 1924.

Highest Grossing Movie of 1929 (joint) Sunny Side Up.

Sunny Side Up continued the late 1920s tradition of a musical producing the highest grossing movie of the year. Sunny Side Up starred Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell with songs by B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson. A romantic-comedy, the movie premiered on October 3, 1929 at the Gaiety Theatre in New York. For early movies, it had a long running time – 121 minutes.

Sunny Side Up produced three popular songs – ‘I’m a Dreamer, Aren’t We All?’, ‘Turn on the Heat’ and ‘(Keep Your) Sunny Side Up’. 

Critics offered faint praise. They reckoned that the singing voices of Gaynor and Farrell, were “tolerable, but not exactly worthy of praise.” They disliked the movie’s sugary sentimentality, but were impressed with the cinematography and special effects.

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

Clara Bow Quotes: “My advice to a girl trying to make good in Hollywood…In the first place, don’t under any circumstances ever come to Hollywood for motion picture work unless you have a contract, or definite assurance that you will be used in the making of screen plays.

Secondly, don’t try pictures if you are unduly sensitive. The work is hard and in the thick of battle many things may be said on the spur of the moment which are not to be taken at face value. It is part of the game, but it will cause heartache unless one’s sensitiveness can be overcome.”

Intertitle #10

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 34 occasions.

A special offer from my publisher and the Fussy Librarian. https://authors.thefussylibrarian.com/?ref=goylake

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

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #169

Dear Reader,

By 1924 film producer B.P. Schulberg was guiding Clara Bow’s career. Under his guidance, she made her eighth movie, Poisoned Paradise: The Forbidden Story of Monte Carlo, a silent romantic drama.

Clara played Margot Le Blanc. Left a small fortune by her foster mother, Margot goes to Monte Carlo and loses the fortune gambling. She finds support, and love, from an artist, Hugh Kildair.

Throughout her life, Clara needed sound people around her to guide her. At this time, she had Schulberg along with her agent, Maxine Alton. However, an affair between Alton and Schulberg shattered Clara’s confidence in them. Clara was trusting and naïve, and it’s fair to say that Alton and Schulberg exploited her trust and naivety.

🖼 Lobby card for Poisoned Paradise

Highest Grossing Movie of 1928 (joint) The Singing Fool.

A part-talkie musical melodrama, The Singing Fool starred Al Jolson. Following hot on the heels of The Jazz Singer, this movie established Jolson as a leading entertainer. The Singing Fool was more popular than The Jazz Singer mainly because many movie theatres were not equipped to show talkies when the The Jazz Singer was released in 1927.

Although heavily reliant on its musical interludes, The Singing Fool was released as a silent movie, alongside the sound version. The film ran for 102 minutes with 66 minutes devoted to dialogue and singing.

Reviews were, in the main, positive. “The Singing Fool is the finest example of sound pictures made to date.” – the Film DailyThe New York Times felt that the dialogue was “a little halting” and “not convincing”, but concluded that the main point of interest was “Mr Jolson’s inimitable singing”, and on that basis the movie was “capital entertainment.”

My latest translation, the Italian version of Operation Sherlock, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE, book five.

Clara Bow Quotes: “During my recent troubles, when broken in health and on the verge of despair, my many friends of the vast motion picture audience came to my assistance with countless messages of faith and good cheer. To them, I am profoundly grateful. If I do make another motion picture, it will be to please to the best of my ability those fans and friends who at no time lost faith in me.”

The Golden Age of Hollywood Winter 2022

Intertitle #9

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 34 occasions.

A special offer from my publisher and the Fussy Librarian. https://authors.thefussylibrarian.com/?ref=goylake

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