Silent Film Stars on the Stages of Seattle

A History of Performances by Hollywood Notables


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About the Book

Before they became household names, many would-be Hollywood stars began their careers as small-time actors in regional theatres and playhouses. Few of them earned much recognition based on their time in the footlights, but often the stage provided these Hollywood hopefuls with their first break in show business. Drawing on material from the J. Willis Sayre Collection, a nearly unbroken accumulation of theatrical programs from 1865 to 1955, this book chronicles the Seattle stage engagements of more than 30 silent film personalities. Such Hollywood giants as Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille, D.W. Griffith, and Buster Keaton, to name just a few, can trace their early careers through the Emerald City.

About the Author(s)

In addition to writing books about silent film, Eric L. Flom is a contributing editor to HistoryLink, an online encyclopedia of Washington state history, and has written film and theatre pieces for The Seattle Times, The Enterprise and Silent Era. A longtime resident of Seattle, Flom currently lives in Milton, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

Eric L. Flom
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 309
Bibliographic Info: 82 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3908-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      1

Introduction: Seattle Critic J. Willis Sayre and the J. Willis Sayre Collection      7

1. Way Out West: Seattle’s Theatrical History      15

2. A Race Across the Continent: The Roadshow Engagements of Lionel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Mary Miles Minter, William S. Hart, Douglas Fairbanks and Lon Chaney      30

3. Roads of Destiny: The Roadshow Engagements of Theda Bara, Marguerite Clark, Marshall Neilan, D.W. Griffith, Thomas Ince and Cecil B. DeMille      64

4. All the Comforts of Home: The Extended Engagements of John Bunny, Roscoe Arbuckle and Tom Mix      105

5. Laugh, Town, Laugh: The Vaudeville Engagements of Buster Keaton, Charles Chaplin, Harry Langdon, Francis X. Bushman and Nell Shipman      135

6. A Matinee Idol: The Promotional Appearances of William S. Hart, Nell Shipman, Rudolph Valentino, and the Screen Ball of 1919      166

7. Best Foot Forward: The Sound Era Engagements of Roscoe Arbuckle, Tom Mix, Harry Langdon, Norma Talmadge, Blanche Sweet, Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Ben Turpin and J. Stuart Blackton      199

8. The Last Word      241

Appendix I: Engagements by Performer      249

Appendix II: Stock Theatre Appearances of Clara Kimball Young      257

Appendix III: Silent Film Performers Noted in the J. Willis Sayre Collection      259

Chapter Notes      263

Bibliography      283

Index      287

Book Reviews & Awards

“an engaging and entertaining combination of film history and local interest…the work of an enthusiastic researcher and writer…it reveals a wealth of new information about many of the great personalities of early film…excellent…The world would be a better place with more books like Silent Film Stars on the Stages of Seattle”—; “Flom is an excellent writer and researcher who clearly loves and understands his topic…a substantial and scholarly work and is one you can keep on hand for future reference”—