icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Movies & Million-Dollar Mansions, and Silents on the Islands

MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN

Image: courtesy of Pritzker Military Museu

Dogs in World War I

 

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the U.S. Army recruited horses and dogs to be sent to aid the conflict in Europe. Dogs helped haul equipment and delivered messages. "Flying A" actor William Russell donated one of his dogs.

 

"The latest animals to sign up for relief of their relatives at the front being the six-month-old Russian wolfhound belonging to William Russell of the American Film Company." – Santa Barbara Morning Press, June 18, 1918

Be the first to comment

MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN

Image: Moving Picture World, July 21, 1917

Real Indians in "Flying A" Silent Movie?

 

It's doubtful if any of the actors filmed in Santa Barbara, California in this movie, who were purported to be Indians from a Navajo reservation, were actual Native Americans. Certainly, there were doubts about the ethnic background of a mysterious guy who called himself Lone Star Dietz. When he wasn't playing Indian in the movies, he was coaching football in the Pacific Northwest. This group was performing in the "Flying A" serial, The Diamond From the Sky in Mission Canyon in Santa Barbara.

 

"Lone Star, a full-blooded American Indian, led 40 of his tribe before the camera . . . hundreds of tourists sojourning in Santa Barbara and Montecito, were permitted to enjoy the proceedings from the sidelines. A complete Indian village had been built in the canyon by Lone Star's people, who were brought from the Navajo reservation expressly for this picture." – Moving Picture World, April 3, 1915

 

Be the first to comment

MOVIES & MILLION-DOLLAR MANSIONS

Image: Movies & Million-Dollar Mansions, Betsy J. Green, 2022

Happy Birthdate, Grace Darmond!

 

Silent film actress Grace Darmond was born on November 20, 1898, in Canada. She made nearly 50 movies in the silent and sound eras. In 1918, she costarred in the Vitagraph production of A Diplomatic Mission. Some scenes were filmed at a million-dollar mansion in Montecito, California.

 

The movie was made while the United States was involved in World War I. "The story concerns the activities of a Yankee in settling an uprising of South Sea Island natives. He does it for the love of duty and for the love of a girl." – Motion Picture News, October 5, 1918

Be the first to comment

MOVIES & MILLION-DOLLAR MANSIONS

Image: Movies & Million-Dollar Mansions, Betsy J. Green, 2022

Happy Birthdate, Edward Peil!

 

Silent film actor Edward Peil was born on November 18, 1883, in Wisconsin. He appeared in hundreds of films – both silent and sound. Peil appeared in films up to 1951.

 

In 1917, he starred in the "Flying A" silent film Whose Wife? fairly early in his career. He worked with the studio in 1917 and 1918.

 

Some scenes of this movie were filmed at the Miramar resort in Montecito, California.

 

Be the first to comment

MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN

Image: Exhibitors Herald, January 14, 1922

Nasty Language on the Set

 

"The studio vernacular of stage electricians proved disconcerting to a nervous visitor from the Midwest during the filming of . . . The Unfoldment. [This 1922 silent movie was also filmed on California's Santa Catalina Island.] When the cameraman yells 'Feed 'em' it means the electrical current is turned on; 'Hit 'em' is the signal to strike a blow against a tube in case a light flickers; when the command 'Kill 'em' is given, the lights are turned completely off.

 

"Kern was directing Florence Lawrence and William Conklin in a dramatic scene. 'Feed 'em' commanded the electrician. 'Oh, they are serving lunch to the players, aren't they?' smiled the visitor. A few minutes later the chief electrician yelled, 'Hit 'em hard.' The nervous visitor became visibly more nervous. 'Now kill 'em dead,' howled the chief electrician. The lights went out and Director Kern said, 'Good work.'

 

"'Mercy, but this studio is a brutal place,' said the visitor in a horror-struck voice, as she swept off the stage. 'I'm going to notify the police of these goings on,' she concluded as she banged the stage door.'" – Los Angeles Herald, February 21, 1921

 

Be the first to comment

MOVIES & MILLION-DOLLAR MANSIONS

Image: Exhibitors Herald, January 11, 1923

Happy Birthdate, Eugene O'Brien!

 

Silent film actor Eugene O'Brien was born on November 14, 1880, in Colorado. He appeared in more than 50 silent movies. In 1923, he costarred with Norma Talmadge in The Voice From the Minaret, directed by Frank Lloyd. Some scenes were filmed at a polo club in Montecito, California, which was rigged up to resemble a polo club in Bombay, India.

 

"Two stands, containing 18 boxes each, have been erected for the spectators. These are resplendent with vari-colored rugs and hangings, and with the Union Jack to lend the scene a Far Eastern glamour . . . The opening scene will be the arrival of the Governor-General of Bombay, accompanied by his wife (Norma Talmadge). The official party will be escorted by a troupe of Indian cavalry men to their box, which will be elaborate with Persian rugs and draperies." – Santa Barbara Morning Press, July 15, 1922

 

Be the first to comment

MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN

Image: Motography, September 28, 1912

An Unplanned Stunt Behind the Scenes


In 1912, Santa Barbara's "Flying A" was at its temporary location in an old ostrich farm at State and Islay streets. Enter some local electricians who were just trying to do their job. Unfortunately, no one explained that to the "Flying A" guard dog. And, apparently, no one told the electricians about the dog, or that the dog took her job very seriously. What happened next seems like it was a scene from a silent movie. Too bad no one had the camera running.


The local paper wrote, "The debonair electricians approached and started to go through the corral. With a yelp and a bound, the collie appeared on the scene. Her eyes were glaring, and she meant business."


The electricians all took a flying leap to the top of the high wooden fence. The noise attracted the "Flying A" folks who managed to explain the situation to the dog, and to the electricians, and everyone calmed down. Fortunately, this story had a happy ending.

Be the first to comment

MOVIES & MILLION-DOLLAR MANSIONS

Image: Movies & Million-Dollar Mansions, Betsy J. Green, 2022

Happy Birthdate, Elsie Jane Wilson!

 

Silent film actress Elsie was born on November 7, 1885, in Australia. She appeared in more than 30 silent movies. In 1915, she starred in the "Flying A" production of The Lure of the Mask that was filmed in Montecito, California.

 

During the filming, a misplaced prop from the film caused a scene all by itself. A gardener found a sword in the woods that had been used in the movie, and thought that a murder had been committed. While the worker was showing the sword's location to the police, two of the actors from the movie came up all out of breath and asked if a sword had been found. They explained that they had fought – for film purposes only – a duel near where the sword was found, and that, on departing, they had forgotten all about it. The police accepted their explanation, and the case was closed. Whew!

Be the first to comment

SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: Motion Picture News, November 6, 1915

A Fight All Too Real

 

Sometimes the fight scenes in the silent movies looked very real – because they were. Scenes for the 1915 film The Yankee Girl were filmed on California's Santa Catalina Island. The two actors who took part in a fight in the movie (Howard Davies and Forrest Stanley), apparently used it as an opportunity to settle an old score.

 

"The clash in The Yankee Girl contained 'business' the director never intended and over which he could exercise no control. The two panting athletes were finally disengaged, Davies growling something about Stanley 'butting,' and Stanley appealing to the referee against 'strangle holds.' But Dal Clawson, the cameraman, merely grinned for he knew the treasure that now safely reposed in his magazine." – Movie Magazine, September 1915

 

Be the first to comment

MOVIES & MILLION-DOLLAR MANSIONS

Image: Wikimedia

Happy Birthdate, Percy Standing!

 

Standing was born in England in 1882. He appeared in some 40 movies in the silent era. In 1919, he starred in Bonds of Love along with Pauline Frederick filmed at one of the million-dollar mansions of Montecito, California.

 

The local paper reported, "The Pauline Frederick company spent six days in Santa Barbara obtaining exterior action . . . Montecito, Santa Barbara's fashionable residential suburb, world-famous for its mansions and picturesque countryside, was taken full advantage of." – Santa Barbara Morning Press, June 22, 1919

 

Be the first to comment