Saturday, September 28, 2013

No Talkies VI

Next in our journey of 'Silent Forever' stars are an actor and actress who both passed away from tuberculosis in their thirties. Arthur V. Johnson, who was rumored to be D.W. Griffith's favorite actor, and Lottie Lyell, considered to be Australia's first movie star.


Arthur V. ( the V is for Vaughen) Johnson was born on February 2, 1876 in Cincinnati Ohio. He was the second son born to Rev. Myron Johnson and his wife, Frances. He had an older brother named Reginald who worked as a teacher, and a younger sister named Maude.

When he was 19 years old, Arthur left college and went on tour with a Shakespearean acting troupe.

He made his silver screen debut in the 1905 Edison short, White Caps. 

Three years later, Arthur went to work for Biograph and was paired alongside such names as Florence Lawrence, Robert Harron, Henry B. Walthall, Mack Sennett, and the main lady herself, Mary Pickford.

What I found interesting is that all of his 326 film roles were in shorts, meaning he never appeared in a feature length film. And to imagine him appearing in that many films, shorts or not, within a span of ten years is incredible! 

Acting wasn't the only thing keeping him busy. Arthur also had the opportunity to direct while he was working for the Lubin Studios. In total, he put his director stamp on twenty-six film shorts. 

His last film role was in the 1915 short, The Last Rose.

Arthur and Linda Arvidson
Arthur V. Johnson passed away on January 17, 1916 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He had reportedly been dealing with alcoholism, a nervous breakdown, and even a few car accidents that all led to his body being worn down. He fell ill with tuberculosis soon after which led to his untimely death. 

He was buried at Fairview Cemetery in Chicopee, Massachusetts. 

Arthur was married once, to fellow actor Florence Hackett. I am not sure of the exact year they got married, but I believe it to be either 1913 or 1914. They remained married until his death, and the only children they had were her two sons, Albert and Raymond from a previous marriage. It is worth mentioning that Raymond Hackett was married to silent screen star Blanche Sweet from 1935 until his death in 1958.  Raymond also passed on words of wisdom from his step father to his friend, James Cagney who used them to better his acting. I just love all the connections!

Here's Arthur Johnson; oh, Arthur, dear,

To be your wife I would have no fear,
But then, I have heard you are awf'ly gruff,
And that it is because you are in 'luff!'

I love sweet Mary Pickford,

Marion Leonard I adore;
I am strong for Arthur Johnson
As well as Owen Moore;
But ask me who my favorite be
'Tis Miss Lawrence, all agree.

"His very frankness of speech and original way demands attention. Also, the enthusiastic and frank way in which he acts places him in a far superior class to those whose acting appears self-conscious and unnatural." -- Florence Glaser, of Philadelphia


Lottie Lyell was born Charlotte Edith Cox on February 23, 1890 in Balmain, New South Wales, Australia. She was the youngest daughter of Joseph, a land and estate agent, and his wife, Charlotte. 

When she was around seventeen she made her stage debut under the name Lottie Lyell. It wasn't until a few years later in 1910 that she began to get noticed for her performance in the play An Englishman's Home. Her success led her to join a travelling theatre troupe that took her all over Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. 

The next year she decided to try her hand at the new 'fad' of film making. She made her screen debut in The Bushranger's Bride. In a span of about thirteen years she appeared in roughly 24 films. 

One of the films she appeared in, 1918's The Woman Suffers was actually banned in South Australia for no given reason. I am guessing it is because part of the film involves Lottie's character being seduced by a man, impregnated by him, and then abandoned. Her response is to try to abort her baby but then is stopped by the man's brother. Quite the scandalous soap opera there, especially for 1918!

William Coulter, Lottie, and Arthur Tauchert

Not only was Lottie a swell actress, she also worked as a writer, editor, and director on some of her films. She was also an accomplished horsewoman. 

Like Gish/Griffith and Garbo/Stiller, Lottie had a director/actor partnership with Raymond Longford. Their films were well known because of spectacular special effects (for 1913 that is), excellent screenplays, art direction, and production. They even created a company called Longford-Lyell Australian Motion Picture Productions, but unfortunately the company liquidated its assets in 1924. The company and their films were doing fine, so the loss of the company seemed odd to some people. 

She made her last screen appearance in the 1923 film, Gentleman in Mufti.

Lottie Lyell passed away on December 21, 1925 in Sydney.

She was buried in Macquarie Park Cemetery in North Ryde, South Wales, Australia. What is REALLY interesting is that she is buried with Raymond Longford. Were the two married? Nope. In fact, it says on the gravestone that he was the 'beloved husband of Emilie Longford.' She must have been one hell of a woman because it was actually HER idea for her husband to be buried by Lottie. 

Apparently Raymond had been living with Lottie and her family and were considered a couple but were unable to be officially married because his first wife, Melena was a devout Catholic and would not divorce her husband. Something must have happened to her faith though because the two did divorce in 1926, the year after Lottie died. He married Emilie Anschutz in 1933.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No Talkies V

Moving along now to our next grouping, we have four silent film stars that died from some kind of tragic accident before they were able to make a talking picture: 'Breezy' Reeves Eason Jr., Frank Farrington, Einar Hanson, and Charles Emmett Mack.

So, lets go ahead and meet these three gentlemen and one young boy. 


'Breezy' Reeves Eason Jr. was born William Reeves Eason Jr. November 19, 1914, probably in New York. He was the only child of William Sr, a film actor, director, and screenwriter, and Charlotte, also an actress who worked under the name 'Jimsy Maye.' Charlotte's mother, Mollie Shafer also worked in the film industry, first as an actress and then in wardrobe after the death of her grandson. 

His first film appearance was in a 1916 Theda Bara film called Gold and the Woman. 

During his brief career Breezy appeared mostly in Westerns, earning him the nickname of "Universal's Littlest Cowboy." He also had the chance to share the screen with actors like Art Acord, Hoot Gibson, Harry Carey, Mae Busch, Dagmar Godowsky, Katherine MacDonald, John Harron, and of course his parents and grandmother. Not bad for a boy under the age of ten.

During the filming of the picture, The Fox which featured Alan Hale, Breezy was playing outside when he was run over by a runaway truck. He was rushed to the hospital and held on for four days and underwent surgery to repair the damages but to no avail. Actor and friend Harry Carey went to the hospital to be by Breezy's side as soon as he heard the news, and he never left his side.

Breezy Reeves Eason Jr. passed away on October 25, 1921. He was just six years old.

He was buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, becoming one of the first motion picture stars to be buried there. On the day of his funeral, Universal Studios ceased production for the entire day. 

His father continued making pictures but chose to use the name "Breezy" as tribute to his son. Another reason for the nickname was because of his laid back attitude when it came to making his films. Unfortunately, one of his more well known accomplishments was to have so many horses killed or injured (and later euthanized) during the filming of the 1936 film, Charge of the Light Brigade, that the Humane Society established a company that would make sure all animals were treated well on movie sets. Eason received a ton of flack from movie audiences and others in Hollywood after news of the mistreatment became public. He and his wife, Charlotte later divorced and she went on to marry a man with the last name of Rowley. Eason Sr. passed away in 1956, Charlotte followed in 1968. Both parents were buried next to their son, as well as by Molly Shafer, who died in 1940. 

"'Breezy' is a likable little chap with considerable personality for one so young, and he displays promise of becoming well known among juvenile players. Of course his father's direction is responsible perhaps for his good work, but even at that he seems much at home, and shows no signs of being camera-shy." ~~ The Film Daily, 1921


Frank Farrington was born on July 8, 1873 in London, England. 

I really don't know anything about his early life except that he made his stage debut around 1895.

He made his film debut in a 1911 short called A Slight Mistake. He appeared opposite John Bunny and Kate Price in this short which is not a bad way to start at all.

In total his career lasted about 14 years with 25 films. He started out working for the Thanhouser studios, and this is where he made a majority of his films. He also was able to work with such big names as Florence La Badie, Karl Dane, Viola Dana, Enid Bennett, and Maude Fealy.

His last screen appearance was in the 1924 film, The Man Who Fights Alone.

Frank Farrington passed away on May 27, 1924 in Los Angeles. He had just finished performing at a benefit for disabled war veterans when he choked to death. He was rushed to the hospital but to no avail. What a way to go, man.

He was buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. 

Frank was married, but I am not sure of his wife's name as she is only referred to as 'Mrs. Farrington' in articles. The couple had two daughters, Irene (nicknamed Reenie) and Doris, who both worked in the film industry. Sadly, around the age of 12, Doris was stricken with infantile paralysis. Thankfully she recovered after a few months. 

According to a Photoplay article from 1914, Frank enjoyed writing poetry and short plays, playing the flute, and swimming. He was also reported to be a Christian Scientist. 

Swimming seems to be a recurring theme with the Farrington family. Apparently when he was younger, Frank was out swimming in the ocean and had to swim for his life when he was chased by a shark! His youngest daughter Doris was an avid swimmer by the age of nine.  

In 1914, Frank declared that he wanted to become a US citizen and was going to file the necessary paperwork, but I am not sure whatever became of this.


Einar Hanson (sometimes spelled Hansen) was born on June 15, 1899 in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Once again, I know next to nothing about his early life. What I do know is from a little tidbit from a newspaper article written about his death. Apparently Einar's father wanted his son to become an engineer and Einar at first went along with his father's wishes and took a class in college. But, he soon abandoned engineering and began focusing on drama. 

Einar was discovered by acclaimed director Mauritz Stiller and was going to be prepped to be the next Rudolph Valentino. 

His film debut was in the 1919's The People of Hemso. For the next couple of years he appeared in a number of other Swedish films...with no one I recognize I should mention. It wasn't until 1925 that he made a film with two of the biggest (or soon to be biggest) European stars, Greta Garbo and Asta Nielsen. 

Greta Garbo and Einar 

He arrived in Hollywood in 1925 along with Stiller's other 'find' Greta Garbo. Guess who got the most publicity between the two?

The following year Einar starred in the film, Into Her Kingdom with Corinne Griffith. This marked his first Hollywood feature. 

His next seven features included big named costars like Zasu Pitts, Mack Swain, Francis X. Bushman, Esther Ralston, Clara Bow, Gary Cooper, and Pola Negri. Not bad!

He made his last screen appearance in the 1927 film, The Woman on Trial.

Einar and Clara Bow

Einar Hanson passed away on June 3, 1927 in Santa Monica, California. He was leaving a dinner party he attended with Stiller and Garbo when his car skidded off the road and flipped. He was found pinned underneath his car and died en route to the hospital. He was conscious long enough to say that he was momentarily blinded by another car's headlights while rounding a sharp curve in the road. He reportedly had been drinking before he drove. On a sweet/sad note, his dog was with him when he crashed and stayed by his master until he died.

Einar never married, and judging from what I have read it seems that he was gay and having a relationship with Mauritz Stiller. But also judging by what I have read, it seems like Stiller was the one who was really stuck on Einar. Apparently he believed that Einar owed his success to him so he in a sense "owned" him. Yikes! He also reportedly had an affair with Garbo at some point.

One of his most famous screen appearances was in the 1927 Clara Bow film, Children of Divorce. Costar Esther Ralston later said that Clara would often talk about her sex life with her lover, Gary Cooper, who was also in the film. Oh my!


Charles Emmett Mack was born Charles Emmett McNerney on November 25, 1900 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. 

Do I know anything about his early life? Negative.

His first film role was in 1916 in the short, Dolly's Scoop. The film is noteworthy not only for it's cast which featured Lon Chaney, but also because instead of using title cards, the director chose to use subtitles for everything the actors said. That is what I thought silent films were like before I actually watched one.

Charles soon became the protege of famed director, D.W. Griffith. His next screen appearance was in the 1921 Griffith film, Dream Street, which also starred Carol Dempster, the girl all the other Griffith girls loved to hate. This film is noteworthy because it included a sound introduction done by Griffith himself. 

Charles and Carol Dempster

Unfortunately, the Griffith/Mack partnership wasn't all fine and dandy. Charles appeared in the 1924 Griffith picture, America, which was a huge failure both critically and commercially. It marked the end of Griffith's run as the greatest director of the silent screen. 

During his career, which lasted from 1916 until 1927 and included 17 titles, he shared the screen with such notables as Clara Bow, Mae Marsh, Mildred Harris, Tyrone Power Sr., Lionel Barrymore, Pola Negri, Norma Shearer, Dolores Costello, Anna May Wong, Warner Oland, and Mary Astor.

His last film role was in the 1927 film, First Auto. His film, The Rough Riders was released posthumously a few months after his death.

Charles Emmett Mack passed away on March 17, 1927. He was on his way to film a scene for The First Auto at a racetrack when he crashed his car and was killed. He was only 26 years old.

He was buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles. 

There was another silent film actor named Charles E. Mack that passed away in 1934. Do not confuse the two. They were not one in the same and were not related. 

"I was allowed five minutes on each set and I used to think up new jokes every night to spring on them next day. We went on Mr. Griffith's set whenever he was working because that was the real thrill. He'd look at me when we'd come in, but he'd never speak...One day, I'd gone down to his set for some reason, and was sitting on the curb waiting for a bus to go back, when Mr. Griffith came out after me. 'Come and rehearse this scene,' he invited me. I was just a kid and I thought he was making fun of me. 'No thanks,' I said, 'I came to this studio to learn to be a director!'" ~~ Charles Emmett Mack - Motion Picture Classic - June 1923.