WORLDLY BUT NOT WEARY
(Motion Picture Magazine, September 1921)
Transcribed by Marilyn Slater
Looking for Mabel
Scarlet tanagers . . .
There is something of the tanager about Mabel. She is flashing, impetuous, starting. There is in her moods something of the bird’s vivid scarlet flight.
“I go to
Experience has not jaded Mabel’s enthusiasms. She is worldly without being weary.
We had only a brief chat at the Sennett studio in Edendale, a section of Leacock’s humor. And then she was called away to make her final scene for the day.
Leacock’s humor. And then she was called away to make her final scene for the day.
She ran off.
Everyone who is interested at all in pictures is watching the Sennett studio with speculative eyes. Mabel’s new starring vehicle “Molly-O” is the subject of many prophecies and predictions. It is revealing no secret to say that Mabel’s last big hit, “Mickey,” was not a Goldwyn picture, that Goldwyn was deplorably wanting in the ability to furnish her with a suitable, or direction – I shan’t presume to say which, “Mickey” was made by Mack Sennett. It was his first radical departure toward the furtherance of his announced intention to make big comedy dramas. And “Molly-O” is even more ambitious.
From the most disinterested source I could find, I learned that Mabel is photographing as she never photographed before. And certainly her appearance would seem to justify that.
In her big limousine, as we rolled across the city, she was delightful. She is small, almost plump now, with large brown eyes where wisdom lurks behind half closed lids and heavy lashes – wisdom and good humor. Her hair is dark and thick. I had noticed in the studio that she moved easily, lightly, with the careless grace that bespeaks the strong body. She has a way, when speaking, of leaning toward you, so that her eyes are disturbingly near to yours, immensely wide. And her mouth quirks occasionally, as tho inside she was laughing at you and for the life of her couldn’t keep it in. She has a comfortable way of resting her hand on yours when she laughs. Altogether, the ride was extremely pleasant.
“How does it seem to be back at the Sennett studio? Well, it is so different! It is not like coming back to a familiar place. It is more like starting in at a new one. When I left, there was only one stage. Now there are at least six. But I am quite happy. I have all the faith in the world in the story and in Richard Jones, the director.”
“Have you any definite idea of the length of your stay with Sennett? I asked.
“Oh, it is just understood that I shall be there for a number of productions. I don’t know exactly how many.”
She doesn’t live in
“Is this what comes of your return to Sennett’s? I ventured. I don’t remember her reply. She was busy, by that time, giving me a copy of Deburau.
“Ollie, never saw these,” she said.
On the baby grand piano was a striking figure in silvered metal, that of an Hawaiian surf rider tearing in on a silver wave.
I told her of an interview I had had with Renee, and how Tom Moore had driven me off with strong expressions of malignancy towards interviews and interviewers, and how, later, when I had tried to get another story from him on marriage he would have nothing to do with me.
“Yes,” she said, “Tom’s funny that way, but all the same he’s a wonderful boy.”
Perhaps that’s why it’s impossible to find anyone who knows her who’ll say a word against her – because she always has a good word for the fellow.
I think I have never met a person with more instant charm, less affectation, or more generous impulse. Mabel has as much right to ennui and egotism as the best of us, yet she remains irrepressible and without pose. I can think of no better way to illustrate than by an incident:
She took me downtown with her, as far as Figueroa. As we stopped there at the corner, and the chauffeur swung open the door for me, an urchin, a newsboy, stuck his head in and said, “Hello, Mabel!” There wasn’t a hint of annoyance in Mabel’s reply. She knew him!
“Hello there!” she answered. “How’s the other boy, the lame one?”
“Oh, he’s carryin’ one o’ them leather things out on the golf course, what they put their sticks in. Makin’ two dollars a day. He’s all right.”
Mabel gave him a dollar.
I learned later, from someone else, that Mabel had taken him to the auto races out at the
“Gee!” he cried. “Lookut all the movie stars!”
“Yea,” said Mabel, in return. “Ain’t they funny!” – and went right on eating peanuts!
I fear I have resorted to wild tactics to describe Mabel accurately, as she appeared to me. Scarlet tanager . . .
 MOTION PICTURE CLASSIC: column by Louise Fazenda titled “Impressions of Screen Folk”, short descriptions using just a couple of words…Nazimova – “A knife in a satin sheath”; Norma Talmadge – “Poppies in wheat fields, dinner by candle light.”
 LEACOCK, STEPHEN: (1869-1944) the most popular humorist in the English language, between 1915-1925, and he was Canadian, everyone quoted him, and e.g. “There are two things in ordinary conversation which ordinary people dislike - information and wit.” His book “LITERARY LAPSES” was published in 1910 and was a compilation of short stories. http://www.gutenberg.ca/ebooks/leacock-literary/leacock-literary-00-h-dir/leacock-literary-00-h.html
 MOLLY-O: (1921 Sennett) first full length feature drama, marks Mabel’s return to Sennett’s fold; directed by F. Richard Jones staring Mabel Normand and Jack Mulhall. Molly O’Dair is the daughter of a ditch digger and washerwoman, who falls in love ‘above her station.’
 MICKEY: (1918 MMFFCo) the only film made at Mabel Normand’s Studio on Bates in Silverlake; first feature directed by F. Richard Jones for Mabel. Mabel works with Wheeler Oakman, Lew Cody, George Nichols, Minta Durfee, Laura Lavarnie, Tom Kennedy, and Minnie HaHa. Young girls from a western mining-town goes East to become refined and get her away from the mining engineer she has fallen in love with but in the East is misused by her snobby relatives, find her true love again, rides a wild race, fights off a masher, and at the end her mine hits the mother-load and her and her engineer take a train West to live happily ever after.
 MACK SENNETT: Michael Sinnott (January 17, 1880 – November 5, 1960) the KING OF COMEDY was a Canadian-born American director and actor and was known as the innovator of slapstick comedy in film. He ran KEYSTONE and MACK SENNETT COMEDIES. His Special Oscar was awarded to him as the “master of fun, discoverer of stars ... for his lasting contribution to the comedy technique of the screen." …yes, he loved Mabel Normand. He was also one of the investors that bought a mountain and placed the HOLLYWOOD(LAND) sign on it.
 Mabel Normand’s BUNGALOW: was at
 CHOW DOG in the above link are photos of Mabel’s chow “Ojai” on the sidewalk outside her bungalow
 HAND OF THE POTTER author was Theodore Dreiser (August 27, 1871 – December 28, 1945) an American novelist and journalist, whose literary situations were studies of nature more than tales of choice. His novels often featured main characters who succeeded at their objectives despite a lack of a firm moral code, and Dreiser's best known novels include Sister Carrie. The Hand of the Potter is a tragedy in four acts.
 DEBURAU Jean-Gaspard (July 31, 1796 – June 17, 1846) was a celebrated Bohemian-French mime, famous for the character of Pierrot. His son formed the Deburau School of Pantomime. Sacha Guitry wrote his play Deburau in 1918. Sacha Guitry (1885 – 1957) was a French actor, dramatist and director. Wrote his first play at age 17. Directed his first film at 30. He wrote over 120 plays in his lifetime.Buried in the cemetery of Montmatre in Paris, France.
 OLIVE THOMAS: (1894-1920) was a friend of Mabel Normand although they didn’t work together, Mabel did make films with Ollie’s second husband, Jack Pickford. A picture held in Mabel’s personal photo album was inscribed; “To Mabel, Just lots of love from the bottom of my heart – Ollie (Olive Thomas)” http://looking-for-mabel.webs.com/mabelsalbumoffriends.htm
 TOM MOORE: Thomas J. Moore (1883 – 1955) worked with Mabel at Sam Goldwyn Studios: “The Floor Below”(1918); “Dogding a Million” (1918); and two poporgana films, “United States Fourth
 RENEE ADOREE: was born Jeanne de la Fonte, 1898,
WILLIS GOLDBECK was just 23 years old when he interviewed Mabel Normand for the Motion Picture Magazine. Willis was born in
Not only was Willis a screenwriter of over 40 films but he went on to direct 10 of them among them several of the “Dr. Kildare” series, which he had written. He retired in 1962 dieing in 1979 just before he turned 81at