Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand

1918 Pictures & Picturegoer


  Storms, Chocolate Cakes, and

 Vampires Her Delight!

found in Pictures and Picturegoer,

 August 1918


                "I love dark, windy days and chocolate cake," Mabel Normand announced with perfect gravity, "and storms when houses blow down."


                There was no hint of mischief or make-believe in the famous Normand eyes.  They are even lovelier than the screen ever discloses, and the lashes curl upward more than the film can let one see.  We had called to interview the popular little lady for PICTURES, but ten minutes had passed and so far we had not been able to put to her a single question.  She did most of the talking.


                "Chocolate cake," she went on, "is the one thing I never get.  People always keep it from me.  That's why I've decided it is my favourite food.


                "But I never eat it--or anything else--when I am acting.  Food makes me too contented."  She yawned lazily over her coffee.  "And I don't want to be lazy any more.  A year of rest is enough for any one.  Now I want to come back--really back!"


                We expect you know that Mabel is now a Goldwyn comedienne; the Stoll Film Company will in due course release her first Goldwyn picture, "Dodging a Million," in which our Mabel makes a welcome return to the screen.  We reminded her that she had no place to "come back" from--that she has stayed in the affections of picturegoers ever since the early days of Biograph.


                Because of her innate sense of the comic, Mabel Normand cannot be serious wholeheartedly.  If she casts down her eyes, it is to shut out a demure parting glance.  If she closes her lips tightly, the corners go up, and you know she is laughing silently.  She is the true spirit of mischief. Early in the chat we gave up all hope of putting a question to her--or, rather, of recording an answer.


                For no reason at all, the comedienne began to tear a daisy apart, petal by petal.  "I adore daisies," she declared, with closed lids and head tilted to one side.  "They are my favourite flowers when I visit a flower shop--alone.  If I am accompanied--by a man--I just love orchids."  The diminutive actress looked significantly at the inexpensive flowers in her hand.  "But, of course, orchids are really too 'vampish' for me.  And that," she said pointedly, "brings us to the subject of Retribution with a capital R.


                "I mean vampires, especially screen 'vamps.'  They have taught me a great life lesson.  Retribution always pounces on the purple lady toward the end of the picture.  She gets exactly what she gives.  That's why I decided to be good.


                "Don't you think motion pictures educate the masses?  See how the vampire lady made me be good?"  The brown eyes were raised--then sparkled roguishly.


                "Tell me this, if you can.  Why do plays called 'The Drama of a Woman's Soul' always mean that the woman gets the worst of it in the end?  Why is that?"  Miss Normand waited for an answer to her quaint question.  "You didn't know I went in for deep thinking, did you?  Don't be afraid, I never go deeper.


                "People don't laugh enough.  Especially men, when they get middle-aged, and very important, and wear fur coats and silk hats in the morning, and motor to work.  They are afraid to laugh for fear people will think they're not on the job.


                "It is my task to make even these unfortunates laugh, but I don't expect a lot of thanks.  People enjoy laughter, but they're not grateful for it. They forget.  They never forget sadness, or the actor who makes them weep.    

                "Which reaches the heart more surely, tears or laughter?  I wonder if being a cook and making chocolate cakes isn't better than either?"...


                Mabel Normand is superstitious.  She always carries a tiny ivory elephant as a talisman.


                Though she never wears them on the screen, she owns wonderful jewels. Her favourite is a chain of diamonds suspending the smallest platinum watch in the world.


                Raymond Hitchcock and Mrs. Hitchcock (Flora Zabelle) are her closest friends.  They advise her whenever she considers a contract.


                She is very fond of beautiful clothes and means always to wear pretty things on the screen in future as in "Dodging a Million."


                In spite of her merry smile and laughing eyes, Mabel is very temperamental.  Trifles trouble her and she weeps with any friend who tells a hard luck story.


                Her ambition is to go to Paris after the war for two years.  She declares she wants to study languages and music "and things."  Then she wishes to appear on the stage, though never has she spoken in public.