In these picture we see (1) Mabel Normand and Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle pointing to the dismayed seal. (2) shows Mabel diving overboard after Roscoe, who in (3) is seen to be falling in what looks like awkward and certainly is dangerous fashion. (4) exhibits Mabel getting ready for another plunge and (5) shows Roscoe doing another purposely awkward dive. In (6) Mabel and Roscoe have cajoled “Big Ben” to come out to get something to eat. And in (7) we witness Mabel doing the last dive of the day, a somersault in embryo. (8) Roscoe is posed to make a belly flop (9) Mabel is ready for one more dive.
REEL LIFE, page 21 (1914) photos were taken on Santa Catalina Island when Mabel Normand and Roscoe Arbuckle were making SEA NYMPHS, this sea lion was Big Ben. And photos also appeared in MOTOGRAPHY, 1914 vol. XII, No 17. and also REEL LIFE, page 21 (1914).
THE SEA NYMPHS
“Looking for Mabel”
In September 1914, Mack Sennett took a troupe of players and crew to Santa Catalina Island off the coast of southern California, (21 miles from Long Beach, as the seagull flies) to make movies. He at the same time made “
The two reels of “The Sea Nymphs” (working title - Catalina Story) according to the production records from the New York offices shows that it was filmed September 8 through September 12, 1914 and was finished September 12, 1914 and was received in New York on October 1, 1914. Along with “The Sea Nymphs”,
“The Sea Nymphs” has in its cast: Roscoe Arbuckle (Fatty); Mabel Normand (Mabel); Mack Swain (Ambrose, a Masher), Minta Durfee (Fatty’s wife); Alice Davenport (Fatty’s Mother-in-Law); Charles Avery (Mabel’s Father); James Bryant (Man Eating Ice Cream/Cop); Harry McCoy (Cop) Bill Hauber, (no Al St. John or Ford Sterling sorry).
“The plot is a little gloomy, which maybe the reason that some people think it is one of the Arbuckle comedies, like “He Did and He Didn’t” but as dark as the plot sounds on screen these actions can be very funny. Ben Model wrote the summary for IMDb and it parallels the newspaper plot synopsis found in the Reno newspaper below.
“Fatty, his wife and mother-in-law are on a ferry to
The picture of Roscoe and Mabel with a huge tamed seal named “Big Ben” was used in a number of magazines and newspapers. There is a statue of Ben, the Hungry Sea Lion on
While Mabel was creating Mickey in 1916 some of her friends went back to Catalina to get her a goat for her movies, I already told you about it at http://looking-for-mabel.webs.com/1916goat.htm
If you have never been to
It was also in 1915 that an enormous fire destroyed much of the town of
Lee Rosenthal believes the first South Sea Island movie was made on Catalina in 1916 called “Pearl of Paradise” to read more about the films made on and around the Island, I recommend the book “Catalina in the Movies” (two versions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” one in 1918 and another one in 1924; two versions of “Captain Blood” 1924, and in 1935; two versions of “The Sea Hawk” 1924, remade in 1940 ), as well as the early Technicolor movie “The Black Pirate” (1926) starring Douglas Fairbanks, and the big-budget “Old Ironsides” (1926). And yes, Cecil B. DeMille made exotic scenes for “Male and Female” (1919);”The Ten Commandments” (1923); “Feet of Clay” (1924); and “The King of Kings” (1925) on the island. And tons of Westerns were made in the interior, that’s why there are buffalo on the
When Mabel and Roscoe made their movie on Catalina, William Wrigley hadn’t come to the
Avalon is still the harbor town where Mabel and Roscoe feed Big Ben and the sea nymphs played in the water, it is much the same, time has been gentle to the
THE SEA NYMPHS
2 reels, rel:
dir. Mack Sennett
cast: Roscoe Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Mack Swain
Wigwam Theater Has a Screamer
Keystone Comedy and Whole Bill Are Great
The two-part Keystone display, “The Sea Nymphs,” will be shown for the last time at the Wigwam Theater tonight. This film is a scream from start to fish and more than pleased the large crowd that saw it last night. The synopsis is as follows:
Fatty, with wife, mother-in-law and numerous band boxes, trunks, bags and bundles, goes for an outing at
Father is rescued and they land at
The latter does them up, however, and then he and Mabel proceed to give a diving exhibition. Mrs. Fatty and mother-in-law witness this thrilling program executed off the end of a plank vibrating from the end of the high pier. Mabel excels in the dolphin plunge. The crowd on the shore cheers loudly – all except Fatty’s immediate family, which is saving its strength for future punishment. Fatty gets his – and the siren Mabel is hastily cloaked and dragged off by her father.
Mabel Normand SOURCE BOOK by William Thomas Sherman
[The] Sea Nymphs -- Keystone (Two Reels) November 23. -- Fatty neglects his wife, and even his mother-in-law, when he spies the attractive Mabel. The girl’s father takes a dislike to her stout friend, and introduces Ambrose into the love race. Fatty manages to have his mother-in-law and Ambrose locked in a dressing-room while he and Mabel give a diving exhibition. Mabel’s father enlists the muscles of Ambrose, and together they attack Fatty but without making any impression on him. Had the angry parent been wise he would have sought the aid of Fatty’s wife and her mother who grow impatient at his flirtation, and demonstrate to the crowd how big men should be whipped.
Mabel Normand, featured star with the Keystone Film Company, had three whole days vacation and she took advantage of her rest. Last winter Miss Normand purchased a sixty-foot yacht and had it thoroughly overhauled and refurnished throughout. When it was completed it was a thing of beauty--but since the rainy season the “Queen of the Movies” has been too busy helping Mack Sennett take advantage of the sunny weather in making of Keystone two-reel features to find time for yachting. When the three-day vacation came along Mabel stocked up the craft and took a party of friends to Catalina, cruising around the island and enjoying the breezes, fishing and quiet of the Pacific in its most pacific condition.
[photo caption] Mabel Normand and “Big Ben,” the tame seal, disporting in the surf at
Statue of Old Ben, Hungry Sea Lion
Old Ben was an unusually large and friendly sea lion who first appeared in the Avalon harbor in 1898. He quickly became the town mooch, flopping through the streets looking for fish snacks and posing for snapshots with Santa Catalina tourists. He even appeared in a 1914 movie, "The Sea Nymphs," before swimming off and disappearing in the early 1920s.
Avalon never forgot its flippery town pet, and in 1975 it erected a life-size concrete statue of Old Ben as its Bicentennial project -- a statue reportedly so lifelike that real seals would bark at it. That statue was replaced by an identical one made of bronze in 1986, and in 2009 it was moved from its spot on the end of a pier to a more shutterbug-friendly downtown location.
The East Coast also has its own adored seal statue, but Ben was the first.