Volume III: Biographies


WHITTIER, Robert *

Actor (1915-1916)

Thanhouser Career Synopsis: Robert Whittier was an actor with Thanhouser in 1915 and 1916.

Biographical Notes: Robert Whittier was known primarily as a stage actor. In April 1915 he was on stage at the Longacre Theatre, New York City, in Ghosts, an Ibsen play.

In the summer of 1915 Whittier joined Thanhouser, and by August 2, 1915 he had been involved in an adventure, as released in the New York Morning Telegraph of that date: "Playing the part of a hero before the camera is not all it is cracked up to be, according to Robert Whittier, who has recently been appearing with the Thanhouser Company. To prove the truth of his assertion, Whittier announced that he has been an invalid for the last four days. It seems he was cast in the role of a Roman gladiator wearing all the steel breastplates, helmet and visor and other accoutrements that are part of a gladiator's make-up. The action called for his rescue of a young Grecian woman from the surf of Rye Beach. Everything went well - despite the terrific sun, which had heated Whittier's armor until he was almost burned alive - until he stepped into a deep hole. Here he nearly drowned before several of the cameramen and others rushed to his rescue and pulled him, armor and all, out on the beach. Similar methods had to be employed to save the young Grecian woman. That part of the film will not be shown on the screen."

The New Rochelle Pioneer, March 25, 1916, incorrectly stated that Whittier's first Thanhouser film was Betrayed, a statement perhaps based upon the following notice in Reel Life, January 15, 1916: "Robert Whittier, who makes his initial appearance as a Mutual star, in support of Grace DeCarlton in Betrayed, a Mutual Masterpicture, DeLuxe Edition, produced at the Thanhouser studios, has long been prominently connected with the speaking stage. During his career behind the footlights, Mr. Whittier appeared in support of some of the most noted of American stage celebrities. Until recently Mr. Whittier had never appeared before a motion picture camera, and until approached by representatives of the Thanhouser studios, had never listened to an offer. For his first appearance as a motion picture star, Mr. Whittier was assigned a part that particularly well fits his many talents. His interpretation of Heart-of-Oak is one of the most impressive of its kind ever presented on a motion picture screen."

The actor appeared in Thanhouser films through the end of 1916. In 1917 Whittier was seen in The Awakening of Helena Richie, a Quality production released by Metro. He married Amy Ince, an actress. Her 1940 obituary mentioned that her husband had predeceased her.

Thanhouser Filmography:

1915: The Long Arm of the Secret Service (10-16-1915), Foiling Father's Foes (Falstaff 11-29-1915), The Crimson Sabre (11-30-1915), Ambition (12-21-1915)

1916: Betrayed (1-29-1916), A Bird of Prey (3-16-1916), Master Shakespeare, Strolling Player (4-20-1916), The Answer (5-16-1916), King Lear (12-17-1916)

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Copyright © 1995 Q. David Bowers. All Rights Reserved.