Volume III: Biographies


VAN HOUTEN, Emma (Mrs. Charles)

Studio employee (1911-1914)

The Joining Room "brigade" showing (left to right): Blanche Bugle, Rose Scott, Hattie McCroskery, Elizabeth Walters, Anna Eagan, Tillie Specht, Nora Riley, Nettie Stamp, and Irene Christie. Seated with the dog is

Mrs. Charles Van Houten. A version of this picture appeared in The Moving Picture News of January 20, 1912. Courtesy of the American Museum of the Moving Image/Lawrence Williams Collection. (M-2-X)


Thanhouser Career Synopsis: Emma Van Houten, wife of Charles, worked in the film laboratory at the Thanhouser studio at one time.

Biographical Notes: Emma (Mrs. Charles) Van Houten was born in Paterson, New Jersey, and married Charles Van Houten around the turn of the century. She was shown on a set from one of the David Copperfield films (Thanhouser, 1911) as a member of the "joining room brigade," in a photograph published in The Moving Picture News, January 20, 1912. She remained as an employee through 1913, until her death at the age of 36 on January 6, 1914. "Familiarly known as 'Mumsy,' she was considered the best cutter and splicer of films in the business, and her jovial and sweet nature always added to the daily labors of all her associates," noted an obituary in The New Rochelle Pioneer, January 10, 1914. She was buried in the city of her birth.

The New Rochelle Evening Standard, January 6, 1914, carried this item: "Mrs. Charles Van Houten, known affectionately by the Thanhouser players and employees as 'Mumsy,' died this morning after an illness of less than one week caused by a peculiar condition of her heart and nerves. 'Mumsy' was the wife of Charles Van Houten, the head carpenter of the Thanhouser Film Corporation, and she was employed cutting and splicing films. She was an expert and her judgment was often appealed to as to the proper place to make splices. She had the reputation of being the best cutter and splicer in the motion picture business. Members of the Thanhouser Company say she never was out of good humor, and she kept the work room in fits of laughter continually. She was kin to everyone and was always successful at patching up little differences and quarrels. When the news of her death reached the studio and factory this morning, an air of gloom settled over the entire place. Less than a week ago she became ill, and two nurses and a physician were in constant attendance. About six o'clock this morning her husband was summoned to her bedside. She asked him for a drink, and after he had given it to her she smiled and said she was feeling well and hoped to be up tomorrow. Two minutes later she died. She was born in Paterson, New Jersey and married Mr. Van Houten 14 years ago. They have no children. She was about 48 years of age. She and her husband have been employed by the Thanhouser concern from the time it was established. Mr. Van Houten is prostrated with grief."

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