Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 4 (1911): Florence LaBadie

Count Ivan and the Waitress, released on September 5, 1911 to favorable reviews, featured Marguerite Snow as the waitress who aids down-and-out Count Ivan who, upon returning to Russia and being restored to the czar's good graces, buys the restaurant in which she is employed and gives her a fortune in cash besides. The Buddhist Priestess, released on September 12th, was filmed in New Rochelle and set in Japan. On balance, reviews were favorable, but The New York Dramatic Mirror felt that Marie Eline "is losing her childish simplicity; she seemed to be imitating a full-grown actress, not a little girl."

In the Chorus, released on September 15th, was another Thanhouser film with a scenario involving the stage. A poor mother who places her daughter in an institution and seeks work before the footlights, achieves success. Years later she is reunited with her daughter, who in the meantime has become an actress as well. Taking the part of the little girl grown up was Florence LaBadie, who had recently come to Thanhouser from Biograph, having worked with the latter studio for a short time.

In Miss LaBadie the Thanhouser Company secured a charming actress who was to go on to play dozens of leading roles, to become the heroine of the immensely successful 1914-1915 Million Dollar Mystery serial, and to remain on the payroll until the very last Thanhouser production. In the meantime she was admired by all who worked with her, and to the public she became one of the most appealing of all actresses of the era. Of all the players, male or female, Florence LaBadie became the best known personality Thanhouser ever listed in its film credits.

Her story was told in the February 28, 1914 issue of Reel Life:

About three and a half years ago, a young girl in a big Panama hat, with long-lashed blue eyes, expressive dark eyebrows and an abundance of fluffy, light brown hair, came into the office of the old Thanhouser studio on Warren Street, New Rochelle and asked Dave Thompson, who was then manager of the studio, for work in the pictures. Anyone connected with the moving picture business knows that a manager has from 15 to 20 such applicants a day. Mr. Thompson took her name and address in the usual way, and because it seemed to him that she had possibilities, he assured her that as soon as there was an opening he would give her a chance.

That same evening Mr. Thanhouser...attended a moving picture performance in New Rochelle, where he was immensely attracted by the work of a young girl in a Biograph picture. Though having a minor part, she played it with extraordinary vivacity. The president recognized the girl he had seen in Mr. Thompson's office that afternoon. The next day he asked the manager to send for her. That was how Florence LaBadie came to the Thanhouser studios. When one tries to pay tribute to Miss LaBadie's essential womanliness, her sympathetic imagination, the radiance and charm of her personality, it is difficult to enlarge upon any one distinguishing trait of the actress. For Miss LaBadie is a young woman of many parts.


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