Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 6 (1913): The Thanhouser Kid is Unaware

The Cleveland Leader, January 15, 1913, told where Marie Eline, the Thanhouser Kid, was when the Thanhouser studio fire occurred:

ACTRESS SINGS AS FILM PLANT BURNS - Thanhouser Kid, Here For Ball, Ignorant of Catastrophe to Employers:

All unconscious that fire had destroyed the Thanhouser Moving Picture studios at New Rochelle, N.Y., in which she had as much pride as if she had had a financial interest in them, Marie Eline, ten-year old film actress, known the world over as The Thanhouser Kid, danced and sang happily in her room at the Hotel Statler Monday night in rehearsal for the motion picture men's ball there tonight.

The child was not told that the large film plant, which is more than a means of livelihood to her - for she receives $100 a week from it and instruction which has already made her one of the most talented juvenile movie players - had been destroyed. So, puckering her youthful face, now into an expression of great concern, now to a terribly old look of ennui, she sang, I Should Worry and Get a Wrinkle, which she will sing between dances for the amusement of members of the Motion Picture Exhibitors' League and their friends....

A view of what happened during and immediately after the fire was printed a year later: Note

The fire alarms called to the scene in a very few moments practically every person who had been interested in the plant. President Hite - Lloyd F. Lonergan, the director and scenario writer - Bert Adler, the advertising manager - and most of the actors and actresses whose means of livelihood was apparently being destroyed in a few brief moments. It was a crisis of the sort which brings leaders and executive ability very prominently to the front.

President Hite sized up the situation the instant he reached the offices on the second floor - and gave quick orders to get all of the films and reels out of the building regardless of other valuable property. Looking out of the window, he recognized the faces of his operating staff among the crowd of spectators and realized what the catastrophe meant to them. Mr. Adler was with him in the office at the moment - and he told him to go out among the people and call a meeting at his house within an hour. It is said that the office got too hot, about that time - compelling both President Hite and Mr. Adler to jump from that second-story window.

Nearly all of the positive reels were lost - and with them pretty much everything else that had been in the plant. But most of the negative reels were saved. When the people met at Mr. Hite's residence that night, they were told that salaries would go on just the same - and Mr. Adler was instructed to find and equip other quarters before noon. By 10 a.m., the small real estate office of Cooley and West had been converted into a joining and projecting room, equipped with hot water, heat, telephone connection - and the electric lights were ready for business by two o'clock. During the day, the Comet factory in West 32nd Street, New York, had been secured for the business of actual production, with Mr. Lonergan in charge. And Mr. Lonergan continued to produce two complete plays each week without interruption or intermission - which is about all that need be said of any man's ability as writer and producer. The plant was not insured. President Hite did not ask for a cent of borrowed money. He made good his losses out of the profits of the Thanhouser business....


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