Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 8: 1915 A Serious Accident

Not all was roses and sunshine at the studio, as The Evening Standard reported on April 2nd:

Joseph Horan, a property boy employed by the Thanhouser Motion Picture Company, was burned about the face and hands about 10 o'clock last night when a basketful of flash bombs exploded in his hands. Four children - James Condon, 122 East Main Street, John Cooper, Hayes Street, and two children of Frederick Sieverts (George and Karl), Pratt Street - were burned from the sudden flame. Note

One of the Thanhouser companies was doing a night battle scene, representing part of the action of the Civil War, near the studio and magnesium bombs were used to represent the explosions of shells. These bombs were being thrown into the air with short fuses, so that they would burst in mid air before the camera. Horan was standing at the side, outside the range of the camera, holding a basket full of the bombs, about the size of apples, when one of the thrown bombs fell into the basket and exploded. The intensely hot flame from the magnesium powder ignited other bombs in the basket and they flared up into Horan's face and scorched his hands. The four boys who were hurt were standing near Horan. Horan was hurried to the New Rochelle Hospital, where it was found that the face burns were not serious and it is likely that he will not be scarred. Note

On the plus side of the ledger was the addition to the studio staff of George Foster Platt, who had worked with Edwin Thanhouser on the stage in Milwaukee years earlier and who more recently had been director of modern plays at the New Theatre in New York City. Note "The acquisition of Mr. Platt is a fair criterion of the standard we may expect from the new regime at the New Rochelle institution, for those who know of Mr. Thanhouser's work of a few years ago will remember him as one of the first to introduce into pictures talent from the legitimate, and the foremost exponent of the standardized film product," an article related. Platt was to take charge of the Thanhouser Film Corporation's contributions to the Mutual Masterpictures program.

The New York Dramatic Mirror, April 7, 1915, told of Platt's coming to New Rochelle, then informed its readers of other additions:

Other recent additions to the Thanhouser forces are Lorraine Huling and Frederick Sullivan. Miss Huling will be placed at the head of one of the regular stock companies at the New Rochelle studio. Miss Huling is a graduate of the legitimate stage but has appeared with success in several Famous Players productions. Frederick Sullivan was a member of the Thanhouser directing forces until about a half year ago. In the legitimate he has met with considerable success under the Liebler and Klaw & Erlanger management and in stock work.

A Thanhouser advertisement in the same issue suggested that a shrewd man keeps in touch with everything that concerns his business - and such a person should apply to Edwin Thanhouser to be put on his mailing list. "You know, this little old film business is going to be painted a new color when Edwin Thanhouser begins to release the films which he himself is now making. You should know what his plans are. Don't fear - we will not send you the usual press agent's rot and piffle. Just real, honest-to-goodness business information."

In the same vein, Edwin Thanhouser signed an advertisement which appeared in The Moving Picture World, April 10, 1915:

THE DIE IS CAST, by Edwin Thanhouser: It is done! My heart is glad - my judgment is confirmed! I have told you of the material that the new Thanhouser releases will be made of, of the new inspiration, the high tone, the lofty ideal that will be put into them.

Well - all this time we have been hard at work, and two minutes before I sat down to write this I was in my projection room looking at the first few of the new Thanhouser releases. What I saw there made me rush back to my desk and get this off to you at once!

I can't be conservative now - I can't be modest! I feel like SHOUTING to you! They're great! - just positively and absolutely all that I want them to be! They're dozens of percent better than the best work I ever did before - I don't need to repeat here that what the name Thanhouser has meant to you in the past.

You are all men of business, men of enterprise, and many of you know what it is to have carried the spark of an ideal in your heart and mind for a long time - then to see it fanned into a flame from which, like the phoenix, the creature of your fancy arrives! That's where I stand now! I am satisfied, and you know that will mean satisfaction for you! The new Thanhouser releases are ready, so be quick when I announce the release dates.


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