Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 8: 1915 Thanhouser News

Edwin Thanhouser was making his own plans, as The New Rochelle Pioneer related on August 14, 1915:

Beginning with Monday and every Monday thereafter Falstaff comedies will be released at the rate of two single-reelers weekly instead of one, as heretofore. This announcement means much at this time, when comedy is conceded the most difficult branch of the production. When Edwin Thanhouser launched the Falstaff comedy brand it was with a very definite policy in view. This was to build a consistent, reliable product of the kind of comedy that will not wear out. That he has succeeded in this is proved when the market demands the doubling of the output.

More changes in production were outlined in an article in The Morning Telegraph on August 15th:

The newly arranged Mutual schedule has occasioned greatly increased activities on the part of Edwin Thanhouser at his New Rochelle plant. When he took charge of the plant on his return from Europe a little over six months ago, his task was to produce four reels of negative per week. This he commenced to do without any preliminaries, making the full schedule from the first week that he took charge. Within a short while after he began preparations for the Mutual Masterpicture contribution he put on another producing company. But he was even at that time planning ahead, and in a few weeks he had so shaped matters that further enlargement of his operations would simply mean the press of a button here and there.

With the recent readjustment to the affairs of the Mutual, Mr. Thanhouser had an opportunity to demonstrate his mastery of a producing organization. Up to this moment the output of the studio is just twice what it was a few months ago. The additional Falstaff comedy each week was quickly taken care of with the additions to the acting and directing forces, and the announcement is now made that the Thanhouser brand is to release a three-reel production every third week in addition to the regular output. This brings the total up to eight reels per week and ranks as one of the greatest outputs in the country.

There are now the following directors at work - Platt, Moore, Sullivan, Ellery, Warde, Mitchell, Clarendon, Howell, and Mayo. Another director will be engaged, making 10 in all. Three of these are comedy directors who have made good and are now producing only for the Falstaff comedy brand, two of which are released weekly. The operation of 10 companies has necessitated a corresponding enlargement of the staff.

The Falstaff brand will now feature Lorraine Huling, who will be surrounded by a quartette of fun-makers from the legitimate - Boyd Marshall, Riley Chamberlin, Claude Cooper and Arthur Cunningham. The Thanhouser brand will be supported by Florence LaBadie, Mignon Anderson, Grace DeCarlton, Peggy Burke, Harris Gordon, and Morris Foster.

The entire company in stock now numbers 64, among them being Carey Hastings, Ethel Jewett, Nellie Parker Spaulding, Inda Palmer, Frances Keyes, Ethyle Cooke, Justus D. Barnes, Arthur Bauer, Morgan Jones, Bert Delaney, George Marlo, John Lehnberg, Wayne Arey, Ray Johnston, Ernest Howard and Sam Niblack. The juvenile company will be very much in evidence with the Fairbanks twins, Helen Badgley, Leland Benham, and Baby Steuart.

The presentation of legitimate [stage] stars such as William Morris, Winifred Kingston, Julia Blanc, Reginald Barlow and Alphonse Ethier will be at such intervals as Mr. Thanhouser might find will be advantageous to the exhibitor by virtue of special scenarios written for them.

In these enormous operations Mr. Thanhouser employs a well-nigh infallible scenario system. Lloyd and Philip Lonergan head an expert staff. But it is apparent that the Thanhouser resources are not yet taxed to capacity for Mr. Thanhouser is now casting about for a place which will allow of considerable increase of scope during the winter. Note On the subject of production on so tremendous a scale he says. "My biggest work still remains on the horizon. In the great company with which I have surrounded myself I have all the elements of the systematic production of a consistently good output. It all fits into the same system of operation which I have always used. It means simply an expansion of its boundaries and the engagement of the additional staff to execute the work. My plans for future production embrace an enormous expenditure and the presentation of the best obtainable in stories and talent in a manner that must rival the greatest successes of the speaking stage. I am of the conviction that the time has passed when a producer could prosper notwithstanding a limited purse. Expense must be the third consideration, after story and cast. I propose to follow this policy in the Thanhouser and Falstaff outputs, and a careful survey of the situation tells me that my work will be representative of that of my confreres in the Mutual program."

August was a month of festivities for Thanhouser employees. The New Rochelle Pioneer reported in its edition of Saturday, August 21, 1915 that an an old-fashioned clam bake was enjoyed by many members of the Thanhouser Film Corporation at the Westchester House the preceding Tuesday night. This was served under the direction of Chris J. Krooss, proprietor. Entertainment was provided by Arthur Cunningham, Eugene Moore, Ernest Warde, Morris Foster, Mrs. Ray Johnston (Violet Hite), Boyd Marshall, Gordon Hollingshead, and Leo Wirth. Among those attending were Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Thanhouser, Dr. Addison Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd F. Lonergan, and numerous players.

The Morning Telegraph, August 29, 1915, told of another event, this one a field day at Coney Island:

Until the Friday preceding the exhibitors' field day at Brighton Beach, the Thanhouser organization at New Rochelle had no idea of what kind of a representation it would contribute. With 10 companies going under full steam, a number of them out of town, Leon J. Rubenstein, publicity director, found that the great majority of the performers would be busy at work on Saturday. As a result he took a mere handful of folk down to the affair to compete for the prizes against what transpired to be overwhelming delegations. The trip from New Rochelle was made in hastily decorated automobiles, and starting without breakfast they arrived at the beach as the water games were almost over. They were just in time for three contests, and two of these they captured - the underwater swim and the tub race.

Then came the parade, and by sole virtue of novelty the Thanhouser banner headed the great pageant. Helen Badgley on a black horse led the procession. In the body of the parade Claude Cooper and Arthur Cunningham, the Falstaff comedians in grotesque costume, caused laughter among the spectators all along the line. Returning to the track the Thanhouser entry in the quarter-mile horse race carried off the honors in a spirited struggle, which had to be run twice. The Thanhouser colors, white and gold, continued to flash brilliantly, the point winners being Helen Badgley, William Swan, Lorraine Huling, Tom Taylor and Jock Gironda, and when the band played Home, Sweet Home it was found that the Thanhouser entries had carried off six.

Earlier Note The New York Dramatic Mirror told of a team competition to be held at the same event:

The Thanhouser female baseball team will meet a men's team at the forthcoming outing of the New York Exhibitors' local at Brighton Beach. The nine is led by Peggy Burke and is made up of Elenore Brown, Janet Henry, Violet Hite, Ethyle Benham, Winifred Lane, Jean Lehnberg, Ruth Elder, Fan Gregory, and Lydia Mead.


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