Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 8: 1915 A View of the Studio

The New Rochelle Evening Standard, September 25, 1915, gave a view of the local studio:

Edwin Thanhouser and New Rochelle are two words that have become synonyms in the moving picture world. This is not a rash statement when one considers that every Thanhouser photoplay shown from coast to coast and from north to south bears in large letters the words "Manufactured in New Rochelle, New York." Mr. Thanhouser is known far and wide as "The Wizard of New Rochelle," as Thomas Edison is known as "The Wizard of the Oranges."

The Thanhouser plant, which consists of a 30-acre [sic; actually it was just a fraction of that] plot on Main Street and Echo Road, is doing a rushing business and turning out not less than a quarter of a million feet of film a week. The active staff at the Thanhouser plant, which is usually 200 people and includes directors, cameramen, property men, stage hands, carpenters and chauffeurs, has been greatly increased of late so that at times it reaches as many as 600 employees. Among the original 200 workers more than 100 have taken up their homes in New Rochelle and have brought their families to this city.

The stage at the Thanhouser plant is 125 feet by 125 feet and can accommodate 10 sets of scenery. Some of the scenery of interiors is painted, and some of the more expensive scenery which is supposed to give a parlor or reception room effect is made of real wallpaper, a modern process for scenery recently introduced by Mr. Thanhouser. On stage one can travel from a palatial parlor to a humble cottage in a few steps and then back into a modern office building fitted with typewriters and dictaphones and all the modern office appliances. In going through the rehearsals the actors and actresses are often required to go through their scenes before the arc light is turned on and the cameraman given the signal to turn the crank. In a parlor scene yesterday, 150 persons took part dressed in evening clothes.

One of the features of the Thanhouser plant is the immense storeroom that would do credit to an up-to-date department store, where everyone finds all kinds of furniture. Staircases, richly upholstered golden chairs of the Louis IV type with tables and sofas to match, pictures of every description, elaborate tapestries and drapes of all kinds, leather library sets, furniture sets of birds-eye maple, oak and mahogany are stored there. Two Garford automobile trucks are kept busy running between New York and New Rochelle with furniture of every description. Next to the furniture department one finds a department of general utensils which would do credit to Dickens' curiosity shop. Here one finds guns, drums, chinaware of every description, telephones, physicians' signs, letters to be mailed, packages of newspapers, telegrams, telegraph instruments, musical instruments, clocks, furs, revolvers, legal documents, field glasses, and everything of which anyone may think.

From the storeroom one may visit the carpenter shop and see the large staff of carpenters building scenery, and next to the carpenter shop one finds a score of painters busily engaged in painting the scenery suspended from a huge frame. Sixty dressing rooms are provided, which can accommodate 800 people. Among the actors and actresses of note now in New Rochelle to act for the Thanhouser Company are Baron Note and Baroness DeWitz of Denmark. The Baron lost his inheritance and title by marrying Madam Valkyrien, who is considered to be the handsomest woman in Denmark. The Baroness has been signed up in a special Thanhouser feature. Audrey Munson, who is known as the "Exposition Girl," was a model for all the statuary at the San Francisco Exhibition. Miss Virginia Hudson, who for years has been a prominent suffragist and who took an active part with General Jones in the hike to Albany, is also at the Thanhouser plant. The leading characters who are working on a large feature play are Miss Florence LaBadie, Miss Mignon Anderson, Miss Grace DeCarlton, Miss Louise Emerald Bates, Miss Audrey Munson, and Miss Gladys Hulette.Among the junior members of the film world at the plant are the famous Fairbanks Twins, Madeline and Marion, who have just celebrated their 13th birthday. These charming children, with little Helen Badgley, the six year old Thanhouser Kid, are the pets of the community. The leading men at the plant are Harris Gordon, Morris Foster, George Marlo, Bert Delaney, Arthur Bauer, Morgan Jones, Justus Barnes, and Boyd Marshall.


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