Volume III: Biographies


FARRINGTON, D. (Mrs. Frank) *

Studio employee; actress (1914-1915)

Thanhouser Career Synopsis: Mrs. Frank Farrington, listed in credits as D. Farrington, was a wardrobe mistress with the Thanhouser studio. She also acted in a few films in 1914.

Biographical Notes: Following work as a wardrobe mistress for theatrical productions, Mrs. Frank Farrington performed the same duties for Thanhouser circa 1914-1915. In addition, she was seen in at least two films. The New Rochelle Pioneer, January 16, 1915, carried this item: "Mrs. Frank Farrington has been appointed costumer at the studio, and is in stock, playing 'mother parts."

Mrs. Farrington Writes of Her Work: The following article, "In the Costume Room," by Mrs. Frank Farrington, costume mistress, Thanhouser Film Corporation, appeared in The Moving Picture World, July 21, 1917, at which time it is believed she was with another studio: "Having charge of a costume room in a big motion picture studio is not exactly a recreation, but it has its compensations in the interesting nature of the work. We are busy almost every moment of the time - for the simple handing out of costumes is the least of our work - but you dont mind busyness when you know it is creative.

"For the costume department creates, and dont let the big-salaried director forget it. The taste of the costume mistress is consulted by every common sense player in the studio, and the least of her problems is that of delivering or having returned a costume. To give an instance: A young woman rushes in to the department with a rush call for a dress that will fit a vampire part that has suddenly been written into the picture. As suddenness affected us all around - the author, director, assistant and finally the poor costume women - we werent able to fill the order. However, the director had a huge company waiting and the young woman had to be garbed for the part.

"Here the costume mistress and her assistants get in their fine Italian hand. Snatching up some material that was right at hand, they deftly draped the actress until she is a vampire, indeed, and rush on to the stage and change her directors gloomy face to a smiling one. No doubt when this rush fitting process is going on, the costume department must ransack its shelves for clothes for a 'giant who must be dressed in a little boys suit for the comedy director, and a dwarf who must be costumed as a 'pirate. We work with both hands in the costume room and since there are also ladders to climb, often with both feet!

"Costuming of a film production is a thoroughly different proposition from costuming a theatrical production. The writer is able to speak of this contrast because she has costumed many Broadway productions before coming to the studio. Some of these included Olga Nethersoles Sappho, productions by Augustin Daly, and Klaw & Erlanger.

"And the difference is a time difference. The picture producers spend as much money in their costume rooms as the theatrical managers, but the work of costuming a theatrical production is generally laid out so far in advance that it would never fit in with a motion picture studio schedule. For that matter, however, it is 'hustle, hustle, in the studio as you never find it on the stage. Perhaps that is why the motion picture producers have crawled up on their theatrical competitors so rapidly and now over-top them.

"The work has its funny side. This is brought out when some sort of costume play is being filmed. The sweet young ingenues seldom feel that theyre prettiest in some staid costume of a past period, and I have known them to rush such a costume to their own dressmakers and have some 'style put in. Of course, such a change showed off the chicness of the actress to a better advantage when the scene was finally photographed, but when the scene was projected before the first print critics, you would hear a howl about inaccuracy, and a re-take would have to be ordered. Yes, you will run into vanity into the costume room; for isnt Vanitys chum, Dress, and isnt the latter our mainstay?"

Thanhouser Filmography:

1914: Conscience (8-25-1914), Under False Colors (12-22-1914)

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