Volume III: Biographies


OAKLAND, Ethelmary *

Actress (1916)

Ethelmary Oakland portrait from 1916, Courtesy Joslin T Stonewell (Ethelmar)


Thanhouser Career Synopsis: Ethelmary Oakland, a child actress, appeared in several Thanhouser films in 1916.

Biographical Notes: Born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1909, Ethelmary Oakland was educated at a stage children's school. For two years she played on stage in stock and with the Boston Opera Company under the management of William A. Brady and Klaw & Erlanger. Possibly her first role was the part of a Belgian maiden with Madge Lessing in Fads and Fancies. At one time she played the lead in The Littlest Rebel, with Frank Wilcox, Minnie Gombel, Mary Miles Minter, and the Farnums. Miss Oakland's screen career involved playing child's parts for Charles K. Harris-Metro (Always in the Way and School Bells), World (Hearts of Men), Frohman Amusement Corporation (The Fairy and the Waif), and Thanhouser.

The Moving Picture World, September 9, 1916, told of the young player: "Ethelmary Oakland, the seven-year-old little picture actress who for the past two years has been featured in a number of Thanhouser films, having recently completed an important part in The Shine Girl, which will be released through Pathé August 27, has now started five weeks' rehearsing for the The World and the Woman, in which picture she will play the daughter of Jeanne Eagels. Ethelmary, in her short but meteoric career, has been the victim of 17 different accidents on the screen, hence her title of 'Thanhouser's little daredevil.' In The Only Way [working title for John Brewster's Wife] she was a lost child who met with every variety of mishap conceivable by the fertile brain of the scenario writer; in The Shine Girl she falls off a high cliff into the ocean below and is just sinking for the third time when Gladys Hulette has an opportunity to come to the rescue; and now in The World and the Woman this foolish youngster must slip from banisters down a whole flight of stairs, supposedly seriously injuring her spine so that Jeanne Eagels may bring her back to health by the 'faith cure,' but Ethelmary has as many lives as the traditional cat that looked at the king. Even before she went in the movies this remarkable child actress played the lead in The Littlest Rebel on the legitimate stage where she appeared with the Frank Wilcox and Mini Gombel, who recently became the bride of Harry Rumsey."

The New York Star, September 10, 1916, told more: "Last winter in between posing for pictures Ethelmary joined an opera company, playing the child in Madame Butterfly with the little Japanese prima donna, Tamaki Miuri. Every night during this opera ballet engagement when it came time for Pavlowa to dance Ethelmary would watch the wings and rarely a performance went by when the Russian ballerina did not throw the child at least one of her many bouquets. It was at the suggestion of Pavlowa that this versatile child, who swims, rides horseback, sings and portrays every emotion on the screen, took up toe dancing. She is now studying four times a week with Prof. Constantine and will dance before the screen in a picture now being especially written for her to be produced at the completion of The World and the Woman."

Ethelmary Oakland was in the 1916 Thanhouser releases of Divorce and the Daughter, The Shine Girl, The World and the Woman, and John Brewster's Wife. An article concerning the last-named film noted that the young actress created a sensation at the Motion Picture Board of Trade Exposition at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The young actress had blonde hair and brown eyes. In 1916 and 1917 her home address was 622 West 136th Street, New York City. In her spare time she enjoyed swimming, riding, and dancing. Ethelmary Oakland later went to Famous Players, where she appeared in Snow White and The Dummy, acting as Jack Pickford's leading lady in the latter film. She was on the screen in support of Mary Miles Minter and at one time was considered to be a protegée of that precocious actress. The 1918 edition of the Motion Picture Studio Directory noted that Ethelmary Oakland was with Famous Players at that time. In between her film work she appeared in numerous stage plays, including Eyes of Youth, Barbara, and On Trial. A photograph in the Robinson Locke Collection is circa 1918 and has an inked inscription on the back which notes that she was nine years old, lived at 3544 Broadway, Apartment 25, had five years of experience, and offered as references George Tyler, Dan Frohman, and Austin Hopkins.

Thanhouser Filmography:

1916: John Brewster's Wife (6-6-1916), The Shine Girl (8-27-1916), The World and the Woman (11-19-1916), Divorce and the Daughter (12-3-1916)

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