Volume II: Filmography



Advertisement (L) from Reel Life, May 16, 1914 (F-784)

Unidentified scene with Justus Barnes (R), probably from THE MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY. Courtesy Donald Collins (S-120)



Scene (L) with Florence LaBadie from THE MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY. Courtesy Donald Collins (S-140)

Scene (R) with James Cruze and Florence LaBadie from THE MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY. Courtesy Donald Collins (F-150)


A scene (L) from THE MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY. Courtesy Donald Collins (S-80)

Sidney Bracy, Marguerite Snow and Florence LaBadie (R) look over thousands of fans' answers to THE MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY. Courtesy Donald Collins (X-100)


Nile Miles of Love, Mystery, Thrills, and Adventure: 23 episodes x 2 reels x 1,000 feet/reel = 46,000 feet / 5,280 feet/mile = 8.7 miles (Close Enough!)


(Serial in 23 episodes)

(Syndicate Film Corporation)

June 22, 1914 (scheduled release of first episode) through November 1914

Length: 46 reels; 23 episodes

Character: Drama-mystery

Director: Howell Hansel (the first 20 episodes and Episode 23)

Scenario: Lloyd F. Lonergan, subsequently serialized in newspapers as a novel by Harold MacGrath

Cameraman: George Webber

Cast: Alfred Norton (Stanley Hargreave, the millionaire), Florence LaBadie (Florence Gray, Hargreave's daughter), Sidney Bracy (two roles: Jones, Hargreave's butler; also Stanley Hargreave in some sequences), Lila Chester (Susan Farlow, Florence Gray's companion), James Cruze (Jim Norton, a newspaper reporter), Marguerite Snow (Countess Olga Petroff), Frank Farrington (Braine, a conspirator), Creighton Hale, Mitchell Lewis (gang leader), Donald Gallaher (usually spelled as Gallagher in credits), Lydia Mead, Carey L. Hastings, Claire Kroell (Russian Princess Parlova), Albert C. Froome (a conspirator, variously posing as an organ grinder, French count, and workman), Peggy Burke (spy for the conspirators), A. Leo Stevens (aviator), Dave Keleher, Joseph Phillips, Roy Hauck, William Sullivan, Alexander Hall, William Noel (stuntman who doubled for others in certain scenes), Madeline and Marion Fairbanks, Charles Meade, Morgan Jones, May Wallace (the wife), Irving Cummings (featured in advertising for the 1918 reissue of this film but not featured in 1914-1915 advertising), Laddie (collie dog), Shep (collie dog). CAMEO APPEARANCES: Mignon Anderson (unspecified cameo appearance), The Duke of Manchester (Episode 7), Archibald White (Episode 7), Mae Tinee (Episode 11), Thomas R. Marshall (Episode 21), John Burke (Episode 21), Lindley M. Garrison (Episode 21), Champ Clark (Episode 21)

Notes: 1. Hargreave's first name appeared as Sidney in some notices. In many notices, including a few in Reel Life and in the text of the novel published by Grosset & Dunlap, his surname appeared as Hargreave; in numerous others it was given as Hargreaves. There seems to have been no consistency in this regard. In the present text, Hargreave is used, and quotations and citations have been changed as necessary to reflect this. 2. A conspirator named Vroon was also apparently known as Jackson; his identity seems confused in certain printed synopses. The actor playing the part was not identified. 3. It is believed that Lloyd F. Lonergan conceived the story plot; Lonergan wrote the scenarios for the serial episodes, and Harold MacGrath expanded and novelized the plot for publication in newspapers and a book. However, publicity is inconsistent in this regard, and numerous notices state that MacGrath originated the story plot. 4. The first episode was scheduled to be released on June 22, 1914, then it was rescheduled to June 29, 1914 with serialization in newspapers to begin on June 28th (see advertisement in The Moving Picture World, April 24, 1914, for example), but later the time was moved back to the original date of June 22nd (see advertisement in The Moving Picture World, June 20, 1914, for example). In any event, only a few theatres obtained this (or any other) serial on the first day of release. After distribution in the larger cities, the prints went to outlying and rural locations, with the result that distribution of a given episode was spread over a month or more. 5. Some printed schedules listed the release dates a week later than those given here. 6. The Million Dollar Mystery was extensively edited and reissued in a six-reel version, on a states rights basis, by the Arrow Film Corporation on June 3, 1918. 7. Many periodicals reviewed the first several episodes but not the later ones. 8. Titles of certain episodes, called chapters in the newspaper serializations, varied. Listed first in each instance is that most frequently encountered by the author, or used on a printed poster.




ARTICLE, The New York Dramatic Mirror, April 1, 1914:

"THANHOUSER THRILLER. The Million Dollar Mystery is the latest of the big serial pictures to flash upon the horizon. Thanhouser will produce this feature, and Harold MacGrath, whose Adventures of Kathlyn has proven such a hit, will collaborate with Lloyd Lonergan, Thanhouser scenario editor, on the story. The Chicago Tribune and over 200 newspapers throughout the country will publish the stories as the pictures are released.

"Plans for The Million Dollar Mystery have been underway at New Rochelle for some time, and C.J. Hite, Lloyd Lonergan, leading players and producing directors, have been holding secret meetings, the object of which was only last week divulged.

"The Million Dollar Mystery is to be written around the sudden disappearance of an heiress, and her thrilling adventures. Flo LaBadie will be seen as the heiress, and the balance of the cast will be recruited from the strong Thanhouser roster. Marguerite Snow will be seen in the heavy lead as a titled adventuress. James Cruze will portray a newspaper reporter, and Sidney Bracy will be seen as an old faithful family servant. The pictures will be in two reels, issued weekly, starting June 21."


ADVERTISEMENT, Reel Life, May 2, 1914:

"PERSONAL - FROM C.J. HITE PRESIDENT OF THANHOUSER FILM CORPORATION TO EXHIBITORS OF AMERICA: Our recent announcement of the coming of the stupendous production, The Million Dollar Mystery, has so overwhelmed us with inquiries from exhibitors that I take this means of notifying theatre managers everywhere that arrangements have been perfected for releasing even a greater number of reels than originally planned - I hope sufficient to take care of the tremendous demand.

"The producing of The Million Dollar Mystery is, by far, the greatest task ever undertaken by any film manufacturer. You have, no doubt, heard that the Chicago Tribune, and 200 other leading newspapers, will print this remarkable story by Harold MacGrath, scenario by Lloyd Lonergan, simultaneously with its appearance in the theatres and that a capital prize of $10,000 in cash will be paid for the best solution of this mystery. The Million Dollar Mystery will succeed the Kathlyn Series. It will appear in the newspapers in weekly installments starting June 28th. First release, June 22nd.

"The Million Dollar Mystery will be released by the Syndicate Film Corporation, and distributed through Mutual Film Corporation. Exhibitors should write at once for information. The Million Dollar Mystery may be obtained regardless of what program you may be using. This announcement is made to assure exhibitors that we are using all our tremendous resources to supply every theatre manager who has applied for these films to make The Million Dollar Mystery the most successful motion picture production that has ever been brought out.

"Truly yours,

"C.J. Hite, President."


ARTICLE, Reel Life, May 2, 1914:

__"Interest-holding and thrilling will be the coming Thanhouser Mutual Movie serial, The Million Dollar Mystery. This splendid sequence of motion pictures is the result of the collaboration of three great minds and a great producing plant. The three men are Harold MacGrath, famous as the author of The Man on the Box and many other novels; Lloyd Lonergan, who writes all the scenarios for the Thanhouser productions; and C.J. Hite, president of the Thanhouser Film Corporation. The producing plant is the big Thanhouser studio in New Rochelle, New York.

"This sensational film production will be released weekly, starting June 22. Interest in it will be kept at a high pitch by the appearance in The Chicago Tribune and more than 200 other leading newspapers of the remarkable story by Harold MacGrath. The story will start serially June 28.

"In the cast of the picture the popular Thanhouser star players will appear. Florence LaBadie, who was Mary in The Star of Bethlehem, will play Florence Gray, the heroine. James Cruze, the Thanhouser leading man, will play Jim Norton, the newspaper reporter, whose ingenuity foils the plots of the Countess Olga, played by Marguerite Snow. Sidney [sic; should be Stanley] Hargreave, the millionaire, whose ward is Florence Gray, will be played by Alfred Norton. Jones, Hargreave's butler, and Braine, co-conspirators with the Countess Olga, will be played by Sidney Bracy and Frank Farrington, respectively. Lila Chester will play Susan, Florence Gray's companion.

"No expense will be spared in producing The Million Dollar Mystery. Before the camera handle was turned, the Thanhouser Film Corporation had spent considerably more than $200,000. Lloyd Lonergan, author of the scenario, wanted to use the old Francis Wilson home, known as the 'House of Mystery' in the picture. Efforts to obtain use of the house failed, when it was found that the spacious grounds would be the camp of soldiers, actors and balloonists for several weeks. The house is historic because of its beauty, and famous in theatrical circles because of its previous owner. A council of war was held, at the close of which Mr. Hite decided to buy the house outright. Negotiations were opened and the property acquired outright for $200,000.

"Carl Gregory of the Thanhouser forces sailed recently aboard the Ward liner Vigilancia bound for the Bahamas where he will make some scenes far under the surface of the tropic seas to lend thrills to The Million Dollar Mystery. Mr. Gregory was equipped with the most improved apparatus for underwater photography. By means of a well in the center of a barge he expects to lower himself in an especially constructed steel chamber to a depth of a thousand feet below the surface of the sea, if necessary. There several scenes will be photographed which will undoubtedly prove interesting as well as thrilling, for the tropical seas are rich in subsurface growth and are inhabited by many strange and beautiful fish. It is expected that the underwater scenes will prove to be among the most sensational ever produced for a motion picture play.

"Harold MacGrath, the author, was in Egypt, hundreds of miles away from telegraph lines and railroad stations, when he was selected to write the serial for The Million Dollar Mystery. Mrs. MacGrath was with him and efforts to locate the author through firms which had published his books failed. The trip abroad and the subsequent seclusion had been planned by Mr. MacGrath to enable him to get away from the busy world and to rest and recuperate.

"The germinal idea which will result in the big Mutual Movie serial took root one night at a conference in Chicago between Mr. Patterson of The Chicago Tribune and President Hite of the Thanhouser Film Corporation. As a result a cablegram was sent to Jerome Hastings, the Cairo, Egypt, correspondent of The Tribune which read:

"'Locate Harold MacGrath immediately and spare no expense. Details later.'

"This message roused Hastings at an early hour and sent him on the hunt for MacGrath. The police and military authorities, who generally know of the prominent strangers within their gates, were ignorant of the fact that the great American author was hiding out somewhere along the Nile. The military commandant gave correspondent Hastings a detail of native police as an escort and, thus protected, the American newspaper man went in search of Mr. MacGrath.

"The quest lasted for ten days. Finally, MacGrath was found and brought into cable correspondence with Mr. Patterson. A deal was made by which the much-sought author came back to the United States. After the conference at New Rochelle he went to his home in Syracuse, New York to work on the opening installments of the serial.

"Interest in the great Mutual Movie Mystery serial will be kept at fever heat by the $10,000 prize offered for the best hundred-word solution of the mystery. This prize will reward the winner at the rate of $100 a word for what he or she may write. Details of the competition have not yet been announced, but it will be open to patrons of motion picture theatres. The competition will be keen. Thanhouser Mutual Movies are shown everywhere and the newspapers in which the serial story will be printed covers the country."


ARTICLE, The Morning Telegraph, May 10, 1914:

"Francis Wilson Home Bought by C.J. Hite. President of Thanhouser Co. Can Now Use the House as Mysteriously as He Wishes: When work was begun upon The Million Dollar Mystery at the Thanhouser studio, Lloyd F. Lonergan, author of the scenario, decided upon the old Francis Wilson home as the 'house of mystery,' around which the plot of the big serial centers. Efforts to obtain the use of the house to take the required scenes failed when it was learned that the spacious lawns would be the camp of balloonists, soldiers and actors for several months.

"Mr. Lonergan insisted however upon the Wilson home. Negotiations resumed, but failed to inspire the hard-hearted real estate agent with the necessities of the moving picture industry. Much crestfallen, Mr. Lonergan returned to Mr. Hite with an 'I'll get you yet expression.' A war council was held at the close of which Mr. Hite had determined to buy the house. With the commission for the purchase in his pocket, Mr. Lonergan returned to the now smiling real estate agent. The Francis Wilson home had passed to C.J. Hite for $200,000. Preparations were immediately begun to work it into pictures. The house which is historic in Westchester county, because of its beauty, and famous in theatrical circles, because of the previous owner, will be recognized by thousands throughout the country when the first of The Million Dollar Mystery films are released June 22."

Note: Charles J. Hite leased the Wilson house for a period of three years. However, numerous articles stated that he purchased it for $200,000, a figure which was several times its estimated value at the time.


ARTICLE, The New Rochelle Pioneer, June 24, 1914:

"Patrons of Loew's Theatre will be glad to learn that the first reels of The Million Dollar Mystery, the scenario being written by Lloyd Lonergan from the story by Harold MacGrath, will be shown on the screen the first three days of the coming week. Considerable interest surrounds this mysterious photoplay which is appearing in the large city daily papers. See it at the local playhouse and win $10,000, with the best solution in 100 words. This is an absolutely straightforward offer backed by the greatest newspapers in the United States.... The production promises to eclipse all past and present serial stories presented in moving pictures."


ADVERTISEMENT, Reel Life, June 27, 1914:

"We've done it! We promised exhibitors the most costly - the greatest motion picture attraction ever brought out - We promised greater crowds than ever were seen at the theatres - We promised the 46-reel serial production that would be the finest piece of motion picture photography ever presented - We promised to promote this stupendous production by the biggest advertising campaign ever given over to one motion picture production - We promised exhibitors packed houses and bigger box office receipts - We've done it! The Million Dollar Mystery."


ARTICLE by Charles J. Hite, The Moving Picture World, July 11, 1914:

"...If we had not been equipped as we are and had found it necessary to organize and equip especially for a serial of the magnitude of The Million Dollar Mystery, it could not have been adequately produced at a cost of less than a quarter of a million dollars. Thus you see in production and in advertising we are able to give to the exhibitor of the country that which cost half a million dollars had we not been so organized and equipped to do it for vastly less.

"Do not imagine that the actual expense has been light, even though we were so organized beforehand. I do not believe such great stage sets and such expensive properties and accessories have ever been employed in the production of a modern photoplay. What with the purchase of the Francis Wilson mansion at New Rochelle, the balloon ascensions, tally-ho parties, automobiles cheerfully thrown over cliffs and shattered to bits, in the interest of thrills, the blowing up of ships and the destruction of costly clothing and furnishings, and the engagement of celebrated writers and players, our disbursements have mounted into the hundreds of thousands..."


ARTICLE, Reel Life, July 25, 1914:

"Reports from all parts of the country show that The Million Dollar Mystery, the spectacular Thanhouser serial, is breaking records for attendance everywhere. In a letter to Reel Life, a Springfield (Ill.) newspaperman writes: 'The Princess Theatre, last Thursday, did the biggest business in the history of the motion picture business in this city on the first showing of The Million Dollar Mystery.'

"The Princess Theatre, which is one of the Mutual houses in Springfield, is the biggest and finest motion picture theatre in that city, receiving the patronage of the best class of people. The fact that it has broken all previous attendance records in Springfield at the opening performance of The Million Dollar Mystery, speaks for itself and is but another instance of the wide popularity and interest, which this master production of the Thanhouser plant has already attained, although hardly begun."


ARTICLE, Reel Life, August 8, 1914:

"A letter received by the Thanhouser Co. from the manager of the Premium Theatre Company which comprises five leading photoplay houses in San Francisco, is only one of the many testimonials to the unprecedented success of The Million Dollar Mystery all over the country. It reads:

"'When a storm of applause follows the projection of a picture, that picture's success is assured. Never in the history of our career has a film met with such applause as that which followed the showing of the second episode of The Million Dollar Mystery. The announcement that Florence LaBadie, James Cruze, Marguerite Snow and others were being cast in a serial production written by Harold MacGrath, caused us to refuse all the other serial stories on the market. We have been more than justified in our choice.'

"Melton Phelos, manager of the Rex Theatre, Columbus, Ohio, also writes: 'After showing the first installment of The Million Dollar Mystery, on the hottest day of the year, the temperature standing at 100 degrees, I am delighted to inform you that I did the biggest business in the history of this theatre. We were compelled to refuse admission to our patrons from six to eleven o'clock at night, and are anticipating a record-breaking attendance on the days we show this picture.'"


ARTICLE, The New Rochelle Pioneer, August 15, 1914:

"Florence LaBadie and Marguerite Snow, leading women of the Thanhouser Company, recently proved their athletic prowess and general daredeviltry and incidentally showed they can take care of any thrill situation in The Million Dollar Mystery. Miss LaBadie is the heroine in the forthcoming big production and Miss Snow plays a titled Russian adventuress. The two young women rode horseback from the studio at New Rochelle to Mount Vernon. Arrived there, they mounted motorcycles and disappeared in a whirl of dust and gasoline toward New York City.

"Through the heavy traffic of the metropolis the motorcycles were guided by fair hands to the Hotel Astor. Awaiting them there was an automobile, and Miss LaBadie unhesitatingly slid in behind the wheel, and away they went to a point overlooking the Hudson River, near the residence of C.K.G. Billings.

"A. Leo Stevens, an aviator, was there with his big passenger-carrying aeroplane. Miss LaBadie and Miss Snow, both experienced aviatrices, climbed into the aircraft, Stevens started the motor, and in another instant the machine was whirring through space toward Poughkeepsie. A crowd greeted them when they landed at that place. Miss Snow began immediately to search for her motorboat, which had been housed in Poughkeepsie for the winter. She found it and climbed in, with Miss LaBadie a close second. Before the assembled crowd could get much more than a glimpse of them the boat started away, heading upstream.

"Miss Snow likes to race, so it was in record time that they moored the boat at Albany. Ray Johnston, secretary to Charles J. Hite, president of the Thanhouser Company, was waiting for them with peremptory instructions to return to the studio: 'I don't doubt your prowess, but we need you in the pictures. Come home.' That was the message they received. And then two adventurous actresses returned by conventional train to their studio."


ARTICLE, Reel Life, September 5, 1914:

"The success of The Million Dollar Mystery, already phenomenal, is ever growing bigger. Scores of letters attesting its popularity arrive at the Thanhouser offices and branches with every mail. The following from H.I. Wasserman of Haverhill, Massachusetts, who controls two big motion picture theatres in the Bay State, is a fair sample of what the postman brings in every day: 'Allow me to extend to you my heartiest thanks for persuading me to handle The Million Dollar Mystery series,' he writes. 'At both my houses, the Eagle, Roxbury, Massachusetts, and the Orpheum, Haverhill, it certainly has been a winner and it is absolutely the best drawing card I ever put into my houses. What made it more pleasant my houses have been crowded during the hot weather.'"

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