Florence Lawrence - Monday, June 1, 2015

In the early days of cinema, the movie studios did everything they could to maintain the anonymity of their actors. They feared that actors would demand high salaries if they became famous, so their names were never included in the credits of a movie.  One young actress changed all that. Her name was Florence Lawrence - although most people didn't know that thanks to studio policy.  Instead, she was referred to by many as "The Biograph Girl," called such because she originally starred in Biograph movies. As people sought out her films - charmed by her beauty and her skill as an actress - she realized she could demand higher salaries - studio fears were realized.  But her name also proved a draw, and people would go to the cinema specifically to see Florence Lawrence films.

She got the money, but her roles also became increasingly dangerous.  At a time when actors did their own stunts, Florence caught fire while filming a scene.  She was badly hurt and required four months to recuperate.  This happened in 1915, eight years into her career and after she starred in almost three hundred shorts and full-length films.  She was unable to get work anymore, so she established a cosmetic business in Hollywood in the '30s.  It closed down during the Depression, and she took her own life in 1938 at the age of 48 (or 54, depending on who you believed).  A sad ending to the story of American film's first true celebrity.
QUESTION:  Florence Lawrence was an early fan of the automobile, and developed safety devices (she regrettably did not patent) that would eventually placed on every car.  What was one of these?
A)  Turning flags
B)  Restriction Belts
C)  Braking pedals
D)  Internal Combustion

We here at the American Treasure Tour blog recognize that we dedicated perhaps too much space to the story of Florence Lawrence.  With that in mind, we would like to devote this section, normally set aside for today's event in history, to showing you a picture of an adorable puppy with an equally adorably kitty.  Thank you for your patience. 

MORGAN!  Turning 78 years old today is beloved actor Morgan Freeman, born in Memphis, Tennessee and transplant to Hollywood, California with time spent also in New York City (he was a dancer during the 1964 New York World's Fair).  Oh sure, we could talk about his Academy Award winning performances as a distinguished elder statesman of the American cinema, but we think it's more fun to reminisce about one of Mr. Freeman's early jobs in the industry - on the popular educational children's program The Electric Factory.  He was on the program from 1971 until 1977, performing many different characters, all with the intention of showing kids it's fun to learn.  If you haven't seen it, check it out.  It's glorious 1970s fun, and it might even teach you something along the way!

QUOTE:  The best way to guarantee a loss is to quit. - Morgan Freeman

ANSWER:  A)  Turning flags.  She also placed a sign on the back of her car that read "stop" and appeared every time she hit her brakes, to let the people behind her know she was slowing down.