Helen Holmes

QUESTION:  Which of the following actresses never performed as "Helen" in The Hazards of Helen?
A)  Anna Q. Nilsson
B)  Elsie McLeod
C)  Rose Wenger Gibson
D)  Lillian Gish

In honor of an image displayed in the American Treasure Tour's Music Room, we began a discussion of the Movie Series The Hazards of Helen yesterday that we continue today. The series began in 1914 and depicts the adventures of an independent-minded woman who regularly risked her life to save the day, at a time when special effects were not especially sophisticated.  That means that the actresses who played Helen tended to perform their own stunts and often put their lives in jeopardy to wow and amaze their audiences. The character of Helen was created by Helen Holmes, who we discussed yesterday.  She performed in the first twenty-six episodes while her husband, J.P. McGowan, directed (they met and fell in love on the set). Holmes and McGowan got a little greedy and left the series in the hopes of taking advantage of Holmes' rising celebrity. Unfortunately for them, they made a few movies that never quite captured the same attention as the film Helen and, by 1925 both their marriage and her film career were all but over. She dabbled in animal training after a brief stint in the theater, and ran her own antiques boutique in her later years, dying at 58 from heart failure. Meanwhile, other Helens continued to star in the series she made famous until 1917, occasionally becoming just as famous as the original Helen.

The big question you might have is why we call The Hazards of Helen a "series," and not a "serial." There is a difference between the two in that each episode in a movie series has an independent story to it, while you do not want to miss an episode in a serial for fear of losing track of a story line that connects from episode to episode. You could watch any thrilling episode of The Hazards of Helen in any order and not fear confusion.

ANSWER:  D)  Lillian Gish.