Mack Swain - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The old-time celebrities rarely hold a place in the hearts of modern movie lovers.  It seems difficult to believe, but there are people out there today who love going to see a good film, but who don't recognize such names as Cary Grant, Veronica Lake or even Jack Palance (despite having seen and enjoyed 1991's City Slickers).  Just wait.  Soon enough, someone will ask who George Clooney and Cate Blanchett are.  Today, we talk about an old-old time celebrity named Mack Swain.  

Mack Swain.jpg

Mack Swain, born Moroni Swain in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1876, was a vaudeville comedian before stepping in front of the camera.  Movies were a great novelty when he was young, and he found a niche in comedy, making people laugh with the Keystone Studios under Mack Sennett.  Although he performed in numerous movies for Keystone and other companies, his best-known character was "Big Jim McKay," which he brought to life in the classic 1925 Charlie Chaplin masterpiece The Gold Rush.  Swain lived to be 59, passing away in 1935.  The original montage of Swain looks can be enjoyed in the American Treasure Tour's Music Room.  
QUESTION:  Mack Swain created a character who appeared in over a dozen comedy shorts. What was his name?
A)  Ambrose
B)  Laurel
C)  Mr. Moneybags
D)  Squickwitch the Honeybee
ANSWER BELOW

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NAVY!  On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress of the then-struggling new country, established what would be come the United States Navy in the capitol city of Philadelphia.  The navy struggled in the early days, in part because they had trouble funding the construction of warships, but also because they couldn't find many sailors to man the ships.  Privateers fought for the colonial military, taking British ships and keeping anything they won in battle, while naval personnel were held accountable for anything they captured.  Still, the Navy persevered, and has become an amazing force - in only 240 years!

LEONARD ALFRED SCHNEIDER, COMEDIAN.  Yes, it's Mr. Schneider's birthday today.  He was born in 1925, and started writing movie scripts while still in his twenties.  He also wanted to make people laugh.  The problem he had was that he was unwilling to play within the comfort zone of society.  He recorded comedy albums under the name of Lenny Bruce, and quickly got into trouble for his rants against pretty much everything you can think of.  He was raunchy, thought provoking, and deemed obscene.  Bruce was arrested numerous times for different reasons, including obscenity, but also drug possession and impersonating a priest (of course), and raising funds illegally for support of an Africa-based leper colony (he donated about one third of the funds to the colony).  Bruce died in 1966 of a drug overdose.

QUOTE:  The liberals can understand everything but the people who don't understand them. - Lenny Bruce

ANSWER:  A)  Ambrose (or Walter Ambrose)