When you woke up this morning, you were likely asking some of the questions most Americans ask themselves: what's the weather going to be like today? Is the traffic under control? What was Wallace Reid all about? Well, unfortunately, we here at the American Treasure Tour blog can't be of much help with the first two questions, BUT we are happy to rest your curious mind at ease about Wallace Reid. Last week, we invested some time in a montage of silent film actors we have on display in our Music Room. We're back looking at that today, and he is our subject for today!
Wally Reid was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1891 with acting blood in his body: both his mother and his father performed on stage, and he followed suit. He did take a break for military school in New Jersey prior to showing athletic prowess during a stint in Wyoming, but acting lured him back and, at 19 years old, he starred in his first film, The Phoenix. Then, the young Reid applied for a job as director. He got it, but he was also selected as the lead actor. He quickly ascended in film to become "the screen's most perfect lover." He starred in the best known films of his day - Birth of a Nation and Intolerance to name two - and opposite some of the most beloved actresses, including Gloria Swanson and Lillian Gish. It all ended for him after the filming of a train wreck for 1919's The Valley of the Giants in Oregon. Reid was seriously injured in a train wreck, and administered morphine for the pain. He quickly became addicted to the pain killer, and ended his days in a sanitarium trying to deal with it, tragically dying at age 31. Another sad Hollywood story.
QUESTION: Wallace Reid's wife, Dorothy Davenport, never remarried after the untimely death of her husband, but she did continue to work in the film industry up until the 1950s. One of her projects was as a writer for the film Francis Joins the WACs. Who was Francis?
A) An anthropomorphic being that transposed itself onto the bodies of susceptible humans in the effort to impact the course of human events for the benefit of an alien race.
B) A mule
C) A beautiful woman
D) A handsome man
MILLION DOLLAR WOMAN. Since we've been spending some time writing about silent film stars, this is a timely timeline tidbit (sorry, I'm thinking of copywriting that line. You can't use it.) On this day in 1916, the popular film actress Mary Pickford became the woman to sign a movie contract for a million dollars-a-year salary. The year was 1916, and also on the same exact day in the same year, a bombardment of the German Line during World War I would begin what would be called the Battle of the Somme began. Good day for Mary Pickford, bad day for Europe!
OH, AL! Well, the silent movie connection ends with today's birthday celebration, except for the fact that Al Molinaro was born in 1919, deep in the heart of it. The beloved actor best known for his running character from Happy Days from 1976 to 1982 AND Joanie Loves Chachi which ended its short run in 1983, Al Delvecchio has been a friendly face in television sitcoms since the 1950s. Before that, he established himself in Los Angeles in his own successful collection agency. Happy 96, Al!
QUOTE: I spent twenty years here [in L.A.] before I got anything going, and from that I got lucky. It takes a lot of luck in show business. You've just got to be lucky and in the right place at the right time. - Al Molinaro
ANSWER: B) A mule.