Every once in a while, you get a message that gets things rolling.
Back in August, I posted about a different kind of old photograph … one that is hanging on my living room wall, which my husband and I bought for our second wedding anniversary. Every year at our annual Oscar(R) party, our friends who are anointed with the gift of Encyclopedic Movie Knowledge (“EMK”) take a stab at what it might be. No one has ever reached any real conclusions, though. Until about six weeks ago . . . .
Because of this blog (yay!), I now have some answers. I got an e-mail from a reader named Luke, who wanted to know if I had found out anything about the Hoover Art Company of Hollywood. Seems Luke has a similar picture in his house – not the same exact image, but the same size and from the same era. I immediately e-mailed the above-referenced friends with EMK to let them know we had new information and to see if anyone had any clue what the new information might mean.
In a matter of a couple of hours, BOOM! We had it ! Our friend Lee, who has the most EMK of anyone I know, works for a company here in Atlanta that I will simply refer to as “We Used To Be Just Billboards” (readers here in Atlanta will know what I mean). Lee has many Friends Who Know Stuff, and reached out to a group of them to see if they could dig up any information on these two pictures. And they responded very quickly – with a black-and-white still photograph that matches our color one exactly.
Our image is from “The Alien,” made in 1915, starring George Beban. I think George is the guy in the very front, who is reacting in shock to something off-stage. According to Wikipedia, George was born in San Francisco, and worked in Vaudeville and on Broadway, often typecast as a French character. In attempting to break that mold, he began to study Italian immigrants in his New York neighborhood, and added those mannerisms to a character in a vaudeville sketch about an Italian laborer mourning the death of his child. He called the sketch “The Sign Of The Rose,” and it grew into a full length play, and then a feature film – “The Alien,” directed by Thomas Ince.
George died in 1928 from injuries he sustained when thrown from a horse while on vacation. His son, George Jr., also became an actor, and died in 1977.
There is still a lot to learn about this picture. Is it possible this could have been part of a series, since Luke’s picture is the same size and is framed similarly? Can you imagine a group of these, hanging in the office of a movie studio executive? Lee and his cohorts have not given up on finding out about the image in Luke’s picture, either. We’re hoping they’ll get a hit, either on the image itself or a possible film link. I’ll keep you posted.
Oscar(R) night at my house this year was as much about “The Alien” as it was about “Argo,” “Lincoln,” or “Silver Linings Playbook.” I think George Beban would have appreciated that.