Every once in a while, you get a message that gets things rolling.

Hoover Art Co., Hollywood

Hoover Art Co., Hollywood

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.

courtesy Luke R.

courtesy Luke R.

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.

"The Alien," courtesy George Eastman House

“The Alien,” courtesy George Eastman House

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.