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Thread: Wallace Reid

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    Unhappy Wallace Reid

    This is a pretty good site. So I would like to start some threads on some old time movie stars. Has anyone ever heard of Wallace Reid? He was silent movie actor, and from what I read was a real all around guy. Had a beautiful wife and a handsome baby boy. And very faithful to his family and very well educated. He was the one of the hottest star of the time, who made big money for the studio. Well his downfall came when he was on a train and it wrecked he suffered serious back damage, and should have been laid up to rest. But his bosses had him on a tight schedule and they needed him to finish the movie he was in and the other ones that were coming up. So they got the old morphine and had him working when he should have been hospitalized. Well those daily doses of morphine made him a addict. And his career what to hell and he died a early death. So much damage that Hollywood can do to someone.

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    pretty good site? this is a GREAT site.

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    I don't know if it was the time of the depression or not, but I remember Joan Crawford saying she would work on her death bed because so many others had nothing and she was lucky to even be working. Those times were hard.

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    The Wally Reid story is a very sad one. I think he would have actually lived if they'd have weened him off of the morphine properly, but as was custom back in the 20's, they tossed him into a sanitarium, made him go cold turkey, he developed pneumonia, and passed away.

    A very tragic tale, but unfortunately not entirely an uncommon one in those days.

    Many like him.....who started on morphine supplied by the studios for every malaise from broken bones to exhaustion.

    Alma Rubens
    Barbara LaMarr
    Jeanne Eagels
    Mabel Normand
    Jack Pickford

    Etc...etc...etc.

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    Coincidentally, I mentioned Reid on another topic; the early Hollywood era fascinates me because so many of the stars were "created" by the studios, and unfortunately, the real cause of so many Hollywood deaths were covered up by the studios.
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    Everything was covered up by the studios. Deaths, scandals, homosexuality, pregnancies. If the bigwigs thought it would hurt the picture or make the stars look bad they covered it up by any means necessary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by candleinthewind View Post
    Everything was covered up by the studios. Deaths, scandals, homosexuality, pregnancies. If the bigwigs thought it would hurt the picture or make the stars look bad they covered it up by any means necessary.
    and this sort of practice continues today...not in movies but in broadcasting.

    As I mentioned in another thread many local radio and television stations still require their employees to sign a "morals clause" contract. Not all of the TV and radio stations do this but a good many do.

    I know that here in Virginia recently we had a local radio announcer who was arrested for DUI, but because he "worked in radio", the local newspaper overlooked it. From what I understand the radio station and the newspaper made a deal not to cover this bit of news.

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    Didn't Hollywood Babylon completely leave out the bit of his back injury from their account of Wallace Reid? It's ages since I read that book, but I remember it sensationalised much of Reid's story...
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    Quote Originally Posted by SW4 View Post
    Didn't Hollywood Babylon completely leave out the bit of his back injury from their account of Wallace Reid? It's ages since I read that book, but I remember it sensationalised much of Reid's story...
    Hollywood BabblingOn is chock full of inacuracies.....among other things. Kenneth Anger was obviously going for schlock....and not facts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by soundqcar View Post
    Hollywood BabblingOn is chock full of inacuracies.....among other things. Kenneth Anger was obviously going for schlock....and not facts.
    ....he did leave out the bit about Wallace Reid's back injury, didn't he?
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    Quote Originally Posted by eca1094 View Post
    And his career what to hell and he died a early death. So much damage that Hollywood can do to someone.
    And I'm not entirely convinced that Hollywood has necessarily improved its safety record in the 80-odd years since Wallace Reid's death.
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    I would love to see more of the "old" Hollywood death hag stories. I am fascinated by the stories of the actors from then (Fatty Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, all of those guys).
    The survival of everyone on board depends on just one thing: finding someone on board who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nytkrew View Post
    I would love to see more of the "old" Hollywood death hag stories. I am fascinated by the stories of the actors from then (Fatty Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, all of those guys).

    I have to agree so much. Alot of the reason I think so much tradgey befall them was that Hollywood manufactured stars back then. Many of them were just cowboys and laborers and so forth. What I am trying to say is.... well let me quote from the song HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD
    "Where any shop boy or young mechanic can be a panic with just a good looking pan"

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    Apparently, poor Reid ended up in a desperate and pathetic way - beyond help, physically and mentally wasted by his addiction until death finally took him. A fascinating story, though - pity there hasn't been a book written about it (or has there?)

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    During a TCM documentary on Cecil B. DeMille last night, the subject of actors beginning to die as a result of drug dependency was interjected and Wallace Reid was mentioned first.

    The old saying goes "there's nothing new under the sun". In light MJ, Heath, and Anna-Nicole, it appears they tragically followed in the footsteps of Wallace Reid.

    Could Reid have been the first documented drug related death of a famous actor?

    Here's another site about Reid:
    http://www.francesfarmersrevenge.com...allacereid.htm
    The Strange Case Of The Missing Corpse
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-GmH8eFJFU

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    William Wallace Reid

    The son of actor/playwright Hal Reid and actress Bertha Westbrook, Wallace Reid made his stage debut at age four, playing a little girl in Reid Sr.'s Slaves of Gold. After attending prep school in Pennsylvania and military school in New Jersey, the younger Reid worked as a Wyoming ranch hand and cub newspaper reporter.

    In 1910 he landed a job with the Selig Polyscope Film Company, hoping to eventually become a cameraman. Over the next three years he worked as a gopher, production assistant, and screenwriter, but it was as a leading man that he found lasting success. While starring in two-reelers at Mutual, he took a pay cut for the privilege of working under director D.W. Griffith, appearing in the brief but telling role as Jeff the Blacksmith in The Birth of a Nation (1915).

    It didn't take long before he was firmly established as Paramount Pictures' top male screen personality, starring in one breezy vehicle after another, usually playing an all-American go-getter. He did some of his best work in the films of Cecil B. DeMille, appearing with such luminaries as Geraldine Farrar and Gloria Swanson. While filming Valley of the Giants on location in 1919, he was seriously injured in an on-set mishap.

    To ease his pain, the studio doctor pumped the young actor full of morphine. Within a few months after this incident he was inextricably addicted to morphine, drinking heavily to counteract the drug's after-effects. Upon the completion of his eight-picture contract in 1922, Reid went public with the story of his addiction, entering a Los Angeles sanitarium in hopes of being cured. But it was too late; by early 1923 Wallace Reid was dead at the age of 31. He was survived by his wife, actress Dorothy Davenport, and his son Wallace Reid Jr. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

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    Wallace Reid might have made the perfect F. Scott Fitzgerald character, a Dick Diver or even a Gatsby, an eighteen-karat-gold Princeton man -- flaming, gentle, beautiful, and doomed.

    Wallace Reid was born into a theatrical family in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 15, 1891, son of actor and playwright Hal Reid. In 1909, Hal was hired by the Selig Company in Chicago as scenarist. Originally intending to be a cinematographer, Wally's All-American, handsome looks got him signed as an actor instead. In 1911 father and son joined Vitagraph until Wally left in 1912, having filmed Jean Intervenes, An Indian Romeo and Juliet, The Seventh Son and The Illumination (all 1912).

    By this time, Reid Jr. was a popular leading man, and had starred in films for a variety of nickelodeon-era studios. In 1914 Reid worked for Griffith's Majestic Studios in such films as At Dawn and His Mother's Influence. His big break came in The Birth of A Nation, where he made his entrance as Jeff the blacksmith, carrying a large anvil. It has been estimated that by the time he appeared in BOAN he had been in over 100 films.

    In 1915 he appeared in Griffith's Fine Arts production of Old Heidelberg, and later that same year landed at Universal, where he attracting the eye of Jesse Lasky who quickly signed him to a contract. For the next two years he costarred with opera star Geraldine Farrar in all but one of her Lasky films, including Carmen (1915) and Joan the Woman (1917), both directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

    After the war Reid's handsome, clean-cut, straight-arrow nice-boy persona caught on with audiences, and Famous Players-Lasky, recognizing his popularity, worked and exploited him like the money machine he was.
    From 1919 through 1921 Reid worked with director James Cruze in The Valley of the Giants, Hawthorne of the U.S.A., The Roaring Road, the Dictator, The Lottery Man, and The Charm School. Some of his biggest film roles starred him as a "male flapper," a daring young man who used the family car for thrills in such films as Watch My Speed, Excuse My Dust, and Double Speed, all 1921. In 1921 he went on to co-star with Gloria Swanson in The Affairs of Anatol, also directed by DeMille, and Forever with Elsie Ferguson, directed by George Fitzmaurice and based on the stage play Peter Ibbetson.

    At the end of his first full year at Famous Players-Lasky he had made six features. The next year saw ten, and in 1922, when other stars of his caliber were only making two pictures per year, Reid had starred in nine. On average, over a seven-year period, he was appearing in as many as one feature film every seven weeks. It was a testament to his popularity and his ability to star in even the weakest of scripts that his box-office appeal never waned. Reid's influence was such that, after appearing in a film in 1922 without the stiff, detachable collar that most men wore with their shirts, he single-handedly put the collar companies out of business overnight.

    Such a schedule would have been grueling for any actor, and Reid was no exception. Conflicting accounts abound as to the origins of his morphine addiction, but of general accord is that, after suffering an injury during location filming, he was given morphine to dull the pain and continue shooting. The morphine also killed the exhaustion from such a rigorous schedule, and it was later intimated that the studio continued to keep Reid supplied, in order to keep him productive. Regardless of its cause, the end for Wallace Reid was heartbreaking. According to Henry Hathaway, then an assistant director, "He sort of fumbled about, and bumped into a chair, and then just sat down on to floor and started to cry. They put him in a chair, and he just keeled over. They sent for an ambulance and sent him to the hospital." The hospital was really a sanitarium, when Reid vowed he would "come back cured or not at all." Sadly, so weakened was he that his body was unable to fight off the influenza that finally killed him January 18, 1923.

    Despite his ban on all references to narcotics, Will Hays did allow Reid's widow Dorothy Davenport to make a propaganda film, Human Wreckage, directed by John Griffith Wray and starring Mrs. Wallace Reid and Bessie Love, to expose the evils of drugs and drug addiction.

    But Reid's death was only the beginning of a string of scandals that rocked Hollywood. At the same time, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was on trial for the "involuntary manslaughter" of Virginia Rappe, and the murder of William Desmond Taylor, with its whispered connections to the drug trade, all contributed to the nationwide hue and cry to "clean up Hollywood."

    Sadly, despite his immense popularity Wallace Reid is little remembered today. Any discussion of his status of "screen idol" is overshadowed by the circumstances of his death. Likable, modest, and hard-working, Reid has become little more than a footnote in film history.

    http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~pring...t/ssotm/Dec97/

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    Wallace Reid Bebe Daniels "From Feet to Head"


    Wallace Reid "The Charm School" (1921)



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    Wallace Reid's Struggle
    Against Drug Addiction

    Mrs. Wallace Reid, wife of the famous film star, told today for the first time her struggle to save her husband from the grip of the downward pull. Mrs. Reid, too, in an exclusive interview granted The Evening Herald and the Cosmopolitan News Service revealed her husband's plan to make public his battle against the modern dragons, dope and booze - that he might save others. She took the interviewer back behind the scenes of her life and related how Reid's personality won her love; how she had put aside her own screen career to make his home life happy; how, when she saw him going down toward the depths she stood by him as a wife and mother in his battle for self preservation.


    "I am opening the book of Wallace Reid's life so that the public will read and know the truth," said Mrs. Reid. "My husband is battling as a man has never battled before. He has traversed the 'land of darkness and the shadow of death.' The horrors of the hell he has gone through would long ago have broken the heart of an ordinary man. But I know as surely as I know there is a God he will win out. How do I know? This is my answer: I did not care for Wallace Reid when I first knew him. He proposed marriage to me. I replied curtly, 'I am not going to marry you or anyone.'

    "He went to my mother - he always called her affectionately, 'Mother.' He said to her, 'Mother, I'll make her care for me if it kills me. I've never been licked yet - and I'm not licked now.' He said the same thing just recently, this time under not romantic but dramatic circumstances. He fully realized, poignantly, desperately that he had come to the turn in the road in his life. He reiterated his determination in the sanitarium where he now lies critically ill.

    "Some whisky was given him in medicine. Wan, weary and so weak he would faint from exertion when his pillow was turned under his head, he roused himself to protest. In almost a passion of rage he demanded to know what was in the medicine. Someone replied, 'Scotch whisky."
    "'What are you trying to do?' he exclaimed. 'Do you want me to get started again?' Then, nerving himself for a final effort, he clenched his teeth and said grimly, 'I'll beat it. I've never been licked yet - and I'm not licked now.'

    "No matter what the public hears, no matter what it reads I want it to keep before it the Wally Reid I know, a man of heroic determination, a man who one day suddenly recognized his foe, met it face to face, clenched his teeth and declared, 'We will fight it out now - till one of us is dead.'

    "In telling you the story I am relating what he had hoped to do. He knew of the rumors which had spread like wildfire to all parts of the country. It was his plan, as soon as he gained strength, to invite a representative of every Los Angeles newspaper to come to him and hear the true story, the truth of his slavery. He recognized impersonally - as I do - that by reason of his prominence such a story from him would serve to bring forcibly before the people the dangers of the drug evil. He felt that through such a story he would be able to prompt his thousands of screen 'fans' to use their vote and moral and financial influence in behalf of any campaign being waged against the traffic in drugs and liquor. The premature publication of his condition forestalled his plan. Now it has fallen to me to tell the truth. And I want to tell it. I want to tell it more as a mother than as a wife. I want to tell it with all the compassion and tender affection for the one who has always been in my heart and thoughts, 'My boy.'

    "Let me go back first to a brighter day than this. Gray clouds have been hanging over the Hollywood hills the past week and they have seemed to me symbolic of the same gray clouds which have been hanging over our lives. But there was a brighter day, a day when love was young in the springtime of our lives. And there must be a bright day ahead for us in our life tomorrow.

    "The rise of Wally Reid from histrionic obscurity to the foremost place in film fame was associated with screen names which will come back to you when I mention them. It was back in 1911 I first met Wally Reid. I was then working for the Universal Film Co. While the pictures were restricted to one reel, 'Dorothy Davenport' was a star. I am, as many of the fans know, a niece of the famous Fanny Davenport.

    "Wally Reid had come to the coast with the late Otis 'Daddy' Turner - 'The Governor' he was called. Wally as assistant director, scenario writer and general utility man. My director, Milton Fahrney, was ready to make a one-reel picture entitled 'His Son,' a western subject. We were without a leading man. Turner was not ready to start, and Wally, being on the company payroll at $40 a week, was assigned to us as leading man. At that time I was being paid $35 a week. When Wally came to us and said he was to play the leading male role, my impression of him was that he was all hands and feet - and very much embarrassed.

    "My impression when the picture was completed was he was a very poor actor. When I came home I complained to mother because I had to play with, as I called him, 'this boy,' when I had been used to playing with such actors as Harold Lockwood, Henry Walthall, James Kirkwood and Arthur Johnson. After 'His Son,' Wally went back to Turner and did several pictures with Marguerita Fischer, Ella Hall and others.

    "The members of our company dressed at what was then known as the 'Universal ranch,' now called the Lasky ranch. Wally did many Indian parts. He had previously played at the Vitagraph in 'Deer Slayer,' with Florence Turner, and 'The Indian Romeo,' in casts which included 'Larry' Trimble, Harry Morey and other people who are totally famous or forgotten. Those were the days when Norma Talmadge was an extra girl at the Vitagraph studio. Wally got his start in pictures when he was employed by the Selig company as 'stunt' man. Tom Mix was then in charge of the horses for Selig.

    "As I was saying, the members of our company made up at the Universal ranch. Wally used to ride past my dressing room in his Indian regalia. Mother used to rave over his handsome appearance. It was my almost daily practice to slam the door when he would appear because I knew that he knew that he was good looking, and I was not going to let him think that I had succumbed to his good looks. It sounds somewhat childish for me to relate it, but I was only 16 years of age then - and very proud that I was a film star. Gradually, I don't know just how or why, we began going together. One night a week we went to a theater. Wally called this his 'Dorothy night.' It might appear that he had a girl for every night, but this was not true.

    "As we became better acquainted Wally and Eugene Pallette prevailed upon mother to take them as boarders. Phyllis Gordon, who was playing leads with the Selig company, also asked to come with us because her health was not the best and she wanted to sleep on our sleeping porch. I had always wanted a pony. It had been the ambition of my life. When I came West mother bought three horses instead of a pony. Wally and 'Gene built a corral for the horses and the three of us rode daily to work - rode all day, working in pictures, and rode home again.

    "Gradually I must have fallen in love with Wally, although it was a long time before I would admit it even to myself. He was so sweet, so thoughtful one could not help liking him. He proposed to me early in 1912 but at that time I did not want to marry anybody. I told him I cared for him but I did not love him. He had accepted a place offered him with the American Film company at Santa Barbara and wanted me to go along as his bride. He saw mother before he left. He said to her, 'I'll make her care for me. I've never been licked yet - and I'm not licked now.'

    "Wally directed the second company at Santa Barbara, having such players as Vivian Rich, George Fields, Ed Coxen and others. Betty Schade, now a well known screen actress, got her start in pictures under the direction of Wally. She had come to Santa Barbara with a traveling theatrical company and had never done any picture work. In Santa Barbara Wally lived with Alan Dwan and Alan's mother. Alan was directing the first company for the 'Flying A.' Wally came to Los Angeles occasionally to see me. He wanted me to play leads and Santa Barbara, but I did not want to break up housekeeping and besides I was not particularly anxious to be with him. We had a quarrel one day. It must have been trivial, for I don't recall what caused it. Afterward we did not correspond for a long time, fully six months.

    "In 1913 he came back to Los Angeles with Alan Dwan and went to the Universal company. Wally played leads, Pauline Bush the feminine leading roles and Marshall "Mickey" Neilan was the director with the company. Now here is an odd thing. Wally had returned with the determination to make me propose to him. It was a little drama in real life. Wally would come to our house for a social call. The telephone would ring. 'Is Wally Reid there?' a voice would ask. Wally would go to the 'phone and say importantly, 'All right, I'll be right over.' I learned later he was having people call him up just to make me jealous. Once he said to me, 'You are going to marry me this fall!'

    "'Oh,' I replied, 'I suppose I have nothing to say about it?'

    "'No, you haven't,' he said. 'Your mother and I have decided it.'

    "A picture in which I was working called for location at Pine Crest, a scenic spot in California. Wally went to the railroad station with our company. He picked up a magazine on the cover of which was a picture of a girl wearing a bridal veil.

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    "'That's the way you are going to look this fall,' he declared. I said nothing. A fatal sign with any woman.

    "At Pine Crest I began to develop symptoms of being in love, so mother has since told me. I would not dance when the others danced, and I spent much time alone, thinking, thinking. Following my return to Los Angeles, Wally said one evening, 'You are going to marry me Saturday.' This time I did not say I would not marry him. I was not through protesting, however.

    "'If it is to be at all it must be on the thirteenth,' I said. Thirteen, I have always believed, is my lucky day, because of a series of three and thirteens in my life. I was born March 13, the third month of the year and the third day of the week. So I became the wife of Wally Reid, Oct. 13, 1913.

    "We were married at 6:30 o'clock in the evening at the Church of the Holy Cross by the Rev. Baker P. Lee. The only persons present besides ourselves were Ed Brady, Phil Dunham, Ruth Roland, Isidore Bernstein, general manager for the Universal company, and my mother. After the ceremony we went to the home of Mr. Bernstein in Morgan place. Warren Kerrigan and Charles Worthington and Warren's mother dropped in. Mr. Bernstein proposed a toast to the newly married couple. It was drunk with lemonade, for that, and water, was the only liquid Mr. Bernstein ever had in his home. What a terribly place is Sinful Hollywood!

    "But there was a more tragic chapter yet to come."

    Wallace Reid, the famous motion picture actor, contracted the morphine habit in New York City. Mrs. Dorothy Davenport Reid, wife of the actor, revealed this as afact today in an extended and exclusive interview granted The Evening Herald and the Cosmopolitan News Service.Hitherto it had been the public belief, and a conviction which had spread nation-wide, that the handsome actor had become a narcotic addict in Hollywood. Each telling of the story had added to its exaggeration until there existed in the public mind an impression that Hollywood was nightly the scene of drug revelries and booze debauches, with Wally Reid a central figure. It was to correct these inflated statements that Mrs. Reid consented to make known to the public the details of her husband's struggle to overcome the drug habit.

    "It was not in Hollywood he learned the use of morphine to quiet his nerves. The first morphine in which he indulged to any extent was given him in New York," said Mrs. Reid today. Wally had gone East to make a picture, 'Peter Ibbetson.' While in New York he became ill. An expensive cast of players had been employed to work in the film and he began to worry when it appeared that his illness was delaying production and adding to the expense.

    "Wally has had one virtue which his real friends know has been his besetting sin - his good nature and his willingness to work. Had Wally remained in bed until he recovered from his illness, I felt he would not today be a narcotic addict.

    "'Peter Ibbetson' has been classed by critics as perhaps one of the best acted pictures ever made in America. Fans everywhere have written and told Wally how excellent was his work. Here was an actor - a servant of his art - going through the most difficult role of his career in a physical condition which would have sent an ordinary man to the hospital. It was his grim determination and the good nature which prompted him on. To nerve him for his daily and arduous task a New York physician gave him morphine. There was laid the foundation for what the world now knows.
    "'Peter Ibbetson' was made a year ago last summer. When Wally returned from the East he was not the same Wally Reid I had known when he left Hollywood. He seemed to possess a dual nature. To me he had been always the affectionate suitor. Now there was a change. For no apparently accountable reason he would become irritable, morose, strange. At first I was deeply puzzled. Before long rumors began to reach me. A wife, as every one knows, is oft times the last to hear the truth about her husband. I determined this should not be the case in the Wallace Reid family.

    "I went to Wally, 'Tell me,' I said to him. 'Is it true you are using drugs?'

    "He replied, 'Don't believe a word you hear. I am not.'

    "Yet I was not convinced. I knew something was wrong and I was resolved to get at the bottom of it. It must be kept in mind by the public that the use of any narcotic is responsible for strange actions by the victim. Your closest friend may be in the grip of the insidious habit and all unknown to you. Thus I do not think Wally really meant to lie to me. I think it was more of an effort on his part to deny to himself the possibility of his ever allowing the drug to gain a definite foothold.

    "I did not allow the matter to rest with his denial. As time wore on I asked him again. Still he denied the truth. All of his life Wally has been intensely restless. I don't believe he has ever had what would be termed a good night's rest. In reading he is constantly crossing one leg over the other and shifting about in his chair. This restless condition became accentuated. The realization must have dawned on him that he had fallen into the pit. He began to drink. He had never been a steady drinker, his drinking being confined to social occasions. Now, however, he seemed suddenly to have an appetite for whisky. What was really going on in his consciousness, no doubt, was the awakening to his danger from the drug. Eventually he confessed to me he was using morphine.

    "Toward the last, just before he left the studio to recuperate, it would take only a few drinks to affect him. His breakdown came after he had reported back to the studio ready for work. A condition developed which baffled and is still puzzling doctors. It first manifested itself as an intestinal disturbance. When this became aggravated he consulted a physician. He was ordered to a hospital. Other physicians were called in. Every possible test which the doctors knew was given him. Needles half a dozen inches long were driven into his spine. The pain he endured was terrible. The Wasserman test was administered. Not a single test showed a positive result. In the midst of all this, influenza set in. His average weight: 200 pounds, Wally's weight now is about 122 pounds."

    Mrs. Wallace Reid brands as gross exaggeration the reports whichemanated in Eastern Cities that her famous cinema actor-husband has hadany direct connection with a drug ring. It was the nation-wide dissemination of this rumor which led to the admission by Mrs. Reid that her husband had contracted the drug habit. There appeared in correspondence seized in a drug raid in New York City the initials "W. R."

    "There are to my knowledge," said Mrs. Reid in a continuation of the exclusive interview granted The Evening Herald and the Cosmopolitan News Service, "two other Wallace Reids of prominence in the East. One is, I understand, a New York stock broker. the other lives in Chicago. Mail for the Chicago Wallace Reid has reached my husband, and his mail has been mixed at times with the Chicago Wallace Reid. Understand, of course, that I do not mean to intimate that either of these Wallace Reids might have been the 'W. R.' referred to in the correspondence found in New York. I am stating this merely to indicate how, when a man is on the defensive, he is made the target for unjustified attack where there might be a hundred other 'W. R.'s in the country.

    "My husband, as I have stated to you, contracted the morphine habit in New York City. It was given to him by a physician so he could continue work in the film production of 'Peter Ibbetson.' When Wally returned to Hollywood I noted a change in his whole manner of life. While previously he had been of a jovial, affectionate nature, now he began to give way to spells of apparent despondency. Asense of irritability developed, a phase of character which was foreign to the real Wally Reid. It must have been that these were the times when he felt the craving for the drug and was trying to ignore its insistent demands.

    "While he was very secretive about the habit - declining for a long time even to admit it to me - I learned that his supply of morphine was coming from New York by mail. On one occasion a supply was brought to him in Hollywood by a person who came from New York. I will not say whether it was a man or woman, or one in the theatrical profession. I don't feel that I should do anything to involve others in what is already a deplorable and unfortunate situation.

    "I am being criticized severely by some of our acquaintances for having talked so much, but I feel that if the public knows the truth it will not condemn Wally any more than I have condemned him. His is not an individual case symptomatic of a community. The battle Wally is making is the battle that thousands - I might say a million - of men and women are making. My heart goes out to them in sympathy. I know the horrors of the hell they must be suffering because I saw this dread enemy attack my husband. If then through telling the truth I can do my part to arouse public sentiment against this nefarious traffic I am willing to suffer criticism. I look upon this whole affair as impersonal rather than personal. Friends, of course, insist on personalizing the misfortunes which sometimes enter our lives, overlooking in their kindness and sympathy the moral lesson involved.

  22. #22
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    "I want to go back several years in the history of picture making and explain an incident. It proves how easily one can turn to narcotics in moments of pain - and the tragic aftermath. Wally was playing the leading role in 'The Valley of the Giants,' an adaptation of the novel by Peter B. Kyne. The company was working in the logging district of northern California. Grace Darmond was cast as the ingenue. A scene in the script called for Wally and Miss Darmond to ride down an incline in a logging car. While this scene was being taken an accident occurred. An iron block swung toward Wally and Miss Darmond. It appeared inevitable that Miss Darmond would be injured. Seeing this, Wally threw himself directly in front of her. The iron block struck him on the head. Wally was painfully injured. To ease his pain morphine was prescribed by physicians. He was unable to sleep at night. On these occasions other sleep-producing potions of an apparently harmless nature were given to him. I know he did not at that time become addicted to the use of morphine, for I was with him hours and days at a time afterward and I would have known had he himself used a hypodermic needle to inject the drug.

    "The pain he suffered in his head gave him almost continuous trouble. We had X-ray photographs made of his skull, hoping that if there was a fracture it could be located and set. The X-ray pictures indicated nothing wrong. All of this time he was working at the studio, unmindful of his suffering. Gradually his physical condition began to be affected by the injury. He planned to take a vacation and rest. His has been, as I have said, a too close application to work.

    "When a vacation was granted him between pictures he went to a dentist to have work done, postponing till a later date the relaxation he promised himself. The dental work accentuated his physical suffering. Work was started on the picture production of....

    "...fitted into Wally's mouth on the raw swollen gums. He worked this way a week while the company was in San Diego making scenes. When the dentist saw the condition of his mouth he could not understand how Wally had been able to do any work. The pain, the dentist said, was even greater than that which comes with an aggravated case of appendicitis.
    "It was only a few months ago when my mother learned Wally was using a drug. She wanted to have him kidnapped and put in a sanitarium to be cured. Wally was almost heart-broken when mother suggested this to him.
    "'My God, mother, don't do that. I've never been licked yet - and I'm not licked now. I'll fight this thing out myself.'

    "The first reports of Wally being a drug addict followed the arrest of a young man who had been a friend of our chauffeur. The details of that case, and how it apparently involved Wally have never been published. I want to tell the incident so that the whole truth will be known."

    "My first 'close up' view of the activity of drug peddlers was about two years ago, when there occurred an incident which was the means of starting unjustifiable rumors about my husband," said Mrs. Wallace Reid, wife of the famous picture star, in continuing her exclusive recital to the Cosmopolitan News Service of the events which culminated in her public statement that her actor-husband was a narcotic addict.

    "For some time I had seen a young man coming to our home on Morgan Place, but paid no attention as he appeared to be a chum of our chauffeur. Since the unfortunate incident occurred I have heard it said that officers reported they had trailed this young man to our home, and that he was supplying Wally with drugs. This was when Wally was not - to my knowledge - using anything more than harmless sleep-producing remedies in order to rest at night.

    "One day our chauffeur came to Wally and said this young friend of his had a number of Parisian magazines which he thought Wally might want to buy. Wally is, as his friends know, a collector of books. We told the chauffeur to have the young man bring the magazines sowe could look them over. He came the next day. Wally and I spread the magazines out on the table. Then, as Wally picked up one copy, a number of tinfoil packages fell to the floor. When the young man became evasive Wally demanded what the packages contained.

    "'Morphine' was the reply.

    "'It doesn't interest me,' declared Wally, and he swept the packages away from him.

    "'The young man told us he found the packages of the drug hidden behind the moulding of a new apartment into which he had just moved.

    "'But why did you bring it here?' asked Wally.

    "'I didn't know the packages were in the magazines,' he replied.'I'm desperate for money; I am not working and my wife is going to have a baby.' Here was where, once more, Wally's sympathy got him into an embarrassing predicament.

    "'If you will come to the studio in the morning I will see if I can get a job for you,' said Wally.

    "My surprise came the next day. When the young man appeared at the studio he was placed under arrest by federal officers. The report gained circulation that this young man was arrested while trying to smuggle to Wally morphine concealed in rare books. Further, it was rumored that the arrest had been brought about at my instigation.

    "The young man was placed in jail. Wally talked with me about it and wanted, out of sympathy, to put up the bail money necessary, to free him from jail so he could return to his wife. Friends, however, persuaded him not to as it might place him an a guilty light. The young man is now employed in a Los Angeles printing house. He was, I understand, a drug addict but was cured or is taking a cure."

    - END -

    William Parker, Los Angeles Herald (18-21 December 1922)

  23. #23
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    The Tragedy of an American Idol


    Wallace Reid lived thirty-one years. He was born April 15, 1892. He died January 18, 1923. Into those thirty-one years he packed the experience, the work, the success, the joys and heartbreaks, the problems and temptations, of five ordinary lives. The high voltage killed him.

    That is the simple, psychological explanation. The actual story of his life is more complicated. It is utterly of our times. It is almost unbelievable in the extravagance and exaggeration of its color and action.

    Everyone is familiar with the picture of Wally Reid, and almost everyone knows the main events of his short life. The handsome, clean-cut boy who went up like a skyrocket and came down like a charred stick. But the reason for it all has been cloaked in mystery - a mystery that can be solved only by complete familiarity with the things that happened to him and with his strange, wonderful, lovable character.

    It is not enough to look upon the mere outward facts that were given to the world before and at the time of his tragic death. You have to go deeper than that. You have to go into the soul of the boy - and boy he was, right to the end - and into the play of events upon that too sensitive, too facile, too generous nature. Perhaps I can do that.

    It has always seemed to me that only one who knew Wally could write the story of his life. I knew Wally Reid as well as anyone ever knew him. I knew him from the time he made his first pictures until the day when I stood beside his wife and watched the smoke that consumed the last of him that was mortal fade against the sky. I am very proud and a little sad to remember that he thought of me as the sister he always wanted and never had. In a letter he wrote me not long before the end he said:
    "I don't know why I have failed like this. Sometimes I think you do. Pray for me that, somewhere in the strange land into which I am going alone, I may become at last the man I have always wanted to be."

    Strangely enough, the reason for his going up and his coming down, for the love he inspired the whole world to feel for him and his own heartbreaking downfall and death, for his unequaled success and his unparalleled defeat was the same. Wally Reid - the shattered idealist.
    The important thing about Wallace Reid is not that he was the greatest and most popular star the motion picture has produced. It is that he was, beyond dispute, the best loved man of his generation. He woke in the heart of the multitude a great affection, a lasting affection, that still gives off fragrance, like crushed lavender. It wasn't only women who loved him, though they did - and often not wisely but too well. Men loved him, boys, old people, children. There was something about Wally Reid that fitted into the dreams in every heart. His life story is important because of that love and because his death grieved and bewildered and shocked the whole world.

    Now, love and grief like that aren't stirred by a mere handsome face. It was the ideals back of that face, the ideals that corresponded so completely with the beauty and fineness of his outward being, that earned him that love. And it was those ideals, the shattered ideals he couldn't bear to live with, that destroyed him. Men without ideals can live with their disillusionments, even with their sins. Men with ideals very often cannot. The life story of Wally Reid, the shattered idealist, is a living proof of that.

    When he was at the very height, when he was better known and loved than any other actor has ever been, he still felt that it wasn't quite a man's job. The pictures he loved were the ones where he had to do stunts - where he could ride, or drive a racing car, or go on location into Yosemite Valley and sit around the fire with the forest rangers. I never heard him belittle his work, but I know there was always a sense that he might have done something more manly.

    "When you put grease paint on the face," he said one day, when I was watching him make up in his dressing room, "something goes out of the heart." And he laughed. But there was a wistful sound in that laugh.
    In 1910, Wallace Reid touched motion pictures for the first time. His father went out to the Selig Polyscope Company to confer with them about some stories. Wally went along. The father and son were very close in those days. Wally was once more entirely under the spell of his father's brains and wit and easy ways with the world. And there, in that little old Chicago studio, the boy saw something that he wanted to do. He wanted to be a cameraman. There was a combination of mechanics and art - the thing he had been searching for and never found. So he decided to stay in Chicago and turn the crank on the little black box that made motion pictures. But directors saw his great photographic possibilities, and almost before he knew it he was in front of the camera.

    Wally tried hard to be everything in motion pictures except an actor. He was a cameraman, a writer, a director - and preferred any of them to acting.

    The next months were swift steps in motion pictures. He went back to New York to be near his mother, who had been injured in an automobile accident. But he had decided to stick to motion pictures. Directing was the thing that appealed to him. In consequence, he took his father's play, The Confession, to Vitagraph and offered to write a script and direct it himself. They agreed, but in the end he played a part as well. And before long he was acting as Florence Turner's leading man. They just wouldn't let him direct - naturally enough, they didn't want to hide Wallace Reid from the eyes of the public. Later, he and his father worked for Reliance, writing and acting. Then suddenly, in an hour a new life opened for him.
    He was going to Hollywood. Not as an actor. "I'm never going to act again," he said. He was going as assistant director, scenario writer, second cameraman, and general utility man to Otis Turner, the big Universal director. The chance of a lifetime. The creative end of this great new art and industry which was then actually in its infancy.

    There was a last-minute luncheon at the Knickerbocker Hotel with his mother. Perhaps if either of them could have looked into the future, that luncheon wouldn't have been so gay. But they didn't know what the Hollywood years were to hold, and so they were very festive; for Wally was all elation, and his mother unselfishly sunk her grief at losing him.
    Hollywood! There was to be no turning back now. Forever in the past the ranches of Wyoming where he was going to live, the editing of magazines he was going to make, the study of medicine through which he might benefit mankind. He was definitely launched in motion pictures.

    The Hollywood of those days was by no means the Hollywood of today. It is worth while to glance back, briefly, upon the Hollywood to which Wallace Reid came as an unknown assistant director in 1912. One main street, the Hollywood Hotel and the residence of the famous artist, Paul de Longpre, its outstanding architectural features. No two- storied buildings. I was attending Hollywood High School about that time and I had scarcely heard of motion pictures. Oh, yes, that funny shack on the corner of Sunset and Gower--that was the Universal studio and they made motion pictures there. The cowboys and Indians who occasionally dashed up and down Hollywood Boulevard were making "Westerns." The Birth of a Nation, the first great picture, was still in the future.

    The coming to Hollywood was the beginning of a new life for Wallace Reid, a complete break with the past. He was twenty years old. He was, I think, as fine and clean and high-minded a young American as could have been found in the forty-eight states. He was big, handsome, strong, full of the joy of life. It would have been difficult to imagine that he had already lived two-thirds of his life.

    He stayed in Hollywood for eleven years, and at the end of that time was glad, I think, to die there. What happened in those eleven years?

    This is not, in the main, a history of Wallace Reid the motion picture star.

    It purports to be a life story of Wally Reid the man. He lived in our own times and the things he did on the screen are well known to most of us. Therefore I feel that from the time Wally came to Hollywood in 1912 until he died in 1923, we may abandon chronological data and deal almost entirely with the important things that happened to him - important as concerned his own inner life.

    That he achieved tremendous success in a series of pictures in which he represented all that was best of the ideal American is a fact we may accept. Just what that success brought with it and the changes it caused in his surroundings, its dangers as well as its rewards, are the things to consider if we are to get the understanding of Wally that made most of those who knew him love him through thick and thin.

    Truth never hurt anybody. Truth cannot hurt Wallace Reid. Rumor has shot far of the mark - both high and low - because of the mystery of the thing. Truth makes it very simple. It shows you at last the picture of a boy overwhelmed by odds and going down into the depths, to emerge with a triumph that cost him his life but not his soul.

  24. #24
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    The important things which happened to Wally in the next few years were, first, his marriage to Dorothy Davenport; second, his elevation to stardom by the public; and, third, America's entrance into the World War. For that statement I take full responsibility. I don't know that everyone will agree with me. But I am going to present to you the facts as I know them, from observation and from Wally himself, and let you judge. In doing this, I am betraying no trust. In its way, this life story is my monument to Wallace Reid, who was my friend, and whose death was to me at once the most tragic and the most beautiful thing I ever saw.

    At the time that Wally came to Hollywood as general assistant to Otis Turner at the old Universal studio, Dorothy Davenport was already established as a star of the films. Because she was for twelve years the greatest single influence in his life, his comfort and his friend and his bulwark as well as his wife, it is strictly necessary that you know the sort of girl she was, the sort of woman she became.

    When Wally first met her she was seventeen, but she had been some years in the theater and had matured early. The niece of Fanny Davenport, one of the greatest American actresses, the daughter of Harry Davenport, for many years a favorite Broadway actor, she came of stock which helped to make the history of our theater. At that time she was a girl of more than average loveliness and of striking personality. The personality entirely overshadowed even the charm of her red-brown hair and her dark eyes and her exquisite figure.

    The word "personality" is hard to define, but Dorothy Davenport Reid is a synonym. Her chief characteristics as Wally's wife were a clear common sense, an amazing sense of humor, and a deep, selfless loyalty. During the years of their marriage her self-control developed an outer shell which at times made people think her cold. But it enabled her to pass through storm, confusion, and tragedy with a serene dignity and a clear thought which neither the plaudits of the world nor the sufferings of her own heart could shake. If ever a girl tried to stem a rising tide, Dorothy Reid tried. If ever a woman upheld a man's hands, she upheld Wally's. Her habit of reserve grew and she changed from a sparkling girl to a strong and guarded woman in a few brief years; but those who knew her found beneath that calm, white-faced exterior a wealth of tenderness, of humor, of understanding, of fine, sane thinking that made her stand apart from the ordinary run of women.

    There is nothing more important to a man than the woman who stands
    beside him on his journey through life. In that, at least, Wallace Reid was blessed, and he knew it.

    It was a pretty romance in the beginning, the romance of Wallace Reid and Dorothy Davenport, played in the most charming of California settings. They were two young things, with the world before them, and love added a glamour to work that was play half the time. The meeting came about in this way. Dorothy Davenport needed a leading man. Henry Walthall had played opposite her, and James Kirkwood and Harold Lockwood, and she was rather fussy in the matter of leading men. But the need was pressing and no one was available. There was, it appeared, a young man on the Universal lot, by the name of Wallace Reid, who had played leads with Florence Turner in New York and was said to be very good looking. The Turner company wasn't ready to start work and it was willing to cut down its overhead by lending this young man's services to Miss Davenport. He wasn't very keen about it, didn't want to act any more, but he was under contract and, if told to act, act he must to the best of his ability.

    The first day of the film was disastrous. Miss Davenport was furious. This big, overgrown boy was all hands and feet. He knew nothing whatever about acting. Wally was annoyed because he was once more before the camera, and sulked openly. In fact, it is impossible to deny that they glared at each other across the set between love scenes. The second day was little better. But the third brought a development which won the haughty little star's respect, and she began to treat her new leading man with consideration.

    There was at that time, a process of initiation on the Universal lot. Most of the pictures being made were Westerns; and the cowboys, among them Hoot Gibson, Curly Eagles, and Milt Brown, always took these dude actors from the East, picked out the worst horses they could find, and put them aboard. Naturally they tried it on young Reid, and with special vehemence, because Dorothy Davenport was their idol, and she openly turned up her pretty nose at this handsome stranger. So, when she arrived on the lot the third morning, the first sight that met her eyes was that of her leading man very much occupied with the nastiest broncho in the stables. Her interest flamed. She was a horsewoman of distinction and she had no regard for a man who couldn't stay in the saddle, no matter what the horse's ideas on the subject might be. Nobody knew of Wally's year in Wyoming and they stood back, chuckling, to get a good view of his downfall. But something went wrong with the scenario. Easy, cool, graceful, the boy from the East took everything this bad horse had to offer--corkscrews, tail spins, and sunfishes - and finally brought him back to the corral sweating and conquered. He had proved his "staying qualities" and from then one was one of the gang. Also, he was admitted to his star's good graces.

    The friendship ripened rapidly. There was no resisting Wally once you knew him. He had found as a pal another young actor, Gene Pallette, and finally the two boys, a trifle lonesome and homesick in this new atmosphere, persuaded Dorothy's mother to take a house and let them share it.

    Mrs. Davenport was an energetic, competent woman, as emotional as her daughter was reserved. She had divorced Dorothy's father some years before, and had learned the lessons a woman alone with a young daughter to educate and launch in the world must learn. She was the kind of woman whom everybody on lot called "mother"--and she did mother most of them, both at Universal and at the Mack Sennett studio, where she herself worked from time to time as a character woman. She had a brusque, direct way with her, but she understood young people, and they came to her with their troubles and their joys. Wally won her heart instantly and much more easily than he did her daughter's. The little family hadn't been settled in the house a week before he was like a son to her.

    She was no matchmaker, and if she had been she might have made more ambitious plans for Dorothy Davenport than this unknown young leading man. But she did see in Wally all the beautiful qualities that go to make romance, and, being incurably romantic, hoped the two would fall in love. But for a time it looked as though her dreams were not to come true. Dorothy liked the boy, but, being herself all of seventeen, considered him much too young. Her ideal was somebody like Henry Walthall, a man of the world, and not a mere youth with whom she danced and rough-housed and rode horseback. The three of them - Dot, Wally, and Gene Pallette - built a stable in the back yard with their own hands, kept three horses, and spent most of their time in the saddle. They rode to the studio in the morning, rode home at night, and on Sunday they took a day off and went riding on the many beautiful trails around Hollywood.

    But if Dorothy didn't fall in love as quickly as might have been expected, Wally did. One day, when they were riding together in Griffith Park, he proposed. And it was, according to Miss Davenport, who in spite of her youth had experienced several, a bum proposal.

    "I think he said," she once remarked, "something like 'I guess it would be nice if we got married.'"

    Whether it was the lack of romance in the words or whether her heart was actually untouched, it is hard to say. At any rate she told him loftily that they were much too young to consider anything as serious as matrimony.

    "And she spurred up her horse and left me flat," said Wally.

    But separation did what propinquity had failed to do. Wally went to Santa Barbara for six months with the American Film Company, writing stories, directing them, and acting in them. He acted in order to get the chance to do the other two things. Perhaps the girl missed him more than she had realized she would. Perhaps she began to see how much those rides and the evenings spent with books and the perfect companionship had meant to her. Anyway, when he came back and they again began to work together - this time Wally directing as well as starring with her - she saw it his way, and on October 13, 1913, they were married. A quiet little ceremony and back to work the next day.

    They worked very hard, but it was great fun. They made two pictures a week. For these Wally wrote the stories, directed them, and played the leading role. The ideas of these stories were all Wally's, and in reading now the brief synopses that he made, they amaze one with the clearness of their dramatic points and the delicacy of their emotional treatment.

    "My damn face kept me from getting a chance to be a writer or a director," Wally said, later on. He honestly felt that way about it, too. Nothing so incensed him as to feel that he was "getting by" because of his looks.

    A year after their marriage and about the time they bought their first little home just off Hollywood Boulevard--it stands there now, a small, vine- covered cottage that always gives me a lump in my throat when I pass it - Wally left Universal to go with D. W. Griffith. He took a cut in salary to do it, and a cut in salary meant a lot in those days, for salaries weren't very big at best and the little house wasn't paid for. But Wally was beginning to have high ideals of what might be done in pictures, and he wanted to work with D. W.

  25. #25
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    There he sustained the first and perhaps the only disappointment of his career - and even that proved in the end a golden boomerang. D. W. was getting ready to make The Clansman, which was called on the screen The Birth of a Nation. Henry B. Walthall had been cast as the Little Colonel.

    Suddenly he was taken ill. The Master - as they called Griffith then and as he will be to the end of the motion picture chapter - cast about for an adequate substitute, and his eye lighted on young Wallace Reid, who was again directing.

    That night there was joy in the little vine-covered cottage. Wally forgot his prejudice against acting. It was worth going back to if he could play such a part under such direction. Why, they actually went out and bought chicken for dinner, and Dorothy cooked it and Wally served it and they celebrated after the immemorial custom of young people.

    Costumes were fitted to the boy. Tests were made. They started shooting - and then Walthall recovered. Before 500 feet of the film was actually shot, Walthall was back on the lot and ready to go to work. It almost broke Wally's heart. They gave him instead the part of the young blacksmith who cleaned out the gang of Negroes. They told him in the end it would do him more good. And it did. Few who saw the film ever forgot the picture of Wally, stripped to the waist, smiling, a white, avenging god of strength among those mad colored men. But it was difficult to see that then, and Wally only took it because he was so disappointed he just didn't care.

    A short time later he was offered the lead with Geraldine Farrar in Carmen. It was the charm of Geraldine Farrar and his desire to work with her and know her that persuaded Wally to continue acting. One cannot blame him. Geraldine Farrar was at that time the most brilliant figure among American women. Famous as a beauty, as an artiste, as a wit, she occupied a dazzling position. A thoroughly justified position. A woman of dynamic force and of wide experience, a musician and an actress to her finger tips, she swayed the boy as no other personality with whom he had come in contact in his life up to that time had ever swayed him. Above all, she did something that he had thought it impossible for anyone to do. She awoke in him an interest in acting as an art. She saw at once the possibilities within him. And she set to work to bring them out. They had from the start one great common love - music.

    Wally had never neglected his violin, and after work they spent many hours at her home, or at the Reid home, where Dorothy held gracious sway, playing, singing, talking music and all that it meant to the human race. No further testimony to Wally's real ability as a musician is needed than that Geraldine Farrar allowed him to accompany her and to play violin obbligatos when she sang arias.

    It was a friendship that stimulated Wallace Reid in many ways. Her success, the fact that she was some years older than he was and had known most of the world's interesting people, made him accept her words as the utterings of an oracle. The flattery of her interest gave him a new self-confidence and a new ambition. It made him throw himself into the roles he played opposite her - in Carmen, Maria Rosa, The Woman God Forgot, and Joan the Woman - with an intensity he had never shown before. From that series of pictures he emerged a star by popular acclaim.

    He had also become a father. Young William Wallace Reid was born on June 10, 1917. We have had many descriptions in fiction and history of the anxiety of the young father awaiting the birth of his first child. A very wise woman once said to me, "You will know the character of your man and the quality of his love by the way he reacts to his first experience of fatherhood." This test Wallace Reid bore with a strength and sweetness that bound him and his wife with indestructible ties. His tenderness and care and sympathy were unfailing. And from the moment of his arrival in this world, young Bill was his dad's pal.

    They had moved from the first little vine-covered cottage to a charming home on Morgan Place in Hollywood, and later built the beautiful estate in the Hollywood foothills where Mrs. Reid and Bill still live. And during the ensuing years that home and little family stood with and by Wally, glorying in his triumphs, enjoying his laughter, fighting his enemies, and suffering in his tears.

    And now we come to that period of Wally's life, so many of the details of which are and must remain confused - a confusion that is like some great symphony gone mad - jazz mad.

    I have spoken in a general way of Wally Reid's idealism. Let us see of what, at this period, it consisted. Let us stop and look at the situation in which he now found himself and what he himself was and wanted to be.

    The motion picture business in those days was very different from the motion picture business of today. No other stars will ever hold the unique position occupied by Wallace Reid and Mary Pickford. The game has grown beyond that. There are too many attractive men and women, too much competition, too many theaters, too much interest now in the story, the settings, the cast, the photography. The motion picture fan has evolved, and the days of such enormous personal popularity as came to Wally are gone forever. No one can take Wally Reid's place because that place no longer exists. Like many another monarchy of this century, it has become a republic.

    Macaulay said of Lord Byron, "There is scarcely an instance in history of so sudden a rise to so dizzy an eminence." It is no exaggeration to say the same of Wallace Reid. And in many ways the story of these two gifted and unhappy young artists is not unalike. At a time when most men have just completed their education, when they are starting out to win by hard work and slow personal endeavor some of the good things of this world, this sensitive, untried, and untrained youth found himself, through practically no effort of his own, a sort of demigod.

    Nor can I put it more effectively than Macaulay again said of Byron, at a similar time in the poet's life: "Everything that could stimulate, and everything that could gratify the strongest propensities of our nature, the gaze of a hundred drawing-rooms, the acclamations of the whole nation, the applause of applauded men, the love of lovely women, all this world and all the glory of this world were at once offered to a youth to whom nature had given violent passions and whom education had never taught to control them. He lived as many men live who have no similar excuse to plead for their faults." Yet the desires of Wally's own heart were different.

    He had the untarnished dreams of high minded youth. In a letter written while he was away on location about that time, he said: "There are only a few things worth while in this world - and they are so easy to get. An open fire, books, a little music, and a friend you can talk to or keep silence with. I think that everything you get beyond that is in the end a burden and a temptation.

    "The happy lives are the quiet lives, aren't they? And yet, it is so hard to be quiet! I think you know how I feel about most things. But sitting up here alone at night thoughts come more clearly. Never to hurt anyone, to do good to others when you can, to keep your own code of honor unbroken, your soul unstained by lust or greed or pride, your mind unsullied by lies and pretense, your body strong and clean - these are the things you must do. You believe in God. Sometimes I do, too, though I can't always give Him a name. But always I do believe in good. I know there isn't any happiness possible for me without self-respect, and I could never respect myself if I fell below the standard I KNOW to be right."

    It was a boy's code, not a man's. The idealism of youth. No definite principles, no philosophy of life, had formed in this thought. His was a mind of unconscious striving for spiritual good, but it was not a trained mind. He felt, rather than thought. All that he had was a deep, natural, inborn desire for right and a great admiration for the fine, upright things of life. His love of beauty was that of the poet.

    He clung, all through this time, to those few friends who had combated the worst side of him, who had not hesitated to tell him the truth and to battle the unworthy things that surrounded him. That is in itself no mean test of right intention.

    We see, then, a very young man to whom life had been always kind. A boy born with a golden spoon, riding a smooth and easy path. A man of such charm that he was forgiven anything and everything. And there is nothing more terrible, in the end, than to be forgiven for those things which ought not to be forgiven us. Wally Reid was like Peter Pan. He never grew up.

    The irrational and yet beautiful idolatry with which he was regarded, his excessive popularity, startled him and bewildered him at first.

    "Why?" he said. "Why? I haven't done anything. I haven't accomplished anything."

    He had fought no dragons, beaten no enemies, conquered no obstacles, given nothing great or useful to humanity. And those, in his estimation, were the things on which one should rest. At first he tried to laugh it off. His modesty endured. Too much modesty - a sort of false humility which would not allow him to do many things he should have done, such as protecting himself from certain people and separating himself from certain environments, for fear that somebody might think he had grown conceited.

  26. #26
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    There was a peculiar thing in him that dreaded above everything else the infliction of pain, or to see another humiliated. It was all but impossible for him to say no - almost impossible for him to shut his door upon anyone, refuse to see anyone, or to do anything that gave people even momentary unhappiness. Consequently the house on Morgan Place and the big new home in Hollywood, with its swimming pool and its charming gardens and spacious rooms, became open houses. Wally was such a good fellow. Always had a smile and a ready handclasp, always made you feel happy and welcome and at home. Merriment was the order of the day. Wally played like the boy he was, and, because of that boyish quality in him, that play seemed innocent enough and drifted far into dissipation before he or anybody else realized it.

    People were always "dropping in." Dorothy Reid, with her quiet dignity and sound sense of values, tried again and again to shut the doors. But you couldn't do it with Wally there. The whole world was welcome to what he had. Just a lucky break he'd happened to get it instead of the other fellow. You had to share what you had with those less fortunate. The thought was beautiful. But, like many beautiful thoughts, its application was not practical. The privilege it accorded was abused. He never had any privacy, no regularity, and not half enough sleep. His popularity was like a sea swirling about him, and his marvelous physique upheld him so that he could not see any bad results. Never alone, never with time to rest and relax and read, as he loved to do. And almost no time to think. More than that, it broke him away from the men and women who might have given him something worth while.

    He was working early and late at the studio. Big stars don't work now as they worked then. Two or three pictures a year, with trips to Europe between and vacations at Palm Springs and a few months in New York to see the plays. Wally made eight or nine pictures a year and he worked long, hard, hot hours, and he did in those pictures an amazing amount of physical labor. James Cruze, who directed many of them and who was one of Wally's closest friends, says that no man in pictures has ever worked as hard as Wally worked, or burned up so much energy, or has given so much of his best qualities to the pictures as Wally did in the first years of his stardom. And he played as hard as he worked. He was always an extremist. He lacked balance, and the stream that swept him along never gave him time to establish any.

    There was, first of all, a great deal of money. At least it seemed a great deal of money to a young man who knew absolutely nothing of the value of money and cared less. Money meant nothing to Wally Reid, except the things he could buy and the people he could give it to. He immediately did too much of both, as is often the way with young men who are generous to a fault, who love life passionately and want to get the most out of it, who cannot understand business in any way, shape, or form.

    Like his father before him, Wally spent money, when he had it, for the things that captivated his imagination or stirred his fancy. He was equally apt to buy a new gown for Dorothy - his taste was unerring - a new electric railroad for Bill, or a new roadster for himself. When he didn't have money, it didn't worry him in the slightest. Whether he went to the studio in the morning with five dollars or $100, he came home without a dime. And as far as he was concerned, it didn't matter. Never in his life had he had any training in the handling of money, anything to teach him its value. If he got thirty dollars a month and "cakes," that was fine and he was happy. If he got $2,500 a week, that was fine, too, and he was happy, in a different way. I once saw a little black book in which Wally kept a sort of haphazard record of the money he had loaned to people. The names in it amazed me. But all you ever had to do was to ask and Wally gave.

    He saw the other fellow's viewpoint too well; his sympathies were too easily stirred; he was too deeply tolerant of all kinds of faults and suffering. "Gosh," he used to say, "I'm nobody to judge anyone!"

    Then there was fame. In a boyish sort of way, he loved it. But he handled it in a most peculiar and dangerous fashion. When people pointed him out, when he was circled by adoring throngs, small or great, he instantly tried to come down to their level. He felt abashed by their admiration. It overawed him. And to make himself comfortable again, to be sure that he didn't give anybody the idea that HE thought he was grand or important, he acted like a small boy who is afraid the other boys will "give him the razz."

    He was a great mixer, but he was never allowed to mix on equal terms. Somehow, he always became the center of everything. He did everything so well. His conversation was so amusing, his buffoonery so fascinating, his charm so drastic, that it always ended by Wally doing the entertaining while the rest sat and admired. This was not, I know, of his choosing. But it inevitably happened.

    There is nothing more dangerous to a man than to be separated from the equality of at least some of his fellow men, to lose that give and take, that easy and natural criticism and sympathy, which is possible only between equals. All during this period of his life Wally was unfortunate enough to have a court, a gang of admirers, none of whom were his equals.

    His predicament was due partly to lack of time. He was busy, he was terribly overworked, he was careless. He took what came nearest to hand. And the nearest to hand was a gang of flattering sycophants such as surrounded Louis XV. The strong, cold winds of honest male companionship with men of his own class and mental caliber did not blow upon him - only the breezes of perfumed words and self-seeking adulation.

    I do not believe that anyone who did not actually see it will every quite understand the woman angle of Wally's life at this time. It is a difficult matter to deal with. This is a biography which must in many ways touch the living, and, since they must not be hurt, the subject is one of extreme delicacy. But unless it is honestly dealt with you cannot get a fair estimate of the hurricane of temptations that were sweeping the boy. He was not a man who cared especially for women. He had sowed no wild oats. He had passed through one sweet and worthy young love affair to a happy and complete marriage. As a woman who possessed and valued his friendship, I know how deeply he revered women, how he desired to idealize them. From them he expected and wanted the best, and he hoped that they would want the best from him.

    The three women to whom he gave a permanent feeling of love and trust were his wife, a woman of exceptional fineness and strength; his mother, as deeply spiritual and idealistic a soul as ever lived on earth; and myself - and I was to him a combination of pal and sister, and he never once asked me to soften my judgment or to temper my thoughts of him or anything he did. He always said that we were the only persons who always told him the truth, and to the very end he gave us all that was best and most loyal in himself. But many women did their best to destroy in him that idealism. No man, not even Byron himself, has ever been so besieged by the attention of women. Let me tell you a few instances that may startle you, but that will make you concede my point.

    There was, for instance, the beautiful society woman, a leader of the most exclusive smart set in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Her beauty was a tradition, her name a power, her position unassailable. And yet for a year she sent Wally a continual stream of pictures of herself which nobody but her husband should have seen. They were beautiful pictures, calculated to tempt St. Anthony himself. She sent him a key to her apartment, which nobody knew she kept. She gave his valet a diamond ring worth thousands of dollars to admit her to Wally's dressing room, and once there she exercised all her grace and splendor and knowledge of men to win his passing fancy.

    One day when Wally and Dorothy and I were leaving the studio to go to their house for dinner, we found a girl hidden under the robe in the back seat of the car. I stepped on her, as a matter of fact, in getting in. I have never seen anyone more exquisite. Bronze hair and great violet eyes and the body of a wood nymph. Her father was an officer holding high rank in the United States Army and her mother was one of the most noted women in Washington. No one knew where she was. She had run away from a fashionable boarding school, sold her jewelry to buy a ticket and come West to see Wally. And, let me tell you, when I say she was irresistibly lovely, I mean just that. Dorothy and I - Wally washed his hands of her from the start in much annoyance - had a time with that child. We didn't know who she was or where she came from. She secreted herself under Wally's bed, she haunted the studio and the house, exquisitely dressed, her big eyes full of tears. When we finally found out her father's name and wired, he came West to take her home. She got off the train and San Bernardino and telephoned Wally that she was going to kill herself. But she didn't.

    Then, the beautiful ex-Follies girl, who had married a multimillionaire, and was famous on Broadway for the damage she had done to masculine hearts. She came to Hollywood, too, with a wardrobe from Paris and a bag of tricks I've never seen equaled. She succeeded in winning a visiting prince, but for all her subtlety she failed to win Wally.

  27. #27
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    This is the merest cross-section, the tiniest fraction, of the sort of thing Wally Reid, a boy still in his early twenties, went through day after day. I do not condemn those women. I know nothing of their problems. Perhaps they didn't understand. But certainly they did all that a woman can do to undermine a man's moral fiber and the pressure of their pursuit and flattery must have told.

    Through it all, Wally Reid started in merely to have a good time, to enjoy life. Young, hot blooded, full of laughter, of excitement, of the love of speed, he stepped into the current. And the current bore him along to dissipation, and from dissipation to disaster.

    But if the most hardened moralist, the sternest critic, will sit back very quietly for a moment and try to estimate the strength of that current of sudden wealth and fame upon a boy of twenty-five, perhaps he will be more ready to weep than to condemn. If his critics will try to put themselves for one moment in Wally's place honestly, they will only be sad that one so young and fine should have been subjected to the pressure of such a pace. After all, it is part of the prayer Jesus gave us, "Lead us not into temptation."

    What was it Macaulay said of Byron? "He lived as many men live who have no similar excuse to plead for their faults." And he condemned himself more harshly than could anyone else in the world.

    Then came the World War.

    I still believe that the beginning of the end for Wallace Reid was when he didn't put on a uniform. I will show you that he never forgave himself. And then, long afterward, worn out by illness, by overwork, by remorse, by the pace of pleasure which had caught him up, weakened by flattery and indulgence, he met his arch-enemy for the first time. And the death struggle began.

    Wallace Reid's connection with the World War was a soul problem of which few people knew. On the face of things, in the eyes of the man in the street, even according to the judgment of the fervent patriot, Wally Reid's war record is not subject to attack from any source or angle. In the boy's own eyes that record was stamped indelibly with the black "S" of slacker. He himself felt that he had failed, that his manhood was smirched, that he had fallen below his own standard and the standard of the Reid family. All that was American in him responded to the thoughts and feelings that swept this country into war in 1917. The thrill of the red, white, and blue was in his blood- bred there by generations of men who had helped to make it what it was and to keep its glory untarnished. All that was boy in his heart heard the call of the great adventure - war. All that was dramatic in him reacted to uniforms, bands, battle tales, and the chance for service and heroism. All that was idealistic in him responded to Woodrow Wilson's call to make the "world safe for democracy."

    He was twenty-five. He stood six feet one, and he weighted 190 pounds.

    He was a crack shot. His physical condition was good. He had been to military school and knew the drill and regulations. Kipling was his favorite author and Mulvaney his favorite character. Can you doubt that he wanted to get into the thick of it?

    In 1919 he gave me a picture himself in the uniform of a British lieutenant - taken when he played the English boy in the prologue of Joan the Woman - and across it he scrawled, "Just a so-and-so who never got into uniform except when he put on his grease paint." That is the keynote. The thing had gone deep. No one thing so fatally undermined Wally's self-respect as his failure to join the A. E. F. If he had gone, the thing that happened to him would never have happened. He might not have come back from Chateau-Thierry, but had he gone to France and returned safely he could have weathered anything.

    Once again fate switched the fails of his destiny. Once again outside facts and circumstances and people controlled his decision to his own undoing. However, it is but just to say that probably none of them dreamed for an instant of the effect of all this upon the boy. Here are the facts:
    The Reids had a very small baby when America decided to get into the big show. Mrs. Reid had been out of pictures for some years, and during the year following Bill's birth her health had not been of the best. Wally's father and mother were dependent upon him at that time. Hal Reid died a short time afterward. Bertha Westbrook Reid had been left, when she and Hal were divorced, with but a small portion of what had once been a good sized fortune. Dorothy Reid had always kept Mrs. Davenport with her, and after the arrival of her son felt more and more the need of her mother's help in the confused and difficult life which she faced as the wife of a great star and matinee idol. All of which put Wallace Reid pretty well down the list of deferred classifications, as far as the draft was concerned.

    Furthermore, as far as he himself was concerned, he had saved no money to meet such obligations. Wally had been getting a big salary for only a short time and it had never occurred to him to put any of it away. In spite of this, he wanted to enlist, and he said so. The opposition from all quarters was intense, and reasonably so. His drawing power at the box office had just hit its peak. To understand his importance to the organization with which he was connected it would be necessary to go into involved financial details and long explanations of the selling end of motion pictures. I think we can get at it by simply saying that Wallace Reid was for years the "whip" of the Paramount program. His pictures were sure-fire money makers, and exhibitors were taking some much less desirable films only in order to get the Reid pictures. Much of the early prosperity and success of the Paramount organization was built upon Wallace Reid.

    Naturally, they opposed his enlisting, voluntarily and without need and over obstacles, in an army where he might be killed or disfigured. To them, it meant the loss of millions of dollars and the removal of that corner stone upon which they were building their future plans. They brought to bear upon him every sort of pressure in the form of sane and reasonable argument. In the army he would be just one more man, just another gun, just another stopgap.

    There were plenty of men willing and ready, without obligations to either family or business associates. Let them go first. If the time came when men in deferred classifications were needed, that would be a different proposition. Also, the world needed amusement as it had never needed it before. He was filling that need. And he could be of much more use to the cause in drives, in benefits, in keeping up the morale of the nation than he could by carrying a single gun against the Germans.

    The war fervor is over. We know a good deal more now about the war than we did then. The viewpoint of Wally's company and his family seems to us in the cool light of today the only sane and normal one.

    There are many reasons why it is impossible to tell of some of the fine work Wally did behind the scenes of the war. This is and must continue to be part of the unwritten history which belongs to every war. Many of the details I do not know myself, but I do know that Wallace Reid served the Secret Service of his government and was of exceptional value to it all through the days of fighting. Also, he raised large sums of money, both for organizations helping the boys at the front and for the Liberty Loans. He opened his home to the disabled veterans after the Armistice, and gave liberally of his money and his time and his talents before its signing.

    Nevertheless, at any cost to himself and others, he should have gone to France.

    A man who has not the training or the judgment or the power to reconcile his ideals to the world he must live in can be mortally wounded by other things than bullets. In this matter, Wally fell into the gap between a high idealism and a reasonable, practical necessity. He spent too much of himself in remorse - about this and other things.

    Wally yielded, for he stood alone. In fact, he kept to himself his own desires and dreams, for fear he might burden those who needed him with the sight of his bitter disappointment. But he hated himself. He was, in his own opinion, just a low-lived slacker. Those who did not enlist he despised. And he was one of them! Nice company! As far as he could see, he just wasn't worth a damn.

    I do not think he was ever criticized to any extent for not donning khaki. But he believed that everybody else thought the same things he was thinking. We winced every time he passed a man in uniform.

    His confidence in himself faded to zero. What did it matter what he did? You couldn't get any lower than being a white-livered cur who stayed home and acted in front of a camera when every MAN was risking his life at Chateau-Thierry or Vimy Ridge. The shattering of the idealist took a long step forward.

    There was, when you stop to consider it, a vast significance in something seemingly trivial that happened about this time. That was Wally's change from the violin to the saxophone as his favorite musical instrument. His love of the violin had been a very deep and sacred thing. He had given to it his very best, expressing his inner dreams, satisfying his love of beauty, touching the stars through its divine voice. On quiet evenings, which grew fewer and fewer as life went on and the merry-go-round whirled faster and faster, he would play for hours, with Dorothy accompanying him.

    Those hours had always brought them very close, renewed their devotion to each other. To the wife they were like oases in a desert.

  28. #28
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    But the violin was no favorite with the gay, joy seeking, hilarious young folks--and all Hollywood was unbelievably young in those days. Success and gold belonged to youth--who pressed about Wally. The saxophone was their instrument. It took Wally about two weeks to master it. Like everything else he did, he did is superlatively well. He made a collection of saxophones, little ones and big ones, gold ones and silver ones. He could go into a cafe and make the rounds of any good jazz orchestra and play every instrument, including the drums, better than the performers--and he often did. But he rarely touched his violin after that.

    In the summer of 1921 Wallace Reid went to New York to make a picture from Du Maurier's great novel, Peter Ibbetson, the picture called Forever. He had been back but once since his first departure for Hollywood, and then only for a brief visit to introduce his wife and son to his mother.

    He did not want to go in 1921. He had been, for the first time in his life, rather desperately ill. His nerves, of which he himself was totally unconscious, but which nevertheless lay very near the surface, were strung to the breaking point by the continual rebellion within himself over the life he was leading. His physical condition was beginning to show the result of the terrific pace at which he was living and working. He never took any care of himself - drove himself to the last ounce of energy always.

    About that time the dentist found it necessary to pull nine of his teeth at one time, and the shock to his system and the nervous irritation following it told on him. Besides, he loved his home more than any other man I have ever known - really loved it. It was part of him. They could follow him into, but very few persons could drag him out of it. That home influence - the companionship of his devoted, humorous, understanding wife and the presence of the son who was growing up a pal - had kept him normal under stress, or at least had kept him from going "hay wire."

    On a picture which now hangs over his widow's desk, and which is dated just a little while before his departure for the East, he wrote, "To our Mama, Wally's and Bill's, with all my devoted love, Your Wally-Boy." That was how he felt about it. And at the last moment Dorothy could not go with him to New York. Bill had had a hard siege of whooping cough and it didn't seem safe to take him East into the summer heat. Nor could his mother leave him.

    So Wally went alone. He did not love New York at best. After California and the easy, informal, outdoor life he had become accustomed to, he dreaded the rush of the city. And he knew, perhaps, that he would be swamped by attentions, by people, by demands of all kinds.

    In New York he had nothing that he wanted and everything he didn't want: none of the things that were good for him and all the things that were bad. He happened to dislike both the director and the co-star of the picture with the peculiar intensity of a man who dislikes very few people.

    In consequence, they didn't like him; and Wally resembled many other sensitive people in that he put his worst foot forward with anyone who didn't happen to like him. He was, in the last analysis, one of those peculiar, chameleon souls that take character from the expectations of those about them.

    The weather in New York - it was the July of the Dempsey-Carpentier fight - was insufferably hot and humid, and Wally was used to the desert heat and cold nights of California. Also, he had to have his hair marcelled every day! And that enraged him out of all measure. He was overpowered once more by the nature of his profession, the futility of his work, the unmanly quality of the things which he was doing.

    Privacy was something of which he knew no more than the now proverbial goldfish. Old friends, new friends, members of the organization, newspaper reporters, gushing admirers, celebrities who counted him one of the inner circle, women of all kinds, ranks, and degrees of beauty and intelligence, moved in upon him. As a result of all this, he had a bad case of insomnia, when night after night he tossed in the sticky, dripping heat without closing his eyes until dawn, and then had to get up and start working at nine.

    I saw him the day he left for that trip. He stopped by my house on his way to the station to say good-by to my small daughter, Elaine, who was his special pet. I remember that he started matchmaking when she and Bill were in their cradles - she was only a year and a half younger - and decided that he and Dorothy and I would one day be mutual grandparents. Elaine and her "Uncle Wally" would spend long hours on the floor operating a set of mechanical animals he had bought for her, and I could never make up my mind which one of them enjoyed it more. On that day he looked ill and unhappy. A premonition of danger and disaster hung over him.

    "I wish I hadn't agreed to go," he said.

    But, for all that he was thin and a little drawn, his eyes were the same steady, clear eyes into which you could look and fine the truth about anything. He was going "on the wagon," he said, for the whole trip.

    When he came back a few months later, I went with Dorothy to meet him at the train. The change in him appalled me. It was like meeting a stranger or seeing a dear friend through a thick veil. Dorothy had sensed the thing, naturally, much more quickly and deeply than I had. A little white mask seemed to have slipped over her radiant face.

    It is not necessary to go into details. I do not know them, anyway. I doubt if Dorothy Reid herself knows them - only this: A doctor in New York had given Wally some "sleeping powders" to help him conquer the "white nights." He had come to depend upon them. There was in Wally a deep strain of the experimentalist. He would try anything once. His curiosity about every phase of life was enormous, and he suffered from that common delusion that he, at least, could do anything and not be touched by it. Many things gave evidence of this trait. In the basement of his home he had a fully equipped chemical laboratory. When you missed him from parties, you were pretty certain to find him down there, messing around with all kinds of stuff. New inventions and discoveries of which he read always interested him enormously and he liked to investigate them.

    The great interest in medicine which had possessed him as a boy never left him. He had a natural bent for it, as he had for so many things. When the troupe was on location in the high Sierras, he once set four broken fingers for one of the prop boys and did a perfect job, according to the Hollywood surgeon who examined the hand when they returned.

    One night a party of us were returning from San Pedro, where we had dined on the house boat of a banker. It was almost dawn as we swept along the boulevard, with Wally at the wheel. Now and again we passed market trucks and wagons piled high with fruit and vegetables. When we had almost reached the city limits, we came upon a bad automobile smash-up. A fast driven roadster had upset one of the produce carts. A woman had been badly injured. It wasn't a pretty sight, but Wally was out and into it and, with extraordinary coolness, had the whole situation in had in two minutes. He did everything that could be done with the contents of his first-air kit, and then Dorothy drove the car to the receiving hospital, while he held the woman as motionless and comfortable as possible. The doctor at the receiving hospital told us there could be no question that Wally had saved the woman's life. His knowledge, actually slight but augmented by his uncanny facility, made him think of himself as a doctor. And it gave him an easy familiarity with medicines, a confidence in his ability to handle them, which was exceedingly bad for him.

    The change in Wally after that New York trip was apparent to everyone close to him. An indescribable, baffling something surrounded him, which no one could understand. It was as though some malignant fairy had transformed him with one wave of her want into a distorted image of his former self. He had soared along at a terrific speed, packing together work, play, achievement, hobbies to the nth degree, burning the candle at both ends, managing somehow to do twice as much as anyone else did - all in a few years. And suddenly he had crashed.

    The gradual decline of the next few months, the crumbling of the physical man, the dimming of the things in him that were so wonderful and so lovable, were enough to make the angels weep.

    He worked - worked, as he had always one, faithfully and consistently, when he could hardly walk on the set. His eyes went back on him in a final, terrible case of Klieg eye caused by working under the powerful lights; but still he carried on. He played his part, but the old lovable, irresistible smile, that had won its way around the universe, was a shadow of itself. Sometimes a terrific effort would lift him back for a moment to the boy of yesterday, the boy the whole world loved. But the flame was gone. The shining light within, which had reached out and touched hearts, didn't burn any more. I do not think that he himself realized the change.

    He hardly knew what was happening. An enemy from without had taken possession of him, blurred his vision, eaten into his soul, numbed his mind. He was going through the motions of living, but the boy Wally was held fast in the grip of something that above all things paralyzed his consciousness of himself.

  29. #29
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    The Indianapolis road race of 1922 brought things out from under cover, precipitated the climax. The realization of the actual nature of the trouble mounted to a certainty, and his family, his real friends, his business superiors - the only ones then who actually knew - stood still for a time, poised in horror and bewilderment. It is proof of the love and respect in which they held him that there was no condemnation - nothing but a pity that tore every heart.

    Not Wally! Not The Boy!

    There again the charm of the man did him a fatal injustice. For, as a matter of fact, we had all known, deep down in hour hearts. But we had shuddered back from connecting it with the bright and shining things that Wally represented to us; from the horror of facing him with it, of seeing that proud and gay and loving spirit bowed before us. Yet, if the thing had been faced sooner it might have had a different end. A victim of a malady more terrible than any mere disease of the flesh, our old instinct to make things easy for him allowed us to stand back and let him face alone a problem which he wasn't even capable of recognizing, a problem whose most deadly weapon is that it makes an ally of its prey.

    Wally's determination to drive in the Indianapolis race forced our hands, drove us into the open. He had decided to drive his great English speed demon, the Sunbeam, in the Decoration Day races. He was a licensed racing driver. The honor was one he valued highly. He counted Roscoe Sarles and Jimmy Murphy among his closet pals. The thing became an obsession with him. Arguments were powerless. The threats of the company that such an action would break his contract didn't touch him.

    The pleas of his friends were unavailing. Whether or not there was, deep down, a desire to die with his boots on, an almost subconscious hope that this would be a final, grand gesture, no one knows. But his decision to go was the first and only stubborn thing I ever saw about him. He had his mechanics get his car in shape. He set the date of his departure.

    He could not go there to drive. It was worse than suicide, in his weakened mental and physical condition. It might be murder. Taking upon her slim shoulders the whole burden, as she had so quietly and so courageously shouldered many other burdens, Dorothy Davenport Reid spoke at last.
    "You cannot go," she said. "You would endanger the lives of your friends, Wally. And that I know you would never do." Nor would he. That appeal stopped him. But at last they were face to face with a greater thing than any road race.

    I have tried to show you how Wally's feet strayed into this fatal path. His self-respect had been destroyed by his own inner contempt for his work, by his failure to go into the trenches, by his own falls from grace in the face of overpowering temptations, and by his excessive remorse following them. His moral fiber had been weakened by the continual onslaught of temptation and the smothering of continual flattery, and the association with people who dragged him down in his own estimation, and by the lack of companions who could uplift and inspire him. His fear had been lulled to sleep by his own belief in his knowledge of medicine. His soul strength and character had ceased to grow because of the great ease with which all the glories of the world came to him. His health had been fatally undermined by overwork and nerve strain, by insomnia and illness. Under the paralyzing grip of a thing which had come upon him unawares, he was no more himself than you would be under the administration of ether. He acted blindly, and if sometimes he saw himself as he had become, he sank himself again in the fog rather than face himself.

    But at last he had to face himself.

    No one can know, no one should know, what Dorothy Reid bore in those days. Her first fight was to keep others from knowing. Her big fight was to break the grip of this thing upon the man she loved, whose genius and idealism she knew better than anyone else in the world. "Our Mama, Wally's and Bill's." With the aid of one or two trusted friends - in her beautiful self- sacrifice she spared Wally's mother that last battle - she forced Wally back, through agonies that were more terrible to her than to him, into clear consciousness.

    At last Wally Reid was himself again. The mind that had been clouded, the soul that had cowered out of sight, were functioning once more. At first he was like a man who had lost his memory, who could not fill the gap of time. For weeks he had been in sanitariums and hospitals, helped day and night by all that science could do to make the break from this disease bearable to human mind and body. Dorothy had never left his bedside, giving everything she had to give in an effort to help him, but yielding not one inch to his mortal enemy, even when Wally joined that enemy against her. And so he day came when the boy lay spent and broken, but himself; able to look at her with honest eyes which held such love as few women will ever see.

    He knew. And his remorse was terrible. His tears - contemplating the wreck of such high hopes and aspirations - kept him company day and night. Of him might it truly be said, "His bread was sorrow and his drink was tears." But the crucifixion was to come.

    Hope had crept into the little room where he lay. After all, he was young - just past thirty. Love - love of those who knew him and love of the world - surrounded him still. He could come back. He could justify that love, which now, in his dark hour, he so greatly prized. Flashes of the old fighting spirit with which he had been born and had never had a need to use flamed forth. He longed for music and lay listening for hours to the great masterpieces of music on the phonograph that had been moved into his room. Or he asked Dorothy to read such poets as Keats and Mrs. Browning or the comedies of Shakespeare. Never, in many ways, had he risen to the heights of vision and the desire for fine things which he showed in those days when his worn body lay helpless upon a couch of pain.

    Then the blow fell.

    He wasn't getting better. He was getting steadily worse - fatally worse. The ravages were not healing. They were increasing and slowly doing him to death. But one thing would save his life. A return to the old bondage, for a time at least; a medically directed, careful, moderate return. His system could not bear the sudden release. He faced it bravely; death or a return to the thing that had destroyed him, that had almost killed his spirit, that had burned his soul. He looked, as always in moments of stress and trial, to his wife. But this time she shook her head. That was too much to ask - that she, who loved him so, make such a choice. All she could do was to kneel beside him, holding his thin hands in her strong, comforting ones, and abide by his decision. And so his last and great decision was the first which he made alone. It was great, as the boy was essentially and fundamentally great.

    "I'll go out clean," he said. "I'd rather my body died than to go back to the thing that almost killed me. At least, I'm myself now. I'll - go out clean."
    And then he said to her a thing which Dorothy Reid may wear all her life as a crown and which will serve her always as a consolation.

    "I believe in God now," he said. "No one but God could have made the love you've given me. I'm not afraid."

    So he signed his own death warrant. So he made his choice. He went out - clean and unafraid. And that clean and fearless and self-chosen death gives him a right to occupy the place in our memories which he occupied in our hearts for so many years.

    - END -Adela Rogers St. Johns, Liberty (23 June - 14 July 1928


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    Motography, 18 January 1913
    Wallace Reid, director of one of the "Flying A" companies, sustained severe injuries to his left leg when, on horseback, he was giving chase to a runaway on the boulevard one afternoon recently. His horse fell with the rider beneath it. Mr. Reid and Miss Lillian Christy, leading woman of the company, and been at the plaza and were about to return uptown. The two horses were untied when that of Miss Christy's dashed away. Mr. Reid was immediately astride his own and giving chase to the runaway. He was in a wild gallop about a block from the plaza when the animal lost its footing on the pavement and fell, carrying its rider with it. Mr. Reid's left leg was pinned beneath his mount and he suffered a severe sprain of the left ankle. The runaway stopped of its own accord upon overtaking other "Flying A" horses which it had started to follow. Mr. Reid's injuries did not interfere with the direction of his company, although he will not be able to wear a shoe on the injured foot for several days. [This injury continued to bother Reid for the remainder of his life, and is referred to in the series of articles written by his wife.]
    New York Telegraph, March 1919
    Nearly every member of the Wallace Reid company was injured in an accident last Monday [2 March 1919] in northern California, when a train caboose, carrying the Reid company of players, jumped the tracks on a trestle bridge near Arctas and turned over. Wallace Reid sustained a three-inch scalp wound, which required six stitches to close. Grace Darmond and others in the company suffered similar cuts and bruises...[This is the head injury for which Reid was given morphine to ease the pain.]
    Variety, 25 November 1920

    Had Dope For Sale
    Los Angeles: Thomas H. Tyner, alias Claude Walton, alias Bennie Walton, was taken into custody here on a local lot with seven bundles of heroin on his person, according to the arresting officer. He was arraigned before U.S. Commissioner Long and held for $1,000 bail for a preliminary examination. It is said Tyner declared he was delivering the dope to one of the best known male picture stars on the coast and that it had been the second time he was engaged to deliver to the same star, whose wife, in the hope of having him break the habit, informed the authorities.
    Los Angeles Herald, 25 May 1921

    Trailing a suspect in a taxicab to the home of a prominent actor in Hollywood, three officers today took into custody a man giving the name of Joe Woods, 34, said by them to be a notorious narcotic distributor, and confiscated $1000 worth of morphine. Woods was booked at the city jail on a charge of violating the state poison law and was held on default of $500 bail pending arraignment before Police Judge George H. Richardson. Inspectors Fred Borden and Peoples of the state board of pharmacy and Detective Sergeants O'Brien and Yarrow of the police narcotic squad, nabbed Woods, according to records at detective headquarters. Reports received by the state and city officers indicated the suspect was active in the unlawful distribution of narcotics. They followed him in a police automobile to Hollywood, they say, and took him into custody in the pretentious home of the actor while, it is charged, he was attempting to sell his wares. According to the police, Woods, who is well known to them as a narcotic peddler, recently finished serving a term at the county jail after being found guilty of violating a federal law in the unlawful distribution of narcotics. The officers who arrested Woods declined to reveal the name of the actor. It was explained by them that the actor was neither an addict nor a distributor, and played no part in the arrest of the suspect.
    Variety, 23 September 1921

    ...It is known the wife of one of the most popular of the younger male stars has time and again had the peddlers of dope supplying her husband arrested, but she has been unable to get her husband to break his habit...
    New York Times, 26 August 1922

    Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Reid to Adopt Child
    Los Angeles: Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Reid petitioned the Superior Court today for permission to adopt Betty Mummert, 3 years old, whose parents have consented to the adoption. Mrs. Reid is known to the screen as Dorothy Davenport. [It was rumored in Hollywood that this adopted daughter was in reality Wallace Reid's own daughter.]
    Los Angeles Examiner, 21 October 1922

    Wallace Reid Seriously Ill in Sanitarium
    Wallace Reid is seriously ill. Waging a valiant battle against a combination of maladies the debonair, dashing hero of screenland was reported last night as "doing as well as could be expected." From his bedside in a sanitarium Dorothy Davenport, actress, in private life Mrs. Wallace Reid, said in effect: "Wallace is a very sick man. It is true that his condition is serious but he is not dying, as was the rumor this afternoon." Attending physicians and Miss Davenport announced that the dangerous illness is a combination of a nervous breakdown and an eye disorder known in cinema circles as "kleig eye." "Kleig eye," it was explained, is similar to "snow blindness" and is brought on by long and continued exposure of the eyes to powerful batteries of calcium lights used in moving pictures. The stricken screen star, Miss Davenport said, has been in ill health for several months because of overwork and the eye malady. The combination proved too much for his physique Wednesday and he suffered a "complete breakdown." Reid has appeared in more pictures than any male star in the studios here, his friends assert, and his eyes, never strong, failed completely about two weeks ago. For several days he was blind, they say, but during the last week his eyes grew stronger, but his nervousness was accentuated. The climax came when he started to work on the Lasky "lot" a week ago on a picture known as "Nobody's Money." He was cast for the lead, but was unable to continue after the first day or so. Scenes in which he was not scheduled to appear were "shot" while the supporting company waited for his recovery. But yesterday it was announced that Jack Holt had been signed to play the lead in "Nobody's Money." Reid requested and obtained a four weeks' vacation from the Lasky Corporation which ended Wednesday. During that period he camped and hunted in the mountains in an attempt to stem the onrushing nervous breakdown.

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    Los Angeles Times, 16 December 1922
    Wallace Reid, international screen idol and hero of scores of film plays, has voluntarily given up the use of narcotics and is now playing out the most heroic role of his life in a Hollywood sanitarium where his determined attempt to win out over drugs and whisky have brought him to so low an ebb of physical resistance that his life is in danger.
    Two months ago Reid determined to break himself of the use of stimulants. Yesterday members of his family talked freely to The Times with the purpose of quieting the many false rumors which have grown and spread from coast to coast during the last two years--rumors which have run the gamut of sensationalism from tales of hopeless addiction to morphine and heroin to widely spread and unfounded reports that the Lasky star had reached a stage of partial blindness and equally untrue tales that his condition had become such that psychopathic treatment had been found necessary.
    The truth of the situation is that Mr. Reid is perilously weak and suffering from collapse and a high temperature: he is in a sanitarium in Hollywood under the care of two doctors and constantly under the surveillance of two male nurses, but his determination to stage a "come- back" both personally and on the screen is unshaken, and his will power and cheerfulness are unimpaired.
    Wild liquor parties at the Reid home, called "more like a road-house" by Mrs. Davenport, featured Mr. Reid's slow decline to where he was forced to rely upon stimulants to carry him through his acting on the Famous Players-Lasky lot in Hollywood. The parties, according to Mrs. Davenport, were made up in a large part of "friends," not even invited by her son-in-law. It is these persons who are chiefly to blame, she said.
    Almost three years ago members of the Reid household first noticed the change in the star's actions, they declared yesterday. The change dated from a severe injury sustained by Mr. Reid while he was filming a picture near San Francisco. A large rock falling from an overhanging bank struck Reid on the back of the head and knocked him out. Eleven stitches were taken by physicians in the actor's scalp.
    From the date of the accident to Reid's general break-down last September, his family yesterday traced his decline. Party after party in which liquor flowed like water marked the path. From whisky the trail branched to narcotics and ended just two months ago when Mr. Reid decided to fight it out and win his way back...
    From the bedside of her husband, Mrs. Dorothy Davenport Reid went to the home of a friend and there made a brief statement. "My husband is a sick, sick boy," Mrs. Reid declared. "I don't know if he will recover, but he has broken his habit and won his fight. He made this fight of his own free will and has won it by the strength of his own mind and will. I know that he will come back...I have never been able to learn how much morphine was supplied a day by the peddlers to poor Wally, but he bought the drug here and also in the East. He had to have it. Then some time ago he fought his first battle with the habit and we all thought that he had won, but he was unable to shake clear and was unable to do so until about two months ago, when he left the studio, went into the hills and won his fight. One week after he returned to us he broke down. Now he is fighting for his life."...
    From Mrs. Davenport, the wife's mother, the story of the plucky struggle was learned...Mrs. Davenport declared, "For months before Wally went to the sanitarium he was unable to sleep at night. For hours he remained awake in bed and always Dorothy, heavy eyed, sat by him and soothed him like a mother. He seemed to depend upon her and she did not fail him. He would awaken her in the early morning hours and she would stroke his hair and croon him to sleep. "Dorothy fought and lost, and then kept on fighting and won. The big struggle is over. Now we must nurse Wallace back to health." The future for the film star, according to friends and others employed in the Famous Players-Lasky studio is uncertain. It is said that he is expected to be back at work the second week in January. Nothing has been officially given out concerning Mr. Reid except that he has been ill from "overwork and a bad case of Klieg eyes."...
    Los Angeles Times, 17 December 1922
    ...[Will] Hays attempted during the course of the afternoon to get into communication with Jesse Laksy, who finally telephoned him at his Ambassador suite and declared that he would refuse to issue any statement regarding Mr. Reid. Mr. Lasky reminded Mr. Hays that last June he had detailed a physician and a nurse to attend Mr. Reid and watch him constantly, everywhere he went from the cellar to the bathroom. This was at the time of Mr. Reid's first breakdown...
    New York Times, 19 December 1922
    Los Angeles: ...In an interview in the Los Angeles Examiner, Mrs. Reid told just how near death her husband had been. "He thought he would die the other night," she said. "He was so brave about it, poor boy. For three nights he had expected to die. He isn't afraid to die, but he wants so much to live for Billy and Betty and me," referring to their son and adopted daughter. Mrs. Reid, in describing his condition just before the present breakdown, said that he wept and said: "How did I happen to let myself go? Why couldn't I have stopped long ago? I thought I was so strong; I thought I knew myself so well; I can't understand it." In an interview given to The Examiner at a Hollywood sanitarium, one of Reid's physicians said: "Mr. Reid has been near death for the last five or six days. His temperature has repeatedly reached 103 and his pulse 130. His heart action is irregular and weak. He has fainted on an average of three times daily and has lost seventy pounds. Laboratory finds at the present time indicate he is suffering either from a condition of complete exhaustion or from influenza. A re-infection of influenza is possible at any time and could cause his death. This is not anticipated by attending physicians, but must be and is being considered. His present illness has no connection with overindulgences in alcohol or narcotics, although such indulgences have undoubtedly undermined his strength and system in months gone by."
    Harry Carr, Los Angeles Times, 24 December 1922
    ...Some months ago there was formed an organization called the "Federated Arts," which was made up of directors, camera men, scenario writers, electricians, etc. The stated purpose was to boycott any picture stars who were not conducting themselves in a manner to bring credit to the industry. Everybody understood that it was directed at Wally Reid and two or three other stars. A delegation went to Lasky and asked him to remove Wally Reid from the films - at least, until he cured himself of the dope habit. According to the story told by the survivors, Mr. Lasky promised to investigate, but did nothing. The truth is that Reid presented himself at "the front office" with heated denials, threats and demands for an investigation. He offered to allow physicians to examine him, etc. So the affair came to nothing. After that, an informal scheme was proposed by some of Wally's friends to forcibly kidnap him and take him to some hospital for treatment. This also fell through. The remnants of the Federated Arts have burned with the rebuff ever since...
    San Francisco Examiner, 3 January 1923
    ...Simultaneously with Barker's appearance before the commissioner in Oakland word reached here from Los Angeles that State and Federal narcotic agents had raided the sanitarium of "Dr." C. B. Blessing in that city, which advertises the "Barker Cure" as its principal attraction. Correspondence between Barker and Blessing was seized, as well as records of persons treated in the southern institution. Prominent in the correspondence was the name of Juanita Hansen, motion picture actress, to whom reference was made as a former patient in the Barker sanitarium at Oakland.... A letter from Barker to Blessing was found in which the Oakland "reformer" told of the "kick" he had gotten out of seeing Juanita Hansen on the screen in a motion picture, knowing that "she was then in bed in our place." ...The entry of the Blessing establishment in regard to Wallace Reid showed that he entered the southern sanitarium last October 19. His age is given as 31, birthplace as Missouri, height 6 feet 2 inches, and weight 156 pounds. Reid's normal weight is 190. The record stated that Reid's use of drug, at the time of his admittance, was three to six grains of morphine a day. The record concluded: "Treatment of morphinism for two weeks and partial withdrawal accomplished. Reid later entered another sanitarium, where he is recently reported as improved in health. [This item seems to contradict Mrs. Reid's written statement that Reid had been abstaining from drugs for at least six weeks before his admission to the sanitarium. And she also strongly implies that his admission to the sanitarium was not for drug addiction but for dysentery, which is also contradicted here.]

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    Louis Weadock, Los Angeles Examiner, 19 January 1923
    Screen Idol Succumbs to Drug Curse
    Los Angeles, January 18: "Wally" Reid has played his last scene. After a long, hard fight against odds greater than those that he overcame in the moving pictures in which he starred for eight years, he died in a Hollywood sanitarium this afternoon, his hand in the hand of his wife. The doctor's certificate says he died from congestion of the lungs, but everybody who knew him knows that the drug habit killed "Wally" Reid.... During the forty-eight hours preceding his death she [Dorothy Davenport Reid] did not leave his room in the Banksia Place Sanitarium. During the last six weeks she had been out of his sight only for a few minutes at a time, because whenever he awoke from his troubled spells of sleep his first words always were "Hello, Dot," and his first gesture was to reach out for her hand. Until a very few days ago she and Dr. G. S. Herbert, who was his attending physician, were so confident that Wally had won his fight that they agreed to the proposal of Jesse L. Lasky, by whom he was employed, that he begin work in a picture, shooting of which was to begin July 1. But although he had not touched narcotic drugs for weeks the ravages which their use had made upon his remarkable constitution were so great that when a relapse came early today he had no stamina left with which to pull him through. Wally was only thirty-one years old.... Only once during his last illness did Wallace Reid exhibit any interest in religious matters. That was when he asked if he might have a Christian Scientist practitioner. His wife and her mother, both of whom are Christian Scientists, assured him that he could, but by this time he had changed his mind. Funeral services for him will be held here Saturday. They will be in charge of the Elks. While the services are in progress every moving picture studio in the country will be closed as a mark of respect to his memory. The body will be cremated in accordance with a wish of the deceased.
    Louis Weadock, Los Angeles Examiner, 21 January 1923
    Los Angeles, Jan. 20: In a bronze urn, which he himself had designed, there rest tonight the ashes of Wally Reid. His body was cremated late this afternoon following funeral services that were attended by more people than have assembled at a funeral here for a long time. Not only was the First Congregational Church, which is one of the largest church edifices in the city, packed to the doors, but in the streets near it the crowds were so large that the police barred automobiles from those streets for a distance of two blocks.... In the church during the service were, almost without exception, all of the men and women whose names are the best known in the world of moving pictures..."Fatty" Arbuckle...Pola Negri and Charles Chaplin and Harold Lloyd...Bebe Daniels...Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Sid Grauman...a complete list would fill columns. Drawn and haggard, the widow [Dorothy Davenport Reid] sat with her mother [Alice Davenport], who, like herself, had been at one time a celebrated actress and who, like her, had given up her professional career that she might devote herself to making a home for her husband. Reid's mother could not cross the continent in time to be present at the funeral, nor could the Reids' closest friend, Adela Rogers St. Johns, the writer, who is in British Columbia, Canada, and could not get here in time...


    Anyone see a mailbox?


  33. #33
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    I remember seeing men wearing this style hat when I was a little child.


    Wallace Reid/Gloria Swanson "The Affairs of Anatol" (1921)



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    ENOCH ARDEN
    A Beautiful Film of the Celebrated Poem by LORD ALFRED TENNYSON
    Produced by the Majestic Motion Picture Corporation
    WILL SHORTLY BE PRESENTED AT THIS THEATRE
    With Three Popular Stars
    Lillian Gish Alfred Paget Wallace Reid
    CAST:
    Enoch Arden
    Alfred Paget
    Annie Lee
    Lillian Gish
    Philip Ray
    Wallace Reid
    and a Large Supporting Company







    Home Eternal Home (and no mailbox)

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