Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920

By Anthony Slide | Go to book overview

4. ETHEL GRANDIN

Many film personalities from the silent era show surprisingly little interest in their careers. Some of the most important silent stars--Alice Terry is an obvious example-- have no time for the past. Such is the case with Ethel Grandin, one of the screen's first leading ladies, who once commented to me of her films that "they were all alike, and I've forgotten them. They're in the back of me." Today, Ethel Grandin is a spritely and very beautiful lady in her early eighties, whose concern for the problems of others is at times deeply moving. Knowing her in the present, I cannot help but wish that I might have had the privilege of her acquaintance when she starred for Carl Laemmle and Thomas Ince. She may have been only an ingenue, but as those of her films which survive indicate, she was one of the best.

Ethel Grandin was born on March 3, 1894, in New York City. She has never shied away from admitting her age. Today, it's something of which she is proud, and as far back as a 1914 interview with Photoplay she commented, "I'm glad I'm just the age I am, and I don't ever intend to make believe I'm younger than I am." With her family's theatrical background--her uncle, Elma Grandin, was a famous leading man on Broadway, and her grandmother was an actress and dancer--it was no wonder that Ethel should have embarked on a stage career at the age of six, appearing with Joseph Jefferson in Rip Van Winkle. (Perhaps it is not amazing that people such as Lillian Gish, Blanche Sweet and Ethel Grandin are as energetic as they are today when one considers that almost their whole lives they have known nothing but work. It might be enjoyable work, but work nonetheless it was and is.)

For three years, Ethel played in Chauncey Olcott's company, along with Mary Pickford's sister, Lottie. During the 1909-1910 season, Ethel toured with Olcott in Ragged Robin. Mary Pickford had been in Chauncey Olcott's com-

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Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Dedication iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • 6 - Mr. Edison and the Edison Company 63
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - The Evolution of the Film Star 1
  • 2 - Comediennes of the 'Teens 7
  • 3 - Child Stars of the 'Teens 16
  • 4 - Ethel Grandin 27
  • 5 - Forgotten Early Directors 36
  • 7 - Katherine Anne Porter and the Movies 65
  • 8 - The Thanhouser Company 68
  • 9 - The Paralta Company 79
  • 10 - The O'Kalems 87
  • 11 - Early Film Magazines: An Overview 98
  • 12 - The First Motion Picture Bibliography 105
  • 13 - Film History Can Also Be Fun 122
  • Appendices 135
  • Source Material 149
  • Index 153
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