Never-Before-Seen Footage of Jimmie Rodgers Discovered?

In my spare time, and when the thought occurs to me, I enjoy browsing the Digital Video Repository of the Moving Image Research Collections (or MIRC) at the University of South Carolina, a vast online archive of historical film footage, much of which consists of newsreels footage.  Often, I’ll just enter some different search terms and see if I can find anything interesting.  It was on one such online excursion that I stumbled across a newsreel (or rather outtakes thereof) depicting the arrival of the famed humorist, movie star, and cowboy philosopher Will Rogers in San Antonio, Texas, that caught my attention.  I am (as any red-blooded American surely must be) counted among Will Rogers’ legion of admirers, but his presence was not what attracted my interest to the video.  Rather, it was the appearance of a background character that struck me as a familiar face.

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Photographs: Two Forgotten Vaudevillians

Many of the stars of vaudeville days went on to immense success, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bob Hope, and the Marx Brothers, many more were huge stars in their heyday, but today are all but forgotten, like Joe Frisco, Gallagher and Shean, and Nora Bayes.  Countless others however, never made it so big, they were perhaps locally or regionally famous, and faded into obscurity once their short time in the limelight had passed.  Today, we’ll dig two forgotten entertainers of the 1920s out of the annals of time and bring them back to the public eye once again.  Those two are Violet Goulet and Mlle. Flo LeRoy.

Violet Goulet, as her photograph would suggest, played violin, and was billed as “violinist de luxe” for an appearance in Madera, California.  She seems to have been most active, and indeed quite busy, around 1920, appearing on stage first as part of an act called the Six Serenaders, then striking out on her own as a solo act.  She toured on the Pantages theater circuit, and appeared in shows at the Alhambra Theatre in El Paso and the Grand Theatre on San Antonio in 1920.

Mademoiselle Flo LeRoy, “mystic revealer,” made her mark on this world a few years after Goulet, but also seems to have had a longer career, with most information I can find on her dating to the latter part of the 1920s, the earliest reference I can being 1924 and the latest 1930.  LeRoy was a clairvoyant, and her act billed her as a “mystic marvel” or “mental wizard”, revolving around her making predictions about the futures of her audience members.  Her appearances would appear to have been limited to our southern states, mostly Texas, and her home was located in Dallas.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any information on the early or later lives of these two, and there’s precious little on their professional lives.  If anyone else out there happens to have any information about either of them, I would be thrilled to hear it, and will update this article should any new information arise.

Restored Photographs of Old Hollywood

Digging through an old box of my family heirlooms, among the family photos, bible, and a few pieces of 1930s sheet music, I discovered this small collection of photographs of 1920s movie stars.  Unfortunately, they are all badly damaged from mold, and many are heavily stained.

Fortunately, using the magic of computers, I was able to restore some of them to something resembling their original glory.  With a combination of the GIMP to clean up the damage and Picasa to restore the original warm sepia tones, here they are.  I must say, the hair was difficult to fix.  It’s no professional fix, but I think they look pretty decent, if I’m to toot my own horn.

Interestingly, all these personalities were among those that failed to make the transition to talking pictures in the late 1920s and into the 1930s, all the ladies had outright quit acting by 1930, while Fairbanks held on a little longer, but never made as much of a hit in talkies as in the silents.  Mary Miles Minter left acting in 1923 after the scandal surrounding the murder of director William Desmond Taylor.  Also interesting to note, all these actors, besides Minter, were among the first stars to place their hand and footprints in the forecourt at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, a tradition which allegedly started when Norma Talmadge accidentally stepped in the wet cement there.

From left to right, top to bottom, you see Douglas Fairbanks, whom I actually fixed up long before the others, and the photo was in much better shape to begin with, Mary Miles Minter, Constance Talmadge (her hair was really a devil to clean up), and Norma Talmadge.  If I had to guess, I’d say that all these photographs date to around 1920.