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Moving Picture Exhibitors' Association.

Photoplay (Volume 36 – 37 (Jul. - Dec. 1929)) online

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there's old Beany! The policeman on our
beat, you know!" Before his father could stop
him, Johnny was calling shrilly,

"Hey Beany! Beany! It's me! I'm home!"

And then Johnny found himself lifted out
bodily and set down on the walk before he
could say Jack Robinson, and the car that had
brought him was breaking the speed limit
down the street. The policeman grabbed his
arm. It had taken him a moment to recognize,
in this sturdy, upstanding lad, his Uttle friend
of the studios.

"Who brought you? Who was that man?"
he demanded excitedly, blowing his police
whistle. Johnny snatched it from his mouth at
first sound of the blast.

"That man? Oh . . . well, he was just a
man I knew. Beany."

"Did you get his car number?" demanded
the policeman.

"Why . . . it's just a nimiber. Just any
old car number, Beany!"

"Say, Uttle feller, what's WTong with you?"
Beany shook Johnny until his head wobbled,
"You act like you was drugged! Did he give
you anything?"

"I'll say he did! He gave me the time of my
life! And say, Beany, it won't do you police
guys any good to third degree me, because I'm
never going to tell who he was, and I'll take
the secret to my dying grave!"

"Well . . . fer crying out loud," said Beany
helplessly, and scratched his head.

"Beany, does my mother still live there?"

"Saw her come home 'bout an hour since."

A BOUT two weeks later a little group sat at
■' ^a private pre-view of Johnny's latest pic-
ture. There was Stoddard, the director, and
Abraham Rosenthal, and a few select others,
besides the star and his mother . . . and his
best friend. They watched on the screen one
of the doggondest best fights that ever went on
a film, and every scenario writer knows what
a good fight will do to put over a picture.
"Look at 'em, Rosey! Look at 'cm! I tell



you the fight in 'The Spoilers' can't hold a
candle to it for spirit!" He chuckled, and
slapped his leg. "Wait until that bunch of
exhibitors gets an eyefid of this! Why, say,
they'll eat it up and come back for more!"
Johnny's mother sat stiff and dry-eyed
TT was night when they rolled down Cahuenga through the film. It was hard for her. She
-■•Pass, and into HoUywood. As they stopped had not yet quite become accustomed to this



for the traffic signal at Highland and Holly-
wood boulevard, Johnny looked eagerly at the
old familiar lights.

"Gee, dad, there's something about them,
at that! I guess I think a lot of Holly%vood,
after all!"

" Glad to get back, kid?"

"Uhuh! Of course, I'll never forget the
ranch, and the kids, and you . . . and every-
thing . . . but ..."

"That's all right, son. I only want you to be
happy. Now let's see, you lived somewheres on
Melrose . . . wasn't that your last place?"

"Yes. But I guess mother's had to move,



new little boy who whistled and shouted
through the house. And yet she was trying.
Already she had learned to repress the too
numerous "don'ts" and to keep silent when
Johnny and Micky, now bosom pals, engaged
in practice battles in the backyard. Now she
closed her ears to Micky's gleefully chortled;

"That's a Hell of a good fight we put on,
kid ... if we did do it oursel\-es! Wait until
my old man gets a squint at that! He's just
naturally goin' to swell up and bust, he's going
to be that proud!"

" So's mine!" whispered Johnny so that only
Micky's grimy ear heard.



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121



What Would You Do If You H ad a Million ?

1[ CONTINUED FROM PAGE 35 ]



naturally scorns affectation. And, as Rex
Ingram often told me, the chief requisite of
the player is freedom from affectation and self-
consciousness.

T_IER family didn't object when she chose to
-*- -'-be an actress.

It was her own idea to start in the extra
ranks of Hollywood; she had influence enough
to start higher up, but Confucius was guiding
her.

Influence is great for starting, but sad in the
end. I know charming and talented people
who have been set back years by a big start.

On the other hand, starting as an e.xtra
requires the courage and determination of
genius — getting up at five in the morning
when it isn't essential to your livelihood,
denying yourself food because the camera
exaggerates, cutting out parties, save on week-
ends, and making yourself agreeable with all
sorts of dumb people, not to mention the
studying of singing, dancing and diction — now
the talkies are here — when you are a wet rag
after a day under the hot kleigs.

Anita does aU this.

She wanted to take a singing lesson every
day, but the instructor declared three days
a week were sufficient.

The alternate days are given to a dancing
instructor.

For a sLx-thirty call she gets up at five
because she spends an hour on her make-up
while the other extras are content to spend
ten minutes.

"And you'd rather get up at five to play
extra than to play around Deauville or



Biarritz?" I asked, the day being hot and my
mind on gay beaches.

"Sure," she said with a side-long glance that
I'm %viUing to bet will become screen history.
"What does plaj-ing around get you? After
it's over you're still a nobody. I have always
wanted to work.

"I first thought it was art. Later I knew it
was the stage, and I think the best training is
in extra work in pictures. I've learned a lot
among the extras, believe me."

"I'll bet," said I, "you could go in for
scenarios if you didn't want to act."

"I'll say . . . I've learned enough life
stories!"

"And when you've made your fortune — I
mean when you've arrived in pictures — what
will you do?"

"You don't ever arrive," said Anita. "But
I want to go on the stage later. There's no
end to work. That's the nice thing about it.
With everything else there's an end."

" A ND this is the end of the interview," said
-'^•I, "which proves interviewing isn't work
—sometimes."

"S'long," said Anita.

"S'long," I said. "I'll be back in a couple
of weeks when you're famous."

"Sure," she laughed, though of course she
didn't think there was anything absurd
about it.

If 'Nita's not famous in two weeks she will
be in two years. And if not in two, then in
ten. It's all the same to her.

That's her theme song and you'll have to
admit it's a winner.




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Photoplay Magazine — Advertising Section





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The Wisecracker Reveals Himself



[ CONTINUED FROil PAGE 69 |



I was tired of school and, a.ayv:siy, black sheep
always run away.

I unceremoniously appropriated a diamond
fichu pin and pawned it for expenses. I
couldn't have chosen an article that my mother
cherished more deeply. The httle jewel was
old at the time of the Ci\il War, and was one of
the few things sa\-ed when my great-grand-
mother fled from the
approaching army of
the North. A boy
friend, another
would-beadventurer,
stole some old coins
and went with me.
Together we started
out to see what was
on the other side of
the hills of Staunton.

At that time a
great powder factory
had been started in
the marshes along the
James River. Almost
overnight a big, ugly,
sprawling town of
60,000 took its place
on the map. Perhaps
it wasn't the best
environment for
fourteen -year-old
boys, but there we
went. We got jobs
in the powder fac-
tory, each making
$200 a month, good
salaries for boys of
our age.

Mother finally
located me and came
down to see us. I've
always admired her for the stand she took.
She did not try to force me to return to Staun-
ton. She put me in a boarding house near the
factory, the best surroundings she could find in
the town. She knew that if she compelled me
to go back with her that I would not stay. I
\vould only run away again.

V\ TORK in the factory was hard and danger-
''* ous. In the fumes of nitro-glycerine my
hair turned as blonde as Gwen Lee 's. My friend
and I began to cast about for an easier means of
livelihood. The factory workers earned good
money and they were not averse to spending
it recklessly. So we became proprietors of a
dance hall. I hadn't yet
reached the age of fifteen,
but there was little that I
didn'tknow,ordidn't think
I knew. I took tickets at
the door. It cost a dollar
a dance. My friend
played the drums and we
had a red-headed, Irish
pianist and' a Chinese
violinist — • the strangest
combination one could
imagine.

If there were not two or
three fights during the
evening we thought things
were pretty duU. Our
customers couldn't be
having a very good time.
One night I got into a
scrap with an Italian boy
and was knifed with a
stiletto. I still carry a
long scar across my
chest. But it was all to
be expected — • all part of
the game.

Then the town burned.
There was no adequate




Another picture of Mr. William
Haines and his little sister,
Lillian, taken in the old Staun-
ton days




One of the pictures that

won Mr. Haines a

chance in a "New

Faces" contest



water supply, and for days and days the fire
burned on. Building by building, street by
street, the town disappeared. During these red
nights I slept in a barber chair and went
hungry.

I suppose every youngster at one time in his
life has a desire to carve out some sort of career
in New York. With our dance hall smouldering
in its ashes, I went
North. My first
job in the city was
with the Kenyon
Rubber Company,
and I made $14 a
week. I loved the
noise and rush, but
my first stay was
cut short.

'\^Y father was
*'' ■'■having bad fi-
nancial reverses
and, in addition,
had lost his health.
Mother sold the
house in Staunton
and the family
moved to Rich-
mond. Doctor
bills took most of
the money and
things were in a
serious condition.
To make matters
worse there was to
be another baby.
It was absolutely
necessary that I go
back and help with
the support of the
family. Richmond,
was not the easiest place to find work, and the
best I could get was a job in a wholesale dry-
goods house. I only made $7 a week, but
mother kept roomers and somehow we man-
aged to hve.

As soon as father was well again I struck out
for New York. The South now seemed very
narrow and pro-vincial. I was unhappy there,
restless all the time. After one brief taste of a
big city I wanted nothing else.

One of my first jobs when I returned to New
York was as a clerk in a department store. I
sold table linens and rattled off sales talks
about Madeiras and "imports from Ireland."
I didn't hold that job very long. I spent too
much time talking to the
women customers. I
made quite a lot of dates
that way. The Lonesome
Clubs aren't the only
places where a young fel-
low can get acquainted in
the city.



"pROM there I was em-
-'- ployed by the eminently
respectable bond house of
S. W. Straus & Company.
First I was anoffice
boy and later I was pro-
moted to the postof
assistant bookkeeper.
They must have liked me
in spite of my faults. I
stayed there for more than
a year, but I can't recall
a single instance when my
books ever tallied. How-
ever, a trifling thing like a
balance never troubled me.
What a grand time I
had when I finished at the
oSice. I was lixang in a
hall room in a boarding



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house near Greenwich Village. There were
three other boys in the place, all good sports
and every one of us as improvident as the devil.
One of the boys was an ex-soldier, wounded in
the war.

When his indemnity came from the govern-
ment we all had a hilarious month. Another
of the fellows and I became fast friends. He
was a member of a prominent Boston family
and had an immense wardrobe.

Luckily for me we were exactly the same
size. I came up from Virginia with a shabby
suit and a wide-brimmed hat, everything but
streamers. I could wear all of his clothes from
hats to shoes. That fellow is still my friend.
Now he is my "stand-in" at RL-G.-iL

WITH all my borrowed fine feathers I
splurged into night life. I didn't have any
money, but then I didn't need any. There
were parties with chorus girls, and the girls
were always most generous with money
"lifted'' from visiting firemen and butter-and-
egg men from the country.

It was at this period of my life that I met the
woman who played so important a part in
molding my existence anew. There have been
three women whom I shall always remember —
the ones who have meant the most. The first,
of course, was my mother. This woman was
the second.

I was introduced to her by the boy from
Boston. He had known her there. Slie came
from a family high in Boston Back Bay
society. She had charm and culture and a
keen sense of the beautiful. I was twenty and
she was nearing forty, but the ditTerence in
ages made no difference. We were merely
casual friends for several months, then we were
in love.

It was she who instilled in me the love of
beautiful, old things. Her apartment on low er
Fifth Avenue was filled with priceless antique
furniture, paintings and old china. From her I
learned of good literature, fine music. She took
me to the opera. A new and different world
opened to me.

It was she who made me believe that a per-
son could be forgiven for illiteracy, but never
for the lack of good taste.

I don't know why the romance didn't last.
Perhaps the difference in ages mattered after
all. Again, constancy may not be one of my
virtues. Anyway I was restless, ^\'e separated,
but we were together once again in Holly\vood,
and under strange circumstances. That I will
tell about later.

While I was spending so much time with her
I lost my job with Straus. It wasn't so easy
getting along in the interval that foUowed.
Still I had a good time, did things that inter-
ested me and was with people who interested,
me. I picked up a little money by posing for
advertising illustrations — the models call it
doing "animal crackers."

One day walking down Broadway I saw a
woman looking at me intently. She ap-
proached and asked me if I would like to go
into pictures. Well, I thought, here's some-
thing new. But it was a bona fide question.

SHE was Bijou Fernandez, scouting new
talent for Samuel Goldwyn. I borrowed
some clothes from my friend and had photo-
graphs taken, and was entered in a "New
Faces" contest. I didn't e.xpect anything to
come of it, and I had never before given a
thought to the stage or screen.

No one in the world could have been more
surprised than I when the notification came
that I had won the contest. I was given a con-
tract, but it was three months before I left New
York for the Coast. In the interval I continued
posing for advertisements and living the old
sort of life.

I think one of the most unusual experiences
in my life happened at a studio party just
before I was sent to Hollywood. There were
many people at the affair and I sat down near a
girl I had ne%cr seen before. She wore a
squirrel coat, a simple dress, and pumps with




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Photoplay Magazine — Advertising Section



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straps across the ankles. She looked whole-
some and sort of homemade.

Then she told me that she too had won a
"New Faces" contest and was to be given her
chance at a screen career. Her name was
Eleanor Boardman.

TDERHAPS the fact that we came into pic-
•'- tures at the same time created a bond of
friendship between us.

We had the same early struggles, the same
heartaches and disappointments. She has been
one of my best friends ever since. I admire
her tremendously. She is such a real person.

At last, after weeks of waiting, I was notified
that I was to leave for Hollywood. I was given
a contract of $40 a week, an upper berth on a
West-bound train, and started out on a new
and completely different Kfe. I went to a good
tailor and bought a suit of clothes. It was at
the time English clothes were first coming into
popularity — short coats and v.ide trousers. I
had one of the first, and it was the only decent
suit I possessed.



Coming across the continent I caught a
terrific cold, and a beautiful bofl burst into
bloom on my nose. The alkali dust across the
desert ate the skin away from my mouth and it
was in this condition that I got off the train in
Los Angeles, as mangy and as forlorn a sight as
you would ever see. I found my way to the
Goldwyn studio and finally, after much per-
suasion that I wasn't a gangster, I was allowed
into the holies.

T'VE often thought what a disappointment I
-•-must have been when they were expecting a
Valentino.

My knees were knocking together with
fright, but I bolstered up enough courage to be
flippant.

"I'm your new prize beauty," I announced.

(Next month William Haines tells abotil his
life in Hollywood, and the beginning of the wise-
craek kid. And how he slipped from roles to
extra work, of his first hit in "Brown of Harvard"
and the road to stardom.)



Vocal Boy Makes Good



[ CONTINUED rROSI PAGE 29 ]



his father, asked him to go bond on a thousand
dollar note, which he mlhngly did, and ap-
peared in New York to conquer the world.

Seagle taught the lad when he was not on
concert tour, and John lived near his home in
upper New York. But he couldn't continue
indefinitely on the original thousand dollars.

He took a position as French and music
teacher in a nearby high school. But it wasn't
enough. He wasn't receiving enough hard
musical work, so he organized a band of stu-
dents and, with Seagle's help, took them
abroad where, for a year, he and they studied
under the best masters.

UPON his return he walked up Broadway
feeling fully equipped to meet the career
that was bound to come his way. Walking up
Broadway and living on Broadway are two
different matters. His funds had run low
again, but kind Pro\-idence, disguised as his



Online LibraryMoving Picture Exhibitors' AssociationPhotoplay (Volume 36 – 37 (Jul. - Dec. 1929)) → online text (page 67 of 145)