Hooray for Hollywood! The Hotel edition

What an amazing two weeks it was!

When I knew I was going to publishing The Forgotten Flapper in August, the first thing that occurred to me was that I could market it at the Cinecon Silent Film Festival, which always falls around Labor Day.

I had made lots of acquaintances online before I left, but was excited about meeting everyone in person at last. I wasn’t disappointed!

First thing, checked into my inn. I LOVE the Hollywood Bed and Breakfast. I won’t stay anywhere else. William and Nina have become like family, and their gorgeous home is always great to come back to, now that it’s a regular stop. It’s a bit removed from the chaos, while still being right off Hollywood Boulevard, which is wonderful for being central to everything. This is the view from my room, below.

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I arrived on Friday afternoon and pretty much collapsed at the inn for most of the evening. The next morning, it was time for Esotouric’s “Hotel Horrors and Main Street Vice” tour. We started from a neat little cafe called The Daily Dose way down in the back of beyond south and east of downtown. Great little courtyard between two ancient buildings for grabbing some breakfast. But warning about doing this in August:   It was hot. I mean HOT.

Much of the tour was on a bus, but we also got out at a few points to see the interiors of a few of the hotels. I was THRILLED I finally get to see the inside of the important parts of the Alexandria (I tried last time I was there, but the Esotouric folks have special permission to see the Palm Court Ballroom, which was in the part I wanted to see). The Alex has a starring role in my book, but I had to imagine it in my head as I had read the descriptions and only seen one photograph up to this point.

It’s so sad that many of Los Angeles and Hollywood hotels have fallen to the wrecking ball. The Roosevelt and Biltmore are gorgeous examples of those that haven’t.

The hotels and sights below are only some of the highlights of this terrific tour, so you should take it yourself, so you get all the goods on the salesman who fell out the window of one of the hotels, or the Skid Row Slasher, or the B girls and taxi dancers who made up a huge portion of the tour.


One of the first ones they drove us by, I couldn’t get a good photo because I was attempting to turn my camera on and listen to tour guide Richard at the same time. That was the King George, which has quite the illustrious history. It served as an actors’ hotel in the early days of Hollywood. In 1912 it was gutted by fire, and several people died. It has fallen on hard times, and Richard told us amusing stories of being there back in the day. They will do tours if you call ahead.

In 1952, they experienced another fire. Seven people were killed in this one. And in 1980, a cop was a bit quick on the draw and shot out the front window.

The Alexandria Hotel (affectionately called the Alex) saw its heyday during the silent film days, with million dollar deals being made on the carpet in the lobby. It feel on hard times in the 1930s and 1940s, and only boxing promoters were keeping it alive. There were boxers sparring under the beautiful stained glass ceiling of the Palm Court. And then the US government came in and dropped the incredible ceiling. But here are some pictures of what it looks like today:

When you enter, you’re greeted with a lacework-bannister staircase, that is not quite as beautiful as the original grand staircase, but still beautiful.

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When you go down to the corridor off to the left, you enter a large space that used to be the lobby, with grand ceilings that rose at least two stories. How disappointing to see them in their current state.

What is now serving as a bar used to be the main check-in desk.

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And off to the left of this space is the entrance to the Palm Court. Which at least has Historical Landmark Designation.

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That ceiling is definitely as beautiful as it looks. Stunning, in fact.

We left that and went up another set of stairs, but it was an unremarkable climb, as you got to see what other changes had been wrought, and not for the better.

Some of the other hotels on our itinerary were the Barclay (formerly the Van Nuys…) at 4th and Main. The very cool art deco Barclay sign went up in 1931. If you look closely, you can see the old intertwined V & N (for Van Nuys) in the stained glass above the windows.


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More of the Barclay below:

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After the Barclay, we saw the King Edward Hotel (built 1906) at First and Los Angeles. Look at the ceilings in this place. And the marble columns. Truly stunning. It’s a shame that it has fallen on such hard times.

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This was initially a hobo’s corner, with tons of saloons. The gospel wagons parked outside, trying to save souls, but after some time, there was legislation passed, and they could only park for an hour a day. Note that things haven’t changed much around this neighborhood. On this tour, you really get to see Skid Row in all its glory, and you can begin to understand the massive homeless problem that L.A. is dealing with.

This tour is amazing, and I can’t wait to go back to Esotouric to experience more of the seamy underbelly of L.A.

Stay tuned for more L.A adventures!


“So, Laini,” you’re saying. “Are you EVER going to check in from your trip to Hollywood?”

“Well, of course,” I say. But being as how I’ve been a bit busy selling, merchandising, taking tours and such, I want to be able to share all the awesomeness with you, and include lovely photos and descriptions.

I’ll be on it as soon as I’m home! And much good news will follow…


It’s been a bittersweet week in these parts…

A few weeks ago, my company decided to lay an entire unit off at my job, including me. But I’ve had to stay this long to aid in the transition. Monday, I turn in my computer, my badge and anything else important I still have.

Layoff Notice

Yesterday, my team took me out for lunch. My boss presented me with an absolutely lovely, black leather designer handbag (for taking to signings), a fancy Kate Spade pen (so I have a special signing pen), and a bottle of what I’m sure is relatively expensive champagne.

I haven’t cried yet, but I have a feeling I’ll be a total waterworks on Monday. I had a love/hate relationship with this job– SO high stress, yet such amazing benefits. My stock options helped me get my book out in the first place. I can kiss those goodbye. Mostly, the people here were my friends. They were my family. Most, I adore, and will miss terribly. Others, probably not so much.

This is now my fourth layoff (the third of not making it through), and during the first, I bawled like a baby for most of the day, seeing most of my co-workers getting chopped. I just can’t do that anymore. I’m friends with everyone, and this is a smaller town than Dallas was, so I’m sure I’ll see most of them again– at the Farmers Market, at The Fringe, out at a restaurant, meeting for coffee.

People have asked me if I’ll only write from now on. That would be great if the income was as good as this last job (it isn’t). I have a mortgage now. And I enjoy going out to brunch, which gets expensive. I’ll still have to work, but I’m in no hurry to go back to the grind. I’ve got three appearances planned here in Alberta to promote The Forgotten Flapper. I’ve got an appearance in Hollywood at Cinecon, and I’m headed to Surrey, BC in October for the writers conference there.

Right now, I’m just looking forward to enjoying some writing time and being able to relax for a while. But it’s a decision I’d love to be able to make. That whole…not having a job and following the dream thing. But eventually, I’ll at least have to take on a contract job for a while to pay the bills.

Have any of you been in this situation, and did you make the dream a reality, doing what you love?


It’s release day for The Forgotten Flapper!


I’m so very excited to announce that The Forgotten Flapper releases today! Yesterday, a lovely review was posted in the Rat Creek Press, a great little neighborhood paper here in Edmonton (hopefully they’ll be updating their homepage to the August issue soon, so you can read it).

Last night, I was able to take multiple copies to Audrey’s, our wonderful local bookshop, so my husband took me out for celebratory drinks on a nearby restaurant patio (a G & T on a warm day is a lovely reward. Trust me on this).

Until I can get it into the bookstore near you, please visit Amazon and check it out. If you like classic films (especially silent ones), and/or you like the recent spate of biographical fiction of famous women (Zelda Fitzgerald, Beryl Markham, Coco Chanel, and the like), I think you’ll enjoy it. And Olive, being the feisty, fun-loving girl she is, will love your support.

I’ve also discounted the e-book of my first novel, Love Lies Bleeding, to celebrate the release. So if you haven’t read it yet, this is a good time to!

For those of us in Alberta, this is a long weekend. Why not relax and enjoy it with a little reading?




Enter my giveaway! Win a cool Forgotten Flapper mug!

You say you’re obsessed with the bean? You’re nothing without your caffeine? (But want to express yourself as a lean, mean literary machine?)

Your dilemma is solved!

Here is a super nifty mug for carrying around your precious morning nectar. While also upping your cool quotient a hundredfold.


It’s the oh-so-happening Forgotten Flapper coffee mug!

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What do you have to do to win this baby?

Two things:

1. Add The Forgotten Flapper to your bookshelf on goodreads.com, either the ebook or the hard copy. (Not on goodreads.com? Why not? You should sign up. Cuz it’s an amazing place.)


2. Follow me (4gottenflapper), and either tweet or retweet the following message:

Available August 1st! The Forgotten Flapper by Laini Giles, a novel about Olive Thomas, the silent film star.

3. Comment on this post, showing me links to both items above, and you’ll be entered to win.

The fine print:

*** Bonus points for those who are interested enough to share their emails with me and be put on my mailing list. You can contact me privately if you’re not comfortable sharing in a comment. (Don’t worry, I won’t spam you. I’ll only send out things that fans might want to know– news of new books, appearances, and stuff like that) ***

***Contest runs from Saturday July 25 through Saturday August 8th at 5 pm Mountain Time. Winner will be chosen at random. ***

***Eligibility: Only readers from Canada and the United States will be entered this time around. I may be able to expand my reach a bit on the next giveaway. Hang tight!  (If you don’t include your location initially, I pick your name, and then find out you’re in Shanghai [with the additional postage that requires], I reserve the right to pick another name) ***

“The Perils of Pauline” (1947 Blogathon)

Perils-of-PaulinePosterAah, 1947. A year of returning servicemen, major advances in television, the invention of the microwave, Kon-Tiki, the proposal of the Marshall Plan, and Jackie Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. Two years after the war, and life was looking rosy. The U.S hadn’t yet made their ill-advised foray into Korea, and you could still get a cuppa joe for a nickel.

On the not-so-nice side, the friendly folks at HUAC gave us the infamous Black List, setting out to destroy Hollywood careers, and gangster Bugsy Siegel took a mess of lead to his handsome face.

In the midst of all the current events, Paramount decided to give everyone a taste of history (with the full Hollywood technicolor musical treatment, of course). Directed by William Marshall, with fun songs by Frank Loesser, The Perils of Pauline wasn’t going to win any academy awards, but it is a fun time waster, and an entertaining way to pass a lazy weekend afternoon.

When I began searching for a film to cover for the 1947 blogathon, most of the jewels I thought about were already taken, but then I remembered this one and squealed. How else to tie my love of silent film to a relatively more modern time period?

20150712_062755_resized_1Yay! Flickers!

The Perils of Pauline, like most reputedly “biographical” films of the era, gives only a passing nod to the truth, instead favoring a more glamorized version. But Betty Hutton makes it a fun ride. In addition to Betty, the film is chock full of former silent film stars playing cameos: Chester Conklin, William Farnum, Paul Panzer (the original villain from Pauline), Snub Pollard, Creighton Hale, Heinine Conklin, Jean Acker, Ethel Clayton, and Julia Faye. Keep an eye out if you’re a silent movie buff.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the film (or its subject), let me take you back a few years. In the early days of film, producers discovered that they could rake in the simoleons by having a whiz bang of a movie with lots of action, an evildoer or two, and of course, the damsel in distress. At the end of each film episode (called a short), they’d have a cliffhanger of an ending (where do you think we got the word?). To find out what happened, you had to tune in the next week. And the next week, and the week after that…

There were several serials that gained fame in the mid teens– Million Dollar Mystery with Florence LaBadie forThanhouser and The Hazards of Helen with Helen Holmes for Kalem (she was later replaced by Helen Gibson). But arguably the most famous was The Perils of Pauline, starring Pearl White, brought to us by Pathe’.

Perils of Pauline posterAn original poster for the serial

Although pegged as a damsel in distress, Pearl was actually one of the more resourceful of these ladies, and didn’t need as much help from the dashing hero. Between her athleticism and her smarts, she could usually find a way out of her scrapes.

Pearl White was born March 4, 1889 in Green Ridge, Missouri. She began acting when she was young, doing the requisite Little Eva in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She later went on the stock circuit. When her voice began to crack from the strain, she turned to silent films, going to work for the Powers Company in the Bronx. She was athletic, so she polished her skills in very physical comedies and by doing stunts. She worked with Pathe-Freres, Lubin, and several other companies until Pathe’ director Louis Gasnier offered her the role in Pauline.

PearlOctober1914MotionPictureMagThe real Pearl White, from the October 1914 issue of Motion Picture Magazine

In the movie version, we first meet Pearl (Betty Hutton) at the Metropolitan Garment Company where she works. She and the other girls try to find a way to make the hours seem less drab, so when the friendly organ grinder comes around with his monkey, she tosses him a coin to keep the music coming, raising the ire of boss Joe Gurt (Frank Faylen). “Whaddya think I’m runnin’ here, a kaffeeklatsch?” he says sarcastically.

20150712_072950_resized_1“I got a boss, he looks like a hoss, his name’s Joe Gurt; I’m willin ta bet, the wages I get, that face of his must hurt”

Annoyed, Pearl sings her homage to the sewing machine to entertain the girls (“The Sewing Machine”). [True fact: I saw this scene when I was a little girl…could have sworn it was “That’s Entertainment” but I could be wrong. Might have just caught my mom watching this and loved it, just never knew what film it was. It wasn’t until years later that I found out].

But of course, boss Joe Gurt is none-too-pleased with Betty’s impressions of him, or of her further goofing around and says he’s going to dock everyone a half day’s pay. She tries to apologize, but he gets fresh, and she decks him, to the approval of Julia Gibbs (Constance Collier), an older theatre actress there to pick up a costume she’s ordered.

Pauline tells her how much she loves her (and theatre people in general). “If I could be in the theatre…why even thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach!” she says.

Miss Gibbs promises her an audition if she’ll come with her to the theatre. Joe tells her not to come back without the $98.00 for the costume. The “audition” turns out to be theatre manager Michael Farrington (John Lund) pushing her out on stage, where she is promptly pelted with tomatoes from an impatient audience, who’ve been waiting for the delayed Julia Gibbs.

20150712_062657_resized_1A completely crummy image of Pearl being pelted by tomatoes

She makes a deal with them. “This is mighty important,” she says, after tossing a couple tomatoes back. Just let her sing her song. If they like it, they can give her a little hand. If they hate it, they can throw more tomatoes and she’ll toss em back. Deal? OK. She settles herself on the piano, and instead of doing something beautiful and sentimental (more fitting for Romeo and Juliet, the play they’re doing), she goes for a hefty, raucous dose of vaudeville (“Rumble, Rumble, Rumble”). She gets the job, but Farrington tells her he’s going to take the $98.00 out of her salary.

While on the train to their next destination, she’s introduced to Timmy Timmons (Billy DeWolfe). He’s Farrington’s second-in-command, and nearly ended up having to play Juliet in Julia’s absence. He teaches her something about acting– controlling her voice (projecting!). “Never enunciate like a lemon or a grape.” Only an orange.

When Farrington comes through the train car, he tells her that no job can be too big or too small for her, then promptly dumps the mending in her lap. Next scene, we see her working on the ironing for the cast as she preps for her role as a maid. She’s expected to simply say, “Milord, your carriage awaits.” Instead, she knocks over a lamp, and proceeds to destroy half the set before exiting ungracefully. She gets an earful from Farrington. Then, it’s into blackface to play a house slave in a Civil War melodrama.

She and Farrington attempt to polish a scene together where she has to kiss him, but she freezes up, then freaks out and runs out of the theatre. He can’t figure out what’s wrong. Julia calls him an idiot. It’s obvious to everyone but him that Pearl’s in love with him.

Thus ensues a comical scene intended to take place in the South Seas, where she wears a Dorothy Lamour type getup, but because she’s doused ahead of time, and they point fans put at her, she can barely talk during the scene, she catches a cold, and nearly freezes to death onstage. When Farrington gives her what for, she tells him off and heads out. Julia leaves the cast too in protest.

Pearl ends up auditioning for a theatrical agent (“I Wish I Didn’t Love You So”), with the help if Julia on the piano. They tell her they can maybe find her something in the flickers. Even though Julia denigrates them, Pearl is game, so they show up at a studio, with multiple productions underway at once. Julia gets the vapors. They meet director Mac McGuire (William Demarest, famous for playing “Uncle Charley” on My Three Sons), and he puts them to work. In her first scene, Julia gets pelted by three pies at once.


Julia gets three pies in the puss

Pearl is not amused. She guides Julia off the set (Julia has whipped cream in her eyes) and they proceed to destroy several other productions in progress as they try to leave.  Pearl makes such an impression (telling off a lion), that Mac hires her on the spot. (“I thought it was a dog!” she says) When Julia hears how much, she accepts for Pearl.


“Poor Pauline”

When we hear that Pauline is going to be the biggest thing in pictures, we see workmen putting up a billboard for The Perils of Pauline, over the cute song “Poor Pauline”, and see the various predicaments she finds herself in (blowing desperately on the fuse for dynamite, tied to the tracks, going over Niagara Falls, etc).

TiedtotheTracksPenelope Pitstop cliche’, anyone?

When she’s filming a scene where she has to jump onto a moving train from a horse, she runs into Timmy Timmons, who’s camped out in a cattle car, riding the rails. Farrington’s group disbanded, and they’re all getting by however they can. She and Timmy get reacquainted and she asks him where Mike is. Turns out he’s working as the barker for a hoochie coochie show at a seaside carnival. They have an encounter, and she tells him there’s so much he could help her do. At first he denigrates her choosing of flickers over live theatre, but when she tells him it pays 100 bucks a week, he says he’ll do it. They bring along Timmy too. He makes a good villain.

In their first episode together, The Fatal Idol, Farrington (like Lund himself ed: Oops! Did I say that out loud?) is wooden, and Mac gives him hell for not emoting enough. He gets it right on the next take.

In “Murder in the Clouds, she and Mike are tied together in a hot air balloon as Timmy cuts the rope down below.

20150712_093423_resized“Whose idea was this?” “Mac’s.” “Well, he’s already full of hot air.”

“Are you sure we’re tied down?” Pearl says. “You’re safe as in your mother’s arms!” Mac says. After Mac and Timmy go around and around on the differences between gnashing his teeth and chewing, everything goes wrong.


“For the love of Pete, willya gnash?”

The rope is cut, and there is nothing else tethering the balloon to the ground. The pilot never got a chance to get in the basket before they took off. They’re floating up up and up, with no signs of stopping!

Mike and Pearl cuddle up for warmth, through rain and cold and storms, and Pearl finally admits her feelings. Mike promises to marry her.

Mike gets disgusted at a party and tells Pearl that he had taken the job to try to build her up, but that she’s “dragged him down to where she is.” She calls him a snob and tells him to leave.

World War I breaks out, and Pearl attends a Liberty Bond rally, climbing to the very top of a tall ladder, and being caught in a net. On an ocean liner on their way to Europe, Mike and Timmy catch a viewing of The Fatal Idol. Mike leaves in annoyance. Timmy soaks up the adoration of the crowd when they figure out who he is.

Mike heads for Broadway, and Pearl catches a performance of “Kiss the Tears From My Eyes” one night, right about the time serials begin fading. Mac talks to his backers, and tries to keep things going, but they’re not interested. While he’s talking to them, his secretary comes in with a telegram Pearl has sent him. She’s on her way to Paris, and thanks him for everything. He knuckles under to the backers.

Farrington arrives just then, and threatens to punch Mac in the nose of he doesn’t tell him where she is. So he hands him the telegram. Pearl is working at the Casino de Paris, accompanied by Julia. We see her perform (“Poppa don’t preach to me”).

Mike sends her a message to meet him at the depot, and she says she feels like she has wings. While Timmy is performing, she climbs into the rafters, grabs a long tassel, and swings back and forth across the stage. When she grabs a tassel hanging from the stage ceiling, it breaks loose and Pearl is injured.

To tell you any more would give too much away!

But suffice to say that through Pearl did injure herself, it was during the making of one of the serials, and not afterward. Pearl’s real finale’ was much different than the one in the movie, and much sadder. She was married twice, but never had children. She prepared for the end she knew was coming, and willed her sizable estate to family and friends. She died of “a liver ailment” (most likely cirrhosis) in Paris in 1938, and was buried at Passy Cemetery.

This post is dedicated to a groundbreaker of silent film, Miss Pearl White.

Perils of PaulineThis post is part of the 1947 Blogathon, sponsored by Speakeasy and Shadows and Satin. You can find the other participants here.

The anticipation is building!

Well, around here anyway….

It’s only a few weeks until I release The Forgotten Flapper, and as you may have guessed, things have been a little nutty, what with all the edits, and then more edits, and yet still more edits, trying to make it as completely perfect as I can before the final shipping of books!

My proof arrived the other day, looking completely, utterly PERFECT. Except for those few last minute items I caught inside, exclaiming “WTF?” in dismay, and then having to go through another round of edits, to make sure I caught lots of still mistakes that still made it past my editor, my beta readers, my early reviewers AND me. It’s just so easy to catch them when they’re presented so beautifully in their final format.

I’ve set up a couple of events through Facebook for my signings in Edmonton and Calgary, and the responses are coming in at a good clip (mostly positive!). I’m pretty excited, I have to tell you.

The magical day is approaching, and when it arrives, I’m going to be over the moon. Won’t you join me?


Jeanne Eagels was robbed. Why the stage’s most recognized Sadie Thompson didn’t appear in the film (Classic Movie History Blogathon)

In 1922, a play opened in Philadelphia that underwhelmed the population so much that it closed within weeks. Producer and promoter Sam H. Harris, his client Jeanne Eagels, and the rest of the cast and crew had to decide whether they would fold it up and lick their wounds or try another tack with it. Rain was not the success they had hoped it would be. Jeanne vociferously defended Sadie Thompson, the main character, whom she’d fallen in love with. She refused to let the show die. So with a little reworking, they reopened at the Maxine Elliott Theatre in Manhattan. And American theater has never been the same since. Jeanne_Eagels_in_Disraeli

A young and beautiful Jeanne Eagels.

Sadie Thompson is a woman of dubious morals, on the run from illegal activities in San Francisco. She happens to be on a ship that docks in Pago Pago, Samoa in the South Seas. Also included in this equation are Trader Horn, who manages the general store with his native wife, a battalion of Marines headed for Subic Bay in the Philippines, and a holier-than-thou priest and his wife (the Reverend and Mrs. Davidson). 5658276056_1330391b35_z

Jeanne as Sadie with the Marines

“I don’t want to be a prostitute,” Jeanne told Sam Harris. “The play doesn’t call me one. I can’t feel myself a prostitute. I don’t want to be cheap, sordid and vulgar.” When Harris told her that she wasn’t a prostitute– that she was a common streetwalker, he told her that she had no morals, but no malice either. “All right, I’ll be a common harlot then, but not a cheap one.” What she did do was to make the part her own. She shopped carefully for the look she wanted, scouring New York shops for the perfect type of dress and hat and shoes. According to biographer Edward Doherty, “she found the shoes at a dingy East Side bargain counter, after weeks of searching for them. She paid $2.00. They were on sale.” Supposedly. she ordered a dozen more pairs just like them. The famous hat with the sad droopy plume she found at a shop in the Bronx. And a secondhand store in The Bowery was the source for her white lace coat with peach sateen lining. She found the bedraggled parasol at a fire sale, and the multitude of bangles from a five and ten cent store. From her first sashay onstage, she took over the character, getting inside her head and exploring her personality and motivations. “Sadie wouldn’t do that,” she was known to say. And she defended her fiercely. When someone once asked her if she’d like to visit the Barbary Coast, “where Sadie was from,” Jeanne lost it. “How do YOU know she was ever there?” she said crossly. Nothing in the play indicated it. She wanted to get the most out of life, that was all. “Does anybody actually KNOW Sadie is a harlot?” No one could tell her. Two years after her lover, Thomas Chadbourne, deserted her and married Mrs. Chadbourne, the couple attended the opening night of Rain. According to Doherty, she ignored Chadbourne until the second act, where she turned all her vitriol at Reverend Davidson. But she was not speaking to Davidson, she was accusing Chadbourne. That last word of her tantrum, “sonofabitch,” was covered in fury.

jeanneinRain  Jeanne in costume as Sadie

Her persona became ingrained in the American consciousness. In All About Eve, George Sanders mentioned Jeanne as one of the greats he’d worked with over twenty years after her death.

So, in 1927 when Hollywood inevitably decided to film its own version of Rain, Jeanne would have been the obvious choice for the part. Why then, was Gloria Swanson selected instead?

In a word, clout.

Gloria Swanson was one of the biggest female stars at the time, all due to her work with director Cecil B. DeMille on pictures like Male and Female, The Affairs of Anatole, and Why Change Your Wife. She had recently married an impoverished French nobleman named Henri de la Falaise de la Coudray. She was a marquise.

Obstacle #1 – Rain was on the Motion Picture Production Code’s list of theatrical works that could not be filmed, due to Sadie’s line of work.

CodeHowever, cagey Gloria Swanson worked with some writers to finagle important details (Sadie’s profession became fuzzier, and the reverend became a reformer). And most importantly, they changed the movie’s name to Sadie Thompson so that it wasn’t associated with the scandalous Broadway play of the same name. Because of her wealth and pull in Hollywood, Swanson pulled a fast one on the censors.

Obstacle #2 – Jeanne’s dislike of films.

At the time, the gulf between theater people and “movies” was much wider. Although stage plays did provide fodder for the newer medium, for years theater people had looked down on film people as upstarts. No one wanted to actually admit they made flickers. Until the money began rolling in, and in, and in… and then the talkies arrived. Directors needed trained stage voices. That was when things really changed.

Jeanne had done her time in films in the early part of her career, working for the independent Thanhouser, which was based in New Rochelle, New York. During 1916 and 1917, she made several films, including The World and the Woman, The Fires of Youth, and Under False Colors.

She loved California– loved the sun and the warmth and the people. It was the industry she couldn’t stand. As Doherty says, “Movies, she believed, were made by stupid people, of stupid people, and for stupid people.” And she didn’t feel like films had progressed much past where they’d been a decade earlier when she’d been in them to pay the bills.

When Rain‘s run was complete, Jeanne and her husband, Ted Coy, had traveled to California, and the next thing anyone knew, she was making Man, Woman, and Sin with John Gilbert. She’d been convinced to join by Monta Bell, the director, but supposedly she hated everyone on the lot. Except Bell and Gilbert.


Jeanne and John Gilbert, with whom it was rumored she had an affair

It was the routine she hated– having to get there so early, getting made up, and then waiting around– sometimes for hours, sometimes for days– for technical issues to get ironed out. The lights, the cameras, the director, the editing…she had no patience for it. Finally, she walked off set. For three days.

Obstacle #3 – Jeanne herself.

The furor over Her Cardboard Lover cemented Jeanne’s reputation as difficult and unstable. Erratic behavior, missed performances, and rumors of drunken binges followed the show. Due to the fallout, Jeanne was fined two weeks’ pay and banned from the live stage for eighteen months by Actors Equity. She was casual about the whole affair, and did a stint on vaudeville in the meantime. She knew it would pay more than legitimate theater, and movies would pay even more than that.

But her descent had begun. Alcoholism slowly and surely began to claim her. Rumors of drug abuse surfaced after her death as her behavior became more and more unstable. Supposedly, she had a broken heart when Swanson played Sadie, but Swanson had done the legwork to earn the part for herself. And Jeanne couldn’t be bothered to work in Hollywood voluntarily. Plus, in addition to the alcohol, she had a myriad of health problems with sinuses etc that inhibited her work at times.


Jeanne as the murderous Leslie Crosbie in The Letter

Only after her suspension did Jeanne find Hollywood a legitimate enough source of income to complete the two films we know her for today. The first was the brilliant W. Somerset Maugham work The Letter, where she played the murderous adultress Leslie Crosbie, and the second was Jealousy. Since both are talkies, we can fully get a sense of her acting skill and ability to full inhabit a character.


 It’s a true loss that we never got to enjoy Jeanne on film playing the role she was known for, but Swanson comported herself admirably in the role. If only Jeanne had had the foresight to ensure that her Rain legacy included film as well as live theater.

This has been my entry in the Classic Movie History Blogathon, hosted by Silver Screenings. Check out these other great entries! A wealth of amazing film history lore. Check it out, y’all! I’ll be reading for days.

THE SILENT ERA (1880-1929)

1880-1895: Eadweard Muybridge and the Black Maria: The birth of the movies

Silent-ology Early History of Film
The Movie Rat The Muybridge Experiment

1896-1900: From novelty to art: The movies increase in popularity

Silent Volume The Best Pre-Feature Movies
Christy’s Inkwells How I Learned to Love Silent Movies

1901-1907: The first hits: Melies, Edison and the blockbuster

Big V Riot Squad Life of an American Director: Edwin S Porter in 1903

1908-1913: Nickelodeon! The movies in the mainstream

365 Days 365 Classics India’s Silent Era Movies
Silver Screenings Early Trick Photography The Thieving Hand (1908)
Now Voyaging The early career of Lois Weber

1914-1918: The War and the feature film: The move away from shorts

Now Voyaging Movie audience perceptions of the war
Century Film Project Regeneration (1915)
Once Upon a Screen Birth of Fox Studio – a centennial tribute
Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy Tom Sawyer, the 1917 Film
The Cinematic Packrat A Brief History of MGM
Sir Arthur Conan Doy’s Lost World William Selig’s Lost World

1919-1923: Hollywood triumphs: Post-war dominance

A Small Press Life Anita Loos: Females in Early Hollywood
Movies, Silently Home Theatres of the Silent Era
vivandlarry.com James Abbe: Capturing the silent screen

1924-1927: The high art of pantomime: The silent film reaches artistic heights

Sepia Stories Jeanne Eagels was Robbed. Why the stage’s most recognized Sadie Thompson didn’t appear in the film.
In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood John Barrymore in Don Juan & the introduction to Vitaphone

1928-1929: The last of the silents: The talkie revolution

film, fashion & frivolity Garbo’s Last Silents
Critica Retro 1928 Around the World
CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch The Crowd (1928)

THE GOLDEN AGE (1930-1952)

1930-1931: All Singing! All Dancing! All Talking! The end of the sound transition.

A Person in the Dark Early Musicals
Classic Reel Girl Early portrayal of taxi dancers: Ten Cents a Dance (1931) and Two Seconds (1932)
Cinephilia Lubitsch Films: 1930-1943
Silver Screen Modes How Fashions Sold the Movies: 1930-1940
regularpop Loretta Young’s career

1932-1934: Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? The wild world of pre-Code.

Carole & Co. Of Carole and Pre-Code
Girls Do Film Barbara Stanwyck’s Pre-Code Bad Girls
The Stop Button Son of Kong
Wolffian Classic Movies Digest Bette Davis, dame of the screen
stevielounicks Dinner at Eight
In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood Ethel Barrymore’s transition from stage to screen
Second Sight Cinema Development of newsreels, real life influencing Hollywood and vice versa, and presidential politics and policy in 1932-’33.
Outspoken & Freckled Feminism in the Pre-Code Era
CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch Heat Lightning (1934)
stars and letters Correspondence from Joseph Breen from 1934 and 1935 regarding the Production Code

1935-1938: Let’s misbeha— I mean, lovely day, isn’t it? The Code enforced and the rise of Technicolor.

Nitrate Glow Disney’s Early Features
Silver Scenes 1936-A Grand Year in Film
CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch (Guest Post) The Flame Within

1939: The Big Year. Selections from the biggest year in classic cinema.

Movie Movie Blog Blog The Flying Deuces (Laurel and Hardy)
Smitten Kitten Vintage 1939: The Big Year (Selections from the biggest year in classic cinema)
MovieFanFare The Worst of 1939

1940-1945: We’ll murdelize that paper hanger! Wartime Cinema.

The Vintage Cameo Wartime Musicals
Speakeasy 1943 at RKO
The Motion Pictures For Me and My Gal
Way too damn lazy to write a blog Christmas in Connecticut
Phyllis Loves Classic Movies What the Stars Did to Help Win the War
Shadows and Satin Barbara Stanwyck in Film Noir

1946-1949: Homecoming

B Noir Detour Wartime Cinema: Gentleman’s Agree’t, Crossfire, A Double Life
Queerly Different The Rise and Fall of the Biblical Epic Part 1
Pure Golden Classics Gilda (1946)
regularpop Lizabeth Scott’s career

1950-1952: Realism and the Method: New directions

Sister Celluloid Stage Fright: Hitchcock Goes Home
Old Hollywood Films Hollywood Expose Pictures (Sunset Blvd, Bad the Beautiful)
Hitchcock’s World Destination Moon (1950)
Caftan Woman Adult Westerns
Criterion Blues The Collapse of the Studio System Parts 1,2,3


1953-1957: Rebels with and without causes: The birth of cool

Back to Golden Days Juvenile Deliquency: The Wild One, Blackboard Jungle, Rebel Without a Cause
Movies Silently After the Silents: A Face in the Crowd (1957)
Movie Mania Madness It’s Always Fair Weather – The Musical Gets Cynical
Voyages Extraordinaires Scientific Romances in the Atomic Age
Silver Scenes 3-D Films of the 1950s
Culural Civilian Revisiting It Should Happen to You (1954) in a Reality-TV World
Queerly Different The Rise and Fall of the Biblical Epic Part 2
Let’s Go to the Movies Love as portrayed in key films released during this time period
Totally Filmi The Apu Trilogy
Silver Screenings 3D Film Shorts

1958-1962: A little song, a little dance, a lot of people with no pants: Musicals, biblical epics and the shimmy-shimmy shakes.

A Shroud of Thoughts British New Wave
Cary Grant Won’t Eat You Single Roommates in the City: The Best of Everything (1959)
Queerly Different The Rise and Fall of the Biblical Epic Part 3
Jim Fanning’s Tulgey Wood The Widescreen Splendor of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Paula’s Cinema Club Roger Corman (guest post by Jack Deth)

1963-1967: Mod’s the word: And then things started to swing

The Last Drive In The Bold & The Beautiful Strong Women of 1960s Film
The Wonderful World of Cinema 1967: An Important Turning Point in Films
Reel and Rock The Girl-Getters aka The System (1964)
That Other Critic Batman (1966)
Classic Becky’s Brain Food 3 Big Films 1969: Midnight Cowboy, Sterile Cuckoo, They Shoot Horses Don’t They?
No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen 1966: The Year dubbed as Nineteen Sexty Sex
The Joy & Agony of Movies Movies: 1963-67 (Topic TBA)

1968-1972: Hays is dead: The end of the Code

Portraits by Jenni Airport (1970)
The Joy and Agony of Movies Films about politics and civil unrest
Girls Do Film The American Road Movie (Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, Badlands)
Moon in Gemini Paranoia in Movies
Le Mot du Cinephiliaque The year 1968 in France’s Cinema

1972-1975: The Godfather and Jaws: Auteur films and the modern blockbuster

Once Upon a Screen Mel Brooks’ Take on Classic Movie Genres
Crimson Kimono The Surveillance Sleuth of “The Conversation”
The Joy & Agony of Movies Movies: 1972-75 (Topic TBA)