Terror Island! A Cliffhanger, but not a Serial, starring Houdini!


Terror Island French poster

Ah, Terror Island! I cannot resist the dynamic-duo of a melodramatic-thriller and the ‘one and the only,’ the ‘Handcuff King’ himself, Harry Houdini! Even with one or two missing reels, this little Paramount Aircraft Picture still crackles with excitement, and is rippled with ingenuity. Terror Island has some brilliant photography and the remarkable submarine scenes, were shot on Catalina Island in November of 1919, five months ahead of the film’s premier date.[1] Location filming for the Island action is described only as “an island in the Pacific ocean.”[2] We do know that filming was not yet complete in January of 1920,[3] and the working title for the production was Salvage.[4]

Terror Island opened at the Rex Theater in Waco, Texas, on Sunday, April 18, 1920, and receiving plaudits from the local paper.[5] This is the earliest mention of a showing that I am able to find. It seems in New York, and San Antonio, Texas, that Terror opened on Sunday, April 25, 1920,[6] while in Chicago, Terror premiered on Tuesday, April 27.[7] At the Sterling Theatre, in Greeley, Colorado, they hosted that city’s grand-opening on Tuesday, April 27, 1920,[8] and in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Terror began on Thursday, April 29, 1920;[9] other cities and venues followed quickly.

Although the Internet Movie Database and Library of Congress, Catalogue of Copyright Entries[10] and numerous others, lists the number of reels as seven (the only ad that I know of that listed Terror Island as seven reels is from Australia[11]), yet ads for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Kansas City, Missouri, describe the film as six-reels;[12] an announcement in San Francisco remarks “six reels of thrills, action and suspense.”[13] So which source is more reliable? Usually, I select the contemporary source, but for the running time to be fifty-five minutes you need five-reels. Modern information says that two-reels are lost, if that is so, then it began as a seven-reel picture. Yet, those ads give us compelling evidence that Terror Island started as a six-reel feature, therefore it is down only one reel. Wid’s Daily in its review of Terror Island stated that the production’s length was 5,813 feet[14] and in fact this length is confirmed by the Motion Picture News, more than once, in the publication’s, ‘Advance Information on All Film Releases’ listings.[15]

35 mm film travels at 24 frames per second, 90 feet per minute, which works out to 64.5 minutes; a reel being about 11 minutes… clearly the original running time for Terror Island was around 64 minutes. That leads me to believe the contemporary documentation over today’s theories… Terror Island is missing one reel.

There are some early references that make the length of Terror Island at five reels,[16] Wid’s Daily (The Film Daily) repeatedly referred to the length of Terror Island in their ‘Current Releases’ section as five reels, yet, the aforementioned review listed it at more than 5,800 feet which of course can only be six reels; very confusing to say the least and most likely we will never know the full truth. One last bit of data, in 1922 Cinéa[17] of France reported the length of Terror Island as 1500 meters, which is 4920 feet, which brings us down to five-reels. It is possible that incongruous, axe like edits were made to this adventure-thriller; in the end it is difficult to believe that announcements and ads, nation-wide over the course of almost two years, are all wrong when it comes to the film’s length.

Below you will find short biographies of each of the players and those behind the camera.


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Terror Island Motion Picture News May 1 1920 11 (2)

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Now Let Us Proceed to Our Players:

Terror Island Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini (Harry Harper), a man that really needs no introduction, so therefore, I will leave off his work as an escape artist, as spiritualist-debunker and focus on his involvement in the film industry. Houdini appeared in just five movies, beginning with The Master Mystery, 1919, and in the same year, The Grim Game. Following Terror Island, 1920, he made The Man from Beyond, 1922 and finished out his celluloid career with Haldane of the Secret Service, 1923. Adding to his résumé, Houdini directed two films, well, no he did not, because the first title listed by the Internet Movie Data Base under Houdini’s directing credits is The Soul of Bronze, 1921, which turns out to be just a re-release of the 1918, French production (Eclair Studios[18]), L’ Ame du bronze, a story not only adapted by Henry Roussel but directed by him as well. The story was written by Georges Le Faure, which was serialized in Paris Matin (a daily newspaper), in eleven-installments, from December 30, 1917 through January 13, 1918.[19] Houdini acquired the rights to L’ Ame du bronze, added new intertitles and distributed it under his name… viola! Just like any sleight of hand, it became Houdini’s. Even the American Film Institute Catalog lists Houdini as a member (the only name mentioned) of the cast, of course this is a ridiculous statement, for that would necessitate Houdini beginning in films a year earlier than what his history tells us, and besides this, the stars of L’ Ame du bronze were Harry Baur and Gaston Rieffler. The aforementioned Haldane, is the second, I mean the only film directed by Houdini. The ‘mystery-man’ himself was also responsible for the story of The Man from Beyond, 1922, which he also served on as executive producer.


Terror Island Jack Brammall

Jack Brammall

Jack Brammall, AKA John Bramall, John Bramhall, Jack Brammell, (Tom Starkey) was an English actor, who made quite a mark on Broadway, not only as a performer but as producer as well. His first role on the Great White Way was The Call of the Cricket, 1910; from there Brammall got his debut in the Majestic Motion Picture Company film: The Lighted Candle in 1912. He appeared in numerous shorts from 1912 through 1915, but Mr. Brammall’s interest still lay on the stage. In 1915, he joined with and established the Bramhall Players (1915-1918) a theater troupe housed in the Bramhall Playhouse (corner of Lexington Ave. & 27th Street[20]). Most often Brammall worked behind the scenes as producer, not taking a stage-acting turn again until 1929; he had a total of seven roles on Broadway and was involved in the production of nine plays, all at the Bramhall Playhouse. Regardless which name we look at, Brammall, Bramall, Bramhall, Brammell, this expat of England appeared in nearly forty films, from 1912 to 1921.

Terror Island Lila Lee 2

Lila Lee

Lila Lee (Beverly West) was a child star on the vaudeville circuits, under the management of Gus Edwards. FPL (Famous Players-Lasky) signed the then sixteen-year-old actress in June of 1918.[21] Yet, her given age to the press is fourteen-years, in 1918,[22] eh, I’m lost? Was she 16 or 14? If 14 then she was born in 1904, but her date of birth on file is 1901? In a newspaper article in December of 1912 her age is listed as seven[23] and her discovery by Gus Edwards when she was five? The song “Look out for Jimmy Valentine is the reason that Lila Lee, soon to be ‘Little Cuddles’ was discovered. “Jimmy Valentine” was published in October of 1910, and Edwards saw her outside of a theater, and it was not until he got inside and like a flash the idea of this little girl lying on a piano, while “Look out for Jimmy Valentine” was sung, came to him; he asked Miss Lee’s mother for permission, and the rest, as they say, is history. If Lee was five when discovered in 1910, then she was born in 1905? Which would make her? I am totally confused! Let’s just leave it as age undetermined. Whatever Lila Lee’s age, she was a star from the get-go! Top billing amongst the children on the vaudeville circuit, was the norm. Lee was remembered fondly when she made her mark in movies, by those that had seen her on stage.[24]


Wilton Taylor (Job Mourdant) made his Broadway debut on August 13, 1898, in the musical comedy, “In Atlantic City,” which had an amazing nine performances before closing; Taylor in the intervening twelve years before his next Broadway appearance, played the vaudeville circuit in New York (many times at Proctor’s Fifty-Eighth Street and Twenty-Third Street Theatres[25]) and in New Jersey. Not being confined to the east-coast, Taylor went to Columbus, Ohio, in 1904 for “The Prodigal Daughter” at the Empire Theatre and in 1912,[26] he also traveled to Chicago when he was cast in “Within the Law,” produced at the Princess Theatre.[27] [28] Mr. Taylor had just four more roles from 1910 through 1914 on Broadway. In February of 1910 we see that Taylor has started his own troupe named Wilton Taylor and Company.[29] From 1914 to 1923 Taylor appeared in 30 movies, with Alias Jimmy Valentine and Treasure Island, both produced in 1920, along with The Cave Girl, 1921 are his most notable of film work.


Terror Island Ed Brady

Ed Brady

Ed Brady (Captain Black) was one of Hollywood’s most prolific actors making some three-hundred-fifty films in thirty-one years; Brady began in the early days of cinema, in 1911 and lasted throughout the silent era and into the talkies. Brady experienced some sense of popularity and near top-billing status, yet the majority of his work was uncredited or a supporting role in a B-movie. In addition, Brady had one role on Broadway, in “The Spy,” 1913.


Terror Island Frank Bonner

Frank Bonner

Frank Bonner (Chief Bakaida) made only three films: Hawthorne of the U.S.A., 1919, Terror Island, 1920 and Old Ironsides in 1926. He was a west coast actor who worked primarily in the San Francisco-Oakland area; he made his stage debut at Oakland’s Dewey Theater, playing the part of Gheco in “Trilby,” on September 9, 1900.[30] And at the ripe old age of twenty-four, in 1901, he had the privilege of appearing with Maud Miller (daughter of Joaquin Miller) at the San Francisco theatre: Sherman & Clay Hall.[31] In 1905 Bonner was in support to the comedic star, Barney Bernard in “The Financier,” which played for one week at the Grand Opera House in San Francisco.[32] Bonner was with the Central Theatre Stock Company, of the Central Theatre (managed by Ernest Howell), in 1907;[33] in 1911 he was part of the King Dillon Musical Comedy Company, in Stockton, California.[34] He also appeared with the National Theatre Company, which had just been announced as a permanent stock company, at that theatre.[35] 1913 found Bonner with the McKee Rankin Players, seen with that company in “A Kain-tucky Feud.”[36]

April of 1914 afforded Bonner the opportunity to play with the George Webb Company in the islands of Hawaii for a fourteen-week season.[37] Soon after getting back from Hawaii, the George Webb Company moved ‘lock stock and barrel’ to the Grand Theatre in Sacramento, for an indefinite engagement.[38] Bonner was considered a versatile actor, in the Bay area a ‘Star,’ man of a thousand roles. In 1915 he continued his acting prowess in the cities by the bay.[39] As seen in his travels to Hawaii, Bonner would commit to leaving the San Francisco area for a good opportunity; that is what took him next to Salt Lake City, Utah, a long commitment… May 9, 1917 marked the end of a seventy-seven week run with the Wilkes Players, which were housed at the Wilkes Theatre;[40] Bonner and the Wilkes troupe began their long stint in November of 1915. The spring of 1919 had Mr. Bonner back in California playing in Los Angeles, with Kolb and Dill at the Majestic Theatre.[41]


Taylor N. Duncan, AKA Ted Duncan, (First Officer Murphy) according to the Internet Movie Data Base only had thirteen film roles in thirteen years, but he also appeared in two additional movies, sandwiched between Intolerance and In Mizzoura. The first was with Fannie Ward in Betty to the Rescue, 1917.[42] In Betty to the Rescue (produced by Famous Players-Laksy Corp. and distributed by Paramount Pictures, the director-general was Cecil B. DeMille, while DeMille’s mother, Beatrice DeMIlle wrote the story), Duncan has the pivotal role of ‘Big Jim,’ who helps our heroine along the way by discovering ‘gold in them thar nuggets,’ (sorry about the unneeded description) it was considered one of the big moments of the movie.[43] Later in 1917 (our second film missing from this actor’s profile), Duncan was in The Squaw Man’s Son (considered a lost moving-picture) which starred Wallace Reid, Anita King, Dorothy Davenport and Clarence Geldart; directed by Edward LeSaint, written by Charles Maigne.[44] What a terrific résumé! Yet, if we only named two other titles besides Terror Island, these two movies would be enough for most actors to fuel their self-congratulating conversations for the rest of their lives: Intolerance, 1916 and Tumbleweeds, 1925.


Terror Island Rosemary Theby 2

Rosemary Theby (Stella Mourdant) was the owner of a long-lived career debuting in 1911’s The Sacrifice, produced by Vitagraph. Theby was shall we say, prolific in silents, particularly during the early silent era. In 1917, after some successful films with husband Harry Myers (often directing their films while with Universal and VIM); in 1931 Myers would play the ‘rich man’ in Charlie Chaplin’s, City Lights). The couple tried their hands at producing; they finished four movies before hanging up the production-hats. The Myers-Theby Comedy Corporation of Yonkers, was incorporated in early March of 1917, capitalized at $100,000; with Mr. F. Seldman of Brooklyn, New York, appointed as one of the directors to the new film corp… Myers-Theby began by making The Delicatessen Mystery, in May of 1917, and followed with Jumping Jealousy, Rusticating and Police Protection, the last title released in June of 1917. Theby had one success after another, but with sound, she and hubby Meyers were relegated to bit parts and uncredited roles.


Girl of the Timber Claims Fred A Turner

Fred A. Turner

Fred A. Turner (Mr. West) for a further look at Turner please read our post on A Girl of the Timber Claims.


Terror Island Eugene Pallette

Eugene Pallette

Eugene Pallette AKA Eugene Pallett, Gene Pallette, Jean Pallette, (Guy Mourdant) is truly a very interesting, controversial actor from the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was the son of Baird William Pallette, referred to as J. W. or Baird[45] the general-manager of The National life Insurance Company in St. Louis, Missouri,[46] and his mother was Elnora ‘Ella’ Jackson-Pallette. Baird Pallette was able to pass on his love and experience of having lived on a farm, and his time spent as cowboy, and his familiarity with the cattle business[47] to Eugene; Pallette had just one sibling, his older sister Beulah.  According to Culver Military Academy (located in Culver, Indiana) Eugene Pallette graduated in 1912, which makes no sense, for Culver is a preparatory school, which would have made Pallette twenty-three when leaving Culver. Culver Academy was a boarding and educational institution, so we may assume that like everyone else Pallette graduated by the time he was eighteen, but that does not jibe with the fact that he was a clothing salesman, hailing from Sedalia, Missouri, in 1906.[48] Since Pallette is listed proudly as alumni of the Culver Military Academy, we may conjecture that he was not expelled; therefore he either left or graduated early.

Eugene Pallette made his first appearance on stage in Little Eva (yes, the title role), with his next performance being in East Lynne as Little Willie.[49] In fact in seems that his parents were in a tour of East Lynne, when young Eugene played ‘Little Willie’ in that production;[50] Pallette’s parents being actors is confirmed, according to an article by Robert Grandon.[51] Who’s Who on the Screen had Mr. Pallette’s first stage role in Alias Jimmy Valentine, which was written by Paul Armstrong, 1909 and began its Great White Way run in January of 1910; there is no record that Pallette was cast in the original Broadway production.[52] In 1909-10, Pallette traveled with a stock company to Portland, Oregon, maybe Alias Jimmy Valentine was the play that he went to Portland, Oregon for? Anyway, enough of that conjecture. When the acting troupe went broke in Portland,[53] he paid the bills by working as a streetcar motorman.[54] He acquired the position of motorman by circumventing the crowd of applicants ahead of him, slipping through a side window; the superintendent was impressed by Pallette’s enterprise, and hired him.[55] Trolley veterans who worked with Pallette recounted his solution to slow fares one day, saying that he took his trolley off route to the baseball park, but, even after he picked up more fares, Pallette was still instructed to stay on his own route.[56] His hodgepodge of jobs did not end there, somewhere in between the years-who knows when, and pounds-300 of them, Pallette found time to be a jockey, a circus bareback rider and an aerialist;[57] with twelve years in front of live audiences, [58] Pallette arrived in Hollywood in 1910.[59]

From the horse’s mouth is usually the best way to get the correct information or sometimes it may end up being an exaggeration, yet, Pallette claimed that in his first four years in Hollywood, he made one-hundred pictures per annum![60] Of course there is some allusion by Pallette that he was a stunt rider (which fits nicely when remembering his bare-back circus riding days) before he acted. It appears that a goodly amount of his traceable early work in Tinsel-Town is lost; if his start year is 1910, then that is a full three years before our earliest knowledge of any of his film work. Further, a 1932 report claims that Pallette had already worked in 640 motion pictures.[61] Some others have claimed as many as twelve-hundred movies to his credit.[62] These hundreds of extra titles would have to have been walk-ons, crowd-scenes and stunt work, or I would think we would have a little more evidence. And one piece of information that is often forgotten is that Pallette was also a supervisor of productions during his early stint in Hollywood,[63] and he worked with director Tom Ricketts at Universal in 1912;[64] this definitely could have rolled up the stats for young Pallette’s résumé. But with that said, it was in February, 1913 that we saw his official film debut (The Fugitive), at least it will remain official until someone somewhere, turns over a movie-stone and changes film and date.

There are too many classic films to make mention here. Suffice it to say that Pallette not only may be one of your favorite Hollywood supporting players, he is one of mine, but he was definitely a favorite of many producers, directors and his acting peers.

Pallette miscellany Pallette was a close friend of actor-director Raoul Walsh and shared an apartment with the Hollywood legend, somewhere around 1914-15.[65] Once Pallette gained his weight (which began creeping up in the 1920’s), it was constant fodder (pardon the food pun) for the press, nary an article was remiss in making reference to his portly state. In the 1920’s Pallette slowed down his acting assignments and concentrated on black-gold in Texas, gaining a fortune in oil and then losing it all.[66]

One drawback to this character actor supreme, at least according to Otto Preminger, is that he was a racist, which if true was a sad epitaph for such a talented actor.[67] Yet, still more confusion in the matter was supplied by Jet Magazine, reporting that Pallette was in attendance, at the banquet for Madame Sul-Te-Wan; at that time the oldest living black actress in the world. Sul-Te-Wan and Pallette had both appeared in The Birth of a Nation in 1915 and Intolerance in 1916.[68] Is this a contradiction to Preminger’s statements? Did Jet Magazine bow to the pressure of the Hollywood machine trying to rehabilitate Pallette or was this a ‘wink and nod’ from Jet to let everyone in Hollywood know that they knew the truth? Or, yet again, was this the real Pallette?

In 1937, as though Oregon was calling, Pallette begin to make regular journeys to the Beaver state beginning to acquire small parcels of land that would eventually add up to around  thirty-five hundred acres. By those outside of Wallow County, Oregon, the retreat was labeled a compound, a fortress, but for those who knew Pallette, it was his home; a self-sustaining community was his goal.[69] To that end he developed (his retreat was located in the wilderness, in the eastern part of the state, along the Imnaha River)[70] the property with a ranch-house (constructed next to an old post-office), bombproof underground installations, a saw-mill, a gas station and he built a slaughter-house. He had bunk houses, a central kitchen and a mess-hall. Machine shops, stables, a cannery, water works were added to the mix and a 60×90 foot concrete warehouse to handle all of the foodstuffs.[71] Pallette ventured back to Hollywood in 1949,[72] (the world having not been blown-up, as he anticipated[73]) and according to some reports he sold the Oregon ranch in 1951; it included three-hundred head of cattle, and the foodstuffs in the sale.[74] But, in one obit, it makes mention that a 3,500 acre ranch in Oregon, was not affected by the probate proceedings.[75] Much of the preceding information was related by Claude Hall, in 1977. Mr. Hall was a retired Wallowa County, Oregon, judge and had been a former partner in the Pallette Ranch.


Now We Ensue to the Crew of Terror Island


Terror Island James Cruze

James Cruze (director) directed more than seventy movies, working well into the sound era. Cruze made just one short-film (From Wash to Washington, 1914) and then promptly moved on to feature-length pictures. His is a varied profile with over one-hundred acting credits (1911-1923), producing thirty-four films, and writing for two movies.


William Marshall (cinematography) photographed nearly seventy films; probably his best know work was for The Sheik, 1921, starring Rudolph Valentino. His career lasted just sixteen-years.


Wilfred Buckland (art director) was a busy man, handling the art direction duties more than eighty times in thirteen years; while only working on one short-subject (The Unafraid, 1915). Once he multi-tasked and added the title of production designer, with The Roaring Road, in 1919. All told, Buckland oversaw the production design in eleven projects.


Arthur B. Reeve (co-wrote the story) was by talent and trade, a novelist and short-story weaver, his first work writing directly for the screen was The Hidden Hand, 1917; in total Reeve penned or co-penned a dozen stories and scenarios. But he buttered his bread by the printed word; his most famous and lasting work was that of the eighty-two Craig Kennedy stories and the various adventures of Elaine which involved Professor Craig Kennedy, which stories make up the bulk of his written works adapted for the silver-screen, beginning with: The Exploits of Elaine, 1914, The New Exploits of Elaine, 1915, The Romance of Elaine, 1915, and then in 1936, The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand, again with his most recognizable character Craig Kennedy.


John Grey (co-wrote the story) had writing assignments on more than one-hundred movies; he worked well beyond the silent era, with his last feature-film being Swingin’ on a Rainbow, 1945. Grey finished his career writing a few episodes for Television (Sky King, 1958-1959, The Texan, 1960, and The Littlest Hobo, 1963). Both Grey and Arthur Reeve are missing a writing credit in their résumés: $1,000,000.00Reward, starring Lillian Walker, released in January of 1920.[76]


Terror Island Cullen Tate

Cullen ‘Hezi or Hessie’ Tate (assistant-director) may not be easy to distinguish from the thousands of film making personnel, from a hundred years ago, but to Hollywood in that era he was highly recognizable. A shock of red hair, a man of humor, and an a highly opinionated assistant-director; while some in authority want a ‘yes-man’ Tate fit perfectly with Cecil B. DeMille, who wanted anything but an obsequious AD. Tate makes for one of the most interesting résumés in Hollywood history. As we look back upon the career of Cullen Tate there are a good number of non-listed credits as well as listed (whether named-uncredited or credited). Tate made a career of being the assistant-director or the second-unit-director; most of his work in sound films went uncredited. Two films catch the eye as outstanding; he worked (assistant-director) with Cecil B. DeMille on The Ten Commandments, 1923, and The Man in the Iron Mask, 1939 as the second-unit-director, with James Whale.

In addition to the thirty or more movies as ‘AD’ or ‘SUD,’ Tate also directed four films: Try and Get It, and Cheap Kisses, both released in 1924, The Carnival Girl, 1926 and his co-directing in My Heart Belongs to Daddy, 1942, went uncredited. And I do not want to neglect mentioning that Tate was a favorite of DeMille, assisting the master on both silent and sound projects. His specialty was properties, scouting for location shoots;[77] often, Tate handled mob or large crowd scenes for DeMille and other directors.[78]

A perfect example of Tate’s normal duties was when for Manslaughter, 1922, he visited the women’s prison in Auburn, New York, and the Manhattan Detention Complex; while there Tate shot footage, gathered details on apparel, and other prison paraphernalia.[79] During his stay in New York he sat in on an actual manslaughter trial, from beginning to end; he obtained copies of the official documents, from the indictment to the commitment to prison.[80]

There are projects that Tate not only goes uncredited for, but some films are not listed in his work-history, the type which we see commonly (IMDB is a primary source for all of us cinephiles) on the internet. Here is the roll of Tate’s overlooked films that I have complied thus far: Joan the Woman, 1916, A Romance of the Redwoods, 1917, The Woman God Forgot, 1917,[81] What Happened to Jones, 1920,[82] The Affairs of Anatol, 1921,[83] Adam’s Rib, 1923,[84] The Dark Angel, 1925,[85]  The Barker, 1928,[86] His Captive Woman, 1929,[87] The Crusades, 1935,[88] Virginia, 1942 (second-unit-director),[89] Tate again in each of these films was the assistant-director unless otherwise noted.

Tate miscellany: He sat in the director’s chair (at least as co-director) for The Follies Girl, 1924, AKA The Chorus Lady, starring Margaret Livingstone, but it was Ralph Ince that received the credit.[90] Tate was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Assistant Director, for Cleopatra, 1934. ‘Hezi’ Tate was the first person to fill the new industry position of short-wave-tech, for Captains Courageous, 1937.[91]


Walter Woods (adapted Terror Island for the screen) when he came to films 1915, he was already an accomplished playwright, theater-manager, and basic all around ‘jack-of-all-trades.’ Woods had spent extensive time not only in the entertainment field but in journalism as well. In 1903 Woods finished his four act play, “Billy the Kid,” under the pseudonym of Walwin Woods. Evidently Woods could not get the play produced, since I have found no evidence to the contrary. In 1906 he partnered with Joseph Santley, the pair reworking or polishing “Billy the Kid,” although retaining all four acts of the comedy drama; this version went on to open on Broadway (with Santley appearing as Billy), on August 13, 1906.[92] Billy the Kid went on tour and received a glowing review in Syracuse, New York.[93] And in August LeRoy Sumner took over the role of Billy and by all reports the part fit the actor well, playing in Lebanon and Harrisburg Pennsylvania.[94] The traveling production continued on, making stops in Greenville, Pennsylvania, East Liverpool, Ohio,[95] and Monongahela, Pennsylvania; usually playing for one or two nights. Billy the Kid toured Illinois, Michigan and Ohio through January of 1908.

In 1907 Woods finished “Girl of Eagle Ranch,” (a melodrama), and made the production available on September 16, 1907. [96] The western opened in Philadelphia at Hart’s Kensington Theatre on September 23, 1907.[97] Girl of Eagle Ranch on the Great White Way premiered on October 21, 1907.[98] While the Internet Broadway Date Base does not provide a cast list, I was able (no small feat of research) to obtain it and include it for your perusal… enjoy![99]

We know that Girl of Eagle Ranch, did not last long on Broadway, for it was already on tour in Cincinnati, Ohio, in December of 1907, at Heuck’s Opera House,[100] and from there the production moved on to Indiana.[101]

Woods was not above writing for vaudeville,[102] wherever he could sell a story, his profile seems to relate to us; the Dudleys would use his sketch “A Fish Story” for their show (1907-1908 season), on the Keith & Proctor circuit.

February of 1910 saw Walter Woods take the duties of editor and manager of the Copan Enterprise, Copan, Oklahoma,[103] and his new play, The Reformer (a political drama), co-written with Benjamin J. Leger was being presented at the Cumings Theater, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, produced by the Leigh De Lacy (Mrs. Woods) Company.[104]

Woods miscellany: In 1904 Mr. Woods wrote and copyrighted another four act play, a melodrama entitled: The Chicago Bay Bandits.[105] He was seen on stage in summer stock with the Fenberg Stock Company, in 1905;[106] he was considered a leading member of the acting group. In 1911 Woods became the manager of the Olympic Theatre in Cincinnati, Ohio; Walter Woods was evaluated as a man of extended experience in managing stock and other theaters.[107] Much of Woods well known managing acumen was gathered from the facts that he co-managed (with Monte Thompson) his wife’s company (Leigh De Lacy) for eight years.[108]  Walter Woods was the managing partner of the Walter Woods-Monte Thompson Players; the group had offices in Brockton, Massachusetts.[109] The company worked in stock seasons, as far north as St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.[110]



In autumn of 1919, John Grey, Arthur Reeve, Harry Houdini, H. Sumnich and Louis Grossman decided to form a new motion picture production company with Grey installed as president and Reeve as vice-president;[111] the company’s purpose was to rehab the serial genre.[112] The studios were located at Flushing, Long Island, New York.[113] The young company had a contract with Goldwyn, indeed, it is stated that the purpose of forming Supreme Pictures was to produce four Craig Kennedy pictures a year, over an undetermined number of years; what happened to stall that deal?[114] And what happened to the purpose? It is most likely not one impetus, but many that drove the group to establish Supreme Pictures.

Yet, the genesis may be found (at least Reeve’s reason) in Arthur Reeve’s attack on Democratic Senator Thomas Gore (grandfather of Gore Vidal, and a distant relative of Al Gore) of Oklahoma and his bill; Gore had introduced legislation to prohibit Interstate transportation of “blood and thunder” films or still pictures. Reeve was impassioned regarding the subject, and he deftly argued his points, simultaneously defending thrills in general, making mention that if Gore’s bill succeeded it would create a “namby pamby world.”[115]

But the Supreme Pictures Corporation lasted but one project and was done by the following year. The Mystery Mind, released in November of 1920, was the sole serial and only title for the company. Grey and Reeve collaborated on the writing (not uncommon for this pair), as well as acting as the producers of the fifteen-chapter photo-play[116]. Houdini was not involved in the making of the picture, and of course Grossman being the financial expert, took care of the business end.


By C. S. Williams


[1] Wid’s Daily, Monday, December 1, 1919

[2] Exhibitors Herald, December 20, 1919

[3] The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Sunday, January 4, 1920

[4] Variety (New York, New York) Friday, December 5, 1919

[5] The Waco News-Tribune, (Waco, Texas) Sunday, April 18, 1920 & Tuesday, April, 20, 1920

[6] The New York Times (New York, New York) Sunday, April 25, 1920;

San Antonio Evening News (San Antonio, Texas) Saturday, April 24, 1920

[7] Chicago Sunday Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) Sunday, April 25, 1920

[8] The Tribune-Republican (Greeley, Colorado) Tuesday, April 27, 1920

[9] The Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) Saturday, April 24, 1920

[10] Catalogue of Copyright Entries of 1920, states that Terror Island is seven-reels long and copyrighted on March 13

with the description copyrighted on March 26, 1920

[11] Forbes advocate (Forbes, New South Wales) Friday, November 5, 1920

[12] Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) Thursday, April 29, 1920

The Kansas City Sun (Kansas City, Missouri) Saturday, September 4, 1920

[13] San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) Sunday,  September 5, 1920

[14] Wid’s Daily, Sunday, May 2, 1920

[15] Motion Picture News Saturday, April 3, 1920

[16] Wid’s Daily, Sunday, April 11, 1920

Wid’s Daily, Sunday, May 30, 1920

Wid’s Daily, Sunday, June 6, 1920

[17] Cinéa, January 6, 1922

[18] The Ciné Goes to town: French Cinema, 1896-1914 by Richard Abel, University of California Press, 1994,

pages  344-345

[19] Catalogue of Copyright Entries

[20] El Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas) Week-End Edition, April 17-18, 1915

[21] Motography, June 22, 1918

[22] Motion Picture News, June 22, 1918

[23] The Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) December 21, 1912

[24] The Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) November 17, 1918

The Reading News-Times (Reading, Pennsylvania) September 29, 1919


[25] New York Clipper (New York, New York) August 5, 1905


[26] New York Clipper (New York, New York) August 27, 1904

[27] New York Clipper (New York, New York) March 30, 1912

[28] Later that year “Within the Law would play in New York at the Julian Eltinge Theatre: New York Clipper (New

York, New York) June 22, 1912

[29] Variety (New York, New York) February 26, 1910

[30] Oakland Tribune(Oakland, California) August 29, 1956

[31] San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) October 14, 1901

[32] San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) June 4, 1905

[33] New York Clipper (New York, New York) May 18, 1907

[34] Variety (New York, New York) August 10, 1911

[35] Variety (New York, New York) September 27, 1912

[36] San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) February 24, 1913

[37] Variety (New York, New York) April 10, 1914

Variety (New York, New York) May 15, 1914

Variety (New York, New York) August 7, 1914

[38] Variety (New York, New York) September 26, 1914

[39] Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) April 29, 1915

[40] Variety (New York, New York) May 11, 1917

[41] New York Clipper (New York, New York) May 28, 1919

[42] The Fort Wayne Daily News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) January 20, 1917

[43] The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kansas) January 28, 1917

[44] The Sandusky Star-Journal (Sandusky, Ohio) August 11, 1917

[45] The Winfield Tribune (Winfield, Kansas) July 4, 1907

The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) August 29, 1906

[46] The Winfield Tribune (Winfield, Kansas) July 4, 1907

The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) August 29, 1906

[47] The Book of St. Louisans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of City of St. Louis, edited by

John W. Leonard, published by the St. Louis Republic, 1906, page 447

[48] The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) August 28, 1906

[49] The Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) July 27, 1932

[50] New York Journal-American (New York, New York( September 5, 1954

[51] The Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) July 27, 1932 “Like Infants Roles Saw Sexes Mixed: Telling on


[52] We piece together more plays that Pallette had roles in, from the Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade

Annual, by the Motion Picture News October 21, 1916: The Barrier, Chief of Police, The Deep Purple and Raffles

[53] Eugene Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon) September 4, 1954

[54] Toledo Blade (Toledo, Ohio) March 28, 1947

[55] Eugene Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon) September 4, 1954

[56] Eugene Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon) September 4, 1954

[57] The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) August 3, 1944

[58] Who’s Who on the Screen, edited by Charles Donald Fox and Milton L. Silver Ross Publishing Co., Inc, New York,

1920, page 269

[59] The Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) May 30, 1940

[60] The Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) May 30, 1940

[61] The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) May 29, 1932

[62] Lewiston Morning Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho-Clarkston, Washington) July 11, 1977

[63] Motion Picture Studio Directory, Fifth Edition, 1919

[64] Motography, November 23, 1912

[65] Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood’s Legendary Director, by Marilyn Moss, The University Press of

Kentucky, 2011, page 39

[66] New York Journal-American (New York, New York( September 5, 1954

[67] Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King, by Foster Hirsch, Knopf, 2007

[68] Jet Magazine, October 1, 1953

[69] Lewiston Morning Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho-Clarkston, Washington) July 11, 1977

[70] The Washington Post and Times Herald (Washington, D. C.) September 4, 1954

[71] Lewiston Morning Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho-Clarkston, Washington) July 11, 1977

The Tuscaloosa News (Tuscaloosa-Northport, Alabama ) September 5, 1954

Eugene Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon) September 4, 1954

[72] The Terre Haute Star (Terre Haute, Indiana) September 23, 1949

[73] The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Florida) September 4, 1954

[74] Eugene Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon) September 4, 1954

[75] The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Florida) September 9, 1954

[76] Exhibitors Herald, January 17, 1920

[77] Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1918

[78] Picture-Play Magazine, December, 1923

[79] Exhibitors Herald, May 6, 1922

[80] The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.) May 16, 1922

[81] Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1918

[82] The Galveston Daily News, (Galveston, Texas) November 30, 1920

[83] Exhibitors Herald, February 26, 1921

[84] The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Indiana) January 7, 1923

[85] Photoplay Magazine, October, 1925

[86] The Film Spectator, July 7, 1928

[87] Las Vegas Daily Optic (Las Vegas, New Mexico) October 25, 1933

[88] Motion Picture Daily, May 3, 1935

[89] Screenland, December, 1941

[90] Exhibitors Trade Review, September 6, 1924

Photoplay Magazine, November, 1924

The Indianapolis Star, December 7, 1924

[91] The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) July 17, 1937

[92] Catalog of Copyrights, and Internet Broadway Data Base

[93] The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York) April12, 1907

[94] The Daily News (Lebanon, Pennsylvania) August 22, 1907

The Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) August 24, 1907

[95] The Evening Record (Greenville, Pennsylvania) September 5, 1907

The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Ohio) September 10, 1907

The Daily Republican (Monongahela, Pennsylvania) September 16, 1907

[96] New York Clipper (New York, New York) August 17, 1907

[97] New York Dramatic Mirror (New York, New York) September 21, 1907

[98] Internet Broadway Data Base, INBD has no cast members, I include the original Broadway cast

[99] New York Clipper  (New York, New York) October 26, 1907:

Joseph E. Benard             (James Brandon)

W. H. Barwald                    (Richard Brandon)

Henry Alexander             (Santo Riverra)

Tommy West                      (Sandy O’Brien)

Herbert Colby                   (Curly Harris)

Oliver Bundy                      (Col. Henry Carver)

Frank DuFrayne                (Just Bill)

William Quinn                    (Wild Harry)

William Healy                    (Pecus Bill)

Charles Quinn                    (Slim Jake)

Billy Bauer                           (Handsome Charley)

Dorothy Primrose            (Bess Starlight)

Katherine Thayer             (June Corver)

Mamie Fleming                  (The Girl)


[100] New York Clipper (New York, New York) December 21, 1907

[101] The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana) December 29, 1907

[102] New York Clipper (New York, New York) June 22, 1907

[103] The Coffeyville Daily Journal (Coffeyville, Kansas) February 7, 1910

[104] Fitchburg Daily Sentinel (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) February 23, 1910

[105] New York Clipper (New York, New York) February 13, 1904

[106] New York Clipper (New York, New York) May 13, 1905

[107] The Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) October 22, 1911

[108] Variety (New York, New York) June 8, 1912

[109] Variety (New York, New York) September 26, 1913

[110] New York Clipper (New York, New York) October 25, 1913

[111] Exhibitors Herald, January 24, 1920

Wid’s Daily, May 24, 1920

[112] Motion Picture Daily, July 2, 1953

[113] Exhibitors Herald December 6, 1919

[114] Wid’s Daily, May 24, 1920

[115] Exhibitors Herald, January 24, 1920

[116] Exhibitors Herald, January 24, 1920


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