Sidney Olcott, le premier oeil

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July 10, 2016





In Los Angeles, Gene Gauntier meets her old Kalem friends

When the paths of Sidney Olcott and Gene Gauntier split in 1914, it seems that their "divorce" is final. Everyone borrows his way. Olcott founded his own company Sid Feature Olcott then continued his career with various production companies.
Gene Gauntier directs Gene Gauntier Feature Players with Jack J. Clark as a director, then joined Universal in 1915. The adventure does not last since the couple divorced in 1918. In a previous article, I wrote things I knew on her life. The books she wrote, her sojourns in Sweden with her sister Marguerite and the Swedish billionaire Axel Wenner-Gren, her world cruise in 1937-1938 aboard the yacht of her brother-in-law, her installation in Mexico...

It seemed she had not crossed Olcott nor her former companions of Kalem. Yet April 29, 1938, the Southern Cross made a stop in California. In San Pedro, Los Angeles. In the journal she wrote during this world tour which I obtained a copy she says: « Los Angeles... There is certainly a great difference since I was here in 1922. The the way to L.A. was bordered by Japanese vegetable gardens - I remember especially the fine head lettuce. Now it is built solidly, not attractive, and oil derricks rising in every direction like gaunt stripped forests. (...)  I never would have recognised Hollywood, now a metropolis. When I lived there in 1915 and 1922 it was just a charming small city; and it certainly has not improved to my mind. »
Gene Gauntier staying at the hotel where AWG sojourns. She dines with at Marguerite Lucille Graves «our Berlin Mother» (1) « We had a grand talkof old days and old friends, and I heard a lot of gossip and the news of Bob (Vignola), Sid (Olcott), Val (Grant), Alice (Hollister), Doris (Hollister), and the old Kalem bunch. »
Lucille Graves, aged 73, has tried to invite them to the dinner but none were available.

The reunion takes place the next day, Saturday, April 30, on the ship as it makes its invitation to Lucille. « Bob Vignola was waiting just inside the drawning room door, and before I saw him I was in his arms. The little Doris Hollister, now a slim and attractive young matron, who was once a little 5 year old on the old Kalem treks to foreign lands. Bob was the same dear old Bob, a little fatter, a little balder, but the same high spirits and lovable personality. Sid and Val were at Palm SPrings, so could not come, but telegraphed (...)
We had caviers and Strassburg gooseliver sandwiches, cocktails and Brantvin and Turkish arak on the after deck (and was it cold!) and a great dinner with cahpagne flowing like water. I never saw the table look so beautiful, decorated with masses of blue flags and jonquils (the Swedish colors) and spread with Madeira mats. It was so gay and festive and in spite of being so tired, wa had all a grand evening (...) » 
Margaret and Axel invite Bob in Sweden. He said that if he is available, he would come this summer. « Wouldn’t that be grand! And they all went ashore at 10, and watched us pull out. It was a short and hectic two days, but great fun at that. »

On May 11, Gene Gautier mentions that she received a letter from Bob to Panama in which he announces that he will sail to Sweden June 3, aboard the MS Kungsholm, a liner that makes the New York-Gothenburg.

That I have no more information. I do not know if Bob Vignola went to Sweden in Häringe Castle? Or if Olcott and Gauntier finally meet again.

(1) GG probably refers to the year 1909 when she accompanied her sister Margaret, partly to improve in opera singing in Germany.
(2) Doris Hollister is the daughter of George and Alice Hollister, respectively actress and cameraman for Kalem. With her brother, George Jr, she participated in the fabulous Middle East adventure with as highlight the filming of From the Manger to the Cross (1912). In 1937 she married Walter Lantz cartoons producer for Universal. We owe him Oswald the Rabbit, and Woodywood Pecker. The couple divorced in 1940.

Sorry for my English

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©2009 Michel Derrien