Sidney Olcott, le premier oeil

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April 20, 2014






One day, Sidney Olcott wanted to become an American

In Films in Review (September 1954), George Geltzer, American film historian, wrote Olcott was born, the 20th of September 1873. In a note in the same magazine (September 1954), George Mitchell, an another film historian, contradited his intimate enemi and told Olcott was born the 20th of January 1874. He said he got testimonies from Olcott's friends.

Olcott's grave in Park Lawn cemetery, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, indicates he died in 1949 (December, 16), aged 76 years old. 1949 – 76 = 1873. Was it in January or in September?

Nobody knows where Olcott's personal archives have been deposited. So it's a treasure hunt to get the authentic biographical story of the Canadian.

Historians, Wikipedia choose the first date : September, 20, 1873. For a long time I did.

But some official documents make me believe Olcott is born in 1872. I wrote it in my book Sidney Olcott, le premier œil. The last one is an application for naturalization, signed by him the 23th of November 1909, in Jacksonville, Florida. The Canadian came here to shoot films for Winter as he did the previous year. John Sydney (sic) Allcott, aged 37, theatrical stage director, signed it's declaration of intention where he claims to be born the 20th of September 1872, in Toronto. He said too, have emigrated in the US, the 4th of December 1902. He was supposed to have left Canada after his mother's death in 1903, the 13th of November.

This is the first time, I hear Olcott wanted to become an American citizen. Why ? The document does not ask the applicant for his motivations. We know in the end, Olcott kept his Canadian citizenship. Does his request was rejected ? Did he change his mind ? This declaration of intention signed by Olcott is the third official document which attests the director is born in 1872.

The first I got is in the California Death Index, a certain John Sidney Ollcott died the 19th of December 1949, born the 19 th of September 1872.
The second one is the US, World War I Registration Card, of the 12th of September 1918 where it is said Olcott is born in 1872.

Sorry for my English

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©2009 Michel Derrien