“THEY COULDN’T KEEP HER DOWN ON THE ISLAND.”
MABEL NORMAND. Born in 1892 on Staten Island, we think, Mabel was one of the most famous actresses of the silent film era, although she was the most recognized comedienne. Mabel marginally beat ‘America’s Sweetheart’ Mary Pickford to stardom, and got her name over a studio door before the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett and Miss Pickford. Known variously as The Biograph Girl, Vitagraph Betty, Madcap Mabel, The Queen of Keystone, and The Little Clown, Mabel delighted her audiences for almost twenty years, until her brave heart finally gave out in 1930. She’d been suffering from tuberculosis since childhood, and was aged 37 when she died. She was borne to her grave by the pioneers of the American film industry – Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, Mack Sennett, Douglas Fairbanks, and Sam Goldwyn. Chaplin and Sennett had the most reason to be grateful to Mabel, as Mabel had been instrumental in getting Chaplin’s career off the ground, while Sennett had got his Keystone studio up and running off the back of Mabel’s films. Long after Mabel left Mack Sennett’s studio, she remained the undisputed Queen of Keystone, and no other actress ever took that title. In later years, Mabel’s infrequent visits to Sennett’s studio after 1924, always elicited much excitement among the new up and coming actors and actresses.
Mabel once said she was the most photographed girl in the world, but she also became the most written about girl in the world. Paradoxically, it was the allegations of scandalous behavior, shootings, and drug-taking that brought forth a whole avalanche of Mabel writings, much of it uncomplimentary. This is just one side of the mass of written material, because some people have gone to great lengths to betray Mabel as a misunderstood paragon, an innocent gamin, a naïve and gullible soul that only ever wanted to help others. Can both views correct? In reality, it seems Mabel was a naïve paragon, but one who was no push-over in the dark, hidden world that was the motion picture industry. Mabel has a sound stage named after her, at the old Republic Studios, and her old Mabel Normand Studio is still in use today on Fountain Avenue in Silverlake L.A. When she died in 1930, her funeral was attended by every film mogul and actor in Hollywood, and was the last big event of the silent movie era.
These posts are intended to reveal the real Mabel, through the medium of people, events and periods in her life. The evidence for this needed to be thoroughly sifted and weighted, in order to discover Mabel’s true story, and the reasons for the successes and mishaps occurring during her astonishing life.
Important factors in Mabel’s life that have been covered so far:
- HOW I BUILT KEYSTONE AND MADE CHARLIE CHAPLIN BY MABEL NORMAND. PART 1.
- MABEL NORMAND: ‘WHY I NEVER MARRIED.’
- MABEL ON TWO WHEELS.
- SEX, DRUGS, AND ICE-CREAM BREAKFASTS.
- THE STRANGE CASE OF HELEN CARRUTHERS AKA PEGGY PAGE.
- SHE REFUSED TO GO AWAY.
- FEBRUARY 23 1930. THE DAY SILENT MOVIES DIED.
- THEY COULDN’T KEEP HER DOWN ON THE ISLAND or “I USED TO BE A STATEN ISLAND GIRL.”
- THE SECRETS OF MABEL’S WARDROBE.
- THE MYSTERIES OF MABEL’S DRESSING ROOM.
- THOROUGHLY EDWARDIAN MABEL.
- MABEL AND ADELA ROGERS ST. JOHNS.
- MABEL AND THE WOBBLIES.
- MABEL NORMAND: THE FEMALE CHAPLIN?
- SILENT MOVIES: THE ERA OF THE CHILD-WOMAN.
- SOME NOTES ON THE MABEL NORMAND STUDIO.
- MABEL’S ACQUAINTANCES: LOUISE BROOKS, THE AVATAR THAT FELL TO EARTH. PART 1.
- MABEL’S STORY: ME, CHAPLIN AND A STRANGE PREDICAMENT.
- FINDING MABEL NORMAND IN QUOTES.
- WHO EXACTLY WAS MABEL NORMAND? PART 1.
- CHARACTERIZING MACK ‘THE KING’ SENNETT.
- MACK SENNETT: THE KING OF EDENDALE. PART 1.
- MABEL’S ADVICE ON HOW TO BECOME AND REMAIN A STAR. PART 10.
- MABEL’S ADVICE ON HOW TO BECOME AND REMAIN A STAR: PART 9.
- MABEL’S ACQUAINTANCES: DOROTHY MACKAILL
- MABEL AND TRICKY DICKY (ATTENBOROUGH).
- FROM MABEL’S STRANGE PREDICAMENT TO MABEL AT THE WHEEL.
- A NEW MABEL: TILLIE’S PUNCTURED ROMANCE.
- MABEL’S WORLD: Early roads in California
- THE CHARLIE & MABEL STORY: How Screen Comedy Grew Up. Part I.
- MABEL AND EDNA.
- KEYSTONE: The Edendale Tip
- THE MACK & MABEL STORY: Part 1
- MABEL’S WORLD: What Do Silent Films Have To Do With History? Part 1
- KEYSTONE’S RACETRACK: SANTA MONICA.
- TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED MABEL: A STRANGE DIET.
- MABEL’S FRIENDS: JULIA BENSON
- MABEL’S WORLD: WHERE’S THE MONEY? Part 1
- MABEL’S FRIENDS: F. Richard Jones
- MABEL’S FRIENDS: Louise Fazenda
- MABEL’S ADVICE ON BECOMING AND REMAINING A STAR. Part 1
- THE STAN & MABEL STORY or Hal’s sweet revenge
- MABEL AND MARY: SO CLOSE BUT SO FAR APART.
- MABEL AND MARIE LLOYD. HOW ALIKE?
- THE STRANGE DEATH OF THE MABEL NORMAND FEATURE FILM CO.