D.W. Griffith Meets the Mystery Woman
September 16, 2010
Today we have two generic "fill in the blank" slides featuring personality portraits. Slides of this style often lack any pre-printed text, featuring only a graphic design or photograph above or alongside a blank space in which exhibitors could write messages appropriate to their programming needs.
These two slides originated from different manufacturers, though judging from the text and handwriting were used in the same venue. The first slide below was manufactured by Novelty Slides, Inc., while the second one comes from Universal Film Manufacturing. Both companies were located in New York City.
While neither slide includes any text identifying the individuals depicted in their respective portraits, the male figure is obviously a young D.W. Griffith.
I have located the original Griffith portrait in Richard Schickel's biography D.W. Griffith: An American Life, in which he dates the image to circa 1908, stating "This is one of a group of formal portraits for with the actor-playwright sat around the time he was making his first reluctant forays into filmmaking."
This 1908 date for the portrait marks the earliest possible date for the slide, though it only makes sense that a slide featuring his portrait would have been created after his rise to prominence, probably 1912-13 at the very earliest and more likely a couple of years after that.
The slide featuring the female portrait presents a mystery (to me). It is likely that the woman is also a motion picture personality, but her face is not immediately recognizable (again, to me).
It may also be possible that the red dice floating around her portrait have significance, such as a reference to a particular role, or that score of the dice toss (10-5) may mean something.
Of course the minute I post this article I fully expect to receive to hear from someone that setting me straight on her identity - in fact, I sincerely hope so.
What do you think?
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