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Thursday and Friday was spent back at the Margaret Herrick Library, going through the four remaining boxes of items I had requested. With the library closed over the 4th July, I was keen to make sure that I had been through all my pre-ordered material this week, and allow myself time next week to review the most significant finds when the library re-opens next Thursday.

Exciting finds at the Margaret Herrick:

  • Get Well Soon cards and Memorial cards for Clara Bow
  • Notes written by Clara Bow to her two sons, which were originally attached to self-annotated clippings of reviews and fan images throughout her career (which were kept in a separate folder).
  • The scenario for The Scarlet Letter (1926) starring Lillian Gish.

When collecting this specific item from the Special Collections desk, the librarian advised me that any scripts containing dialogue may not be copied. Despite The Scarlet Letter (1926) being a silent film, the document includes cues/notes on suggested dialogue and intertitles dotted throughout, and therefore it is not available to be copied for research or publication purposes. The librarian very kindly checked with another member of staff to see if, due to the date of the script, it was actually in the public domain, and whether there may be sections of the script which can be copied. It has now been decided that I can select five pages which do not contain these cues, to be photocopied, and I may take notes, or record, other sections of the script myself.

  • Colleen Moore Scrapbook containing clippings from various magazines and newspapers; including specific references to, and offering images of, her “expressive eyes”, and performances of emotion.
  • Mary Pickford Scrapbook containing an original programme for the exhibition of Fascinating Youth (1926)the film produced starring the Paramount Junior Stars, of the Paramount Pictures School
  • HIGHLIGHT: a collection of correspondence from the 1960s between a Doctoral Researcher in Speech, and a number of actors and actresses (or their secretaries), in which he is asking for information about dialogue and dialect coaching in the early 1930s. These letters have been the most significant (and unexpected!) discovery of my research so far. The responses, including one from Mary Pickford’s secretary, offer key answers to some of my own research questions, providing me with an otherwise unobtainable insight into the performance experiences of film stars who are now deceased. I am going to try and see if its possible to locate and request access to this PhD thesis, as it may have even more useful information.

On Friday afternoon, as I was leaving, the librarian at the Service Desk came to speak to me to say that she had told another member of staff at the desk about my project and that he would be happy to speak to me to see if he could offer me some help. I had mentioned earlier that I was struggling to find information about the Paramount Pictures School; a school set up by Paramount Studios to train new actors with the intention of producing and training a stock company, in the style of a theatre stock company. However, the school only existed for one year. Despite several mentions of it in numerous magazines around 1925/1926, there is very little additional/official information available on it. I did, however, find a copy of a presentation programme within one of Mary Pickford’s scrapbooks; but there is no information on the curriculum/classes taught at the school. The librarian I spoke to said that he actually thought that the lack of information about the school in the Paramount archive files might mean that school never actually existed; that it was all just a publicity stunt in an attempt to legitimise screen acting. My plan now is to do some further research into the members of staff and students listed within the programme I discovered, and see what I can find. 

 

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