Cover

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pp. 1-2

Half-title

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pp. 3-4

Title

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pp. 5-5

Copyright

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pp. 6-6

Dedication

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pp. 7-8

Contents

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pp. 9-10

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Prologue

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pp. 11-12

...in the early 1930s Marie Dressier easily outdrew such cinematic the waterfront or in the kitchen than in the rarefied salons of Fifth Avenue. And, even if she happened to be invited to Dinner at Eight in one of those salons, Dressier was the actress who made it clear that she had not only bet her chips and collected her rewards in the ...

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1 Birthday Wishes

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pp. 13-15

It is Thursday, the ninth of November, 1933, and the evening is still and soft in Los Angeles. Eight hundred invited guests jam the entrances to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot in Culver City. Klieg lights spotlight comedian Will Rogers, wearing his familiar Stetson. Norma from their black limousine with the easy grace of royalty. Lionel ...

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2 First Taste of Drama

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pp. 16-24

...muddy little community of six thousand residents with a good har cities of Hamilton and Toronto as a center of industry. Back in the 1850s, the city fathers believed that the building of the east-west cessful challenge from the rival Port Hope to Lindsay line plus trestle deep debt because of the million dollars spent to design?by pres ...

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3 On the Road

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pp. 25-34

...does tell us in her autobiographies that she made her professional debut as Cigarette in Under Two Flags. Dressier writes that she was almost paralyzed with stage fright before her first appearance, novelist Ouida's somewhat naughty novel of life in the Foreign Le gion. The stage treatment had been written by Richard Ganthony, ...

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4 Champion of the Underdog

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pp. 35-48

...an extension of the economic euphoria that gilded the 1880s. In the United States, industry had expanded rapidly since the Civil War. Trusts had developed to limit competition and to fix prices for oil, sugar, and other commodities, and there was even talk of a syndicate or trust being planned to control theatrical booking ac ...

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5 Entrepreneurial Spirit

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pp. 49-60

The 1899-1900 season had offered eighty-seven theatrical produc tions, with no less than five openings on New Year's Eve alone. The new century's theatrical celebrities were such legendary thes-Sharp at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, and Lionel Barrymore was the star?and also the victim of atrocious reviews?of James A. Heme's ...

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6 Theatrical Aristocrat

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pp. 61-71

Broadway in 1904, you had a multiplicity of choices. But the best bets were Proctor's Palace at Twenty-Third Street, Tony Pastor's Music Hall on Fourteenth Street, Keith's at Thirty-Fourth Street, theatrical emporia, you could hear the top popular vocalists and in the news that year. Joe Weber and Lew Fields had been comedy/ ...

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7 Sunny Jim

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pp. 72-84

Details of James Henry Dalton's installation as a thirteen-year-long presence in Marie Dressler's life is still somewhat of a mys tery, partly because of the actress's lifelong unwillingness to dis cuss the relationship and partly because stories that have managed to surface are often skewed. Dressier did make a statement when ...

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8 The Working Girl

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pp. 85-97

...much in evidence in 1909, but the powerful trust had been challenged tion, controlled by brothers Jacob (Jake) and Lee Shubert, scored a major victory over the long-entrenched combine. In 1906, the broth ers had thumbed their noses at Abe Erlanger's edict that if sixty-one-year-old Sarah Bernhardt appeared in America under the Shubert ban ...

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9 The Height of Her Power

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pp. 98-107

...fragette, though she liked to hold forth on women's need to strive for financial independence. She also never hesitated to speak up in defense of the female underdog, both in and out of show business. "But," she once told a reporter during the days when "Votes for "I believe there is something radically wrong with our womanhood ...

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10 Marie Dressier's Merry Gambol

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pp. 108-120

Jim traveled to San Francisco and signed a forty-week contract with as Bronco Billy, who was owner of the Gaiety Theatre on O'Farrel Street. The contract specified a Monday, January 26, 1914, open dollars for signing plus 20 percent of the gross box-office take. It right to oversee the show and approve casting. Based on this seem ...

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11 Mix-ups and Movies

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pp. 121-132

...cisco and the challenging, fourteen-week stint in front of the Key stone movie cameras. It was also a chance for Dressier to be alone with Sunny Jim and to try to rationalize her feelings about the re lationship. At some time during the Vermont break, she obviously decided to stick with Dalton, despite his faults. After all, he was ...

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12 War Work

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pp. 133-144

...that he was a neutral observer of the savage war in Europe, Ameri cans were nevertheless apprehensive about the future. Horror sto the overcrowded French and Belgian hospitals were casting a pall over the country. Dressier herself attended the Sunday afternoon salons held by her good friends Elisabeth Marbury, Elsie de Wolfe, ...

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13 Striking for the Ponies

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pp. 145-156

States battled a savage "Spanish" influenza epidemic. Dressier con tinued with her war work during the year, professionally alert to the news that theatrical managers were becoming confident enough prove to be difficult; many of the 1918 offerings were propaganda-tinged war plays?scarcely Dressier-type shows larded with music ...

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14 Marie's Nightmare

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pp. 157-168

...receipts from the tour had adequately covered expenses, but as au diences began to thin out, it was clear that she could not afford to continue meeting a payroll. Besides, Dalton was far from well. Al though there is no precise evidence as to when he suffered his stroke, it is more than likely that it happened during the last weeks of the ...

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15 Door to the Future

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pp. 169-196

Dressler's friends were frankly horrified at her plan to become a Parisian hotelkeeper. When she returned to the Manhattan apart ment with her steamship ticket and broke the news to Nella Webb, cycle, one of the best periods of your life! The biggest success of all is ahead of you. All your life you've been a clown. Now you're ...

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16 Queen Marie

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pp. 197-210

Hollywood not long after she decided to stay in Los Angeles. Late year or so later, the actress leased a ten-room house at 623 North Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills from journalist Adela Rogers St. Johns. Both Dressier and her closest friends always agreed that the toward the end of 1932, this time to a house at 801 North Alpine ...

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17 The Little Doctor

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pp. 211-224

...of Anna Christie in 1930. But by the time Min and Bill was domi nating the national box office, followed in January 1931 by the release of the less-successful Dressler-Moran comedy, Reducing, MGM was delivering fan mail to the Bedford Drive house in sacks. Irving Thalberg, began to roll in. Dressier dutifully turned up at ...

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18 The Treatment

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pp. 225-237

...to devastate the seemingly inviolate dream factories of Hollywood. Most of the studios had been able to ride out the first years of the financial holocaust with profits from the novelty of sound, but now it was becoming more difficult to attract the cash-strapped public into the theatres. In an attempt to turn the tide, RKO Radio spent ...

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19 Prosperity

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pp. 238-249

...went into production in March 1932, breadlines were longer than lines at the theatre box offices, and MGM's bosses were well aware that the therapeutic laughter generated by talented screen comics was worth its weight in stock options. The glossy, big name pic tures being manufactured at the Culver City studio were still con ...

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20 God's Exhibit A to the World

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pp. 250-262

...were on hand to greet the star and to help clear a path through the fans, reporters, and fawning redcaps to a waiting limousine. A pla toon of mounted police had to escort the automobile through the crush outside of the station and, after a slow drive, into the foyer of the Savoy-Plaza Hotel. Friends were waiting in the suite with ...

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21 Mayer's Marathon

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pp. 263-273

...spite the fact that Dressier suffered a slight hemorrhage?an inci dent that sent the actress and Dubrey hurrying to Dr. Glover for advice and reassurance. The pathologist agreed that such events were worrying but explained that, because there were no arteries involved, the bleeding itself was not dangerous. But he repeated ...

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22 And to All, Goodnight

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pp. 274-284

Dressier in mind. The seven original stories revolved around the tough female captain of the tugboat Narcissus working out of the erty, Annie's spouse, Terry, was resurrected so that Wallace Beery in fat profits at the box office. Fans of the series had long been fect as Annie, and production brass had been quietly tinkering with ...

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23 Flutter of Doubt

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pp. 285-297

...1933 that at first she regarded as a necessary duty but had come to feel was a decided bore. She had agreed to cooperate with liter ary agent Edith Burrows and her client author Mildred Harrington on a series of four autobiographical articles, to be published in York had expressed an interest, and during her visit to New York ...

Marie Dressier Filmography

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pp. 298-302

Notes

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pp. 303-327

Bibliography

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pp. 328-331

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 332-332

...erous cooperation of John Phillip Law and his assistant, Sierra Pecheur. I also owe a special debt of gratitude to Edwin Haynes, archivist of the Marie Dressier Foundation in Cobourg, Ontario, and to the custodians of the Robinson Locke Dramatic Collection at the New York Library of the Performing Arts. Without their invaluable ...

Index

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pp. 333-348