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47 CHAPTER 3 JAMES R. QUIRK AND PHOTOPLAY Photoplay is the most famous of all fan magazines, a publication that began in the pioneering days of the motion picture and survived through the demise of the star system, the rise of independent filmmaking, and into an era when the public got its entertainment news from the pages of People and similar magazines. Ultimately, it is the yardstick by which all other fan magazines are judged, thanks in large part to its growth and fame under the editorial guidance of James R. Quirk. As Quirk noted in a March 1931 editorial, “Almost every department and new idea introduced by Photoplay has been speedily copied by others. The Shadow Stage, our reviews of pictures, has been imitated in form and appearance almost shamelessly. It has come to a point where, until you get into the text, you can hardly tell one magazine from another. In the trade it is called ‘the Photoplay formula.’” Just as James R. Quirk was not the founder of Photoplay, neither was the title the invention of the periodical. The word “photoplay” was first coined in 1910, when the Essanay Company announced a contest to discover a new oneword name as a substitute for “moving picture show.” In October of that year, the three judges, George Kleine, Fred C. Aiken, and Aaron Jones, awarded the $100 prize to a Sacramento, California, exhibitor named Edgar Strakosch, who had come up with the name “photoplay.” Photoplay was first published in August 1911. No copies of that first issue or of the next five issues appear to have survived. The earliest copy of Photoplay to be found in any library or archives is the issue for February 1912, identi- fied as volume 2, number 1. Because volume 2 consists of six issues, one may assume that the first volume also consisted of six issues, and, therefore, Photoplay first saw the light of day in August 1911. That first issue, published in Chicago, was described by Richard Griffith as “a sort of theatre program,”1 and JAMES R. QUIRK AND PHOTOPLAY 48 in 1925 Quirk made reference to Photoplay’s beginning as “a picture theater program.”2 Unlike Motion Picture Story Magazine, which cost fifteen cents, until November 1912 Photoplay sold for ten cents. Subtitled “Motion Picture Stories,” indicative of the periodical’s primary ingredient, the February 1912 edition of Photoplay was published by the Photoplay Magazine Publishing Company of Chicago. The contents were similar to those of Motion Picture Story Magazine, with the emphasis on story adaptations from films produced by the independent companies, as opposed to those belonging to the Motion Picture Patents group. No staff was listed until April 1912, when N. Gladstone Caward was identified as editor; a month later his name appeared as Neil G. Caward, with Frank A. Lear identified as president James R. Quirk with his wife May Allison on a visit to Los Angeles. Courtesy of University of Southern California, Regional History Collection. JAMES R. QUIRK AND PHOTOPLAY 49 and general manager. Staff changed routinely. In July 1912, Edwin J. Ryan was managing editor and a month later the New York manager. In September 1912, A. H. McLaughlin was publisher and Ryan advertising manager. In July 1913, J. E. H. Bradley was listed as president, C. W. Griffin as secretary-treasurer , and Kenneth G. Cloud as manager. The copyright was in Cloud’s name. A. W. Thomas was editor in December 1913, and in November 1914 August Cary was editor. The contents remained constant with story adaptations predominating, along with an occasional article, a poor one-page “Answer to Inquiries,” which was no competition to Motion Picture Story Magazine’s “The Answer Man” column, and a popular players contest. In October 1913, a department titled “Jest Jokes” was added, offering readers the opportunity to share their favorite jokes and providing the periodical with a free source of material. From ten cents a copy, the cover price went up to fifteen cents in November 1912. No issues were published between March and June 1913, suggesting that the magazine was in dire financial straits. When it did resume publication in July 1913, the reported circulation was 26,000, and the implication was almost that this was a new periodical: “This issue of Photoplay starts a new era in motion picture publicity, for with its appearance the great photoplay industry has a POPULAR magazine.” The actual contents of the issue suggest neither a...


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