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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSSING THE PIES

The Wolverine: 1922

The Wolverine: 1922

Washington, D.C., circa 1922. "Leader Theater, front." Sidney Lust's movie house on Ninth Street N.W. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

 

Dressed to the Nines

I can't imagine a group of that many boys wearing ties to a movie today.

What is next door?

Does anyone read Greek? I wonder what the upstairs of the building on the theater's left houses?

[The name is there in both Greek and English: Acropolis Cafe. - Dave]

Elmo Is My Homeboy

Elmo Lincoln is the only movie star from my hometown of Rochester, Indiana! That's all I've got to say. Some 4-digit population towns can't claim ANY movie stars.

Good thing there was a caption

I couldn't see the name of the theatre anywhere on it. I suppose it could be covered by a banner for the movie. You'd never see a business today allowing its identity to be obscured.

Elmo of the Apes

Elmo Lincoln was in the first Tarzan feature, "Tarzan of the Apes," which was filmed in Morgan City, La. (I suppose if you took the Southern Pacific east out of LA that would be the first quasi-jungle swamp you would come to.)

Morgan City is a real pit, an oilfield blue collar town with not much going for it. In 1986 I was staying overnight there and read in some chamber of commerce brochure an invitation to come back in 1988, for the 70th anniversary of the release of the film and Morgan City's Tarzan fest.

Two years later the Wall St. Journal had an article in its humorous-story corner about how in the midst of all the planning the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate prevented Morgan City from going forward with the festival. The poor town was stuck with all of the preliminary costs of their big event in the city's history. What a shame.

The adult

on the far right appears to be halting traffic with his blurry arms so as to give the photog a clear view of the newsboys.

Absolutely wonderful.

What a civilization we once had!

Sugar Plums at the Gayety

When this photo was taken, burlesque had not yet begun its long slide from musical comedies and revues into adults-only sleaze. The Washington Gayety was one in a large chain of theaters, with shows rotating among them on a circuit, as in vaudeville. Gayety shows featured such stars as Al Jolson, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker and Will Rogers. Harry Coleman, starring in the Washington Gayety's "Sugar Plums," was a comedian who began receiving favorable reviews around 1915, and appeared in a few silent films as early as 1910 (his last film credit is as a bit player in the dance hall scenes in Chaplin's "The Gold Rush"). On Nov. 8, 1918, the Toronto World ran a notice for the Toronto Gayety's new show "The Roseland Girls," beginning with this lead:

"The Roseland Girls" is a show that may always be relied upon to furnish the sort of entertainment that the patrons of the Gayety Theatre will like and will be enjoyed by all classes of theatregoers. The company is headed by Harry Coleman, Bert Lahr, Kitty Mitchell" [and others].

Newsboy Matinee

Given all the young boys and the fact that that whatever is going on here it merited a photograph, I am guessing this is another gathering of newsboys for a Saturday matinee. Shorpy viewers have previously seen a similar event in this 1925 photo of the Leader Theater. Alas, no sign of Bo-Bo, "the monkey with the human brain," in the photo.


Washington Post, Feb 12, 1922

Carriers' Theater Party

Many Post newsboys yesterday had the time of their lives at the showings of the latest installment of the Adventures of Tarzan at Sidney B. Lust's Leader and Truxton theaters as the guests of Mr. Lust and the circulation department of the Post. The boys found the day an even greater event than they had expected, for in the morning at their homes, each had received letters from W.C. Shelton, circulation manager of The Post, thanking them for their efforts delivering The Post on time during the storm and enclosing $1 as a bonus.

Mr. Lust, who was host to a number of the carriers yesterday, will entertain as many more today, for tickets good for either day were sent out. As a special inducement to efficient service, the boys who rank among the best carriers in the city will receive free movie tickets for the next 15 weeks.

The boys had been particularly interested in the Tarzan film, which features Elmo Lincoln. Bo-Bo, the monkey with the human brain, was on hand to meet the boys when they reached the Theater, and on leaving every boy was given a bag of peanuts. Bo-Bo plays an important part in the Tarzan serial, and his antics created much amusement.

Elmo!

Where else but in America could a guy named Elmo with a 52-inch chest become a movie star? In addition to his rightful claim to fame as the first film Tarzan (in 1918), Elmo Lincoln was also in the silent classics "Birth of a Nation," "Intolerance" and "That Fatal Glass of Beer." He came back in the late 1930s in bit roles in talkies, including "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

"The Adventures of Tarzan" was Lincoln's third and final foray in the role of the vine-swinger, which was probably just as well, as he was afraid of heights. Released as a 15-part serial, it was one of the smash hits of the year, taking in more than Valentino's "The Sheik."

Helen Gibson

That picture is awesome. Thanks for sharing it. I have been researching Helen Gibson for many years and have many of her personal ephemera pieces. Including her copy of the Wolverine lobby card with the image enlarged as a poster on the left of the entrance. Thanks for your site, I always see something exciting.

Gorgeous photograph!

And also a revelation for me. Was The Port Arthur a Chinese food chain? There was also one by that name in downtown Providence. I don't know when it opened there, but I do know that it lasted well into the 1940's and was - according to my Dad - the hottest place to go to on a Saturday night in the late 30's and early 40's. Drinking, dancing to a band and exotic, for its time, Chinese food.

My Aunt Mary and another female relative sang there, as well.

What an eye-opener! And what a thrill this photo is to drink in! I'd throw down my nickel to see that movie in a second - if only for the pleasure of getting to see what the inside of the theater looked like!

This is one of the very best postings this year.

[Below: The Port Arthur Chinese restaurant in New York. Click to enlarge. - Dave]

Wilbur Mills and the Gayety

The Gayety lasted into the 1970s. That's where House Ways and Means Chairman Wilbur Mills first met "Argentine Firecracker" Fanne Fox, who later jumped from his car into the Tidal Basin and sank Mill's career.

The Gayety

This is right around the corner from the original 9:30 Club. I remember parking across the street from the Gayety in the early 80's. Creepy place, they showed "adult" movies. Lots of drug addicts and perverts.

Coming Attraction


View Larger Map

The location today. The J. Edgar Hoover Building is right behind you.

"Fastest Northwestern Picture Ever Screened"

What the heck does that mean?

["The Wolverine" was a train. Which is shown in the sign. - Dave]

Cable cars?

Is that a cable slot between the streetcar tracks?

[It's access to the underground electrical supply that powered Washington's streetcars. - Dave]

Around the World in a Block

The architectural walking tour here is pretty wild. There's the Belle Epoque excesses of the Gayety and Leader theaters, crowned by their zinc copies of sculptures from the Petit Palais at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Then there's the Gothic church facade of the Port Arthur Restaurant. And then there's the Acropolis (Greek) restaurant housed behind a Chinese balcony, left over from the Port Arthur's old location on the other side of the Gayety (the stairwell entrance to the "gothic" Port Arthur at 515-17 has a matching Chinese carved wood awning). But just when I was getting an urge for some nice spanakopita, I noticed that the Acropolis seems to have been replaced by the all-American Rowland's Buffet.

The Wolverine

I had no idea Hugh Jackman was so old!

"The Wolverine"

Plot Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein

Based on a novel by the prolific B.M. Bower (pseudonym for novelist Bertha "Muzzy" Sinclair), The Wolverine starred former serial queen and stunt-woman Helen Gibson as a rancher who stands up for an employee (Jack Connolly) unjustly accused of cattle rustling. Ward Warren (Connolly) had come West after serving a prison sentence for a crime he didn't commit. History repeats itself for Ward when a couple of bandits he had chased off the land, accuses him of being a rustler himself. The former common-law wife of Hoot Gibson, Gibson (née Rose Wenger) had gained stardom replacing Helen Holmes in the long-running The Hazards of Helen. By no means a traditional screen beauty -- but spirited -- Gibson's starring career was brief, and she returned to stunt-doubling in talkies.

http://www.allmovie.com/work/wolverine-117381

A one-sex audience

All boys, I notice. Apparently girls stayed home on Saturday afternoons. All in knickers, scratchy woolen stockings and high leather shoes. And every single one of them wearing a cap except the half-dozen or so who are holding them in their hands.

Helen Gibson in "The Wolverine." Not much information, I'm afraid.

Elmo Lincoln in "The Adventures of Tarzan." (Lots.)

The Port Arthur

Starting from the left...


Washington Post, Oct 20, 1914

Fight in Chinese Cafe

Three Men Arrested Following Row in
Port Arthur Restaurant

The moving-picture district on Ninth, between E and F streets northwest, was thrown into a state of excitement last night just as the shows were discharging their crowds by a fight in the Port Arthur Chinese restaurant, in which three young men are alleged to have attempted to smash everything in the shape of furnishings and the head of every Chinese employee in the place.

The trouble attracted a crowd that blockaded the street from curb to curb. Cries and curses and the breaking of glass and tableware added to the situation.

Policeman Miller alone grappled with the fighters and emerged from the place brining three of the principles with him. They were taken to the first precinct.

Morris Sing, proprieteor of the restaurant, told the police that the party came into his place and ordered food. Then for some reason unknown one of the men picked up the dishes, smashed them, and then started a general assault principally against the Chinese employes of the place.

Several of the Chinese waiters were injured, but refused hospital treatment.


1920_port_arthur

Breathtaking Architecture

Please tell me this magnificent building is still standing. Built in 1910, it could be . . .please!

The gigantic statuary flanking the marquee---dwarfed by the HUGE roofline finial statues---is simply stunning. All the buildings along this block have unique architecture with intricate detail. Was this an "entertainment block"? I see a cafe/dance hall, burlesque house, the Leader theater, and a Greek restaurant. I wager to say even the "Washington Shoe Shine and Hat Cleaning Parlor" was probably an entertaining place to visit!

The Tarzan die cut advertising tucked around the marquee would be worth a small fortune on today's antique market!

Into the Mix

Wow. Interesting mix of dancehall cafe, Greek restaurant, vaudeville/burlesque house and cinema. Even in black-and-white, certainly more colorful than the mall multiplex.

 
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