1926 – Memories

With $350 in cash in her pocket and a $1500 wardrobe Ruth Waterbury goes to Hollywood what changes a girl has without experience or influence to break into the movies.  She tries out several studios and is disappointed to learn there are no openings for her. Her last change is the First National Studios.  She goes there and fortunately obtains employment in a picture that Charles Brabin is directing.  She gets a bit part in another picture with Colleen More and is told to report on the set again after dinner; there is to be overtime work. When she finishes her work at midnight she is given a ride home in a Ford by a former star wo is now rated as a has-been. It is Sunday, and Miss Waterbury moves into a hotel to find nothing but lonesomeness in Hollywood. Another part falls to her lot on Monday; she is to work on a picture with Harry Langdon.  Then comes a bit in a picture in which Alice White, a new screen find is appearing.  Next day, when she is told she is a very good type, she becomes a street sweeper in a picture and works with Natalie Kingston on a set and her efforts draw the approval of Milton Sills.  The big thrill comes when she goes through a part with Milton Sills the star.  It was the day, Rudolph Valentino was being buried from the Good Church of the Shepard in Hollywood.  I learned that morning my  it with Milton Sills did not count. Dan Kelly, casting man, heard of it and put me down a foreign type. Furthermore, he called me to be an Italian on location with Doris Kenyon and Lewis Stone.  I didn’t attempt to figure out my sudden foreign look. To myself, I appear about as European as griddle cakes, but the camera sees strange things. It was discovered, for instance Gilda Gray and Gloria Swanson both in person look totally unalike but have Polish ancestry, screen so nearly identically it takes much maneuvering of the lights, to destroy that photographic resemblance. So possibly the camera saw back to the bones of my venerable Dutch forebears. The company had already gone to the beach, so the automobile to transport me and two other girls to the location arrived at my hotel. The location was breath-taking in its beauty.  Some 49 miles from Hollywood, it was one other stretches of bare wild beach that are so characteristic of California.  There were no real homes in sight, but the mountains, great brown masses of power, ran straight to the blue waves of the Pacific Ocean.  Our costumes were delightful their colors were blue, scarlet, yellow, green, orange, with embroidery. At a distance, tiny huts had been erected on the sides of a hill, for the scene was supposed to be a Sicilian fishing village and there were shrines here and there with little plaster virgins and over it all the blue cloudless sky. It there was a murmuring in the crowd, something unexpressed but alive.  The extras were almost without exception Italian born.  Doris Kenyon had a difficult scene to play.  Extras love Doris, for she is as charming as beautiful. So the extras stood at their posts quietly, respectfully, while she worked.  I had to do a bit where I ran furiously down a hill shouting other extras did bits but the strange silence continued.  For the purpose of the scene Doris Kenyon, had evidently misunderstood Lewis Stone, who was present but just outside camera range.  She was apparently seeing him disappear into the distance and discovering true feelings about him, as heroines do so often about reel 5. She looked at him and became angry, looked again and reconsidered looked once more and knew she was in love. She had to play without gestures, without a movement, with the only changing expressions of her eyes to tell the story.  “Bravo” said Lewis Stone it was perfect. The extras were released for a moment.  I knew then what they had been waiting for.  It was the hour of the high mass at the Church of the Good Shepard. Around the shrine on the other side of the hill those Italian extras gathered. They had secured a priest from a nearby village and his fine voice began speaking. They began praying for him who gave so much pleasure for the world and so much pride of his own work. Rudy had been an extra like myself and given access to stardom.  He knew fame and wealth, fleeting happiness, and heartbreak.  We knelt and I with the rest of them found tears in my eyes as I whispered my prayers.
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