After playing leading roles on Broadway and in Hollywood during the Silent era opposite such stars as Mae Murray, Mae Marsh, Norma Talmadge, Nazimova and Marion Davies, Schenck developed "Klieg light eyes". Threatened with total blindness, he interrupted a distinguished stage career and went to Hawaii to rest.
In the South Seas he found a new career as an explorer and ethnologist. He secured a roving commission from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, the leading museum in the world in Polynesian research, to make miniatures and gather artifacts of various Polynesian Islands and spent fourteen years traveling from island to island. During this time, Schenck also contributed to the National Geographic and other magazines.
Returning to his homeland after twenty years of wandering, Schenck won success in still another field as a lecturer on the South Seas and, during the war, served the U.S. Navy Department in planning bases in the Southwest Pacific. For nine months, he also worked with the U.S. Maritime Commission as a government speaker in shipyards and factories to speed up production.
He returned to his career as a motion picture actor with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1943, on an "actor-writer" contract.
- Come Unto These Yellow Sands - Boobs-Merril, 1940.
- Lean With the Wind - Whittlesey House, 1945.
- Weeds of Violence - Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1949
- Schenck, Earl (1940). Come unto these yellow sands. The Bobbs-Merrill Company. "I has almost lost my sight, but that was not all that had happened to my eyes"
- Langman, Larry (1998). American film cycles: the silent era. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 268–269. ISBN 0-313-30657-5. "Earl Schenck portrays the Kaiser's illegitimate son...This was one of Warner Brothers' first entries in the burgeoning film industry and helped launch the studio into its eventual success."