Florence La Badie

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Florence La Badie
FlorenceLaBadie.jpg
Born (1888-04-27)April 27, 1888
New York City, USA
Died October 13, 1917(1917-10-13) (aged 29)
Ossining, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Automobile accident
Occupation Actress
Years active 1909–1917

Florence La Badie /ˌlɑːbɑːˈd/[1] (April 27, 1888 – October 13, 1917) was an American actress in the early days of the silent film era. Though little known today, she was a major star between 1911 and 1917. Her career was at its height when she died at age 29 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

Early life[edit]

Florence La Badie was one of the most important and popular actresses of the early motion picture era. She appeared in 30 films for Biograph starting in 1909 and 166 silent films from 1911 through 1917 for the Thanhouser studio in New Rochelle, New York. A daredevil at heart, she was known as “Fearless Flo” for taking risks and performed many of her own stunts. She was a frequent subject for articles and letters in fan and trade magazines, and over a period of years, she was the most publicized and beloved of all Thanhouser players. [5]

Florence La Badie was born Florence Russ on April 27, 1888 to Horace B. and Marie C. Russ in New York City. After the death of her father and the inability of her mother to provide care, Florence, at age three, was adopted by Joseph E. and Amanda J. La Badie of Montreal, Canada. [6] The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) also lists her birthplace as New York City,[2] with the birth name of Florence Russ.

Florence's adoptive parents were Joseph E. La Badie, was a prominent attorney in Montreal, and his wife, the former Amanda Victor, is said to have been born in Europe, possibly Paris. Her adoptive uncle, Oddiehon LaBadie, maintained an estate in nearby St. Lambert. Florence was educated in New York City schools and at the Convent of Notre Dame in Montreal.[3]

Tragically, on October 13, 1917 at age 29, Florence succumbed to injuries suffered in an automobile accident on August 28, 1917, making her the first major “movie star” to die at the zenith of her popularity. The New York Times published an article the following day, Thursday October 18, 1917, reporting the throng of friends and fans attending her funeral. She was buried in an unmarked grave in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.[7]

While having been raised in Montreal, in a sworn deposition on October 8, 1917, a New York woman named Marie C. Russ claimed to be Florence's biological mother and referred to a Russ family burial plot in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, with lot number 17187 being reserved for Florence Russ, aka Florence La Badie. This legal deposition was dated five days before Florence's death. There evidence to support that she was the granddaughter of a Louisa Russ, who had purchased the family plot in Green-Wood.[8]

Career success[edit]

FlorenceLaBadie2.jpg

Having completed her studies, she was offered work as a fashion model in New York City. Once there, in early 1908 she obtained a small part in a stage play. Following this, she signed to tour with one of the road companies and for the next two years appeared on stage in various places in the eastern part of the United States. During this period she met a fellow Canadian, the young actress Mary Pickford, who in 1909 invited Florence to watch the making of a motion picture at the Biograph studio in Manhattan. Given an impromptu bit part, Florence was invited back to Biograph's studios to participate in another film later that year. She would go on to make several films under the renowned D. W. Griffith, with her first credited film being in the 1909 film The Politician's Love Story, starring Mack Sennett and Kathlyn Williams.[citation needed]

In 1911, her career took a leap when she was hired by Edwin Thanhouser of the Thanhouser Film Corporation in New Rochelle, New York. With her sophistication and beauty, Florence La Badie soon became Thanhouser's most prominent actress, appearing in dozens of films over the next two years. Her most remembered films of that period were The Tempest (1911), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912), a film adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson story, and the first film of Shakespeare's Cymbeline (1914).[4] Her most well-known work was in the 1914 - 1915 serial, The Million Dollar Mystery. Athletic and daring, in these films she performed all her own stunts. In 1915, she was featured in the magazine Reel Life, which described her as "the Beautiful and talented Florence La Badie, of the Thanhouser Studios, conceded one of the foremost of American screen players". Over a course of six years La Badie's career had taken her to top-billing as a film actress.[citation needed]

World War I[edit]

When World War I broke out in Europe in 1914, Canada immediately joined the war, and as a result, several of Florence La Badie’s young male friends and relatives back home in Montreal were immediately shipped overseas. She had many movie fans in Canada and according to one New York newspaper, in 1915 a young soldier fighting in the trenches at the Front in Northern France wrote to her, sending dozens of photographs that graphically depicted the horrors of the war. Deeply affected, La Badie became a vigorous advocate for peace, traveling the United States with a stereopticon slide show of the soldier’s photographs, warning about the terrible dangers of going to war.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

For a time, she was engaged to a Cadillac salesman named Val Hush. They broke up, and she became involved with Daniel Carson Goodman, a writer who worked on the scenario for Thanhouser's serial Zudora. [9]

Death[edit]

Florencelabadie3.jpg

In August 1917, La Badie was at the height of her motion picture success. She had appeared in 185 films since 1909, 32 fewer than Mary Pickford's 217 films during the same period. Her film The Woman in White [5] had just been released in July 1917. Her latest two films, The Man Without a Country, a film adaptation of Edward Everett Hale's The Man Without a Country, and War and the Woman, would also soon be released, both on September 9, 1917. Although the Thanhouser Corporation had been struggling since the 1914 automobile accident death of Charles J. Hite, her career was thriving and had been their saving grace. Less than a month earlier, she had announced that she was leaving Thanhouser, and she had several other film corporations willing to pick her up on contract immediately.

On August 28, 1917, while driving near Ossining, New York in the company of her fiance, Daniel Carson Goodman, the brakes on La Badie’s car failed and the vehicle plunged down a hill, overturning at the bottom. While Goodman escaped with only a broken leg, La Badie was thrown from the vehicle and suffered serious injuries, including a compound fracture of the pelvis. Hospitalized, she clung to life for more than six weeks and seemed to be improving, but suddenly died on October 13, from septicemia. She thus became the first major female film star to die while her career was at its peak, and the movie-going public mourned her death. After a large funeral, she was interred in an unmarked grave in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York,[6] the same cemetery included by Marie C. Russ in her legal proceedings days before her death, with Marie Russ claiming to have been her actual birth mother in sworn deposition. Obituary notices stated La Badie was survived by her mother, Amanda La Badie, with no mention of her having been adopted. This omission would have been customary at the time. Due to her death, it is unknown what her prolonged impact in films would have been. Although little-remembered now, she was once a top-billed star. Under New York laws, the property of her estate was divided between Mr. and Mrs. Joseph La Badie.

In 2014, Ned Thanhouser, the grandson of Edwin Thanhouser, raised money for a proper headstone for La Badie, which was installed on April 27 of that year, on what would have been her 126th birthday.[7]

Selected filmography[edit]

Florence's Biograph Filmography

The Indian Brothers (1911), Bobby, The Coward (1911), The Thief and the Girl (1911), Fighting Blood (1911), Her Sacrifice (1911), The Primal Call (1911), Enoch Arden (1911), Dave's Love Affair (1911), The Manicure Lady (1911), The New Dress (1911), How She Triumphed (1911), A Knight of the Road (1911), Madame Rex (1911), Paradise Lost (1911), The Broken Cross (1911), The Spanish Gypsy (1911), The Diamond Star (1911), The Two Paths (1910), After the Ball (1910), The Troublesome Baby (1910), A Gold Necklace (1910), Serious Sixteen (1910), Taming a Husband (1909), Through the Breakers (1909), In the Window Recess (1909), Getting Even (1909) Comata, the Sioux (1909), The Seventh Day (1909), A Strange Meeting (1909), The Salvation Army Lass (1909), The Politician's Love Story (1909).

Florence's Thanhouser Filmography

1911: The Smuggler (7-25-1911), The Buddhist Priestess (9-12-1911), In the Chorus (9-15-1911), The Satyr and the Lady (10-20-1911), Little Em'ly and David Copperfield (10-24-1911), The Last of the Mohicans (11-10-1911), A Mother's Faith (11-17-1911), The Baseball Bug (11-24-1911), Beneath the Veil (12-1-1911), Cinderella (12-22-1911)

1912: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1-16-1912), Her Ladyship's Page (1-23-1912), East Lynne (1-26-1912), As It Was in the Beginning (1-30-1912), The Trouble Maker (2-6-1912), The Silent Witness (2-13-1912), The Guilty Baby (2-27-1912), The Arab's Bride (3-1-1912), Extravagance (3-5-1912), Flying to Fortune (3-12-1912), My Baby's Voice (3-29-1912), The Girl of the Grove (4-5-1912), A Love of Long Ago (4-9-1912), Rejuvenation (4-23-1912), The Saleslady (5-7-1912), Jilted (5-14-1912), Jess, Part 1 - A Sister's Sacrifice (5-21-1912), The Ring of a Spanish Grandee (5-24-1912), Jess, Part 2 -Through the Boer Lines (5-28-1912), Jess, Part 3 - Jess, the Avenger (5-28-1912), Whom God Hath Joined (5-31-1912), Dottie's New Doll (6-4-1912), Called Back (6-21-1912), In Blossom Time (6-25-1912), Ma and Dad (7-5-1912), Under Two Flags (7-7-1912), The Portrait of Lady Anne (7-23-1912), The Merchant of Venice (7-26-1912), Big Sister (8-11-1912), The Wrecked Taxi (8-16-1912), Lucile, Parts 1 and 2 (8-27-1912), Lucile, Part 3 (8-30-1912), The Voice of Conscience (9-3-1912), A Star Reborn (9-10-1912), Undine (9-24-1912), Miss Robinson Crusoe (10-8-1912), When Mercy Tempers Justice (10-15-1912), Mary's Goat (10-27-1912), Petticoat Camp (11-3-1912), Through the Flames (11-8-1912), A Noise Like a Fortune (11-10-1912), The County's Prize Baby (11-12-1912), Aurora Floyd (12-10-1912), The Race (12-20-1912), The Star of Bethlehem (12-24-1912)

1913: A Poor Relation (1-3-1913), The Evidence of the Film (1-10-1913), Some Fools There Were (2-14-1913), The Pretty Girl in Lower Five (2-18-1913), The Two Sisters (2-21-1913), The Way to a Man's Heart (3-2-1913), An Honest Young Man (3-9-1913), Won at the Rodeo (3-21-1913), Her Gallant Knights (3-23-1913), Cymbeline (3-28-1913), Retribution (4-18-1913), Rosie's Revenge (4-27-1913), Her Sister's Secret (5-6-1913), The Other Girl (5-9-1913), Marble Heart (5-13-1913), In Their Hour of Need (5-23-1913), The Snare of Fate (6-17-1913), Tannhäuser (7-15-1913), In the Nick of Time (8-1-1913), Oh! Such a Beautiful Ocean (8-10-1913), The Lie That Failed (8-15-1913), An Unromantic Maiden (8-24-1913), The Ward of the King (8-26-1913), The Message to Headquarters (9-12-1913), When the Worm Turned (9-21-1913), Life's Pathway (9-30-1913), Louie, the Life Saver (10-7-1913), A Deep Sea Liar (10-12-1913), A Peaceful Victory (10-17-1913), Beauty in the Seashell (10-19-1913), The Mystery of the Haunted Hotel (10-21-1913), A Twentieth Century Farmer (10-31-1913), The Water Cure (11-2-1913), The Junior Partner (11-4-1913), Little Brother (11-7-1913), The Blight of Wealth (11-25-1913), Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight (11-28-1913), A Beauty Parlor Graduate (12-9-1913), The Head Waiter (12-28-1913)

1914: Their Golden Wedding (1-2-1914), Adrift in a Great City (1-13-1914), Turkey Trot Town (1-18-1914), The Elevator Man (1-25-1914), Twins and a Stepmother (2-3-1914), The Success of Selfishness (2-6-1914), A Leak in the Foreign Office (2-17-1914), Cardinal Richelieu's Ward (3-1-1914), The Cat's Paw (3-17-1914), A Debut in the Secret Service (4-7-1914), A Mohammedan Conspiracy (5-12-1914), The Somnambulist (5-17-1914), Out of the Shadows (6-2-1914), Under False Colors (12-22-1914). The Fall of Khartoum (12-31-1914)

1914-1915 Serial: The Million Dollar Mystery (23 episodes)

1915: Graft vs. Love (1-19-1915), The Finger Prints of Fate (1-26-1915), The Smuggled Diamond (2-9-1915), The Adventure of Florence (2-23-1915), The Final Reckoning (3-9-1915), The Duel in the Dark (3-23-1915), The Cycle of Hatred (4-6-1915), Bianca Forgets (4-27-1915), Monsieur Nikola Dupree(5-4-1915), God's Witness (5-20-1915), A Freight Car Honeymoon (6-6-1915), The Six-Cent Loaf (6-8-1915), The Country Girl (6-15-1915), Crossed Wires (6-29-1915), When the Fleet Sailed (8-3-1915), M. Lecoq (8-26-1915), Reincarnation (8-31-1915), A Disciple of Nietzsche (9-25-1915), The Price of Her Silence (9-30-1915), Mr. Meeson's Will (11-6-1915), All Aboard (11-28-1915), Her Confession (12-12-1915)

1916: The Five Faults of Flo (1-20-1916), What Doris Did 3-1-1916), Master Shakespeare, Strolling Player (4-20-1916), The Fugitive (8-13-1916), The Fear of Poverty (9-10-1916), Saint, Devil and Woman (9-25-1916), The Pillory (10-8-1916), Divorce and the Daughter (12-3-1916)

1917: Her Life and His (2-18-1917), When Love Was Blind (4-15-1917), The Woman in White (7-1-1917), War and the Woman (9-9-1917), The Man Without a Country (Jewel 9-9-1917)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Florence LaBadie pronounces her name Lah-Bah-Dee. It's French and there is no accent on any syllable. Some well-meaning persons pronounce it LaBody, which makes Florence shudder and say, 'Sounds like a coroner's inquest'" (The New Rochelle Pioneer, October 21, 1916); "The LaBadies pronounce their name thus: Labodee, with accent on the first syllable; the 'bod' is pronounced the same as in 'body'" ("Chats With Players", The Motion Picture Story Magazine, January 1913). Both quoted in Bowers, Q. David (1995). "La Badie, Florence". Thanhouser Films: An Encyclopedia and History. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  2. ^ [1] IMDb International Movie Database
  3. ^ [2] Lowe, Denise. An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films: 1895-1930. Routledge (2014) ISBN 9781317718963
  4. ^ [3] Ball, Robert Hamilton. Shakespeare on Silent Film: A Strange Eventful History Volume 1 of Routledge Library Editions: Film and Literature. Routledge (2013) ISBN 9781134980840 page 155
  5. ^ "The Woman in White (1917)". 
  6. ^ [4] Foster, Charles. Stardust and Shadows: Canadians in Early Hollywood. Dundurn (2000) ISBN 9781770700987 page 148
  7. ^ Perlman, Matthew (30 April 2014). "A head-start for late silent-film star". Brooklyn Daily (Brooklyn: Courier Life). Retrieved 30 April 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Foster, Charles. Stardust and Shadows, 2000, Toronto: Dundern Press
  • Lima Daily News, "Local Playhouses", January 29, 1918, p. 8

External links[edit]