Mabel Ethelreid Normand
November 9, 1892
New Brighton, Staten Island, New York, U.S.
|Died||February 23, 1930 (aged 37)|
Monrovia, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles|
|Other names||Mabel Normand-Cody, Muriel Fortescue|
|Occupation||Actress, director, screenwriter, producer|
Lew Cody (m. 1926)
Mabel Ethelreid Normand (November 10, 1892 – February 23, 1930) was an American silent-film actress, screenwriter, director, and producer. She was a popular star and collaborator of Mack Sennett in his Keystone Studios films, and at the height of her career in the late 1910s and early 1920s, had her own movie studio and production company. Onscreen, she appeared in 12 successful films with Charlie Chaplin and 17 with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, sometimes writing and directing (or co-writing/directing) movies featuring Chaplin as her leading man.
Throughout the 1920s, her name was linked with widely publicized scandals, including the 1922 murder of William Desmond Taylor and the 1924 shooting of Courtland S. Dines, who was shot by Normand's chauffeur using her pistol. She was not a suspect in either crime. Her film career declined, and she suffered a recurrence of tuberculosis in 1923, which led to a decline in her health, retirement from films, and her death in 1930 at age 37.
Early life and career height
Born Mabel (or Amabel) Ethelreid Normand in New Brighton, Richmond County, New York (before it was incorporated into New York City), she grew up in a working-class family. Her mother, Mary "Minne" Drury, of Providence, Rhode Island, was of Irish heritage, while her father was French Canadian. Her father, Claude Normand, was employed as a cabinetmaker and stage carpenter at Sailors' Snug Harbor home for elderly seamen.
Before she entered films at age 16 in 1909, Normand worked as an artist's model, which included posing for postcards illustrated by Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl image, as well as for Butterick's clothing pattern manufacturers in lower Manhattan.
For a short time, she worked for Vitagraph Studios in New York City for $25 per week, but Vitagraph founder Albert E. Smith admitted she was one of several actresses about whom he made a mistake in estimating their "potential for future stardom."
Her lead performance, directed by D. W. Griffith in the dramatic 1911 short film Her Awakening, drew attention and she met director Mack Sennett while at Griffith's Biograph Company. She embarked on a topsy-turvy relationship with him; he later brought her across to California when he founded Keystone Studios in 1912. Her earlier Keystone films portrayed her as a bathing beauty, but Normand quickly demonstrated a flair for comedy and became a major star of Sennett's short films.
Normand appeared with Charles Chaplin and "Fatty" Arbuckle in many short films, as well as with Oliver Hardy and Boris Karloff, and in the Stan Laurel-directed "Raggedy Rose". She is credited as being the first film star to receive a pie thrown in the face.
She played a key role in starting Chaplin's film career and acted as his leading lady and mentor in a string of films in 1914, sometimes co-writing and directing or co-directing films with him. Chaplin had considerable initial difficulty adjusting to the demands of film acting, and his performance suffered for it. After his first film appearance in Making a Living, Sennett felt he had made a costly mistake.
Most historians agree Normand persuaded Sennett to give Chaplin another chance, and she and Chaplin appeared together in a dozen subsequent films, almost always as a couple in the lead roles. In 1914, she starred with Marie Dressler and Chaplin in Tillie's Punctured Romance, the first feature-length comedy. Earlier that same year, in January/February, Chaplin first played his Tramp character in Mabel's Strange Predicament, although it wound up being the second Tramp film released; Chaplin offered an account of his experience on the film in his autobiography.
She opened her own company in partnership with Mack Sennett 1916. It was based in Culver City and was a subsidiary of the Triangle Film Corporation. She lost the company in 1918 when Triangle experienced a massive shake up which also had Sennett lose Keystone and establish his own independent studio. In 1918, as her relationship with Sennett came to an end, Normand signed a $3,500-per-week contract with Samuel Goldwyn.
Director William Desmond Taylor shared her interest in books, and the two formed a close relationship. Author Robert Giroux claims that Taylor was deeply in love with Normand, who had originally approached him for help in curing her cocaine dependency. According to Normand's subsequent statements to investigators, her repeated relapses were devastating for Taylor.
Giroux says that Taylor met with federal prosecutors shortly before his death and offered to assist them in filing charges against Normand's cocaine suppliers. Giroux expresses a belief that Normand's suppliers learned of this meeting and hired a contract killer to murder the director. According to Giroux, Normand suspected the reasons for Taylor's murder, but did not know the identity of the man who killed him.[page needed]
According to Kevin Brownlow and John Kobal in their book Hollywood: The Pioneers, the idea that Taylor was murdered by drug dealers was invented by the studio for publicity purposes. No evidence indicates Normand was an addict, despite the fact this is often repeated as if it were established fact.
On the night of his murder, February 1, 1922, Normand left Taylor's bungalow at 7:45 pm in a happy mood, carrying a book he had lent her. They blew kisses to each other as her limousine drove away. Normand was the last person known to have seen Taylor alive. The Los Angeles Police Department subjected Normand to a grueling interrogation, but ruled her out as a suspect. Most subsequent writers have done the same. However, Normand's career had already slowed, and her reputation was tarnished. According to George Hopkins, who sat next to her at Taylor's funeral, Normand wept inconsolably.
The Dines shooting
The Roscoe Arbuckle trials
Normand's co-star in many films, Roscoe Arbuckle was the defendant in three widely publicized trials for the rape and manslaughter of actress Virginia Rappe. Although Arbuckle was acquitted, the scandal destroyed his career, and his films were banned from exhibition for a short time. Since she had made some of her best works with him, much of Normand's output was withheld from the public by default.
Later career and death
Normand continued making films and was signed by Hal Roach Studios in 1926 after discussions with director/producer F. Richard Jones, who had directed her at Keystone. At Roach, she made the films Raggedy Rose, The Nickel-Hopper, and One Hour Married (her last film), all co-written by Stan Laurel, and was directed by Leo McCarey in Should Men Walk Home? The films were released with extensive publicity support from the Hollywood community, including her friend Mary Pickford.
In 1926, she married actor Lew Cody, with whom she had appeared in Mickey in 1918. They lived separately in nearby houses in Beverly Hills. However, Normand's health was in decline due to tuberculosis. After an extended stay in Pottenger Sanitorium, she died from tuberculosis on February 23, 1930 in Monrovia, California, at the age of 37. She was interred as Mabel Normand-Cody at Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles.
Mabel Normand has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to motion pictures at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard.
In June 2010, the New Zealand Film Archive reported the discovery of a print of Normand's film Won in a Closet (exhibited in New Zealand under its alternate title Won in a Cupboard), a short comedy previously believed lost. This film is a significant discovery, as Normand directed the movie and starred in the lead role, displaying her talents on both sides of the camera.
- A nod to Normand's celebrity in early Hollywood came through the name of a leading character in the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard, "Norma Desmond", which has been cited as a combination of the names Mabel Normand and William Desmond Taylor. The film also frequently mentions Normand by name.
- The 1974 Broadway musical Mack & Mabel (Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman) fictionalized the romance between Normand and Mack Sennett. Normand was played by Bernadette Peters and Robert Preston portrayed Mack Sennett.
- "Hello Mabel" is a song by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band released in England on their second album The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse (released as Urban Spaceman in the US.) in November 1968.
- Normand is mentioned during series 2 episode 1 of Downton Abbey by ambitious housemaid Ethel Parks. Daisy Mason (née Robinson), the kitchen maid, inquires what she is reading and Ethel responds, "Photoplay about Mabel Normand. She was nothing when she started, you know. Her father was a carpenter and they'd no money, and now she's a shining film star."
- Singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks wrote a song about the actress entitled "Mabel Normand", which appears on her 2014 album, 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault.
Normand is played by actress Marisa Tomei in the 1992 film Chaplin opposite Robert Downey, Jr. as Charles Chaplin; by Penelope Lagos in the first biopic about Normand's life, a 35-minute dramatic short film entitled Madcap Mabel (2010); and by Morganne Picard in the motion picture Return to Babylon (2013).
Some of her early roles are credited as "Mabel Fortesque".
|1910||Indiscretions of Betty||Unknown/presumably lost|
|1910||Over the Garden Wall|
|1911||Fate's Turning||D. W. Griffith|
|1911||The Diamond Star|
|1911||A Tale of Two Cities||William J. Humphrey|
|1911||Betty Becomes a Maid||Betty|
|1911||Troublesome Secretaries||Betty Harding||Ralph Ince|
|1911||Picciola; or, The Prison Flower||Theresa Girhardi|
|1911||When a Man's Married His Trouble Begins|
|1911||A Dead Man's Honor||Helen|
|1911||The Changing of Silas Warner|
|1911||The Subduing of Mrs. Nag||Miss Prue|
|1911||The Strategy of Anne|
|1911||The Diving Girl||The Niece|
|1911||How Betty Won the School||Betty's Rival|
|1911||The Baron||Mack Sennett|
|1911||The Squaw's Love||D. W. Griffith|
|1911||The Revenue Man and the Girl||D. W. Griffith|
|1911||Her Awakening||The Daughter||D. W. Griffith||Harry Hyde|
|1911||The Making of a Man||D. W. Griffith|
|1911||Italian Blood||D. W. Griffith|
|1911||The Unveiling||D. W. Griffith|
|1911||Through His Wife's Picture||Mack Sennett|
|1911||The Inventor's Secret||Mack Sennett|
|1911||Their First Divorce Case||Mack Sennett|
|1911||A Victim of Circumstances||Mack Sennett|
|1911||Why He Gave Up||The Wife||Henry Lehrman
|1911||Saved from Himself||D. W. Griffith|
|1912||The Joke on the Joker||Mack Sennett|
|1912||The Eternal Mother||Mary||D. W. Griffith||Edwin August
|1912||Did Mother Get Her Wish?||Nellie||Mack Sennett|
|1912||The Mender of Nets||D. W. Griffith||Mary Pickford|
|1912||The Fatal Chocolate||Mack Sennett|
|1912||The Engagement Ring||Alice||Mack Sennett|
|1912||A Spanish Dilemma||Mack Sennett|
|1912||Hot Stuff||Mack Sennett||Mack Sennett|
|1912||A Voice from the Deep||Mack Sennett|
|1912||Oh, Those Eyes||Gladys||Mack Sennett|
|1912||Help! Help!||Mrs. Suburbanite||Mack Sennett||Fred Mace|
|1912||The Water Nymph||Diving Venus||Mack Sennett||Mack Sennett
|Alternative title: The Beach Flirt|
First Keystone comedy
|1912||The Flirting Husband||Mack Sennett||Ford Sterling|
|1912||Mabel's Lovers||Mabel||Mack Sennett||Fred Mace
|1912||At Coney Island||Mack Sennett||Ford Sterling
|Alternative title: Cohen at Coney Island'|
|1912||Mabel's Adventures||Mabel||Mack Sennett||Fred Mace
|1913||The Bangville Police||Farm Girl||Henry Lehrman||Fred Mace
the Keystone Cops
|1913||A Noise from the Deep||Mabel||Mack Sennett||Roscoe Arbuckle
the Keystone Cops
|1913||A Little Hero||George Nichols||Harold Lloyd|
|1913||Mabel's Awful Mistakes||Mabel||Mack Sennett||Mack Sennett
|Alternative title: Her Deceitful Lover|
|1913||Passions, He Had Three||Henry Lehrman||Roscoe Arbuckle||Alternative title: He Had Three|
|1913||For the Love of Mabel
||Mabel||Henry Lehrman||Roscoe Arbuckle
|1913||Mabel's Dramatic Career||Mabel, the kitchen maid||Mack Sennett||Mack Sennett
|Alternative title: Her Dramatic Debut'|
|1913||The Gypsy Queen||Mack Sennett||Roscoe Arbuckle|
|1913||Cohen Saves the Flag||Rebecca||Mack Sennett||Ford Sterling|
|1914||Mabel's Stormy Love Affair||Mabel||Mabel Normand|
|1914||Won in a Closet||Mabel Normand||Alternative title: Won in a Cupboard|
|1914||In the Clutches of the Gang||Roscoe Arbuckle
|1914||Mack at It Again||Mack Sennett||Mack Sennett|
|1914||Mabel's Strange Predicament||Mabel||Mabel Normand||Charles Chaplin||Alternative title: Hotel Mixup|
First film with Chaplin as the Tramp although the second released.
|1914||Mabel's Blunder||Mabel||Mabel Normand||Charley Chase
Al St. John
|Added to the National Film Registry in 2009|
|1914||A Film Johnnie||Mabel||George Nichols||Charles Chaplin
|1914||Mabel at the Wheel||Mabel||Mabel Normans
|1914||Caught in a Cabaret||Mabel||Mabel Normand||Charles Chaplin||Writer|
|1914||Mabel's Nerve||Mabel||George Nichols|
|1914||The Alarm||Roscoe Arbuckle
|Alternative title: Fireman's Picnic|
|1914||Her Friend the Bandit||Mabel||Mabel Normand
|Charles Chaplin||Lost film|
|1914||The Fatal Mallet||Mabel||Mack Sennett||Charles Chaplin
|1914||Mabel's Busy Day||Mabel||Mabel Normand||Charles Chaplin
|1914||Mabel's Married Life||Mabel||Charles Chaplin||Charles Chaplin||Co-written by Normand and Chaplin|
|1914||Mabel's New Job||Mabel||Mabel Normand
|1914||The Sky Pirate||Roscoe Arbuckle
|1914||The Masquerader||Actress||Charles Chaplin||Uncredited|
|1914||Mabel's Latest Prank||Mabel||Mabel Normand
|Alternative title: Touch of Rheumatism|
|1914||Hello, Mabel||Mabel||Mabel Normand||Charley Chase
|Alternative title: On a Busy Wire|
|1914||Gentlemen of Nerve||Mabel||Charles Chaplin||Charles Chaplin
|Alternative titles: Charlie at the Races|
|1914||His Trysting Place||Mabel, The Wife||Charles Chaplin||Charles Chaplin|
|1914||Shotguns That Kick||Roscoe Arbuckle||Roscoe Arbuckle
Al St. John
|1914||Getting Acquainted||Ambrose's Wife||Charles Chaplin||Charles Chaplin
|1915||Mabel and Fatty's Wash Day||Mabel||Roscoe Arbuckle||Roscoe Arbuckle|
|1915||Mabel and Fatty's Simple Life||Mabel||Roscoe Arbuckle||Roscoe Arbuckle||Alternative title: Mabel and Fatty's Simple Life|
|1915||Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco||Mabel||Mabel Normand
|1915||Mabel and Fatty's Married Life||Mabel||Roscoe Arbuckle||Roscoe Arbuckle|
|1915||That Little Band of Gold||Wifey||Roscoe Arbuckle||Uncredited|
Alternative title: For Better or Worse
|1915||Wished on Mabel||Mabel||Mabel Normand||Roscoe Arbuckle|
|1915||Mabel's Wilful Way||Mabel||Roscoe Arbuckle||Roscoe Arbuckle|
|1915||Mabel Lost and Won||Mabel||Mabel Normand||Owen Moore
|1915||The Little Teacher||The Little Teacher||Mack Sennett||Roscoe Arbuckle, Mack Sennett||Alternative title: A Small Town Bully|
|1916||Fatty and Mabel Adrift||Mabel||Roscoe Arbuckle||Roscoe Arbuckle
Al St. John
|Alternative title: Concrete Biscuits|
|1916||He Did and He Didn't||The Doctor's Wife||Roscoe Arbuckle||Roscoe Arbuckle
Al St. John
|1926||The Nickel-Hopper||Paddy, the nickel hopper||F. Richard Jones
|1927||Should Men Walk Home?||The Girl Bandit||Leo McCarey||Eugene Pallette
|1927||One Hour Married||Jerome Strong||Creighton Hale
|1914||Tillie's Punctured Romance||Mabel||Mack Sennett||Marie Dressler
First feature-length comedy
|1918||Dodging a Million||Arabella Flynn||George Loane Tucker||Tom Moore|
|1918||The Floor Below||Patricia O'Rourke||Clarence G. Badger||Tom Moore|
|1918||Joan of Plattsburg||Joan||George Loane Tucker|
|1918||Back to the Woods||Stephanie Trent||George Irving||Herbert Rawlinson|
|1918||Peck's Bad Girl||Minnie Penelope Peck||Charles Giblyn||Earle Foxe|
|1918||The Venus Model||Kitty O'Brien||Clarence G. Badger||Rod La Rocque||Feature-length film, unknown/presumably lost|
|1918||A Perfect 36||Mabel||Charles Giblyn||Rod La Rocque||Feature-length film|
|1918||Mickey||Mickey||F. Richard Jones
|1919||Sis Hopkins||Sis Hopkins||Clarence G. Badger||John Bowers||Feature-length film|
|1919||When Doctors Disagree||Millie Martin||Victor Schertzinger||Walter Hiers||Feature-length film|
|1919||Upstairs||Elsie MacFarland||Victor Schertzinger||Cullen Landis||Feature-length film|
|1919||Jinx||The Jinx||Victor Schertzinger||Feature-length film, unknown/presumably lost|
|1919||The Pest||Jigs||Christy Cabanne||Feature-length film, lost|
|1920||Pinto||Pinto||Victor Schertzinger||Cullen Landis||Feature-length film|
|1920||What Happened to Rosa||Rosa||Victor Schertzinger||Feature-length film|
|1920||The Slim Princess||Princess Kalora||Victor Schertzinger||Tully Marshall||Feature-length film|
|1921||Molly O'||Molly O'||F. Richard Jones||George Nichols||Feature-length film|
|1922||Oh, Mabel Behave||Innkeeper's Daughter||Mack Sennett||Mack Sennett
|1922||Head Over Heels||Tina||Paul Bern
|1923||Suzanna||Suzanna||F. Richard Jones||George Nichols||Feature-length film, incomplete (two reels are missing)|
|1923||The Extra Girl||Sue Graham||F. Richard Jones||George Nichols||Feature-length film|
|1926||Raggedy Rose||Raggedy Rose||Richard Wallace||Carl Miller
- "Mabel Normand bio".
- Jaley (?), Thomas (June 5, 1910). 1910 USA Census Card. Census of the United States, State of New York, Borough of Richmond, Supervisor's District No. 2, Enumeration District 583, Sheet #8.
- Harper Fussell 1992, pp. 50–52.
- Harper Fussell 1992, pp. 71–73.
- Harper Fussell 1992, pp. 64–70.
- cite magazine article Films in Review September 1974 Mabel Normand A grand Nephew's Memoir Normand, Stephen
- Ward Mahar, Karen (2006). Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood. JHU Press. p. 131. ISBN 0-8018-8436-5.
- Rhode Island State Census, 1875
- Sherman, William Thomas. "Mabel Normand: An Introductory Biography". mm-hp.com. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
- Smith, Albert E. in collaboration with Phil A. Koury, "Two Reels And A Crank", Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1952.
- "Internet Movie Database (IMDb)"
- "Mabel Normand Web Page"
- Chaplin, Charles (1964). My Autobiography. Penguin. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-14-101147-9.
- Harper Fussell 1992, pp. 70–71.
- Chaplin, Charles (2003) . My Autobiography. London: Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-101147-5.
- Robert Giroux, A Deed of Death: The Story Behind the Unsolved Murder of Hollywood Director William Desmond Taylor, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1990.
- Brown low and Kobal, Kevin and John (1979). Hollywood The Pioneers. New York: Alfred A Knopf. p. 111. ISBN 0394508513.
"Press Film Star For Taylor Clew; Police Conduct 'Long And Grueling' Examination, Working on Jealousy Motive. Mabel Normand Speaks Tells Reporters Affection For Slain Director Was Based on Comradeship, Not 'Love.'". NYTimes.com. New York: New York Times. February 7, 1922. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
A motion picture actress was subjected to what the police termed a "long and grueling" examination at her home here tonight in an attempt to obtain a clew to the murderer of William Desmond Taylor.
- Giroux (1990), p. 236.
- Milton, Joyce (1998). Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin. Da Capo Press. p. 221. ISBN 0-306-80831-5.
- Basinger 2000, p. 92.
- McCaffrey, Donald W.; Jacobs, Christopher P. (1999). Guide To the Silent Years of American Cinema. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 84. ISBN 0-313-30345-2.
- Vogel, Michelle (2007). Olive Thomas: The Life and Death of a Silent Film Beauty. McFarland. p. 9. ISBN 0-7864-2908-9.
- "Thriller and 24 Other Films Named to National Film Registry", Associated Press via Yahoo News (December 30, 2009) Archived January 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- "A Happy Homecoming For Long-Lost Silent Films". NPR. April 16, 2009. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
- "Taylorology" (about William D. Taylor & era), (literateweb.com), September 2003, webpage: LitWeb-WDTaylor.
- Staggs, Sam: Close-up on Sunset Boulevard: Billy Wilder, Norma Desmond and the Dark Hollywood Dream. St. Martin's Griffin Books, 2002
- Spicer, Megan (January 2, 2014). "Darien yard transformed into Keystone lot for short film". Darien News. Bridgeport, CT. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
- Hennessy, Christina (June 3, 2014). "Darien-filmed short spotlights cinematic pioneer Mabel Norman". Hearst CT News Blogs. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
- Denise Lowe (2005). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films, 1895-1930. Psychology Press. p. 406. ISBN 978-0-7890-1843-4.
- Kehr, Dave (June 6, 2010). "Trove of Long-Lost Silent Films Returns to America". NYTimes.com. New York: New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- Basinger, Jeanine (2000). Silent Stars. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0-8195-6451-1. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- Harper Fussell, Betty (1992). Mabel: Hollywood's First I-Don't-Care Girl (Illustrated ed.). Limelight Editions. ISBN 978-0-87910-158-9. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- Sherman, William Thomas (2006). Mabel Normand: A Source Book to Her Life and Films
- Normand, Stephen (1974). Films in Review September Issue: Mabel Normand - A Grand Nephew's Memoir
- Lefler, Timothy Dean (2016). Mabel Normand: The Life and Career of a Hollywood Madcap. ISBN 978-0-7864-7867-5
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mabel Normand.|
- Mabel Normand on IMDb
- Mabel Normand at the TCM Movie Database
- Mabel Normand at the Women Film Pioneers Project
- Madcap Mabel: Mabel Normand Website
- Mabel Normand Source Book (pdf file)
- Stephen Normand's website
- Looking for Mabel Normand
- Mabel Normand Home Page
- Films of Mabel Normand on YouTube (playlist)