Tom Ricketts in After the Thin Man (1936)
|Born||Thomas B. Ricketts
January 15, 1853
|Died||January 19, 1939
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Thomas B. Ricketts (January 15, 1853 – January 19, 1939), often credited as Tom Ricketts, was an English stage and film actor and director who was a pioneer in the film industry. He portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in the first American film adaptation of A Christmas Carol (1908), and directed the first motion picture ever made in Hollywood. After directing scores of silent films, including the first film to be released by Universal Pictures, Ricketts became a prominent character actor.
Thomas B. Ricketts was born in London January 15, 1853, and began his career on the stage. When he was 17 years old he emigrated to the United States, and directed plays on Broadway for Charles Frohman. He was a stage manager for the Shubert family, sang baritone with the Carleton Opera Company, and starred in his own play, Henri Duvar.
In 1906, after he had been with the Shuberts for four years, Ricketts was persuaded by a friend to join Essanay Studios in Chicago. He played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1908), the first American film adaption of the Dickens classic, then starred in The Old Curiosity Shop (1909). When Ricketts said he had toured with a comedy he had written, A Cure for Gout, the company asked him to make a 600-foot film of it—the length limit for a comedy at that time.
Ricketts became a director, taking over comedies and melodramas from Broncho Billy Anderson, who in turn took over Westerns. Ethel Clayton, Jack Conway, J. Warren Kerrigan and Bryant Washburn were among Ricketts's discoveries—along with Josephine Ditt, "the best-dressed woman on the screen", to whom Ricketts was married. Chief dramatic and general producer for two years at Essanay, he helped organize the American Film Manufacturing Company in 1910. He made six films for the Flying "A" before withdrawing and seeking another opportunity.
In 1911 Ricketts moved to California, together with Canadian film pioneer Al Christie, with thoughts of creating a new film company. "We arrived in Los Angeles with no idea of where to establish our studio," Ricketts remembered. "A real estate man who happened to overhear our discussion of a studio site suggested Hollywood. The next day we found our way out to Sunset and Gower, to a defunct roadhouse. The owner, a woman, wanted $60 a month rent for the entire block. We thought it was too much, but we signed a lease." Nestor Studios opened October 27, 1911.
Ricketts directed the first Hollywood-made motion picture, The Best Man Wins (1911).[a] Its stars were juvenile leading man Harold Lockwood, ingenue Dorothy Davenport, vamp Josephine Ditt, juvenile ingenue Victoria Forde, male heavy Gordon Sackville, and character women Eugenie Forde and Alice Davenport. Allan Dwan was Ricketts's assistant.
Nestor Studios made between 50 and 60 films over the next 18 months. In time the company was absorbed by Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Nestor's distributor beginning with The Dawn of Netta (1912), directed by Ricketts.:11
In 1914, on an independent contract, Ricketts directed Richard Bennett in Damaged Goods. When flower girls were needed for a wedding scene, Bennett's three daughters—Joan Bennett, Constance Bennett and Barbara Bennett—began their film careers. "Its success made me a little egotistical," Ricketts recalled. "It cost about $25,000 to make and brought in a million and a half on its first run. I naturally thought it would put me in great demand as a director. But it didn't. I had to start all over again, this time going back to my old trade as an actor."[b]
Returning to acting in 1919, in his mid-60s, Ricketts was almost always in demand for character parts. By 1935 he was described as "white-haired and bent with age … content with an occasional film role". His later films included Top Hat (1935), After the Thin Man (1936), Pennies from Heaven (1936), The Young in Heart (1938) and Son of Frankenstein (1939). He was regarded as the oldest working actor in Hollywood.
Ricketts died at Hollywood Hospital January 19, 1939, aged 86, of pneumonia, contracted the previous week when he went to work at Universal Studios despite a cold. "Mr. Ricketts left no funds," reported The New York Times, "and expenses of his funeral will be paid by the Motion Picture Relief Society." Josephine Ricketts, hospitalized in Santa Monica since suffering a stroke at Christmas, was not informed of her husband's death; it was reported that she would be told sometime before his funeral. Ricketts was buried in an unmarked grave at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
|1909||Cure for Gout, AA Cure for Gout|||
|1909||Game, TheThe Game|||
|1909||Woman's Wit, AA Woman's Wit|||
|1910||Adventuress, TheThe Adventuress|||
|1910||Advertisement Answered, AnAn Advertisement Answered|||
|1910||Fair Exchange, AA Fair Exchange|||
|1910||Hand of Uncle Sam, TheThe Hand of Uncle Sam|||
|1910||His Only Child|||
|1910||Lure of the City, TheThe Lure of the City|||
|1910||Stolen Fortune, TheThe Stolen Fortune|||
|1910||Thief, TheThe Thief|||
|1910||Vera, the Gypsy Girl|||
|1911||Best Man Wins, TheThe Best Man Wins||First motion picture made in Hollywood|
|1912||Dawn of Netta, TheThe Dawn of Netta||First film distributed by Universal Pictures:11|
|1915||Buzzard's Shadow, TheThe Buzzard's Shadow|||
|1915||House of a Thousand Scandals, TheThe House of a Thousand Scandals|||
|1915||End of the Road, TheThe End of the Road|||
|1915||Lure of the Mask, TheThe Lure of the Mask|||
|1915||Secretary of Frivolous Affairs|||
|1915||Wily Chaperon, TheThe Wily Chaperon|||
|1916||Other Side of the Door, TheThe Other Side of the Door|||
|1916||Single Code, TheThe Single Code|||
|1918||Crime of the Hour, TheThe Crime of the Hour|||
|1908||Christmas Carol, AA Christmas Carol||Ebenezer Scrooge|||
|1909||Old Curiosity Shop, TheThe Old Curiosity Shop|||
|1919||His Official Fiancée||Major Montressor|||
|1919||Please Get Married||Dr. Jenkins|||
|1920||All of a Sudden Peggy||Major Archie Phipps|||
|1920||Desperate Hero, TheThe Desperate Hero||Butler|||
|1920||Great Lover, TheThe Great Lover||Potter|||
|1920||Paliser Case, TheThe Paliser Case||Major Archie Phipps|||
|1920||Parish Priest, TheThe Parish Priest||Dr. Thomas Cassidy|||
|1920||Spenders, TheThe Spenders||Mr. Milbrey|||
|1920||Willow Tree, TheThe Willow Tree||The Priest|||
|1921||Beating the Game||Jules Fanchette|||
|1922||Killer, TheThe Killer||Tim Westmore|||
|1922||Eternal Flame, TheThe Eternal Flame||Vidame de Pameir|||
|1922||Fools of Fortune||Milton DePuyster|||
|1922||Lavender Bath Lady, TheThe Lavender Bath Lady||Simon Gregory|||
|1922||Putting It Over||Arnold Norton|||
|1922||Shattered Idols||The Reverend Doctor Romney|||
|1922||Tailor Made Man, AA Tailor Made Man||Anton Huber|||
|1923||Alice Adams||J. A. Lamb|||
|1923||Black Oxen||Charles Dinwiddie|||
|1923||Dangerous Maid, TheThe Dangerous Maid||John Standish Lane|||
|1923||Strangers of the Night||Lush|||
|1923||Within the Law||General Hastings|||
|1924||Cheap Kisses||The Old Man|||
|1924||Circe the Enchantress||Archibald Crumm|||
|1924||Gaiety Girl, TheThe Gaiety Girl||His Grace, the Duke|||
|1925||Bobbed Hair||Mr. Brewster|||
|1925||Business of Love, TheThe Business of Love||Noah Burgess|||
|1925||Fate of a Flirt, TheThe Fate of a Flirt||Uncle John Burgess|||
|1925||Fight to the Finish, AA Fight to the Finish||Cyrus J. Davis|||
|1925||Girl Who Wouldn't Work, TheThe Girl Who Wouldn't Work||The Rounder|||
|1925||My Wife and I||Valet|||
|1925||Never the Twain Shall Meet||Andrew J. Casson|||
|1925||Oh Doctor!||Mr. Peck|||
|1925||Sealed Lips||Joseph Howard|||
|1925||Secrets of the Night||Jerry Hammond||:50|
|1925||Steppin' Out||Henry Brodman||:50|
|1925||Wages for Wives||Judge McLean|||
|1925||Was It Bigamy?||Judge Gaynor|||
|1925||When Husbands Flirt||Wilbur Belcher|||
|1926||Belle of Broadway, TheThe Belle of Broadway|||
|1926||Cat's Pajamas, TheThe Cat's Pajamas||Mr. Briggs|||
|1926||Going the Limit||Mortimer Harden|||
|1926||Ladies at Play||Deacon Ezra Boody|||
|1926||Ladies of Leisure||Wadleigh|||
|1926||Lily, TheThe Lily||Jean|||
|1926||Love's Blindness||Marquis of Hurlshire|||
|1926||Nut-Cracker, TheThe Nut-Cracker||Isaac Totten|||
|1926||Old Soak, TheThe Old Soak||Roué|||
|1926||Poker Faces||Henry Curlew|||
|1926||Stranded in Paris||Herr Rederson|||
|1926||When the Wife's Away|||
|1927||Broadway Madness||Lawrence Compton|||
|1927||Children of Divorce||Secretary|||
|1927||In a Moment of Temptation||Timothy Gage|||
|1927||My Friend from India||Judge Belmore|||
|1927||Sailor's Sweetheart, AA Sailor's Sweetheart||Professor Meekham|||
|1927||Too Many Crooks||Butler|||
|1927||Venus from Venice||Bride's father|||
|1928||Five and Ten Cent Annie||Adam Peck|||
|1928||Freedom of the Press||Wicks|||
|1928||Just Married||Makepeace Witter|||
|1928||Law and the Man||Quintus Newton|||
|1929||Glad Rag Doll, TheThe Glad Rag Doll||Admiral|||
|1929||Light Fingers||Edward Madison|||
|1929||Red Hot Speed||:64|
|1930||Prince of Diamonds||Williams|||
|1930||Vagabond King, TheThe Vagabond King||Astrologer|||
|1931||Man of the World||Mr. Bradkin|||
|1931||Side Show||Tom Allison|||
|1932||Farewell to Arms, AA Farewell to Arms||Count Greffi|||
|1932||He Learned About Women|||
|1932||If I Had a Million||Guest at Mrs. Walker's dance|||
|1932||Stepping Sisters||"Stock Market"|||
|1932||Thrill of Youth||Grandpa Thayer|||
|1933||Eleventh Commandment, TheThe Eleventh Commandment||Henry|||
|1933||Good-bye Love||Alimony jail inmate|||
|1933||Mama Loves Papa||Mr. Pierrepont|||
|1933||Power and the Glory, TheThe Power and the Glory|||
|1933||Women Won't Tell|||
|1934||Count of Monte Cristo, TheThe Count of Monte Cristo||Cockeye|||
|1934||Curtain Falls, TheThe Curtain Falls||Hotel manager|||
|1934||In Love with Life||Bookstore proprietor|||
|1934||Forsaking All Others||Wiffens|||
|1934||Friends of Mr. Sweeney||Old gentleman|||
|1934||It Happened One Night||Prissy old man|||
|1934||Man Who Reclaimed His Head, TheThe Man Who Reclaimed His Head||Curly|||
|1934||Manhattan Love Song||Rich man|||
|1934||No Greater Glory||Old janitor|||
|1934||One More River||Barrister and clerk|||
|1934||Sons of Steel||Williams|||
|1934||Springtime for Henry||Bookstore clerk|||
|1934||Whom the Gods Destroy||Charlie|||
|1935||Clive of India||Old member|||
|1935||George White's 1935 Scandals||Old man|||
|1935||Goin' to Town||Eligible bachelor|||
|1935||Great Impersonation, TheThe Great Impersonation||Villager|||
|1935||Hi, Gaucho!||Don Salvador|||
|1935||Let's Live Tonight||Millionaire|||
|1935||Music Is Magic||Dancer, elderly man|||
|1935||Now or Never|||
|1935||Public Menace, TheThe Public Menace||Old man|||
|1935||Tale of Two Cities, AA Tale of Two Cities||Tellson, Jr.|||
|1935||Top Hat||Thackeray Club waiter|||
|1935||Vagabond Lady||Department head|||
|1936||Case Against Mrs. Ames, TheThe Case Against Mrs. Ames||Juryman|||
|1936||Crime of Dr. Forbes, TheThe Crime of Dr. Forbes||Faculty doctor|||
|1936||Daniel Boone||Attorney General's associate|||
|1936||Gold Diggers of 1937||Reginald|||
|1936||Little Lord Fauntleroy||Partygoer|||
|1936||Gentle Julia||Old man at dance|||
|1936||After the Thin Man||Henry, the butler|||
|1936||To Mary - with Love||Waiter|||
|1936||More Than a Secretary||Henry|||
|1936||Pennies from Heaven||Mr. Briggs|||
|1936||Song and Dance Man||Old theatrical couple|||
|1936||We Went to College||Pop|||
|1937||Maid of Salem||Giles Cory|||
|1937||Star Is Born, AA Star Is Born||Servant|||
|1937||Lady Escapes, TheThe Lady Escapes||Uncle George|||
|1937||Prince and the Pauper, TheThe Prince and the Pauper||Sexton|||
|1937||Toast of New York, TheThe Toast of New York||Member of the board of directors|||
|1937||Personal Property||Elderly man|||
|1937||Rhythm in the Clouds||Winter|||
|1938||Young in Heart, TheThe Young in Heart||Andrew|||
|1938||Bluebeard's Eighth Wife||Uncle Andre|||
|1938||Baroness and the Butler, TheThe Baroness and the Butler||Old man|||
|1938||Young Fugitives||Tom Riggins||:107|
|1938||Four Men and a Prayer||Station master|||
|1939||Son of Frankenstein||Burgher|||
- The Best Man Wins is a romantic comedy released December 25, 1911, and promoted as a Christmas release. The Law of the Range, a Western filmed by Nestor's California company, was released December 13, 1911, and is sometimes called the first Hollywood film.
- As part of its obituary, The New York Times reprinted a North American Newspaper Alliance interview with Thomas Ricketts conducted not long before his death.
- Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
- Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 146. ISBN 9780786409839.
- United Press (January 20, 1939). "Prominent Actor, Tom Ricketts, Dies, Age 86". The Bakersfield Californian.
- Thomas, Dan (Newspaper Enterprise Association) (November 7, 1935). "Pioneer Film Director Now Just an Extra". The Burlington Daily Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina).
- "Thomas Ricketts, Pioneer of Movies". The New York Times. January 21, 1939. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
- Smith, Michael Glover; Selzer, Adam (2015). Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 90. ISBN 9780786407385.
- "Thomas Ricketts (advertisement)". The Moving Picture World. December 3, 1910. p. 1322. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- "Bronze Memorial Will Mark First Hollywood Studio Site." Los Angeles Times. September 25, 1940.
- "The Best Man Wins". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
- "Independent Release Dates". The Moving Picture World. December 30, 1911. p. 1104. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "Advertisement". The Moving Picture World. June 22, 1912. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- Hirschhorn, Clive (1985) . The Universal Story. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-7064-1873-5.
- Fidler, Jimmie (January 3, 1939). "Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood". Elyria Chronicle Telegram (Elyria, Ohio).
- Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1905–1939 [database online]. Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2013. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
- United Press (January 21, 1939). "Raft is Released After Refusal on Gigolo Role". Galveston Tribune (Galveston, Texas).
- "A Cure for Gout". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
- "Tom Ricketts". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
- "Damaged Goods". American Silent Feature Film Survival Database. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "The Buzzard's Shadow". American Silent Feature Film Survival Database. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "The House of a Thousand Scandals". American Silent Feature Film Survival Database. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "The End of the Road". American Silent Feature Film Survival Database. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "The Lure of the Mask". American Silent Feature Film Survival Database. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "Secretary of Frivolous Affairs". American Silent Feature Film Survival Database. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "The Other Side of the Door". American Silent Feature Film Survival Database. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "The Single Code". American Silent Feature Film Survival Database. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "Secret Marriage". American Silent Feature Film Survival Database. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "The Crime of the Hour". American Silent Feature Film Survival Database. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
- "The Old Curiosity Shop". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
- "Flashes from the Cinema Studios". The New York Times. October 16, 1932. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tom Ricketts (actor).|
- Tom Ricketts at the Internet Movie Database
- Tom Ricketts at the Internet Broadway Database
- Tom Ricketts at Find a Grave