(Click on images to enlarge)
R. M. Schindler, 1927. Edward Weston portrait. Owned by Sam and Harriet Freeman. Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents. From Saving Wright: The Freeman House and the Preservation of Meaning, Materials and Modernity by Jeffrey M. Chusid, Norton, 2011, p. 139.
Playbill for "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky as adapted by Reginald Pole and John Cowper Powys, Belmont Theater, January 25th and 28th, 1928. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
The genesis for this article was the discovery of the above playbill in the papers of architect Rudolph M. Schindler at the University of California Santa Barbara Art Museum's Architecture and Design Collections. The play, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" by Reginald Pole and John Cowper Powys, included a fascinating cast of mutual friends of both Schindler and his wife Pauline and photographer Edward Weston such as Reginald Pole and his then wife Frances, Pole's former lover Beatrice Wood, Weston portrait sitter and Schindler client and divorce attorney Anna "Olga" Zacsek, and Boris Karloff. Schindler designed the stage sets for "The Idiot" and was also credited as art advisor. Weston wrote in his Daybooks about attending the play and, after her performance, partying with Zacsek at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house of Sam and Harriet Freeman for whom Schindler also designed many revisions and furniture. (The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Volume II, California, p. 47).
The playbill opened up numerous avenues of research which resulted in the following article. I intend this work to become a chapter in a much broader work encompassing the familial relationships between the Schindlers and the Westons and their radical, bohemian, avant-garde coteries in Los Angeles and Carmel. In this piece, which focuses mainly on their mutual friends in the dramatic community, I intend to interweave the stories of Anna Zacsek, Reginald Pole, Helen Taggart, Lloyd Wright, Kirah Markham, Beatrice Wood, Frayne Williams, Florence Deshon, Max Eastman, Charlie Chaplin, Margrethe Mather, Tina Modotti, Aline Barnsdall, Norman Bel-Geddes, Theodore Dreiser, Helen Richardson, Paul Jordan-Smith, William J. Dodd and many others within the context of the Schindler-Weston friendship.
Anna Zacsek, screen name Olga Grey, 1916. Photographer unknown. From "Gallery of Picture Players," Motion Picture Magazine, November 1916, p. 25.
Anna Zacsek, 1919. Edward Weston photograph. From George Eastman House courtesy of Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Emily J. Valentine, Founder and President, Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. Photographer unknown. From Los Angeles Herald, December 19, 1909, p. 54.
Anushka "Anna" Zacsek was the child of Stefan and Theresa Zacsek, Hungarian immigrants who moved to Los Angeles from New York around 1902. They lived at 2231 Sunset Blvd. near the movie studios and bohemian artists and actors that would shortly populate the nearby Edendale neighborhood. (For much more on the Zacsek's Echo Park residence see "Historic-Cultural Monument Application for the 2233 ½ W. Sunset Blvd. Home"). By 1908 the Zacseks had enrolled their children Anushka "Annie" and Stefan in classes at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and Art which was founded by Emily J. Valentine (see above) in 1883. (Author's note: With the help of Walt and Roy Disney, the Conservatory merged with the Chouinard Instiitute of Art in 1961 to form the present day CalArts).
Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) Building, 207 S. Broadway, E. A. Coxhead, architect, 1888. ("Y.M.C.A.; They Get Themselves Into Court Over Building," Los Angeles Times, May 19, 1888, p. 2). Photographer C. C. Pierce, ca. 1900. Los Angeles Conservatory of Music & Art under gable right of flag. Courtesy USC Digital Library.
Anna attended piano and elocution classes at the Conservatory which was located in the YMCA Building (see above) when Zacsek began classes there. At the age of 11 she performed a piano solo in a year-end concert with selected Conservatory classmates at Symphony Hall in the Blanchard Building (see below) under Valentine's direction. The Los Angeles Herald listed Annie Theresa Zacsek's piano recital and her certificates in piano and elocution along with her brother Stefan, and mentioned her being named one of the school's eleven "Prize Pupils." ("Musical World," Los Angeles Herald, June 24, 1908, p. 6). The Conservatory moved to the brand new Walker Auditorium Building the following year along with some other drama and music schools creating somewhat of a center for performing arts education. (See two below).
Blanchard Building, Symphony Hall, 233 S. Broadway, ca. 1921. A. M. Edelman, architect, 1899. From Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection. (See "Building Devoted to Music and Art," Los Angeles Times, January 1, 1899, p. I-29 for a complete description and floor plans of this building built by Harris Newmark and leased to F. W. Blanchard).
Walker Auditorium Building, 730 S. Broadway, July 1946. Eisen and Son, architects, 1909. Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
Morosco-Egan School of Dramatic Arts ad, Los Angeles Herald, October 9, 1909, p. 2.
Another prominent period performing arts school, the Morosco-Egan Institute of Dramatic Arts, was formed by Frank C. Egan and Majestic Theater Building lessee Oliver Morosco in 1909 after Egan's recent arrival from from the east via Seattle. Egan advertised regularly (see above) and relentlessly promoted his dramatic productions and the achievements of his graduates in the local press. For example in a 1911 Times article Egan, who had by then bought out Morosco's interest in the school, talked of the success of his students in Chicago and on Broadway and plans for his own traveling troupes. Of his school's plans to focus on foreign drama he said,
"One's drama education is not complete unless one knows the drama of the world. To be thoroughly acquainted with the drama of America and England, which, histrionically speaking, are one country, and not to know anything about thee great dramatic movements in Germany, the essentials of modern French plays and the comedy spirit in Italy, is like completing a common school education and omitting all knowledge whatsoever of geography." ("To Send Out Own Companies: Frank Egan Considering New Production Venture," Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1911, p. III-12. See also "Egan Returns With New Names," Los Angeles Times, August 13, 1911, p. III-2).
Egan School ad. Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1911, p. III-5.
Likely attracted by Egan's advertising of his drama faculty, the Zacseks also enrolled Anna and Stefan in acting classes there evidenced by a Los Angeles Herald article reporting on their performance of a scene from "If I Were King" in the school's auditorium on the top floor of the Majestic Theater Building (see below) at the end of the 1910 school year. ("Egan Thespians Open Many Eyes at Recital," Los Angeles Herald, June 24, 1910. p. 3). The busy Anna continued her piano classes at the Conservatory a block north on Broadway and performed in two ensemble pieces just four days after her and Stefan's stage performance at the Egan School. ("Musical," Los Angeles Herald, June 26, 1910, p. III-14). The Zacseks were presciently positioning Anna for her early career in the movie business.
Hamburger Majestic Theater Building (left), 845 S. Broadway, Edelman and Barnett, architects, 1908. Hamburger's Department Store (later May company) on right. Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
In an article discussing the success of the girl students from his school Egan said,
"Los Angeles has produced some mighty clever boys, but so far the ambitious girls are far in the lead. Many of them are going out in prominent positions in western organizations. Some of them are going straight to Broadway. "Young women that have been sent out from the Egan School during the past year are playing as far West as Honolulu and as far east as London. And in all instances they are Los Angeles girls." ("Coming Here For Actors," Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1912, p. III-20).
Egan Little Theatre, 1324 S. Figueroa St., 1914. Morgan, Walls and Morgan, architects. From Los Angeles Architectural Club 1913 Exhibition Catalogue.
The next year Egan moved his school and expanded his operations with the addition of the Egan's Little Theatre at 1324 S. Figueroa St. at Pico Blvd. He commissioned the venerable firm of Morgan, Walls and Morgan to design the new theatrical building and offices (see above) After brief early success as a venue for drama, Egan's theater venture fell on hard economic times and was reconfigured to also enable the screening of silent movies. ("In the Theater Foyers," Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1914, p. III-4).
"Miss Anna Zacsek Who Has Part in Egan School Play," LAH, June 19, 1914, p. 10.
Possibly her first ever publicity photo, Anna's part in an Egan School production was announced in the Herald in June 1914 (see above). By her late teens Zacsek began pursuing a Hollywood acting career in earnest. She visited the Majestic Studio in 1914-15, liked what she saw and soon became an extra. Her story as one of the more successful "extra girls" who parlayed her talents into progressively better roles was featured along with those of her D. W. Griffith-trained stablemates Mae Marsh, Seena Owens and Bessie Love in the December 1916 issue of Motion Picture Magazine (see below). The article described Anna, "She being of the foreign type, was given a place in with a mob of exotic looking supernumeraries. A few days later she was given a small part; as the days passed, her parts became better."
Zeidman, Bennie, "The Extra Girl," Motion Picture Magazine, December, 1916, pp. 45-48.
The Birth of a Nation, D. W. Griffith, 1915.
Anna's first credited part was a leading role in the 1915 release "His Lesson" soon to be followed by eleven more films during her first year. In Griffith's seminal "The Birth of a Nation," released two weeks before the opening of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, Zacsek played the role of Laura Keene whose theatrical company was playing at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. on the night of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. After Booth, played by Raoul Walsh, leaped to the stage after shooting Lincoln in the back of the head (see above), Keene, played by Olga, rushed up to the presidential box and cradled the wounded President's head in her lap. In 1916 Griffith would also direct Zacsek in his next extravaganza "Intolerance" in which she played the part of Mary Magdelene, the original femme fatale, in the Judean portion of the film.
Intolerance, D. W. Griffith, 1916.
Babylonian movie set for D. W. Griffith's "Intolerance" at the Reliance-Majestic Studios (later Triangle-Fine Arts) site at the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset Blvds. (Author's note: The set was one block east of, and easily visible from, Olive Hill, the site of Aline Barnsdall's Hollyhock House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright with construction supervision by R. M. Schindler and Lloyd Wright.)
Zacsek reminisced (most likely through the words of a studio publicist) to a newspaper reporter in 1916 about how she was dubbed Olga Grey by Griffith and how she was tiring of being typecast as a "vamp."
"In the first place, I was engaged while a mere spectator on the side lines one day by Mr. Griffith whom we were observing as he directed some scenes for "The Clansman." When I told him my name he said, "Tut, tut! Impossible!"
As days passed I was continually cast in feature pictures and became accustomed to the work, I began to notice that my business was always to "vamp" to the total eclipse of my tender-hearted ambitions. I finally decided that this was not as it should be, and asked my director for a sympathetic part in the next production. "Impossible!" he snorted. "Heroines are always blonde. Vampires are dark. You are a vamp!" ("Olga Grey, the Griffith Vampire," by Miss Anushka Zacsek: the Hungarian Ingenue, Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, July 8, 1916, p. 9).
Anushka Zacsek, screen name Olga Grey. Photographer unknown. "A Vamp With a Goulash Name," Photoplay, Vol. XI, No. 3, February 1917, p. 73.
Triangle-Fine Arts Studio, 4516 Sunset Blvd., 1916. From Early Hollywood by Mark Wanamaker and Robert W. Nudelman, Arcadia, 2007, p. 34.
Reliance-Majestic Studios soon evolved into the Triangle-Fine Arts Film Company (see above) and was soliciting screenplays for it's stable of young stars of which Olga Grey was prominently included. (See below for example).
"Fine Arts Film Company, 4500 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, Calif., is in the market for five-reel features, suitable for any of its stars: Douglas Fairbanks, Mae Marsh, Bobby Herron, Lillian Gish, Norma Talmadge, Wilfred Lucas, Fay Tinchner, Bessie Love, Olga Grey and Constance Talmadge. Often two or three of these players may appear in one picture; most of the feminine stars are ingenues, and stories in which the principal characters are young girls are therefore most desired. Stories must have underlying themes of considerable power." ("The Literary Market,"The Editor, Oct 7, 1916, p. 338).
Grey, Olga, "How I Learnt [sic] to Act," Motion Picture Magazine, December 1916, p. 69.
Ruth St. Denis, 1916. Edward Weston photograph from the Halsted Gallery. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.
Besides her role in "Intolerance" Zacsek appeared in six other films in 1916, including the role of "Lady Agnes" in Macbeth. It was around the time of Zacsek's appearance in "The Birth of a Nation" that Weston began photographing Ruth St. Denis (see above) and her dancers many of whom coincidentally appeared in the Babylonian dance sequences in Griffith's "Intolerance" under St. Denis's direction. Weston likely met St. Denis through the movie studio connections of Margrethe Mather (see below), Charlie Chaplin and costume and set designer George Hopkins (discussed later below) thus this may also be around the time that he met Zacsek. (See Stagestruck Filmmaker: D. W. Griffith and the American Theatre by David Mayer, University of Iowa Press, 2009, pp. 179-80 and Artful Lives: Edward Weston, Margrethe Mather, and the Bohemians of Los Angeles by Beth Gates Warren, Getty Publications, pp. 79-82 for more details).
Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston, Glendale, 1922. Photo by Imogen Cunningham. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.
Vivian Martin ca. 1918. Edward Weston photo. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.
Vivian Martin ca. 1918. Edward Weston photo. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.
Weston also photographed Zacsek's "The Girl at Home" co-star Vivian Martin around this time (see above) indicating the wide circle of actors then in the Weston-Mather orbit. The movie was widely released in April of 1917 (see Long Beach Palace Theater marquee below for example).
Movie poster for "The Girl at Home."
On the marquee, "The Girl at Home" starring Vivian Martin, Jack Pickford and Olga Grey. Palace Theater, 30 Pine Ave., Long Beach, H. A. Anderson, architect, 1916. Photo by G. Haven Bishop, 1917. From the online Huntington Library exhibition "Form and Landscape: Southern California Edison and the California Los Angeles Basin, 1940-1990."
Zacsek would appear in eleven additional films between 1917 and 1920 (see above for example), with a steady decline in the quantity and quality of roles likely exacerbated by factors such as aging, unwillingness to play the casting couch game and the post-war depression of 1920-21 which hit the industry hard. The ambitious Anna, seeing no future on the screen, began seeking other outlets for her acting talents and became involved in local theatrical troupes, possibly through introductions by her former teacher Frank Egan to groups such as the Drama League and the Los Angeles Civic Repertory Company where she soon became entwined within the circles of Reginald Pole (see below), Weston, and Margrethe Mather.
Reginald Pole, n.d. Photographer unknown. From I Shock Myself: The Autobiography of Beatrice Wood, edited by Lindsay Smith, Chronicle, 1985, p. 59.
Rupert Brooke, Fine Arts Building, Chicago, 1914. Eugene Hutchinson photo from The Little Review, June-July 1916, p. 33. Weston photographed Hutchinson in his Fine Arts Building studio in Chicago in 1916 through Margrethe Mather's connections with Margaret Anderson whose Little Review offices were in the same building as was Maurice Browne's Little Theatre. (See Warren, pp. 103-104).
Pole, co-founder of the Marlowe Dramatic Society with his close friend Rupert Brooke (see above) at Cambridge in 1907, had first arrived in Southern California from Tahiti in 1913 in search of a climate more suitable to his chronic asthmatic condition. Brooke had befriended countryman Maurice Browne and Arthur Davison Ficke along with Floyd Dell and numerous others in Browne's Little Theatre circle while in Chicago in 1914 around the time architect R. M. Schindler arrived from Vienna seeking employment with Frank Lloyd Wright. Brooke, Browne and his wife Ellen Van Volkenburg continued to develop a very close bond while traveling to England together in the spring of 1914. Pole also happened to be visiting his family at this time and he and Brooke briefly reconnected before Rupert was off to the War. Brooke died an untimely, tragic death due to disease he contracted while on his way to Gallipoli. A few years later Pole would name his son with Helen Taggart in honor of Rupert. (For much more on the ill-fated Brooke see Red Wine of Youth: The Life of Rupert Brooke by Arthur Stringer, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 1948 and Recollections of Rupert Brooke by Maurice Browne, A. Greene, 1927).
In her November 1915 issue of The Little Review (see below), Margaret Anderson published a Ficke poem eulogizing Brooke accompanying the above photo and a review of his play "Lithuania" posthumously produced by Browne at his renowned Chicago Little Theatre. (To see more on Anderson and Browne and his Chicago Little Theatre circle see my "The Schindlers and Westons and the Walt Whitman School and Connections to Sarah Bixby and Paul Jordan-Smith" (WWS) and PGS). Dell also penned a sonnet on Brooke upon learning of his death in New York. (Floyd Dell: The Life and Times of an American Rebel by Douglas Clayton, Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, 1994, p. 125).
The Little Review, November 1915. (Note articles on 1925 Kings Road lecturer and life-long friend of Pauline, Maurice Browne, "Portrait of Theodore Dreiser' by Arthur Davison Ficke, "Choleric Comments" by frequent contributor Alexander S. Kaun, later Kings Road tenant, Schindler client and portrait sitter for Weston compatriot Johan Hagemeyer, "John Cowper Powys on War" by later Paul Jordan-Smith collaborator Floyd Dell's wife Margery Currey and a review of the Maurice Browne production of "Rupert Brooke's 'Lithuania' at the Little Theatre." For much more on Browne, Kaun, Weston and the Schindlers see PGS. For much more on John Cowper Powys and Paul-Jordan-Smith in Los Angeles see "The Schindlers and the Westons and the Walt Whitman School").
Recently graduated from Smith College, Sophie Pauline Gibling had just moved to Chicago and was living at Hull-House at the time the above issue of The Little Review hit the streets. Her future husband R. M. Schindler had also just returned from a six-week tour of the Panama-Pacific and Panama-California Expositions in San Francisco and San Diego, with stopovers in Los Angeles and Taos. (For more in Schindler's tour see my "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence" and "Schindlers in Carmel, 1924"). She quickly immersed herself within the bohemian social networks of the Chicago Little Theatre and The Little Review crowd evidenced by later events in Los Angeles, some of which are discussed later below. (See also my WWS for much more on Pauline's formative years in Chicago).
The Chicago dramatic labrynth of Maurice Browne and Aline Barnsdall and the literary and dramatic circles associated with The Little Review also intermingled with the Mather-Weston-Pole circles on the West Coast as I attempt to somewhat sort out below. Having been steeped in the cauldron of the Chicago Renaissance between 1914 and 1920 it was easy for the Schindlers to thrust themselves into the radical, avant-garde and bohemian orbits of Los Angeles immediately after their arrival in December of 1920.
The Desert Inn, Palm Springs, n.d. Photographer unknown. Courtesy UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library.
While in Tahiti in 1913 awaiting a planned rendezvous with Rupert Brooke, Reginald Pole was corresponding with Robert Louis Stevenson's widow Fanny who extolled the healthful virtues of Palm Springs where she was then convalescing. More or less evicted by the Royal Family after an affair with a Tahitian princess before Brooke's arrival, Pole made his way from Tahiti to Los Angeles to Palm Springs where he connected with Fanny Stevenson at Nellie Coffman's Desert Inn and Sanitorium (see above). Thus began his lifelong love affair with the desert and association with Palm Springs. (Diaries of Anais Nin: Volume 5 (1947-1955), edited by Gunther Stuhlman, Harvest, 1974 pp. 26-7).
Cumnock School of Expression ad. Los Angeles Times, September 28, 1913, p. II-1.
Cumnock School of Expression, 1500 Figueroa St., Hunt and Eager, architects, 1902. From USC Digital Archive.
Pole had to make a living so after a period of recuperation in Palm Springs he began teaching drama and directing student plays at the Cumnock School of Expression (see above) in Los Angeles around 1914-15. Martha Graham graduated from Cumnock in 1916 and began her dance studies in earnest with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn at the Denishawn School the previous year. Graham also starred as Katherine at the late 1916 Cumnock School production of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" under Pole's direction (see below). (For more on this do a "Graham" search in my "Bertha Wardell Dances in Silence").
"Girls in Masculine Roles to Play 'Taming of the Shrew," LAH, December 8, 1916.
Not long after joining the Denishawn troupe Graham was captured in a Spanish interpretation by Denishaw Studio muralist Eduard Buk Ulreich (see below). Around the same time the eagerly ambitious Graham was cast in Gilmor Brown's first ever Pasadena Players production of "The Song of Lady Lotus Eyes." Graham was also honored with the first stage entrance in the November 20, 1917 Shakespeare Clubhouse performance which almost certainly would have had Japanophile and soon-to-be Weston-Mather intimate Ramiel McGehee in attendance. ("The Growth of a Little Theater," California Arts and Architecture, November 1937, p. 9).
Eduard Buk Ulreich painting of Martha Graham, "Art Calendar," California Arts and Architecture, March 1937, p. 6.
Helen Taggart, date and photographer unknown. From Ancestry.com.
The Shakespearean thespian Pole met his soon-to-be wife Helen Taggart (see above), daughter of a future client of Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr., aka Lloyd Wright, either at the English Tudor-style Cumnock School where she had been a student or during rehearsals for performances of the Drama League and/or the Los Angeles Civic Repertory Company. Taggart's first publicized appearance was for her part in "The Patriots" by Florence Haines-Reed staged May 1, 1915 by the CRC at the Gamut Club (see below). ("Patriotism or Murder; Gamut Club Audience Applauds Strong Playlet by Local Woman Attacking the Theory of War," Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1915, p. II-2).
Gamut Club, 1044 S. Hope St. (former home of the Dobinson School of Expression and Dramatic Art) 1903, Abram M. Edelman, architect. Photo taken in 1926 courtesy of LA Public Library Photo Collection.
In his review of the CRC Gamut Club productions in the California Outlook, then head of the USC School of Journalism Bruce Bliven wrote,
"If the company can continue to choose, mount and cast its plays as well as it did in these performances, its success is assured; not in a long time has anything been done, by amateurs or professionals, in this city which has been so artistically satisfying." (Bliven, Bruce, "Good Plays by Good Amateurs," California Outlook, May 22, 1915, pp. 9-10).
A week after Taggart's Gamut Club appearance the Cumnock School staged a Vaudeville show and the Times review listed performances by her and the multi-talented Martha Graham (see below) who would also begin begin studying with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn before graduating from Cumnock the following year. ("Comedy Their Specialty; Dramatic Students Stage a Vaudeville Show," Los Angeles Times, May 8, 1915, p. II-3. For much more on Graham see my "Schindlers-Westons-Kashevaroff-Cage").
"Dances to Feature May Day Fete in L.A.," LAH, April 27, 1915, p. 1
Martha Graham in her Denishawn debut as Priestess of Isis in A Dance Pageant of Greece, Egypt and India, 1915. From Martha Graham: A Dancer’s Life by Russell Freedman, Clarion Books, 1998, p. 30.
Original Al Malaikah Temple aka. Shrine Auditorium, 1907-1920, corrner of Royal St. and Jefferson Blvd., Jefferson Blvd. entrance, ca. 1915. Photographer unknown. Courtesy USC Digital Photo Collection.
Shortly after enrolling with Denishawn, Graham was drafted along with 100 other classmates to perform with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn (see below) in an ancient civilization-themed extravaganza at the Shrine Auditorium (see above) a week after the release of "Intolerance" and a month before rehearsals began for the inaugural performance of Aline Barnsdall's Los Angeles Little Theatre discussed later below. St. Denis was featured in the roles of Queen of Ethiopia, God Isis, Persephone and Parvati. Thus it is possible that Graham could have also danced with the St. Denis troupe in the Babylonian sequence of "Intolerance" filmed just a month or two earlier, or at least witnessed or was inspired by the company being filmed. ("Dancing Pageant to Depict Egypt; Ancient Civilizattion As Spectacle's Theme," Los Angeles Times, September 14, 1916, p. II-2). (Author's note: Graham refused to pose for Weston while his friend and patron Merle Armitage was preparing a book in her honor during 1935-6. Weston's biographer Ben Maddow speculated that she may have been afraid that Weston would want to photograph her nude. Edward Weston: His Life, p. 210).
Ted Shawn Christmas card, 1915. Photograph by Edward Weston, 1915. Courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
"Eagle Rock Is To Stage Shakespeare," LAH, July 7, 1915, p. 4.
Two months later in another CRC production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" directed by Pole in Eagle Rock Park, Taggart played Hermia (see above) and Pole, besides directing, ironically played Demetrius presaging his soon-to-be marriage to Helen. This major outdoor spectacle staged for an evening audience of 10,000 in the natural amphitheater at the base of Eagle Rock also featured Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn's fairy ballet (including Martha Graham) and a giant orchestra. ("Enchantment Holds Sway: "Midsummer Dream" in Garden of Sycamores," Los Angeles Times, July 10, 1915, p. II-6 and "Midsummer Night's Dream at Eagle Rock, Santa Monica Bay Outlook, June 30 1915, p. 7. For much more on St. Denis, Shawn and Graham see my "Bertha Wardell Dances in Silence").
"Wins L.A. Society Girl in Dash Half Way Across the U.S.," LAH, September, 27, 1916, p. 1.
The marriage of Pole and Taggart took place in Chicago the following summer. The fascinating love story of the handsome couple was featured above-the-fold on the front page of the Herald (see above). Helen and her mother Martha had gone to Chicago for a lengthy visit with relatives.
"Mr. Pole, learning that she expected to remain some time, started at once for Chicago, telegraphing her en route that he would join her in Chicago and urging an immediate marriage. She received his telegram on September 10, wired her consent and the two were married at St. Paul’s church at noon on September 12. Their marriage was followed by a smart wedding breakfast at the South Side Country Club and a honeymoon first to the woods on Lake Michigan and later with a camping trip at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
The marriage was the result of a romance which began in Los Angeles two years ago when Mr. Pole staged an amateur production of "Midsummer Night’s Dream,” In which Miss Taggart, prominent in amateur theatrical circles, played a part. Under his direction Mrs. Pole will continue her dramatic work now. The young couple are at home to their friends at 2310 Scharff Street, where they will make their permanent residence." (Ibid).
Greek Theater, Pomona College, Claremont, ca. 1922. Myron Hunt, architect, 1914. Photographer unknown. From the Pomona Library Digital Images Collection.
In 1916 Pole landed the position of Pomona College drama director and produced student performances of Shakespeare and Greek drama in the campus's recently completed Greek Theater (see above). (Ford, Sydney, "Opening of Pomona College," The Pacific, Oct 5, 1916, p. 6). The venue was a perfect fit for the Elizabethan-trained Pole whose uncle William Poel (see below) founded London's Elizabethan Stage Society which held performances free of scenery and modern staging to simulate the theatrical conditions under which Shakespeare's plays were originally performed.
William Poel as Adonai (God) in an Elizabethan Stage Society production of Everyman, 1901. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum.
In late 1916, uncle William visited Reginald in Los Angeles, who was by then living with Helen, and was feted along with Aline Barnsdall's Los Angeles Little Theatre director Richard Ordynski by the Drama League. Both Poel and Ordynski were questioned during interviews what they thought of Griffith's "Intolerance" and both deferred to Griffith. ("Two are Honored by the Drama League," Los Angeles Times, November 12, 1916, p. II-1 and "This Is Day for American Drama; Noted British Critic Here With Comment," Los Angeles Times, November 6, 1916, p. II-5).
During 1916, the seemingly indefatigable Pole divided his time between Pomona College, Cumnock School and other various troupes and productions in and around Los Angeles. This year also marked the tricentennial of William Shakespeare's death which was honored by Griffith's earlier-mentioned production of "Macbeth" featuring Zacsek as Lady Agnes. During April and May there were numerous Shakespearean productions in the Los Angeles area. For example Reginald Pole starred in a scene from "Twelfth Night" staged by the Galpin Shakespeare Club at their Cumnock School headquarters and again played the king in act five from "Richard the Second" at the Hollywood Woman's Club (see below). ("In Remembrance of the Great English Bard," Los Angeles Times, April 16, 1916, p. II-13).
Woman's Club of Hollywood, 7078 Hollywood Blvd. between Sycamore Ave. and La Brea Ave. From "Woman's Club of Hollywood," Holly Leaves, July 1, 1922, p. 18. Photo by Viroque Baker, Schindler friend and soon-to-be photographer and client. (See "The Schindlers and the Hollywood Art Association").
Inspired by the work of Maurice Browne and Ellen Van Volkenburg at their Chicago Little Theatre, wealthy oil heiress Aline Barnsdall in 1915 begun discussing with Frank Lloyd Wright plans for a new, larger Chicago theater envisioned to be under their directorship. After summering in California and visiting the state's Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco Barnsdall's plans changed. She moved to San Francisco in 1916 and at first decided to open her theater there while Browne and Van Volkenburg opted to stay in Chicago. (For much more on Browne and Van Volkenburg see my "Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent for Modernism" and "Schindlers-Westons-Kashevaroff-Cage").
Coincidentally, Frank Lloyd Wright had also visited the Panama-California Exposition and its prominently displayed models and photos of Uxmal and Chichen Itza (see below) through he which he was imbued with Mayan inspiration for the later design of Barnsdall's Olive Hill complex. (See for example Frank Lloyd Wright: The Lost Years, 1910-1922 by Anthony Alofsin, University of Chicago Press, 1993, p.225 and Frank Lloyd Wright: A Life by Ada Louise Huxtable, Penguin, 2004, p. 157. For much more on Wright's time in San Diego at the Exposition see my "Irving Gill, Homer Laughlin and the Beginnings of Modern Architecture in Los Angeles, Part II, 1911-1916").
Carlos Vierra, fresco of Chichen Itza, Panama-California Exposition, 1915. From Alofsin, p. 228. Originally in Art and Archaeology 2, 1915.
Hollyhock House, perspective view, Los Angeles, 1917-20. Alofsin, p. 236.
Model, "The Palace," Uxmal, Panama-California Exposition, 1915. From Alofsin, p. 229. Originally in Art and Archaeology 2, 1915.
Mary Austin, front center, rehearsing the cast of "Fire" for a 1913 performance at Carmel's Forest Theatre. Herbert Heron played the lead role of Evind, the fire bringer. George Sterling as Atla the hunter, upper right. From Old Carmel in Rare Photographs by L. S. Levin produced by Sharon Lawrence with Kathryn Prine, Carmel, 1995, p. 29.
While in San Francisco, Barnsdall wrote to erstwhile Carmel playwright and author Mary Austin about the possibilities of opening an outdoor theater there, likely having heard of her earlier exploits at the seaside village's Forest Theater (see above for example). (For much more on Austin, Maurice Browne and the Forest Theater see my Schindlers-Westons-Kashevaroff-Cage (hereinafter SWKC), "The Schindlers in Carmel, 1924" and PGS).
Encouraged by what she heard Barnsdall visited Carmel in May and met with Forest Theater director Herbert Heron (see below). She soon responded to Austin that she needed a larger city for her vision to succeed. (Barnsdall Letters to Mary Hunter Austin, Mary Hunter Austin Collection, Huntington Library, cited in Friedman, pp. 34-37). Barnsdall did, however, entice Heron to sign an eight-month, $50.00 per week contract to join her growing troupe upon the completion of his Forest Theatre summer season. (Letter from Herbert Heron to Will , Heron Papers, Harrison Memorial Library, Carmel).
Herbert Heron, director, Forest Theatre, Carmel. Courtesy Carmel Harrison Memorial Library.
Program for "Julius Caesar" courtesy of the Hollywood Bowl Museum.
Barnsdall was likely lured south to Los Angeles by the obvious opportunities presented by the burgeoning Hollywood scene evidenced by the May 19, 1916 extravaganza "Julius Caesar" celebrating the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The production starred the likes of Douglas Fairbanks and Tyrone Power and was staged in the 40-acre natural outdoor amphitheater in Beachwood Canyon. An audience of over 40,000 witnessed the one-night-only performance which included 5,000 performers and dancers and hundreds of students from nearby Hollywood and Fairfax High Schools. Tyrone Power starred as Marcus Brutus and Douglas Fairbanks as Young Cato. Other stars included William Farnum as Cassius, DeWolf Hopper as Casca and Mae Murray. The Battle of Philippi was re-created on a monumental stage constructed on the future site of Beachwood Village (see below).
"Julius Caesar" set on the site of what would become Beachwood Village. Courtesy of Library of Congress. (See also the excellent When Shakespeare Came to Beachwood Canyon: “Julius Caesar,” 1916).
"Los Angeles to Outdo World in Tribute to Bard of Avon," Los Angeles Times, April 16, 1916, p. II-1.
Egan School of Music and Drama and Little Theatre, 1324 S. Figueroa St., 1914. Morgan, Walls and Morgan, architects. From Year Book, Los Angeles Architectural Club, Fourth Exhibition, Under the Auspices of the Architectural League of the Pacific Coast, 1913.
Through her Players Producing Company Barnsdall took out a six-month lease on Frank Egan's earlier-mentioned Little Theatre (see above) and renamed it the Los Angeles Little Theatre and engaged Norman-Bel Geddes to design the sets and signed Richard Ordynski to a ten-week contract to direct the plays. (Miracle in the Evening by Norman Bel Geddes, Doubleday, New York, 1960, pp. 152-170 and Frank Lloyd Wright: Hollyhock House and Olive Hill by Kathryn Smith, Rizzoli, 1992, pp. 15-37).
Players Producing Co. 1916-17 Season program designed by Norman Bel-Geddes.
Also moving to Los Angeles to take part were some Ordynski recruits from New York including Irving Pichel and Gareth Hughes, and some alumni from Maurice Browne's Little Theatre in Chicago including Elaine Hyman, later stage name Kirah Markham, a former lover of Floyd Dell and Theodore Dreiser. Frayne Williams (see below), an old friend of Charlie Chaplin's from their Vaudeville days in England, also accompanied Ordynski to Los Angeles and soon hooked up with the Mather-Weston circle and reconnected with Chaplin. (Warren, p. 121).
Frayne Williams as Hamlet, 1918. Margrethe Mather photo. From Margrethe Mather & Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration by Beth Gates Warren, Norton, 2001, p. 49.
Kirah Markham in "Nju." "Little Theater Opening Is To Be Feature of Week," Los Angeles Times, October 29, 1916, p. III-1.
A May 1917 article in The Little Theatre Magazine summed up Barnsdall's 10-week, seven-play season and outlined the roles played by Ordynski, Geddes, Kirah Markham, Frayne Williams, Herbert Heron, Irving Pichel and many others. Frayne Williams directed and played the lead role in "A Farewell Supper" by Arthur Schnitzler. Besides starring in Barnsdall's opening production of Ossip Dymow's "Nju" alongside Anna Andrews (see below), Markham had the lead role in Chicago playwright Oren Taft's "Conscience" which Barnsdall had staged the previous year in the Fine Arts Theater in Chicago also starring Markham, and the world premiere of D. H. Lawrence's "The Widowing of Mrs. Holyroyd," both under Pichel's direction. Former Carmel luminary George Sterling's translation of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's version of "Everyman," in collaboration with Ordynski, was the grand finale of Barnsdall's season. (Dare, Ann, "The Little Theatre of Los Angeles, The Little Theatre Magazine, May 1917, p. 5. The Oilman's Daughte: A Biography of Aline Barnsdall by Norman M. and Dorothy K. Karasick, Carleston Publishing, 1993, pp. 50-53, and Warren, p. 121). (Author's note: For much more on D. H. Lawrence see my "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence").
Nju, (Miss Anna Andrews) by Max Wieczorek, 1917. From Max Wieczorek: His Life and Work by Everett Carroll Maxwell, Los Angeles, 1930, p. 65.
Aline and Louise Aline "Sugartop" aka Betty Barnsdall ca. 1917. From Park2Park.
Barnsdall and the bisexual Ordynski had a brief, turbulent affair in November 1916 which resulted in Aline becoming pregnant. The couple had a falling out after Aline's condition became known prompting Ordynski to resign from the company after only two plays and apparently begin a relationship with George Hopkins. Barnsdall carried on with substitute directors Frayne Williams, Herbert Heron, and Irving Pichel who ably filled in for Ordynski for the season's remaining four plays including Schnitztler's "Anatol" in which Williams played the leading role (see below).
Frayne Williams as Anatole, ca. 1920. Photo by Margrethe Mather. From Warren, p. 200. Courtesy J. Paul Getty Museum, 86.XM.721.3.
Trinity Auditorium, 855 S. Grand Ave. ca. 1920. Thornton Fitzhugh, Frank G. Krucker and Harry C. Deckbar, architects, 1914. LAPL.
Likely after learning of Hopkins' considerable costume and set designing skills, Ordynski came up with the idea to produce a modern day version of "Everyman" imitating his former colleague Max Reinhardt's earlier Berlin productions. (Kingsley, Grace, "'Everyman' To Be Presented in Up-To-Date Version," Los Angeles Times, December 21, 1916, p. II-6). He also likely discussed his plans with Reginald Pole's uncle William Poel during their mid-November reunion mentioned earlier above. Despite their acrimonious breakup, Ordynski was able to convince Barnsdall to finance his grandiloquent production and stage it at the 3,000 seat Trinity Auditorium (see above). After committing to finance Ordynski's production Barnsdall was quoted, "Whatever is worth doing along this line is worth doing well. No expense should be spared to make the play as perfect as possible." ("More Big Things May Follow," Los Angeles Times, December 24, 1916, p. III-17).
George Hopkins, 1915. (see Warren, p. 79). Photo by Edward Weston. Johan Hagemeyer Collection. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.
The well-reviewed Barnsdall-Ordynski "Everyman" production starred a late recruit from New York, Gareth Hughes as Everyman, Kirah Markham as Everyman's mother, Irving Pichel, and Frayne Williams. George Hopkins (see above) received much praise for his stage sets and costumes (see below). ("Ordynski "Everyman" Production at Trinity Promises to Unveil New Vista in Esthetics of the Stage - Brilliant is the Conception of Play," Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1916, p. III-11).
"Modern In Its Art; Ordynski Everyman Production at Trinity Promises to Unveil New Vista in Esthetics of the Stage - Brilliant is the Conception of the Play," Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1916, p. III-11.
The production was undoubtedly followed with great interest by Reginald Pole. Weston photographed Hopkins the year before and was also hired by him to photograph his creations modeled by dancers Maud Allan and Violet Romer (see below) as well as Yvonne Sinnard, Katharane Edson, and Margaret Loomis, then dance students of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. (For much more on Ordynski, Barnsdall and the Schindlers see my "Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent for Modernism" (PGS)).
Violet Romer (as a Peacock by a Pool), ca. 1916. Photography by Edward Weston at the Anita Baldwin McClaughrey estate "Anoakia. Costume likely by George Hopkins. From Warren, p. 80. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, 000.111.505.
Anita Baldwin McClaughrey estate "Anoakia," Arcadia, Arthur B. Benton, architect, 1913. Photo dated July 25, 1915 from the LA Public Library Photo Collection. (Author's note: McClaughrey commissioned later Weston-Schindler compatriot Dorothea Lange's husband Maynard Dixon to decorate her "Indian Room" with a continuous frieze depicting scenes from the northern plains. "Unique Among Homes of America's Rich," Los Angeles Times, September 21, 1913, p. II-7. Dixon attributed this commission as a major turning point in his career. Architect Benton also designed Sarah Bixby Smith's "Erewhon" and the Friday Morning Club).
Knowing of his father's work for Barnsdall, especially for her theater, Lloyd Wright followed the progress of her Little Theatre productions, especially since he was also at the time designing sets for Cecil B. DeMille's and Frank A. Garbutt's Paramount Pictures. This most likely brought him into contact with Barnsdall's set designers Geddes and Hopkins. (Gebhard, p. 22. For more on Lloyd Wright's introduction to Garbutt and De Mille see my "Irving Gill, Homer Laughlin and the Beginnings of Los Angeles Modern Architecture, Part II, 1911-1916" hereinafter "Gill-Laughlin)).
Lloyd kept his father up to date on Barnsdall's activities by letter. He also soon became starstruck by the captivating Kirah Markham whom he may have met during his brief return to Chicago in late 1913 and early 1914 implied in the below October letter. ("Gill-Laughlin: Part II")
I am enclosing a photograph of one of my gardens. Nothing remarkable about it but it is the first one I have yet had taken and thought you might be interested. The spot was a rocky slope 18 months ago. But really what I have written you for was to tell you that I am to marry Kira, Kira Markham, Elaine Hieman [sic] you know, the 8th of this month or thereabouts. What do you think of it I should much like to know. I am doing the rash thing of course and dead broke at this moment and living on nerve. But that seems to be the scheme as it works out. Write me before the eighth. I should like to hear from you.
Son Lloyd" (LW to FLW,. n.d. ca. October 1916. Frank Lloyd Wright Letters, Getty Research Institute).
After an extremely brief courtship the couple were married on November 18th. The ceremony was witnessed by Mott Montgomery, a mutual architect friend of Lloyd and Barry Byrne whom they met in 1913. (Gill-Laughlin, Part II)). The ambitious Markham was likely attracted to the connections Lloyd was privy to at Paramount and also later claimed she was seduced by the fame and architecture of his larger-than-life father. (Theodore Dreiser: Letters to Women; New Letters, Volume II edited by Thomas P. Riggio, University of Illinois Press, 2009, p. 119, note 2). Around the time Markham began rehearsals for "Everyman" she was already reporting back to Dreiser on the difficulties with her marriage. (Dreiser letter to Markham, December 14, 1916, Riggio "Letters," pp. 118-19.
Kirah Markham, from the W. A. Swanberg Papers, Penn Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Clarence McGehee portrait with announcement of upcoming Cherry Blossom Players productions, Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1916, p. II-10.
"Cherry Blossom Players to Give Performances Soon," Los Angeles Times, January 14, 1917, p. III-19.
McGehee's contagious enthusiasm for the Cherry Blossom Players likely helped him convince impresario Behymer that being able to advertise set designs by the son of the noted architect and fellow Japanophile Frank Lloyd Wright would help in attracting a wider audience to their Japanese troupe's performances at the Alexandria Hotel (see below) in January 1917. Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. (aka Lloyd Wright) was by this time designing stage sets for Paramount Pictures through the largess of architect William J. Dodd's connections with Cecil B. De Mille and Frank Garbutt. (Gill-Laughlin, Part II)). Lloyd and McGehee had likely crossed paths at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design's Palette Club meetings where Wright lectured on landscape architecture in April 1915 and McGehee on Japanese prints, dance and folklore in February 1916. (For much more on McGehee and Ruth St. Denis and Lloyd Wright see my "Bertha Wardell: Dances in Silence: Kings Road, Olive Hill and Carmel").
Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring St.,ca. 1920s. John Parkinson, architect, 1906, 1911 addition. From Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
Chicago Examiner, May 17, 1911, p. 9.
The precocious Markham, then Elaine Hyman, studied drama at the Art Institute of Chicago ca. 1911-12 where she staged a play she had written, "The Master Painter." ("Girl Art Students Show Dramatic Genius; Life Class Stages Tragesy and 'Thriller'," Chicago Examiner, May 17, 1911, p. 9). She soon appeared as Andromache (see below) in Maurice Browne's first staging of Euripedes' "The Trojan Women" at his Chicago Little Theatre in 1913 where she likely first drew Aline Barnsdall's attention. It was also during this performance that Floyd Dell, then married to suffragist Margery Currey, became entranced with her and began an affair. Then in Chicago working on The Titan, the legendarily lecherous Theodore Dreiser who had accompanied Dell to the opening of "The Trojan Women," was also mesmerized by Markham and was able to lure her affections away from Dell. Dreiser left for New York a few months later and was soon joined by Markham on occasion as her Little Theatre touring schedule permitted. (Author's note: It was during this time that Paul Jordan-Smith, then in graduate school at the University of Chicago, became intertwined in the bohemian circles of Maurice Browne, Floyd Dell, John Cowper Powys and Arthur Davison Ficke thus he likely knew Markham as well. For more on this see my "WWS").
Kirah Markham as Andromache in Euripedes' "The Trojan Women," at Maurice Browne's Chicago Little Theatre, 1913. (Riggio, "Letters," p. 81).
Theodore Dreiser in his Greenwich Village apartment at 165 W. 10th St. in the late 1910s. In Chicago Dell wrote influential reviews commending Dreiser's early novels. Dreiser later praised Dell's first novel, Moon-Calf. From Floyd Dell: The Life of an American Rebel by Douglas Clayton, Ivan R. Dee, 1994, p. 144. Courtesy Theodore Dreiser Papers, Penn Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Kirah Markham ca. 1912. Photo by Jessee Tarbox Beals. From Archives of American Art.
Despite being utterly dismayed by being jilted by Markham and having by then left his wife Margery Currey, Dell visited Markham and Dreiser later that summer and became reconciled to the fact that she preferred the older, wiser, more established man. After also visiting Provincetown and finding the bohemian lifestyle much to his liking, Dell too decided to move to New York. The next year Markham moved in with Dreiser in Greenwich Village on a more or less permanent basis. She would soon be performing in plays written by Dell at Greenwich Village's Liberal Club and the Provincetown Players in Cape Cod and later at their New York Playhouse until leaving Dreiser in the summer of 1916 to join Barnsdall's Little Theatre troupe in Los Angeles.
Lloyd Wright, ca. 1920. From "The Blessing and the Curse" by Thomas S. Hines in Lloyd Wright: The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. edited by Alan Weintraub, Abrams, 1998, p. 14.
In an undated letter ca. 1916 Lloyd Wright reached out to his father with an invitation to visit him,
"...so that I might show you what I am doing and so that we might have an outing together. I am now in shape to entertain rather than be entertained as previously. Have just become a member of the Sierra Madre Club (see below) and am slowly establishing myself in the life of this city. Have just written a little one-act sketch called 'Manikin' ... with an opportunity for good dancing, music, and stage sets. My real work is progressing to a point where worry is finding little chance to play its part. ... Pretty good considering that I started here without capital, name, or a very wide experience." (LW to FLW, n.d.. Frank Lloyd Wright Correspondence, Getty Research Institute. Also cited in Hines, p. 15. See also "Gill-Laughlin: Part II").
"Sierra Madre Club, New Quarters," Los Angeles Mining Review, March 8, 1913, p. 1. Los Angeles Investment Company Building, Eight St. and Broadway, Austin and Pennell, architects.
Lloyd's mention of his "Manikin" sketch possibly places him within the Mather-Weston circle as early as this period as Alfred Kreymborg, whose play "Manikin and Minikin" was staged at the Hollywood Community Theatre in February of 1918 starring Lloyd's and Reginald Pole's lifelong friend Lawrence Tibbett and Carlotta Rydman. On the same bill Tibbett (see below) also played the lead role in Earnest Dowson's "Pierrot of the Minute." (Warnack, Henry Christeen, "Players Popular," Los Angeles Times, February 22, 1918, p. II-3).
Lawrence Tibbett (Mercutio) as he appeared in the 1914 program for Maunual Art High School's production of Romeo and Juliette. Photographer unknown. (Dear Rogue: A Biography of the American Baritone Lawrence Tibbett by Hertzel Weinstat and Bert Wechsler, Amadeus Press, Portland, OR 1916, p. 144).
Tibbett's close friend Arthur Millier, later to become an etcher of note and in 1926, the art critic for the Los Angeles Times, was also a habitue of the Pole-Lloyd Wright circle. Millier played the role of Jacques in the 1911 Los Angeles High School dramatic class production of Shakespeare's "As You Like It." ("In the Public Schools," Los Angeles Times, January 15, 1911, p. II-7). This presaged Millier's gravitational attraction into the orbit of Shakespearean director Pole evidenced by him and Pole serving as witnesses at the May 19, 1919 marriage of Tibbett to his first wife Grace. (Dear Rogue: A Biography of the American Baritone Lawrence Tibbett by Hertzel Weinstat and Bert Wechsler, Amadeus Press, Portland, OR 1916, pp. 37-38).
Kreymborg first visited Los Angeles in the summer of 1917 to read his poetry at the Friday Morning Club and promote his latest literary journal Others. (Troubadour: An Autobiography by Alfred Kreymborg, New York, 1925). During the trip he also visited Mather's studio, likely at the suggestion of friend and former Little Review employee and contributor William Saphier. Saphier had a brief fling with, and had his portrait taken by Mather who also exhibited same a few months later. (Anderson, Antony, "Of Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1917. Also see Warren, p. 118. For much more on Kreymborg and Saphier see my "Bertha Wardell: Dances in Silence").
Gaining ever more confidence with his Los Angeles surroundings and expanding dramatic circle Lloyd proposed to his father that they form a partnership and enjoy the finer things that the burgeoning city had to offer.
"I often wish that you might be able to free yourself from the various loads you seem to enjoy piling upon your back and that we two could enter the field together as father and son. I believe we could make them all sit up and enjoy us, and we'd have a glorious time doing it. Architecture, landscape architecture, the theater, and music with the various luxuries and interesting diversions that attach thereto. And do it in a gloriously fine way too. If I only had your sincere support in the matter, I could rip the very devil out of his hole." (LW to FLW, Frank Lloyd Wright Correspondence, Getty Research Institute. Also cited in Hines, p. 15. See also("Gill-Laughlin: Part II").
Although the two Wrights never established a permanent partnership, they would work together on a rather large number of projects between 1922 and 1924, some also with Schindler's minor involvement. Lloyd and RMS gradually developed remarkable, totally independent (from FLW) careers after Wright returned to Taliesin in early 1924.
In a letter sometime after his father sailed for Japan with Miriam Noel to begin work on the Imperial Hotel on December 28, 1916 shortly after his impulsive November wedding, Lloyd (see above) presciently described his new bride as,
"... an independent. In spite of it, however, a wife. We have taken an old shack (see below) in an acre of acacia and [are] decorating the house on next to nothing. Kira is restless, ambitious and forceful, a good thing for us both. She is, however, prone to, or rather impressed by, the fact that the successful stage careers of today (the majority of them) are made by the 'successees' selling their bodies and their souls to the 'successors.' Perhaps she will get over it. I hope so." (LW to FLW, n.d. Hines, p. 15).
During her time as part of Aline Barnsdall's Los Angeles Little Theatre troupe Markham was living at 1628 Argyle Ave. right around the corner from Hollywood and Vine. The 1917 Directory listed Lloyd (and Markham) living at 1639 [sic-1936] Pinehurst Rd. in Hollywood (see above) from where
Kirah shared her opinion of Barnsdall with her new father-in-law,
"[She] really has no actual conception of what she wants to do with a theatre at all. She has vague illuminated moments, but the flashes that come in are eternally slipping away on close contact she puts in power to execute them....And she wants so much to go on. Yet I scarcely believe I could endure the strain of a second season with her." (Kirah Markham, 1936 Pinehurst Rd., Hollywood to FLW, Taliesin, February 7, 1917, FLW Archives, Taliesin West cited in Frank Lloyd Wright: Hollyhock House and Olive Hill by Kathryn Smith, Rizzoli, 1992, pp. 22-3).
Kirah also reported her impressions of the elder Wright in one of her frequent letters to Dreiser. Dreiser responded,
"Dearest Cryhon: It was fine to get your letter, which just came here - along with one from Maurice Browne. I'm up here working in the woods and had not intended to return to New york before Aug. 1, but I may get there earlier. Of course I'll see you. Did you get my letter about my conversation with Browne - a month or so ago. He wanted you to come back to him. Said he would pay as much as the Washington Square Players & would feature you. If you haven't seen him do. What a picture you paint of your father-in-law. I should like to meet him sometime..." (Letter from Dreiser to Markham, July 3, 1917, Riggio "Letters," pp. 127-8).
Possibly on Dreiser's advice Kirah and Lloyd moved back to Chicago in late summer or fall of 1917. Through his father's largess Lloyd designed a landscape for the Mrs. S. M. B. Hunt House in Oshkosh, Wisconsin while Kirah was reconnecting with Browne and Van Volkenburg about the time their Chicago Little Theatre in the Fine Arts Building was folding up its tent for good.
Markham eagerly wanted to return to Greenwich Village to be among her transplanted Chicago friends and have a better chance for work. As his young practice had yet to gather steam and still wishing to make the marriage work, Lloyd agreed to accompany her. They were in New York by December per Dreiser's diary. Once back in New York Kirah happily reconnected with Dell and Dreiser and the Washington Square Players, Provincetown Players and Playhouse crowds while Lloyd worked a series of day jobs including Standard Aircraft, Curtis Aircraft and the architectural firm of Rouse and Goldberg. (Lloyd Wright, Architect: 20th Century Architecture in an Organic Exhibition edited by David Gebhard and Harriette Von Breton, Art Galleries, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1971, pp. 22-23).
In his spare time Lloyd designed stage sets for at least one of the Provincetown Players' productions, "The String of the Samisen" (see playbill below).
"The Provincetown Players Fifth Season 1918-1919," p. 3. From The Provincetown Players and the Playwright's Theatre, 1915-1922 by Edna Kenton, McFarland, 2004, p. 92. Courtesy Scheaffer-O'Neill Collection at Connecticut College.
Dreiser wrote of his first get together with Markham after her return,
"Kirah calls up. Is at 7 Fifth Avenue. Wants me to come over. Go. She is downstairs when I get there. Haven't seen her in over a year, when we lived together. Cries and hugs me. Tells me of her life in Los Angeles as star of Little Theatre. The attitude of [Richard] Ordynski the director toward her. Played two leading roles. Didn't like her because she wasn't his style of beauty. Now is Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. Character of her father-in-law, the architect. His opposition to her because he thought she wanted to return to me. Her father also in opposition-same reason. Wright's great estate in Wisconsin. His mistress. Housekeeper steals letters and publishes them. He takes his discarded mistress back. Kirah wants me to meet her occasionally when she is with her husband and pretend not to have seen her before. I leave, agreeing to meet her somewhere soon." (Riggio, "Diaries," pp. 170-1).
Markham remained in periodic contact with Dreiser but always without Lloyd. Oddly, she seemed uncomfortable introducing him to her former lover. They apparently did not socialize together as Dreiser's December 6, 1917 diary entry mentioned awkwardly encountering Markham and Wright in a cafe and saying of him "He looks very interesting." (Riggio "Diaries," p. 230. Author's note: Dreiser would finally meet Wright at his Taggart House in the summer of 1922 as discussed later herein.).
As Dreiser's frequent 1917-18 correspondence with Markham and diary entries indicate, the Wright-Markham marriage was indeed turbulent and fraught with separations brought on by Kirah's growing boredom with Lloyd and lack of work. (Riggio, "Letters," and Theodore Dreiser: American Diaries, 1902-1926 edited by Thomas P. Riggio, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982). Kirah and Lloyd did however visit the elder Wright at Taliesin for six weeks in the late spring of 1918 after his recent return from Tokyo where he had begun work on the Imperial Hotel project. (Hines p. 16)
From left, William E. Smith, R. M. Schindler, Arato Endo, Goichi Fujikura, and Julius Floto, consulting engineer on the Imperial Hotel, at Taliesin, spring 1918. From Frank Lloyd Wright: Hollyhock House and Olive Hill by Kathryn Smith, Rizzoli, 1992, p. 20.
Meanwhile, trying to find work with Lloyd's father while working for Ottenheimer, Stern and Reichert since his 1914 arrival in Chicago from Vienna, R. M. Schindler was finally able to move into Taliesin (see above) in February 1918 and immediately began working on the Imperial Hotel and Barnsdall theater and residence projects. Schindler most certainly met Lloyd during his and Kirah's lengthy spring 1918 Taliesin stopover before they returned to New York where they hoped to save their shaky marriage and establish careers.
After FLW sailed for Japan that fall, Schindler and Will Smith moved into Wright's Oak Park Studio. Soon afterwards, Schindler met Sophie Pauline Gibling (see below) and married her the following summer. Coincidentally and unbeknownst to Lloyd, by helping his father put together his famous Wasmuth Portfolio in Italy in 1909-10 (see below) which was published in Germany the following year, he played a small part in attracting R. M. Schindler (and later Richard Neutra) to America to work for their mutual idol. (For more on this see my "Chats").
Lloyd Wright photo of Taylor Woolley at Villino Belvedere, Fiesole, Italy, 1910 where Lloyd was assisting his father on the drawings for the Wasmuth Portfolio. From Frank Lloyd Wright: The Lost Years, 1910-1922, University of Chicago Press, 1993, p. 50.
Pauline Schindler ca. 1919. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Pauline Schindler at Taliesin, 1920. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
"Olive Hill as Art-Theater Garden," Los Angeles Examiner, July 6, 1919, p 5.
Homesick for California and with his marriage failing, Lloyd returned to Los Angeles, filed for divorce and became his father's construction supervisor for Barnsdall's compound (see drawing above) on her recently-purchased 36-acre Olive Hill site on the eastern edge of Hollywood. (Lawrence, Frieda, "Eminence to Become Rare Beauty Spot, Los Angeles Examiner, July 6, 1919, p 5).
On his way to Tokyo in December 1919 FLW turned over the Olive Hill reins to Lloyd. An eager Schindler had written Wright on numerous occasions in early 1920 that he was more than ready to come to Los Angeles to work on the Barnsdall projects as well. FLW replied in a February 1920 letter that,
"I am provoked with Lloyd for wool-gathering again and leaving me entirely in the dark about everything. I am quite tired of maintaining a service that doesn't enlighten me when I am unable to enlighten myself regarding my own affairs. I still look toward Los Angeles as a place in which I might turn your services to good account, but I know nothing, absolutely nothing of what is going on there. And therefore the matter is in abeyance at least until I can get on the ground myself and make up my mind on what to do." (FLW, Tokyo to RMS, Oak Park, February 9, 1920, Getty Research Institute).
Model for Barnsdall Theater, Olive Hill, 1917-1920, unbuilt. From Alofsin, p. 244.
Barnsdall's ongoing and ever angrier complaints to the senior Wright in Tokyo regarding Lloyd's construction management difficulties on her project (see below) became too much for Frank to bear so in late 1920 he finally directed the ecstatic Schindler to move from Taliesin to Los Angeles to tactfully head up the project and try his best to mend fences with Barnsdall.
"New Residence Tract Opening," Los Angeles Times, March 13, 1921, p. 4. Courtesy R. M. Schindler Papers, Architecture and Design Collections, UC-Santa Barbara Art, Architecture and Design Museum.
In hindsight, Wright mistakenly insisted that Schindler stay on far too long at Oak Park improving his compound into rentable units and finding tenants for same. He also likely wanted a presence at both Taliesin (Will Smith) and Oak Park in case additional work happened to materialize. It is my contention that if Wright had entrusted the Oak Park situation to Will Smith and brought Schindler out to Los Angeles much earlier, the Olive Hill work would not have gotten so out of control in regards to the hungry contractors feeding at the wealthy Barnsdall's inheritance trough. (Frank Lloyd Wright Correspondence With R. M. Schindler, 1914-1922, Box 1, Folder 16).
Homer Laughlin Building, far right, 317 S. Broadway, John Parkinson, architect, 1897. Photo circa 1915 just prior to the opening of the Grand Central Market on the ground floor where RMS and LW would likely have often lunched. From Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
Schindler's and Lloyd Wright's business office while working on Olive Hill was in the Homer Laughlin Building (see right above) at 317 S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. (For much on the important patronage of Homer Laughlin, Jr. for Irving Gill, Harrison Albright and Lloyd Wright see my "Gill-Laughlin: Part II"). By the time they were working in the building the Grand Central Market had opened on the ground floor providing them quick and easy access for midday sustenance. Pauline Schindler wrote of the cramped office conditions,
"At present RMS and Lloyd Wright (who is at least six feet tall), two draftsmen and an office boy are all crowded into two small office rooms, which are otherwise already overflowing with huge drafting tables and desks and on TOP of them, various stenographers coming in to bring rush copy of contracts, while burly contractors stand about looking crafty and expensive." (Cited in Communities of Frank Lloyd Wright: Taliesin and Beyond by Myron A. Marty, Northern Illinois University Press, 2009, p. 71).
Letter envelope from Richard Neutra to R. M. Schindler, Taliesin to Laughlin Building, postmarked December 27, 1920. Courtesy R. M. Schindler Papers, Architecture and Design Collections, UC-Santa Barbara Art, Architecture and Design Museum.
It was here that Schindler's fellow Adolf Loos disciple Richard Neutra's mail arrived from a war-torn Europe imploring his help immigrating to the United States. Neutra would eventually follow in Schindler's footsteps to Taliesin in 1924-5 before finally making it to Los Angeles and Kings Road in March 1925. (For more on this see "Chats").
After a brief orientation by Wright before his mid-December departure for Japan, Schindler was thrust into a difficult position of balancing the demands of a by then angry, disenchanted, wealthy client, greedy contractors and sub-contractors, and oversight of the activities of his employer's moonlighting and likely resentful son. Schindler undoubtedly quickly learned of Lloyd's Otto Bollman house project in Whitley Heights on which he broke ground two weeks before his and Pauline's early December 1920 arrival and Frank's mid-December departure for Japan. (For more on this see my "Tina Modotti, Lloyd Wright and Otto Bollman Connections, 1920.").
A few months later in response to a request from the frustrated elder Wright for a report on Lloyd's activities Schindler tactfully replied,
"Concerning Lloyd I shall not make any reports....his relation to the office is to[o] vague for me to set upon. I should think he could send you all news himself and save me the suspicion of spreading gossip." (RMS (Los Angeles) to FLW (Tokyo), March 26, 1921, Getty Research Institute. See also author's note later below.).
Firenze Gardens, 5218-5230 Sunset Blvd., William J. Dodd, architect. Landscape possibly by Lloyd Wright. Photographer unknown, ca. 1920. From Los Angeles Public Library photo collection.
While in Los Angeles during July 1921 on his way back to Japan, FLW stayed at the Firenze Gardens Apartments (see above) for a few weeks while checking on the status of his nearby Olive Hill projects and conferring with Barnsdall. (FLW pencil note to RMS, n.d.,ca. July 1921, from Frank Lloyd Wright Correspondence With R. M. Schindler 1914-1929, Special Collections Getty Research Institute). Firenze was designed by William J. Dodd, possibly known to the elder Wright from their Midwest days, for whom Lloyd had designed numerous landscaping projects beginning as early as 1914 including the landscaping for his two personal Laughlin Park estates in 1914 and 1921 (see below for example) and possibly for Firenze Gardens as well. ("Gill-Laughlin: Part II").
Garden for Dodd Estate, Lloyd Wright, landscape architect, 1920. From Gebhard, p. 7.
Dodd was extremely well-connected with strong ties to the movie industry and local developers through his close friendship with fellow Los Angeles Athletic Club crony Frank A. Garbutt, wealthy scion of early Los Angeles pioneer and extensive land-owner Frank C. Garbutt. (For much on Garbutt see my "Playa del Rey: Speed Capital of the World, 1910-1913"). It was through Dodd that Lloyd met Garbutt, then a partner with Cecil B. DeMille with Paramount Pictures where for a period of over a year during 1916-17 Lloyd was in charge of their Set Design and Drafting Department. (Gebhard, p. p. 22). (Author's note: Dodd had recently been appointed by the Governor to the State Board of Architecture replacing retiring F. L. Roehrig. "Architect Named; W. F. [sic] Dodd Appointed to State Board by Governor," Los Angeles Times, October 24, 1919, P. II-11."Gill-Laughlin: Part II").
Dodd was also known to Schindler through Lloyd evidenced by Wright asking Schindler to deliver his mail and update him on the status of contracts at Firenze Gardens, "the place that Dodd built." (FLW pencil note to RMS, n.d. Frank Lloyd Wright Correspondence With R. M. Schindler 1914-1929, Special Collections Getty Research Institute).
A few weeks after FLW left for his final trip to Japan. At the same time Schindler was pleading for more funds Lloyd wrote his father in his "weekly report" that his "...drawing for Miss "B" is of course late" and that "Schindler frets at the time it consumes, and so it does, but it must be done." He excitedly continued on about the great deal he got on a new $2,200, 1920 Buick Roadster for only $1,500 and that he had found a new apartment closer to Olive Hill than the Hotel Lankershim (see below) which was "no cheaper than the Hotel but better."
Hotel Lankershim, southeast corner of Broadway and Seventh St., J. B. Lankershim, owner, R. B. Young, architect, 1904.
Lloyd's extravagant purchase must have somewhat irked Schindler as the project purse strings were seemingly under his control indicated by his comment that he "...put $450 in a joint account for Rudolph to draw upon that has lasted about three weeks, nor are any of these expenditures extravagant or unnecessary." By comparison, Schindler had earlier written Wright that he was able to scrape enough money together to buy a used Chevrolet. (LW (Los Angeles) to FLW (Tokyo) ca. August 1921, Frank Lloyd Wright correspondence, 1900-1959, and Frank Lloyd Wright Correspondence With R. M. Schindler 1914-1929, Special Collections, Getty Research Institute).
Los Angeles Athletic Club, 431 W. Seventh St., Parkinson and Bergstrom, architects, 1912. From the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
Uplifters Club House, Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica William J. Dodd, architect, ca. 1922. From Santa Monica Library.
Lloyd and his father had apparently attended a social event which included Dodd and the Uplifters, for whom Dodd was constructing a club house in Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica (see above), as intimated in his "weekly" report mailed to Tokyo shortly after Wright arrived in Japan in late August of 1921. He had also introduced his father to his by then very close friend from the Mather-Weston-Jordan-Smith circle, Reginald Pole, for whom he had designed numerous stage sets for his theatrical productions (see discussion later below).
By the summer of 1921 the Schindlers were also firmly intertwined within the same social orbit, having met Weston through their involvement with the Walt Whitman School where Pauline was teaching Weston's two oldest sons, Chandler and Brett. (For much more on this see my "The Schindlers and the Westons and the Walt Whitman School").
It is almost a certainty that Lloyd took his father to the Pilgrimage Play Theatre to view a performance of Wetherill's "Pilgrimage Play" starring Pole as Judas. This is evidenced by his continuing "weekly report" comments that he had,
"...joined the L.A. Athletic Club (see two above) through pressure from Dodd and the Uplifters!! (Same Uplifters). It is an expense that is heavy to bear just now but perhaps a wise one. Time will tell. Have started divorce proceedings. [Reginald] Poel sends his best and was sorry not to have seen you off. Expects to put on Shakespeare's "Hamlet" at the Trinity Auditorium next month. (For much on the Uplifters, a group of prominent L.A. Athletic Club members including Dodd and Frank Garbutt, see "Uplifters on Way to Enter Bohemia," Los Angeles Times, October 26, 1917, p. II-6 and "Uplifters Will Inspect Work on Clubhouse," Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1921, p. II-6). (Author's note: Garbutt's father's land development partner J. B. Lankershim also built the Hotel Lankershim).
He [Schindler] chafes in the (unintelligible) and has bewailed the fact that you forbade him to get in touch with Miss "B." I have not been able to give him much assistance, hardly any in fact, between the landscape work which I am pushing rapidly along and the perspectives and sickness." (LW to FLW (Tokyo) ca. late August 1921. Frank Lloyd Wright Correspondence, Getty Research Institute).Another reason Lloyd may not have given Schindler much assistance is that throughout the period he was purportedly working on Olive Hill, per published permit and lien notices in Southwest Builder & Contractor he was also moonlighting on his Otto Bollman and Weber Houses, and landscape projects for the Phoenix Country Club, Dodd's personal estate in Laughlin Park, the neighboring Kenneth Preuss Estate, and Santa Monica High School. All this was taking place during the hectic period Schindler was trying to wrap up construction activities and legal disputes on Barnsdall's Hollyhock House and Residences A and B. (Gebhard, p. 98. For much on Dodd's, Lloyd's and Irving Gill's involvement with Homer Laughlin's Laughlin Park see my "Gill-Laughlin: Part II").
In Lloyd's defense, like his father, he felt entitled to live a cultured, luxurious lifestyle which he could not do on the meager salary sporadically doled out by his father. Schindler was obviously aware of what Lloyd was up to but did not spill the beans to his employer or Barnsdall. (Author's note: Lloyd broke ground on the Otto Bollman Residence in November 1920 and received a completion notice in March 1921. He also was slapped with a lien for an unpaid lumber bill on his Weber House in May 1920. He seemingly kept both projects secret from his father during his July visit discussed below. It seems likely that Schindler would have been well aware of Lloyd's moonlighting activities and was complicit in keeping it quiet from Frank. ("Notices of Completion," Southwest Builder and Contractor, March 25, 1921, p. 35 and "Mechanics Liens," Southwest Builder and Contractor, May 13, 1921, p. 41). For much more on this see my "Tina Modotti, Lloyd Wright and Otto Bollman Connections,1920").
Frank Lloyd Wright, 1920. Photographer unknown. Published in Truth Against the World, Meehan, 1987, p. 20. Courtesy R. M. Schindler Papers, Architecture and Design Collections, UC-Santa Barbara Art, Architecture and Design Museum.
Coincidentally, Dodd was himself an amateur stage actor and performed with the Hollywood Community Theatre, a local group formed by Neely Dickson in 1917. Dickson received financial support from Cecil's brother, William C. DeMille and Aline Barnsdall at the same time she was staging her earlier-mentioned productions at the Los Angeles Little Theatre. ("Fifth Production at Community Theater," Los Angeles Times, March 11, 1918, p. II-8. Author's note: After leasing his first Laughlin Park estate to Charlie Chaplin in 1918 Dodd sold it to William's brother Cecil B. De Mille in 1920. De Mille then commissioned Dodd in 1921 to remodel it and connect it with a loggia to his residence next door to form a massive compound while Dodd was building his second Laughlin Park residence nearby. For much more on this see my "Gill-Laughlin: Part II").
After purchasing Olive Hill in 1919, Barnsdall generously offered Neely and her troupe a corner of her land for a new playhouse providing they could raise the money for construction but sadly, the project never came to fruition. (Warnack, Henry Christeen, "Hollywood Discovers the Community Theater," Los Angeles Times, November 11, 1917, p. III-18 and "Plans of Hollywood Community Theater," Los Angeles Times, August 10, 1919, p. III-29).
Kinema Theater, 642 S. Grand Ave., William J. Dodd, architect for the Kehrlein Brothers, Shirley C. Ward, builder, 1917. Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
Dodd's involvement with the Dickson troupe came just a few months after the grand opening of the Kinema Theater (see above) he designed for the Kehrlein Brothers. He likely had hopes for another theater commission knowing that Dickson had received financial backing from Hollywood Blvd. neighbors Barnsdall and William C. DeMille to establish her theater and troupe. Activities related to the grand opening of the much-anticipated 1200-seat, $500,000 movie palace were followed closely by the local press. For example, a couple months before the opening, a lengthy piece appeared describing the special load testing performed to ensure the structural integrity of the auditorium. A load of 1,500,000 pounds in the form of 6,000 sacks of concrete to simulate a full house was placed as seen below and the building passed structural inspection with flying colors. ("Gallery Stands A Severe Test," Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1917, p. V-1).
The Kinema Theater opened to much fanfare on December 15, 1917 with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille's "The Woman God Forgot" (see below) starring Geraldine Farrar and also a minor role for Olga Grey as an Aztec woman and future Lloyd Wright client by association, Ramon Navarro, as an Aztec man. At the grand opening DeMille presided as master of ceremonies. Dodd made a "humorous talk about the trials of a poor architect in building a motion picture house which drew roars of laughter from the [invitation only] audience" in which almost certainly sat the head of Paramount's stage set Design and Drafting Department, Lloyd Wright, his wife Kirah Markham and Anna Zacsek, aka Olga Grey. (Harleman, G. P., Opening of Kinema Theater; Brilliant Audience at Premier Presentation," Moving Picture World, January 5, 1918, p. 65).
Movie Poster for "The Woman Who God Forgot," 1917.
Alfred Kreymborg, 1920. Photo by Edward Weston. From Weston's Westons: Portraits and Nudes by Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 1989, p. 123.
The Hollywood Community Theatre received much cross-pollination from the Provincetown Players during the time Lloyd and Kirah Markham were in New York performing and designing sets for same. Dickson staged plays written by Players regulars Eugene O'Neill, Susan Glaspell, George Cram "Jig" Cook and Alfred Kreymborg (see above) whose "Manikin and Minikin" and "Lima Beans" were performed by Dickson's Hollywood troupe in February 1918, possibly through the Markham-Wright West Coast connections. As previously mentioned, Lloyd's sometime employer William J. Dodd also played a leading role in Lady Gregory's "Spreading the News" in the following production in March.
Kirah Markham from The Women of Provincetown, 1915-1922 by Cheryl Black, University of Alabama Press, 2002, p. 28.
Numerous plays by William C. DeMille were performed and newcomers to the stage such as Pole, Lloyd and Millier's close friend Lawrence Tibbett honed their chops before going on to bigger and better things. The indefatigable Dickson received much national and local publicity for her well-reviewed productions for which she not only designed the stage sets but the costumes as well. Sheldon Cheney's prestigious Theatre Arts Magazine gave Dickson a six-page spread in his July 1919 issue for example. (See: Beymer, William Gilmore, "Hollywood Community Theatre," Theatre Arts, July 1919, pp. 172-8 and "Studio of the Theatre," Holly Leaves, September 29, 1922, pp. 12-13. For much more on Kreymborg see my "Bertha Wardell: Dances In Silence").
Sheldon Cheney, n.d.. Photo by Carl Van Vechten. Courtesy Portrait Photography of Carl Van Vechten, Marquette University, Raynor Memorial Libraries.
"A Christmas Pantomime" at the Chicago Little Theatre, photo by Eugene Hutchinson. The New Movement in the Theatre by Sheldon Cheney, Mitchell Kennerly, New York, 1914, p. 186.
Gleaning much subject matter from Maurice Browne and his Chicago Little Theatre (see above), Cheney had published The New Movement in the Theatre in 1914. This book and Maurice Browne and his Little Theatre were Barnsdall's original inspiration for her theatrical dreams. Excited by the creative bustle he witnessed surrounding the formative period of Barnsdall's Los Angeles Little Theatre during his summer 1916 visit to L. A., Cheney announced that "he was leaving for Detroit to start a publication that he would call Theatre Arts Magazine." (Miracle in the Evening by Norman-Bel Geddes, p. 160 cited in Friedman, note 42, p. 62). Cheney surrounded himself with an excellent cast of contributing editors which included Maurice Browne from Chicago, Sam Hume from Berkeley and Los Angeles's own Ruth St. Denis.
Joann Geddes birth announcement-Christmas card, December 1916, designed by Norman-Bel Geddes. Courtesy Carmel-by-the-Sea Harrison Memorial Library Herbert Heron Papers.
Norman-Bel Geddes with costume sketch for his "The Miracle," ca. 1924. From Designing Modern America: Broadway to Main Street by Christopher Innes, Yale University Press, 2005, p. 26. Norman-Bel Geddes Collection, Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.
At the end of Barnsdall's Little Theatre season Geddes stayed in Los Angeles with his wife and newborn daughter (see announcement above) in the hope that Barnsdall's theatrical dreams would bear fruit. In the meantime Geddes became artistic director for Ruth St. Denis and designed a dance theater for her and husband Ted Shawn. New York beckoned the following year and Geddes would not return to Los Angeles until 1924 when he designed sets for Cecil B. DeMille's "Feet of Clay" (see below) and his unbuilt Island Dance Theater and Restaurant.
"Feet of Clay" movie still featuring Norman-Bel Geddes set design. From Classic Movie Favorites.
Norman Bel Geddes, Holly Leaves, June 20, 1924, front cover. Photographer unknown.
That same summer Geddes also taught a class in stagecraft at the Hollywood Community Theater entitled "Modern Developments in Theatrical Production" which was attended by Schindler-Weston intimate Annita Delano and also possibly Barbara Morgan. (Annita Delano biography dated October 1924, from Archives of American Art, Annita Delano Papers, 1909-1975, microfilm roll 3000. For much more on this do a "Geddes" search in my "The Schindlers and the Hollywood Art Association").
Delano and Morgan would later put to use their stagecraft skills learned from Geddes in student productions at UCLA and also at the Potboiler Art Theater from 1925 to 1929. (Daybooks of Edward Weston, Vol. II, California, pp. 60-61). (Author's note: Pole, Gareth Hughes, Irving Pichel, and others would also perform at Sigurd Russell's Potboiler Art Theatre and Russell took his troupe to Carmel for the inaugural 1924 season of Edward Kuster's Theatre of the Golden Bough discussed elsewhere herein. See also "The Schindlers in Carmel, 1924").
("Constructions of Gigantic Scenes for "Miracle" Under Way," Los Angeles Times, January 23, 1927, p. III-23).
Geddes made another dramatic Los Angeles appearance in 1927 to oversee the conversion of the Shrine Auditorium into a Gothic cathedral for a four week run of the Broadway hit "The Miracle" directed by Max Reinhardt. He also designed the costumes (see below for example) and special lighting which he customized for the Shrine performance. (Ibid). While in town Geddes also designed the Festival Theatre for Reinhardt which never came to fruition.
Playbill for "The Miracle," 1926. From flickr.
Like Barnsdall, recognizing genius when he saw it firsthand, Cheney published virtually everything Geddes produced in the way of stage set, theater and costume design during his 1916-21 Theatre Arts editorship as did his successors. For example in 1919 Cheney published Geddes' article "The Theatre of the Future," set designs from four plays and a lengthy feature article on Geddes by Bruce Bliven entitled "Norman-Bel Geddes: His Art and His Ideas" in the same issue as the previously-mentioned article on the Hollywood Community Theatre. (Theatre Arts Magazine, Vol. III, 1919).
Theatre Arts Magazine, Vol. III, No. 1, January 1919.
Besides editing and publishing Theatre Arts Magazine (see above), the prolific Cheney published numerous books on the theater, architecture and design including An Art Lover's Guide to the [Panama-Pacific International] Exhibition in 1915 which was attended by Schindler, Barnsdall, the Wrights and exhibitor Weston. This was followed by The Art Theater in 1917, The Open Air Theater in 1918 (sparked by an on-going "lively" correspondence with Barnsdall (Friedman, p. 52)), Modern Art and the Theater in 1921, and A Primer of Modern Art in 1924, prior to his 1930 publication of The New World Architecture (see below).
The New World Architecture by Sheldon Cheney, Tudor Publishing Co., New York, 1930. (From my collection).
The New World Architecture featured much of the 1920s work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd, R. M. Schindler and his 1925-30 Kings Road tenant and sometime partner Richard Neutra. Published in 1930, this important publication preceded the seminal Museum of Modern Art's The International Style: Architecture Since 1922 exhibition catalog by two years and also included work by almost all of the MOMA show participants. Thus Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock were not alone in recognizing the rapid shift from Beaux Arts architecture to modern architecture throughout the 1920s. One of the earliest publication photos of Schindler's Lovell Beach House in Cheney's book (see below) was taken by Edward Weston on August 2, 1927. To this day Weston has not been credited for his iconic Beach House images published all over the world. My discovery of the provenance of Weston's Lovell House images in the Schindler Papers in the UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections inspired my enthusiasm for this research effort.
Lovell Beach House, Newport Beach, R. M. Schindler, Architect. Edward Weston photo, August 2, 1927. From The New World Architecture by Sheldon Cheney, Tudor Publishing Co., New York, 1930, p. 235..
Tina Modotti in a still from "The Tiger's Coat," 1920.
Around the time the Schindlers were establishing themselves in Los Angeles and befriending Edward Weston and his two oldest sons at the Walt Whitman School, Weston was striking up an affair with yet another aspiring actress, Tina Modotti (see above and below). After a somewhat successful stage career in San Francisco Modotti and her husband Roubaix "Robo" Richey moved to Los Angeles in 1918 and by 1920 had become entwined within the Mather-Weston-McGehee-Deshon circle.
Edward Weston, Head of an Italian Girl [Tina Modotti], 1921. (Warren, Passionate Collaboration, p. 84).
Not long after beginning his affair with Modotti in early 1921, Weston wrote to Johan Hagemeyer, then in San Francisco,
"Life has been very full for me - perhaps too full for my own good - I not only have done some of the best things yet - but also have had an exquisite affair - what more could one wish - and yet through it all I am haunted by that one unsatisfied desire - perhaps if it is ever accomplished I shall be even more unsatisfied! The pictures I believe to be especially good are the one of Tina de Richey - a lovely Italian girl - Venetian..." (Edward Weston handwritten letter to Johan Hagemeyer, April 14, 1921, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Papers, Getty Research Institute).
After appearing in numerous bit parts and three credited roles between 1919 and 1922, like Florence Deshon, Anna Zacsek, and Helen Richardson (see below), Modotti soon tired of the Hollywood treadmill. In the summer of 1923 she opted to accompany Weston and his son Chandler to Mexico and learn the art of photography. (For much more on the Modotti-Weston relationship see my WWS and "Edward Weston Remembers Tina Modotti" and any of the numerous Modotti biographies.).
Helen Richardson and Theodore Dreiser at their rented bungalow at 1515 Detroit St. near Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, ca. 1921. Courtesy Theodore Dreiser Papers, Penn Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Coincidentally, in late 1919 Theodore Dreiser had also moved to Los Angeles with his latest lover, his youthful second cousin Helen Richardson (see above). The move was a plan to work incognito on numerous writing projects including various scenarios for movies, and his novels The Bulwark and An American Tragedy while Richardson was attempting to begin a career in the movies. After making her show business debut in Vaudeville in the Pacific Northwest in 1917, the highly ambitious Richardson, whose grandmother was a sister of Dreiser's mother, made her way to New York in 1919 and looked up her famous relative. They quickly struck up an affair and when the ambitious Helen informed Dreiser of her plans to move to Hollywood to seek a career in the movies, he decided to tag along.
Helen Richardson, Hollywood, ca. 1921. Photograph by Evans. Courtesy Theodore Dreiser Papers, Penn Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Movie poster for "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," 1921.
Helen Richardson to the right of Ramon Novarro in "The Four Hosemen of the Apocalypse," 1921. Courtesy Theodore Dreiser Papers, Penn Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Helen soon found work and performed in numerous minor uncredited roles in films such as "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," Ramon Novarro's first credited film role, (see above) and Robin Hood" (see below) co-starring Douglas Fairbanks and Wallace Beery. (As mentioned earlier Novarro appeared in 1917 with Olga Grey [Anna Zacsek] in "The Woman God Forgot"). Richardson's and Dreiser's activities during their time in Los Angeles are well-documented in Theodore Dreiser: American Diaries, 1902-1926 edited by Thomas P. Riggio and My Life with Dreiser by Helen Richardson Dreiser.
Movie poster for "Robin Hood," 1922.
Helen Richardson in Robin Hood, 1922 with set designs by Lloyd Wright. Courtesy Theodore Dreiser Papers, Penn Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Despite Dreiser's attempts at anonymity, he and Helen were eventually drawn into the periphery of the Weston-Mather-Deshon orbit when Deshon began corresponding with him in October 1920 in an attempt to further her career. Reluctant and still trying to stay incognito, Dreiser finally agreed to meet with Deshon on November 29 and wrote in his diary that he spent most of the day with her and that she told him all about her relationships with Eastman and Chaplin and gossiped about their idiosyncrasies. Dreiser surmised that Deshon's reason for wanting to befriend him was that she craved another literary celebrity to help further her career. (Theodore Dreiser, American Diaries, 1902-1926 edited by Thomas P. Riggio, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982, pp.349-350). Over a few meetings with Deshon and some likely social interaction with her circle, Dreiser compiled enough information to write "Ernestine," a semi-fictional sketch based upon the short unhappy career and suicide of Deshon, with some elements of Helen Richardson's Hollywood experiences thrown in. "Ernestine" was eventually compiled in Dreiser's 1927 Gallery of Women.
Shadowland, September 1920. Cover art by A. M. Hoptmuller. From Visual Arts Library.
Dreiser also wrote a shocking four part expose on the motion picture industry, "Hollywood: It's Morals and Manners," for the fan magazine Shadowland (see above for example) which appeared from from November 1921 to February 1922 during the period that Schindler's Kings Road House and Lloyd Wright's Taggart House were under construction. In it, the ultimate user of women ironically shares his observations on the seedier aspects of a young actress's career and Hollywood's "casting couch" game based upon Richardson's and Deshon's and their circle of friend's experiences. Tragically, the last episode appeared the same month of Deshon's suicide which makes one wonder if Florence had been following the Shadowland series.
After being in Los Angeles for almost three years without being discovered by the press, L.A. Times reporter Edith Millicent Ryan finally tracked Dreiser down for a lengthy interview shortly before his and Helen's return to New York. Besides a scathing review of Los Angeles, Dreiser reiterated his thoughts on Hollywood and it's artlessness. ("Cruel Words, Theodore Dreiser!," Los Angeles Times, September 17, 1922, pp. II-13-15). A few days later Paul Bern, editor of the Goldwyn Scenario Department, penned a similarly lengthy rebuttal to Dreiser's Hollywood critique and his casting couch accusations. ("Take That, Mr. Dreiser," Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1922, p. II-4).
Floyd Dell ca. 1921. Photographer unknown. From Clayton, p. 144 via the Floyd Dell Papers, Newberry Library.
There is some evidence that there may have been social interaction between Dreiser and Richardson and the Weston-Modotti-Mather-Deshon circle evidenced by a letter from Weston to Johan Hagemeyer, by then in San Francisco, which discussed several visits by Dreiser to his studio during 1921. (Edward Weston Letter to Johan Hagemeyer, September 16, 1921. Cited in Warren, p. 233). In the same letter, Weston mentioned that he and Mather had photographed Floyd Dell (see above) who was then in town with his wife, B. Marie Gage visiting her family in Pasadena. (Warren, p. 116). By this time the Schindlers were also socializing in the same circles as Pauline was teaching Weston's sons Chandler and Cole at the Walt Whitman School in Boyle Heights. (For more see my WWS). (Author's note: I have been unable to locate the Weston-Mather photo of Dell but per Weston's bibliographer Paula Freedman, the image was exhibited at Frederick & Nelson Dept. Store in Seattle in 1921 and the MacDowell and Friday Morning Clubs in Los Angeles in 1922).
Gage had formerly been an assistant to Paul Jordan-Smith during his anti-war activities for the People's Council of America for Peace and Democracy, thus it is safe to assume that Dell and Gage got together with Jordan-Smith and Weston's cousin Sarah Bixby Smith and likely that they and Weston, Mather and Deshon and possibly the Schindlers all socialized together at some point. (For more details on this see my WWS). This was also around the time that Dell and Jordan-Smith began collaborating on the translation of Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy, the same book that Florence Deshon read on the train during her move to Los Angeles in 1919.
Marie Rankin Clarke ca. 1920. Photo by Edward Weston. From the Clarke Estate Collection, Santa Fe Springs City Library.
Marie Rankin Clarke ca. 1920. Photo by Edward Weston. From the Clarke Estate Collection, Santa Fe Springs City Library.
In the fall of 1917, a few months before Schindler began working for Wright, Frayne Williams (seen earlier above) met and befriended Paul Jordan-Smith, husband of Edward Weston's cousin Sarah Bixby Smith. Williams was brought to Paul and Sarah's home in Claremont by Mrs. Chauncey Clarke (see Weston photo above), soon-to-be one of the founding board members and patroness of the Hollywood Bowl along with Christine Wetherill Stevenson (see below), T. Perceval Gerson, Aline Barnsdall and others. The trio of Jordan-Smith, Williams and Reginald Pole would soon become mutual life-long friends. ("Mrs. Chauncey Clarke, Founder of Bowl, Dies," Los Angeles Times, October 31, 1948, p. II-22. See also The Road I Came by Paul Jordan-Smith, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho, 1960, p. 381 and WWS).
Christine Wetherill Stevenson at the Pilgrimage Play Theater, Cahuenga Pass, ca. 1921. Bernard Maybeck, architect, 1920. From Hollywoodbowl.com.
Clarke and Stevenson were also the land purchasers and major patronesses and trustees of the nearby Pilgrimage Play Theater (see above) (now the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre) in which Pole (see below) would be the given roles of Judas, Jesus Christ, and eventually the directorship of Stevenson's popular annual summer pageant "The Pilgrimage Play: The Life of Jesus Christ." (For example see "Pilgrimage Play Cast Is In Making," Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1923, p. I-15 in which Clarke is pictured along with the rest of the cast selection committee).
Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham and Denishawn Dancers performing in "The Light of Asia," Krotona Stadium, Beachwood Canyon, 1918. Arthur Kales photo. Courtesy NYPL.
"The Pilgrimage Play" was ardent Theosophist Stevenson's adaptation of Georgina Jones Walton's dramatization of Sir Edwin Arnold's mystical poem "The Light of Asia," first performed at the Krotona Stadium in Beachwood Canyon in 1918. The performance featured Ruth St. Denis and her Denishawn Dancers including Martha Graham. (Warnack, Henry Christeen, "Drama: The Light of Asia," Los Angeles Times, August 1, 1918, p. II-3).
Dane Rudhyar, Carmel, 1929. Photo by Edward Weston. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.
Stevenson brought out her Theosophist protege Dane Rudhyar (see above) from Philadelphia in 1920 to write the music for the inaugural "The Pilgrimage Play." Like Pauline Schindler, a frequent contributor to The Musical Quarterly in the late 1910s, Rudhyar would become a regular feature in, and fellow contributing editor with Edward Weston for The Carmelite during Pauline Schindler's 1928-29 editorship.
Of Pole's enactment of Christ near the end of the 1925 season the Times reviewer said,
"Mr. Pole...seems unique in the satisfying quality of his interpretation. As his voice repeats phrase after phrase and parable after parable, the mind of the listener disappears from the little open air theater in the Hollywood Hills and is born again in Jerusalem at the time of Christ." ("Pole Plays Christ Role," Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1925, p. I-11).
Reginald Pole as Judas in the Pilgrimage Play, ca. 1923. Photographer unknown. From I Shock Myself, p. 67. (Author's note: Pole would be promoted to the role of Christ for the 1925 and 1926 seasons.)
Helen Freeman as Mary Magdelene in the Christ Play, Holly Leaves, August 19, 1922, front cover. Photo by former Edward Weston employer Mojonier.
Playbill for "The Pilgrimage Play: The Life of Christ, Pilgrimage Playhouse, 1923. (Reginald Pole as Judas Iscariot, Otto Matiesen as Matthew the Publican, Helen Freeman as Mary Magdelene, Billy Justema as Shepherd and Dane Rudhyar, composer of the anthem for the Last Supper). From Los Angeles Philharmonic Archives, Hall of Records).
Margrethe Mather, Otto Matiesen, and Johan Hagemeyer, 1921. Edward Weston photo. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.
Other Weston-Mather intimates who would had roles in the 1923 edition of the Pilgrimage Play alongside Pole and Freeman were Otto Matiesin as Matthew the Publican (see above) and Billy Justema as a shepherd (see below).
Billy Justema by Margrethe Mather, 1922. From Margrethe Mather Collection, © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.
Greatly impressed with the Palace of Fine Arts at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, Stevenson commissioned it's architect Bernard Maybeck (see below) to design the original Pilgimage Play Theater and a personal residence nearby for herself.
Architects of the Pan-Pacific International Exhibition, San Francisco, 1915. Bernard Maybeck, third top hat from the left. From the Bancroft Library, University of California.
Palace of Fine Arts, Bernard Maybeck, architect, Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, September 1915. Photograph by R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Papers.
R. M. Schindler also visited the Expo during his September-October 1915 West Coast vacation and photographed Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts (above) and the Palace of Liberal Arts (below) where Edward Weston's photographs were on display in the Pictorial Photography Exhibition. (For more on Schindler's fateful trip see my "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence" and "The Schindlers in Carmel, 1924").
Palace of Liberal Arts, W. B. Faville, architect, Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, September 1915. Photograph by R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Papers.
New Pilgrimage Play Theater under construction with Hollywood Bowl in the background, 1931. From the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
Clarke Residence under construction in Santa Fe Springs, 1920. From Calisphere courtesy of the Santa Fe Springs Library.
Marie Rankin Clarke and Irving Gill at the Clarke Residence under construction in Santa Fe Springs, 1920. From Calisphere courtesy of the Santa Fe Springs Library.
About this time the Clarke's commissioned Irving Gill, fellow Louis Sullivan protege alongside Frank Lloyd Wright, to begin design on their residence in Santa Fe Springs (see above). Coincidentally, Schindler visited some of Gill's Southern California projects during his fateful 1915 West Coast trip to visit the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco and the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego. (See my "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence" for more details).
The Official Guidebook of the Panama California Exposition San Diego 1915. Note bridge designed by Irving Gill lower left.
Lloyd Wright had previously moved to San Diego in 1911, transferring from Olmsted and Olmsted's Boston office to help develop the landscaping the firm designed for the San Diego Exposition. This project led to a position with Irving Gill from 1912 to 1914. Gill's collaboration with the Olmsteds on a major infrastructure and landscaping project for the City of Torrance brought Lloyd to Los Angeles and his eventual meeting of Markham and Barnsdall. (Hines, p. 14).
Schindler most likely visited the construction site of Gill's Walter L. Dodge House (see above) on Kings Road which was under construction while he was in Los Angeles after visiting the San Diego Exposition in the fall of 1915. This is evidenced by the fact that Gill used his innovative tilt-slab construction technique (see article excerpt below) to construct the walls of the Dodge House and, after moving to Los Angeles in 1920, Schindler and his then partner/builder Clyde Chace would purchase some of Gill's tilt-slab construction equipment (see two below) to build their own communal home on a lot purchased from Walter Dodge, in what seems more than a coincidence, just a block south at 835 N. Kings Road. (March, Lionel, "Rudolph M. Schindler, Schindler House and How House," GA 77, A.D.A. Edita, Tokyo, 1999, p. 3. For more on Schindler's 1915 West Coast adventure see my "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence" and for more on Gill see my "R. M. Schindler, Richard Neutra and Louis Sullivan's Kindergarten Chats" and "Selected Publications of Esther McCoy"). (Author's note: Dreiser moved to 1015 Kings Road in 1941 and became socially involved with the Schindlers, his erstwhile researcher Esther McCoy, and her husband Berkeley Tobey).
Irving Gill's "A California House With Pre-Cast Walls," in Concrete Houses: How They Were Built edited by Harvey Whipple, Concrete-Cement Age Publishing co., Detroit, 1920, pp. 161-2. Originally appeared in Concrete, May 1918, p. 197. (For more on this particular house and an analysis of Gill's Aiken System projects see my "Irving Gill's First Aiken System Project: The Sarah B. Clark Residence, 7231 Hillside Ave., Hollywood, Spring 1913").
"As a House of Cards Is Made; Remarkable Home of Chicago Capitalist Is Completed," Los Angeles Times, March 19, 1916, p. I-12.
Clyde Chace had worked for, and lived with, Gill in 1920-1 during construction of his Horatio West Court project where he learned the intricacies of tilt-slab construction. His wife Marian Da Camara Chace was a close friend of Pauline's from Smith College and Chicago where they taught together at the progressive Ravinia Village School before the Schindlers, and shortly thereafter the Chaces, moved to Los Angeles. ("The Schindlers and the Hollywood Art Association").
Schindler-Chace House tilt-slab walls under construction, 835 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood, 1922. R. M. Schindler, architect, Clyde B. Chace, co-owner and contractor. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Aerial view of West Hollywood, 1922. Note the Dodge House and recently completed Schindler House on Kings Road at the right center of the Spence Aerial Photography photo. From the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
John Cowper Powys and Paul Jordan-Smith, at "Erewhon," Claremont, 1918. Edward Weston photograph. Courtesy George Eastman House and Edward Weston Collection, Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Weston's cousin Sarah Bixby Smith's husband Paul Jordan-Smith accompanied his houseguest John Cowper Powys (see above) to Palm Springs for a week long visit with his fellow Cambridge alum Reginald Pole and Helen Taggart, his soon-to-be pregnant (with Rupert) wife in the spring of 1918. (The Road I Came, pp. 329-30). (For much more on Jordan-Smith, Powys, Weston and the Schindlers see WWS).
By this time, possibly through the largess of Helen's mother who owned various acreage in the Coachella Valley, Pole and Taggart had commissioned Lloyd Wright to design an adobe cottage in Palm Springs where they would spend much time alleviating Reginald's chronic asthmatic condition. (Author's note: There are numerous undocumented and conflicting accounts in Palm Springs lore attributing Lawrence Tibbett, Lloyd Wright Lloyd and Reginald building the house themselves on the grounds of the existing Casa Cody).
After the birth of Rupert, Helen abandoned the stage and opened a millinery shop featuring her own creative designs (see ad below).
Helen Taggart Millinery ad, Los Angeles Times, February 22, 1920, p. III-33.
As mentioned earlier, Jordan-Smith and Pole became fast friends and often got together, many times with with Frayne Williams, at Paul and Sarah's "Erewhon" to discuss the theater after Pole's drama class rehearsals at Pomona College (see below) .
Bixby Smith Residence "Erewhon," Claremont, front elevation. Eighth St. and Claremont Ave., Claremont, ca. 1918. Arthur B. Benton, architect, 1906. From Claremont Colleges Digital Library, Wheeler Scrapbook Collection, p. 214.
Reginald Pole as Othello, 1920, Margrethe Mather. From Margrethe Mather & Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration by Beth Gates Warren, Norton, 2001, p. 72.
In early 1920, a major production of Shakespeare's "Othello"was staged at the 3,000-seat Trinity Auditorium under the auspices of William Andrews Clark, Jr. for the benefit of the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. Under the direction of Reginald Pole, the cast included Pole as Othello (see above), Frayne Williams (see below) as Cassio, Lawrence Tibbett as Iago, Florence Deshon and others while the sets were designed by Lloyd Wright. (The Road I Came, p. 380 and "Othello Benefit for Children's Hospital," Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1920, p. II-12).
Frayne Williams as Hamlet ca. 1918. Margrethe Mather photo. From Margrethe Mather & Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration by Beth Gates Warren, Norton, 2001, p. 48.
Beatrice Wood and Lawrence Tibbett, New York, ca. 1923. Photographer unknown. From I Shock Myself, p. 66.
After earlier starring as Crichton in Pole's production of "The Admirable Crichton," Paul Jordan-Smith was originally cast as Iago in "Othello" but a bad case of laryngitis brought substitute Lawrence Tibbett (see above with Beatrice Wood) to the fore in his first major stage role. (The Road I Came, p. 380). (Author's note: Lloyd Wright would in 1930 remodel a house for Tibbett at 933 Rexford Dr. in Beverly Hills and in 1949 design a house for Beatrice Wood in Ojai which was not built).
"Aida, Hollywood Bowl," Pacific Coast Musical Review, September 15, 1923. Lawrence Tibbett, upper right.
It was during this period that soon-to-be New York Metropolitan Opera star Tibbett, Reginald Pole, Lloyd Wright and Arthur Millier became very close lifelong friends. Having recently signed his first contract with the Met, Tibbett made numerous appearances around Los Angeles during the summer of 1923 before proceeding to the Big Apple for the fall season where he became an instant success. Tibbett capped of his prep work for the Met starring in the role of Amonasro in Aida at the Hollywood Bowl (see above). Pole and Millier were witnesses at Tibbett's first marriage ceremony in 1919. The Tibbetts (Lawrence and his two wives Grace and Jane) and Wrights corresponded quite frequently over the years and often vacationed together. Lloyd also remodeled a house for the Tibbetts at 933 Rexford Dr. in Beverly Hills in 1930. (See correspondence and project files in the Lloyd Wright Papers at UCLA).
Lawrence Tibbett by Arthur Millier, 1923. Pacific Coast Musical Review, May 26, 1923, p. 8.
Arthur Millier, 1929. Photo by Edward Weston. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.
Pole attempted to sleep with Deshon while "Othello" was in production which caused a fit of angst when she reported the incident to her lover Max Eastman (see below). (Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin by Joyce Milton, Da Capo Press, 1998, pp. 168-9). In his autobiography Eastman related, "Although I was jealous to the point of "shaking from head to foot" about a certain stranger whose attention she spoke of, a creature (I still so think of him) called Reginald Pole..." (Love and Revolution: My Journey Through An Epoch by Max Eastman, Random House, New York, 1964, pp. 184-5).
Florence Deshon and Max Eastman, ca. 1920. Photo possibly by Margrethe Mather? From Love and Revolution: My Journey through an Epic by Max Eastman, Random House, New York, p. 368.
After the 1917 departure of Barnsdall to Seattle to give birth to her and Ordynski's love-child, Frayne Williams found work at Universal Studios through the largesse of his old English pal Chaplin and mutual friend and Weston-Mather gathering habitue Elmer Ellsworth. Quickly tiring of minor roles, Williams began lecturing at venues such as the Ebell and Friday Morning Clubs and performing in and directing plays at local venues. Evidencing Williams' intimate relationship within the Weston-Mather circle, in January 1919 Edward first named his youngest son Frayne before, for unexplained reasons, changing his name to Cole more than a year later. (Warren, p. 152 and 1920 U.S. Census).
Seeking a college drama teaching position similar to Pole's at Pomona, Williams was hired by friend Paul Jordan-Smith's employer, the University of California Extension Division in Los Angeles, to teach drama and history of the theater and in 1922 formed, and became the director of, its Literary Theatre. ("Department of Lectures," The Spokesman; University Extension Division, November 1922, pp. 84-5). Under Frayne, the Literary Theatre performed at both the Ebell and Gamut Clubs and numerous other Southern California venues between 1922 and 1927. ("Open Literary Theater Here; Frayne Williams Will Have Charge of Project," Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1922, p. III-29, various other Times articles and The Road I Came, p. 382).
Frayne Williams (From Whitaker, Alma, "Rival Starts Drama Feud," Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1923, p. II-12).
Frayne's Literary Theatre players, a mix of 40% professional actors and 60% Extension students from his Dramatic Interpretation and Dramatic Construction and Production classes, staged their plays at their home, the renamed Fine Arts Theater in the Walker Auditorium Building. Thay also traveled their plays to numerous Southern California venues. The $2.00 annual subscription fee enabled the department to cover all expenses and even turn a small profit. L.A. Times drama critic Alma Whitaker reported on a rival group headed by France Goldwater, Wilhelmina Wilkes and Morgan Dickson, taking note of Frayne's success and starting an all-professional troupe under the same name, using the same Fine Arts Theater and performing some of the same plays trying to steal Frayne's troupe's thunder. (Whitaker, Alma, "Rival Starts Drama Feud," Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1923, p. II-12).
Florence Deshon, 1919. Photo by Margrethe Mather. From Margrethe Mather & Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration by Beth Gates Warren, Norton, 2001, p. 59.
Florence Deshon's (see above) acting career paralleled Anna Zacsek's in many ways. Both ambitious young women began in the movie business in 1915, Deshon in New York and Zacsek in Hollywood. Both were featured often early in their careers with roles tapering off for similar reasons as they aged and refused to play the "casting couch" game. Deshon was credited with appearing in 24 films between 1915 and 1921 while Zacsek had 31 roles between 1915 and 1920. Both then gravitated to the stage in attempts to lengthen and broaden their acting careers and to be taken more seriously for their talents. Besides collaborating with Pole in "Othello," Deshon also became associated with the Wilkes Stock Company and the Pasadena Playhouse in 1920-21 around the same time Zacsek began appearing in Ibsen dramas produced by Pole at the Egan Little Theatre. (York, Cal, "Plays and Players," Photoplay, October, 1921, p. 80).
The ardent feminist Deshon first met Max Eastman at The Masses Ball on December 15, 1916 shortly before starring in the film version of Jaffrey, a popular novel by William J. Locke. Not long thereafter Eastman left his wife Ida Rauh and son to pursue a relationship with her. Unfortunately, Deshon's roles began tapering off due to her being blacklisted for refusing to stand for the national anthem at the New York premeire of Jaffrey. Eastman came up with a plan to revive her career during a February 1919 trip to Los Angeles to raise funds for The Liberator. Charlie Chaplin attended an Eastman lecture, as did Weston, Hagemeyer and Mather, and introduced himself backstage. (Warren, p. 153)
Charlie Chaplin and Max Eastman at the Chaplin Studio, Hollywood, 1919.
Chaplin invited Eastman to his studio the following day (see above) and the two quickly became friends. Eastman relayed to Chaplin Deshon's blacklisting woes and apparently persuaded him to help her out. Always one to support a socialist cause, Chaplin arranged to have Sam Goldwyn offer Florence a contract. Deshon arrived in Los Angeles in July 1919. While on the train the intellectual Florence read Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy which Paul Jordan-Smith and Floyd Dell would soon begin collaboration upon for an all-English translation which was finally published in 1927. (See correspondence in the Paul Jordan-Smith Papers at UCLA). Thus it would be interesting to know whether Dell possibly turned Deshon on to the book or Deshon mentioned it to Paul Jordan-Smith whom she likely met through Mather shortly after her arrival in Los Angeles. Eastman also asked Chaplin's and Mather's friends Elmer Ellsworth and Florence and Rob Wagner, erstwhile editor before Job Harriman of the Socialist organ Western Comrade, to look after Deshon. (Tramp, p. 164).
Rob Wagner self-portrait, Western Comrade, July 1913.
Florence Deshon, 1921. Photo by Margrethe Mather. From A Passionate Collaboration, p. 93.
It is likely through them that Mather and Deshon soon became intimate friends not long after her arrival (see above).
Edward Weston and Margrethe Mather, "Max Eastman at Water's Edge", 1921. Platinum-palladium print, tipped to a mount, signed by Mather and signed and dated by Weston in pencil on the mount, matted, a Museum of Modern Art label on the reverse, 1921. (From Sotheby's: Photographs from the Museum of Modern Art : April 25, 2001 : Sale NY7632, p. 140).
Betty Katz, 1920. Photograph by Edward Weston. Courtesy of Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Tiring of not receiving a commitment from either Chaplin or Eastman, with both of whom she had aborted pregnancies, and the sexual hurdles she needed to traverse for meaningful movie roles, Deshon returned to New York in late 1921. In a letter to his confidant Betty Katz (see above), also a close friend of the Schindlers and yet another of Weston's (and possibly Mather's) lovers, Ramiel McGehee despairingly wrote of Mather's and Deshon's depressed states,
"...I had two short glimpses of Margrethe. Margrethe, the unchanging. I have done all I can - nothing further to offer, one way or another. She must work out her own destiny quite alone - no one can help her. A lotus in a mud-pond near an old, deserted temple.
Florence [Deshon] was to leave soon for New York - had given up stage work, and was to return east, planning hopefully to enter Columbia University. Feels that she lacks training for any special work, may take a literary course, and later try to write. She needs self-discipline most of all." (Ramiel McGehee to Betty Katz, ca. October-November 1921, courtesy of Leslie Squyres, Center for Creative Photography. Also cited in Warren, p. 235).
Deshon, Florence, "A Great Art," Motion Picture Magazine, Feb 1922, pp. 39-40, 100.
Having fallen into a state of depression soon after her return to New York Florence committed suicide in February 1922 about the time that her satire on the "art" of the movie business was published in Motion Picture Magazine (see above). ("Clews Sought in Death Case," Los Angeles Times, February 6, 1922, p. II-1). Deshon's suicide caused quite a stir in the Weston-Mather circle as soon-to-be Kings Road tenant Betty Katz (see front center below) frankly relayed the news of Deshon's demise to by then close friend Pauline Schindler, "Florence Deshon did not commit suicide. It was an accident like everything else which came to her." (Betty Katz letter to Pauline Schindler, ca. March 1922. Courtesy Schindler Family Collection cited in Warren, p. 244).
Weston mentioned Deshon's passing in a letter to Johan Hagemeyer, "...I have been in a super-sensitive state with Florence's death - and Robo's - and Tina's father and M[argrethe]'s very low condition [over Deshon's death]..." (Edward Weston handwritten letter to Johan Hagemeyer, February, 1922, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Papers, Getty Research Institute). (Author's note: Robo was Tina Modotti's husband who had preceded her and Weston to Mexico and died on February 9, 1922 just a few days after Deshon.)
Thanksgiving at the Schindler-Chace House, Kings Road, 1923. Betty Katz, front center facing camera. Continuing clockwise, Alexander R. Brandner, unidentified, Max Pons (obscured), Herman Sachs, Karl Howenstein, Edith Gutterson, Anton Martin Feller, E. Clare Schooler (lover of Dorothy Gibling), person partially obscured at right (unidentified). Photo likely by R. M. Schindler. From the UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Papers. (I am indebted to architectural historian William Scott Blair, steward of the Feller Archive, for identifying Feller and sharing his tragic story with me and help in identifying some of the others in the photo.)
Not long after Deshon's death, Dreiser and Richardson visited Helen Taggart Pole and son Rupert at the Taggart House (see above) on Sunday, April 30, 1922. The house's architect, Lloyd Wright, also the set designer for "Robin Hood," was in attendance at what was likely a house-warming party of sorts for his recently completed house. Finally meeting Wright for the first time after hearing of him only through Kirah Markham's marital complaints, Dreiser wrote,
"Helen does not want to go to Helen Poles, because of the possible crowd but I finally persuade her to go. ... At 5:30 we ride over to the Poles. Beautiful house, built by Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr., who is there. He is the man who married Kirah after I left her and from whom she secured a divorce. A fine fellow. Looks like Ed. A charming artistic point of view. We are shown the house. Dinner. The lights. Mrs. Poles little boy. Jack [John Cowper Powys] and his queer friends [Paul Jordan-Smith, Margrethe Mather, Edward Weston, Florence Deshon, the Schindlers, et al?]. We talk until ten, then motor home. I like Wright so much and wish I might see him again. (Dreiser Diaries, p. 385). (Author's note: It was during Powys' month-long April 1922 Los Angeles lecture tour that Tina Modotti prevailed upon him to pen the introduction to her Book of Robo, a compilation of her recently deceased husband's writings.)
Helen Freeman, ca. 1920. (From I Shock Myself, p. 16).
Helen's husband Reginald Pole was then in New York, directing and starring in then actress Beatrice Wood's lifelong friend Helen Freeman's "Great Way" (see below playbill). He then staged his and John Cowper Powys' adaptation of Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" and soon began an affair with Wood. Wood, who had been appearing on the New York stage as early as 1915, also performed in leading roles with Freeman in both plays. (I Shock Myself, pp. 59-68 and "The Idiot Acted at Benefit," New York Times, April 8, 1922).
"'Great Way' is Colorful; Helen Freeman Acts a Tempestuous Spanish Heroine at the Park," New York Times, November 8, 1921
Excerpt from Young, Stark, "Dostoievsky's Idiot," New Republic, April 26, 1922, p. 255.
from John Cowper Powys, A Record of Achievement by Derek Langridge
The enterprising Pole likely put in a good word with Christine Wetherill Stevenson for Freeman to be selected for the new part of Mary Magdelene in the 1922 version of the Pilgrimage Play. Stevenson sequestered herself in Palm Springs to write the part while Pole was staging "The Idiot" at New York's Little Theatre and his co-author Powys was visiting Pole's wife Helen, Lloyd Wright, Dreiser and Richardson in Los Angeles during his West Coast lecture tour. Pole and Freeman came to Los Angeles in late May to begin rehearsals for the six-week summer run of the Pilgrimage Play. (Schallert, Edwin, "Develop Theme of Magdelen," Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1922, p. III-1 and "Pilgrimage Play: Helen Freeman to Portray Mary Magdelen," Los Angeles Times, June 30, 1922, p. III-1).
"Erecting Home of Unusual Design in Foothill Tract," Los Angeles Times, December 18, 1921, p. V-1.
Schindler, R. M., "Who Will Save Hollywood," Holly Leaves, November 3, 1922, p. 32. Courtesy of the UC-Santa Barbara, University Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Collection. (Author's note: The bottom photo is of the Martha Taggart Residence, mother of Reginald Pole's wife Helen, designed by Lloyd Wright. Helen would divorce Reginald and marry Lloyd in 1926. Pauline would have been interested in the ad adjacent to RMS's article as new son Mark was less than 4-months old.).
Evidenced by the above articles, R. M. Schindler likely followed the construction Wright's Taggart House closely, and vice versa, as he and Clyde Chace were concurrently building their own house on Kings Road. Schindler used Wright's Taggart House to illustrate his article on his concerns regarding the development of the Hollywood Hills (see above). The architects had much in common as their solo career's were on parallel FLW-inspired paths. They traveled in the same social and artistic circles, sought some of the same clients and Wright was also an early habitue of the Schindler's salons where he occasionally performed on his cello.
Frank Lloyd Wright apparently commandeered the Taggart House for a period the following year while he was trying to establish a West Coast office with son Lloyd. This was referenced in John Cowper Powys' below letter to his brother Llewellyn written from the boutique Holly Hotel at 1754-1/4 N. Vermont Ave. a block away from Olive Hill, which also presaged that Pole's marriage was failing and Helen's replacement for him would be none other than his then best friend, Lloyd Wright. (I Shock Myself, pp. 63-4).
"I am very lucky to have found this room in this very small hotel just where I wanted to be. It was only after a very long hunt that I found it. Mr Lloyd Wright who is Helen Pole's chief friend helped me to find it, motoring me round all this district in her ramshackle little car - an excellent young man, but speak of him not to Reginald! But alas! Helen Pole is still not convalescent from her bad attack of pleurisy and she is going down to her 'adobe' cottage at Palm Springs next week, so that I shall be alone - again - except for this admirable young architect who is known to Dreiser and also to our sister Marian. His father, the great architect Mr. Wright, is hiring Helen's house or rather her mother's house here, so they have to clear out now. But the appearance of his formidable father will set up the fortunes of Lloyd, I hope; for he is a nice youth and an honest.
Reginald's little son [Rupert, seen earlier above] has become a fast friend of mine and always calls me 'John Powys'. We are the greatest Rabelaisian cronies. God! he is a little rogue. But he'll be gone too with his mother." (Excerpt from letter from John Cowper Powys to Llewellyn Powys, January 10, 1923 from Letters of John Cowper Powys to His Brother Llewellyn, Vol. 1, edited and selected by Malcolm Elwin, Village Press, London, 1975, p. 313). (Author's note: Lloyd Wright may have met Marian Powys when he visited New York in 1922 where he also met Beatrice Wood at a performance of Pole's at the Provincetown Theater. See I Shock Myself, pp. 63-4. I am indebted to Chris Thomas, Secretary of the Powys Society, for making me aware of Powys letters to his brother.).
Lloyd Wright "was known" to Dreiser via letters from Kirah Markham as early as 1916 and, as previously mentioned, formally met him along with Helen Taggart and guests in April of 1922 at Helen's mother's recently completed house which Lloyd designed. Lloyd possibly first met Powys' sister Marian while living in New York with Kirah Markham. It is likely that Lloyd and Helen were spending much time at the Pole-Taggart 'adobe' cottage in Palm Springs where Lloyd met Pearl McCallum McManus and landed the Oasis Hotel commission (see below). (Author's note: The Pole-Taggart 'adobe' is located on Arenas Rd. on the grounds of what is now known as Casa Cody and was possibly designed by Lloyd per a confusing 1935 article in the Desert Sun. Pole and close friend Lawrence Tibbett assisted in the house's construction which would have taken place around 1916 before Lloyd and Kirah Markham married and left for the East Coast. (Desert Sun, March 1, 1935, p. 5).
Architect Lloyd Wright, contractor Quinn Spalding, and Austin McManus watch as Pearl McCallum McManus turns over the first spade of dirt starting the construction of the Oasis Hotel, Palm Springs, 1923. From The McCallum Saga: The Story of the Founding of Palm Springa by Katherine Ainsworth, Palm Springs Desert Museum, 1973, p. 183.
Rendering for the Oasis Hotel, 125, S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, Lloyd Wright, architect and landscape architect, 1923. From Weintraub, p. 239.
Oasis Hotel, 125 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, Lloyd Wright, architect, 1923. From Palm Springs Holiday: A Vintage Tour from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea by Peter Moruzzi, Gibbs-Smith, 2009, p. 23.
Lloyd Wright's Oasis Hotel in Palm Springs, 1923 and Taggart House, Los Feliz, 1922. Will Connell photos from "The New World Architecture" by Sheldon Cheney (see earlier above), Tudor Publishing Co., 1930, p. 264.
Lloyd Wright, Helen Taggart Wright and son Eric ca. 1933. From I Shock Myself: The Autobiography of Beatrice Wood edited by Lindsay Smith, Chronicle, 1988, p. 118.
In June 1923, Pole, then separated from Helen and living with Beatrice Wood in New York, broke the news to her, "You know, I think I should take a trip west and see my wife and son. ... I really should go see her. Of course, my best friend, Lloyd Wright, lives nearby and if she wants advice she has him. But I would feel better if I went and saw her." Beatrice hoped that Reginald, the love of her life, was going back to arrange for a divorce so that they could marry and received the joyful news two weeks later that Helen had fallen in love with Lloyd (see above) and that they were indeed divorcing. (I Shock Myself, pp. 63-4).
While in Los Angeles during the summer of 1923 Pole, Lloyd Wright and Lawrence Tibbett were undoubtedly socializing and mutually basking in the publicity they were receiving surrounding their Pilgrimage Playhouse (Pole) and Hollywood Bowl (Tibbett) appearances. Tibbett performed in numerous recitals around town before his highly-praised season ending performance as Amonasro in Aida at the Hollywood Bowl (see earlier above). He also performed at the recently-completed Taggart House with almost certainly in attendance the recently cuckolded Pole (see below), Wright and Millier and possibly the Schindlers.
Reginald and Rupert Pole at Martha Taggart Residence, 5423 Black Oak Dr., Los Feliz ca. June 1923. Lloyd Wright, architect, 1922.
Lloyd Dana's review of the Taggart House and Tibbett's recital waxed poetic about "the power of architecture to heighten the beauty of music." She continued "For a full hour we sat silently listening. Here was the wedding of two great arts, and how like each other they are. Design of recurring melodies and rhythms in the music, and in the dim sweet moonlight, pattern growing and developing in the walls and windows of the drawing room." (Danna, Lloyd, "Weekly Los Angeles Musical Review," Pacific Coast Musical Review, July 7, 1923, p. 8).
Martha Taggart Residence, 5423 Black Oak Dr., Los Feliz, restoration by Joe Pytka. From L.A. Curbed.
Stage sets for Julius Caesar, Hollywood Bowl, September 1926. From Department of Water and Power Photo Collection, LA Public Library.
"The entire stage and surrounding terrain of the Bowl will be used in the construction of the massive sets. The hills in the background will be blended with the stage settings to complete a series of remarkable backgrounds for the action of the drama...
The great set prepared for the event breaks up into several units including the Roman Forum, Caesar's house, the orchard or garden of Brutus, the walls of Rome, the Senate house, a street in Rome, the tent of Brutus, the battlefield of Phillippi, etc.
It is so constructed that the action once started may be continuous without delays attendant upon the shifting of scenery. The great battle scene, employing 1000 men, which takes place in the canyon and on the hills in the rear of the Bowl stage, may seen by striking two units of the set, which is done while action is taking place on the terraces in front of the stage." ("Bowl to Stage Tragedy on Magnificent Scale," Los Angeles Times, September 5, 1926, p. II-1.).
Stage sets and cast for Julius Caesar, Hollywood Bowl, September 1926. From Department of Water and Power Photo Collection, LA Public Library.
Hollywood Bowl stage set for "Julius Caesar" designed by Lloyd Wright, 1926. Los Angeles Times, September 5, 1926, p. II-1.
Hollywood Bowl, 1927. Lloyd Wright, architect. From Hollywood Bowl.
The success of the "Julius Caesar" spectacle led to Wright's commission to design the Bowl's short-lived orchestra shells for both the 1927 and 1928 seasons (see above and below). The above 1927 shell was built of left over lumber from the stage sets he designed for the June production of "Robin Hood." ("Bowl Show in Final Rehearsal," Los Angeles Times, June 12, 1927, p. 19).
Hollywood Bowl, 1928. Lloyd Wright, architect. From Hollywood Bowl.
It was during this period that Pole staged his and John Cowper Powys adaptation of Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" which was first staged in April 1922 at the Republic Theatre and the Little Theatre under Pole's direction and with Pole and Estelle Winwood in the lead roles and Beatrice Wood in a supporting role. ("The Idiot Acted at Benefit," New York Times, April 8, 1922). According to Wood the play was a great success and caught the attention of David Belasco and many others. (I Shock Myself, p. 62). The following month Pole performed with his and Powys' mutual friends Maurice Browne and Ellen Van Volkenburg in their American premiere production of Swedish playwright August Strindberg's "Creditors" at the Greenwich Village Theatre. ("Strindberg in Greenwich Village," American-Scandinavian Review, July 1922, p. 436. For more on Pole and Powys see my "The Schindlers and the Westons and the Walt Whitman School").
Ellen Van Volkenburg "Mrs. Maurice Browne" from "Nye, Myra, "Women's Work, Women's Clubs," Los Angeles Times, November 5, 1922, p. III-35.
Later that year Browne and Van Volkenburg (see above) made a stop in Los Angeles for a lecture-reading of "Medea" for the Friday Morning Club at the 1,300-seat Morosco Theater (see below). (Nye, Myra, "'Medea' Worthy Offering," Los Angeles Times, October 22, 1922, p. III-38). While in town they almost certainly reconnected with Paul Jordan-Smith and his wife Sarah (Edward Weston's cousin), a longtime member and future President of the Friday Morning Club, Reginald Pole and Frayne Williams and possibly the Schindlers as well. (For more on these interrelationships see my "SWWWS"). Browne and Van Volkenburg were on their way to San Francisco where they hoped, with the help of Charles Erskine Scott Wood and Sara Bard Field, to open another Little Theatre similar to the one they had so much success with in Chicago. (For much more on this see my "SWKC." See also my "PGS" for more on the participation of Wood and Field as contibuting editors of The Carmelite during Pauline Schindler's editorship.). Browne made a brief foray back to Southern California in the summer of 1923 with an appearance at the cast dinner for the American premiere production of Strindberg's "Lucky Pehr." ("To Found Athens of America," Los Angeles Times, August 19, 1923, p. III-29).
Pole and Wood (see below) soon struck up a relationship and together discovered the works of Dr. Annie Besant and Charles Leadbetter while browsing in the Philosopher's Bookshop which began a lifelong fascination with Theosophy. (I Shock Myself, p. 60).
Beatrice Wood and Reginald Pole, ca. 1925. (From I Shock Myself, p. 79).
In the summer of 1923 Pole invited Wood to come out to Los Angeles and join him for his Pilgrimage Play season, a pattern they would repeat the following summers until Wood, attracted by the presence of Krishnamurti in nearby Ojai, permanently move to Los Angeles in 1926. Wood soon introduced Pole to the Arensbergs who had been living in Aline Barnsdall's Residence A on Olive Hill which Schindler and Lloyd Wright had just recently completed (see above). ("Diaries of Beatrice Wood" in Beatrice Wood: Career Woman - Drawings, Paintings, Vessels, and Objects by Elsa Longhauser and Lisa Melandri, Santa Monica Museum of Art, 2011, p. 93).
Louise Arensberg at Residence "A," Olive Hill, ca. 1923. (From I Shock Myself, p. 68).
Wood quickly adapted to the Los Angeles scene and took up right where she had left off with the Arensbergs, Lawrence Tibbett and his wife Grace and befriending Lloyd and Helen [Taggart] Wright. Despite growing further apart by the end of 1926, Wood and Pole began attending lectures by Annie Besant and visiting the Theosophist community in Ojai. (I Shock Myself, p. 82). During 1926-7 Wood may have also crossed paths with another ardent Theosophist, Pauline Schindler, whose first stop after packing up her son and leaving husband Rudolph and Kings Road in August 1927 was also the fledgling Theosophist community in Ojai. (For much more on this see my Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent for Modernism).
Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1928, pp. 1-2.
Wood's involvement with Theosophy deepened throughout 1927 and by 1928 Wood and Pole had become frequent contributors to The Star: An International Magazine, the official organ of the Order of the Star in the East. For the initial Ojai Star Camp in the spring of 1928 Pole and Wood produced the play "The Light of Asia" starring Pole, his by then wife Frances and Wood (see below). ("Krishnamurti Defines Star," Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1928, p. II-6 and Crane, Helen R., "The Light of Asia," The Star, August 1928, p. 38).
Reginald and Frances Pole and Beatrice Wood, ca. 1928. (I Shock Myself, p. 81).
"Tibbett in "The Jest," Los Angeles Grand Opera Association," The Clubwoman, September 1928, p. 26.
Pole, Wright, Millier and Tibbett likely had a grand reunion during Tibbett's return to Los Angeles in 1928 to perform in "The Jest" for by then Schindler-Weston circle habitue Merle Armitage's Los Angeles Grand Opera Association at the Shrine Auditorium. In his rave review Times music critic Edwin Schallert reminisced about Tibbett's equally superb performance for Armitage as Ford in Verdi's "Falstaff" at the Shrine the previous year. (Schallert, Edwin, "Tibbett Is Opera Idol," Los Angeles Times, October 11, 1928, p. I-11).
Anna Zacsek, 1919. Edward Weston photograph from the Johan Hagemeyer Collection at the Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Apparently sometime in 1919 Anna Zacsek (see above) was drawn into the Pole-Mather-Weston-Wright orbit as that was the year she posed both nude and clothed for Weston. Not long thereafter she began performing in plays directed by Pole at her early mentor Frank Egan's Little Theatre and other venues (see below for example).
Ad for Ibsen's "When We Dead Awaken" at Egan's Little Theater, Los Angeles Times, April 22, 1920, p. III-4).
In the Grace Kingsley's Times theater column announcing a staging of Ibsen's "When We Dead Awaken," Olga Gray [Zacsek], "a protege of [Alla] Nazimova," and Reginald Poel are named as the lead roles and Lloyd Wright's sets were singled out as requiring "...special attention because they embody changes of scene, and also the visualizing of a sunrise and sunset..." (Kingley, Grace, "Cinema and Stage News," Los Angeles Times, April 18, 1920, p. III-11). Later in the year Zacsek and Pole teamed up again for another Ibsen drama "Rosmersholm." The play was again staged at Egan's Little Theatre under Pole's direction and with him in the lead role. The play also also featured Frayne Williams, Otto Matiesen, Lawrence Tibbett, Bertha Fiske and Max Pollock and set designs by Lloyd Wright. ("Little Theater," LAH November 11, 1920, p. B-9).
Los Angeles Times drama critic Edwin Schallert generally praised the show and offered this of individual performances,
"Mr. Poel conveys the impression of rampant asceticism with a vivid clearness in his portrayal of Rosmer. His personality blends very ideally with the role. Anna Zacsek's repressed acting and her finely controlled emotional outburst at the end of the second act made for a really brilliant portrayal of Rebecca West." ("Rosmersholm" Is Given At The Little Theatre," Los Angeles Times, November 10, 1920, p. III-4).
Brack-Shops Magazine cover from "Saving a Loft Building," Buildings and Building Management, February 1917, p. 17-19.
Likely in conjunction with the staging of "Rosmersholm," Olga Grey [Zacsek] spoke at a Drama League meeting in room 805 of the Brack-Shops Building (see above). (Nye, Myra, "Women's Work, Women's Clubs; Drama League," Los Angeles Times, November 11, 1920, p. II-11). Later that month Grace Kingsley, Times drama critic, wrote of Zacsek's mentor Frank Egan's opinion of her affinity for Ibsen roles,
"Without pausing to wrinkle even one moment over the question, Frank Egan made up his mind the very minute the curtain rang down, on "Romersholm," on opening night, at the Little Theatre, that Anna Zacsek would do well in a series of Ibsen matinees in New York, and therefore, being a man of decision, he means at once to make arrangements to that end. So New York may look out for a highbrow invasion.
Miss Zacsek is the same brilliant young actress whom we used to know in pictures as Olga Gray. She always had a great desire to play Ibsen, even in the old days, in Triangle mellers [melodramas].
Ever since her first appearance in Ibsen plays a year or so ago, at the Little Theatre, she has shown unusual brilliancy and aptitude for such roles." (Kingley, Grace, "Olga Gray As Was," Los Angeles Times, November 26, 1920, p. III-4).
A couple days later, Olga Gray Sachel [sic] [Zacsek] "leading woman in Reginald Poel's company" spoke on the aims of the drama at the Ebell Club. ("Women's Work and Women's Clubs," Los Angeles Times, November 28, 1920, p. III-35).
"'Hedda Gabler' Soon; Olga Gray Zacsek to Play Title Role," Los Angeles Times, January 9, 1921, p. III-14).
Pole's next Little Theatre production was Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" with Olga Gray Zacsek in the title role (see above). The play was the most successful from a box-office standpoint Egan had ever staged at his Little Theatre. Edwin Schallert remarked on Zacsek's performance,
"Hedda is not typically her metier as was the lady of intriguing purposes in "Rosmersholm," although there was a steady gaining of performance in her portrayal. She showed a tendency at the opening to strain for emotional effect, not exactly suitable to the woman who, with all her determination to reach out to rule, was constantly held in check by her conventional bonds. ... With the play's progress Miss Zacsek made this part of her interpretation ever more convincing. Still, she did not differentiate quite sufficiently in the part from her previous Ibsen roles." (Schallert, Edwin, "Hedda Gabler" Presented at Little Theatre," Los Angeles Times, January 18, 1921, p. III-4).
"California Will Aid Plan to Save Home of Poe," LAH, January 17, 1921.
Around this time Zacsek was leading a local fund-raising effort to save the home of poet Edgar Allen Poe which was threatened with destruction (see above). Zacsek was negotiating with Frank Egan to stage an all-star benefit performancee with leading stage and screen luminaries to raise funds for the effort. (Ibid).
Zacsek's next stage outing was in the lead role on Maeterlinck's "Monna Vanna" under the directorship of Hedwiga Reicher again at Egan's Little Theatre. Reicher was rebounding from the previous November being outrageously ousted at the last minute as director of the 1,500 member cast of "The Mayflower Pageant" commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrim's arrival in America (see below). Under the auspices of the Hollywood Women's Club, the spectacle attended by 10,000 people was held at the Theatre Arts Alliance site which would soon become the Hollywood Bowl. This was also about the time the Schindlers were on their way to Los Angeles from Chicago. The American Legion cited Reicher's alien status and the nation still being technically at war with Germany as their reasoning for their demands that she step down. ("Director Withdraws by Request; Legion Has Miss Reicher Ousted," Los Angeles Times, November 27, 1920, p. II-1. Author's note: Reicher would later perform at the Schindler's Kings Road House and direct plays for Schindler intimate Maurice Browne at the Theatre of the Golden Bough in Carmel during its inaugural season in 1924. See my "The Schindlers in Carmel, 1924". She would also go on to play Mary Magdalene in "The Pilgrimage Play" and a distinguished movie career.).
"Miss Hedwiga Reicher Who Directs Hollywood's Pilgrim Pageant," Holly Leaves, November 13, 1920, front cover.
In a later lengthy feature on Zacsek, Grace Kingley reported that when the "Monna Vanna"'s opening seemed about to be postponed due to the sets not being ready Zacsek unceremoniously "bought a pot of paint, put on an old apron, and stayed up all night to help paint the scenery." (Kingsley, Grace, Art Play Is In Rehearsal; Modernistic Production of "Monna Vanna"; Olga Grey Zacsek In Title Role," Los Angeles Times, February 20, 1921, p. III-13).
"'Monna Vanna' Soon, Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1921, p. III-16.
By far Zacsek's most well-received performance of the 1920-21 dramatic season was her portryal in the title role of "Monna Vanna" (see above). It is plausible that the Schindlers attended a performance as the play's subject matter was right up feminist Pauline's alley. After suffering the indignities of the fledgling movie business for the first five years of her acting career, this was a part she could clearly identify with if her, Margrethe Mather's and Pauline Schindler's idol Emma Goldman's analysis of Maurice Maeterlinck's intentions is any indication.
"In "Monna Vanna" Maurice Maeterlinck gives a wonderful picture of the new woman - not the new woman as portrayed in the newspapers, but the new woman as a reborn, regenerated spirit; the woman who has emancipated herself from her narrow outlook upon life, and detached herself from the confines of the home; the woman, short, who has become race-conscious and therefore understands that she is a unit in the great ocean of life, and that she must take her place as an independent factor in order to rebuild and remold life. In proportion as she learns to become race-conscious, does she become a factor in the reconstruction of society, valuable to herself, to her children, and to the race." (The Social Significance of the Modern Drama by Emma Goldman, Badger, Boston, 1914, pp. 130-131).Times drama critic Grace Kingsley lauded Frank Egan for bringing the play for the first time to Los Angeles and entrusting the renowned Hedwiga Reicher to direct. (Ibid). She described Zacsek as,
"...the dark-eyed volatile, fascinating young siren, who used to be Olga Grey in pictures, but who flashed suddenly meteor-like across our vision a few months ago at the Little Theatre, when she created a sensation in Ibsen's "Rosmersholm," and later as the heroine of "Hedda Gabler." She has sort of a slender, Burne-Jones brunette beauty, has Miss Zacsek, that is oddly striking anywhere, and which is especially attractive on the stage. Having seen her you'll not forget her. Her personality is vivid, but odd. Alive every minute, her brilliant black eyes miss nothing."Presciently describing the character traits that would bode well for her later career as an attorney, Kingsley continued,
"Miss Zacsek takes an active interest in everything, both in and out of her profession, believing all is fish in the way of equipment that comes to the actress's net. ... It wasn't mere idle curiosity that prompted her, nor mere idle observation, for previously she had spent much time reading along medical and psychopathic lines believing that such knowledge is endlessly helpful insight into life. Up in San Francisco she went once and dwelt in Chinatown with a missionary woman friend for a fortnight, and another time she aided a detective in unraveling a crime mystery. While in New York a few years ago, she lived in Greenwich Village, absorbing atmosphere. But back of this young player's seemingly meteoric success are several years of hard, grueling work and heart-breaking professional experiences. She had studied music and art, and fitted herself as a concert pianist, when curiosity led her one day, about six years ago, over to the Griffith studio, where D. W. Griffith was putting on "The Birth of a Nation."Kingsley briefly summed up Zacsek's early movie career and continued with,
"...but she got the New York fever, went back there, met Nazimova, who kindly advised her, took her to dinner, lunch and the theater, and was a great and real source of inspiration to the little unknown western girl. But all of her hopes for the theatrical engagement she had longed for fell through, and when a picture engagement also failed, she became so disheartened that she came home and took a position as governess."Zacsek always maintained hope of returning to the stage and her chance came when Egan engaged Pole to stage some Ibsen plays at his Little Theatre and when he introduced her to him,
"...[Pole] at once believed in her, and it was in her first stage venture, Ibsen's "When We Dead Awaken," that she showed what her talent really was made of. Then she did "Rosmersholm" and "Hedda Gabler," but it appears that in "Monna Vanna" her brilliancy will find an even more congenial atmosphere. Such great faith has Frank Egan in Miss Zacsek that he means to send that young woman to New York in a series of Ibsen matinees." (Kingsley, Grace, Art Play Is In Rehearsal; Modernistic Production of "Monna Vanna"; Olga Grey Zacsek In Title Role," Los Angeles Times, February 20, 1921, p. III-13).
"Monna Vanna" by Max Wieczorek, 1921. From Max Wieczorek: His Life and Work by Everett Carroll Maxwell, Los Angeles, 1930, p. 65. See also Bingham, Elizabeth, "Art Exhibits and Comment," Saturday Night, September 23, 1922.
The busy Zacsek found the time to pose in costume for a pastel portrait by artist Max Wieczorek (see above). The work was later featured in the third exhibition of the California Water Color Society at the Los Angeles Museum in September 1923. Of the likeness, art critic Elizabeth Bingham wrote,
"Max Wieczorek's portrait of Olga Grey Zacsek dominates the room. The painter has made a simple and highly sympathetic use of his subject. The figure has vitality of contour and an evasive charm. The long line of the arms echoes the long rhythmic line of the body. Pastel is a delicate medium for so vital a figure but after all it suggests that evanescent soul-quality which is the Maeterlinck note in literature." (Ibid).
"Film Favorite Bares Secret Marriage," LAH, April 13, 1921, p. 1.
Probably breaking the hearts of many of her idolators in the process, the Herald announced on the front page in April that the 24-year old Zacsek had eloped with 21-year old movie actor Arnold Ray Samberg, aka Arnold Gregg the previous December. I have not yet determined how long the marriage lasted.
Zacsek played the lead role in "The Jest" in San Francisco in May 1921 prompting Frank Egan to announce his plans produce it at his Little Theatre but the production never came to pass. ("Kingsley, Grace, "We'll See 'Jest' Here; Egan to Produce It With Olga Zacsek Starred," Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1921, p. III-1). In a preview of the 1921-22 dramatic season the Times reported that as part of impresario Frank Egan's Little Theatre offerings included his plans
"...to bring Olga Gray Zacsek, who is now in Detroit working on a series of musical productions in conjunction with the New York Symphony Orchestra. Among other productions in which he will feature Miss Zacsek, Mr. Egan mentions "Thy Name Is Woman," played last year at the Mason with Mary Nash, and "The Riddle Woman" by Charlotte E. Wells." ("Art Theaters Active Here," Los Angeles Times, October 23, 1921, p. III-13).
While in Detroit Zacsek worked with earlier Aline Barnsdall-Kirah Markham collaborator Irving Pichel, Sam Hume and Pasadena Community Playhouse director Gilmor Brown staging "Pelleas and Melisande," "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Beyond the Horizon," "The Importance of Being Earnest," and "Pygmalion and Galeta" - all to the accompaniment of Ossip Gabrilowitsch's Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
While Schindler and Lloyd Wright were busy building their Kings Road and Taggart Houses and a few weeks before Florence Deshon's suicide in New York in early 1922, Frank Egan tapped his star pupil Zacsek to try her hand at directing. She was charged to put the all-black Momolu Players through their paces in local newspaper woman Eloise Bibb-Thompson's "Africanus" at the Walker Theatre. ("Colored Cast Stage Drama at Walker," Los Angeles Times, January 22, 1922, p. III-28). Zacsek commissioned avant-garde cubist stage settings in the manner of Provincetown Players collaborators Arthur Hopkins and Robert Edmund Jones from local set designers Clyde Tracy and Harry Oliver and selected a jazz orchestra for accompaniment.
A Times report on the play quoted Egan, "I am giving the colored folk their first opportunity in this city to express themselves through the medium of the drama. We have had colored minstrels, musical comedies and the like, but never before to my knowledge has the negro of this city been given the chance to display his real dramatic ability in a big downtown theater to a mixed audience." ("Colored Cast in "Africanus,"" Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1922, p. III-4). Egan also tried a unique seating arrangement reserving the first floor exclusively for colored people and the balcony for whites. He quickly had to integrate the seating when the initial arrangement met with strong disapproval from blacks. ("Seating Changes for Negro Play," Los Angeles Times, January 23, 1922, p. I-14).
The play was held over due for a second week due to it's popularity and novelty. ("'Africanus" Stays," Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1922, p. III-29). A review in NAACP publication The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races read,
"Working with pliable material sensitive to color and rhythm, Olga Grey Zacsek, director, produced some interesting results with "Africanus." There was nothing stiff nor ungraceful about the work of these Negro actors and actresses and the lilt of their musical voices was pleasing to the ear. The play is rich in Negro humor, some of it of a delicious order, and the audience was kept laughing most of the time. ... In stage settings Miss Zacsek has struck a note entirely new to Los Angeles, following the lead of Arthur Hopkins and Robert Edmond Jones, disciples of Gordon Craig. Tracy and Oliver were the artists." ("The Looking Glass," The Crisis, April 1922, p. 275).
Zacsek spent the 1922-23 season in a still-war-torn Europe studying drama in Paris, Vienna and Budapest where she also performed in "Hedda Gabler," "Anna Karenina" and "Judith of Bethulia" in her native Hungary. ("Portia Once Screen Star," Los Angeles Times, June 10, 1935, p. I-1). Upon her return she shared with Grace Kingsley her future plans to appear in a series of classic dramas at Frank Egan's Little Theatre before going to New York under Egan's management to perform in "Monna Vanna" and "Hedda Gabler." She also had hopes of interesting the powers that be and friends in New York of her plan of forming a subsidized national theater such as she observed first hand in Austria and Hungary. (Kingsley, Grace, "Subsidized Art Finds Apostle; Actress Advocates National Theater; Anna Zacsek Tells of Post-War Vienna," Los Angeles Times, September 9, 1923, pp. III-21-2). Zacsek also likely shared news of Vienna with an eager Schindler the first time they socialized upon her return.
While Zacsek was in Europe, Reginald Pole was active on Broadway in two productions of "Hamlet" and one of "King Lear." Pole played the ghost alongside the legendary John Barrymore as Hamlet and Tyrone Power, Sr. as the King of Denmark at the Sam H. Harris Theatre which ran from November 16, 1922 through February 1923. During November 1922 Edward Weston was in New York for a visitation with the high priest of photography, Alfred Stieglitz, thus it's possible that he could have attended a performance. A year later Pole again appeared alongside Barrymore in "Hamlet," this time at Norman-Bel Geddes' patron Otto Kahn's Manhattan Opera House. (Miracle In The Evening by Norman Bel Geddes).
In March of 1923 Pole produced and directed "King Lear" at the Earl Carrol Theatre in which he played the title role, Kirah Markham played his daughter Regan, and Lawrence Tibbett played Edgar, Gloucester's son and with Beatrice Wood undoubtedly in attendance. Coincidentally, this Lear production featuring Lloyd Wright's two best friends, Pole and Tibbett, and his ex-wife Markham seemingly indicates that they all first met while Markham was performing at Aline Barnsdall's Los Angeles Little Theatre in 1916-17. In her autobiography Wood mentions meeting Lloyd Wright at a performance of the Provincetown Players with whom Markham was also connected. (I Shock Myself, pp. 63-4). Markham performed at least five times on Broadway in the early 1920s including George Cram Cook's Provincetown Players production of "The Spring" at the Princess Theatre in September-October 1921 thus this is possibly the performance where Pole first introduced Wood to Wright.
Lovell Beach House, Newport Beach, R. M. Schindler, architect, 1926. Edward Weston photo, 08-02-1927. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
While Edward Weston was spending most of mid-1923 to late 1926 in Mexico with Tina Modotti, Schindler and Lloyd Wright were establishing their solo careers and building some of their most iconic work. Besides the Kings Road House and the Taggart House and others, Schindler and Wright respectively completed in 1926 the Lovell Beach House in Newport Beach and Sowden House in Hollywood (see above and below).
Sowden House, Hollywood, 1926, Lloyd Wright, architect. Photo by Willard D. Morgan. (From "Glass Roof Lights House Without Windows" Popular Mechanics, July 1927, p. 25). (Author's note: Morgan was the husband of Barbara Morgan who, along with Annita Delano mounted an exhibition of Weston's work at UCLA shortly after his return from Mexico. For more on this see my "Foundations of Los Angeles Modernism").
During this same period Zacsek was trying to establish herself on Broadway. She spent most of 1924-6 in New York where in December 1924 and January 1925 she performed in "Carnival" with Elsie Ferguson at the Cort Theatre under the direction of Frank Reicher, brother of the previously-mentioned Hedwiga Reicher. ("Echoes of Music Activities Here," Los Angeles Times, February 1, 1925, p. 30). In the spring of 1924 Schindler spent a few months in New York remodeling a commercial space and personal residence for his recent Hollywood client Helena Rubenstein. It seems plausible that while he was in town he could have hooked up with Zacsek and/or Pole. In November 1925 Zacsek signed to appear in the supporting cast of Lionel Atwill's production of "Deep in the Woods" but the play never materialized. (Kingsley, Grace, "Anna Zacsek Heard From," Los Angeles Times, November 12, 1925, p. I-11). The same month she was part of the ensemble of "Girofle-Girofla" at Jolson's 59th Street Theatre.
In the meantime Frayne Williams was directing his Los Angeles Literary Theatre troupe in Ibsen's "John Gabriel Borkman" at the Pasadena Community Playhouse in conjunction with the 1924 Drama League National Convention. The play followed a program of dance numbers under the direction of Weston and Schindler intimate Bertha Wardell and her partner Dorothy Lyndall. ("Clubs Hit In Drama Talk," Los Angeles Times, May 31, 1924, p. I-2). (For much more on Wardell see my "Bertha Wardell: Dances in Silence: Kings Road, Olive Hill and Carmel").
Rendering for the Pasadena Community Theater, Elmer Grey, Architect, 1924. Courtesy LAPL Photo Collection.
Also part of Convention festivities was the laying of the cornerstone for Gilmor Brown's new Pasadena Community Theater designed by Elmer Grey (see above). Also mentioned as possibly performing during the convention besides Gilmor Brown's Pasadena Community Players were Neely Dickson's Hollywood Community Players and lecturers Sam Hume, Irving Pichel and Maurice Browne, then in Carmel where he was preparing for the grand opening of Edward Kuster's Theatre of the Golden Bough (see below). ("League of Players To Meet Here," Los Angeles Times, February 10, 1924, p. 30 and SWKC).
From left, Maurice Browne, Carol Aronovici, Hedwiga Reicher, Edward Kuster, Ruth Kuster, Betty Merle Horst and Paul Stevenson in front of the Theatre of the Golden Bough, Carmel, 1924. Courtesy Edward Kuster Papers, Harrison Memorial Library Collections. (Author's note: The Schindlers likely met future AGIC partner (with Richard Neutra) Carol Aronovici and Hedwiga Reicher, a performer at their Kings Road House in 1928 (see below), while visiting Carmel during the summer of 1924. For more on this see The Schindlers in Carmel, 1924 ).
Sadakichi Hartmann Welcome Home Party announcement, Kings Road, October 24, 1928. Lists Hedwig Reicher as one of the performers. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Brochure for "Summer School of the Art of the Theatre" conducted by Maurice Browne and Ellen Van Volkenburg at Edward Kuster's Theatre of the Golden Bough, Carmel, 1924. Courtesy Edward Kuster Papers, Harrison Memorial Library Collections.
Announcement for performances of two of Browne's plays. Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1924.
Upon settling in Los Angeles Browne produced the occasional play (see above) and for the next two years taught at USC. Hearing that he was in the city, former students came back one by one to work with him. (Browne, p. 286). Appalled by Browne's squalid surroundings at USC, frequent Edward Weston portrait subject as early as 1916, Ruth St. Denis allowed him free use of her building and office while she was gone on a world tour. (Browne, p. 287). (For much more on Ruth St. Denis see my Bertha Wardell: Dances in Silence.)
Maurice Browne Theatre promotional fund-raising letter from Thomas H. Elson and G. G. Detzer to the Schindlers, August 24, 1925. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Despite Browne's philandering ways, Van Volkenberg continued her professional relationship and they were soon back working together on projects such as an April, 1925 Maurice Browne Players performance at the Wilshire Ebell Theater of Browne's "Mother of Gregory" first performed in Carmel the previous summer. ("Ebell Program for Month Out", L.A. Times, April 23, 1925, p. I-7.) Throughout 1925 momentum began to build for construction of a little theater for Los Angeles to house the newly formed Maurice Browne Theatre Association. During the summer a consortium of sponsors began a $125,000 fund-raising campaign to finance the construction of a new theater and classrooms for the project. RMS couldn't help but hope that the theater commission would come his way. (See above solicitation letter for example).
Maurice Browne Theatre Association season-ticket subscription form, 1926. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
As one of the movers and shakers of the planning effort, Pauline organized an event at Kings Road to help promote the cause. She arranged for Browne to lecture on Hermann Keyserling, likely on the occasion of the recent publication of his The Travel Diary of a Philosopher. (Author's note: Edward Weston often referenced Keyserling's diary in his Daybooks). Possibly accompanied by Ellen Janson to the soiree, Browne recollected, "And Pauline Schindler, brilliant, warm-hearted, bitter-tongued, who was trying to create a salon amid Hollywood's cultural slagheap, invited me to her home to lecture on Keyserling." (Browne, p. 287). Pauline excitedly wrote her mother of the salon, "[the party]...is going to be huge. We have never had more than a hundred guests before ... But this will be overflowing." (PGS letter to her mother, [n.d.] circa October, 1925. Cited in Sweeney, p. 96).
Subway Terminal Building, 417 S. Hill St., 1925, Schultze and Weaver, architects. From LAPL Photo Collection.
A few months later Browne formally announced that Los Angeles would be the production headquarters for his Maurice Browne Theatre Association with offices to be located in the Transportation (aka Subway Terminal) Building and that he would be joined by Van Volkenberg. ("Nationally Known Producer Chooses City as Production Headquarters for Little Plays", Los Angeles Times, February 28, 1927, p. 23). The following week another lengthy article reported on the specifics of the association's planning efforts and the plays Browne currently had in rehearsal. The members of the Sponsors' Committee were listed and included as chairman Thomas H. Elson, G. G. Detzer, Mrs. R. M. Schindler and others. (Little Theater Planned, Los Angeles Times, March 7, 1926, p. 21).
A banquet at the Men's City Club a few nights later feted Browne and Van Volkenburg with numerous testimonial speeches and telegrams from around the country wishing the venture well. ("Announces Premiere Production," Los Angeles Times, March 9, 1926, p. I-10). Browne reminisced,
"A great banquet was planned in my honour; every theatrical celebrity whom I knew in America and Europe was invited to attend as a guest of honour; an astonishingly large number sent messages of goodwill; some even accepted. The realtor danced round Ruth St. Denis' office: "With these names behind us the theatre is as good as built." It was all so splendiferous that I telegraphed Nellie Van to come to the banquet; she sat beside me; the speeches made us feel that we had not lived in vain. Finally our evening came to its end. As I was leaving, the chairwoman of the Publicity Committee unostentatiously handed me an envelope. "A cheque on account," I thought, "how charming:" and thanked her warmly. When I got home I opened the envelope. It contained the bill for printing, postage, stationery, telephone, telegrams, table decorations and dinner for the guests of honour. Grinning wrily, Nellie Van returned to Seattle. My students and I gave performances anywhere - schoolrooms, tents, barns - where a ten-dollar note could be earned toward paying that bill: dollar by dollar we paid it to the last cent. Then I spat savagely and straight into the streets of Los Angeles and, worn out by the interminable conflicts within myself, the interminable struggle to establish a theatre which mattered, the interminable inability to pay for it, said goodbye to my theatric dreams." (Browne, p. 288).
Browne dejectedly left for San Francisco where he licked his wounds over the next nine months and during which time Browne and Janson were married. ("Maurice Browne and Seattle Girl Married," Carmel Cymbal, March 9, 1927, p. 1). He reflected before returning alone "back to the womb" to England, "After fifteen years' continuous struggle I had failed in the theatre; I had failed as a husband twice; I had failed as a father." Browne later recollected Pauline's unflagging support, "Twenty-four years later, during my farewell visit to America, Pauline lent me the house [Kings Road]. There I forgathered again daily with these and other old friends. Pauline was battling against political, Grace against educational, Sophie against social stupidity." (Browne, p. 287).
Shortly after Weston and his son Brett returned from Mexico in late 1926, Zacsek's mentor Frank Egan summoned her back to Los Angeles to make one of his first and best disciples an equal partner in the formation of their ill-fated experimental "Actor's Theater." Their troupe was to perform at Egan's Little Theatre but Egan's untimely March 15, 1927 death nipped their lofty dreams in the bud. ("Portia Once a Screen Star," Los Angeles Times, June 10, 1935, p. I-1). It was also around this time that Zacsek, then living in a nondescript house at 1488 Sunset Blvd. (see below), had Schindler prepare preliminary plans for a house for her mother Theresa on Sayre Lane near Sunset and Silver Lake Boulevards. (Drawer 46, folder 517, Schindler Collection, UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections).
Former Zacsek Residence, 1488 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Built in 1923, archietct unknown. Courtesy Google Earth.
Belmont Theatre, 1st St. and Vermont Ave., 1926. L. A. Smith, architect. Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
Zacsek reconnected with Pole later that year and the pair joined the Sprague Repertoire Players for an early 1928 Belmont Theatre (see above) reprise of the Powys-Pole adaptation of "The Idiot" which Pole premiered in New York with Beatrice Wood in 1922. The new cast included Pole in the lead role and Boris Karloff, Pole's wife Frances, Beatrice Wood and others (see playbill below). R. M. Schindler, recently separated from his wife Pauline who was then in Carmel with son Mark embarking on a journalism career with first, the Carmel Pine Cone and later The Carmelite, designed the stage sets. Schindler's opinionated mother-in-law Sophie Gibling weighed in on his set designs with,
"Is your "Idiot" scenery to be for stage or movie? I read the book last summer, and found much in it to criticize, much to praise, and much food for thought. I could tell you exactly how to do the setting. When I read a book I am continuously painting new mental pictures." (Sophie Gibling to RMS, n.d., ca. January 1928. UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection).
Playbill for "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky as adapted by Reginald Pole and John Cowper Powys, Belmont Theatre (see below), January 25th and 28th, 1928. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Los Angeles Times critic Marquis Busby thought the play was "Excellently acted and intelligently staged" and "one of the most interesting events of the winter stage season." Of Pole, who was spending his first winter season in Southern California since 1920-21, he opined,
"Reginald Pole gives a remarkable performance as Myshkin, the frail Russian prince. Pole has a marvelously sensitive face, on which expressions are mirrored with perfect fidelity. There are times in "The Idiot" when he appears almost in an eerie fashion as the true Redeemer. His voice, as in the Pilgrimage Play with which he has been identified, is of youthful, sympathetic timbre."Busby thought Zacsek to be "a picturesque, interesting Natasya and the possessor of a splendid voice." (Busby, Marquis, ""Idiot" is Intensely Powerful," Los Angeles Times, January 26, 1928, I-11). Former lover Weston had a similarly favorable review as he wrote of Zacsek,
"Through Harriet [Freeman], - Ahna Zaesek [sic] sent me tickets to "The Idiot," in which she and Reginald Pole took the leads. I thought Ahna [sic] showed a mature conception, compared to those Ibsen days of, I guess, ten years ago. Both she and Reginald were excellent, though the cast was weak in some parts.
After, Ahna joined us: Harriet, Sam and myself, to supper and an evening of dancing and reminiscing at the Freeman home. (The house is by Frank Lloyd Wright: a fine conception except for the insistent pattern on cement blocks which weakens by over-ornamentation.) Ahna can cook as well as act. Some of her idolaters should see her in kitchen array! I teased Ahna, remembering the day years ago when she posed in the nude: a modest virgin who insisted on covering herself at certain points with a towel after each negative, and quite hampering my way of seeing the critical moment.
Harriet dances well: if she were smaller - in bulk - she would be ideal for me. We danced many times to exquisite Spanish tangos." (DaybooksII, January 29, 1928, p. 47).
Harriet Freeman, 1925. Photographer unknown. From Chusid, p. 138. University of Southern California Freeman House Archive © 2011.
As they did with Zacsek and numerous other women, Weston and Schindler also shared a romantic interest in Harriet Freeman (see above). Like Aline Barnsdall and John Storer, the Freeman's would commission Schindler to design additions, renovations and furniture over the years for their Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes in Hollywood (see below for example). The last of four concrete block houses Wright designed during his brief 1923-4 stint in Los Angeles, the Freeman House was also a major stop on the salon-party circuit for the Schindler-Weston circles (see announcement for Schindler lecture two below for example). (For much more on the Freeman House and the Schindler-Weston circles see my "Foundations of Los Angeles Modernism").
Freeman House, 1962 Glencoe Way, Hollywood, Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, 1924. Living room furniture by R. M. Schindler. Photo by Julius Shulman. From The Furniture of R. M. Schindler edited by Marla C. Berns, UC-Santa Barbara Art Museum, 1996, p. 100.
Announcement for R. M. Schindler Lecture on "Modern Architecture" at the Freeman House, 1962 Glencoe Way, Hollywood, September 29, [1928?].
After "The Idiot" wrapped, Pole retreated to his beloved Palm Springs where he devoted himself to completing his "life work," a musical drama entitled "The Elfrith Idyll" which was conceived during his Cambridge days in collaboration with best friend Rupert Brooke. As an antidote for his months of concentration, Pole announced that he would present a series of matinee performances starting with Arnold Bennett's "The Great Adventure" and that future matinees would probably include some Ibsen dramas featuring Zacsek as the heroine. ("Reginald Pole Writes Music Drama; To Do Play Series," Los Angeles Times, April 15, 1928, p. C-13).
"Monna Vanna" ad, Los Angeles Times, April 1928.
In the meantime, Zacsek's next role was the lead in the Maeterlinck drama "Monna Vanna" in which she first appeared at the Egan Little Theatre in 1921. Of the play, which had a six-night run at the Trinity Auditorium (see ad above) under the auspices of the Los Angeles Opera and Drama Guild, the Times review read,
"The presentation which featured Olga Zacsek, was effective to the tiniest detail. The cast was an excellent one, and the costumes and the settings harmonized in a highly effective manner, the whole blending into a colorful tableaux. ... As mentioned before, Olga Zacsek, in the role of the heroine, Monna Vanna, completely captured last night's audience, not only with her histrionic ability, but with her charm and exceedingly lovely appearance. Boris Karloff gave a splendid characterization in the difficult role of Guido Collona, and William Stack shared honors with his interpretation of the Florentine general, Prinzivalle." (Olga Zacsek Acts Lead in Guild Drama," Los Angeles Times, April 24, 1928, p. I-11).
Ad for "For the Soul of Rafael" at the Trinity Auditorium, Los Angeles Times, May 1928.
Continuing her association with the Drama Guild and Boris Karloff, Zacsek next appeared in the leading role in the stage adaptation of the recent movie based on Marah Ellis Ryan's book "For the Soul of Rafael," a romantic depiction of the early mission days of California (see ad above). The enraptured Schindler again provided the stage sets, possibly inspired by the decorative page designs provided for Ryan's book (see below) by his and Pauline's close Chicago and Carmel friend, publisher Ralph Fletcher Seymour. (For much more on Seymour see my "Schindlers in Carmel, 1924" and "R. M. Schindler, Richard Neutra, and Louis Sullivan's Kindergarten Chats").
Title page, For the Soul of Rafael by Marah Ellis Ryan, A. C. McClurg, Chicago, 1910.
Movie poster for "Hotel Imperial."
Next out of the box for Zacsek was the leading role in the American stage debut of Hungarian countryman Lajos Biro's "Hotel Imperial" which had recently met with much success on the silver screen for Paramount Pictures starring Pola Negri (see above poster). Zacsek (see below) again appeared alongside Boris Karloff and William Stack, this time as part of the Sprague Repertoire Players at the Egan Theatre with Schindler again providing the stage sets (see playbill two below). Zacsek's acting and Schindler's sets were particularly singled out for praise.
"Honors go to Olga Zacsek for a poignantly lovely interpretation of the awkward inarticulate chamber maid. She has scenes of passionate fright and choking misery that are beautiful bits of emotionalism. ... Settings by R. M. Schindler are strikingly contraposed arches and angles against black curtains. A most interesting effect of remoteness was achieved in the murder scene by placing the furnishings of a room on a small high platform. The fact that the bottoms of the tables and trays were visible gave the feeling of the fourth floor back with a clever simplicity of means." (Miller, Llewellyn, "Olga Zacsek in Egan Play," Los Angeles Record, May 24, 1928).
Olga Zacsek, "Repertoire Players Take a Bow," Los Angeles Times, May 23, 1928, p. I-9.
"Hotel Imperial" Playbill, Sprague Repertoire Players, Egan Theatre, 1928. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Attendance for "Hotel Imperial" did not meet expectations and Sydney Sprague decided to cut his losses by not paying Zacsek the $450 he owed her. Having to go through the process of suing Sprague in Municipal Court, winning a judgment, filing a lien on his property and then still not get paid was the last straw for Zacsek's acting career prompting her to quit the footlights for the study of law at Loyola University.
"Ex-Actress In Court As Defendant," Los Angeles Times, April 10, 1930, p. I-12).
While Zacsek was in law school Sprague's wife Farah brought suit to quiet title to the property Zacsek had attached claiming that her husband had deeded it to her years earlier. ("Russian Actress Fights Suit of Producer's Wife," Los Angeles Times, April 7, 1930, p. I-6). Zacsek knew she had finally chosen a career in which she would have better control over her financial destiny when the judge ruled in her favor a few weeks later ruling that "the attachment must stand until Miss Zacsek is paid her $450." (Portia Wins Wage Fight As Actress," Los Angeles Times, May 12, 1930, p. I-1). Zacsek's passage of the bar exam two years later was headlined along with her group photo in an article in the Los Angeles Times (see below).
"Fathers and Sons in Bar Ceremony," Los Angeles Times, December 10, 1932, p. I-2.
Zacsek practiced in relative anonymity until 1935 when she was "unmasked" during her successful defense in a highly publicized murder trial in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Fletcher Bowron, soon to become the 35th Mayor of Los Angeles (see below). ("Portia Once a Screen Star; Trial Unmasks Olga Grey; Griffith Actress Finds More Drama at Bar Than in Films," Los Angeles Times, June 10, 1935, pp. I-1, 8).
Zacsek Residence, 114 Ellen St., Playa del Rey, 1938. From R. M. Schindler by Judith Sheine, Gustavo Gili, 1998, p. 151.
Flush with money for the first time in her life, Zacsek commissioned Schindler to design a new house on the sand dunes of Playa del Rey in 1936. The striking home with commanding views of Santa Monica Bay (see above and below) was completed not long after the Schindler's divorce proceedings began in earnest in late 1937. In a December 21, 1937 letter to her client Schindler Zacsek wrote, "I suggest that you have assembled your income and expenditures. Not that I desire to look into your private life, but, it is truly necessary if we are to muzzle Pauline." There is also 1938 correspondence in the Schindler Archive at UCSB from Pauline's attorney, Morris E. Cohn, regarding child support. Cohn, like Pauline, was an amateur composer, thus they were also probably longtime friends from happier times at Kings Road. (I am indebted to author Susan Morgan for the above UCSB Zacsek-RMS and Cohn-PGS correspndence from UCSB).
Zacsek Residence, 114 Ellen St., Playa del Rey, 1938. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
While Schindler was completing her house in Playa del Rey, Zacsek was possibly performing in her last acting role in "The Trial of Sally Rand" as part of the April Frolic of the California Business Women's Council on April Fool's Eve at the Royal Palms Hotel. ("Business Women Plan April Frolic," Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1937, p. I-5). A few months later John Cage's mother Crete reported that Zacsek was one of the participants assisting Judge Oda Faulconer in a National Association of Women Lawyers and California Business Women's Council dinner honoring Florence Monahan, the first woman superintendent of a California correctional facility, the California Institution for Women at Tehachapi. (Cage, Crete, "Tehachapi Leader to be Feted," Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1937, p. I-5). John Cage was a tenant at the Schindler's Kings Road House in 1934 and arranged a concert there in 1935 during his brief affair with Pauline Schindler who was then living in Ojai with son Mark. (For much more on the Schindler-Cage relationship see my "Schindlers-Westons-Kashevaroff-Cage").
Fudger-Hughes-Zacsek Residence, 211 S. Muirfield Ave., Hancock Park. Roland E. Coate, Sr., architect, Florence Yoch and Lucile Council, landscape architects, 1926 with later interior modifications by R. M. Schindler for Anna Zacsek. From The Legendary Howard Hughes, Jr. web site.
After she attained even broader success as an attorney, Zacsek purchased from Howard Hughes his estate at 211 Muirfield Road (see below), in Hancock Park. The 30-room Monterey-style home near Hughes' hangout, the Wilshire Country Club, was designed by architect Roland E.Coate, Sr. in 1926 for socialite Eva K. Fudger with landscaping by Florence Yoch and Lucille Council. Hughes first lived there with his first wife, Ella Rice, and after their divorce Billie Dove moved in, later to be followed by Katharine Hepburn. Hughes first leased the property from Fudger for $1,000 a month and purchased it in 1929 for $135,000 including her antiques and art collection. (See The Legendary Howard Hughes, Jr. web site). About the time Hughes sold her the property, purportedly to avoid paying property taxes, Zacsek was deeply involved in the very high profile Sleepy Lagoon Murder Trial (see below). Still in close contact with Schindler, Zacsek commissioned him to perform numerous modifications on both her beach house and the Muirfield House.
Sleepy Lagoon Murder Trial arraignment, August 10, 1942. Attorney Anna Zacsek in center foreground. Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.
Lloyd Wright went on to have a distinguished career as an architect while his wife Helen continued to keep her hand in the theater by occasionally reading plays at various venues such as the Friday Morning Club. Close friends Beatrice Wood would go on to become a renowned ceramicist, Lawrence Tibbet a noted opera singer and Reginald Pole would remain active in the theater the rest of his days.
This article focuses upon just one aspect of the Schindler-Weston friendship, i.e., their mutual friends of stage and screen. When combined with their bohemian friends from the dance, music, art, literary and academic communities and miscellaneous radical, bohemian rogues among their circles, a fascinating, interwoven story can be told indeed.