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  < Back to Table Of Contents  < Back to Topic: Art forms of a New Country

article number 430
article date 03-17-2015
copyright 2015 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Drama at Universal [Studios], 1910-13
by Terry Ramsaye
   

From the 1926 book, A Million and One Nights.

EDITORS NOTE: This article is decorated with pictures and captions of found in other books published in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.

TOM INCE RAISES A MOUSTACHE

JEREMIAH J. KENNEDY of 52 Broadway, the boss of the Patents Company, with his black Doomsday book in his pocket, held the Independents in terror by his spy system. Someway, always an unknown mysterious way, this Kennedy found out things, everything.

When Kennedy was well underway checking off the exchanges listed for purchase in that little black book, in the summer of 1910, a group of western exchange-men decided on a council of war. It was to be deeply secret. This time it would be held far from the listening walls of New York, remote and safe in St. Louis.

The coded summons to that meeting gathered in an array of names since conspicuous in film annals, including: Richard Rowland and James B. Clarke of Pittsburgh, Robert Lieber of Indianapolis, Emanuel Mandelbaum of Cleveland and John R. Freuler and H. E. Aitken of Milwaukee and elsewhere.

Then at the eleventh hour the meeting place was abruptly changed from St. Louis to Indianapolis, just to make the secret safer.

The meeting came to order in a parlor at the Claypool hotel in Indianapolis and it was voted that those present would stand out against a sale to the trust.

Then there was a rap on the door.

A bellboy, with a telegram on a tray, entered.

The message was opened and read:
Wish you boys success at your meeting—you have nothing to fear
—regards.
J. J. KENNEDY

The next day Kennedy added to the consternation of the situation by purchasing the Pittsburgh Calcium Light Company exchanges from Rowland and Clarke for a quarter of a million dollars.

Richard Rowland was glad to cash his motion picture winnings. He had gone into the business by a route of accident and seeming misfortune. Rowland’s father was engaged in the stage lighting business in the calcium light period. He died while young Richard was in school and threw the responsibilities of the family and a business which he did not relish on the youth.

As Edison’s electrical devices began to sweep the calciums off the stages of the theatre, Rowland turned to the business of manufacturing oxygen for medical purposes, a development from the chemical side of the calcium light business.

Then Edison electricity hit Rowland again with the coming of the electrolytic process of oxygen manufacture.

But among Rowland’s customers remained country showmen beyond the electrical zones still using calcium lights, and they demanded film.

Rowland came to New York and bought pictures. By this step the Pittsburgh Calcium Light Company began to evolve into a film concern. Now the Edison film business, as represented by the Trust, was buying Rowland out at great price, which seemed fair enough.

But Rowland was not destined to stay out of the film business long.

John R. Freuler left that Indianapolis meeting to return to Milwaukee with a determination to turn Independent. He had read the signs—including Kennedy’s telegram.

A few weeks thereafter a most unobtrusive concern entitled the O’Malley & Smith Advertising Company was incorporated in Illinois. There was nothing in that which could mean anything to the spies of J. J. Kennedy’s espionage machine.

Whoever Mr. O’Malley and Mr. Smith may have been, the real incorporators were John R. Freuler and his new associate in business Samuel S. Hutchinson, formerly a Chicago druggist and now a film distributor interested in the Hutchinson & Rite exchange in Chicago.

Gilbert P. Hamilton, quietly acquired from the licensed studios of the Essanay company, went with due stealth to the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, at Benton Harbor, and made a one reel picture, entitled ‘Romantic Redskins.’ Evidently O’Malley & Smith wanted to see if it could be done. It could.

O’Malley and Smith having served, passed on. The trade journals of October 5, 1910, carried the proud announcement of The American Film Manufacturing Company, and boldly listed twenty experts of motion picture making, each designated as “formerly of Essanay.”

The Essanay staff had been cleaned out over night.

Among those listed were Allan Dwan, today one of the screen’s foremost directors, J. Warren Kerrigan, in after years a famous star, and Charles Ziebarth, a technical expert now high in the service of Bell & Howell, makers of motion picture machinery.

George K. Spoor of Essanay retaliated with an injunction against further raids on his staff.

Diplomatic relations between the exchanges in which Hutchinson and Freuler were interested and the Patents Company terminated promptly.

   
Essanay production of ‘Broncho Billy’s Adventure’ with G. M. Anderson (Broncho Billy,) 1911.

The producing staff of the American went into the southwest to make “westerns” and started there the “Flying A” trademark for years famous in the screen trade. The “Flying A” learned to fly, eluding the heated pursuit of the Patents Company.

Marshall Neilan, working with the camera on location at La Mesa, California, found himself under the rifle fire of a sniper concealed in the cover of a mesquite thicket. Cameras were scarce and costly then. One properly placed bullet might have delayed the productions of the “Flying A” for months.

In New York Charles O. Bauman and Adam Kessel, assured by the prosperity of their first producing project, now in this autumn of 1910 formed a new company to make film drama and named it Reliance.

The incorporation papers for Reliance had scarcely been filed when word drifted down Fourteenth street that Arthur Johnson, then Biograph’s best known player, was at outs with D. W. Griffith. It appears that Johnson was perpetually late arriving at the studio and that at times when he arrived he did not precisely resemble the young minister type for which he was usually cast.

There were some sharp words and Johnson left to console himself at an adjacent bar.

C. O. Bauman edged alongside offering soft words and hard liquor. Johnson went to work for Reliance. With him Reliance acquired, also from Biograph, Henry Walthall, James Kirkwood, Gertrude Robinson and Marion Leonard.

The title of the first Reliance release, starring Arthur Johnson, was entitled ‘The Grey of the Dawn.’ It may have been reminiscence or prophesy, for Johnson.

Despite the raids on its stock company, Biograph remained the dominant producer of pictures of quality under Griffith. This season brought recognition to Mack Sennett who was assigned to the direction of ‘Comrades’ for Biograph.

Now the plot thickens considerably. H. E. Aitken, who will be recalled as associated with John R. Freuler in the exchange business, stepped forth with a new independent producing concern rejoicing under the name of Majestic.

Carl Laemmle, owner of the IMP concern, in an unguarded moment, went off to Europe to take the waters at Carlsbad.

Shortly thereafter the Majestic announced the acquisition of Tom Cochrane, late of Imp, as general manager. Also Mary Pickford, the pride of Imp, went to Majestic for the startling salary of $275 a week. Cochrane took his pick of the Imp company and acquired George Loane Tucker, Herbert Prior, Mabel Trunnelle, Anita Hendrie and David Miles.

Laemmle came back from Carlsbad at once. There was another war brewing.

   
Carl Laemmle. He would battle for control of Universal.

November 26, 1911, Majestic offered its first Pickford, entitled ‘The Courting of Mary.’ Miss Pickford and Owen Moore soon left Majestic to return to Biograph.

Now Bauman and Kessel, increasing in daring and prosperity, let it be known they were ready to employ the most able director obtainable, at a high salary.

This report reached young Thomas H. Ince, who was progressing merrily but not conspicuously as a director for Laemmle’s Imp company. Ince gave a demonstration of Yankee strategy. He regarded a very young face in his shaving mirror and decided that it would be well to have a bit of a moustache to conduce to a scenic effect inferring more age and experience.

When the moustache had reached the required pictorial proportions, Ince borrowed a large and impressive ring set with a four carat Kimberley monolith and went to call on Adam Kessel.

As they sat talking across the corner of Kessel’s desk, Ince held his chin propped in his hand in a thoughtful deliberate pose, which, quite incidentally of course, exposed to Kessel’s dazzled view the scintillations of the big diamond.

The diamond ring, by the bye, was and probably still is the property of “Doc” Willat, who was then Imp’s technical chief.

Kessel blinked at the diamond and listened respectfully to Ince’s impressive remarks. Kessel quite forgot that this same Ince was something of an actor as well as a director of pictures. In fact Kessel was so impressed that he did not even tap the motion picture’s grapevine telegraph to find out what Ince’s salary might be at Imp.

Instead he took another look at the diamond and murmured something about possibilities for advancement and a startling salary of a hundred dollars a week. That was just forty more than Ince was getting at Imp.

But Ince stroked his new moustache with tender consideration and yawned. He was not outwardly moved. He pretended not to have heard Kessel’s offer. A man with a diamond that big could hardly afford to listen to a mere hundred a week.

“Oh, I’ll see you again some day,” Ince replied and sauntered out.

This was most convincing. Kessel sent for Ince after a few days had passed.

“How about $150 a week?”

Ince deliberated two or maybe three seconds before he could trust his trembling voice to say “Yes” without too much color of anxiety.

Ince, accompanied by Mrs. Ince, Ethel Grandin, Ray Smallwood and Charles Weston of the Imp company, went to Los Angeles to make pictures for the N. Y. M. P. at the old Edendale studio.

Kessel and Bauman were ready to plunge. Charles O. Bauman went to the west coast to see the new director launched in his work. Ince’s first N. Y. M. P. effort was a one-reeler entitled ‘The New Cook.’ Tradition says it was a hit.

En route to a mountain location near Santa Monica canyon, Ince discovered that Miller Brothers’ 101 Ranch show was wintering in the vicinity. He remarked with a director’s yearning that it would be a grand thing to have that show to play with in the pictures.

Bauman seemed to like the notion. He did some negotiating and then wired Adam Kessel: “Can get 101 Ranch show for the winter at $2,100 a week, what do you think?”

Kessel thought it over and answered in good race track fashion: “Take a chance.”

The reader accustomed to the billion dollar publicity barrage laid down by the press agents of the screen of today can scarcely realize what a speculation this two thousand dollar a week project was in that day. It was without parallel or precedent. It was an epochal beginning.

The art of the motion picture was about to enter upon its astonishing career of spectacle building.

Bauman signed the 101 Ranch show for the season.

No one could have been more amazed, delighted and perplexed than one Thomas H. Ince. He had grown accustomed to the ordinary problems and methods of the director of the day. But this matter of operating a Wild West show in conjunction with a motion picture company, was something else again.

That first morning when Ince saw the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch show strung out on the road, an imposing caravan which seemed to reach clear into infinity, he bethought himself of the cost—twenty-one hundred dollars a week!

“This,” he remarked abruptly to his cameraman, “had better be pretty good.”

Up to this juncture Ince had no scenario for the utilization of the big Wild West show. However, he started shooting scenes and the story was born then and there, under fire. It became a two reel picture entitled ‘Across the Plains.’ The covered wagon had become a screen property.

This expensive departure in production brought a new and costly higher standard. It was certain to have important reactions, working as always, through the business machinery of the motion picture. Events were shaping up a new alignment, soon.

Carl Laemmle on his return from Carlsbad, full of the bitter aperient waters and the tension of the film situation, was minded to deal with that bold Harry E. Aitken, who had dared to raid the “Imp” company for “Little Mary” Pickford.

Laemmle, dominant in the Sales company through which all of the Independent film wares were marketed, decided that Aitken’s Majestic brand pictures would have to pay a higher percentage to the Sales company than the founders group.

Aitken slapped back with a complaint in Washington that the Sales company was a “combination in restraint of trade,” and proceeded to form the Film Supply Company of America, to be a new alliance of Independents.

But concurrently yet another development was underway to remake the film map. One snowy day in December 1911, John R. Freuler sat in a room at the Hotel La Salle in Chicago and toyed with a list of names on the back of a laundry slip.

He had in mind a project to combine some independent exchanges into a pattern like the General Film Company. This came to flower under the joint ministrations of Aitken and Freuler with the formation of the Mutual Film Corporation in March 1912.

The Mutual’s address became 60 Wall street. That told the story. It was launched as a promotion. Aitken interested Crawford Livingston, an investment banker, who in turn, interested Kuhn, Loeb & Company.

The modern period of Wall street picture financing began. Mutual acquired some seven hundred stockholders.

The Mutual took from the Sales company various sources of films, including the Thanhouser concern of New Rochelle and the American company, successor to the great O’Malley & Smith Advertising Company.

Laemmle and his associates countered with the formation of the Universal Film Manufacturing Company, announced June 8, 1912, with Laemmle as president and Charles O. Bauman one of the aggressive organizers.

The Independents were now in two camps, Mutual and Universal, with some straggling minor concerns on the fringe. It was all simple and arranged now. Except—Freuler and Aitken were not agreeing in Mutual and Laemmle and the Kessel and Bauman combination did not agree.

   
A meeting of the leaders of the Motion Picture Patents Company and General Film Company. Note Thomas Edison in foreground.

The Kessel and Bauman vs. Laemmle fight broke at Universal’s second meeting. Kessel beckoned Bauman aside.

“They’re out to trim us for a couple of Dutchmen. Let’s beat it.”

Now the Kessel and Bauman product was decidedly important to Universal’s program. It included those Ince pictures from the West and the Reliance pictures from the New York studios.

The law suits started promptly.

And the fight did not wait on the slow processes of the courts. The Universal set out to take possession of the Kessel and Bauman studios of the New York Motion Picture company, both east and west.

Accompanied by some robust assistants, Mark Dintenfass was dispatched to the N. Y. M. P. studios at 251 West Nineteenth street to take possession of the property. A stenographer engaged the expedition in conversation while a warning was telephoned to Kessel and Bauman.

Kessel went into action, recruiting his forces as he went. He arrived at the studio with a taxicab load of strong arm men and a pitched battle ensued.

The police records of June 28, 1912, relate a riot and the arrest of two men, said to have been employed by Universal. Neither of them otherwise figures in screen history. But from that day on a battalion of gunmen and sluggers was employed to protect the premises.

P. A. Powers was not satisfied that Dintenfass had exercised sufficient force and strategy, so he organized a night attack of his own. The shooting and slugging was free and promiscuous.

The raid would have been more successful if some of the mercenaries of the attacking army had not discovered that they belonged to the same gang as the defenders.

The state of siege brought many precautionary moves. Adam Kessel contributed to the gaiety and content of the besieged establishment by cooking “hot dogs” for all hands about the studio.

William Swanson was sent West to take possession of the Kessel and Bauman studios in California.

Thomas Ince, advised by wire of impending difficulties, found himself invested with the responsibilities of a general as well as director in charge. An old Civil War cannon was mounted to command the studio enclosure, loaded to the muzzle with scrap iron, and guards with sawed off shotguns stood at the gates. Ince grew a corn on his hip carrying the largest obtainable size of Colt’s frontier model forty-five revolver. A clash of arms was avoided or the canyon of Santa Monica would have been running deep with gore.

When the war was all over after a confusion of moves, legal and illegal, Kessel and Bauman parted with $17,000 and the brand name of 101 Bison, and were permitted to withdraw from Universal.

The product of the New York Motion Picture studios now went to the Mutual Film Corporation and, through subsequent developments, brought many now famous names into the motion picture.

Mutual was in the first flush of success when, in the late summer of 1912, this same industrious team of Kessel and Bauman, while at lunch at August Luchow’s justly celebrated restaurant in Fourteenth street, spied Mack Sennett of Biograph at an adjacent table.

They drew him into conversation and suggested that he ought to be making comedies on his own account. There was, they intimated, an opportunity for a bright young man to go into business for himself.

Out of that idea came Keystone Comedies, the pictures which carried Sennett’s name to fame. The Keystone trade-mark was adopted from the Pennsylvania railroad, with no royalties.

The first Keystone comedy was entitled ‘Cohen at Coney Island,’ released September 23, 1912. Along with Sennett, Keystone acquired Mabel Normand, Ford Sterling and Fred Mace.

   
Members of the Mack Sennett’s original Keystone comedy troupe. Left to right: Thomas Meighan, Mabel Normand, Ford Sterling, Teddie Sampson, Poly Moran and Eddie Sutherland.

HERRING, DIAMONDS AND SELZNICK

THE peace which followed the settlement of the Kessel and Bauman controversy in the Universal must have lasted almost a day.

The Universal’s dominant figures were Carl Laemmle, William Swanson, Mark M. Dintenfass and David Horsley, a new Independent producer—and P. A. Powers. And, Robert Cochrane, sitting back of Laemmle, was writing the official utterances.

It appeared that Laemmle decided to control Universal, and that Pat Powers also decided to control Universal.

Dintenfass and Horsley occupied most uncomfortable positions on the fence, while Swanson dashed from side to side as the vantages of battle changed.

The top of the fence became exceedingly uncomfortable and Mark Dintenfass wandered, down, off and out. His stock was for sale.

Since there was considerable question in those hurly-burly days as to whether that stock was ever to be worth anything, there were no bids from either side. Powers seemed to Dintenfass the logical customer, but Powers professed an attitude of high scorn. He was moved to break the profound pride and dignity of Dintenfass, if possible, by studied indignities.

Dintenfass became highly disturbed. The ructions in Universal were doing him and his Champion brand pictures no good. Any move any day might bring ruin.

Business called Dintenfass to Chicago. He boarded the Broadway Limited and settled for the long ride west. Across the aisle of the Pullman he presently discovered that the young woman opposite was more interesting than the diversion of counting the telegraph poles. Before long they were in conversation and he was showing her the flamboyant heralds advertising Champion films, with the imposing name of Mark M. Dintenfass, president.

“And where are you going?” he asked by way of conversation.

“Pittsburgh.”

A flash of recollection came to Dintenfass. He lived again for a moment those carefree days when he went to Pittsburgh selling salt herring for his father’s Philadelphia fish house.

And there was that blithe and witty chap that he met at the fish shop where the two pretty girls presided at the counter. They had a good time together, the four of them. He remembered it all now. That fellow had a job in a jewelry store in Smithfield street, and kept a bachelor apartment—what was his name? Then it came to him.

“You know,” Dintenfass remarked to the young woman alongside, “I’d get off at Pittsburgh myself, if I could find a fellow I used to know there—wonder what became of him—Louie Selznick.”

The young woman sat up abruptly.

“Who did you say?”

“Louie Selznick—L. J. Selznick—why, do you know him?”

“Sure—he’s my brother-in-law. I’ve just been to New York to visit them.”

“Well, now, isn’t it a small world,” etc., etc.

At this especially fateful period, Lewis J. Selznick was conducting with most indifferent success a jewelry store in Sixth Avenue, near Fourteenth street, in New York. The business was falling off. In fact, it was so anaemic that Selznick decided to turn his defeat into a victory by holding an auction, the conventional and often profitable last resort of ailing jewelry stores.

The auction left Selznick with nothing pressing to do and a whole waiting world to do it in. History shows that this is a time when things happen.

Dintenfass presently returned from Chicago. He called Selznick on the telephone.

“I’ll bet you don’t know who this is—Louie.”

“Ach—I smell salt herring,” Selznick responded.

“Wonderful, wonderful!” Dintenfass exclaimed. “What a head for remembering you have got.”

They got together for a talk about the old days, the jewelry shop and the salt herring and all—schoen gemuthlich.

   
Mark Dintenfass.

And then came the film business into their discussions, along with it Dintenfass’ troubles and his efforts to negotiate with P. A. Powers.

“He pretends everything must be so secret that he can’t talk to me anywhere in the office,” Dintenfass complained. “He says, wait for me out in the washroom—and then he tries to keep me waiting for hours.”

Selznick, with a profound sense of humor, scented both amusement and opportunity. Now that he had auctioned himself out of the jewelry trade there might be something to do here.

“What kind of a fellow is this Powers?”

In response came a detailed description of the august, vigorous and domineering personality of the battling Mr. Powers. It was indicated that he was, among other things, a bit inclined to nifty garb and an appearance befitting a magnate of the new art on Broadway.

“Nifty dresser—eh?” remarked Selznick. “I will see him for you and see what we can do, maybe.”

“How will you see him? If you tell him you come from me he will say ‘meet me in the washroom.’”

Selznick waved his hand.

“Never mind, I will see him easy enough—you wait.”

Not long after this conference, Lewis J. Selznick, formerly jeweler in Sixth Avenue, presented himself at the office of P. A. Powers. No, he would not state his business. He would speak only to Mr. Powers in person and privately, and it was about a matter in which Mr. Powers was profoundly interested. This eventually got Selznick private audience in the Powers sanctum.

Mysteriously and persuasively Selznick smiled himself into a seat at the corner of Powers’ desk. He reached into a vest pocket and produced a little parcel in thin white paper and unfolded it with a deft manner of profound consideration.

Powers looked on curiously.

After another pause to make the move dramatically correct as a bit of salesmanship, Selznick lifted the paper and poured a glittering stream into his palm and then spread a handful of un-mounted diamonds on the edge of the desk.

Selznick’s manner toward the diamonds was almost reverential. It was as though he had unveiled all of the treasures of Zion.

This, of course, was only a manner. In the philosophy of Lewis J. Selznick are two gems of polished thought:
(A) “Jewelry is for suckers.”
(B) “There is always a demand for jewelry.”

But that is beside the point. This day Selznick was ostensibly selling diamonds of great value at, oh, the merest song of a price. As he had calculated, Powers was interested, and enough appreciative of a bargain to feel friendly. He bought.

Selznick brought his chair a bit closer.

“Why don’t you buy my friend Dintenfass’s stock in this Universal company? He only wants seventy-five thousand.”

Powers grinned—so that was it.

I don t want his stock—if I did I’d get it.

“Yes, but you do want it—it would give you control—that’s what makes it worth the price.”

Powers would not deal.

Lewis J. Selznick has often been baffled, but so far not ever conclusively beaten for long.

He still had a pocket full of diamonds and a perfectly workable idea. He made certain inquiries pertaining to the tastes of Carl Laemmle. He was minded to sell some more stones.

With the little white paper of stones, Selznick went to call on Laemmle. They got along famously, dickering back and forth over the sparkling blue-whites.

“Now this fellow Dintenfass, maybe you think his stock isn’t worth much, but it would give you control of the company.”

This time it worked. Laemmle bought the stock and Dintenfass was happy, for the moment anyway. Laemmle was now the biggest stockholder in Universal, but he said nothing about that for the time.

Selznick still had plenty of diamonds, but his visits to the Mecca Building had given him motion picture ambitions. He shrewdly sized up the men he saw about in the offices and lobby. He knew nothing about motion pictures, but he knew a great deal about men.

The diamond broker from Pittsburgh had, besides a taste for salt herring, a bottomless thirst for action, excitement, power and, maybe, down at the end of the list somewhere, also money. He decided to declare himself into the motion picture. It seemed to be standing there waiting for him to cut himself a piece of cake.

A little more conversation resulted in Selznick ingratiating himself into a somewhat undefined job and a desk in the office of the Universal. It was the hazy general understanding that he was to be useful to the corporation in general and to the Laemmle interests in particular.

Sitting on the inside, Selznick found the film business even more interesting and full of opportunity than he had suspected. No one knew just what Selznick was there for, and he was in an equally open minded state. There may have been doubt, but surely no uncertainty.

Universal was so thoroughly split into factions and split so widely that none of them knew what the other was doing with any accuracy. All strangers were assumed to belong to the other faction until identified. Meanwhile they were treated with such consideration or inconsideration as might be deemed safest in a tremulous even if not delicate situation.

This situation of weakness and incipient chaos was Selznick’s opportunity.

One of Selznick’s first discoveries was that the corporation did not have a general manager. This was an oversight to be remedied. He appointed himself at once. He took no one into his confidence in the matter except the stenographer who got out his letter of announcement. This was not as daring as it may seem, since in this period motion picture men were not accustomed to reading their mail.

Free lancing about the office at 1600 Broadway, Selznick rapidly took on things to do. He put himself in charge of all purchases and expenditures. He had a whole bag of tricks, familiar enough in the business game of wits, but new to the motion picture.

The internal amusement and delight which the adventuring jeweler and diamond salesman enjoyed may well be imagined. No musical comedy extravaganza ever embodied a more whimsical plot.

As we have seen in many chapters, there were endless ways to get into the motion picture industry. This is, however, the first instance of forcible entry by simple declaration.

The blond stranger from Pittsburgh, adrift on the sea of circumstance without a paddle, floated in on a log that landed him on the beach of the Isle of Easy Money in the Broadway Archipelago. Shaking off the brine he strode up the coral strand and, seeking out the chieftains, dazzled their eyes with shining beads and helped himself to coconuts.

With one hand he began to order the natives about as he held the attention of the chiefs with feats of prestidigitation with the other.

The theme of this chapter ought to be carried along with an orchestra. The typewriter lacks the tonal range to record the fantasies of fact.

   
Theater Notice.

The inward truth of the situation never escaped the dexterous and able Selznick. The richest of his rewards have ever been the thrills and laughs of the game. Regardless of the figures that may ultimately add up his total of successes and failures, the only true measure of history will be as of Selznick-the-Jester.

He came to Broadway with a tiny paper of glittering stones and stayed to emblazon his name in the electric lights and play battledore and shuttlecock with the affairs of a whole industry.

But back to Universal and 1912. Very presently P. A. Powers discovered that Laemmle had acquired a certain new force. There was a stiffening of the hand. Powers decided maybe that Dintenfass stock might be worth having. Dintenfass, riding high on his wounded dignity, was not to be approached. Powers called up Selznick.

“What’s the matter with your friend Dintenfass? He won’t speak to me.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Selznick with an affectation of surprise. “I will see if I can’t make an appointment with him for you—in the washroom.” Powers made other plans. He is a bit of a jester, too.

A vigorous dispute between Powers and Laemmle soon broke into the open. Powers contended that his exchanges were not getting the benefit of the same low prices from Universal that Laemmle’s enjoyed. He wanted a rebate. He got refusal.

Selznick was rejoicing in his self-made job of general manager one morning in this period when the manager of one of the Universal studios in New York called up in great excitement.

“Pat Powers is up here with a gang of trucks moving the props away, and we’re right in the middle of a picture. What shall I do?”

Selznick grinned. “Call the police and then report again to me in a half hour.”

At the end of the half hour the studio manager was on the phone again.

“Did the police come? How are you getting along?”

“Yes, the police came,” the voice on the wire replied. “And they are getting along fine. They are helping Pat Powers load the trucks.”

So ran the comedy of the Universal war from day to day.

But the time came when Selznick’s expanding powers in his self-appointed post undid him—and liberated him for further adventures. One afternoon a secretary from Laemmle’s office went to Selznick’s desk and laid a letter before him, glancing up at the clock as he did it.

“Mr. Laemmle went to Chicago on the Century—he told me to give this to you two hours after the train left.”

Selznick opened the letter, but he could read it without looking at it. It was “accepting your resignation.”

Selznick reached for his hat. He was on his way out into the world of opportunity to play the new game he had learned.

The Powers-Laemmle war meanwhile progressed merrily.

When in doubt, Powers attacks. At about this juncture he caused receivership action to be brought against the Universal. Nothing especially resulted but more fighting.

The annual meeting of 1913 found this situation at high climax. The meeting opened in a highly dignified manner at the company’s offices at 1600 Broadway. There was, however, an electrical tension in the air and a good many private policemen were in the hall. The Laemmle stronghold was well manned.

The reading of the minutes was barely under discussion, however, when Powers and his occasional partner, William Swanson, ventilated the situation by neatly tossing the books and the great seal of the corporation out of the window into the upper air of Broadway.

This may have been connected with the presence of certain persons waiting below. Anyway it was a valiant move with every promise of success.

But, some way, Fate so often intervenes in the affairs of melodrama. The nick of time is always being nicked.

   
This view of a Universal (nee IMP) set shows the observation stand where, for twenty-five cents apiece, visitors could sit and watch the picture being shot. (It was not long before the overfrank comments, not to say snickers, of the visitors put an end to this practice. A present day studio is as rigidly policed as a reform school.)

Harry Carey, hero of many a horse opera, is seen here protecting the ranch gal in a scene from Love’s Lariat.

The lone horseman galloping across the horizon in this thriller chances to have been William Oldenow of the Consolidated Film Company, of Atlanta and elsewhere southerly. Oldenow had just arrived from the South and was making his way with hastening steps to the office of his friend Carl Laemmle.

We left the books and the seal going out the third floor window of the Mecca building. When they came down it was at the feet of Oldenow. If his train had arrived one one-hundredth of a second earlier he would have been precisely under the books and the great seal as they arrived at the sidewalk level.

As it was, the visitor stumbled over the crashing heap and then picked it up. A glance at the books told him volumes. They obviously belonged to Laemmle’s office.

A crowd surged about Oldenow and the police rushed in. They took the visitor and his catch up to the offices of the Universal. A court action ensued and the books were tied up for a long period.

Paul Gulick, who holds the motion picture industry’s record for continuous survival amid the high mortalities of press agentry, joined Universal that stormy week and became its war correspondent.

In one of the many alignments on the checkerboard, Horsley’s stock became of vital importance. Laemmle held an option on it, so did Powers.

One afternoon, in this merry year of 1913, Robert Cochrane and Carl Laemmle raced about the banks of New York to get $179,000 in cash to take up the stock. Horsley demanded spot cash. After a quest of hours, the taxicab was laden with small bills. The entire sum was in denominations of ones, fives and tens—mostly ones.

The motor car raced across the Hudson river to Horsley’s New Jersey establishment. He had prevailed on a bank to stay open to receive the money, and insisted that it be counted three times, personally inspecting each bill. At four o’clock in the morning the tired bank clerks for the third time verified the total, marked the bundles and tossed them in the safe.

But Powers contended with some measure of success that the stock could not be delivered to Laemmle because of his option. Laemmle contended the Powers option expired at noon, Powers said midnight.

When the fighting was all over and endless changes and maneuvers, Universal was practically divided between Laemmle and Powers, the latter holding some forty-odd percent of the stock. In May 1920, he sold to the Laemmle-Cochrane interests and the reports of the price ran from one to two millions.

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