I am seeking people for a focus group regarding my current book project. I call it a book project because I want it to be more than a book. I want it to branch out into presentations and awareness and even helping a related cause.
"Forever Silent" will feature the ladies of silent film (including actresses, directors, producers, etc.) and their final resting places. A second book would feature the gentlemen.
Why silent film people? It's not just because I'm interested in Old Hollywood. (Believe me, delving into this era has been FASCINATING. If you want juicy stories, jump into 1920s.) The more I research the people of this era, the more I realize how much history has been forgotten. The early Hollywood era mirrored our country. In the early 20th century, Americans were still finding their way. Women were figuring out who they were and how they fit into society. Industry was changing the world as people once knew it. World War I changed everything. Movies provided an escape and sometimes the promise of a better tomorrow. Mary Pickford showed people that if you had spirit, nothing could defeat you. Harold Lloyd both connected with audiences as the "All-American go-getter" (HaroldLloyd.com). There were crazy Wild West stunts, zany antics, slapstick and stories that showed us the best and worst of people. There were STORIES. Stories that were shared around the world. People connected in a whole new way. And celebrity, as we know it know, was born.
Yet, as important as these early films were and are, so many of them have been lost to time. A small percentage of the early films still exist. Most of the stars of the silent age of film have passed on, if not all of them. Their stories have been buried by years of technological advances that have made them seem obsolete. Why would we want to watch an old black and white movie (let alone one without audio dialogue!) when we can watch something in high definition, color, surround sound and 3-D? Even Mary Pickford wanted all of her films destroyed upon her death because she didn't want to be laughed at by future generations.
This makes me so sad. History lost to time and neglect. Does this sound familiar, taphophiles?
Gravestones and even whole cemeteries have been lost to time and neglect. Until a dedicated taphophile or group of people go in and work hard to make things right. Think of me as resetting the remembrance of an old movie star. Brushing away the dirt that has covered that once-beloved-but-now-forgotten-star for years.
Will you help me bring these people in film history back to light?
I needed a village for my first book. I interviewed people from all over about why cemeteries matter to them. Now I need people to help me fulfill the dream of these lost stars--to be remembered.
I invite you to help with the creation of this book by taking part in a focus group. It will be posted on Facebook in a private group. I will ask you questions like:
- Do silent film stars merit their own grave location book?
- Do you think there is an audience for a book on silent film stars' locations?
- Who does merit a grave location book?
- What information should be shared with each listing?
- Who are the "musts" for this book?
- What are your personal feelings about cemeteries?
- What about the people who have been cremated and scattered? What do you think of this?
I can tell you that there are a number of these stars who either have no known burial location or were cremated and scattered. Two ladies had unmarked graves for years. Florence Lawrence's grave in Hollywood Forever had no stone until actor Roddy McDowall purchased one and had it placed. Florence La Badie's grave in Green-Wood Cemetery in the Bronx was unmarked until people raised money online, and a stone was placed in April 2014. Personally, I would like to place a marker for Marie Prevost whose cremated remains are in an unknown location. To my knowledge, she has no memorial. And this makes me sad.
If anything I've written about here or in this blog has struck a chord with you, I hope you'll take part in my focus group. I'd really like your input.
Thanks for doing your part to keep history alive,
(put "focus group" in the subject line)
I'm the author of a number of cemetery books and am now writing one about the graves of silent film stars, starting with the ladies. Who would you like to see included?
More Silent Film Resources
• Silentology blog