Here's what the Iverson Movie Ranch obsession is all about ...

For an introduction to this blog and to the obsession a growing number of vintage film and TV fans have with the Iverson Movie Ranch — the most widely filmed outdoor location in movie and TV history — please read the site's introductory post, found here.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave comments on any of the posts.
• To find specific rock features or look up movie titles, TV shows, actors and production people, see the "LABELS" section — the long alphabetical listing on the right side of the page, below.
• To join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at and let me know you'd like to sign up.
• I've also begun a YouTube channel for Iverson Movie Ranch clips and other movie location videos, which you can get to by clicking here.
• Here's a link to Garden of the Gods, the best-known section of the Iverson Movie Ranch (featured in the movie "Stagecoach," the "Lone Ranger" TV show and hundreds of other productions).
• To go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Harnessing the power of "Stay at Home" orders: The Lillian Gish mystery is solved!

Roy Barcroft and George Chesebro adapt to the latest bandana-mask requirements

The longer the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, the more some of us are finally getting some work done.

Lillian Gish at Chatsworth's "Lillian Gish Rocks" (promo still from the early silent movie era)

One movie researcher who's putting his "stay at home" orders to good use is Tyler Malone, who sent word that he had tracked down the story behind an old Lillian Gish photo that was the focus of a blog post here in 2017.

Last time around, we reported on the rocks' location on Baden Avenue and some of the other details found in the photo — including the bluffs in the background and the historic Miranda Adobe, which is still standing today.

Chatsworth's "Lillian Gish Rocks" in 2020 (Jerry Condit photo)

Photographer Jerry Condit stopped off at the site earlier this year and was able to snap a nice shot of the rocks, even though today they're behind a fence and are usually somewhat hidden from view.

Lillian and her artsy admirer: Who was that unmasked man?

We knew the original photo was from about 1915-1917 and came from Triangle Films. What we didn't know was the name of the movie or the identity of the guy with the receding hairline who's also in the shot.

Alfred Paget

Mystery solved: Tyler figured out that the guy is Alfred Paget, a silent film actor who appeared in more than 225 short features and was close to wrapping up his career at the time he ventured into the tall grass with Lillian.

Alfred Paget

Born in London in 1879, Paget had been appearing on the silver screen since way back in 1908. He was apparently already dealing with that hairline situation by the time he started having publicity shots taken.

"Pathways of Life" (1916): Lillian Gish departs the "Hotel Abandon"

The movie is one that most or all of us have probably never heard of: A 1916 short feature called "Pathways of Life," directed by Christy Cabanne.

D.W. Griffith with Lillian Gish in 1922

Even though the movie is pretty obscure, it has some interesting bloodlines. D.W. Griffith, who was one of the top movers and shakers at Triangle Film Corp., oversaw the project — he's officially listed as the film's "supervisor."

D.W. Griffith points the finger at Lillian Gish as actor Robert Harron stays out of the way

Griffith had a long-running professional relationship with Gish, and there were rumors that at times it was more than just professional — know what I mean, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more.

Lillian and Dorothy Gish in "An Unseen Enemy" (1912); the sisters were about 18 and 14 at the time

Griffith began putting the Gish sisters in his movies in 1912, with "An Unseen Enemy" — the first film role for both Lillian and her kid sister Dorothy. Lillian Gish would go on to work with Griffith in almost 50 films, while Dorothy ... well, let's just say she might have dodged a bullet by being underage at the time.

Lillian Gish rubs elbows with the Klan in "The Birth of a Nation" (1915)

The highest-profile Gish-Griffith collaboration, the pro-Ku Klux Klan landmark "The Birth of a Nation," would stir up a controversy that continues to haunt the legacies of both D.W. Griffith and Lillian Gish to this day.

2019 Deadline article on the Bowling Green-Lillian Gish controversy

The racist aftertaste of "The Birth of a Nation" reared its head again just last year when Bowling Green State University in Ohio removed Lillian Gish's name from its campus theater because of her involvement in the movie.

The theater had been known as "The Gish," in honor of Ohio natives Lillian and Dorothy Gish, since 1976. But the backlash heated up in early 2019 after the school moved the theater to a prominent site in the Student Union.

Students read a notice about the Gish Theater name controversy at Bowling Green State

Almost as soon as the new site opened for business, a big orange notice went up announcing that the school was having second thoughts about the theater's name.

Running under a headline reading "Building a Just Learning Community," the notice gives a pretty good idea of which direction school administrators were leaning. You can click on the photo if needed to read the text.

Hollywood responds to the controversy

The Hollywood community came out with a show of support for keeping the name, with insiders including James Earl Jones, Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Peter Bogdanovich, Malcolm McDowell and Lauren Hutton among those signing off on a letter aimed at convincing the school to keep the Gish name.

The former Gish Theater — now the BGSU Film Theater

In the end, though, the school went with a rename and the Gish display went dark.

Lillian Gish handles the honorary Oscar she received in 1971

Controversy or not, Lillian Gish became known as the First Lady of American Cinema and had one of the most celebrated careers in Hollywood history. It was also one of the longest, spanning 75 years.

"The Whales of August" (1987): Lillian Gish, left, and Bette Davis

She packed it in after the 1987 feature "The Whales of August," in which she and Bette Davis starred as aging sisters reflecting on their lives. Gish was 93 and Davis was 78 years young at the time.

"Pathways of Life" (1916): Lillian Gish with W.E. Lawrence (left) and Spottiswoode Aitken

The "Pathways of Life" mystery from 71 years earlier (wow!) broke when Tyler found the promo still seen here, in which Gish appears in the same dress she was wearing in the "Lillian Gish Rocks" photo.

Lillian Gish in the same outfit in two promo stills for "Pathways of Life"

The shading on Gish's dress looks much darker in the second photo. But knowing what we know about the "Lillian Gish Rocks," it does appear that the two pictures may have been taken in the same general area.

"Pathways of Life": The "Hotel Abandon" promo still

Gish appears in a similar costume in the "Hotel Abandon" promo still, but if we look closely we can see that that this is not her free-flowing "Lillian Gish Rocks" dress. The devil is in the details.

Once Tyler had the movie pinpointed, along with a short cast list that includes Alfred Paget, it didn't take long to zero in on Paget as the previously unknown receding hairline guy.

"Intolerance" (1916): Alfred Paget as Belshazzar

A little more research on Paget confirmed his history with D.W. Griffith — Paget worked with Griffith on almost 200 movies from 1908-1916, including playing Prince Belshazzar in Griffith's epic "Intolerance."

"Martyrs of the Alamo" (1915): Alfred Paget, center, as Jim Bowie

Paget also had a history with Christy Cabanne, the director of "Pathways of Life," including playing Jim Bowie the previous year in Cabanne's "Martyrs of the Alamo."

"Pathways of Life" director Christy Cabanne

I felt compelled to include Cabanne's photo here, mainly because he has such a classically villainous look.

Snidely Whiplash

Come to think of it, has anyone ever seen Christy Cabanne and Snidely Whiplash in the same room?

Intrepid LAPD Det. Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver)

Nice detective work, Tyler. Thanks for all of your contributions to the research!


Mike M said...

As usual, fabulous job! And many thanks to Tyler.

big wang said...

as usual political correctness at its most stupid