Many of the folks involved with the Essanay studios are long gone...but I have 3 potential contacts depending on what specifically is being requested. Myself, my father, and my uncle. George Spoor was my Great Uncle and his little sister, Mary Louise, who illustrated Essanay's Indian head logo, was my Grandma. My father and one of his older brothers are alive and well and are quite knowledeable about the studios. In fact my Uncle Philip spent a lot of time playing at the studios when he was a young child. If you wish to contact me, please do so at October120@comcast.net.
According to Irv Kupcinet, in his book, Kup's Chicago, (publish date 1962 [out of print]), Louella Parsons wrote scenarios for Essanay. She wrote the first movie column ever, for the old Chicago Record-Herald in 1914. Also, Ben Turpin was an office boy at Essanay before he became a famous movie star. Other actors at the old Essanay lot on Argyle Street: Gloria Swanson (from Lake View), Wallace Beery, W.C. Fields, Francis X. Bushman and Charlie Chapman.AnswerI lived down the block from the Studios on Argyle St. Having spent the greater part of my life on Argyle St. from the 20's thru the 80's, I am quite knowledgeable about the street thru this period. I remember seeing Francis X. Bushman strolling down the street with his Great Dane. I was also in business on the street for about 50 years. AnswerFor those of you who may be interested in old photographs of actors and actresses taken in Chicago from 1910 to 1919; who were associated with, or perhaps may have been associated with the Essanay Studio, see the following: Photographs from the Chicago Daily News 1902 - 1933enter the search words: "actors"or "actresses"AnswerIn the "CHicago History" magazine, published by the Chicago Historical Society, the Fall 2000 issue, there is a great article about Essanay, along with several pictures, and a whole article about the neighborhood, etc. It is available from the publication archives at the Oak Park Public Library, and I would imagine it is available at almost any "Chicago Area" Library.http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~opindex/AnswerI've been working on a history fair project on Chicago's film industry...Essanay included. William G. Anderson "Bronco Billy" joins then soon leaves Selig Polyscope Co. in about 1906. In 1907, Anderson joins George K. Spoor to form Peerless Film Mfg. Co., shortly after renamed "Essanay" (after their initials "S and A"). In 1908 they open their 1st California studio. They went through a lot of actors and made a lot of films. In 1917 Essanay closes its Chicago studio, but remains in California. Bye! AnswerFor the curious. It's very easy to see what remains of Essanay Studios for yourself. The Address is mentioned by one of the above respondants. Just take Argyle Street up from Broadway, (not far from the Green Mill) and there it is on the south side of the street. The name and the signature Indian head are still prominant over one of the doorways. The building is now Augustine College. We live around it up here and pass it regularly with little sense of it's fascinating history. AnswerIn answer to the question about cinematographers at Essanay the only one I know of was George Spoor's (the "S" in Essanay) brother Major Spoor. He was also responsible for the "Natural Vision" camera that Essanay put so much money into developing. The Chicago Historical Society has some negatives from the camera. The CHS also has a photo album from Major's wife, Olive, that contains many pictures of Essanay. Be careful, though as many of the "ready prints" from the collection are mislabeled. The Indian head corporate logo and the terra cotta work around the entrance to the Argyle St. studio were created by George Spoor's sister Mary Louise Spoor, a noted book illustrator.The name Essanay and the logo were later taken by a film production company. Their version of the logo is very poorly reproduced. Pls respondHow do you know the prints are mislabled? Which ones specifically? Thank you.Ellen Louise Restis (Olive's great niece)Answerhttp://www.nilesfilmmuseum.org/ Contact the new Silent Film Museum in Niles, Fremont, California for the best resources on Essanay Studio history, it also sells the recent book by David Kiehn "Bronco Billy and the Essanay Film Company"AnswerThere are also buildings remaining from the Selig Polyscope studios at the intersection of Byron and Claremont. The Selig trademark "Diamond S" is still over the doorway of the loft conversion on the N.W. corner. The structures now part of the used car dealer at Byron and Western were also studio buildings. A series of underground tunnels still connect them. There is a decaying tower atop one of the buildings, probably used for elevated shots of the outdoor movie sets. W.N. Selig was my great-great uncle and I'm always willing to provide information to interested parties.
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