Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Genevieve Hamper, the Most Beautiful Face on Earth

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Loretta reports:

My husband, who recently debuted his own nerdy history blog, has acquired some fascinating material in the way of postcards. Thanks to him, I discovered Genevieve Hamper (1888-1971) and Robert Mantell (1854-1928).

A search brought me to advertisements and reviews of their first motion picture a “surpassing Photo-Play debut of Robert B Mantell America’s foremost Tragedian and Genevieve Hamper Most Beautiful Face on Earth in a stirring arraignment of Society’s Sins The Blindness of Devotion.”

The quote is from a publicity ad in New York Evening Telegram November 1915. It’s here in Rex Ingram, Hollywood’s Rebel of the Silver Screen. There’s more concise coverage on the Turner Classic Movie page for the film.

However, as the ad indicates Ms. Hamper and her husband Mr. Mantell were already highly regarded stage actors. Though, apparently, they never made it big on Broadway, they traveled all over North America, putting on a series of plays—not one play, for a week, but, as the post card shows, eight performances of different “Shakespearean and Classic plays.” Obviously, these were greatly abridged.

My impression was, this was rather like the traveling theater troupes Dickens portrayed in Nicholas Nickleby, but quite a bit smaller. From all I’ve been able to discover, there were three players at most in the performances. Not that this means they didn’t put on a good show. As I described in a blog post some years ago, I saw a splendid one-man performance of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. I suspect the audience at the Worcester Theatre got their money’s worth, too.

To give you an idea of how famous they were, the Theatre Magazine of 1921 devoted two pages to photos of their place in N.J., where they spent summers rehearsing

Though they continued to make films after The Blindness of Devotion, it seems that these, like so many of the era, did not survive.

Thanks to Larry Abramoff, our dear friend, who donated his amazing collection of post cards to my husband’s project.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it. 


Anonymous said...

How standards of beauty have changed! I would have described her as a pleasant looking woman, attractive certainly, but not by today's standards "the most beautiful face on earth"

Paula LH

KarenAnne said...

Just look at the costumes! What a lot of work they must have gone to:

I disagree with Anonymous. Today's "beauties" are very artificial. Judging by the occasional photo of one without makeup, they couldn't hold a candle to Hamper.

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