[PW] Fred Esmelton, actor of silent movies and early talkies

d-lien University of Minnesota d-lien at umn.edu
Fri Nov 20 12:31:01 PST 2020

I went to Hathi Trust

and searched for "Fred Esmelton" (with quotation marks) in "Full-Text"
with "Full View Only" checked.

There are seven hits, and since all are in "Full View" items, I could
read the relevant bits by clicking on them one by one, and then by
searching again for the quoted phrase "Fred Esmelton" in the search
box for each hit.  As a sample,


Los Angeles in 7 days, including Southern California

    Bartlett, Lanier.

on page 111/112 has this (to be able copy and paste, I shifted to
"view plain text" mode by clicking on the icon at the top of the pile
at the right of the screen):

"We turned down to Sunset again and followed it west ward toward
Beverly Hills. This end of Sunset has some well-known addresses, such
as the Ruth St. Denis Asia Bazaar, at 8512, where Oriental fabrics
seem to spill out of the shop in a flow of color, and La Bohème, that
French type cottage, at 8614, where you can eat chicken or steak and
dance to good music at quite moderate cost. At 8624 the Film Fan Foto
Shop caught Annabelle's eye, where pictures of every known film player
may be purchased. On an English-type cottage on a hillside off the
road, numbered 9131, was a sign proclaiming “Fred Esmelton, Caterer.”
I explained that Fred Esmelton is a big, genial man who was, and still
is, a fine English actor. But he found his knowledge of cookery to be
more steadily re munerative than his histrionic ability, and he turned
to catering, drawing large patronage to his door with such British
specialties as beefsteak pie, kidney pie, chicken pie and English
trifle. "


I'll let you do the other six (actually other five, since #2 and 3
appear to point to the same ultimate book), though it looks as though
the others may be brief listings in reviews or cast lists etc.

The stage year book, with which is included the Stage periodical guide 1920

The Stage year book 1920

Variety film reviews v.1 1907-1920

The American Film Institute catalog of motion pictures : film
beginnings. 1911-20

Dramatic mirror and Theatre world v.83 1921

The daily news May 1923 (reel 38)


Those seven hits are the only ones in the "Full View" subset.
However, if we back up (or restart) and this time do NOT check "Full
View Only," we 103 hits.

For the "new" 97, we will not be able to see the actual text
surrounding the mention; however, if we follow the same procedure as
above, we will be told on which pages the mentions occur, and (with
some effort and luck) may be able to find hard copy of the works cited
in a library (or however) and check out the page numbered references.

Again, many of these hits will probably turn out to be brief
references in reviews etc., but some look more promising.  For

Broken silence : conversations with 23 silent film stars by Michael G. Ankerich
    Ankerich, Michael G., 1962-
    Catalog Record
    Limited (search-only)

where, once I click on the "Limited Search Only" link and then enter
"Fred Esmelton" in the search box that comes up, I find:

Showing 1 - 4 of 4 Results for "Fred Esmelton"
Page 23 - 1 matching term
Page 72 - 1 matching term
Page 148 - 1 matching term
Page 209 - 1 matching term

Maybe someone who does have access to hard copy of BROKEN SILENCE
could report back on those references.

A few others that look especially promising -- but I'll let you take
over from here:

Eighty silent film stars : biographies and filmographies of the
obscure to the well known by George A. Katchmer ; filmographies by
Richard E. Braff ; index by Susan J. Laimans ; with a foreword by
Samuel K. Rubin
    Katchmer, George A., 1916-


Careers after forty by Walter B. Pitkin

    Pitkin, Walter B., 1878-1953.


The sound of silence : conversations with 16 film and stage
personalities who bridged the gap between silents and talkies by
Michael G. Ankerich

    Ankerich, Michael G., 1962-

(I wonder if this is an expansion/revision of his earlier book?)


Dennis Lien // (retired from) U of Minnesota Libraries // d-lien at umn.edu

On Wed, Nov 18, 2020 at 5:51 PM Javier Candeira <javier at candeira.com> wrote:
> Hi Wombats!
> A question from sunny Melbourne, where actual wombats roam and root and ruin
> suburban gardens.
> Note: this question is about a relative, but it's not a genealogical
> question. The genealogy is well established.
> Fred Esmelton (Melbourne, Australia, 1872 - Los Angeles, 1933) was a
> Hollywood actor in the silent era. Only his last credit was a talkie.
> He was also my wife Helen's (in CC) great-great-great-uncle.
> We'd like to surprise the family with a pamphlet on Fred Esmelton's life and
> career, but all we have is what the family already knows:
> - Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Esmelton
> - IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0260705
> He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus:
> https://imgur.com/a/CMfu4lm
> We don't expect to find a "Life and Times of Fred Esmelton" biography we can
> buy from Abebooks, but maybe he's mentioned in Hollywood histories, or in
> anecdotes about other actors. He worked alongside big name stars such as
> Eddie Cantor and Clara Bow, so there may be mentions of him somewhere.
> We're already writing to the Knights of Columbus and to the Hollywood
> Forever Cemetery to ask them who paid for the burial, and see if there's a
> surname that leads to a thread.
> Other sources I could contact if the wombats help me find them would be
> Hollywood historical archives, old actors' homes, etc.
> There at least one obsessive scholar/collector/archiver for every single
> movie, actor, novelist, video game, etc. We're quite sure that right now
> there's someone in Hollywood who, when asked, would say "YOU'VE COME TO THE
> a dossier. We just don't know how to get to them.
> Kind regards,
> Javier Candeira + Helen Faulkner
> _______________________________________________
> Project Wombat - Project-wombat
> list at project-wombat.org
> http://www.project-wombat.org/

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