Friday, August 23, 2013

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Famous Figure of Fiction -- August 23, 2013

The first actor to become famous for playing Sherlock Holmes was American William Gillette. Arthur Conan Doyle had killed Sherlock Holmes in 1893, but, needing money, was happy to let Gillette write a four act play, Sherlock Holmes, or The Strange Case of Miss Faulkner. In fact, Gillette had to write the play twice, because the first manuscript burned in the fire at Lucky Baldwin's Hotel and Theater at Powell and Market in San Francisco on 23-November-1898.  Gillette played Holmes more than 1300 times, and his play was the basis for later films with John Barrymore and Basil Rathbone.  The play also introduced a love interest for Holmes, Alice Faulkner. 

Gillette played Holmes in a 1916 feature film for Essanay, which is believed to be lost. The ad is from the 24-December-1916 Bisbee, Arizona Daily Review. Note that the film was "Released through the Big Four -- Vitagraph, Lubin, Selig, Essanay, Inc."  VLSE succeeded the Motion Pictures Patents Company, which had tried to establish a monopoly on film production and distribution. 

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

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