Thursday, October 1, 2009
Mabel Normand was the first Queen of Comedy. Along with her boyfriend, director Mack Sennett, Mabel defined "Funny" in the early, silent film era, making her mark at Biograph, Vitagraph, Keystone, Hal Roach Studios, etc. Her earthy, girl-next-door-who-will-kick-
you-in-the-nuts personality won crowds over, and her natural, untrained acting ability endeared her to the American people. A generous, selfless person, Mabel was often taken advantage of, monetarily and otherwise, usually by those she trusted most. The biggest betrayal came when her public turned on her. During the first Hollywood witch hunt, when gossip spread like wild fire and everyone was under suspicion of drugs, sex, and debauchery, Mabel was crucified as being an addict and a murderess... though at least the latter was false. Despite her wild demeanor and notorious reputation, Mabel was just an innocent girl who got suckered and swindled out of her happiness. Her husband, Lew Cody, whom she spontaneously eloped with as a joke (a la Britney Spears) would say of her: "She was just a little girl who neglected to look before crossing the street." Decades after her death, one thing remains clear: despite the rumors, despite the mud-slinging, Mabel was a fantastic performer, a friend to all, and the unluckiest girl who even walked the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.