krankenschwester (mort) wrote in thevamps,

Louise Glaum

November 13, 1919
Ray W. Frohman

"Vamps," they say, are "going out"--perhaps have already "gone out."
But LOUISE GLAUM, credited with being the original screen vampire,

Louise is "going full blast," blossoming more and more in every picture
in the full luxuriance of her opulent charms.
But not as a "vamp," as the term is popularly used.
Louise is now a "vamp" with a moral, as it were. On the screen she's a
misled woman who reforms in the fifth reel, or is hit between the eyes by the
retribution to which the "vamp" in real life is heir.
Thus, she is no longer a "vamp," but a "portrayer of emotional roles
true to life."
Why Louise has not been snuffed out, but continues to wax in reputation
while "vamps" wane' what she herself things of "vamp" roles and their
passing; and her own explanation of regenerated vamphood, as sketched above--
that you will learn in the course of human events if you read on.
Alone, with no protecting escort of local Anti-"Vamp" leaguers, without
a special leased wire to the police station, sans even a coat of armor, I
tracked the original "vamp" to her lair! 'Twas at the Thomas H. Ince studio
at Culver City, where by special arrangement J. Parker Read, her manager, is
permitted to sick Louise on handsome leading man.
I expected ponderous seductive charms of the boa-constrictor type.
There are "vamps" and "vamps," of course, but "BEEF" predominates in the
physique of most of the modern successors of the singing sirens who made
Odysseus lash himself to the mast and stuff his sailor's ears with wax to
sail the gauntlet at their isle.
Instead, I found an attractive woman with an engaging manner positively
naive, a charming unassuming woman with a personality, a robust young woman
She was meekly sipping tea from a thermos bottle, as the last reel of a
box lunch, in the seclusion of her dressing room, far from the madding and
vampable crowd.
And she was "FUSSED" TO DEATH!
Honestly, she was twice as scared as I was! Even if I do say it, as I
There was a hesitant little catch in her voice as, unaffectedly, she
tried her faltering, modest best to give her testimony as to her "life and
Her hands were clasped, instead of being outstretched for prey; and she
rubbed 'em together hard and often in a smiling effort to tell "the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
But the poor girl--the brazen hussy who had "lured away" Charley Ray and
"Bill" Hart and goodness knows how many more, many a time and often, upon the
screen--was so "fussed" that she didn't have a date in her system! Of course
it is historic, personal dates to which I refer.
She has beautiful features, dark brown eyes to match her hair--which was
blossoming in 999,999 little round curl-lets--rainbow-shaped eyebrows and a
dimple in her chin that would have made St. Simeon Stylites climb down off
his pillar and "follow her up."
Even if Sim hadn't felt like "stepping out," I'm sure Louise would have
Glaumed him because of her costume.
It was a sheer chiffon house gown in two tones, wine color and yellow,
cut rather low.
That lure deadlier than T.N.T., a LEOPARD SKIN girdle, was caught over
one perfect shoulder with a bejeweled oriental chain.
Slippers and stockings of gold made her 100 per cent DANGEROUS.
I persuaded Miss Glaum to take me out on her "set." We glimpsed an
$8000 setting with period furniture said to have been owned by a princess,
which Louise said she'd "like to move into." Beside the regulation "vamp"
"prop," a gigantic polar bearskin, stood a sedan chair which Louise "wants to
use as a private phone booth."
And there we found our nook.
It was a cozy corner in the lavish studio "set" adjoining, which Louise
inhabits during her current picture; and gosh, it was dark! Facing the set's
real stairs and real banisters--down which eight ladies had slid during the
making of a wild night scene resulting from too much cider-"hooch"--Miss
Glaum testified as follows:
"I have only done a few real vampire parts, according to the figurative
definition: 'One who lives by preying on others.' The term has been so
misused that any woman who does anything a bit naughty is now called a
"If 'Zaza,' 'Camille' and 'Sapho' were done in pictures now, they'd call
'em 'vamp' plays; yet the greatest actresses played them and they were called
immortal. They were true to life.
"The women I now portray are bad to start with, but there are always
that kind in real life--people who make a mistake, do wrong, but later atone
for it. They are NOT vampires--women entirely bad. If a woman just makes a
mistake unintentionally, I don't believe she should be condemned for it.
that's what makes life interesting--people changing, characters developing.
"The term 'vampire' may and should die, but heavy emotional roles true
to life will never die--just as little curly-haired ingenues will never die.
"I'm not conceited enough to say I originated the 'vamp' on the screen--
it's hard to prove that anything's first.
"But about 1913, at Inceville in Topanga canyon, I first 'vamped' and
first starred in my first five-reeler, when five-reelers were new. It was
'The Toast of Death,' Mr. Sullivan's first story for Ince. They started it
as a two-reeler, then made it a five-reeler.
"It was so successful that they had Mr. Sullivan write for me later 'The
Wolf Woman,' since which I have always starred.
"Young Charley Ray, who started at Inceville about the time I did, and
whom I had led astray in several pictures, looked so pitiful in 'The Wolf
Woman' when he killed himself after I turned him out!"
So! This 'vamp' had a heart!
And no wonder they starred Miss Glaum. Charley's so good looking that
anyone who could vamp him--even on the screen--by that very fact would
demonstrate herself to be the champion of sirens, the "vamp" of "vamps"!
"The first thing I knew about being a 'vamp,'" Louise declared, "was
when I woke up one morning to read a newspaper notice calling me 'the peacock
woman' and a 'vampire.' The term wasn't used in titles, sub-titles or
advertising, but was probably invented by eastern critics. I didn't mind the
'peacock woman' part of it, as I wore the first peacock gown on the screen, I
think, and I have one in this picture, and I love peacocks.
"My first big emotional role was in a picture called something about
'Ashes.' It changed my whole type of acting. Mr. Ince saw the possibilities
in me, realized that I was better at that, and thereupon put me into dramatic
work. From then on, I played emotional roles or 'heavies.'
"I played a female 'Bill' Hart, with two little pistols, in 'Golden Rule
Kate' before such roles were common. I played wicked dance hall girls,
leading 'Bill' Hart astray, when dance hall girls were new. In 'The Aryan,'
with Hart for Ince, I was the bad girl who pretended to be good. 'Bill'
found me out and dragged me by the hair of my head."
For about a year and a half after "The Toast of Death," which she said
she'd "love to do again and make a big picture out of," and after which she
always "vamped," Miss Glaum "alternated." That is, as Ince was not yet
prepared to make features permanently, she played "heavies" with Frank Keenan
as well as Hart. Twice, she said, she left Ince, but has "never been a
success except on the Ince 'lot.'"
Her first three pictures produced under her present 3-year contract with
J. Parker Read are "Sarah," by Sullivan; "The Lone Wolf's Daughter," by Louis
Joseph Vance, and "Sex," by Sullivan.
Director Fred Niblo, handsome, curly-haired, pleasant, spruce, bowed
himself into the party at this juncture. He's the hubby and director of Enid
Bennett, you know. Anyhow, he tore Miss Glaum away from me to "vamp"--pardon
me, to "baby"--William Conklin in a scene before my very eyes and those of
Conklin's screen wife, pretty Myrtle Stedman.
And she certainly did it!
The seductive-looking Glaum, puffing at a cigarette, her mocking
laughter rising above the "soft music" of a violin and portable organ, was
alluring as the deuce! That is stating it mildly.
Ah! The enthusiastic Mr. Niblo has restored the lost Louise to give the
following resume of her earlier deeds:
"I went into pictures because I couldn't get a job in stock here.
Mother didn't want me to return east, where I'd been a stock ingenue, after
my little sister died. We lived on Pico Heights. My home has been in Los
Angeles most of the time, though I was born in the country near Baltimore,
Md., leaving there when I was about 4.
"After making the rounds of the studios for a few weeks hunting a job, I
started at Universal at $35 a week, as ingenue lead in one and two-reel
comedy dramas, not 'slapstick.' That was about a year and a half before 'The
Toast of Death.' I played opposite Eddie Lyons. Lee Moran was working in
those pictures.
"I know I wasn't very good at first, but I seemed to get along all
right, staying six or seven months. I was crazy to get into dramatic work,
and had applied to Ince. When he offered me a contract as ingenue at $50 a
week, I was the happiest woman in the world. So many were anxious to work at
Inceville that I felt highly honored.
"For about a year there I 'got by' in two-reel dramas--not my real line
of work, though I didn't know it then. For about $75 a week I went to the
Kalem company for four or five months, in which I cried nights for making
such a mistake, being such a fool as to leave Ince. A raise means nothing
unless you can progress artistically.
"He took me back, very repentant. I stayed with him during the time he
released through Triangle, and when he built and went to the present Goldwyn
studio at Culver City. When he went over to Paramount, I remained with the
new owners of his studio, and later I spent a year on the Brunton 'lot' on
the Hodkinson program."
Miss Glaum, who attended Berendo street school on Pico heights, said
that she never studied for the stage. When about 16, she "left home" as
ingenue with a cheap little road show, "Why Girls Leave Home." She got the
job through an employment agency, without experience, and received $25 a
week, furnishing her own gowns, which she made.
Even now she designs her own unusual gowns, spending a large part of her
salary for odd creations, including 20 changes in her current picture.
After reaching her goal, Chicago, Miss Glaum played ingenues in the
Imperial stock company there for a year and a half, playing in "The Lion and
the Mouse" and "The Squaw Man," among other plays.
Then, in a summer stock engagement in Toledo, she created the ingenue
role in "Officer 666." Its author, Augustin McHugh, her stage director in
Toledo, tried it out there before New York ever saw that successful farce.
Miss Glaum's picture debut followed a few more months in stock in
"An odd personality, wonderfully easy to get along with," is what her
manager calls the Glaum.
"In full 'vamp' regalia, wonderfully hard to tear away from," I'll amend
his motion.
I DIDN'T get away till Louise had introduced me to and said a good word
for everybody on the set, including her permanent and "most wonderful" camera
man, courteous Charlie Stumar.
"Remember!" said the original EX-"vamp," "I'm NOT 'vamping' nowadays, in
the erroneous sense of the bad 'vamp.' I'm cold-blooded and selfish on the
screen, but retribution comes and teaches a moral!"
MORAL: Ain't retribution wonderful!
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