Lou Tellegen (born this day in 1881) is sadly most famous today for his Hollywood Babylon style suicide. Surrounded by scrapbooks and memoribilia, he stabbed himself to death in 1934. Sad to imagine he thought he had nothing to look forward to; he certainly had an amazing life to look back on. A Dutch native, he (briefly) married a Countess at age 21, then worked for a time at a number of odd jobs, including prize fighter and trapeze artist. In 1913 he established himself as an actor in London by contriving to star in a production of The Picture of Dorian Gray. His main claim to vaudeville fame was his performance opposite Sarah Bernhardt during her famous 1913-14 U.S. vaudeville tour. This gave him a toehold in the States, where he remained for the rest of his life. He starred in silent films, Broadway plays, toured his own dramatic vaudeville sketch “Blind Youth” and had several marriages. His descent began with the emergence of talkies; another casualty of progress.
Learn more about Tellegen in this little mini doc:
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
For more on silent film don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc