Today is the birthday of Lew Cody (1884-1934). Of French stock, the New England native acted in melodramas for the stage before the silver screen made use of his suave good looks starting in 1914. He was cast as Mabel Normand’s leading man in her first feature film Mickey in 1918.
Eight years later at a party he proposed marriage to Normand as a joke. She accepted, also as a joke. They went through with it, also as a joke. (They were both drunk, by the way). The two remained technically married (although they never lived together) until Mabel died of TB four years later. Four years after that, Cody was dead of a heart complaint. After starring in dozens of feature films, he undertook a brief vaudeville tour in the early days of talkies, like many did, to prove he had a voice (and to practice using it).
For more on silent films 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
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.