August, 1918 saw the release of Mabel Normand’s first feature length starring vehicle, Mickey.
Mickey was the perfect Mabel Normand picture, building on her image as a feisty, independent, somewhat untameable young woman, and adding a new dimension of seriousness not present in any of her previous work with Mack Sennett. The film was a Cinderella story about a girl growing up wild and uneducated with her gold mining father in the wilderness of California, then being sent to live with family back East for lessons in refinement. While Normand had already proven herself a fine actress at Biograph (where she’d played in some dramas) and even with Sennett, Mickey showcased this talent at a whole new level. And it still had plenty of comedy. Legal snarls kept it on the shelf for two years, but when it was finally released in 1918, it was one of the smash hits of the year.
For more on early film history, including Mabel Normand classics like “Mickey” don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube