Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy 130th Birthday, Mack Sennett!

Mack Sennett was born 130 years ago today: January 17, 1880, in Richmond, Quebec, Canada, under the name Michael Sinnott. And 100 years ago today, he was celebrating the second anniversary of his joining the Biograph Company.

Prior to that, Sennett had been on Broadway, as a chorus boy and then a small part actor (supporting Arnold Daly, then John Barrymore, in "The Boys of Company B"). But he also did some work as a model, as is evident in several postcards that emanate from this period. At least two different postcards use this shot of Mack and an unknown woman in a western themed pose. One version of the postcard appears in Mack Sennett's Fun Factory, showing the two against a white backdrop with the woman sitting on a barrel (in it, Mack is given the fictitious name of “Stanley Brady”). Here is a different postcard (courtesy Bob Birchard) that uses a hand-tinted variation on that same photo. However in this version, the barrel was artistically replaced with a bench, and a log cabin scene drawn behind the duo.

I’m still trying to determine the exact year Sennett posed for this photo, but I’m guessing it was in the period of 1905-1909. I’d love to hear from anyone who has a different version of this postcard (besides the one in my book) or any other similar photos Sennett might have posed for during this period. I'm also wondering if anyone recognizes the female model in this shot, and even the possibility that she might have been an actress who also worked for Biograph (if it was taken during the last two years of my estimated period).

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