Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Betsy Ann Hisle

Last month's issue of Classic Images contained a fascinating article by J. Philip Hysell called “Betsy Ann Hisle: Finding a Lost Player” (Classic Images No. 417, March 2010). In it, Hysell reveals a lot of details about this obscure child performer which he gathered through detailed genealogical research. He even tracked down Hisle's daughter, who still had a "resume" of film appearances which Betsy Ann (real name: Juanita) kept. On that list are three Mack Sennett Comedies from 1924-25.

Using the photographs accompanying the article, I can confirm that indeed Betsy Ann Hisle did appear in very small parts in these three films. In THE HOLLYWOOD KID (1924) (which incorporated scenes from an unfinished short entitled ROUGH AND READY), Betsy plays the older of two daughters of Charlie Murray and Louise Carver. In the Harry Langdon-starred ALL NIGHT LONG (1924), she is one of the three children of Harry and Natalie Kingston who are seen at the very end of the film (she is mostly seen from the back, though there are brief shots of her face). And most interestingly, in REMEMBER WHEN? (1925) Betsy Ann Hisle appears to be playing Harry Langdon as a boy (wearing male drag) at the beginning and during a brief flashback in the middle of the film.

Not long after this brief work at the Sennett studio, Betsy Ann Hisle appeared in a number of high profile silent features such as BEAU GESTE, THE WAY OF ALL FLESH and SORRELL AND SON. Thanks to Mr. Hysell's excellent work, we can also now add her to the ranks of Mack Sennett performers.