Mabel and “Fatty” in San Francisco

FattyOpeneruse In 1915, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and Mabel Normand, two extremely popular stars of a relatively new pastime, going to the “flickers” made two short films in San Francisco. In the more famous of the two they visit the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition and tour the Downtown San Francisco area.  FattyPanoramatitleusefattypanoramo2use The film shows a number of sweeping panoramas including the Fair, the front of the Ferry Building, Union Square, and the City Hall under construction.  Fattyferrybuildinguse After opening scenes shot at the Fair, the film takes viewers to Downtown San Francisco starting at the Ferry Building, with the original 1915 numbers on the tower that were replicated in 2015.  Fattyjitneybussuse After the Ferry Building, the film follows traffic up Market Street.  FattyMarketStreetuse This is at Market Street just up from Grant Avenue. You can still see the columned building on the corner of Grant on the left today, and the building at the right center with the single row of windows, which is the Hearst Building.  FattyStfrancistitleuse Next on the 1915 tour is the St Francis Hotel and Union Square.  fattystfrancisuse It’s ironic that scenes were filmed here; six years after this short movie was made a scandal at the St. Francis Hotel resulting in three rape trials would put an end to Fatty Arbuckle’s career.  FattyCHalltitleuse The film moves to the new City Hall Building, where Mabel and Fatty meet with Mayor “Sunny Jim” Rolph, San Francisco’s longest serving, and probably most popular in his time, mayor.  FattyCityHalluse  Fattyrolphoneuse  FattyCHallstepsuse On the steps of City Hall amidst construction debris, Fatty almost slips. I’m not sure if this was acting on his part or a real mishap. The attractive couple in my picture made it down the steps without any problem.    Fattyconvictone After this scene comes a little comedy. One of the attractions at the time was an English prisoner ship ‘Success’ tied up at the Ferry Building.  fattyconvicttwo Mabel and Fatty visit the ship and one of its attractions, the “Iron Maiden”. Now, why do you just know that Mabel is going to go inside of it, and that Fatty will almost accidentally impale her on its deadly spikes!  fattyconvictthreeuse “It’s okay, go on in. We won’t let the door close!” Mabel just might be as dumb as she looks!

fattyconvictfouruse  fattyconvictsfiveuse After nearly being spiked to death, Mabel slaps Fatty’s face. Of course, he does the natural thing and tries to push her back into the Iron Maiden Hey, girls can make you mad!  Fattywishedtitleuse The other movie, Mabel and Fatty made in San Francisco in 1915 was ‘Wished on Mabel’ shot entirely in Golden Gate Park.  Fattyconservatoryuse The film opens with Mabel, on the left and her mother sitting on a bench in Golden Gate Park where Fatty, who’s standing in front of the Conservatory of Flowers, notices her. The look on his face tells us right away that he’s smitten by her non obvious charms!  Fattystonebridgeuse A number of scenes were filmed at the old Stone Bridge that crosses Stow Lake to Strawberry Hill including these. At the upper left, a lecherous thief starts hitting on Mabel when Fatty comes to her rescue below. Mabel must have something going for her for these guys to be so hot on her! The thief has an encounter with another fellow at the same bench in the upper right photo. There’s still a bench at this peaceful location today, and I wasn’t going to start hitting on the girl there, I don’t want Fatty coming after me!  fattystonepathuse A kiss near the end of the film between Mabel and Fatty near the stone path below the waterfall that runs down Strawberry Hill, and all’s well that ends well, but not in real life! Roscoe Arbuckle, whose career was ruined by the St. Francis Hotel rape scandal, died of a heart attack in 1933 at age 46. Mabel Normand had died of tuberculosis three years earlier in 1930, age 37. Even Mayor “Sunny Jim” Rolph died around this time in 1934. The rocks at the stone path here have been replaced during the last hundred years, but the spot looks pretty similar today.  Incidentally, if you like the movies, click on the link below for a collection of film clips from movies made in San Francisco that I posted in September of 2015.


Out in the field (For the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library)

Fieldctowngateuse Lately, to myself, I’ve been referring to my picture taking trips as to being “out in the field”. It sounds a little James Bondian, although, I don’t look like James Bond, and my trips in the field aren’t usually as precarious as Bond’s. Still, I do seem to capture what looks like an occasional SPECTRE agent in some of my pictures. Going out in the field often leads me to Chinatown, as intriguing and mysterious of a place as any Bond has visited. (Peter Stratmoen)  FieldCTownuse It’s hard to tell the SPECTRE agents from the tourists in Chinatown because it’s so crowded! (Peter Stratmoen)  Fieldturntableuse Trips out in the field can bring me to the same place over and over, especially, if it’s one of the most photographed locations in San Francisco like the Powell Street cable car turntable. (The Vintage Everyday site)  Fieldbagdaduse When in the field I regularly scout for out of the way book stores looking for San Francisco lore. Sometimes, I can’t believe what some stores let get away; like two books I recently found. Here, is a 1949 autographed copy of Herb Caen’s most famous work, ‘Baghdad-by-the-Bay’ with its terrific San Francisco Chronicle illustrations like this one of Pacific Street when it was the International Settlement. Was it really like that?  Maybe Also, another find is a book that I just recently learned about, ‘Laughter on the Hill’ by Margaret Parton with wonderful 1940’s style drawings. Margaret writes about a year she spent in San Francisco just before Pearl Harbor, and although her adventures are often banal by today’s standards, she, obviously, loves San Francisco, and her colorful descriptions of the City during this period are a delight to read. The inscription from Margaret herself reads, “To Dorothy – who really began this book – with all love and gratitude from Margaret.” May 21, 1945. That taxi driver in the cartoon certainly is giving Margaret a helping hand!  FieldHaasliliuse Being out in the field would be a lot easier if I moved into San Francisco. Here’s a nice place! I’ll just knock on the door and see what they want for it. That’s the Haas-Lilienthal House at California and Franklin Streets then and now.  FieldTad'suse Powell Street near Ellis: When morning trips in the field take me to this area, there’s a place right across the street from where you’re looking called Tad’s Steak House serving delicious and modestly priced breakfasts. I try to plan as many trips in the field around this area as possible. (Vintage picture from Randy Shaw’s book ‘The Tenderloin’)  FieldKronosuse Being out in the field in Golden Gate Park can sometimes involve an encounter with an apparent offspring of ‘Kronos’, the “Planet Robber” from outer space!  FieldMarketStuse Trips out in the field usually involve stepping into the past, and no place is this more vivid than the ever changing – never changing Market Street. The building on the right would later become the Emporium and is now Bloomingdale’s. The domed Humboldt Building is still there, and right behind that is a good look at what the Call Building, a survivor of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, used to look like before its crown was removed and it was remodeled in 1938. The Call Building, now called the Central Tower, is the brown and white striped building behind the Humboldt Building.  FieldBonduse Well, James Bond himself out in the field at Fisherman’s Wharf! Hey, 007, let me give you a trade secret when out in the field here; try the Blackened Red Snapper at the Grotto. (A View to a Kill)