Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand

Posted MAY 28, 2016


It was 18 years after Mabel Normand had died a series of articles were published in the “American Weekly” titled “MACK SENNETT – GLAMOUR GIRLS by Adela Rogers St. John.  I am only telling one of her stories, it doesn’t matter if it is apocryphal or true; it is a great tale she tells.  The comedy you will want to watch is “Yukon Jake” (Sennett 1924) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zldrjDTyGW8








…”Mabel Normand was in back of half the gags on the Sennett lot.

            It was Mabel who rigged Ben Turpin, the irresistible cross-eyed comic, and the bear.

            There were no doubles on the Sennett lot ever, so when the script called for Turpin to get into bed with a bear, it was Turpin who got into bed with the bear.  But this time he balked.  He said would go back to being a janitor the way he was when Sennett found him.  Everybody explained to him that the bear was old, toothless without claws and filled with a true love for humanity, especially cross-eyed comedians.  But Ben was adamant.

            Finally, they compromised on a stuffed bear.  Knowing well the studio motto – anything for a laugh – Turpin went to Louise Fazenda now Mrs. Hal Wallis, and borrowed one of the long hatpins which she used to keep her comedy hats in place, and he stuck it right through the bear to be sure.  When nothing happened Turpin got in bed, the camera turned.

            A split second later came a yell that was probably heard in Kansas City.  Turpin came out of bed running, he kept running and they didn’t find him for two days, Mabel had crawled in behind the bear and flung both the bear’s furry around Turpin’s neck and the camera got one of the funniest impromptu scenes ever filmed.