Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand

When I was young and he was old, I remember Mack Sennett; my guardian, Julia Benson; the writer, Cameron Shipp setting around working on King of Comedy.  Any book or film with Sennett in a role, even if he were in a supporting role would need at the end to defer to the KING.

 So, yes “The Keystone Girl” would be Keystone with a capital letter K and Girl with a lower case “g”.  I was initially enthralled by a film project in which Betty Hutton was scheduled to play Mabel Normand and posted a piece at Looking-for-Mabel, it was a while ago.  I am so fortunate to know so many generous and knowledgeable writers and film scholars and it seems that acquaintances are frequently becoming friends.  So it was a real pleasure yesterday when I received an email from Will, the webmaster of the Betty Hutton website, Satins & Spurs, www.satinsandspurs.com.

 Will had some terrific information he thought I (us) might find interesting/relevant, boy was he right! A movie musical about Mack & Mabel in 1950?  Twenty years before the stage musical Mack & Mabel (1974).


I think the casting of Paul Douglas as Mack Sennett was right on point but hadn’t thought of Betty Hutton as Mabel but why not. As I found in my research there were a number of problems with the script for “Keystone Girl” that Mack Sennett wrote and it was re-written a number of times.  According to Will, George Oppenheimer completed the script in May 1950 as it was going to be a musical; Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Camichael created the musical score.

 By September of 1950, the Keystone Girl was still not in production and Betty had to begin “The Greatest Show on Earth” which took until July of 1952 to complete… So the Mabel Normand biopic was never made.  From the information that I was sent it seems that Betty Hutton became furious when one of the songs written for her that was to be used in “The Keystone Girl” became a big hit for one of Mack Sennett major discovery in the realm of sound, a young male singer he found at the Cocoanut Grove by the name of Harry Lillis Crosby (Bing) and the song was “In The Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.” It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1951, and the film “Here Comes the Groom” was directed by another alumni of the Sennett Studios, Frank Capra.  There were other songs that Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Camichael wrote for the Mabel musical, which became popular; "I Guess It Was You All the Time;  "He's Dead But He Won't Lie Down"; Queenie the Quick-Change Artist, My Cadill-Liddle-Ol-Lac", "But They Better Not Wait Too Long", "Any Similarity (Is Just Coincidental)", and "All Tied Up."

 An internet friend, http://anthonybalducci.blogspot.com/ Anthony Balducci is working on a biography of Betty, so we will have to wait to read all the trials and tribulation of Betty. Yes, his book on Lloyd Hamilton should be available soon.  His next book, the story of Betty Hutton is very much a story of a performer who was at her best before the camera, a fascinating tale of a perfectionist in a very imperfect world.


link to Betty Hutton as Mabel Normand


also other links

  Betty Hutton website, Satins & Spurs, www.satinsandspurs.com.


Anthony Balducci website, http://anthonybalducci.blogspot.com/