Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand




(April 12, 1887 – October 19, 1918)



Marilyn Slater

Looking for Mabel

April 10, 2013


Read the death date again…It seems to me that Harold was at the very crest of his life maturing into something very special, he was just about ready to reach his peek.  He was a STAR of the highest magnitude, he had a history and a future; he had married Alma when they had been on the stage together back in 1908, the married had ended about a year before his death; but they seemed to still be friendly, he had a 10 year old son, named William. Later William changed his name to Harold Lockwood, Jr. when he also entered the movies business.  When Harold’s Will was filed in New York, Alma was not mentioned.  She was living at the McDonald Apartment in Los Angeles and it was reported she was shocked and sued to over-turn the Will.





He made a nice salary but left a much smaller than expected estate, only $45,000; $20,000 in life insurance plus real and personal property.  His mother was with him when he died in the Hotel Woodward, New York and he left in equal parts his estate to his mother, his son and a personal friend, Gladys W. Lyle.

At the time of Harold death; he was making money, had talent and earned the respect of his peers; he was a handsome, healthy, intelligent man of 30 that had everything.


He was making a success of a column for the Motion Picture Magazine, beginning in June 1918, titled “Funny Happening in the Studio and on Location,” he told funny things that happen around the studios and on locations.   He was also voted one of the most popular movie stars in America by the Motion Picture readers’ poll in the months before his death.

Tom Ince worked with Harold at Inceville in 1912 and said that Harold had no peer as a juvenile player.  It was Tom Ince that loaned Harold to Famous Players to play opposite Mary Pickford in “Tess of the Storm Country” (March 1914).



 In one of the article Harold wrote for Motion Picture Magazine (September 1918), he tells of his day at work: reporting to the studio at 9 am; putting on his makeup and working until the light fades around 5pm and he goes home.  He thought of what he did as pretty routine, day after day.  But he loved going on location.   A story of one trip is really wonderful but needs perhaps a red leather booth and a beer, here in his words I find the man.




“We had an impromptu hunting scene staged by our director that will be called to my mind whenever the subject of hunting is brought up.

We were motoring over a country road from our camp to a location site when, as we made a curve in the road, a rabbit jumped from the bushes and stopped in the middle of our path, about a hundred feet ahead of us.  “Stop the car!” the director yelled to the chauffeur when he saw the rabbit, and the chauffeur obeying, applied the brakes.  When the car came to a dead stop, we were not more than fifty feet from the rabbit, which quite evidently was not in the least affected by our presence, for it didn’t move an inch.

As we were camping out on this trip, our director had an automatic with him as a protection against wild quadruped prowlers of the night, and it so happened that he carried the revolver with him when we left the camp that morning.  He whipped out the gun and blazed away at the rabbit,

The shot missed and sent up a spray of dust a few feet behind the rabbit.  According to all natural laws, the mammal should have scooted off in a flurry of fright, but instead it didn’t stir except to cock its left ear and gaze intently at the marksman.  The director followed with another shot, but the result was no better than his first attempt.  Except that now it cocked its right ear, the rabbit refused to move.  For the third time the director fired and missed, and then – we could hardly believe our eyes! – the rabbit moved a foot or two closer to the car.  After the fourth miss the rabbit crawled still another foot or two nearer.  To make a long story short, the director exploded and missed with every cartridge he had with him, and with each shot the rabbit moved nearer until after the last cartridge had been spent it was truthfully not more than ten feet from us.

The director’s disgust at his bad marksmanship had reached an acute stage, but it rose to supreme heights when one of the boys uttered this tantalizing observation: Don’t shoot at him any more.  The poor rabbit’s sorry for you and it’s coming right into the car to give itself up.”


Motion Picture Magazine   November 1918










Along with Mabel Normand, and many members of the entertainment industry, Harold was part of the LIBERTY LOAN DRIVES; it was a very triumphant fund raiser held to support World War I.  Over at the Goldwyn Studio Mabel Normand, Pauline Frederick, Madge Kennedy, Mae Marsh and Tom Moore were directed by Hugo Ballin in a Willard Mack story titled “The Story of the Biggest Game Ever Played” as part of Fourth Liberty Loan.

In October 10, 1918 Harold and Mabel sold war bonds at Madison Square Garden in New York. During the Drive, each night had a special theme: 

¨     Tuesday & Wednesday nights Mabel Normand and Harold Lockwood were at the New York Morning Telegraph booth; Viola Dana, at the Metro Booth; Ernest Truex, Shirley Mason, John Emerson and Anita Loos were there for Paramount. 

¨     The next night was Emergency Fleet Night with a talk from Charles Schwab of the shipbuilding board and a riveting contest and the Stage Women’s War Relief and Pathe’s players; Leah Baird, Sheldon Lewis, Charles Hutchinson, Betty Blythe and Florence Deshon.

¨     Thursday night was Select Pictures’ star Marion Davies and Vitagraph’s Alice Joyce time to shine.

¨     Saturday Anna Case presented a number of the songs that made her famous.


 As WWI thundered on in Europe; on the “homefront” the stars raised money, they were working on the “Fourth” of the Liberty Loan Drive. In theaters across the country as part of the schedule movies were shown Liberty Loan short films; at the Oak Park Leaves:

¨     October 12 Harold Lockwood in  Liberty Bond Jimmy”

¨     October 14 Edith Storey in “ Edith’s Victory for Democracy”

¨     October 15 Emily Stevens in a Liberty Loan’s “Building for Democracy”

¨     October 16 Charlie Chaplin in Liberty Loan’s “Fighting For Freedom”

¨     October 17 Norma Talmadge in Liberty Loan Playlet

¨     October 18 Alice Brady in Liberty Loan Playlet

There was also a “A Woman of France” written and acted by Nazimova


Harold had come East just four month earlier to make a few movies for Metro Pictures, east coast studio.  There was a report that he planned to return to Los Angeles after he had completed his obligations. 


Harold and Mabel died early in film history so their contributions are not as easy to remember as the work done by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and William S. Hart; in a real way, Harold Lockwood was a victim of the war. 


 He was selling Bonds at the New York Morning Telegraph booth; remember 1918 was also at the height of the Spanish Influenza; it is believed that Harold contacted the deadly virus while he and Mabel were selling nearly $20,000 worth on bonds (that is about $336,000 in real money). Mabel and Harold worked together, women bought from Harold and you guessed it, the men congregated at Mabel’s table.


I don’t want to make light of it but Mabel did…she sold bonds for kisses.  The influenza was a real danger, but when an unknown man called out “Give us a kiss for a bond, Mabel?” Being patriotic, Mabel asked “How large a bond?” It was one of the thousand dollar ones and Mabel provided the kiss!


The flu was devastating the studios both on the East Coast and in California, during December 1918 it killed:

¨     Wayland Trask, actor – Sennett

¨     William Wolbert, director – Vitagraph & Universal

¨     Harold Percival, technical director – Thomas H. Ince

¨     Rex Weber, director – Lubin & Titan


¨     J. Warren Kerrigan had double pneumonia and Mabel Normand and John Bowers also became ill.


 After the success of the Fourth Liberty Loan Drive Bond Sales, Harold went to work on another government propaganda movie “The Yellow Dove” an aviation serial but he fell ill Tuesday of what was thought to be “la grippe” but was in fact Spanish Influenza, on Saturday about 1 in the afternoon at the Hotel Woodward October 19, 1918.  Harold died from pneumonia; he was just 30.  The pneumonia had developed from influenza believed to have been contracted selling Liberty bonds and he was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery.


Harold Lockwood seems like a very nice fellow; light – hearted and loveable.  As he was growing up he did all the boy things like swimming, horseback riding, football, etc and of course, theater.  His father was a horse trainer and breeder in  Newark, N.J. and Harold must have been charming as he got his father to agree that if he went to business school and worked in retail, he could do a bit of acting after they moved to Manhattan after all it was Harold’s passion.  


It didn’t take him long to get his start in musical comedies and vaudeville and by the age of 21 he had met Alma and they married June 3, 1908 and William was born.  Many stage actors were finding work in the movies and by 1911 Harold found work with director, Edwin S. Porter and accompanied him when Nestor studio opened a studio in California.  It was in 1912 that he began to work for Thomas Ince in Westerns and Civil War movies, next stop was work at the Selig Company.  Harold was becoming very successful; both Tom Ince and Edwin Porter that were at various times was said to be reasonable in getting Famous Players-Lasky Studios to cast Harold opposite Mary Pickford in movies like, “Tess of the Storm Country” and then came a paring with May Allison.  Together the pair made over 20 movies between 1915 and 1917.  His leading ladies went on to include Vera Sisson, Martha Mansfield, Bessie Eyton, and Carmel Myers. IMDb lists 130 films, a remarkable career for such a short time on the screen; just remarkable.


Harold wrote a letter responding to a fan letter which reflects something of the problem of his co-staring with May Allison in so many movie.



New York City April 7, 1916

To: Miss Griffeth:

 "My dear Miss Griffeth,

 Your letter of March 27th received, and I am glad to learn that my picture pleased you. As you request, I am mailing you under separate cover one of my photos.

I regret exceedingly that the rumor has spread that Miss Allison and myself are married, as this is absolutely untrue.

Miss Allison and I are now starring in Metro features. I want you to be sure and see our latest picture. "The Come-Back” which will be released the latter part of this month. 

With best wishes,












1918 May MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE, PAGE 6 “A Few of the Many Good Things”

1918 August 28; WID’S DAILY

1918 September MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE, Harold Lockwood,

1918 October 9, WID'S DAILY 

1918 October 12 Oak Park Leaves

1918 October 20 Los Angeles Times, courtesy of James Zeruk

1918 October 21, Ludington Daily News

1918 October 27, Oakland Tribune

1919 March, Photoplay, page 44

BALSHOFER, FRED - autobiography (to learn about Harold Lockwood's film career) 

BOND SALE ARTICLE POST http://looking-for-mabel.webs.com/bonds.htm

FAN LETTER – Harold Lockwood wrote to “Miss Griffeth” April 7. 1916

Fourth Liberty Loan, September 28, 1918 (maturing in 1933) offered $6 billion in bonds at 4.25 percent.

IMDb – Harold Lockwood: bio by: Carrie-Anne

Lussier, Tim – “Harold Lockwood, A bright star … gone too soon”

Motion Picture magazine's "Motion Picture Hall of Fame" published in December, 1918

New York Morning Telegraph – 1918 October 10; Mabel Normand Sells a Kiss courtesy of William Thomas Sherman









Tess of the Storm Country – (1914 Famous Players Film Co.)