Remember, awhile back there was a question about an actress that may have committed suicide that had been in films at Keystone and had worked with Chaplin? The information we had was a reference stating, “Whose face is familiar to thousands of movie fans, who have seen her in films of Charlie Chaplin”
We found an article indicating that it was attempted suicide and her name, Helen Carruthers and that about all I knew until Phil Posner’s research came today.
I just love it when things get resolved and questions get answered. His material is just wonderful.
As all of you know, Charlie Chaplin spent a year working at Keystone, with our Mabel making around 35 films in 1914; Mabel wasn’t in all of them, perhaps a dozen of them. Helen Carruthers was a ‘extra, second lead, a bit player’ in 17 of Chaplin’s film according to Phil, beginning with a debut in “His Favorite Pastime” Helen went on to appear in as the patient in “Laughing Gas", Garlico's assistant in "The Property Man", the love interests in "Recreation" and "His New Profession", Clarice the secretary in "The New Janitor" and the landlady in "Those Love Pangs". Sometimes she was mistaken as Minta Durfee, Norma Nichols, Gene Marsh or Rhea Mitchell. I checked at IMDb, and Helen’s work doesn’t appear. “His Prehistoric Past” in the role of one of King Lowbrows’ wives was her last Keystone work.
It was David Kiehn and Brent Walker that identified Helen. If you look at Mabel’s Busy Day, you can see Helen in the crown at the racetrack. She was in “Leading Lizzie Astray” with Roscoe Arbuckle, as an extra in the background. Phil has put together a list of Helen Carruthers roles in the Charlie Chaplin films at Keystone:
His Favorite Pastime- Member of Household
Caught in the Rain - Chambermaid
Mabel's Busy Day - Spectator
Laughing Gas - Pretty Patient
The Property Man - Garlico's assistant
Recreation - Girl in Park
The Masquerader- Actress
His New Profession- Nephew's girlfriend
The Rounders - Diner
The New Janitor - Secretary
Those Love Pangs - Landlady
Gentlemen of Nerve- Spectator with checkered coat
His Musical Career - Miss Poor
His Trysting Place - Clarice
Tillie's Punctured Romance- Maid and Waitress
Getting Acquainted - Lover in Park
His Prehistoric Past - The Queen
Helen Carruthers not only worked at Keystone in 1914 but also at Selig. When Charlie left Keystone, so did Helen. There is an indication that she was up in
Helen’s doctor, J. Ettelsen reported that she was in critical condition but the nurses had to fight to keep her in bed, at one point according to Addison Bennett, an Oregon reporter, she got up more than once and went fluttering around the hospital room, it seems that Helen may have damaged her kidneys but didn’t feel any pain from it. While Helen was in the hospital, her interviews continued with Leone Cass Baer, who wrote a classic sob story of Helen laying very quiet all day and of her doctors saying she was near death. Helen Carruthers recovered and dropped out of the newspaper and doesn’t seem to have returned to films.
Thank you Phil for identifying the unknown actress, and confirming the name the Steve linked to the face in the film.