Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand



Marilyn Slater

August 12, 2009


 The story of a friendship between Jackie Saunders and Mabel Normand was found in a Grace Kingsley column in the Los Angeles Times.  What a wonderful time it must have been.








Jackie was born 'Anna Jackal' in Philadelphia October 6, 1892. Although there isn’t any films listed that Mabel Normand and Jackie Saunders were both in but these girls were indeed close social friends and their careers followed a similar beginning.


Both Mabel and Jackie started as young models but Jackie paid her dues on the Orpheum Vaudeville Current and than tutorage under the direction in 1911 of D. W. Griffith at Biograph but only for a short time. Jackie was attractive and talented and in love with Elwood D. Horkheimer, the cofounder with his brother of Balboa Productions, the Long Beach California movie studios, the “Maid of Long Beach” (Little Sunbeam) she was an important star for the small movie company between 1913-1918.  She is thought to have made about 50 movies her last film was “The People vs. Nancy Preston” in 1925 for Warner Brothers, she retired before sound.

E. D. Horkheimer and Jackie were married in 1916, their daughter, Jacqueline was born a year later; the couple divorced in 1920. Years later, their daughter was associated with the Pasadena Playhouse for many years until her death in 2006. In 1927 Jackie than married J. Ward Cohen; their marriage lasted until Ward’s death in 1951.  Their child, Mary Ann was born in 1927; sadly Mary Ann Gibson only lived until 1950 when she died at the age of just 23.  Jackie died of cancer in Palm Springs, California on July 14, 1954.

Jackie Saunders tells an amusing story of Mabel Normand; it seems there was going to be a big party at the Hinman Hotel, it sounds like perhaps 1914.  Jackie would have been just 22 and Mabel would have been around 21, Jackie was working for Balboa and Mabel was Keystone Mabel.


Jackie said that she wanted to wear a thin dress to the dance but didn’t have any nice lingerie and the dress was sheer.  She went to see Mabel for help and Mabel showed her a whole drawer-full of the loveliest underthings. Jackie was dazzled with the finery; Mabel gave Jackie, her first silk underwear.


Of course, later they laughed about the gift as Mabel had hoped that Jackie wouldn’t be so impolite as to take the underwear she offered. But of course, Jackie took the silk camisole.


Recently, I took a few photos of Mabel’s underthings at FIDM, one of the items was a peach silk with cream lace camisole and I like to think that Jackie looked very nice in her thin dance dress with gorgeous silk underthings after all Mabel had a drawer-full.


There are stories of Mabel Normand’s generosity, that she would give the “hat off her head” but this is a wee bit extreme, Goodness Mabel, your lingerie!





AUGUST 19, 1934