Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand

1918 The Muses of Movie-Land


June 1918 in the Motion Picture Magazine on page 106 in the upper left hand corner is the classic Mishkin photo of Mabel Normand.  The article is titled The Muses of Movie-Land by Hazel M. Hutchinson.  The caption under Mabel’s photo reads, ‘THALIA (COMEDY) Mabel Normand Youth in a merry mood; sparking wit; coquetry; smiles and jests; brilliant repartee; she is all these – the Muse of Comedy.  The page has 9 film stars each is identified with one of the Muses. I found this article because Writer Rudy Cecera has a passion for Mabel, Thalia and his real-life Muse, Actress Penelope Lagos

The Muses are the sisterhood of 9 spirits that inspire the creative process.  In the Classic Greek Mythology, they are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (goddess of memory). In other cultures there are also graces that embody the arts through remembered and improvised song and stage, writing, traditional music, and dance.   Pausanias (200AD) states that there are 3 original Muses Aoide (song/voice), Medete (practice/occasion) and Mneme (memory). At Delphi there were 3 Muses worshipped.  However, by the Hellenistic period standardized assigned fields were set and well established from the time of the Renaissance into the 9 we use today.

The Greek goddesses presided over the arts and sciences. They were believed to inspire all artists, especially poets, philosophers, and musicians. There are certain poses and objects were used in paintings and sculptures that identify each of the muses. The Muses sat near the throne of Zeus and sang of his greatness and of the origin of the world and its inhabitants and the glorious deeds of the great heroes. From their name words such as music, museum, mosaic are derived.

The keys to the good life can be said to be held by the Muses as they brought both prosperity and friendship and inspire people to do their best.


Mabel Normand:

Thalia - Muse of comedy (the "blossoming one", muse bucolic poetry) is often seen with a comic mask


Nance O’Neil:

Melpomene - Muse of tragedy (the "chanting one") is often seen with a tragic mask


Beverly Bayne:

Cleo - Muse of history. Clio (the "glorious one", muse of history) carries a scroll and books


Mary Pickford:

Calliope (Eloquence) - (the "beautiful of speech", chief of the muses and muse of epic or heroic poetry, carries a writing tablet


Garaldine Farra:

Euterpe - Muse of music (lyric poetry the "well-pleasing", muse of music and lyric poetry) carries a flute


Irene Castle:

Terpsichore - Muse of dancing (delights in dance, choral song) is often seen dancing and carrying a lyre


Ruth Roland:

Erato (Ikvio) - Muse of erotic poetry (the "amorous one", muse of love or erotic poetry, lyrics, and marriage songs) is often seen with a lyre and a crown of Roses


Lois Weber:

Urania - Muse of astronomy (the "celestial one") carries a staff pointed at a celestial globe



Olga Petrova:

Polyhymnia (Polymnia) - Muse of sacred hymns (and harmony) is often seen with a pensive expression