Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand

lobby cards added July 2015











“OUT YONDER” is by any ones’ opinion that I value, a ‘small’ movie and even the Olive Thomas devotes think it isn’t Ollie at her best. It was shown in 2005 in Amsterdam but not here in the US for years and years and year. 

So why is it important to me…?  Recently, I have stopped trying to judge hundred year old movies from my lofty 21st century sensitivities and just enjoy what we still have.  Seeing Ollie smile and bat her lovely eyes.  I see more here in “OUT YONDER” than I might have noticed if I had seen it in 1919 of course, it is sad in a way that I can’t always set aside all the social history, I have been exposured to in my life time.  Let’s hope we never move beyond the enjoyment of tiny things like Olive Thomas posed on a rock looking out over the ocean.  Movies usually are made around the area within the culture where there are conflicts and ”OUT YONDER”, deals with the transition between classes, the idea of ‘bad blood’ etc. 


Sure, Selznick made popular movies and Triangle spend time developing projects for Ollie.  But let’s face it, Olive was recognized for her beauty not as a trained stage actress; her work in light comedy seemed to fit nicely into the “presentation personality” that had been developed for her, as in “THE FLAPPER” so “OUT YONDER” was an odd choice.   In a review from my friend, Jonathan Pettit, he makes a particularly insightful comment “The more dramatic the material, the more she needed a talented director.” 

Fortunately for us, Ralph Ince directed “OUT YONDER”, and Ollie was extremely popular; Selznick made a ton of money off her.  As did Harry and Roy Airken.  Even with the Triangle bankruptcy Olive Thomas was distributed outside the US, she was especially popular in Central and South America. 

Again, J. Pettit explained to me according to the Aitken papers even in the last days of Triangle, there was a concern with Triangle’s trademarks in Guatemala of Ollie’s movies and of course it wasn't limited to her movies but all the Triangle productions (which would have included Mabel's).  

OUT YONDER“ was found outside the US, it was released in the last part of 1919.  It was a period of another of the Ollie and Jack Pickford separation.  Jack had signed a contract with Samuel Goldwyn in Culver City in August 1919 and Ollie was working on “OUT YONDER” on the East Coast.

The story is a simple one, Cinderella tale…

Marilyn Slater

“Looking for Mabel”

June 2, 2012



By Walter Pulitzer

There’s change in everything, alas! Except a fellow’s pocket!

This world is full of changes; there’s nothing here abiding;

All things are evanescent, fleeting, transitory, gliding.

The earth, the sea, the sky, the stars – where’er the fancy ranges,

The tooth of Time forever mars – all life is full of changes.

Like sand upon the ocean’s shore that are forever drifting.

So all the fading scenes of earth incessantly are shifting.

Change rule the mighty universe – there is no power to block it.




 “You lost some of your hair and all of your complexion and one sandal” itemized Flotsam, dispassionately.  “I guess that’s all.  Luckily I happened to be out with the lobster pots.”   She lifted one foot and scratched the ankle of the other with a bare pink toe in a carefree manner.  Like that king of France who replied to a courtier venturing to criticize one of his acts, “I am the State!” Flotsam might have said “convention?  I am Convention!”

        Mrs. Reggie Elmer, who had spent a very bad five minutes clinging to an unstable lobster pot and wishing fervently that she had been a better woman, giggled hysterically and made a futile attempt to wring a considerable portion of the Atlantic Ocean out of her salmon colored hair.  “If you hadn’t come along when you did – “she chattered, my friends would have been saying, ‘how natural she looks’ in a day or so!  I suppose I am a perfect sight – you haven’t a powder puff about you, have you?”

        The young person in the baggy corduroy breeches shook her curly brown head.  “Nope, I wanted to send for one out of a Sears Roebuck catalog but Fardie wouldn’t let me.  If you come up to the house you can have dome flour, though.  Are you a week-ender or a permanent?”

        Mrs. Elmer seemed to be staring thru a lorgnette.  It’s all very well to have your life saved, and all that but it does put one under obligation to such odd people!  “I beg your pardon?” she queried, frostily, “if you mean, am I summer boarder at the Point, no.  That is my yacht off the Reef.”

        Flotsam was serenely unconscious of being snubbed.  “I thought I hadn’t seen you at the Light,” she rejoined, pulling the great oars thru the water with magnificent sweeps of her strong young arms, “we’re one of the sights, you know.  All the summer folks come out to the Reef in Abe Barrow’s motor boat and squeal when they climb up the stairs, and say ‘how pictures-que’ and ‘I suppose its frightfully lonesome winters,’ and buy souvenir postcards.”

        On the rocky ledge they were approaching two figures stood looking out into the dazzle of blue of gold.  The one, sinewy, slightly stooping, with grizzled grey showing beneath the oilskin hat, waved his hand as the dory swept about the ledge.  “Thar they be!” he beamed, “I told ye my gal ‘ud find her.  She’s the greatest hand to be pickin’ up queer things out of the water, once ‘twas a turtle, and once a devil fish and now your Ma!”

        “Aunt,” corrected his companion with a slight cough.  He was a handsome, well-tailored young felloe whom Captain Joe Barton had classified already as “a city toff.”  Just now his expression was oddly compounded of anxiety, amusement and boredom.  Edward Elmer was usually bored.  He found the flavor of Life insipid to his tongue, as is usually the plight of those who have never wanted anything they could not have.

        “Oh, Eddie!” chattered his aunt, hysterically as she tottered over the side of the boat.  “Oh, Eddie, it’s a miracle I’m not lying at the bottom of the Atlantic!  And after all those expensive swimming lessons I took too!  But this water was wetter, or at least it seemed so – it behaved so oddly – and I got a puncture in one of my water wings – oh Eddie, I have a feeling that when I get around to it I’m going to have hysterics – “

        “There, there, Tootles!” her nephew soothed her perfunctorily, patting her upon the back – the infallible masculine remedy for all feminine ills whether of body or soul.  But his eyes strayed undutifully from the sodden salmon tinted head upon his shoulder to the quaint little figure dragging the dory up beyond the water line.

        Flotsam was small, but her sturdy boy’s attire gave her a look anything but frail.  She had crisp bronze hair, an audacious tip-tilted nose, a mouth, just a shade too large for classic perfection, not a whit too large for charm, and eyes that, from long gazing had caught the color of the sea, blue and gold, darkening into slate grey when there was a storm brewing.  She gazed directly and honestly at Edward Elmer without a trace of the sex-consciousness which a pretty girl usually shows when meeting a good-looking man. 

        Gasping and giggling, Mrs. Elmer chattered out an introduction and fled up the rocks to the shelter of the lighthouse for her bathing suit was of the kind that is intended for beach bathing, and likely to dissolve embarrassingly when in contact with water.  Captain Barton followed, leaving the two young people alone.  Flotsam stood poised on a peak of granite, humming a little song, apparently quite unaware that Convention expected her to make conversation when she had nothing to say.  There was nothing uneasy about her silence; it was that of the sea itself, brooding without revealing its soul.  Edward, who was used to girls that chattered, girls that tittered, girls that flirted, girls that gossiped, but not to girls who said nothing at all, found himself suddenly desirous of hearing her speak. 

        “It was certainly deuced lucky you were out this morning,” he began, with a smile intended to put her quite at her ease a smile that seemed to say. “Don’t be abashed by my grandeur, little girl.  I’m awfully democratic and all that!”

        “Wasn’t it?” rejoined Flotsam, continuing to gaze out to sea with unflattering interest in the fleet of fishing boats just jutting out from harbor.  Devil take it, but she was really extraordinarily pretty – rigged out in one of Clarice’s gowns she’d be a winner.  His tone lost a trifle of its patronage and acquired deference.

        “Tootles ought not to go swimming in anything deeper than a bathtub,” he confided, “she loses her head too easily!  So you live out here on the Reef, do you?  I suppose you must – “

        “No,” replied Flotsam, coolly, “I don’t get lonesome winters at all.  Yes, indeed, I love the ocean.  No I’ve never been to New York.  Yes, I’d like to.  I’m not your baby doll, thank you and I don’t care to row over to the mainland some day and take a little ride in your car.”

        Edward Elmer stared at the mutinous little face blankly a moment then burst into a roar of laughter.  “So that’s what they say to you, is it?  Then I wont say it.  We’ll talk about anything you choose only do let me stay and talk.  I’d like to awfully well, honestly!”

        Unexpectedly the stormy face opposite into dimples.  Flotsam sat down on the rocks beside him with as much grace, in spite of her salt-stained corduroys and clumsy shoes, as tho she wore organdie and patent leather pumps.  “Then tell me,” she begged him, hungrily, “every single thing you know about clothes.”  Her tone quickened, her eyes held a light almost holy.  “Are they still wearing narrow skirts?”  breathed Flotsam, “and tight sleeves, and are the hats turned up or down?”

        And so began, on the rocks beside the morning sea, the story that was to lead to other, stranger chapters, as the sea has other somber phases.  It was the first of many talks they had.  Edward doing most of the talking, while Flotsam sat enthralled, listening to the tale of a world as remote from her ken as Fairyland.

        “Why you allow it!”  marveled Clarice Stapleton, with the edge of spite in her voice, “that common little thing knows well enough who he is and how much money he has!  Of course, I don’t mean to imply that Eddie could be so ridiculous as to think of marrying her, but that sort is dangerous.  Marriage isn’t the only way to get hold of a rich man’s money – “

        Mrs. Elmer looked shrewdly at the speaker.  Morning was always unbecoming to Clarice, tho she was still able to shine under electricity.  In the full, hard light her face showed every one of the thirty-two years – she only confessed to twenty-eight – of struggle and disappointment.  Clarice had tried desperately to marry almost every eligible young man she had met since her debut, and the campaigns had left their traces in fine lines about her rather pale eyes, in a certain acidity of viewpoint, and drawn expression about lips that art rendered a vivid vermillion.

        “She’s young and pretty, you must remember,” she remarked sweetly and apparently without guile, “even in those outrageous togs she wears she manages to look like a little soubrette in a musical comedy, and withal she’s as utterly natural and unaffected as a wild rose.”  It was not that Mrs. Elmer really approved of Flotsam as a prospective niece-in-law, but as any feminine reader will understand – she took distinct pleasure in making Clarice writhe.

   There were others than those on the yacht who regarded with alarm the friendship of Edward Elmer, clubman, millionaire, first-nighter of all musical shows and Flotsam – the Girl Out Yonder, the village called her.  Of these, one, Joey Clarke, heavy of hand and feature with hair burned a strange tawny red by long days of fishing under the glazing sun, was the bitterest.  Twenty-nine was Joey, a hard man, his felloes called him – a dangerous man.  He could drink any other fisherman on the coast under the table without anything to show for it outwardly save a tendency to smile and talk more than when he was coast under the table without anything to show for it outwardly save a tendency to smile and talk more than when he was sober.  He could strike with his tarry fist a blow like that of a sledge hammer.  He could hate faithfully – could love bitterly.  And he loved Flotsam Barton.  There was a burning in his eyes when he looked at her, a thickness on his tongue when he spoke to her.

        “Going to let the city dude cut you out, Joey?” his fellow fishermen jibed as the dory with Elmer and Flotsam put out from the Reef, “I hear they’re as good as promised a’ready.  What gal who c’n have silk gowns and a fine house in the city is going to choose a fisherman’s shack?”

        To none of their jeers did Joe Clarke reply but his jaw had an ugly set and his eyes, under scowling brows smoldered.  Alone in his three-roomed shanty he considered possibilities.  She had liked him well enough before that damned dude with his silk socks and silkier words had come.  She would like him – well enough, if he should go.  And he should go.

        “I could kill him.” Joey muttered, and played with the thought for a moment, but in the end relinquished it.  “But I’m not going to.  I’m not hankering to spend the rest of my years in jail – or mebbe get kicked out o’ life with a dose of ‘lectricity.  But if stays much longer it’ll be too late – he’s got to go, but how –“

        His great fist came crashing down on the pine table, setting the dishes chattering with nervousness.  His lips drew back.  “Why didn’t I think of that afore?”  be blazed, “if that don’t send him kiting nothing will!”

        Edward Elmer was surprised the next morning, to see the shaggy head and lowering face of the most unprepossessing fisherman on the Cape rise over the edge of the yacht to be followed by six foot two of oilskins smelling vilely of fish long defunct.  “I beg your pardon, Mister,” Joey Clarke said sulkily, “but might it be as how I could speak with ye, a moment?”

        But when the desired permission was given he seemed at a loss how to begin.  His great hands, shaggy with black hair twisted his greasy cap; his eyes were fixed upon the far-away ledge of the Great Reef Light.  When he did speak the words seemed somehow wrung out of himself.  “It’s about Flotsam Barton.  I’ve heard you’re sweet on her – is that so?”

        Elmer’s eyes flashed dangerously, but his tone was level!  “I’don’t recognize your right to ask such a question.  However, if it is the least interest to you I am quite willing to tell you that I intend to marry Flotsam.  And now – if that was quite all – “he gestured suggestively toward the gangway, “it would be a pity to lose a morning’s fishing – “

        Joey Clarke’s great hands worked silently with the hat, a slow, dreadful twisting movement as tho he were strangling something.  “You cant marry her,” he said, “you cant marry her.  It isn’t safe – she comes from a bad stock – “

        Edward Elmer laughed scornfully, then little by little the laugh became mechanical and forced as his eyes studied the other’s face.  “Just what” – he wet his lips – “just what do you mean?”

        “I mean,” Joey Clarke said heavily, with monotonous inflection, “that she’s the daughter of a murderer!  And what’s more Barton killed his own father.  That’s why he’s tending the loneliest light on the coast – to keep out of the way o’ the Law!”

        “You’re crazy,” stammered Elmer, ashy of face, “stark crazy!”

        “You don’t believe it?” Joey pointed toward the Reef, white in the sunlight.  “Ask him then!  He knows I know it – ‘twas me as found the old man with his head beat in and him lying in a drunk alongside with hands – red – “

        Captain Barton touched the great brass reflector with his chamois as a mother touches the cheek of a new-born child.  Next to Flotsam, singing below over her housework he adored his Light.  It was somehow a symbol to him, those clear white rays brushing the darkness triumphantly away –

        “Captain Barton!” He turned, started, then extended a hearty hand.

        “Mister Elmer! I didn’t hear ye, ain’t you a mite early this morning?  Flotsam’s downstairs – “

        “I didn’t come to see Flotsam,” the boy said tragically.  The agony in the young eyes searching the tanned weather-beaten face before him drove the smile from the lighthouse keeper’s lips.  “I came to see you.  To ask you – this man Clarke here says that you – Oh, I cant say it!  He must be lying – he is lying isn’t he, Captain?”

        The strength seemed to go from the gaunt figure before them.  All at once he was an old broken man, an old frightened man with quivering lips that worked loosely and cheeks that twitched.  His eyes roved dully from Elmer’s tense face to Joey Clarke’s implacable one.  “So he’s told ye?”  he wheezed, “I’ve been payin’ him for fifteen years to keep sher o’ it.  But – it’s true – leastwise I s’pose it’s true – “

        “You suppose it’s true?” the boy snapped furiously, “don’t you know?”  

        “I was drunk,” Captain Barton said, heavily, “I used to go on sprees – those days.  And I come out o’one of them with Joey here, shaking me and hollerin’ – and there was Pap – and my clo’es all over blood – “

        “God!” said Elmer, and shrank away shuddering.  Below stairs came the sound of a brisk broom and the lilt of a clear soprano.  “I have heard the mavis singing, her love song to the morn – “

        “She don’t know,” the father cried, as tho in answer to some unspoken argument.  “What makes you look so queer like?  It ain’t her fault!  She ain’t done nothin’,” he plucked feverishly at the boy’s sleeve, “what you turnin’ away like that for?  You aint – going – to leave her ‘count – of me – “

        “I’ve got to!”  In the face of Life’s realities all the affectation and artificialities dropped away from Edward Elmer, and he spoke with his soul to the ears of the other’s soul.  “I love Flotsam – but I’d be afraid, afraid hideously. Of the taint in her, afraid of what – my son would be and do – “

        “she’s good!” babbled the old man.  “I wont never see her again – if you’ll take her away – I’ll promise you you wont never hear of me!  I’ll give myself up, and tell ‘em Pap didn’t fall onto the cellar floor like they thought.  I’ll – I’ll do anythin’ you say, on’y don’t break my baby’s heart, don’t – “

        “I’m breaking my heart, young lips stubborn.  “Tell her good bye for me.  I – couldn’t bear – I’ll have Aunty leave before another morning – oh, Flotsam – “

        Moments, hours passed, and the old man in the Light tower stood motionless, then he lifted his face to the great blind blue that showed thru the glass dome overhead.  “Help me t’ lie God!”  Captain Barton prayed, “help me t’ have my little gal.”

        Flotsam gave a cry at the sight of the face he turned toward her, but he stilled her terrified questioning with a gesture.  “I got to tell you something that breaks my heart, baby,” he said, thru stiff lips that smiled dreadfully, “but it’s the on’y way.  I’m not – not yore pappy, not by blood – “

        Hours later, Captain Barton climbed the stairs that led to the Light holding desperately to the iron rail.  His knees shook beneath him his head felt oddly dizzy and confused, incapable of thinging of anything but his duty – the Light that he must send out into the swift autumn darkness, the Light that must not fail whether hearts broke or no.

        First o’ all that.” Mumbled he, as he dragged himself up stair by stair, “and after – I’ll think o’ Flotsam – an’ the rest – “

Out somewhere in the dusk he had left her.  Elmer’s arm about her, with her face, half frightened, half sorry, yet somehow wholly glad, turned to him as he waved her goof-bye and dropped over the rail.  The ethics of what he had done did not occur to him.  He had denied his fatherhood to save her happiness, that was all of it, no more, no less.  He had told his lie so well that it had passed as truth, and he thanked God.  Somewhere out there – he looked down upon the dark heaving waters – the yacht was lifting anchor to take his little girl away from him, out into the world where even his thoughts would get lost in trying to follow –

“Th’ Light – it’s pitchy dark a’ready.”  He was working feverishly now.  “Supposin’ it shouldn’t be lighted and the boat should go on the rocks!  Where’d I leave them matches – God! 

        For his hand, groping in the thick darkness had touched another hand.  Joey Clarke’s voice leaped upon his ears like some savage animal.  “No you don’t!  The Light aint going to be lighted to-night.  “No you don’t!  The Light aint going to be lighted to-night.  Get me?  It ain’t going to be lighted”

        For a moment Barton did not understand.  He even tried to laugh in a forlorn, helpless way.  “What do you mean, Joey? You’re jokin’!  I got to hurry because the yacht is leavin’ – and it’s dark – “

        “It’s not leavin!”  Dreadful mirth shook the great body beside him, “at least – not far.  Send Flotsam away, would you?  She was mine, I tell you – mine!  And she aint goin’ to be anybody else’s!”

        There was madness in the wild words, in the gleam of the eyeballs in the darkness, madness in the clutch of the great hairy hands.  “git out o’ here, Barton!  I’ll tend the Light to-night!  Git out o’here afore I serve you as I served your Pappy fifteen year ago –

        It was not until the door crashed behind him that Captain Barton realized the meaning of the last words.  He beat the panels with impotent hands, but the stout ash mocked his efforts.  He shouted, begged, prayed, and listened to the walls toss his own cries back upon him.  From within the Light tower was awful silence.  He slid to his knees and peered thru the keyhole – darkness, utter, merciless, and – out there, helpless in the night, the yacht driving on the rocks – Flotsam –

        Somehow he had staggered down the stairs and into the kitchen, found matches, a can of oil.  “just a minute, dearie, Fardie’s comin’!”  the old man groaned.  He lifted a wooden chair, brought it down upon the stove with terrific force that nearly tore his arms from their sockets.  Feverishly he poured oil on the splinters.  Another chair – another – clasping the bundle of faggots in his arm, he staggered out into the windy dark, and felt his way down the rocks.  Even by daylight it was a hard path to negotiate, steep, with unexpected pitfalls and fissures, but he panted on, falling, crawling on his hands and knees.  Below him, and strangely near, sounded the hiss of the water on the pointed rocks.  He strained his eyes and thought he saw lights moving thru the darkness –

        “Just a minute, dearie,” moaned Flotsam’s father, and touched a match to the oil-soaked wood.  The flames streamed on the wind like wild locks of a Valkyrie’s hair.  Above him from the darkened tower came a shout of fury, then sickeningly the sound of a body hurled from a great height upon the rocks – afterward silence. 

        The torch flared higher, casting wild shadows.  In the red light of it the old man’s face was hallowed with prayer.  “Keep her safe – please God1  My baby – keep her safe, please God!”

        “Fardie!” Light footsteps ran across the rocks, and Flotsam was beside him, straining him to her with strong young arms.  Flotdie!” What are you doing?  Don’t look so, Fardie; it’s me, Flotsam!  I’ve come back, and I’m never going to leave you again!”

        He continued to wave the torch, staring down at her stupidly.  “But – you cant!  You’re going to be a lady – “  His knees weakened.  She pushed him gently down and took the torch from him, holding it steadily.

        “I’d rather be just Flotsam.  To-night – when I saw them dancing – the fine ladies, in their fine dresses – I knew that you’d lied and that I was truly your girl, and didn’t want to be anything else – “  her voice broke, denying her brave words, but she went on “He told me, Edward – everything.  And so I came back to tell you it didn’t make any difference and I loved you.  I rowed away while they were dancing.  They’ll never miss me, Fardie – I didn’t belong there; I belonged here on the Great Reef – Out Yonder; I belong to the Light, Fardie and to you!!”

        “And to me, Flotsam!” said a new voice in from the shadow.  Tall and handsome in his evening clothes.  Edward Elmer stepped into the golden ring of light, hands outheld.  “You didn’t suppose you could run away from me, did you, dear?”  They had both forgotten the silent figure of the old man, crouched among his rocks, and looking from young face to young face shining with a light that was not from the dying torch, Captain Barton rose softly and stole away.  Later there would be things to be told, later he might free his name from the taint that Joey Clarke, lying somewhere starkly on the rocks had fastened upon it fifteen years ago.  Late he might reclaim the fathership he had denied.  He sprang up the steep ledge, into the tower and up the stairs to where the door swung open at the top.  A scratch of the match, a flicker of a wick – and the Light shone out, splendid, serene, over the dark fields of the sea.

        He held out his hands to the rays of it, ecstatic.  “the Light – is stronger than the darkness – “ cried Captain Barton, Triumphantly, “what there for us to be afraid of, God?”



Directed by Ralph Ince   

Writing credits  Pauline Phelps, Marion Short and Edward J. Montagne


Olive Thomas ...  Flotsam

Huntley Gordon ...  Edward Elmer

Marie Coverdale ...  Mrs. Elmer (as Mary Coverdale)




 Louise Prussing ...  Clarice Stapleton

John Smiley ...  Amos Bart

Cyril Chadwick ...  Reggie Hughes

Edward Ellis ...  Joey Clark

Cinematography by Harold S. Sintzenich   (as Harold Sintzenich)




1920 January, Photoplay

Jonathan Pettit, Silent Film Researcher and Writer