Silent Movie Capital
During the months which immediately preceded the opening of the World War in 1914, The Chicago Tribune laid a foundation for new records in circulation and advertising. The first step was to capitalize the soaring motion picture craze for Tribune benefit. This. was done in three ways.
First, The Tribune originated the idea of printing a daily directory of motion picture theaters and their attractions. Advertising men said it couldn’t be done, that a neighborhood theater could not afford to pay Tribune rates to print its program when only a few thousand out of The Tribune‘s hundreds of thousands of readers are prospective patrons. It was stiff pioneering work for the advertising department, but the Motion Picture Directory is now a solidly established feature of The Tribune. It is a service highly valued by readers. It is profitable to advertisers. It brings in more revenue to The Tribune than all other forms of amusement advertising combined. The marvelous development of the motion picture industry is in tum greatly indebted to the large advertising which it used while the older forms of amusement stood conservatively inert.
Chicago Tribune Movie Directory from 1914
Second, The Tribune originated the idea of printing a serial story in conjunction with its picturization in the movies. The Adventures of Kathlyn was the first serial· thus filmed. It was advertised extensively and sent the circulation of The Sunday Tribune swiftly upward.
Third, when the World War dwarfed everything else on earth The Tribune not only covered it with staff correspondents, but sent its own motion picture photographer to the front in Belgium, in Germany, in Poland and in Russia. These War Movies of The Chicago Tribune were shown to vast audiences in all the large cities of the United States as well as in Chicago.
The header of the full page “Kathlyn” feature that provides the current chapter synopsis.
The Adventures of Kathlyn is an American motion picture serial released on December 29, 1913 by the Selig Polyscope Company. This film is considered to be the first of the cliffhanger serials that became enormously popular during the next decade.
The serial came about due to a newspaper circulation war in Chicago that forced the Chicago Tribune to use more sensationalism. William Selig, noting the popularity of serial fiction in newspapers and magazines, took the idea of a film serial to the newspaper. Despite the Tribune being in favour of abolishing nickelodeons only 5 years previously, Tribune editor James Keeley agreed to pay Selig $12,000 and the serial was released as a promotional project. The chapters of the film were released bi-weekly and the story was also printed as a newspaper serial in the Tribune and other newspapers in the syndicate including the Los Angeles Times. Scenario by Gilson Willets, from a screen story by Harold MacGrath. MacGrath’s novelization was used in the newspapers.
December 29, 1913
Production started in November of 1913 at the Selig Polyscope Studios in Los Angeles off of Mission Road. The production used a lot of the animals that lived at the Selig Zoo on the studio property there on Mission Road. Selig also supposedly created the first motion picture trailer to help promote the series. The first chapter was 3 reels and the other 12 chapters would be 2 reels each. The entire production cost Selig around $140,000. The Tribune announced a 10% increase in circulation as a result of the film serial’s success. Virtually every review praised the film, noting both its expensive look and thrilling action and adventure, along with rare footage shot in India. The Motion Picture News review stated that the most troubling part of the film was the concluding statement, “To be continued.”
Frank Leon Smith, in a letter to Films in Review (February 1958), wrote that the cliffhanger ending of Chapter One “was a ‘situation’ ending, but other episodes wound up with sensational action or stunts, broken for holdover suspense…gave the serial both the key to its success and the assurance of its doom.”
Paramount executive Lou Harris, in one of the first pieces of trailer history (a 1966 Los Angeles Times article titled “Movie Trailers Have Long Run”), described seeing their crucial addition:
One of the concessions hung up a white sheet and showed the serial “The Adventures of Kathlyn.” At the end of the reel Kathlyn was thrown in the lion’s den. After this “trailed” a piece of film asking Does she escape the lion’s pit? See next week’s thrilling chapter! Hence, the word “trailer,” an advertisement for a coming picture.
“Adventures of Kathlyn” window display at Carson, Pirie Scott & Co. store.
Selig introduced synergy with The Adventures of Kathlyn as well, publishing Harold MacGrath’s novelization of the series, leading many bookstores to organize window displays of the book, film stills and Williams’ standee in shop windows. The Photoplay edition of the book contained movie stills to add punch to the text. Persons subscribing to Photoplay Magazine in 1914 could obtain a free cloth-bound edition of the book.
Other heroines that followed The Adventures of Kathlyn included The Perils of Pauline and Pathé’a Exploits of Elaine.
The film is presumed lost : Prints exist in La Cineteca del Friuli film archive (episode 1 only); and in the EYE Film Instituut Nederland (compilation of print fragments).
Cast & Crew
Kathlyn Williams [Kathlyn Hare], Thomas Santschi [Bruce], Charles Clary [Prince Umballah], William Carpenter [Ramabai], Goldie Colwell [Pundita], Hurri Tsingh [high priest], Lafayette McKee (Lafe McKee) [Colonel Hare], Effie Sackville [Winnie Hare], Roy Watson [Rajah], Franklyn Hall [Gundah Singh], C.J. Murphy [boat chief], Emma Bell, Edmund F. Cobb, Charles Courtwright, Harry Huckins, Edwin L. Wallock
Directed by Francis J. Grandon
Writers: Harold McGrath (story), Gilson Willets
The Adventures of Kathlyn is a story by Harold MacGrath about Kathlyn Hale (Kathlyn Williams). She is the daughter of Col. Hare, an animal trapper sent on a secret mission by the king of a mythical India. Kathlyn is summoned by her dad to join him. Upon arrival she is told by an influential Hindu, Umballah (Charles Clary), that her dad and the king are dead. Against her will she is crowned queen and ordered to marry Umballah. This exciting story takes Kathlyn around India fighting natives and every kind of wild animal known to India.
The Motion Picture Chapter Titles
All chapters in two reels, except as noted
 “The Unwelcome Throne,” 29 December 1913 (three reels);
 “The Two Ordeals,” 7 January 1914
 “In the Temple of the Lion,” 22 January 1914
 “The Royal Slave,” 4 February 1914
 “A Colonel in Chains,” 19 February 1914
 “Three Bags of Silver,” 7 March 1914
 “The Garden of Brides,” 21 March 1914
 “The Cruel Crown,” 6 April 1914
 “The Spellbound Multitude,” 20 April 1914
 “The Warrior Maid”; 4 May 1914
 “The Forged Parchment,” 18 May 1914
 “The King’s Will,” 1 June 1914
 “The Court of Death,” 15 June 1914
The Novelization Chapter Titles
I The Golden Girl, Chicago Sunday Tribune, January 4, 1914
II The Unwelcome Throne, Chicago Sunday Tribune, January 11, 1914
III The Two Ordeals, Chicago Sunday Tribune, January 18, 1914
IV How Time Moves, Chicago Sunday Tribune, January 25, 1914
V The Court of the Lion, February 1, 1914
VI The Temple, February 8, 1914
VII Quicksands, February 15, 1914
VIII The Slave Mart, February 22, 1914
IX The Colonel in Chains, March 1, 1914
X Waiting, March 8, 1914
XI The White Elephant
XII The Plan of Ramabai
XIV The Veiled Candidates
XV The Seven Leopards
XVI The Red Wolf
XVII Lord of the World
XX Battle, Battle, Battle
XXI The White Goddess
XXII Behind the Curtains
XXIV The Invincible Will
XXV On the Sloop
XXVI The Third Bar
Review of the results from The Moving Picture World, 17 January 1914
Remarkable Publicity Campaign for Pictures.
For three weeks preceding the release date (Dec. 29), of the first set of “The Adventures of Kathlyn,” readers of the Tribune, American, News and Journal, this city, were puzzled by display advertisements concerning one Kathlyn. The space used at first was small, and it gradually increased until a whole page was used in the three last mentioned papers, while the Tribune had two full display pages and two pages, in connection, devoted to the first chapter of Harold Mac Grath’s serial story and beautiful illustrations in colors. These took up the entire magazine section of the Sunday Tribune, January 4, and over 500,000 extra copies of this section were printed to meet the requirements. The well laid and perfectly carried out plans resulted in a great tidal wave of interest and curiosity throughout the city. This culminated in a turnout of crowds at the eleven theaters—which were advertised to be the first in the city at which Kathlyn arrived—such as had never before been seen here. The box office records were broken at most of them.
For each of the next twenty-five weeks the Sunday Tribune will run a chapter of the story with colored illustrations, and also attractive display advertisements on certain week days.
The other three Chicago papers mentioned will also run displays on week days during that period.
William L. Selig, president of the Selig Polyscope Co., is responsible for this innovation in moving picture advertising. He has fairly astonished everybody in the business by his enterprise, and has given an impetus to the trade that is hard to measure. Exhibitors can readily compute its value, for it comes direct to them; but the whole trade generally derives a benefit that is far-reaching and up-lifting.
Following is a list of the newspapers throughout the United States and Canada wdiich, concurrently with the Chicago Tribune, are engaged in this extraordinary publicity campaign for a period of six months:
Ashville (N. C.) Citizen, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, Mobile (Ala.) Register, Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial-Appeal, Meridian (Miss.) Star, Atlanta Constitution, Sioux City (la.) Journal, Minneapolis Journal, Omaha News, Muskogee “(Okla.) Phoenix, Rocky Mountain News (.Denver), Boise (Idaho”) Capital News, Eugene (Ore.) Register, San Jose (Cal.) Times-Star, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Buflfalo Times, Philadelphia Record, Pittsburgh Leader, Baltimore American, Washington Star, Youngstown (O.) Vindicator, Dayton (O.) Journal, Detroit Free Press. Houghton (Mich.’) Mining Gazette, Syracuse (N. Y.) Herald, St. Louis Times, San Antonio Light, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Post, El Paso Times, Phoenix (Ariz.) Republican, Montreal Star, Moose Jaw News (Saskatchewan), Calgary (Alberta) Herald, Winnipeg Telegram, Louisville Courier-Journal, Schenectady (N. Y.) Gazette, Grand Junction News (Colo.), North Yakima (W’ash.) Herald, Toronto Star Weekly, New York Sunday Sun, New Orleans Item, Birmingham (Ala.) Age-Herald,’ Abilene (Texas) Reporter, San Diego (Cal.) Union, Chicago News, (Chicago American and Chicago Journal.
The Moving Picture World, 24 January 1914
THE TWO ORDEALS (Selig), January 12.—This is the second of the “Adventures of Kathlyn” series; a very remarkable picture that is attracting attention. It has been noticed at length in The Moving Picture World’ for January 17, 1914, page 266 (above). We still think that it is a mistake to offer motion picture stories serially. The better the story, the more the dissatisfaction.
The Moving Picture World, 24 January 1914
N. W. Aronson, owner of the Argmore Theater, 1040 Argyle St., this city, made a pleasant call at our office last week and renewed his subscription. The Argmore is a thoroughly up-to-date, modern theater, with a seating capacity of 664. A modern ventilating plant is installed, which meets all the requirements of the proposed city ordinance on ventilation. The Argmore, with its solid marble entrance, has all the appearance of a modern $2.00 playhouse. Licensed and Famous Players service is used. On Thursday evening, January 8, the first set of “The Adventures of Kathlyn” was shown the second time to over-flowing houses throughout the entire evening. Mr. Aronson found it necessary to call the police to regulate the crowds that clamored for admission. Fifty-one automobiles were counted, lined up on both sides of the street outside. On special feature nights the admission. of the Argmore is 10 and 20 cents.
The Moving Picture World, 31 January 1914
Remarkable Vogue of “Kathlyn” Pictures.
With the presentation (of the second set of “The Adventures of Kathlyn” in this city, Monday, Jan. 13. managers found they could not accommodate the crowds with their usual number of performances. Extra shows were necessary in almost all the theaters where the pictures were shown.
Special morning performances are being given at many picture houses. The crowds, waiting to get in many theaters, stand in line for hours. Policemen have been called to keep the crowds in line, and Chief of Police Gleason has assigned extra men to the theaters in the crowded districts. The managers also are having difficulty. Windows and sign cases have been broken in many places where the guards are unable to check the rush. It has become necessary to install extra railings to hold the crowds in line. Even in bad weather “Kathlyn” fans have been known to stand in line for nearl}’ an hour in order to get into a theater.
Hundreds of inquiries are answered at the Tribune office «very day regarding places where “Kathlyn” will be exhibited on certain days, and thousands who missed the first installments are anxious to learn where they may see the first part of the interesting subject.
The Moving Picture World, 31 January 1914
MUCH PUBLICITY FOR SELIG’S BIG SERIES.
“The Adventures of Kathlyn” is conceded by keen-visioned business men of the picture business to have been the best innovation of its kind ever advanced to increase the interest, enlarge the sales and stimulate universal curiosity and cash reciprocation of anything ever advanced in the moving picture business. For several years past, editors and picture men publicists have given their most serious thought to plans that should enlarge the selling scope of the picture product, and it remained for W. N. Selig to show the way by making a friendly alliance with the big powers of publicity, the American daily newspapers, to take an intimate, personal interest in the moving picture, calling attention to it with all the enthusiasm of something new and strange instead of following the merely conventional lines. This publicity has cleverly not only been localized, but nationalized, and at the same time taken on a news value and has been intensified through the medium of description and imagination; so that it has both reality and romance to forward and intensify interest.
Motography, January 10, 1914
Photoplay, April, 1914
The Motion Picture News
January 31, 1914
SELIG RESOURCES FOR THE “KATHLYN” SERIES
Now that the remarkable series of motion pictures and newspaper installments of “The Adventures of Kathlyn” are under way, something is learned of the almost unlimited facilities necessary to produce such a pretentious picture.
Only an establishment having the facilities such as are possessed by The Selig Polyscope Company, would attempt a production of such magnitude, exacting in its demands upon the players and involving the service of forty African lions, a herd of elephants, leopards, tigers and many other beasts of the desert and the jungle.
Many of the scenes showing the wonderful architecture and invested with the atmosphere of the Orient, were taken in India, indicating how carefully studied this production was in its conception and execution. It is claimed that this play for the first time shows many interesting sacred rites performed in the lands of the Parsee. The close-up scenes of the Burning Ghats of Benares and similar rare ones can be cited in substantiation of these facts.
The scenes of the Durbar enlisting a herd of elephants and camels, elaborately panoplied with read Indian hahouts and camel drivers, as well as a large company of actors led by Huri Chand, who is said to be the foremost thespian of India, give realism. It is said that the costumes for these particular scenes cost $25,000.
Fortunately the Selig zoo at Eastlake Park, in Los Angeles, which has the largest collection of wild animals owned by any individual, barring the Hagenback collection at Stellingen, near Hamburg. Germany, comprises the largest collection of carnivora, forty-five lions, six leopards, six tigers, ten elephants, a pair of giraffes, a drove of camel and many other specimens too numerous to mention—furnish the habitants of jungle land in variety in their natural surroundings. The Selig zoo, a tract of forty acres, is in reality a great botanical garden with the flora and fauna of tropical lands.
It hardly need be remarked that Kathlyn Williams, the intrepid and beautiful leading lady of the Selig Stock Company in Los Angeles is the heroine of this series of plays.
Newspapers which arc running serial installments of “The Adventures of Kathlyn,” in harmony with the picture releases are: The Chicago Tribune, the New York Sun, the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Record, the Baltimore Record, the Pittsburg Leader, Detroit Free Press, Minneapolis Journal, Toronto Star, New Orleans Item, Rocky Mountain News, El Paso Times, Calgary Herald, Los Angeles Times and forty-five other dailies.
Published as musical accompaniment to the famous motion picture play by Harold Mac Grath
Sources: The WGN, 1922
Lahue, Kalton — Motion Picture Pioneer: The Selig Polyscope Company, 1973
The Daily Mirror, 2013
Chicago Tribune, March 1, 1914
KATHLYN WILLIAMS, famous as the heroine of “The Adventures of Kathlyn,” is the leading lady of the Selig Polyscope company. She was born in Butte, Mont., and spent her early life there. During her senior year in high school the failing of family fortunes compelled her to start out to seek her own, which she did with a modesty and force of energy that soon demonstrated her superiority in mastering whatever she undertook.
Miss Williams’ charm of face and grace of figure, her poise and histrionic resourcefulness attracted the attention of a Western theatrical manager and he engaged her for small parts in a Butte playhouse. She had not been on stage long before she was observed by Senator Clark, the copper king, who made inquiries about the young girl and offered to polish the rough diamond. Through Senator Clark’s generosity Miss Williams was sent to the Franklin Sargent Dramatic School of New York, where she studied for two years with such a vidity and to such advantage that she accomplished wonders and was, at her graduation, accorded the position of leading woman with a dramatic company.
William N. Selig, seeing Miss Williams on the stage, recognized her capabilities and engaged her as leading woman for his stock company in Chicago. Miss Williams immediately entered into the new work with a zest that made her a valuable acquisition for the serious side of the motion picture business. Having run the gamut of the sentimental and tragic heroines, Miss Williams became the favorite for a new sort of drama, in which wild animals figured vitally and pictorially. The beasts of the jungle prior to this time have never been brought into the lines of the camera, without steel bars between.
Miss Williams is of the Anglo-Saxon strain—fair haired and blue eyed. Hers are the blue eyes that never fear or falter, and so it was conceded that she was past mistress in all plays that required unusual risk and daring. It would be a twice-told tale of her daring escapes when lost in the jungle, where the leopard leaped upon her and was driven off only by strenuous efforts of supernumeraries; of her adventures alone and unarmed with savage black-maned African lions; rides on the back of an elephant ripping through the jungle.
The difficult and unexpected offer a peculiar fascination to this trig, firmly knit, resourceful, intrepid gentlewoman, who has the classic cast of heroic face, with nothing suggestive of feminine fear. She has been in all sorts of predicaments—from a flight in the hydroplane and a fall in the lake, to the collision of a train and the wrecking of a locomotive. These dangers have not been met, passed or overcome without unusual risk, but Miss Williams never shirks a duty, rather courting a dangerous situation for the sheer spice of novelty. “It is all in the day’s work,” says Miss Williams.