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Wally: The True Wallace Reid Story (ebook)
WALLY: THE TRUE WALLACE REID STORY by David W. Menefee
(Foreword by Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies)
Wallace Reid still rouses excitement today as Jeff, the blacksmith in D. W. Griffith's famous film, The Birth of a Nation. Audiences thrill to the rip-roaring brawl between Jeff and a band of villainous renegades. The fight was largely real, and many people saw Wally for the first time in that immortal film. They said he became "a star overnight," but he had appeared in more than a hundred films before.
In Wally, his true story is fully told for the first time. He was "born in a trunk" to an actress mother and a famous playwright father. Wally barely survived the infamous St. Louis cyclone when the storm tore that city apart, but he emerged from the carnage to grow into a popular student, athlete, and early film hero. His handsome looks inspired directors to place him in front of cameras, but his ambitions were to be a writer and director. When director Cecil B. DeMille picked him to appear opposite opera diva Geraldine Farrar in her first films, his aspirations became lost in the dizzying idolatry of worldwide audiences.
Wally's popularity soared to a height rivaled only by Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin, but his pedestal of fame stood on shaky ground. Genuine tragedy fell upon Wally and his film crew when their train derailed in an isolated Sierra Mountain location. His injuries were treated with morphine, and his family and friends watched helpless as he became caught unaware in the deathly grip of the drug. Dorothy Davenport, his wife and a beautiful star in her own right, remained faithfully by his side, while he wrestled with the demons that threatened to take his life.
Wally draws from many original sources and major archives to show how he was received in his time and the importance of his role in the development of motion pictures. The entertaining and informative book contains an extensive biographical treatment, a detailed filmography, and more than 200 rare photographs, posters, advertisements, and lobby cards that capture the glamour of Hollywood's Golden Years.
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