Bell & Howell #100 Gallery
Bell & Howell
Serial # 100
Sold January 19, 1916
This camera was first sold to Metro Pictures Corporation and
delivered to Quality Features, New York, New York. Quality was
set up by Metro and Francis X Bushman to exclusively supply
Bushman's pictures to Metro. Francis X Bushman signed with
Metro in 1915 after leaving Essanay Pictures in Chicago. Bushman
spent five months in L.A. and then left for New York to make his
pictures there. They settled at 3 East 61st Street. The civilization of
the East Coast was a welcome change after Hollywood’s immature
Bushman and Quality were to supply one dramatic picture a month
to Metro. Metro actually billed Francis X as, “THE EXALTED
SUPERB SOULFUL STUPENDOUS SOVERIGN, Francis X
Quality was a subsidiary of Metro. Every picture made by
Quality was released through Metro Pictures Corporation. Metro
Pictures purchased this camera expressly because they signed
Francis X Bushman to an exclusive contract to direct and star
in two pictures and star in at least seven others. He starred in
and directed, “Romeo & Juliet” (1916) and wrote, starred and
directed “In the Diplomatic Service” (1916). Rudolph Bergquist
who had previously been a cameraman at the Chicago Essanay
studio when Mr. Bushman worked there shot both of these films. It
seems like they both left Essanay at the same time.
This camera was used by Francis X Bushman and was in fact used
on every picture by Quality after 1915. This camera shot at least
six of Francis X Bushman’s pictures. While directing, Francis X
Bushman had to handle this camera and had to look through the
viewfinder to give approval for framing and to see what his frame
line was as he was the main actor in the pictures he was directing.
He had the first major sex scandal. It was as large as his life. He
had written in his movie contract that his family was to never be
mentioned, as he always wanted to appear single. He then fell in
love with his leading lady, Beverly Bayne and had a long affair
that lead to a hugely publicized divorce scandal. He had received
nearly seventeen thousand marriage proposals from his fans. Many
felt betrayed when they found out he was married all along.
Francis X Bushman was the very first romantic role movie star.
He was billed as “The Handsomest Man in the World”. He made
six million dollars in five years and lived it to the hilt. He set
the opulence standard for movie star ego when there wasn’t a
standard to shoot for. He was known for Lavender, he had lavender
Marmon limousines with his name embossed in gold on the sides.
They were twenty three feet long and guaranteed to go a hundred
and ten miles an hour. He had lavender dressed footmen and
smoked lavender monogrammed cigarettes. When in Hollywood
he rode in one of his lavender Marmon Limousines and had five
Great Danes as company in the car. He kept over two hundred
and fifty Great Danes on his two hundred and eighty acre estate
in Maryland. He was known as “The King of the Movies” and
actually has that in bold brass letters on the door to his crypt
at Forest Lawn Cemetery. He used to boast that he traded his
limousines in when the ashtrays got full.
Probably his best role was Massala in the 1925 version of Ben Hur.
I think he actually made a better bad guy than romantic lead but
17,000 marriage proposals from fans easily prove me wrong.
Features made by Quality Pictures Corporation for Metro Pictures
Corporation suing Bell & Howell camera serial number 100.
1. The Great Secret (1917) ... Production Company*
2. Romeo and Juliet (1916/II) ... Production Company*
3. In the Diplomatic Service (1916) ... Production Company*
4. A Virginia Romance (1916) ... Production Company
5. The Masked Rider (1916) ... Production Company
6. A Million a Minute (1916) ... Production Company*
7. The Come-Back (1916) ... Production Company
8. The Wall Between (1916) ... Production Company*
9. A Corner in Cotton (1916) ... Production Company
10. The Red Mouse (1916) ... Production Company
11. Man and His Soul (1916) ... Production Company*