Monday, September 8, 2014

Lucille Ricksen

Alright, this is going to be a nice, renewing experience for me. It has been about four years since I wrote my first entry on Lucille Ricksen, and a lot has changed in that time. I have learned how to research more efficiently and thoroughly and I have found information that was not available at that time, like where Lucille was buried for instance. So, here we have more information so that others out there who hear Lucille's name or see her picture can learn more about who she was in the short amount of time she was on this earth.

DISCLAIMER: This is the only part of the entry where I will mention the television show The Ghost Within My Child and the episode where there was mention of Lucille. My views on that horror show are not pleasant and I would rather Lucille be remembered as a beautiful and sweet film star, rather than supposedly being in the body of someone else in this century continuing the cycle of being whored out by adults. 

That being said, let us begin the story.

Lucille Ricksen was born Ingeborg Myrtle Elisabeth Erickson on August 22, 1910 in Chicago, Illinois. She was the youngest child and only daughter of Samuel, a buyer for a clothing house, and Ingeborg Erickson. 

Older brother, Marshall, was born in 1907. Marshall too appeared in a few silent shorts in the early twenties, but it wasn't really his bag. 

Lucille had the face of an angel and her mother knew it and knew that photographers and artists would enjoy having little Lucille pose for them. She helped earn money for her family while working as a child model, but quickly it became apparent that people were wanting Lucille to look and act older than she really was. There is a rather disturbing photograph of her around the age of five, nude, with a sheer cloth draped over her. I'm not posting it here because it weirds me out. 

Lucille during her Edgar series days

Her first onscreen acting job was in the 1920 short, Edgar and the Teacher's Pet, which was part of the Adventures and Emotions of Edgar Pomeroy series. There were around twelve installments in the series with Lucille playing the role of Edgar's friend with a head full of blonde ringlet curls. 

One of her next features was in 1922's The Married Flapper which starred Marie Prevost. The following year had her appearing in Dorothy Davenport's (aka Mrs. Wallace Reid) film about the pain of drug addiction, Human Wreckage. 

In 1924, she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star along with her friend Dorothy Mackaill and Clara Bow. This year also had her sharing the screen with Louise Fazenda and Sydney Chaplin in The Galloping Fish and then with Jack Pickford in The Hill Billy.

Now, keep in mind that around this time Lucille was only around 14 years old. On one end of the spectrum, she was playing adult roles like that of a character's fiance in 1924's Vanity's Price. However, in the film The Denial (filmed in 1924, released early in 1925) Lucille plays the young daughter of Claire Windsor. So, while some wanted to see Lucille as the child she was, others were pushing to make her a leading lady before she was even a teenager! Welcome to Hollywood, I guess.

It was while filming The Galloping Fish that Lucille was first beginning to get sick. She tried to keep at her usual pace but eventually she had a total collapse. Her mother told newspapers that she had a nervous breakdown and just needed time to rest, and rest she did. For months Lucille lay in her bed, her illness eventually becoming tuberculosis.

Her mother, Ingeborg, kept a constant bedside vigil for her daughter, caring for her night and day. Sadly, in late February of 1925, Ingeborg collapsed on top of her daughter in bed and died, the victim of a heart attack. If there was even a sliver of hope of Lucille getting better, it pretty much disappeared with the death of her mother. 

Lucille held on for a few weeks, with actress Lois Wilson (who Lucille called her "older sister") taking over the bedside vigil left vacant by Ingeborg's death. Other Hollywood friends came to visit her as well, May McAvoy, Mildred Davis Lloyd, Margaret Livingston, Pauline Garon, and Paul Bern. The latter was helping the family pay for round the clock nurses as well as all other medical expenses. 

Sadly, on March 13, 1925, Lucille Ricksen passed away. She was only 14 years old. 

She was cremated and her ashes were put in an urn along with her mother's ashes and placed in a niche at Forest Lawn Glendale. 

At the time of her death, her father, Samuel had been in and out of the picture. I have read that he and Ingeborg had been divorced but also have read that his ashes are also with his daughter and wife's at Forest Lawn. I do know that he popped back around after his daughter's death to help determine the fate of his son, Marshall. While Lucille lay dying, she and her brother asked their film friends Conrad Nagel and Rupert Hughes to be their legal guardians. Samuel was not happy with this arrangement and fought them on it, eventually telling the courts that Hughes was a blasphemous atheist and was not the kind of person that should be raising a child. Hughes countered with the claim that Lucille and Marshall had begged them to be their guardians to protect them from their father, a revelation that shocked Samuel. Eventually, joint guardianship was granted to Nagel and Hughes. They helped support Marshall Ricksen, who later become an attorney and the father of twin boys, one named Rupert in honor of his guardian. Samuel Erickson passed away in April of 1928. 

Dorothy Mackaill and Lucille

Like many Hollywood deaths, there are rumors and scandal tied to the story of Lucille and her early death. Her death certificate says cause of death was tuberculosis but some believe she died because of a botched abortion, or pernicious anemia. I read about the last one in an article published in the September 1926 edition of Motion Picture Magazine. This same article also listed Lucille's birth date as September 2, 1907, so...that should show how reliable it is. The truth is, we will never know what happened with Lucille. All we do know is that this was one very worn out young lady.

Speaking of ridiculous things written about Lucille, I found this little excerpt about her written in the book Irving Thalberg: Boy Wonder to Producer Prince by Mark Vieira: "He [Paul Bern] paid the hospital bills and funeral expenses of tubercular teenaged actress Lucille Ricksen (after her sister committed suicide)." I have NO idea where this information came from, but, yeah....very incorrect. 

"To be a leading woman at sixteen is something of which to be proud. Yet Lucille Ricksen who has attained that eminence, hasn't been heard to brag. She has a fascinating wink, has Lucille, and also has the honor of being a WAMPAS 'baby star' for this year." ~~ Photoplay, May 1924

"They never say or do anything worth while. I do have such good times playing with the folks here." ~~ Lucille Ricksen, when asked why she doesn't have many friends her own age. Picture Play Magazine, October 1923.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Birthdays!

September is here! The beginning of my first full month in California! I have only had brief cemetery visits so far, to Hollywood Forever and Forest Lawn-Glendale, so haven't had a chance to say hi to many of the stars, but I will get there!

Now for a public service announcement. Every once in awhile I get a nasty, dumbass comment from an Anonymous person. Thankfully, these are few and far between. I don't publish these or respond because, 1) arguing on the internet is pointless and 2) if the comment was worth a response, said person wouldn't need to be Anonymous and could have e-mailed me or written something more constructive. 

Along those same lines, I knew I was going to get some flack for my comments on the whole Lucille Ricksen ghost child circus. I stand by what I said and just flick off the negative comments like mosquitoes. 

As far as upcoming entries go, I have decided to do something that I have been mulling over for the past few months. Some entries I have written from years back are missing some information that I have later found or that was given to me by a reader. So, I am going to be going back and editing older entries, inserting new information so that they are more up to date. 

That's all for now! Stay tuned for the next new and improved silent film star entry. Gonna be a surprise. Oooooh!

Betty Blythe ~ September 1, 1893

Marilyn Miller ~ September 1, 1898

Richard Arlen ~ September 1, 1899

Louise Glaum ~ September 4, 1888

Arline Pretty ~ September 5, 1885

Irene Fenwick ~ September 5, 1887

Doris Kenyon ~ September 5, 1897

Clara Kimball Young ~ September 6, 1890

Beatrice Dominguez ~ September 6, 1897

Dorothy Gulliver ~ September 6, 1908

Merna Kennedy ~ September 7, 1908

May McAvoy ~ September 8, 1899

Marguerite Snow ~ September 9, 1889

Tsuru Aoki ~ September 9, 1892

Pauline Garon ~ September 9, 1901

Al St. John ~ September 10, 1893

Adele Astaire ~ September 10, 1896

Bessie Love ~ September 10, 1898

Asta Nielsen ~ September 11, 1881

Alice Lake ~ September 12, 1895

Billie Ritchie ~ September 14, 1878

Fay Wray ~ September 15, 1907

Edith Roberts ~ September 17, 1899

Esther Ralston ~ September 17, 1902

Dolores Costello ~ September 17, 1903

Greta Garbo ~ September 18, 1905

Ben Turpin ~ September 19, 1869

John Bunny ~ September 21, 1863

Dorothy Dalton ~ September 22, 1893

Julia Faye ~ September 24, 1893

Antonio Moreno ~ September 26, 1887

Gladys Brockwell ~ September 26, 1894

Alice Hollister ~ September 28, 1886

Myrtle Gonzalez ~ September 28, 1891

Ruth Stonehouse ~ September 28, 1892

Billy Bevan ~ September 29, 1887

Lil Dagover ~ September 30, 1887

Valda Valkyrien ~ September 30, 1895

Renee Adoree ~ September 30, 1898

Elsie Tarron ~ September 30, 1903

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Still here!


I just wanted to write a quick entry to let everyone know I am still here, still alive. The past two weeks have been me moving from Nashville to Michigan to see family and then heading out to California. I got here a few days ago and am still trying to get my bearings. I have been able to pay a visit to Valentino, Florence Lawrence, Mickey Rooney, and Marion Davies though...had to. AND yesterday my friends and I ventured to Hearst Castle and it was incredible! We went into Hearst's private theater and saw home movies featuring stars like Dolores Del Rio and John Gilbert and of course, Marion Davies. It was amazing and I can't wait to go back.

Another thing I wanted to comment on is the Lifetime show "The Ghost in My Child" (or some crap like that). There is an episode that just aired that has a 17 year old claiming to have the spirit of silent movie star Lucille Ricksen living inside of her. I wanted to put my stance on that whole situation because I was friends with the girl in question. Facebook friends, but still, I knew her. Reading the reasoning behind her 'revelation' is complete BS to me. Judging by that logic (if you even want to call it that) then I have the spirit of Olive Thomas, Martha Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, Florence Lawrence, Florence La Badie, and every other tragic star I have covered living inside of me. I don't know why I love silent film stars so much, but liking them doesn't mean that you have their spirit living inside of you. Also, if you were actually Lucille would know how you died, you would know who is interred in your niche, and you wouldn't be sharing a body with another person. That would be possession. It just pisses me off that THIS is the reason that Lucille Ricksen will be known by the people who watch that show. Lucille should be remembered for being a lovely child star who was going to grow up and become a truly wonderful adult, and she was tragically taken at a young age. 

So, there is that! I will write an actual entry when I get the chance, but just wanted to make sure that you didn't think I was leaving you hanging. I'm still here!!

See you later, cats!