Early movies had no stories, no stars and no sound. A popular movie in the 1890’s was two girls getting undressed by a lake. Right before their last garments came off, a train came by to block your view. In the next scene the two girls were swimming in the lake. The film was a hit throughout the country.One old farmer went and saw this same movie for weeks and weeks. One day the theater manager came down and said,” Say old timer. Pareto Lawrence
Every day we show the same film with the girls, the train and the lake and every day you keep coming back.” “Well sonny, one of these days I’m hoping the train will be late!”Many of the early film actors were quite content to stay anonymous, reasoning that the new flickers were a novelty and would damage their reputation on the legitimate stage. They were often expected to work all day long. Their duties included hammering nails, painting the set, picking up trash, and lifting heavy equipment. There were no trailers or perks or glamour or big houses. A casting director might meet a newspaper boy on the street and hire him as an lead actor for five dollars a day. Ladies of the evening were often given jobs simply because they provided their own wardrobes. Not knowing their real names, the movie going public would give their favorite actor’s appropriate nicknames such as “the waif” or “the cowboy”. The growing curiosity surrounding the identities lead to the birth of movie fan magazines such as Photoplay in 1909. But fearing that their players would demand huge salaries the producers still refused to release their names.