|IMP employees in New York celebrate the one year anniversary of their first release on October 25, 1910|
However in 2008, UCLA stumbled across a print in their archives of an early IMP split reel comedy that, upon screening, starred none other than Mr. Ben Turpin! The film was The Hobble Skirt (released October 27, 1910) which, today, is one of the earliest verified instances of Turpin acting for IMP.
Years earlier I had come across a Turpin quote that I at first dismissed as fluff: “I recall once, Mary Pickford was filming a scene laid in Havana. As she poised on the edge of a boat ready to leap into the sea, the grind of the camera was halted and I was substituted in her place, attired in long curls and feminine dress, I made the leap.” Ben stunting for Mary Pickford? Why not!?!
In September 2017 I located a rare article in the June 11, 1910 issue of The Star Press, Muncie, Indiana, on page 14, stating: "(Ben Turpin) leaves Monday for Chicago where he has contracted with the Laemmle Film Service and Manufacturing Company, to act in more films."
Since the discovery of The Hobble Skirt and my locating the Manifest of Alien Passengers sailing from Havana on March 4, 1911 (which lists Ben and Carrie Turpin among several IMP personnel), Ben was indeed a part of IMP. And that Pickford film Ben mentioned may well be the March 16, 1911 release (unfortunately lost), The Fisher Maid. By the way, if you can’t see all the faces in the above photo, here’s a better shot of one cock-eyed participant...
Zooming in on the above pic, there’s no mistaking the mugg of Ben Turpin
Ben Turpin waiting for a train with Owen Moore and Mary Pickford in the recently discovered film, "Their First
Misunderstanding," released by IMP on January 9, 1911. Photo courtesy of Christal Schmidt.