Archive for April, 2015

More from the Clark Library guest book

April 24, 2015

(See our first post on Mr. Clark’s library guest book)

Ramon Novarro was not the only Hollywood star to visit the Clark Library and sign the guest book — Mr. Clark’s guest book provides some interesting corroborating evidence about his friendship with actress Marie Dressler.  There are two very friendly letters from Dressler to Mr. Clark in our institutional archive – one a condolence letter on the death of Clark’s wife Alice in 1918 and the other to thank Clark for sending flowers on her birthday in 1933.  Now we know that Dressler also visited the Clark Library in 1927 and brought along her friend, the screenwriter Frances Marion.

frances marion and marie dressler


The screenwriter of many of Mary Pickford’s biggest hits (and her best friend), Marion was also responsible for helping to rebuild Dressler’s Hollywood career in the late 1920s.  She was a powerful and intelligent force in Hollywood throughout the silent period and beyond and would likely have found much to admire and appreciate about Mr. Clark’s library building and its contents.

These ladies’ names jumped out at me right away because of my academic background in film history (especially because I know and once worked for Marion’s biographer Cari Beauchamp), and I am sure that those with other areas of expertise are likely to react the same way to other names in the guest book.


(click image to see full size)


If you have any insights or information about the other folks that visited the Clark in late 1927, please leave a comment below or let us know on Facebook or Twitter!  We recognize a couple of names (Mrs. Mars F. Baumgardt, near the bottom, was the wife of Mr. Clark’s astronomer), but if there is anyone here that you know (or feel like researching), we would love your help.

(and by the way, just in case you are interested, Without Lying Down, the feature-length documentary on Frances Marion based on Cari Beauchamp’s biography of the same name will be will be airing tomorrow April 25th on Turner Classic Movies, alongside several films written by Frances)



Mr. Clark and his guests

April 10, 2015

While moving material to get ready for our seismic retrofit project, I came across the Clark Library guest book, begun by William Andrews Clark, Jr. in 1924 and used until 1957, when the pages were completely filled.  Because this item was stored in a different location than the rest of the Clarkive (as we affectionately call our institutional archive), I had actually never seen it before.

Bound in repurposed antiquarian binding, the guest book’s pages (at least those from the years Mr. Clark was alive; I didn’t examine the post-1934 pages closely) contain a who’s who of Clark family and friends, library and book collecting luminaries, Los Angeles and Montana society folks and a smattering of Hollywood celebrities.

IMG_0361    The first page of the guest book contains some of Mr. Clark’s closest colleagues and friends:

  • Robert E. Cowan, Clark Librarian and bibliographer
  • Cora Edgerton Sanders, Clark Librarian and longtime family employee
  • Harrison Post, Assistant Librarian and Mr. Clark’s romantic partner
  • John L. Templeman of Butte, UVa classmate, lawyer and close friend
  • D.F. Bogardus, bookbinder from the Huntington Library
  • Judge William I. Lippincott of Butte, family friend
  • Robert O. Schad, Head Librarian at the Huntington Library
  • Alice Millard, bookseller and owner of La Miniatura
  • John Henry Nash, printer
  • Robert D. Farquhar, architect of the Clark Library
  • Caroline Estes Smith, secretary of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Parish Williams, baritone and insurance agent
  • Virginia M. Tanner, widow of Walter Miller Clark, Mr. Clark’s cousin who died on the Titanic
  • James R. Polsdorfer, UC Berkeley alum – his connection to Clark is unclear
  • Georges Jomier, French teacher and language coach
  • Allyn Cox, muralist and painter of Clark Library murals
  • William A. Clark, III, Mr. Clark’s son

Other visitors documented in the book were a little bit more of a surprise:

ramon navarro

Silent film heartthrob Ramon Novarro lived just steps away from the Clark library & estate, and was part of a tour party on April 1, 1930 that also included his close friend Florence “Pancho” Barnes (pioneering female aviator), Louis Samuel (Novarro’s assistant who built this landmark house and also embezzled most of Novarro’s money), Grace Marion Brown (Samuel’s girlfriend and an illustrator who designed some of Mr. Clark’s Christmas cards), Robert I. & Josephine Rogers (former bank executive who owned a Robert Farquhar home in Beverly Hills), and Charles and Kathleen Hamill (lawyer and member of Chicago Symphony Orchestra board of directors).

Because most of Mr. Clark’s personal correspondence and papers no longer survive, any sources for information about his extended social circle are extremely valuable to us.  There are hundreds of visitors recorded between 1924 and Mr. Clark’s death in 1934, and for all of the names that I recognize, there are many more that I don’t.  I will continue to share more pages from the guestbook over the coming months and will be looking for some help to uncover information about who these visitors to the library really were – the pages above can’t be the only ones that contain fascinating people.  Stay tuned for more updates and more images soon!