After a week off, we’re diving back into Chicago’s silent movie past…this time, with a decidedly child-like eye.
We’ve talked about Chicago’s own Photoplay magazine in the past, including their foray into engaging readers with paper “movy-dols.” But if you think they were the only film fan magazine going to such lengths, you’re mistaken.
Founded by Vitagraph studio head J. Stuart Blackton and his partner Eugene V. Brewster in 1911, Motion Picture Magazine was one of the first fan magazines. It was originally called The Motion Picture Story Magazine and, like Photoplay, focused more on giving the stories and plots of films, rather than star gossip. The name was later changed to simply Motion Picture Magazine, and the editors began to expand the topics covered and the photos, gossip and interesting Hollywood tidbits included in ever issue. One of the cleverest things the magazine did, though, was appeal to the youngest movie fans — children.
While Photoplay largely appealed to adults, Motion Picture Magazine took the time to include special removable sections that would appeal to readers’ children. Paper dolls of popular players were a favorite extra. While Photoplay’s were more realistic, MPM’s were closer to a caricature or cartoon, and appealed more to kids.
The idea of the paper doll was taken a step further in one issue, where kids were given the makings of a Charlie Chaplin doll that could rotate between faces — Charlie in disguise!
One issue also featured a puzzle with pieces that could be cut apart and then put together. Once again it featured the lovable tramp, Charlie Chaplin.
And if that was enough to satisfy little movie fans, one issue even printed eight mini pages that readers could cut apart and then fasten together to create Motion Picture Jr. magazine. And, appropriately, the pages featured interviews and photos of some of the most popular child stars.
Want to dive deeper into the world of silent film? Keep up with my posts over on Curtains or on Chicago Nitrate.