The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current, October 05, 1919, Magazine Section, Page 6, Image 86

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

"I know where the pitfalls lie, for
I wasa chorus girl. I know what
the chorus girl is up against. I
want to make the chorus safe
for girls."
:.: -r ill BsMlM
v v,
'.;' ...
Marie Dressier, President of the
ChorusEquity Association, Tells
Why , the Fight Be,
Why Making People Laugh
Is a Business That De
serves Well of the
1 .V
T HAVE been ma actress for 30 odd
I years, but the proudsst. the most
inspired moment of my life was
when, as president of the Chorus
Equity association. I attended the
State Federation of Labor convention
at Syracuse not as an artiste some,
thins particularly precious and re
moved from the common herd but as
a laborer among laborers.
It Is madness to say that acting- Is
not a trade. The production of any
thing; necessary to the world is labor
and must be learned. This sad old
world needs comedians, people with
the secret of Joy and of the expres
sion of joy In their beinc;. It Is the
hardest of tasks to make an audience
laugh. Audiences do not laugh be
cause they want to, but because they
can't help it. It takes years of study
and thought to learn how to demand
that laugh. That is why I want my
own chorus people to feel the Inde
pendence, the pride 'and self-respect
which comes only to the true artisan
who has begun at the bottom and
learned his way step by step to the
top. That self-respect Is what I
know their spiritual and actual af
filiation with labor will give them.
Those who, for reasons best unmen
tioned. did not want us to 'affiliate
with the American Federation of La
bor, talked of the impossibility of
temperamental artists creating while
connected with anything so sordid as
labor it must have been the sordid
ft ess of sure pay and decent treat
ment to which they referred. Michael
Angelo learned his trade: he was a
laborer and he got a laborer's pay.
There were labor unions in Rome in
those days and I am sure he was a
member. I never beard that it left a
taint on his art.
Dream of Life Work.
All my life it has been my dream
to form an association of chorus peo
ple which would bring the chorus
back to the position it occupied in the
old days as a training school, and
apprenticeship for bigger work. When
I started In the chorus It was where
all young actors learned their trade.
Some of the best-known people of the
profession of today oama from the
chorus. Francis Wilson started his
career playing the hind legs of a
camel or the left wing of a bat or
something equally important. Tou
know It takes study, application and
real work to keep your name In elec
tric lights for 20 years. I've seen
nine there for 21 years. Tet I re
garded the chorus as such an excel
lent training school that I went back
to It twice after I had started play
ing leading business.
A Backgroaad'' fer Chsraa Girls.
None of this Is true now. The In
sults and Indignities heaped on the
chorus man or chorus girl are such
that no sensitive person willingly
undertakes that branch of theatrical
work. However, necessity forces many
T .
$ 8 V
Marie Dressier, president of the Chorus Equity association, and a group
of chorus girl strikers in New York.
there who could have profited by the
training in the old days. I can
not pay too high a tribute to the
men and women of the chorus of to
day who are fighting against such
terrible odds. I have met many, many
wonderful people in the chorus and
it is for their sakes thaj I want to
rescue It from what It is rapidly be
coming the happy " hunting ' ground
of the kind of girl I call a luscious
and expensive prop ratner thaa a
really hard-working and earnest
chorus girl.
'.My idea, and one that I have had
for many, many years, is to have an
association for chorus people that will
give them a background, a selfre
spect In their vocation which will
make them more responsible, more
ambitious and hard working. If you
start referring to a puppy as Just a
cur the chances are that he will grow
into a full-fledged yellow dog. When
a girl goes into the chorus now the
first thing that Is said of her is "she
is only a chorus girl." and by and
by she gets the idea, Tm only a
chorus girl, no on cares, so what
does It matter what I dor
I am not one of those people who
start barking like an excited fox ter
rier and try to climb a tree for sheer
joy at a chance to Interfere In some
one else's morals. It Is none of my
business whether any particular mem
ber of my trade la moral or not. What
I am concerned In Is that she shall
not be obliged to sell herself in sex
As a member of a strong labor as
sociation no chorus girl will have to
stand, insults and indignities from
managers. She knows her association
is backing her and she knows she can
turn for protection te any stage hand
who will big-brother her. As a la
bor leader I want to make the chorus
safe for girls, with talent, so that any
girl can come Into it with a full feel
ing' of moral independence. I want
to make It so that they dare resent
Indignities. Referring to the-work
done by the Equity, Chlo Sales said
to me: "Thank God, now I dare let
my children- go on the stage."
The Matter of Pitfalls.
I know where the pitfalls He, for I
was a chorus girl. I am not trying
to give the' Impression that my youth
ful path was beset with wicked man
agers and stage-door Johnnies. It
wasn't. I was too homely. But my
eyesight was good, and I know what
a girl in the chorus is up against,
strike, of managers paying for over
long rehearsals, for shoes and stock
ings for the chorus, etc, will have to
be eliminated. ' No longer will it lie
possible for a manager to take large
sums of money out of the pay en
velopes of the chorus. Understand, I
am speaking comparatively here.
Even a magician could not perform
that feat literally ostensibly to pay
for the shoes and stockings his peo
ple have worn out in his service and
pay only about half of this sum to
the shoemaker, the ultimate destina
tion of the rest being a secret known
only to himself.
And the Chorus Equity association
will protect the manager quite as
much as the members of the chorus.
It will see that the people of the
chorus play fairly and squarely with
the management that has played
fairly and squarely with them. It
will not be necessary for the wary
manager to pay the chorus on Tues
day rather than Saturday for fear
'The question discussed in the
they will Jump over the week-end to
another show where they hope foi
better treatment. And the manager
who has signed up his chorus for a
road tour when the New York season
l V
an, and A M f -..V.
' .KCiV :;::pj :
I- 4 : ::--. jtOi-Jfe-'.: :: '".5kT-k f i. ?-lL linn nimni liniiir"1 Ar-ti,.. 1- .. - v,.. ...j,
,4-' -V ii - '-t f i1 V
I I I .i 1 ' i . ' 3 - li- -OV 11. n,'t
.a -4
1- . ...
It - - -
shall be over
on the day of departu
One of the stage groups broken up by New York's extra ordinary demonstration.
can go to the station I that his entire chorus will be there i union to be as a mother, a help ana
' departure and know I I want my own particular labor I never failing resource to the people
Edith Hallor. who came close to a
choice as leader of the chorus girl
of the chorus, the one place where
they can always be sure of help.
One thing I am going to work for
as a labor leader and I hall never
cease working for it Is a. better un
derstanding between capital and labor
and between actors and managers.
I do not want to fight all managers;
I want to bring them to a closer un
derstanding of the actor. And I do not
want to fight all capital. Not all
wealthy people are the Criminal blood
suckers some would have us believe.
I have found many, so many, who are
willing and anxious to work and help,
only they do not know how. They
have been eager for suggestions, en
thusiastic In their offers of support.
Mrs. John D. Rockefeller and Mrs.
William Fellows Morgan have prom
ised to help in a plan I have had for
years, that of establishing, under the
auspices-, now of the Chorus Equity
association. In New York and in every
large cltyof the country, a chain of
players' houses for the people of the
theater. This would form a chain of
real homes where theatrical people
could live in oongenlal and com
fortable surroundings at moderate
prices. It wouldn't be an Institution
or a home in the sense that the word
is coming to be used. It would be de
signed especially for their needs.
There would be suppers served after
the theater, a time when every one
who has been brought up In the
smell of grease paint gets hungry.
And there would be little sitting
rooms where the girls could receive
and entertain the men they know
and be courted and maybe get mar
ried like any other working girl.
All these things the strength which
the Chorus Equity association has
gained from its affiliation with the
American Federation of Labor will
help win for us. But there is a
bigger, a much bigger thing that we
will get. I felt it in Syracuse I hava .
never cease feeling it and I want
my Dejle to feel It, too a sense of
oneness, of closeness to one's own
people the workers of the world.
Old Indian Tale Is Every Whit as Interesting as Catskill Mountain Tarn
and Has a Much More Pleasing Finale.
IP VAX WINKLE Is popularly became a famous medicine man after
association with the Catskill his long sleeo.
mountains through Washing
ton Irving'a classic bit of fiction that
for long haa been a fixture of Eng
lish literature In our schools, yet
there is anotner Rip Van Winkle of
whom the world has little heard. It
is the Rip Van Winkle of the Pacific
coast every whit as interesting as
the poor old Rip of New York state
and the story has a much mora
pleasing finale, since the westerner
Mount Rainier, the great Icy octo
pus rising 14.408 feet above sea level
In the state of Washington, Its great
bulk visible 150 miles away. Is the
scene of the wanderings and the great
long "snoose" of this western Rip
Van Winkle. The story, written
more than half a century ago. Is
brought again to light by Robert
Sterling Yard, chief of the education
al division, national park service, de
partment of the interior, in his la
test ' volume on the great national
parks of America. The story runs In
this fashion:
According to Theodore Winthrop,
who visited the northwest in 1853
and published a book entitled "The
Canoe and the Saddle." which bad
wide vogue at the time and is con
sulted today. Mount Rainier bad its
Indian Rip Van Winkle. The story
was told to him in great detail by
Haraltchou, "a frowsy ancient of the
The hero was a wise and wily fish
erman and hunter. Also, as his pas
sion was gain, he became an excellent
business man. He always had salmon
and berries when food became scarce
and prices high. Gradually he
amassed large savings in hlaqua, the
little perforated shell which was the
most valued form of wampum, the
Indian's money. The richer he got
the stronger his passion grew for
hlaqua, and when a spirit told him
In a dream of vast hoards at the
summit of Rainier he determined to
climb the mountain. The spirit was
Tamanous. which. Winthrop explains,
is the vague Indian -personification of
the supernatural.
So he threaded the forests and
climbed the mountain's glistening
side. At the summit he looked over
the rim Into a large basin, in the
bottom of which was a black lake
surrounded by purple rock. At the
lake's eastern end stood three monu
ments. The first was as tall as a
man and had a head carved like a
salmon; the second was the image of
a camas bulb: the two represented the'
great necessities of Indian life. The
third was a stone etk's head with the
antlers in velvet. At the foot of this
monument he dug a bole.
Suddenly a noise behind him caused
him to turn. An otter clambered over
the edge of the lake and struck the
snow with Its tatL Eleven others
any otter he had ever, seen; their
chief was four times as big. The
eleven sat themselves In a circle
around him; the leader climbed upon
the stone elk head.
At first the treasure seener was
abashed, but he had come to find
hlaqua and he went on digging. At
every thirteenth stroke the leader of
the otters tapped the stone elk with
his tail and the 11 followers tapped
the snow with their tails. Once they
all gathered closer and whacked the
digger good and hard with their tails,
but, though astonished and badly
bruised, he went on working. Pres
ently he broke his elkhorn pick, but
Finally his pick struck a flat rock
the biggest otter seized another in
bis teeth and handed it to hjm.
with a hollow sound, and the otters
all drew near and gazed into the hole,
breathing excitedly. He lifted the
rock and under it found a cavity
followed. Each was twice as biff the brim with, pure white
hlaqua, very shell unbroken and
Never was treasure-quest so suc
cessful! The. otters, recognla'ng him
as the favorite of Tamanous, retired
to distance and gazed upon him
"But the miser," writes the narra
tor, "never thought of gratitude,
never thought to hang a string from
the buried treasure about the sal
man and camas Tamanous stones,
and two strings around the elk's
bead; no, all must be his own, all he
could carry now and the rest for tie
Greedily he loaded himself with the
booty and laboriously climbed to the
rim of the bowl prepared for the de
scent of the mountain. The otters,
puffing in concert, plunged again in
to the lake, which at once disappeared
under a black cloud.
Straightway a terrible storm arose
through which the voice of Tamanous 1
screamed tauntingly. Blackness
closed around him.
When he awoke he lay under an
arbutus tree in a meadow of camas.
He was shockingly stiff and every
movement pained him. But he man
aged to gather and smoke some dry
arbutus leaves and eat a lew camas
bulbs. He was astonished to find his
hair very long and matted and him
self bent and feeble. Tamanous,"
he muttered. Nevertheless, he was
calm and happy. Strangely he did
not regret his lost strings of hlaqua.
Fear was gone and his heart was
filled with love.
Slowly and painfully he made his
way home. Everything was strangely
altered. Ancient trees grew where
shrubs had grown four days before.
Cedars under whose shade l.e used
to sleep, lay rotting on the ground.
Airplane motor' revolution meters
have been invented by an Englishman
to enable an aviator to estimate his
speed and distance traveled.