The Lottery Man
If you were going to work for The Ithaca Journal in the early 20th century, you could plan on writing news stories—or you could try to convince your editors to run a lottery, with your hand in marriage as the prize, according to the plot of The Lottery Man, a 1916 Ithaca-made silent film.
The hero, played by Thurlow Bergen, finds himself in financial trouble after his mother loses her income to a bad investment. To pay the bills, Bergen's character gets a job as a reporter at The Ithaca Journal, where he devises the aforementioned scheme.
Directed by the brothers Leopold and Theodore Wharton, The Lottery Man (1916) features a young Oliver Hardy in the role of Maggie Murphy, a cheerful maid who ditches a chance at riches for the fellow servant she loves.
Based on a Broadway stage success of the same title and starring two of the original cast members of the 1909-10 production, The Lottery Man is a clever little farce that tells the story of an impecunious but resourceful college student who offers himself as prize to any woman daring or desperate enough to purchase a dollar ticket, only to realize that he has fallen in love and is jeopardizing a chance at matrimonial happiness by attempting such a money-raising stunt. Among the luckless and disgruntled ticket holders shown in a climactic crowd scene were quite a few poorly disguised males, which brought to mind the recent policy changes in the State of New York owing to which the state of matrimony no longer demands that an Oliver in search of a husband either pose as Olivia or propose to one instead.
Local scenes in "The Lottery Man" include The Ithaca Journal building (as well as scenes filmed inside the building), the Cornell football team, the Chi Psi fraternity house, the old Ithaca City Hall, and a set built at the southeast corner of State and Meadow streets. Local police and a judge appear as themselves, and Cornell banners and the name "Ithaca" appear in several scenes.