THE NEW ADVENTURES OF J. RUFUS WALLINGFORD
After completion of the Pearl White serials, the Whartons began production on July 14th 1915 on a comedy based on George Randolph Chester's mythical character James Wallingford. The stories ran in the Hearst owned Cosmopolitan Magazine several years earlier. The local papers announced that it would be 14-40 chapters in length possibly based on The Whartons recent success in the Elaine series.
The first episode of the series had to establish the characters Jim Wallingford, Blackie Daws and Fanny Warden several other characters would be encountered as the episodes continued.
The Whartons had secured The Lehigh Valley's best train, the Black Diamond, for the filming. On the train would be Fredric DeBellville as Wallingford, Max Figman as Blackie Daws and Figmans' off screen wife Lolita Robertson played Violet Warden. Miss Frances White a local girl making good with the Whartons was portraying Violet's sister Fanny Warden.
Frances White starred in many of Whartons 1914 productions. She doubled for Pearl White in the Romance of Elaine serial which was just finishing filming in the Renwick park studios.
The first three episodes are really worth talking about because they were all filmed and completed when it was learned that Fredric DeBellville had abandoned the part of Jim Wallingford. A veteran actor, Burr McIntoch, then filled the role. The filming continued with McIntoch now in the fourth episode.
The first three chapters were released to the theaters. Now this is where things get a little jumbled. In the Library of Congresses' copyright catalog of films the first three episodes are listed separately by title and also as episodes of the serial.
So what who really cares?
The problem is that many still images exist from the film and many of the images are from the first three episodes. And if you look at the Wallingford character in the stills you will see that it is Burr McIntoch in the pictures. How could this be if he did not appear until episode #4 entitled "The Master Touch?" In the movie magazines reviews of the early episodes mention Burr McIntoch as playing Wallingford. Maybe DeBelleville had finally read his script and saw what was going to happen in the next episode? He had recently been treated to a mud bath for the third episode.
The first five episodes also have something else special about them. The appearance of a young Oliver Hardy in these episodes marks his debut in serial films.
Look at the pictures of him in this group, with moustache and without one and in the interesting mud-bath stills. No film footage exists from the early episodes.
Episode # 5 The Lilac Splash has been located.
It has an appearance by Oliver Hardy who plays a would be burglar who gets caught in the act. He then has to play cards with his captors to secure his release.
This rare footage filmed in Ithaca along with one reel from episode # 7 "The Bang Sun Engine" and a complete episode # 13 The Missing Heir are all that remain from the 14 chapters filmed in Ithaca.
Now back to why did DeBellville leave the series?
In episode # 4 the Whartons needed skunks and they brought 30-40 of them with them when then returned from NYC. But that was still not enough skunks. Luckily a skunk farm in nearby Caroline was able to supply many extras for the filming.
You can see that the skunks were going to be real and that they would really did stink! DeBellville must have drawn the line somewhere he left the series not having to meet the skunks. Yes, a few skunks did get away but nobody was tracking them down or recapturing them.
In this picture taken in the park at the main pavilion you can see the cast members eating and scenting the skunks in the area.
And here is Ithaca High school student Harold Urband being thrown off the trolley car with huge tongs you can also notice that everyone is holding their noses.
Many Ithacans & Cornell students appeared in the film, one who is mentioned in the papers outweighed the less plump Oliver Hardy. John Matson was well over 300lbs as seen here and in the trolley picture.
Harold "Red" Urband located on the far left of this image was still a Ithaca High school student at this time. He played small parts in this film and would also be used in later productions in the years to come.
The New Adventures of J. Rufus Wallingford was well received and enjoyed in the theaters and many advertisements appeared in the movie magazines to promote it.
The Whartons were mentioned in almost all of the advertising done for the picture. I mention this only because Hearst had interests in its success but he did not have control over the production.
The Pathe company had been using the Wharton Inc. for its productions for more than a year. Hearst had arranged with Charles Pathe the extensive use of his media outlets to advertise Pathe film productions and in turn Pathe would accommodate Hearsts' desires on some productions. In 1916, Hearst would do it all by himself, by forming The International Film Service. He also would continue to use the Whartons as producers and directors knowing of their recent successes.