Bessie Barriscale
Bessie Barriscale was an American silent film
Silent film
A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, pantomime and title cards...

 and stage actress, and a major star for producer Thomas Ince
Thomas H. Ince
Thomas Harper Ince was an American silent film actor, director, screenwriter and producer of more than 100 films and pioneering studio mogul. Known as the "Father of the Western", he invented many mechanisms of professional movie production, introducing early Hollywood to the "assembly line"...

 in the late 1910s.

Early life and career

Barriscale was born Elizabeth Barry Scale, in Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken is a city in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005. The city is part of the New York metropolitan area and contains Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the region...

 to Irish immigrants from County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

. Her cousins were actresses Edith
Edith Taliaferro
Edith Taliaferro was a popular Broadway actress of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was active on the stage until 1935 and she had roles in three silent films. She is best known for her 1913 performance in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm...

 and Mabel Taliaferro
Mabel Taliaferro
Mabel "Nell" Taliaferro was an American stage, and a silent screen actress, known as the Sweetheart of American Movies...

. Barriscale began her film career in 1913, and worked intensively for New York Motion Picture Company and Triangle Film Corporation
Triangle Film Corporation
Triangle Film Corporation was a major American motion-picture studio, founded in the summer of 1915 in Culver City, California, and envisioned as a prestige studio based on the producing abilities of filmmakers D. W. Griffith, Thomas Ince and Mack Sennett...

 (among other studios) until she announced her retirement in the early 1930s. In 1918, Barriscale was contracted by J.L. Frothingham of B.B. Features and the Roberson Cole Company to make sixteen films. B.B. Features was an Arizona corporation. The movies were to be completed, produced, and delivered by January 21, 1921. At this time Miss Barriscale's managers insured her life for a half million dollars against eventualities. The total cost of the features totaled more than $1,000,000.

Barriscale was enthusiastic about William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 and wanted to bring one of his plays to the screen. The actress was also an excellent swimmer. In The Woman Michael Married (1919) she was featured in a movie adapted from a novel by Annette Kellerman
Annette Kellerman
Annette Marie Sarah Kellerman was an Australian professional swimmer, vaudeville and film star, and writer...

. Barriscale went so far as to hire a swimming and diving instructor and took lessons in Venice, California. A ninety-pool was constructed at Brunton Studios where the scenes were shot. The film was directed by Henry Kolker.

In 1919, she traveled with her husband, actor, director, and film producer Howard C. Hickman
Howard C. Hickman
Howard C. Hickman was an accomplished stage leading man, who entered films through the auspices of producer Thomas H. Ince. He co-starred with his wife, actress Bessie Barriscale, in several productions before returning to the theatre...

 and their small son, on a world tour. They anticipated producing motion pictures during their journey and traveled with a cameraman.

In 1921, Barriscale came east to play in The Skirt. The play was to travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

 and Boston, Massachusetts after opening in Washington, DC. Later the production would appear in New York City, New York. In prior years Barriscale participated in plays for the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

 and once appeared in Belasco productions, notably Bird of Paradise written by Richard Walton Tully
Richard Walton Tully
Richard Walton Tully was an American playwright. His best known works were the 1912 play The Bird of Paradise which caused a long running court case over alleged plagiarism...

. She played a princess named Luana. During the early years, Barriscale was in vaudeville, with two-a-day, three-a-day, and even four-a-day performances not uncommon.

Actor Jackie Coogan
Jackie Coogan
John Leslie Coogan , known professionally as Jackie Coogan, was an American actor who began his movie career as a child actor in silent films. Many years later, he became known as Uncle Fester on 1960s sitcom The Addams Family...

 purchased the home of Bessie Barriscale in Pellisier Square, Los Angeles in February 1922. The residence was valued at $45,000.

Barriscale returned to the stage in Women Go On Forever. She had been married 21 years and had a son age twenty at this time. The production opened at the Hollywood Music Box in March 1928. She played a "housewife type," and confessed to having rehearsed for the role in a gingham dress she took from the wardrobe of her Santa Monica, California
Santa Monica, California
Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, US. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is surrounded on three sides by the city of Los Angeles — Pacific Palisades on the northwest, Brentwood on the north, West Los Angeles on the northeast, Mar Vista on the east, and...

 home. She said she had been working at home for several years and had just learned to cook.


Barriscale died in Kentfield, California
Kentfield, California
Kentfield is a census-designated place in Marin County, California, United States, just north of San Francisco. Kentfield is located on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad southwest of downtown San Rafael, at an elevation of 115 feet . The population was 6,485 at the 2010 census...

 on June 30, 1965. She is buried with her husband, Howard C. Hickman
Howard C. Hickman
Howard C. Hickman was an accomplished stage leading man, who entered films through the auspices of producer Thomas H. Ince. He co-starred with his wife, actress Bessie Barriscale, in several productions before returning to the theatre...

, at the Mount Tamalpais Cemetery
Mount Tamalpais Cemetery
Mount Tamalpais Cemetery San Rafael, CaliforniaMarin County.Some of the personalities interred here include:*Bessie Barriscale, actress*Ali Akbar Khan, Indian classical musician*Howard C. Hickman, actor*Ernie Nevers, football player...

 in San Rafael, California
San Rafael, California
San Rafael is a city and the county seat of Marin County, California, United States. The city is located in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area...


Selected filmography

  • The Gambler's Pal (1913)
  • Eileen of Erin (1913)
  • The Harp of Tara (1914)
  • Rose of the Rancho
    Rose of the Rancho
    Rose of the Rancho is a 1914 Western film directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The film cost $16,988 to make, and grossed $87,028.-Plot:Esra Kincaid takes land by force and, having taken the Espinoza land, his sights are set on the Castro rancho...

  • The Golden Claw (1915)
  • The Painted Soul (1915)
  • The Sorrows of Love (1916)
  • The Payment (1916)
  • The Hater of Men (1917)
  • Those Who Pay (1917)
  • The White Lie (1918)
  • The Heart of Rachael (1918)
  • Hearts Asleep (1919)
  • Kitty Kelly, M.D. (1919)
  • The Luck of Geraldine Laird (1920)
  • The Notorious Mrs. Sands (1920)
  • The Breaking Point (1921)
  • Show Folks (1928)
  • Secrets
    Secrets (film)
    Secrets is a 1933 Western film directed by Frank Borzage and starring Mary Pickford in her last film role. The film is a remake of Secrets , a silent film starring Norma Talmadge....

  • Bondage (1933)
  • Above the Clouds (1933)
  • Beloved (1934)
  • The Man Who Reclaimed His Head (1934)

External links

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