Most people are naturally patriotic in their regard for these United States; some people adopt their
patriotism when they adopt the nation and take out first papers. Other people, perhaps there are a
few, are not patriotic. But with me, patriotism was natural. When I was born I already had a head
start over any of the patriotism George Cohan could ever acquire. What do you suppose that worthy
would give for the record that was handed to me in the crib? Here it is: In the first place, I was born
on the Fourth of July in '76-no, not 1776-one hundred years later. In the second place, the event
occurred in the shadow of Bunker Hill Monument, in Boston Massachusetts. You can hardly
understand how fine it makes a person feel to have the whole United States shoot off firecrackers and
salutes and hang out flags and have a holiday on your birthday. (My press agent says I am famous,
and I should be, to judge from his salary) to have their birthdays made holidays while they are still
alive. But, returning to seriousness, I am patriotic, and ready to serve the nation in any way I can.

When I was still young my family took me to Bucksport, Maine, and I was educated there with my
school chum and playmate, my brother Dustin, who is to-day employed by the same firm that pays
my salary. Both of us, even in our earliest days, had a longing to go on the stage. This, no doubt, was
partly hereditary. As we grew older we also grew more determined to realize our ambitions. When I
was fourteen, and beginning to think that the world needed my presence on the stage. I made my
debut at the old Boston Academy. Strange as it may seem, there are no difficulty at all in getting the
job - my dad, you know, owned the company. My first appearance was as
Lucuis, in "Julius Caesar."

Dad wouldn't think of letting a poor actor play in any of his companies, and drilled me morning, noon,
and night. Day after day I worked twenty hours out of the twenty-four to perfect a part. Finally, I
became "so-so," to quote my father's words, and he gave me bigger and better parts.

At about this time the company went on a long road tour, in Shakespearean plays. During these few
years I doubled and many trebled in every character the immortal William ever wrote. They were the
hardest years of my life. They taught me, although I wasn't old enough to realize it then, the untold
value of a training in the classical drama for young actors. It is to those years of hard knocks and work
that I attribute whatever success I have gained since.

Finally, my father, who was growing old, disbanded his company. The germ of the stage, however, was
still in my blood, and I played with various companies for nearly six years, always companies of
classical repertoire. In those days the Bard of Avon was the most popular playwright in the country.
To-day - especially in films - he is not. This was recently proved by Mr. William Fox, when he engaged
Mr. Robert Mantell to appear in photo plays. Mantell, you must remember, was one of the greatest
players of Shakespearean roles in the world. Mr. Fox thought that it would be splendid to have him
appear on the screen in the same plays he had immortalized on the stage. Accordingly, he asked the
opinion of some one hundred of his exchanges. We were all surprised when the answer came back
that the odds were seventy to thirty against Shakespeare. Therefore, Mr. Mantell played in modern
dramas, and in them duplicated his stage successes as a scholar of Shakespeare.

Strange as it may seem it is the style these days to sneer at "rumbustious, periwig-pated fellows" of
the Shakespearean school, but nevertheless it takes more brains and talent to play "Ceaser" or
"Hamlet" than it does to be the "soup-and-fish" hero of a modern society play. I know-I have played

A few years back I established the William Farnum Stock Company in Buffalo and Cleveland building
my own theaters. Then the classical drama was not dead. In Buffalo, alone we had a season of thirty
weeks, giving twenty different classical dramas, and the "S. R. O." sign was almost always on display. I
wish I could say the same thing about our other productions, but, sadly, I cannot.

When I was receiving my training in father's company I thought I had to work hard. I changed my
mind when I started my own company. I was "up" in all the parts and ready to fill in case of need.
Really, with producing, studying, directing, and looking after the financial end of the business. I
celebrated every week if I found that I had a much as forty hours' rest.

"Ben Hur" came next, and I played the part for five consecutive years. This, I imagine constitutes
some kind of a record, but I don't know what it is we'll let it pass. This play was followed by "The
Prince of India." About that time I received a splendid offer to play the lead in a screen version of Rex
Beach's masterpiece, "The Spoilers." I accepted more as a lark than anything else. I just thought that
it would be a little change from my regular routine, and that it would require no study and little work.
I made a bad mistake! It was work and study, and every bit as hard as playing on the legitimate stage.
Any actor that goes into the "movies" to have a "good time" is going to be terribly fooled. In many
respects it takes a bigger and better man to put across some emotional stuff before the camera than it
does on the stage. Remember, too, that you haven't got your lines to help you out - your actions are
what count.

"The Spoilers" was staged out in the great, glorious West, and we lived an outdoor life. I'll never
forget the big scene of the picture. Tom Santchi, a husky six-foot-two giant, was playing the heavy
lead and a wonderful, "dyed-in-the-wool" villain he made. The scene called for a fight between the
two of us - not one of these "tap-you-on-the-wrist-slap-you-in-the-face," but a real man-sized scrap.
Tom and I got together before the scene was to be filmed, and talked matters over. We decided that
we'd go at it hammer and tongs, and I've never heard any one claim that the fight was faked. We
wanted this scene to stand out - it did! So much so that we fought five minutes longer than necessary.
When "The Spoilers" was flashed on the screen I was suffering from a case of stage fight for the first
time in my life. I had been acting for a good many years, but that was the very first time I had ever
seen myself perform.

The art of the silent drama appealed to me thereafter. Perhaps this was partly due to the fact that it
taught me a great deal about my own work. I see every picture I appear in, and try to find out where I
can improve. There was another attraction, too, to film acting, and that was the variety of parts,
instead of the monotony of portraying the same role over and over again. I decided to remain with the
screen rather than return to the stage.
Tropical Nights (1928)
The Man Who Fights Alone (1924) .... John Marble
The Gunfighter (1923) .... Billy Buell
Brass Commandments (1923) .... Stephen 'Flash' Lanning
Without Compromise (1922) .... Dick Leighton
Moonshine Valley (1922) .... Ned Connors
Shackles of Gold (1922) .... John Gibbs
A Stage Romance (1922) .... Kean
Perjury (1921) .... Robert Moore
His Greatest Sacrifice (1921) .... Richard Hall
The Scuttlers (1920) .... Jim Landers
Drag Harlan (1920) .... Drag Harlan
If I Were King (1920) .... François Villon
The Joyous Troublemaker (1920) .... William Steele
... aka The Joyous Troublemakers (USA: review title)
... aka The Troublemakers (USA: review title)
The Orphan (1920) .... The Orphan
The Adventurer (1920) .... Don Caesar de Bazan
Heart Strings (1920) .... Pierre Fournel

Wings of the Morning (1919) .... Capt. Robert Anstruther
The Last of the Duanes (1919) .... Buck Duane
Wolves of the Night (1919) .... Bruce Andrews
The Lone Star Ranger (1919) .... Steele
The Jungle Trail (1919) .... Robert Morgan
The Man Hunter (1919) .... George Arnold
For Freedom (1918) .... Robert Wayne
William Farnum in a Liberty Loan Appeal (1918)
The Rainbow Trail (1918) .... Lassiter / Shefford
Riders of the Purple Sage (1918) .... Lassiter
True Blue (1918) .... Bob McKeever
Rough and Ready (1918) .... Bill Stratton
United States Fourth Liberty Loan Drive (Short) ... Himself
The Heart of a Lion (1917) .... Barney Kemper
Les misérables (1917) .... Jean Valjean
When a Man Sees Red (1917) .... Larry Smith
The Conqueror (1917) .... Sam Houston
American Methods (1917) .... William Armstrong
A Tale of Two Cities (1917) .... Charles Darnay / Sydney Carton
The Price of Silence (1917) .... Senator Frank Deering
The Fires of Conscience (1916) .... George Baxter
The End of the Trail (1916) .... Jules Le Clerq
The Man from Bitter Roots (1916) .... Bruce Burt
The Battle of Hearts (1916) .... Martin Cane
... aka A Battle of Hearts (copyright title)
A Man of Sorrow (1916)
The Bondman (1916) .... Stephen Orry/Jason Orry
Fighting Blood (1916) .... Lem Hardy
... aka His Fighting Blood (USA)
A Soldier's Oath (1915) .... Pierre Duval
The Broken Law (1915) .... Daniel Esmond, later known as Lavengro
A Wonderful Adventure (1915) .... Martin Stanley/Wilton Demarest
The Plunderer (1915) .... Bill Matthews
The Nigger (1915) .... Philip Morrow
... aka The New Governor (alternative title)
A Gilded Fool (1915) .... Chauncey Short
... aka The Gilded Fool (USA)
Samson (1915) .... Maurice Brachard
The Sign of the Cross (1914) .... Marcus Superbus
The Spoilers (1914) .... Roy Glenister
The Redemption of David Corson (1914) .... David Corson
~William Farnum~

Born: July 4, 1876 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died: June 5, 1953 in Hollywood, California, USA
~Photoplay Magazine~
September 1917

Booming the Cheer Market
by William Farnum
~Silent Filmography~
~Unknown William Farnum film~