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Who the Hell is Joseph McDermott?

So I’ve mentioned that I have the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra 2012 silent film calendar. I hope you do too. If not, I pity the fool (who didn’t have the foresight to purchase one).

Everyday I wake up, sit down at the old Underwood HP Envy, and have a look see at what my amazing and informative calendar has to tell me. Well first, I admire the full page photo that’s at top. As it’s only March 6, I’ve yet to tire of this month’s still, Fatty Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, and Luke the Dog from Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1918). Fatty has some food on a fork and Luke is staring at the food, but Fatty is all shaking a finger and saying “No, you can’t have it!” It’s hilarious, but I digress. When I’m done chuckling at Fatty and Luke, I check the current day to see what factoid I can share with my devoted readers. I admit, this has made me a bit of a lazy silent film blogger, but interesting none-the-less, right? Right?

Today the silent film calendar notes that on March 6, 1923, Joseph McDermott committed suicide. That sounds like a promising story. I dutifully fire up the Google search engine (I like to think of it as steam powered) and search “Joseph McDermott silent movie.” Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about our tragic hero:

Joseph McDermott (1890 – March 6, 1923), was an American actor of the silent era. He appeared in 76 films between 1912 and 1923.

He died in Los Angeles, California by committing suicide.[citation needed]

And that’s about it. Mr, McDermott’s impressive filmography is listed, and that’s all. I dig a little deeper into the interwebs, and that’s still all I got. Unlike the question, “Who the Hell is Elmo Lincoln?“, this question doesn’t really have an answer.

Turns out, sometimes that’s all these is to say. But of course, silent movies are not about saying, are they? They’re about doing, and Joseph McDermott, whoever he was and whatever tragic circumstances led him to commit suicide, still exists as a flickering shadow in those 76 films.

Need proof. Here he is, playing an Asylum Guard, in D.W. Griffith’s Biograph short, The House of Darkness. Joseph McDermott, we know ye not, yet we salute ye.

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