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January 29th, 2004Daryl,
Just found your site for the first time.
I've been a fan and collector of Helen Mack for some years. I have a
number of unusual stills, primarily from her 3 Merian C. Cooper films
("Son Of Kong", "Blind Adventure" and "She") as well as some studio
portraits (I had some of them posted at the yahoo.com King Kong tribute
site for awhile), and a few pressbooks. I'm guessing we probably compete
against each other for new stills and things on eBay!!
I've also been endeavoring to compile all of her films (or at least the
surviving ones) on vhs, although to date I've only managed to find about
16 of them out of the 45 or so I know of (I've also learned that some of
the 1920s stuff is considered "lost").
You might try checking out some movie magazines of the 1930s, there are
several with extraordinarily nice photos of Helen (albeit usually tinted
pictures), if I get a chance I'll type up a list of those that I know
about (I've also got a want-list going, they tend to sell pretty high).
It's great to meet another fan, especially one serious enough to start a
web page! Drop me a line some time, it would be nice to talk to a
March 20th, 2004
In 1970, John Firca wrote a fan letter to Helen Mack. She
responded with a letter (see the copy on the "Deleted Scenes"
page). Recently John was located by a friend of mine, Ann Gallon. Of
course this was quite amazing, as it has been 34 years since that letter
was written and that Ann got lucky on her first try. The following
is an excerpt from John's e-mail to me. I hope you enjoy it.
This e-mail is sent in response to your inquiry about John Firca. Yes I am
the same John Firca who wrote to Helen Mack and whose letter you have now
posted on your web site. I am sorry not to have answered you in the first
instance but I did not find Ann Gallon's name on Helen's site and therefore
did not know she was your associate.
I began collecting autographs of early film stars when I was a teenager
about 15-19 years old. I realized that so many of my favorite silent and
early talkie stars were yet alive and attempted to located them. Many were
difficult to find - as was Helen Mack. I would go to the library and
spend hours looking through old New York Times index searching for
clues as to their whereabouts or utilized a host of other reference
materials. There was no internet then and it was quite an adventure.
As you say, most of these stars were forgotten, yet in their time
they were major actors and actresses. My teen years was a time when
National Directory Assistance was free and I would constantly call it to
pursue another lead. So Ann Gallon turned the tables on me when she
tracked me down and I got a taste of how it feels to be on the
receiving end! Thank you Ann! You did a good job!
I contacted a cemetery to obtain the address of actress May Allison from
the silent era. Her late husband died in the 1920's and was editor
of Photoplay magazine. The cemetery told me she owned the plot and
gave me her address and I contacted information who gave the telephone
number. I always had to use ingenuity to find people. It was all quite
interesting and educational. I had mostly wonderful responses. I
think that being a teenager helped too!
first saw Helen Mack in "Son of Kong" (of course!) but
later found her delightful in other films. I decided to write her
but had no idea where she was living. After some research I
discovered that she had last married radio producer Tom McAvity in 1942
believe that the date may have been 1940 - D.C.)
that she had a son from that marriage. (From her first marriage to Charles
Irwin, FOX West Coast Theatre executive in 1935, she also had a son.)
In addition , from my notes at the time, I determined she was living in
New York City , looked her up in the Manhattan telephone directory and
found her listed under McAvity. I telephoned her and had a receptive
and friendly chat. It was a typical fan-to-star conversation in which I
expressed my admiration etc. She was quite impressed that I was only 18
years old at the time. She was a pleasure to talk to and most gracious.
I explained that I had a music sheet from her film, "College
Rhythm", with her picture on it and asked if she would autograph it
for me. She agreed. I sent it to her and she signed it and answered my
questions in the letter you now possess. The date of that letter is
JUNE, 1970. Later, Lanny Ross, who also appeared in the film, signed
it also. Helen said she would try to find a photo for me but I
never heard from her again. I was preparing to leave New Jersey for
college in North Carolina and am sad to say that is all the contact I had
with Helen Mack.
I am now 52 years old and have been sorting through things and thus
in 2002 I sold the letter you possess. My kids are not interested in
these old stars and I thought the letter would end up in the hands
of a collector who would cherish it and give it new life. I am happy its
journey brought it to you. I am happy too that the questions I asked
Helen Mack has historical value and is being used to pay tribute to her on
your wonderful website.
could make me happier than seeing the work you have accomplished honor
her. I am certain her family is excited as well. My college
background is history and I am impressed with what you have accomplished.
If you wish a copy of the autographed music sheet that Helen signed,
send me your address and I will go to Kinkos and color copy it for you.
I am living here in New Jersey yet. If you need any further
information please contact me. Good luck in your work and thank you for
your efforts. I know that Helen Mack would be proud of you too!
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March 29th, 2004
From our former across-the-street neighbor and friend, Art Ronnie, a
movie publicist, book collector (15,000 now) and author - in response to
my email query on HM. ~ Ann Gallon
About Helen Mack: yes, I
remember her well. It is amazing what your friend, Daryl curtis, has
put together on her. I have no insight and nothing to offer regarding
it. I just remember her. I particularly remember her as Marge in
radio's "Myrt and Marge" in 1941. She was a tiny little thing.
Site below is to Art's book listed on Amazon.com -
Counterfeit Hero, the life of Fritz Dusquesne
Over the years (I
am 55) I have watched Helen Mack in a number of movies most
of which seemed to me to be inferior vehicles for someone with her
talent and beauty (screen presence?).
I suppose that's
how the "studio system" worked.
I felt that she
deserved better roles.
As to my interest
in Helen Mack....This is something I am unable to adequately
explain.......whether it was beauty.....or talent......or that certain
something that makes a movie star of some people and is lacking in
others.........I was always glued to the screen whenever one of
her movies was on TV........I watched the credits at the end to
identify the cast and found Miss Mack's name....
Since the Internet
and IMDB.com came into existence it has been much easier to fill
in the blank spaces for so many movies I have seen.
Your site, which
was an IMDB referral, has been so very helpful in this process
and I would like to thank you once again for all your hard work!
Of course you have
my permission to use any part of my comments if you feel they may be
of some benefit.
La Porte, Texas