blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
Mabel Normand

Mabel Normand (1892–1930), born in New York, began her career as a model, posing for Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl, and James Montgomery Flagg, artist behind the Uncle Sam “I Want You” poster. Normand began acting with bit parts at Biograph Studios in late 1910, and in 1911 began appearing in films with Biograph and the Vitagraph Film Company. In 1912, Normand left Biograph for the newly created Keystone Film Company with director Mack Sennett. It was there she developed her wildly successful comedy persona, “Mabel.” Her films with Keystone include Mabel’s Dramatic Career (1913), The Ragtime Band (1913),and Mabel’s New Hero (1913). While at Keystone, Normand acted as a mentor to Charlie Chaplin, and she directed and acted in at least ten films with him. The pair made the first feature-length comedy with the release of Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914). In 1915, Normand worked with Roscoe Arbuckle on the Fatty and Mabel series. The readers of Motion Picture Magazine voted Normand Best Female Comedian in 1915. Normand started the short-lived Mabel Normand Feature Film Company in April of 1916. Her film, Mickey, was a sensation. Molly O’ (1921) and The Extra Girl (1923) are also counted among her best features. By the time of her death, Normand had made at least one hundred sixty short films and twenty-three full-length features.  end