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She Could Be Chaplin! - The Comedic Brilliance of Alice Howell

She Could Be Chaplin!

The Comedic Brilliance of Alice Howell

By Anthony Slide
Foreword by George Stevens
Series: Hollywood Legends Series

Hardcover : 9781496806321, 144 pages, 43 b&w illustrations, August 2016

The first book-length appreciation of one of the most important comediennes of the silent film era


Alice Howell (1886-1961) is slowly gaining recognition and regard as arguably the most important slapstick comedienne of the silent era. This new study, the first book-length appreciation, identifies her place in the comedy hierarchy alongside the best-known of silent comediennes, Mabel Normand. Like Normand, Howell learned her craft with Mack Sennett and Charlie Chaplin. Beginning her screen career in 1914, Howell quickly developed a distinctive style and eccentric attire and mannerisms, successfully hiding her good looks, and was soon identified as the "Female Charlie Chaplin. "

Howell became a star of comedy shorts in 1915 and continued her career through 1928 and the advent of sound in film. While she is today recognized as a pioneering female filmmaker, during her career she never expressed much interest in her work, seeing it only as a means to an end, with her income carefully invested in real estate. It has taken many years for her to gain her rightful place in film history, not only as a comedienne, but also as matriarch of a prominent American family that includes son-in-law and director George Stevens and grandson George Stevens Jr. , founder of the American Film Institute and the Kennedy Center Honors, who provides a foreword.


Best Film Books of 2016 - Huffington Post


Now Tony Slide is telling the story of Alice Howell, adding a rich new chapter to the history of American motion pictures. Whereas in the past, it was next to impossible to see her screen performances, we hope that as a result of contemporary preservation efforts, and accessibility through new media, her surviving films will be increasingly available to interested fans and film scholars.

To me Alice Howell was simply the nice lady who happened to be my grandmother, who lived across the courtyard from us when I was young. Now, in these pages we can come to know her as a talented movie pioneer who lived a fascinating creative life in early Hollywood.

- from the foreword by George Stevens Jr.