On this date in 1918, the Santa Ana Register ran an ad for that night’s program at the Temple Theater in Santa Ana.
Topping the bill was the new Constance Talmadge moving picture, “Up The Road With Sallie,” featuring “RAINSTORMS!! SMALL POX!! BURGLARS!! SPOOKS!! BRR!!” and Constance, it is promised, will smile through it all, because apparently that’s the sort wacky upbeat kid she is.
Also on the bill was a documentary featuring the real-life adventures of famous author and playwright Rex Beach as he fishes and hunts on a 12,000 mile motor boat trip with his big game hunter pal, Dr. Edward Salisbury. If that was enough for a full night of entertainment, The Temple Theater had a few live vaudeville acts performing as “Hippodrome Vaudeville.”
There are plenty of fun facts about Constance Talmadge’s and Rex Beach’s careers and the history of vaudeville, but we’re going to focus on the one tantalizing item on the bill that pertains to Seal Beach history — the official pictures of the Seal Beach Bathing And Fashion Parade taken on Sunday, July 14th, 1918.
What is so tantalizing about this is that only one photo from the parade survives (as far as we know), but this ad seems to indicate there were enough photos for an exhibit in the lobby or maybe even a slideshow. Not only would these extra photos help identify the bathing suit beauties from the parade, but perhaps the photos were taken during the actual parade and might feature local landmarks in the background.
And there’s another mystery attached to this parade. In September 1918, a film starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was shown in Santa Ana’s Lyric Theater called “The Seal Beach Bathing Girls Parade.” So there was also a film camera documenting the July 14th parade and Arbuckle serving as the judge for the contest.
So what happened to those photos and the film? They were only exhibited locally, so there probably weren’t multiple prints. Ninety-eight years later is seems unlikely that they’ll turn up, but there’s always faint hope they may show up. For now, we’re going to have to accept that this is the only visual record of that day:
– Michael Dobkins