Actor, Film writer
1882 – 1951
Who was Gertrude Thanhouser?
Gertrude Homan Thanhouser, wife of co-founder Edwin Thanhouser, worked at the Thanhouser Company film studio as actress, scenario writer, film editor, and studio executive. Her efforts made the studio one of the key independent US film studios in the nickelodeon and transitional era, praised for its erudite adaptations of Shakespeare and other "classical" stage dramas to the screen.
Gertrude Homan was born in 1882 in Beauvoir, Mississippi, one of ten children in her family. When she was very young, the family moved to Brooklyn, New York, and she became involved in acting as a child, performing her first stage role at the age of six. As a child actress, her theatrical parts included title roles in Little Lord Fauntleroy and Editha's Burglar. In the 1890s she was part of a stock company in Milwaukee that was managed by Edwin Thanhouser, whom she married in 1900.
In the spring of 1909, Gertrude moved with her husband to New York where they established Thanhouser Company as an independent motion picture studio; it was the first to be organized by leaders with strong theatrical training. Gertrude's acting career of fourteen years gave her the stagecraft to be a powerful and creative force in this new venture. She received co-scenario writing credit with brother-in-law, Lloyd Lonergan, for the screen adaptation of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Behind the scenes, Gertrude was heavily involved in scenario development, creation of mise en scène and film editing. In 1912, the Thanhousers sold their shares in the company to Charles J. Hite of Mutual Film Corporation for $250,000 and retired from the industry.
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