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Silent Serial SensationsThe Wharton Brothers and the Magic of Early Cinema$
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Barbara Tepa Lupack

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501748189

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501748189.001.0001

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Going Independent

Going Independent

(p.68) Chapter 5 Going Independent
Silent Serial Sensations

Barbara Tepa Lupack

Cornell University Press

This chapter recounts Ted Wharton's preparations for his new Wharton studio after cutting his ties to Essanay. The Ithaca Men's Business Association, acting on behalf of the Industrial Commission, offered him, free of charge, two acres on Cayuga Heights and promised improvements on the property. The recruitment efforts paid off: by mid-March of 1914, Ted announced that he and his brother Leo, by then formally his business partner, would base their new moving picture operation in Ithaca. The establishment of the Wharton Studio, one of the first independent production studios in the United States, was in itself a remarkable venture—all the more, given its regional location. Although several major producers had briefly filmed in southern locales, few studios operated beyond the New York metropolitan area, Chicago, and Southern California, where most filmmaking of the time was clustered. Nonetheless, the Whartons believed that, given the advantages of remarkable scenery and reasonable operating costs that Ithaca offered, they could make their studio a success. Adding to their confidence was their extensive background in live theater and their years in the early silent movie industry, which they knew would enable them to draw on contacts from Broadway and from movies for story material and stars.

Keywords:   Ted Wharton, Ithaca Men's Business Association, Industrial Commission, Leo Wharton, Ithaca, Wharton Studio, independent production studios, filmmaking, silent movie industry

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