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Tom Ricketts

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Thomas B Ricketts January 15, 1853 – January 19, 1939, often credited as Tom Ricketts, was an English stage and film actor and director who was a pioneer in the film industry He portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in the first American film adaptation of A Christmas Carol 1908, and directed one of the first motion pictures ever made in Hollywood After directing scores of silent films, including the first film to be released by Universal Pictures, Ricketts became a prominent character actor


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Select filmography
    • 21 Director
    • 22 Actor
  • 3 Notes
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


Thomas Ricketts in 1914

Thomas B Ricketts1 was born in London January 15, 1853,2 and began his career on the stage When he was 17 years old he emigrated to the United States, and directed plays on Broadway for Charles Frohman3 He was a stage manager for the Shubert family, sang baritone with the Carleton Opera Company, and starred in his own play, Henri Duvar4

In 1906, after he had been with the Shuberts for four years, Ricketts was persuaded by a friend to join Essanay Studios in Chicago53 He played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol 1908, the first American film adaption of the Dickens classic,6 then starred in The Old Curiosity Shop 1909 When Ricketts said he had toured with a comedy he had written, A Cure for Gout, the company asked him to make a 600-foot film of it—the length limit for a comedy at that time5

Ricketts became a director, taking over comedies and melodramas from Broncho Billy Anderson, who in turn took over Westerns Ethel Clayton, Jack Conway, J Warren Kerrigan and Bryant Washburn were among Ricketts's discoveries—along with Josephine Ditt, "the best-dressed woman on the screen", to whom Ricketts was married5 Chief dramatic and general producer for two years at Essanay,7 he helped organize the American Film Manufacturing Company in 1910 He made six films for the Flying "A"5 before withdrawing and seeking another opportunity7

Thomas Ricketts front row, right in a group photo with the Nestor Motion Picture Company 1911

In 1911 Ricketts moved to California, together with Canadian film pioneer Al Christie, with thoughts of creating a new film company "We arrived in Los Angeles with no idea of where to establish our studio," Ricketts remembered "A real estate man who happened to overhear our discussion of a studio site suggested Hollywood The next day we found our way out to Sunset and Gower, to a defunct roadhouse The owner, a woman, wanted $60 a month rent for the entire block We thought it was too much, but we signed a lease"5 The Nestor Film Company opened its studio October 27, 19118

Ricketts directed one of the first Hollywood-made motion pictures, The Best Man Wins 1911, photographed by Charles Roshera41011 Its stars were juvenile leading man Harold Lockwood, ingenue Dorothy Davenport, vamp Josephine Ditt, juvenile ingenue Victoria Forde, male heavy Gordon Sackville, and character actresses Eugenie Forde and Alice Davenport Allan Dwan was Ricketts's assistant5

Nestor made between 50 and 60 films—half of them directed by Ricketts—over the next 18 months5 On May 20, 1912, the company merged with the Universal Film Manufacturing Company,12 Nestor's distributor beginning with The Dawn of Netta 1912, directed by Ricketts1314:11

In 1914, on an independent contract, Ricketts directed Richard Bennett in Damaged Goods When flower girls were needed for a wedding scene, Bennett's three daughters—Joan Bennett, Constance Bennett and Barbara Bennett—began their film careers4 "Its success made me a little egotistical," Ricketts recalled "It cost about $25,000 to make and brought in a million and a half on its first run I naturally thought it would put me in great demand as a director But it didn't I had to start all over again, this time going back to my old trade as an actor"b5

Returning to acting in 1919, in his mid-60s, Ricketts was almost always in demand for character parts3 By 1935 he was described as "white-haired and bent with age … content with an occasional film role"4 His later films included Top Hat 1935, After the Thin Man 1936, Pennies from Heaven 1936, The Young in Heart 1938 and Son of Frankenstein 1939 He was regarded as the oldest working actor in Hollywood15

Ricketts died at Hollywood Hospital January 19, 1939, aged 86,316 of pneumonia, contracted the previous week when he went to work at Universal Studios despite a cold "Mr Ricketts left no funds," reported The New York Times, "and expenses of his funeral will be paid by the Motion Picture Relief Society"5 Josephine Ricketts, hospitalized in Santa Monica3 since suffering a stroke at Christmas, was not informed of her husband's death;5 it was reported that she would be told sometime before his funeral17 Ricketts was buried in an unmarked grave at Hollywood Forever Cemetery2

Select filmographyedit


Still from The Best Man Wins 1911 Herald for Damaged Goods 1914 Ad for The House of a Thousand Scandals 1915
Year Title Notes
1909 Cure for Gout, AA Cure for Gout 518
1909 Game, TheThe Game 19
1909 Gratitude 19
1909 Justified 19
1909 Maud Muller 19
1909 Woman's Wit, AA Woman's Wit 19
1910 Adventuress, TheThe Adventuress 19
1910 Advertisement Answered, AnAn Advertisement Answered 19
1910 Fair Exchange, AA Fair Exchange 19
1910 Hand of Uncle Sam, TheThe Hand of Uncle Sam 19
1910 His Only Child 19
1910 Lure of the City, TheThe Lure of the City 19
1910 Stolen Fortune, TheThe Stolen Fortune 19
1910 Thief, TheThe Thief 19
1910 Vera, the Gypsy Girl 19
1911 Best Man Wins, TheThe Best Man Wins First motion picture made in Hollywood51110
1912 Dawn of Netta, TheThe Dawn of Netta First film distributed by Universal Pictures14:11
1914 Damaged Goods 1920
1915 Buzzard's Shadow, TheThe Buzzard's Shadow 1921
1915 House of a Thousand Scandals, TheThe House of a Thousand Scandals 1922
1915 End of the Road, TheThe End of the Road 1923
1915 Lure of the Mask, TheThe Lure of the Mask 1924
1915 Secretary of Frivolous Affairs 1925
1915 Wily Chaperon, TheThe Wily Chaperon 19
1916 Other Side of the Door, TheThe Other Side of the Door 1926
1916 Single Code, TheThe Single Code 1927
1916 Secret Marriage 1928
1918 Crime of the Hour, TheThe Crime of the Hour 29


Forrest Stanley, Vivian Martin and Tom Ricketts in His Official Fiancée 1919 Clara Bow, Kate Lester and Tom Ricketts in Black Oxen 1923
Year Title Role Notes
1908 Christmas Carol, AA Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge 19
1909 Old Curiosity Shop, TheThe Old Curiosity Shop 530
1919 Girls Mr Dennett 19
1919 His Official Fiancée Major Montressor 19
1919 Please Get Married Dr Jenkins 19
1920 All of a Sudden Peggy Major Archie Phipps 19
1920 Desperate Hero, TheThe Desperate Hero Butler 19
1920 Great Lover, TheThe Great Lover Potter 19
1920 Paliser Case, TheThe Paliser Case Major Archie Phipps 19
1920 Parish Priest, TheThe Parish Priest Dr Thomas Cassidy 19
1920 Spenders, TheThe Spenders Mr Milbrey 19
1920 Willow Tree, TheThe Willow Tree The Priest 19
1921 Beating the Game Jules Fanchette 19
1922 Killer, TheThe Killer Tim Westmore 19
1921 Sham Uncle James 19
1922 Eternal Flame, TheThe Eternal Flame Vidame de Pameir 19
1922 Fools of Fortune Milton DePuyster 19
1922 Lavender Bath Lady, TheThe Lavender Bath Lady Simon Gregory 19
1922 Putting It Over Arnold Norton 19
1922 Shattered Idols The Reverend Doctor Romney 19
1922 Tailor-Made Man, AA Tailor-Made Man Anton Huber 19
1923 Alice Adams J A Lamb 19
1923 Black Oxen Charles Dinwiddie 19
1923 Dangerous Maid, TheThe Dangerous Maid John Standish Lane 19
1923 Strangers of the Night Lush 19
1923 Within the Law General Hastings 19
1924 Cheap Kisses The Old Man 19
1924 Circe the Enchantress Archibald Crumm 19
1924 Gaiety Girl, TheThe Gaiety Girl His Grace, the Duke 19
1925 Bobbed Hair Mr Brewster 19
1925 Business of Love, TheThe Business of Love Noah Burgess 19
1925 Fate of a Flirt, TheThe Fate of a Flirt Uncle John Burgess 19
1925 Fight to the Finish, AA Fight to the Finish Cyrus J Davis 19
1925 Girl Who Wouldn't Work, TheThe Girl Who Wouldn't Work The Rounder 19
1925 My Wife and I Valet 19
1925 Never the Twain Shall Meet Andrew J Casson 19
1925 Oh Doctor! Mr Peck 19
1925 Sealed Lips Joseph Howard 19
1925 Secrets of the Night Jerry Hammond 1914:50
1925 Steppin' Out Henry Brodman 1914:50
1925 Wages for Wives Judge McLean 19
1925 Was It Bigamy Judge Gaynor 19
1925 When Husbands Flirt Wilbur Belcher 19
1926 Belle of Broadway, TheThe Belle of Broadway 19
1926 Cat's Pajamas, TheThe Cat's Pajamas Mr Briggs 19
1926 Dancing Days Stubbins 19
1926 Going the Limit Mortimer Harden 19
1926 Ladies at Play Deacon Ezra Boody 19
1926 Ladies of Leisure Wadleigh 19
1926 Lily, TheThe Lily Jean 19
1926 Love's Blindness Marquis of Hurlshire 19
1926 Nut-Cracker, TheThe Nut-Cracker Isaac Totten 19
1926 Old Soak, TheThe Old Soak Roué 19
1926 Poker Faces Henry Curlew 19
1926 Stranded in Paris Herr Rederson 19
1926 When the Wife's Away 19
1927 Broadway Madness Lawrence Compton 19
1927 Children of Divorce Secretary 19
1927 In a Moment of Temptation Timothy Gage 19
1927 My Friend from India Judge Belmore 19
1927 Sailor's Sweetheart, AA Sailor's Sweetheart Professor Meekham 19
1927 Too Many Crooks Butler 19
1927 Venus of Venice Bride's father 19
1928 Dry Martini Joseph 19
1928 Five and Ten Cent Annie Adam Peck 19
1928 Freedom of the Press Wicks 19
1928 Interference Charles Smith 19
1928 Just Married Makepeace Witter 19
1928 Law and the Man Quintus Newton 19
1929 Glad Rag Doll, TheThe Glad Rag Doll Admiral 19
1929 Light Fingers Edward Madison 19
1929 Red Hot Speed 1914:64
1930 Prince of Diamonds Williams 19
1930 Sea Legs Commander 19
1930 Vagabond King, TheThe Vagabond King Astrologer 19
1931 Ambassador Bill Littleton 19
1931 Man of the World Mr Bradkin 19
1931 Side Show Tom Allison 19
1931 Surrender Gottlieb 19
1932 Farewell to Arms, AA Farewell to Arms Count Greffi 19
1932 He Learned About Women 1931
1932 If I Had a Million Guest at Mrs Walker's dance 19
1932 Stepping Sisters "Stock Market" 19
1932 Thrill of Youth Grandpa Thayer 19
1933 Eleventh Commandment, TheThe Eleventh Commandment Henry 19
1933 Forgotten Old crony 19
1933 Good-bye Love Alimony jail inmate 19
1933 Mama Loves Papa Mr Pierrepont 19
1933 Power and the Glory, TheThe Power and the Glory 19
1933 Women Won't Tell 19
1934 Broadway Bill Johnson 19
1934 Count of Monte Cristo, TheThe Count of Monte Cristo Cockeye 19
1934 Curtain Falls, TheThe Curtain Falls Hotel manager 19
1934 In Love with Life Bookstore proprietor 19
1934 Forsaking All Others Wiffens 19
1934 Friends of Mr Sweeney Old gentleman 19
1934 It Happened One Night Prissy old man 19
1934 Man Who Reclaimed His Head, TheThe Man Who Reclaimed His Head Curly 19
1934 Manhattan Love Song Rich man 19
1934 No Greater Glory Old janitor 19
1934 One More River Barrister and clerk 19
1934 Pursued Tourist 19
1934 Sons of Steel Williams 19
1934 Springtime for Henry Bookstore clerk 19
1934 Stolen Sweets Stoner 19
1934 Viva Villa! Grandee 19
1934 Whom the Gods Destroy Charlie 19
1935 Clive of India Old member 19
1935 Cardinal Richelieu Agitator 19
1935 Escapade Old dandy 19
1935 George White's 1935 Scandals Old man 19
1935 Goin' to Town Eligible bachelor 19
1935 Great Impersonation, TheThe Great Impersonation Villager 19
1935 Hi, Gaucho! Don Salvador 19
1935 Let's Live Tonight Millionaire 19
1935 Music Is Magic Dancer, elderly man 19
1935 Now or Never 19
1935 Public Menace, TheThe Public Menace Old man 19
1935 Tale of Two Cities, AA Tale of Two Cities Tellson, Jr 19
1935 Top Hat Thackeray Club waiter 19
1935 Vagabond Lady Department head 19
1936 Case Against Mrs Ames, TheThe Case Against Mrs Ames Juryman 19
1936 Crime of Dr Forbes, TheThe Crime of Dr Forbes Faculty doctor 19
1936 Daniel Boone Attorney General's associate 19
1936 Show Boat Minister 19
1936 Gold Diggers of 1937 Reginald 19
1936 Little Lord Fauntleroy Partygoer 19
1936 Gentle Julia Old man at dance 19
1936 Human Cargo Reporter 19
1936 After the Thin Man Henry, the butler 19
1936 To Mary - with Love Waiter 19
1936 More Than a Secretary Henry 19
1936 Pennies from Heaven Mr Briggs 19
1936 Song and Dance Man Old theatrical couple 19
1936 We Went to College Pop 19
1937 Born Reckless Patient 19
1937 Maid of Salem Giles Cory 19
1937 Star Is Born, AA Star Is Born Servant 19
1937 Lady Escapes, TheThe Lady Escapes Uncle George 19
1937 Prince and the Pauper, TheThe Prince and the Pauper Sexton 19
1937 Toast of New York, TheThe Toast of New York Member of the board of directors 19
1937 Personal Property Elderly man 19
1937 Parnell Elderly man 19
1937 Rhythm in the Clouds Winter 19
1938 Young in Heart, TheThe Young in Heart Andrew 19
1938 Bluebeard's Eighth Wife Uncle Andre 19
1938 Baroness and the Butler, TheThe Baroness and the Butler Old man 19
1938 Young Fugitives Tom Riggins 1914:107
1938 Gateway Old man 1914:107
1938 Four Men and a Prayer Station master 19
1939 Son of Frankenstein Burgher 19


  1. ^ The Best Man Wins is a romantic comedy filmed in October and released December 25, 1911, promoted as a Christmas release It is sometimes called the first Hollywood film Also laying claim to that distinction is The Law of the Range, a Western directed by Nestor's Milton H Fahrney that was released December 13, 19119
  2. ^ As part of its obituary, The New York Times reprinted a North American Newspaper Alliance interview with Thomas Ricketts conducted not long before his death


  1. ^ Ancestrycom 1920 United States Federal Census database online Provo, Utah: Ancestrycom Operations Inc, 2010 Retrieved 2016-02-06
  2. ^ a b Ellenberger, Allan R 2001 Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland p 146 ISBN 9780786409839 
  3. ^ a b c d e United Press January 20, 1939 "Prominent Actor, Tom Ricketts, Dies, Age 86" The Bakersfield Californian 
  4. ^ a b c d Thomas, Dan Newspaper Enterprise Association November 7, 1935 "Pioneer Film Director Now Just an Extra" The Burlington Daily Times-News Burlington, North Carolina 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Thomas Ricketts, Pioneer of Movies" The New York Times January 21, 1939 Retrieved 2016-02-06 
  6. ^ Smith, Michael Glover; Selzer, Adam 2015 Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the US Film Industry New York: Columbia University Press p 90 ISBN 9780786407385 
  7. ^ a b "Thomas Ricketts advertisement" The Moving Picture World December 3, 1910 p 1322 Retrieved 2016-02-08 
  8. ^ "Bronze Memorial Will Mark First Hollywood Studio Site" Los Angeles Times September 25, 1940
  9. ^ "Independent Release Dates" The Moving Picture World December 30, 1911 p 1104 Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  10. ^ a b "The Best Man Wins" BFI Film & TV Database British Film Institute Retrieved 2016-02-06 
  11. ^ a b Slide, Anthony 2015 Britain Comes to Hollywood and Hollywood Comes to Britain Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi ISBN 9781628460872 
  12. ^ Harleman, G P von March 10, 1917 "Motion Picture Studios of California" The Moving Picture World p 1601 Retrieved 2016-02-12 
  13. ^ "Advertisement" The Moving Picture World June 22, 1912 Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Hirschhorn, Clive 1985 1983 The Universal Story New York: Crown Publishers ISBN 0-7064-1873-5 
  15. ^ Fidler, Jimmie January 3, 1939 "Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood" Elyria Chronicle Telegram Elyria, Ohio 
  16. ^ Ancestrycom California, Death Index, 1905–1939 database online Provo, Utah: Ancestrycom Operations Inc, 2013 Retrieved 2016-02-06
  17. ^ United Press January 21, 1939 "Raft is Released After Refusal on Gigolo Role" Galveston Tribune Galveston, Texas 
  18. ^ "A Cure for Gout" AFI Catalog of Feature Films American Film Institute Retrieved 2016-02-06 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr ds dt du dv dw dx dy dz ea eb ec ed ee ef eg eh ei ej ek el em en eo ep eq er es et eu ev ew ex ey ez fa fb fc fd fe ff fg fh fi fj fk fl fm fn fo fp fq fr "Tom Ricketts" AFI Catalog of Feature Films American Film Institute Retrieved 2016-02-06 
  20. ^ "Damaged Goods" American Silent Feature Film Survival Database Library of Congress Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  21. ^ "The Buzzard's Shadow" American Silent Feature Film Survival Database Library of Congress Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  22. ^ "The House of a Thousand Scandals" American Silent Feature Film Survival Database Library of Congress Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  23. ^ "The End of the Road" American Silent Feature Film Survival Database Library of Congress Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  24. ^ "The Lure of the Mask" American Silent Feature Film Survival Database Library of Congress Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  25. ^ "Secretary of Frivolous Affairs" American Silent Feature Film Survival Database Library of Congress Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  26. ^ "The Other Side of the Door" American Silent Feature Film Survival Database Library of Congress Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  27. ^ "The Single Code" American Silent Feature Film Survival Database Library of Congress Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  28. ^ "Secret Marriage" American Silent Feature Film Survival Database Library of Congress Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  29. ^ "The Crime of the Hour" American Silent Feature Film Survival Database Library of Congress Retrieved 2016-02-07 
  30. ^ "The Old Curiosity Shop" AFI Catalog of Feature Films American Film Institute Retrieved 2016-02-06 
  31. ^ "Flashes from the Cinema Studios" The New York Times October 16, 1932 Retrieved 2016-02-08 

External linksedit

  • Biography portal
  • Tom Ricketts on Internet Movie Database
  • Tom Ricketts at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Tom Ricketts at Find a Grave

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