Eagle-eyed reader Kevin Dale not only recognized the setting of the very first shot of Charlie Chaplin’s career (see prior post), he also notified me of this amazing discovery.
During the concluding scenes from Babe Ruth’s cameo appearance in Speedy (1928), who should appear in the background but the Iron Horse himself, Lou Gehrig! Gehrig, who spent much of his career in Babe Ruth’s shadow, plays a cameo during Ruth’s cameo. This scene was likely filmed September 15, 1927, as Gehrig was completing one of the greatest seasons overall by any batter in history, including 47 home runs, though his accomplishments were eclipsed by Ruth’s record-breaking 60 home runs that same year.
Ruth was no stranger to film, having played himself in the 1920 fictitious biopic Headin’ Home, and several others productions, including the 1942 Gehrig biopic Pride of the Yankees starring Gary Cooper. But I was astonished to learn that Gehrig starred in a feature film as well, a B western called Rawhide (1938). Playing “himself,” Gehrig trades in his bat and glove to become a singing cowboy on his sister’s ranch out west. Shooting began in late January 1938, and the completed film premiered just two months later, preceding what would prove to be Gehrig’s final season playing ball. The following year, Gehrig was formally diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on his 36th birthday, and would succumb to the disease in 1941.
I will be presenting Harold Lloyd’s final silent comedy Speedy (1928) at 3:10 pm on Sunday, October 21, 2012, and at 7:30 pm on Monday, October 22, at Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10014, based on the discoveries in my new Lloyd book Silent Visions. Using animated slides I will lead viewers to dozens of landmarks and forgotten byways across town, in what is the first comprehensive study of New York’s most prominent role in a major silent film.
You can access a tour of Lloyd’s Brooklyn locations in this prior post.
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