Santa Cruz County History - Films

Wharton Film Studio Promotional Brochure: Why Santa Cruz...

has been selected as the location for the studio and production activities of Wharton Film Classics, Inc., (Pt. III)


THEODORE WHARTON, President of Wharton Film Classics, is a man who, with over seventeen years of successful experience in the film industry, is recognized as a producer and director of note and ability, internationally, and whose character and integrity are above reproach. He is directly responsible for the creation and success of a vast number of Motion Picture Stars who are numbered among the headliners in the industry.

A recent review of press and other articles from stage and screen periodicals furnishes a record which reads like the pages of a theatrical blue-book.

Starting his business and professional career in 1890 as treasurer of the Dallas Opera House, Dallas, Texas, Mr. Wharton rose rapidly in his chosen profession, serving not only in the business end of the theatrical profession, but also as an actor and stage director. His engagements included two seasons in the famous Hopkins Stock Company of St. Louis, before his appearance with E. H. Sothern in the Lyceum Theatre, in New York. Then he appeared in the Charles Frohman Drury Lane productions, "Sporting Life" and "The White Heather," in the old Academy of Music, and later with John Drew in "A Marriage of Convenience." He afterward served with the Augustin Daly Company up to the time of Mr. Daly's death, after which he became stage manager of "The Great Ruby" during its road tour. He subsequently served in that capacity with other New York productions. His last two seasons of theatrical life were spent as manager of the famous Hanlon Brothers "Superba" Company, and as acting treasurer of Hammerstein's Victoria Theatre in New York.

Inspiration to Enter Moving Picture Industry

In 1907 numerous visits to the old Edison Studios in New York aroused Mr. Wharton's interest in motion pictures. His unusual background of theatrical experience, both as an actor and manager, created a wide demand for his services. He was offered and accepted a position as technical director of the Edison Studios. In 1909 he was engaged by the Kalem Company to establish their studio, and the following year he established the Pathe American Studio, remaining with that company for two years. Later he became identified with the Essanay Company at Chicago. During this period Mr. Wharton wrote and directed more than five hundred screen plays.

Producer by Government Authority

During the fall of 1912, Mr. Wharton was commissioned to reproduce "The Late Indian Wars" by authority of the United States Government. This production was the first seven-reel feature made in America. It was produced on the original battlefields of South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Oklahoma, more than five thousand Indians and soldiers taking part, as well as such historical celebrities as Generals Nelson A. Miles, Baldwin, Maus and Lee; also Col. Sickel and Wm. F. Cody ("Buffalo Bill"); also General Charles King, famous as the author of Indian stories, who prepared the scenario. Prints of this production were the first to be placed in the archives of the War Department, where they now exist as a permanent record of "The Wars for Civilization in America."

Establishes Studio at Ithaca, N. Y.

In 1914, Theodore Wharton joined his brother, Leopold, and they established "The Whartons, Incorporated" at Ithaca, N. Y., and entered the producing field under their own banner. "The Whartons" were the first directors to establish their own studios as independent producers. Their efforts were successful from the start, and many noteworthy productions were made by them. Many of the productions made in the Ithaca Studios are spoken of as among the most successful, from both a financial and artistic standpoint, in the history of pictures.

Famous Stars Directed by Mr. Wharton

Among the famous stars whose early film experience was gained under the personal direction of Theodore Wharton are included:

Francis X. Bushman 
Lionel Barrymore
Bryant Washburn
Henry Walthall
King Baggott
Allan Holubar
Jack Pickford
Arnold Daly
Max Figman
Creighton Hale
Harry Fox

Milton Sills
Frank Brownlee
Beverly Bayne
Olive Thomas
Irene Castle
Pearl White
Dolores Cassanelli 
Dorothy Phillips
Jean Southern
Ruth Stonehouse
Marguerite Snow

Lolita Robertson
Grace Darling
Gladys Hulette
Doris Kenyon
Warner Oland
Hamilton Reville
Richard Barthelmess
Edgar Davenport
Burr MacIntosh
Edwin Arden
Johnny Hines

Some of His Screen Successes

Some of the more notable feature productions made by Theodore Wharton include:

  • "Dear Old Girl" (Bushman and Bayne)
  • "A Brother's Loyalty" (Bushman and Bayne)
  • "The Hermit of Lonely Gulch" (Bushman and Bayne)
  • "The Eye That Never Sleeps" (Bushman)
  • "Out of the Night" (Bushman)
  • "Lost Years" (Bushman)
  • "The Virtue of Rags" (Bushman)
  • "The Turning Point" (Bushman and Washburn)
  • "Waiting" (Henry Walthall)
  • "Dad's Boy" (Henry Walthall)
  • "Two Men and a Girl" (Bushman, Washburn, Cassanelli)
  • "Sunshine" (Ruth Stonehouse)
  • "Napatia, the Greek Singer" (Dolores Cassanelli)
  • "The Swag of Destiny" (Dorothy Phillips)
  • "The Great White Trail" (Doris Kenyon)
  • "The Boundary Ride" (All Star)
  • "A Prince of India" (All Star)
  • "The Black Stork" (All Star)

All of the above were original stories by Mr. Wharton.

Mr. Wharton also produced and directed the following well-known stage successes in pictures:

"Hazel Kirke" (featuring Pearl White)
"The City" (All Star)
"The Lottery Man" (All Star)

The following famous serials were produced and co-directed by The Whartons:

  • "Exploits of Elaine"--36 episodes (featuring Pearl White, Lionel Barrymore and Arnold Daly).
  • "Patria"--15 episodes (featuring Irene Castle, Milton Sills and Warner Oland).
  • "Mysteries of Myra"--15 episodes (featuring Jean Southern).
  • "Get Rich Quick Wallingford"--15 episodes (featuring Burr MacIntosh and Max Figman).
  • "Beatrice Fairfax"--15 episodes (featuring Grace Darling and Harry Fox).
  • "The Eagle's Eye"--20 episodes (featuring King Baggott and Marguerite Snow).

Opinions of the Public Press

A few of the hundreds of press comments of Theodore Wharton's productions:


Wids: "It is a smooth-running, well-told human story that will carry conviction and register in a human manner with any audience in the smallest town or largest city, and proves that Theodore Wharton knows the importance of early impression made by the characters."

Moving Picture World: "'The City' is a picture that will appeal to those who delight in dwelling on the wickedness of New York, because it will work them up to an intense point of excitement, not only once, but many times. It leaves a great deal to the imagination and consequently is a picture that will stick in the memory. The photo drama is staged admirably."


Wids: "Making a five-reel comedy which will hold all the way is a difficult task. In this offering we get a different idea smoothly worked out, with a lot of good laughs, and just enough of the dramatic touch here and there to make it hold together nicely. It is a comedy drama played by a nicely balanced cast and it is clean.

"I want to comment particularly on the football scenes, since I believe it is better handled than any football stuff I have ever seen incorporated in a screen story."


Washington Post: "The pictures shown brought before the audience such stirring scenes that the intense interest of every person was held from first to last. Many of the scenes are beautiful, many are inspiring, others impress through the terrible realism they show. All defy a detailed description, but the verdict of the audience, who sat spellbound for two hours, may be indicated by the remark of Brigadier General Hall, a veteran of the Custer and many Indian campaigns:

"'Nelson, I did not think it could be done,' he said, clasping the hand of General Nelson A. Miles. 'I did not think until I saw these pictures that it would be possible to reproduce what we went through.'

"One complete set of reels will be preserved in the archives of the War Department as a record of the frontier campaigns. A record such as never before was taken of a similar set of scenes."


Moving Picture World: "Director Wharton has produced a splendid story. It pulls the heartstrings all the way, at times uncomfortably hard. Although throughout the greater part of the picture everything is gay and happy, there is a feeling of impending tragedy. It is inescapable. That this is so is a tribute to the builder. Inquest clubs in search of material for a discussion on the 'psychology of the punch' will find an abundance in this picture.

'Francis Bushman never had a better medium for showing what he can do, and he never had better support or better direction. 'Dear Old Girl' is a rare picture--don't miss it."


New York Clipper: "Worthy of the reputation of Theodore Wharton as a producer of exceptional pictures. A picture of highest quality."


Motography: "Unlimited praise is due to Director Wharton, who is responsible for this production and whose careful timing of the scenes and a skillful stage direction enabled Francis X. Bushman to make so much of the dual role he enacts. The writer has seen more than one of the featured dual role dramas, but is quite sure that in naturalness of action, absolute accuracy of timing and skillfulness of business, he has never witnessed anything superior to this."


Exhibitor's Trade Review: "It fairly bristles with unexpected happenings. New thrills are awakened every instant. One of the great successes of the year."

New York Morning Telegraph: "Bound to win nation-wide approbation. Exhibitors could not show a more effective drawing card."

Exhibitor's Herald: "Staggering in its import, supreme in suspense, magnificently handled."

Billboard: "It is the first time this reviewer has heard applause from blase critics at a private showing of any motion picture. It will create a positive sensation. Held everyone breathless. For pep-giving, excellent photograph and direction, 'The Eagle's Eye' starts a new era in the silent drama."

Dramatic Mirror: "'The Eagle's Eye' is more than a fine picture. It is a great picture and any manager that shows it is doing his patrons a service."

New York Herald: "Amazing detail. Vastly interesting."

New York Clipper: "One of the best serials ever produced. Box office value--full run everywhere."

Among those associated with Mr. Wharton in this new enterprise are Michael J. Leonard, of Santa Cruz, California, Secretary, and Mrs. Helene Card, of Santa Cruz, California, Treasurer, both of whom are well known and bear enviable reputations.

Mr. Wharton's reception by the business men of Santa Cruz is a tribute to the farsightedness of the Wharton Film Classics, and an appreciation of what can be accomplished when a man of character and integrity presents such a proposition of merit, with the substantial Board of Directors that go to make up the Wharton Film Classics, and where with a well planned program, definitely worked out can be carried to a successful conclusion.

Many great opportunities are overlooked through failure to appreciate the importance of a project, or when too little attention is paid to the possibilities of a proposition. It is a conservative statement that the advent of the Wharton Film Classics in this territory has only been slightly touched upon. For when one has a thorough understanding of this plan, he cannot help but feel that the profit possibilities to every business and industry in the community are unlimited by virtue of the fact that the success of any undertaking is reflected in the general condition of the community, so with our success in the City of Santa Cruz and its surrounding country will come the success to other allied lines.

Other sections of this booklet:

View similarly tagged articles:

films, Santa Cruz


It is our continuing goal to make available a selection of articles on various subjects and places in Santa Cruz County. Certain topics, however, have yet to be researched. In other cases, we were not granted permission to use articles. The content of the articles is the responsibility of the individual author. It is the Library's intent to provide accurate local history information. However, it is not possible for the Library to completely verify the accuracy of individual articles obtained from a variety of sources. If you believe that factual statements in a local history article are incorrect and can provide documentation, please contact the Webmaster.