- Mack Sennett
name = Mack Sennett
birthname = Michael Sinnott
birthdate = birth date|1880|1|17|mf=y
Richmond, Quebec, Canada
deathdate = death date and age|1960|11|5|1880|1|17
Woodland Hills, California
yearsactive = 1908 - 1949
occupation = producer, actor, director, screenwriter, presenter, composer, cinematographer
academyawards = Best Short Subject, Novelty
Academy Honorary Award
1938 Lifetime Achievement
Mack Sennett (
January 17, 1880– November 5, 1960) was an Academy Award-winning director and was known as the innovator of slapstickcomedy in film. During his lifetime he was known at times as the "King of Comedy."
Born Michael Sinnott in Richmond, in the province of
Quebec, CanadaSennett was a son of Irish Catholicimmigrant farmers; his father was a blacksmith in the small Eastern Townshipsvillage. At age 17 his family moved to Connecticut.
The family lived for a time in the
Massachusettstown of Northampton, where, according to his autobiography, Sennett first got the idea to go on stage after seeing a vaudeville show. He claimed that the most respected lawyer in town, sometime Northampton mayor and later president of the United States Calvin Coolidge, and Sennett's mother tried to talk him out of his theatrical ambitions.
With financial backing from Adam Kessel and Charles O. Bauman of the New York Motion Picture Company, in 1912 Sennett founded
Keystone Studiosin Edendale, California, (which is now a part of Echo Park). The original main building, the first totally enclosed film stage and studio in history, is still there. Many important actors started their careers with Sennett, including Mabel Normand, Charlie Chaplin, Raymond Griffith, Gloria Swanson, Ford Sterling, Andy Clyde, The Keystone Kops, Bing Crosby, and W. C. Fields.
slapstickcomedies were noted for their wild car chases and custard piewarfare. His first comedienne was Mabel Normand, who became a major star (and with whom he embarked on a tumultuous personal relationship). His films featured a bevy of girls known as the "Sennett Bathing Beauties" which included Juanita Hansenand Phyllis Haver. Sennett also developed the "Kid Comedies", a forerunner of the " Our Gang" films and in a short time his name became synonymous with screen comedy. In 1915 Keystone Studios became an autonomous production unit of the ambitious Triangle Pictures Corporation, as Sennett joined forces with movie bigwigs D. W. Griffithand Thomas Ince.
In 1917 Sennett gave up the Keystone trademark and organized his own company, Mack Sennett Comedies Corporation. (Sennett's corporate bosses retained the Keystone trademark and produced a cheap series of comedy shorts that were "Keystones" in name only: they were unsuccessful, and Sennett had no connection with them.) Sennett went on to produce more ambitious comedy short films and a few feature-length films. During the 1920s his short subjects were in much demand, with stars like Billy Bevan,
Andy Clyde, Harry Gribbon, Vernon Dent, Alice Day, Ralph Graves, Charlie Murray, and Harry Langdon. He produced several features with his brightest stars, such as Ben Turpinand Mabel Normand.
Many of Sennett's films of the early 1920s were inherited by
Warner Brotherswhen Warners merged with the original distributor, First National. Warner added music and commentary to several of these shorts, but eventually destroyed the original elements for storage space. As a result many Sennett films, especially those from his most productive and creative period, no longer exist.
Move to Pathé
In the mid-1920s Sennett moved over to
Pathédistribution. Pathé had a huge market share but made bad corporate decisions, such as attempting to sell too many comedies at once (including those of Sennett's main competitor, Hal Roach). In 1927 Paramount and MGM, Hollywood's two top studios, noting the profits being made by companies like Pathéand Educational, both re-entered the production and distribution of short subjects after several years. Roach signed with MGM but Sennett found himself and Pathé in hard times because the hundreds of exhibitors who had previously rented their shorts had switched to the new MGM or Paramount products.
Experiments, awards, and bankruptcy
Sennett made a reasonably smooth transition to sound films, releasing them through Earle Hammons's
Educational Pictures. Sennett occasionally experimented with color and was the first to get a talkie short subject on the market, in 1928. In 1932 he was nominated for the Academy Award for Live Action Short Filmin the comedy division for producing "The Loud Mouth" (with Matt McHugh, in the sports-heckler role later taken in Columbia Picturesremakes by Charley Chaseand Shemp Howard), and he won in the novelty division for his film "Wrestling Swordfish".
Sennett often clung to outmoded techniques, making his early-1930s films seem dated and quaint. This doomed his attempt to re-enter the feature film market with "Hypnotized" (starring
blackfacecomedians Moran and Mack, "The Two Black Crows"). However, Sennett enjoyed great success with short comedies starring Bing Crosby; these films were probably instrumental in Sennett's product being picked up by a major studio, Paramount Pictures. W. C. Fieldsconceived and starred in four famous Sennett-Paramount comedies.
Sennett's studio did not survive the
Great Depression; the Sennett-Paramount partnership lasted only one year, and Sennett was forced into bankruptcy in November 1933. His last work, in 1935, was as a producer-director for Educational Pictures; he directed Buster Keatonin " The Timid Young Man" and Joan Davisin "Way Up Thar". He went into semi-retirement at the age of 55, having produced more than 1,000 silent films and several dozen talkiesduring a 25-year career. His studio property was purchased by Mascot Pictures(later part of Republic Pictures), and many of his former staffers found work at Columbia Pictures.
In March 1938, Sennett was presented with an honorary
Rumors abounded that Sennett would be returning to film production (a 1938 publicity release indicated that he would be working with
Stan Laurelof Laurel and Hardy), but apart from Sennett reissuing a couple of his Bing Crosbytwo-reelers to theaters, nothing happened. Sennett did appear in front of the camera, however, in "Hollywood Cavalcade" (1939), itself a thinly disguised version of the Mack Sennett- Mabel Normandromance. In 1949 he provided film footage for, and appeared in, the first full-length comedy compilation, "Down Memory Lane" (1949), which was written and narrated by Steve Allen. Sennett was profiled in the television series " This is Your Life" in 1956, and made a cameo appearance (for $1,000) in " Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops" (1955). He contributed to the radio program "Biography in Sound", broadcast February 28, 1956.
He died on November 5, 1960 in
Woodland Hills, Californiaat the age of 80 and was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry Sennett was given a star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fameat 6712 Hollywood Blvd. Also in 2004, he was inducted into [http://www.canadaswalkoffame.com/inductees/04_mack_sennett.xml.htm Canada's Walk of Fame] .
Sennett was portrayed by
Dan Aykroydin the 1992 film "Chaplin". He was also portrayed by Robert Prestonin the 1974 Broadway musical "Mack & Mabel", by Jerry Hermanand Michael Stewart, about his long-term, on-again/off-again romance with Mabel Normand(who was portrayed in the Broadway production by Bernadette Petersand in the film by Marisa Tomei).
The Keystone legacy
Today the name of Mack Sennett is still highly recognizable (even to those who have no contact with his films) and the term "
Keystone Cops" has become part of the language, describing incompetent buffoons with supposed authority. Some historians even credit Sennett's films with having been responsible for municipal police forces across North America altering their uniforms to include military style officers' caps since by the 1920s tall, English-style hats had become so indelibly associated with slapstick comedy. Henry Mancini's score for the 1963 film, "The Pink Panther", the original entry in the series, contains a segment called "Shades of Sennett". It is played on a silent film era style " honky tonk" piano, and accompanies a climactic scene in which the incompetent police detective Inspector Clouseauis involved in a multi-vehicle chase with the antagonists.
In 1974, Michael Stewart and
Jerry Hermanwrote the musical " Mack & Mabel", chronicling the romance between Sennett and Mabel Normand. Peter Lovesey's 1983 novel "Keystone" is a whodunnitset in the Keystone Studios and involving (among others), Mack Sennett, Mabel Normand, Roscoe Arbuckle and the Keystone Cops.
The [http://www.genesius.org Genesius Guild] , a
Rock Island, Illinoisclassical theatre troup, uses a Sennett-style chase to end the performance of the season-ending AristophanesGreek comedy every year.
Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood
*imdb name|id=0784407|name=Mack Sennett
NAME= Sennett, Mack
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Sinnott, Michael
SHORT DESCRIPTION= producer, actor, director, screenwriter, presenter, composer, cinematographer
DATE OF BIRTH= 1880-1-17
PLACE OF BIRTH=
Richmond, Quebec, Canada
DATE OF DEATH= 1960-11-5
PLACE OF DEATH=
Woodland Hills, California
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Look at other dictionaries:
Mack Sennett — Nombre real Michael Sinnott Nacimiento 17 de enero de 1880 Richmond, Québec, Canadá Fallecimiento 5 de no … Wikipedia Español
Mack Sennett — 1910 Mack Sennett (* 17. Januar 1880 in Richmond, Québec; † 5. November 1960 in Woodland Hills, Kalifornien; eigentlich Michael Sinnott) war ein US amerikanischer Regisseur und Filmproduzent. Leben Ma … Deutsch Wikipedia
Mack Sennett — En 1910 Données clés Nom de naissance Michael Sinnott Surno … Wikipédia en Français
Mack Sennett — noun United States filmmaker (born in Canada) noted for slapstick movies (1880 1960) • Syn: ↑Sennett • Instance Hypernyms: ↑film maker, ↑filmmaker, ↑film producer, ↑movie maker * * * Mack … Useful english dictionary
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