Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 14
I bought this Massacre lantern slide early on in my collecting days, probably around 1998 or ’99. It was an eBay purchase, and I remember being really excited when I won it, because at the time I didn’t own anything from the film. Mind you, I had no idea exactly what I was purchasing. I just knew it was an object with Ann Dvorak made up like a Native American, and that was good enough for me.
Then the package came in the mail, and I was dumbfounded to find a small piece of glass mounted in cardboard frame. This was my first encounter with a lantern slide and in my naive youth could not figure out what this thing was, or what it was used for.
Lantern slides first showed up in the mid-19th century as a way to project photographic images to a large audience. They were used a variety of ways, like to illustrate songs for sing-alongs or the presentations of stories. If I am not mistaken, Charles Dickens would use lantern slide illustrations while reciting some of his works to audiences. Some of the “magic” lantern projectors were so sophisticated they could make the slides seem animated. Once the movies came to prominence, the slides would be used to promote coming attractions, which is the purpose of the Massacre slide.
These slides stuck around a long time as an advertising medium. In the years since I was first exposed to them, I have purchased around twenty from Ann Dvorak films. The earliest I have is from the 1917 feature The Man Hater, which includes a six-year-old Ann (sorry, I’m saving that one for the book), and the latest is from 1950′s Mrs. O’Malley and Mr. Malone.