09 October 2013

Visiting Ollie

Olive Thomas circa 1915.

On September 29, 1920 the funeral of silent screen star Olive Thomas was held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue in New York where hundreds of mourners crowded the church and street. The young actress had died on September 10, 1920 in Paris after accidentally ingesting poison and the news of her passing filled the newspapers. Last month, on the anniversary of the funeral, my friend Allison and I, after a quick stop at St. Thomas, travelled out to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx to pay our respect to our darling Ollie.

I had been to out to Woodlawn to see Ollie’s final resting place a few years before on the anniversary of her birthday (read about that visit here) but my friend, who lives in LA, had never been so it made the visit even more special.

After a bit of a hunt for her mausoleum we found it, looking as tiny and downtrodden as I remembered, adorned with the single word Pickford (the mausoleum was built for two but Ollie remains alone as her husband, Jack Pickford, was buried with the rest of the Pickford clan in California). Hanging from the door was a single dried rose and a glow-stick (left over from a Halloween tour last year, we later found out). We both brought flowers for Ollie and just coincidentally chose pink and white (great minds); I had looked in vain for lilac-coloured flowers but no luck (Ollie's coffin had been covered with purple orchids). After the requisite photo taking (including having our driver take some photos of us), we sat on the step of the mausoleum and talked about Ollie and Jack before being surprised by the arrival of a tour group, which turned into an Annie Hall moment with us correcting the guide. Still, a wonderful day spent with lovely company.

For more about Ollie and why I'm such a fan, read my prior post here.

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