Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Actor's Church - The Little Church Around the Corner

Louise Brooks' first film was an uncredited bit in The Street of Forgotten Men, directed by Herbert Brenon. Production took place during May, 1925. Brooks played a moll to Bridgeport Whitey. She appears in only one scene, in a barroom where a fight breaks out, near the end of the movie.

The Street of Forgotten Men was shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island (located at 3412 36th Street in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens). Additional location shooting was done elsewhere on Long Island, as well as on the streets of Manhattan, including on Fifth Avenue and importantly at the landmark Little Church Around the Corner, where a key scene, a wedding between characters played by Neil Hamilton and Mary Brian, takes place.

The Little Church Around the Corner, properly known as the Church of the Transfiguration, is an Episcopal parish church located at 1 East 29th Street, between Madison and Fifth Avenues in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan.

From Wikipedia: "Actors were among the social outcasts whom Houghton befriended. In 1870, William T. Sabine, the rector of the nearby Church of the Atonement, which is no longer extant, refused to conduct funeral services for an actor named George Holland, suggesting, "I believe there is a little church around the corner where they do that sort of thing." Joseph Jefferson, a fellow actor who was trying to arrange Holland's burial, exclaimed, "If that be so, God bless the little church around the corner!" and the church began a longstanding association with the theater.

P. G. Wodehouse, when living in Greenwich Village as a young writer of novels and lyrics for musicals, married his wife Ethel at the Little Church in September 1914. Subsequently, Wodehouse would set most of his fictionalized weddings at the church; and the hit musical Sally that he wrote with Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton ended with the company singing, in tribute to the Bohemian congregation: "Dear little, dear little Church 'Round the Corner / Where so many lives have begun, / Where folks without money see nothing that's funny / In two living cheaper than one."

In 1923, the Episcopal Actors' Guild held its first meeting at Transfiguration. Such theatrical greats as Basil Rathbone, Tallulah Bankhead, Peggy Wood, Joan Fontaine, Rex Harrison, Barnard Hughes, and Charlton Heston have served as officers or council members of the guild. The Little Church's association with the theatre continued in the 1970s, when it hosted the Joseph Jefferson Theatre Company, which gave starts to actors such as Armand Assante, Tom Hulce, and Rhea Perlman.

As well as being a guild officer, Sir Rex Harrison was memorialized at the church upon his death in 1990. Maggie Smith, Brendan Gill, and Harrison's sons, Carey and Noel, spoke at the service."

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