Friday, September 10, 2021

Another Louise Brooks-related mystery

In 1927, Louise Brooks' mother went on tour. Myra Brooks joined the Chautauqua circuit, an adult education / social movement that brought culture to small towns and communities across the United States with speakers, musicians and entertainers of all kinds. As such, Myra Brooks spoke in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee on the topic "The Girl of Today." (I will detail her tour in a later post.) 

Not surprisingly, local newspapers often referred to Myra as the Mother of the film star / "screen favorite" / young actress Louise Brooks. Once, in a slip of purple prose, Myra was even referred to as the Mother of "the charming queen of filmland." However Myra's daughter was referred to, certainly the highlight of Myra Brooks' Summer long tour was likely Benton Harbor, Michigan. The local newspaper, the News Palladium, even profiled the visiting speaker.

This article was the most significant coverage Myra Brooks received for her Chautauqua activities. It is also typical of what was written about her. It repeats many of the same talking points found in other articles published around the Midwest.

However, what stands out is the articles reference to Myra Brooks being the author of a "widely read" book, Health, Beauty, and Psychology. The article also mentions that Myra Brooks is an associate editor of The Golden Rule, a publication based in Chicago, and that she writes a regular column and weekly article. The mystery here is that no copy of Health, Beauty, and Psychology has ever been found. And what's more, I have never been able to find any of Myra Brooks articles, let alone issues of The Golden Rule. Other articles about Myra Brooks from the Summer of 1927 also mention the Golden Rule magazine, and the fact that she was a writer, but no others mention the book. In one instance, an article mentions that Myra Brooks is "a contributor to Golden Rule and Psychology of Health Magazines." Unless it is a mistake, this line suggests there were two magazines!

In his biography of Louise Brooks, Barry Paris also mentions that no copy of Health, Beauty, and Psychology is known to exist. My guess is that if it exists, it wasn't so much a book (of which there would likely be at least a record somewhere), but some sort of self-published booklet, like Louise's own The Fundamentals of Good Ballroom Dancing. Neither titles are listed on World-Cat, nor the Library of Congress online listings.

I think I was able to find out a little something about The Golden Rule, but could not lay my hands on any issues in order to read any of Myra Brooks reported contributions. If this is the same magazine, then The Golden Rule to which Myra contributed was first printed in 1919 by George Williams in Chicago. It was overseen by Napoleon Hill, the famous self-help author whose books include Think and Grow Rich (1937), one of the biggest selling books of the 20th century.

If anyone can access issues of The Golden Rule (from 1927, or 1926) and locate any of Myra Brooks' writings, that would be GREAT! And if anyone can located a copy of Health, Beauty, and Psychology, that would be even better. I am curious to know if they reference Louise Brooks. 

[Making matters more difficult, there was a populist poet of the time named Myra Brooks or Myra Brooks Welch who authored uplifting verse like "The Touch of the Master's Hand." Try searching for Myra Brooks and you will likely encounter the other Myra Brooks. Which explains why our Myra Brooks often had her name listed as Myra M. Brooks while on tour.]

A few weeks after Myra Brooks' August 1927 lecture in Benton Harbor, the 1927 Louise Brooks' film, Evening Clothes, opened at the local Liberty Picture theater. And in what was a first and only occurrence, the article about the film led with a reference to the actress' Mother!

1 comment:

  1. I admit that was an unusually informative news column. Would that today's columnists were better journalists. I won't even get into the subject of TV journalism. Thanks for this post.


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