|Tom Tyler, aged 21|
Built in 1915 with its concept of origin dating to at least 1914, Arctic City became the location for movies with the following settings: the west, Klondike, Yukon, Siberia, Lapland, Russia, and Eskimo. With the beautiful Adirondacks as the backdrop, it was not long before producers took advantage of the new studio and started filming there. The brainchild of “Caribou Bill” Cooper, Arctic City was quickly built, and with the earliest days of movie making being on the east coast, primarily New York City, and New Jersey, it seemed only natural to have a studio that emulated the western and northwestern frontier in exciting films. The end result of Arctic City wound up being different than what Caribou Bill originally envisioned yet it was still magnificent and up to film production standards as to what the little western town should look like. Some of the most popular film production companies made silent films at Arctic City: Solax, Vitagraph, Equitable, Edison, Peerless, Metro, Famous Players, Fox, and many others. By 1919, independent producers were able to film at Arctic City.
|From Picture Play, August 1921|
|From The Capital Times, Madison, WI, May 2, 1930|
What must have really been exciting for the citizens of Port Henry was this: many times a movie being filmed at Arctic City would require extras to appear in the movie. It remains unknown if Vincent Markowski appeared as an extra, or if any of his immediate family members did, although the mere thought is in fact exciting and would reasonably influence his desire to become an actor when he was in his teens. One name that does pop up repeatedly in the extras is Ezra Horsefall, who resided at the local senior home in Port Henry at the time. It is probable that young Vincent, only a boy at the time before his family moved to Hamtramck, Michigan, did know at least one neighbor who was an extra at a film production in Arctic City.
Appropriately enough, in 2009, The Moriah Historical Society hosted its first Silent Film Festival. Moriah is right next to Port Henry, and also showcased films related to the area – one being “Adventures of Captain Marvel”. One chapter from this critically acclaimed film serial was exhibited, to honor Tom Tyler, who was born in Port Henry. Several chapters from “The Perils of Pauline” were shown too. No doubt Port Henry has much to be proud of, with its Hollywood connections, and Tom Tyler.
A partial list of silent films made at Arctic City:
“The Perils of Pauline” (1914) – Directors: Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie. Writers: Charles W. Goddard and Basil Dickey. Stars: Pearl White and Crane Wilbur. (Note: filmed at Ausable Chasm, Ithaca, and Saranac Lake for New York locations. Saranac Lake was the first location of Caribou Bill’s movie studio before its location moved to Port Henry a year later.)
“Hearts in Exile” (1915) – Director: James Young. Writers: John Oxenham, Owen Davis. Stars: Clara Kimball Young, Montagu Love.
“The Destroyers” (1916) – Director: Ralph Ince. Writer: James Oliver Curwood and Edward J. Monagne. Stars: Lucille Lee Stewart and Huntley Gordon.
“The Long Trail” (1917) – Director: Howell Hansel. Writer: Eve Unsell. Stars: Lou Telligan and Mary Fuller.
“The Great White Trail” (1917) – Directors: Leopold Wharton, Theodore Wharton. Writers: Gardner Hunting and Leopold Wharton. Stars: Doris Kenyon and Paul Gordon.
“Vengeance Is Mine” (1917) – Director: Frank Hall Crane. Writer: John A. Moroso. Stars: Irene Castle and Frank Sheriden.
“The Tiger’s Cub” (1920) – Director: Charles Giblyn. Writers: George Goodchild, George Potter. Stars: Pearl White and Thomas Carrigan.
“Northwind’s Malice” (1920) – Directors: Paul Bern, Carl Harbaugh. Writer: Rex Beach. Stars: Tom Santschi and Jane Thomas.
“Idol of the North” (1921) – Director: Roy William Neill. Writers: Frank S. Beresford, Tom McNamara. Stars: Dorothy Dalton and Edwin August. Lost silent film.
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (1927) – Director: Harry A. Pollard. Writer: Harriet Beecher Stowe. Stars: Margarita Fischer and James B. Lowe.
“Arctic City – At Twenty Below” by Leonie Nathan and Jules Cowles, Picture Play, August 1921
“Arctic Productions” Wid’s Daily, December 21, 1918
“Hero of Alaska Gold Rush is now a Movie Executive in Hollywood”, NEA Service, The Capital Times, Madison, WI, May 2, 1930.
“Caribou Bill Cooper of Old-Time Alaska Dies” The Fresno Bee, Fresno, CA, November 2, 1933.
William F. Cooper, localwiki.org/hsl/William_F._Cooper
“Moriah and Port Henry in the Adirondacks” By Jacqueline Ann Viestenz, Frank Edgerton Martin,