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Movieland Mystery Photo – Special Edition [Updated]

  Lionel Comport photo  

image Lionel Comport photo

There’s a saying at the Daily Mirror HQ: “Any day I can do research is a good day.” And Tuesday was certainly an excellent day. I spent the morning with Caroline Comport discussing her research project on her grandfather, Lionel Comport, who survived being shot in 1901 while making his rounds as a milkman and became a successful Hollywood animal trainer. (He raised dairy cows. Movie studios rented cattle for films. The rest is history.)

Lionel, at the center of the photo on the right, posed with an unidentified movie crew and many years later wrote on the back of the print that it was taken at Red Rock Canyon between 1904 and 1907, but his age at the time and the crews’ clothing indicate a later date. 
I’m hoping the Daily Mirror’s Brain Trust will pitch in and help identify the people in this photo – and possibly the movie. Enlargements are on the jump.

[Update: The first responses are in: Zasu Pitts, Slim Summerville and a young Mickey Rooney. More on the jump!]

[Update 2: A big thanks to everyone who pitched in and helped identify this photo as the crew of "Love Birds," especially Mary Mallory, who provided a plot summary of the film. I'd also like to thank Don Danard, who sent his information via email. This is another lesson in why people should label pictures as soon as possible and not leave mystery photos for their grandchildren!] 

  Lionel Comport photo  

  Lionel Comport photo  

  Lionel Comport photo  

Lionel Comport photo

Several folks have identified this mystery person as Zasu Pitts, which was my hunch.

Lionel Comport photo

Readers have also identified this young fellow as Mickey Rooney, which seems correct to me.

Lionel Comport photo

The Brain Trust says this is Slim Summerville.

But we’re not done with the mystery….  IMDB suggests this movie is “Love Birds,” a 1934 film from Universal directed by William A. Seiter. However, the IMDB entry is empty except for a cast list and a citation from “Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood.” There’s nothing about the film in The Times clips, although I can find their other film collaborations from this era, such as “They Just Had to Get Married,” “Out All Night” and “Her First Mate.”  Hm.

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Comments (15)

Love Birds 1934 with Slim Summerville, Zasu Pitts and Mickey Rooney

Kid sure looks like Mickey Rooney; guy in hat sitting down in front row, perhaps Slim Summerville; ZaSu Pitts to left of woman with dead animal on lap, and hatted dowager sitting under gal with glasses possibly Maude Eburne. Whoever, whatever. . . definitely much later than 1907--probably late Twenties-early Thirties. None of these folks were ever in same movie, though. Maybe some sort of minor studio group shot?

The lady in the bottom center, light colored dress with her legs crossed, appears to be Zasu Pitts. I'm kicking myself over the fellow 2 to the left of her in profile, because he is very familiar...

Yes, that's Slim Summerville! The lady on the far left is Maude Eburne. Kris G is right, that's Love Birds.

The lady seated at far left, next to Slim, is Maude Eburne.

That tall fellow with the hat in the back middle sure looks like a young Buddy Ebsen.

Somerville is looking at director William Seiter, and that looks like Noah Beery standing below Conport. I will check our files when I get in.

And I believe that's Dorothy Christy in the beret to the left and behind of Pitts.

Molly says the woman with glasses behind and to the left of Slim Summerville shure looks like Ellen Corby.

Mayor Latrivia sez the short guy in the hat betweeen "Ebsen" and "Corby" looks to be Bruce Cabot. He was in "Their Big Moment" in 1934 with Pitts and Summerville.

And the checkered lady has a Twentieth Century fox in her lap. That's for sure.

It is LOVE BIRDS. We don't have this exact photo, but in several, many of the actors are wearing the same costumes as in this shot. According to snipes on the backs of some of the photos, the film's tentative title was "Two Clucks," as Summerville was a chicken farmer.

I found one clip in our files. Many early Universals have never been released to DVD/VHS, exist only as prints.

Here is the American Film Institute's catalog description of the film:

Plot Summary: When farmer Henry Whipple's chickens overtake her schoolroom, teacher Araminta Tootle is fired and retires with her precocious, weakling nephew Gladwyn, who loves to quote the Bible, to Banning, California. There, she purchases an abandoned desert ranch called El Mirage, where a Chinese man once was murdered, from realtor Jameson Forbes. Forbes's secretary, Kitten, sells the same ranch to Henry, and the two new owners meet at the ranch, each claiming to be the rightful owner. Later they discover the ranch has no water. When a prospecting hobo named Barbwire hears from Gladwyn that Henry molested Araminta, he fights Henry and loses his gold tooth inlay in the sand. Barbwire thinks he has discovered gold and causes a gold rush on the property. Among the new arrivals is Madam Bertha Smith and her three "girls," prostitutes who flirt with Henry to get at his money. After Henry fights a prospector to get him off the land, Araminta falls in love with him. She and Henry go into town with the madam and her girls for a drink, which Henry hopes will ease a toothache he has acquired. In the saloon, Araminta scowls when Gertie, one of Bertha's girls, flirts with Henry, so he refuses Gertie's advances. When Jameson and Kitten read of the gold rush, they return to swindle Henry and Araminta out of their property. Henry and Araminta both sell their deeds for $10,000, planning to give the money to each other to bring water to the ranch. A traveling medicine man then tries to pull Henry's bad tooth, and although he pulls the wrong one, he recognizes Henry's gold nugget in the bar as an inlay, and the gold rush is declared a hoax. After Forbes claims to be the new owner, the prospectors attack him for "salting" his land with pieces of gold in order to unload the property. Later, Gladwyn returns to school and proudly fights with the boys. While cheering Gladwyn, Araminta accidentally hits Henry in the mouth, causing him to wince in pain.

A production still from "Greed II."


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