In search of the Police Reporter

GG Pressbook Cast

The other day, I received the following comment:

One cast member of the Grim Game was an actor named Ed Martin, who portrayed a character simply known as the Police Reporter. It is hard to judge if he is present in any of the stills you have posted. Have you made any headway in identifying all of the actors in the still from the Grim Game? I have reason to believe that the actor “Ed Martin” was Edward H. Martin, a graduate of the West Point Class of 1898; my goal is to get a picture of him acting in the movie.

Of course I was intrigued by this comment, so I decided to do a little bit of research.

Let’s start with what I found out about Edward H. Martin, a graduate of the West Point Class of 1898.

Edward Hugh Martin was born in New York,  July 2, 1874 the same year Houdini was born, which would make him around 45 years old during the making of the Grim Game.

Lieut. E. H. Martin of the Fifth Artillery was dismissed (court-martialed) from the army in 1900.  He was tried at Fort Hamilton on three charges of forgery. [NY Times June 24, 1900]

It is said that he married Gussie McKee, the proprietress of a poolroom, while his court-martial trial was going on.

Ex Lieut. E.H. Martin was arrested on a charge of forgery on June 16, 1901.  Martin’s defense at the trial admitted that he was addicted to the use of opium, and said he was “dopy” when he wrote the accounts which were questioned. “Martin is physically very brave. He has saved several persons from drowning and received honorable mention from the army”. [NY Times June 17, 1901]

Instead of being sent to prison for 5 years, he was sentenced to 12 months in a penitentiary. [NY Times July 13, 1901]

Martin was arrested for suspected murder in February, 1905 and held until the following October, when his release was ordered, as the body of his partner could not be found. While confined in jail, Martin endeavored to obtain liberty by burning the jail building.  After his release, he came to Lewis-town Idaho, and afterward was arrested in Moscow and Wallace Idaho, on charges of insanity. [NY Times May 7, 1908]

Portland Ore., May 6, 1908, Edward H. Martin son of a former New York contractor, a graduate of West Point, armor expert at Sandy Hook, graduate of Fordham College and the New York Law School, and temporarily employed in the City Engineer’s office, was arrested for the murder of Nathan Wolffe.  The crime was committed in Wolffe’s jewelry store.  Martin stoutly denies his guilt. [NY Times May 7, 1908]

Is this Edward Martin the actor in the Grim Game?  Who knows; someone believes it is, but we would need them to share why they think this is the case.

Let’s now turn our attention to the question of whether the actor Ed Martin who plays a police reporter appears in any Grim Game stills.  If we look at the script from the Grim Game, the only mention of a police reporter appears in scenes 67 and 69 that takes place in a news room.  See my blog, Forty Winks by the Star Reporter, that paraphrases the scenes.  The only publicity still (L302-08) available is below.

298-8 Sphinx Sept 15, 1919 v18n7

And it only has Houdini depicted.  Now there are other scenes that make reference to reporters, but not police reporters.   If I compare these other scenes with the available stills, there are a couple of stills with reporter(s) in them:

298-7 ebay

Scene 199 (Still 298-07) above takes place in a Police Station.  Houdini is wildly protesting and attempting to tear loose from the hold that the 2 cops have on him.  The desk sergeant has given up the task of trying to question him at this time and orders him to be locked in the strongest cell.  One reporter seizes phone. [Paraphrased from Paramount Files at Margaret Herrick Library]

298-1 snippet Scenes 151-154 (Still 298-1 snippet above) takes place in the same news room that scenes 67 and 69 took place.  Reporters busy in room.  Houdini comes forward to his desk and sinks in his chair.  He has on a dark overcoat and is minus his straw hat that he has been wearing through rest of the picture.  Several of the men have noticed his strange actions. One reporter asks, what is the matter? [Paraphrased from Paramount Files at Margaret Herrick Library]

It is possible that one of the reporters above could be Ed Martin, but we have no way of knowing for sure without a photo to compare.

BTW, apparently Ed Martin appeared in a couple other movies:

If these other movies are still around, we could still possibly get a picture of Ed Martin acting in a movie.

Gloria Swanson and Houdini at the Lyric in 1924

1924 Gloria Swanson Actress Toledo Theatre Promo CardRare circa 1924 Toledo Ohio promotional advertising card from the old Lyric Theatre that was located on Broadway Near Western.  This advertising card from the theatre features the Great Silent Movie actress of the era GLORIA SWANSON.    The card measures 3 1/2 in by 5 3/8 in.  The Lyric Theatre has long since been gone from Toledo and any material from it is scarce.

Back of Swanson Promo Card - April 1924 Haldane of Secret ServiceOn the back in April of 1924 they were showing Harry Houdini “The Wizard” in the Movie “HALDANE OF SECRET SERVICE”.   It should read HALDANE OF THE SECRET SERVICE; the word THE is missing on the advertising card.  According to the card, HALDANE was a gripping story of International counterfeiters interwoven with delightful romance, miraculous escapes and endless surprises!

See below for other HHCE blog references to Gloria Swanson and Houdini:

See below for a few Gloria Swanson and Houdini photo references in books:

  • J.C. Cannell – The Secrets of Houdini on page 122
  • Doug Henning – Houdini His Legend and His Magic on page 119
  • Kalush and Sloman – The Secret Life of Houdini Laid Bare on page 222

And last but not least, see below for an amazing photo of Gloria Swanson and Mr. and Mrs. Houdini from the Houdini Album of Jon Oliver:

Jon Oliver Collection

Jon Oliver Collection

Answer: Who is the other man in Still 298-22

298-22 Kino HRHRC cap001 (L302-22)

Last year, I did a post, where I gave clues WRT who could be the other man in still 298-22.

The choices were Harry Houdini (Harvey Hanford), Thomas Jefferson (Dudley Cameron), Augustus Philips (Clifton Allison), Tully Marshall (Richard Raver), Arthur Hoyt (Dr. Tyson), or Unidentified actor (Old Servant Banks). We previously ruled out Harry Houdini, Arthur Hoyt and Tully Marshall.  So that left Thomas Jefferson, Augustus Philips and an unidentified actor.  Just solely based on the photos of the actors, it looks like it could be Augustus Philips or Thomas Jefferson; however there was no photo of the actor that played Old Banks to compare.  And if you read my blog, Thomas Jefferson Found, I made a statement: “That as far as I know, there are no movie stills of Thomas Jefferson from the Grim Game and I’ve seen and cataloged most if not all of the stills from the movie.”   So based on the above information if correct, would lead us to Augustus Philips or Old Banks.  I can tell you, it is not Augustus Philips.  So does that make it Old Banks?   Based on the circumstantial evidence previously presented, there was a strong case for Banks.  However, I have some additional evidence to present, that makes me think otherwise now:

During the scene when Cameron is scolding Houdini and telling him to get out, he seizes a large, old-fashioned revolver from top of safe and tries to get a shot at Houdini.  There is also another scene where Houdini mentions that Cameron has threatened to shoot him on sight.  And if we look at still 289-21 and 298-22, you will notice that Houdini and Ann Forrest outfits are the same in both stills; let me explain the events that led up to 289-21 and 298-22 which help make the case for Thomas Jefferson:  In an earlier scene, Cameron (Thomas Jefferson) asks Mary (Ann Forrest) if she can open a box – this is the  box seen in still 289-21; Mary is working at lock of box when Houdini unexpectedly shows up at the Cameron house. Mary and Houdini are in the library – Mary is worried that Cameron who is in the dining room might enter and discover them – Houdini opens the box – Cameron enters and sees the couple – Mary jumps in alarm at the sound of Cameron’s voice – Cameron gets gun – and voila, we have Still 298-22.  BTW, Houdini avoids the old man or disarms him and makes exit through window in comedy fashion.  [Paraphrased from Margaret Herrick Files]

The scene with Banks, Houdini and gun appears later, right after the scene depicted in still 298-80 which shows Mary (white dress) and Houdini in different outfits from still 298-22.

So based on the evidence now, I would say this is Thomas Jefferson (Dudley Cameron) as opposed to an unidentified actor (Old Banks) in still 298-22.

Case closed for the time being!