Roscoe Conklin Miller – Chauffeur, Confidante & Friend!

It was recently discovered that Edwin enjoyed a close relationship with a man named Roscoe Miller. From his granddaughter, comes a story and connection not previously known. According to Naomi Miller McCoy, her grandfather Roscoe was Edwin’s chauffeur and site manager for Edwin’s production company, First National Pictures, during the years 1924 to 1934. Naomi also shared that her grandfather had also played small parts is several of Edwin’s films.

Naomi states that “Roscoe was in vaudeville shows in Omaha, Nebraska, and he worked at the Brandeis Theatre. He had parts in what were called “race films” at the time. My understanding is that he moved to Los Angeles to work in the movie industry.”

In these photos you can see Edwin and Roscoe with several others. It appears they are hunting. Sorry to the mule! Naomi believes these photos were taken somewhere in Nebraska which could mean that Roscoe and Edwin met before Roscoe migrated to Los Angeles. In one of the photos, the tall white man holding a gun looks like he could be an actor from Hollywood. I wonder if he could be identified.

Edwin and Roscoe both shared a love for the performing arts and both were of mixed heritage. They obviously shared a close bond and it is possible that the two met while Roscoe was working the stage in Nebraska. We would love to learn more about their relationship and if any new information is discovered, we will be sure to post an update here.

Photos courtesy of Naomi Miller McCoy.

Collaboration with the Chickasaw Cultural Center!

Edwin Carewe Section 2 Exhibit Signage Holisso Building

We are pleased to announce a collaboration with the Chickasaw Cultural Center at the Holisso Building in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Currently on display and running through mid-September, a new exhibit is on display featuring Edwin Carewe as part of the “Chickasaw Creativity in Film and Performing Arts. If anyone is interested or in the area of Sulphur, Oklahoma, please stop by to preview the exhibit. We would like to thank Emily Santhanam, Curator of Exhibitions and Education, at the Chickasaw Cultural Center for your interest and collaboration. Here are a few photos from the exhibit.

Edwin Carewe – The Rancher!

It was during the year in 1930 when Edwin began scouting a location for his new venture. He had heard about this big ranch in Nevada which would be ideal for the culmination of his business plan to get into the ranching business as his film career was beginning to wind down with the advent of talking pictures.

On January 1, 1931 Edwin signed a lease agreement for more than 150 acres of roaming ranch acreage in Nevada at what would later become Las Vegas. At the time, the ranch and homestead was called “The Stewart Ranch” after Archibald Stewart obtained the land from Octavius Gass, a miner who originally settled on the land from the remains of an old Mormon mission and fort from around 1873.

Helen J Stewart, wife of Archibald and nick named “The First Lady of Las Vegas” owned nearly 3000 acres of ranch land in the 1880’s, in the middle of nowhere. Her family ranch was the only thing here. It was called the “Stewart Ranch.” There was a natural spring near their ranch to supply the much needed water.  Her family would sometimes host weary travelers who were making their way down the Old Spanish Trail, or Mormon Trail, between Salt Lake City and southern California. Then there were rumors of the railroad coming to Las Vegas as they were equally interested in finding a resting place where there was water, and to refuel their steam powered engines. Stewart was able to sell a large portion of her ranch to the man who was hoping to bring, and did eventually bring, the railroad through Las Vegas. After she sold the ranch to the railroad in 1902 it was then usually referred to as the “Old Ranch” or “Las Vegas Ranch”, though a few locals still called it the “Stewart Ranch”. The railroad was called the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City Railroad at that time. In Las Vegas they created a smaller company called the Las Vegas Land and Water Co to run local operations here. The LVLWCo leased out the Old Ranch to private residents who could continue to run it as a ranch, dairy and meat market to supply the city’s new residents with these necessary supplies. The railroad coming through here and stopping here is what brought people here and what created Las Vegas as a town, a much needed resting point between Salt Lake City and California.

Through his company, Carewe-Moreton Enterprises and The Biltmore Conservation Corp located in the iconic E Clem Wilson Building on the corner of Wilshire Blvd and La Brea, Edwin set out to begin his venture into the ranching, dairy and eventually the garbage reclamation business. It is important to note that the E Clem Wilson building, built in 1929 and where Edwin began this venture in Los Angeles, was at the time an architectural wonder and he was one of its very first tenants. Today, the building is known as The Wilshire/La Brea Building. It was also used as the first Daily Planet location for the first Superman television series.

In December of 1930, Edwin was in full motion with development plans for a $25,000.00 plant on his new ranch to process garbage and manufacture animal feed. Using patented technology called “The Biltmore Process,” he would use a special chemical treatment and steaming process to render the garbage so pure it would be safe for humans. His plans were quite lofty at the time stating that he was developing this technology in Dallas, Texas with 10 steam cookers and was planning to roll it out nationally to Syracuse, New York, Portland, Oregon and Petaluma, California.

By July of 1931, Edwin had planted some 150 acres of alfalfa, corn and other grains and had harvested some 197 tons of grains to feed the livestock on the ranch which included cattle, hogs and poultry. It was clear at the time that this was a business venture for Edwin and he had every intent of making profits from this venture. Inclusive of the cattle and hogs, Edwin also planned to add various types of poultry to include, chickens, turkeys, quail and Hungarian pheasants. He was also adding the business of frogs to the ranch as well noting that he had planted some 50,000 frogs to the acreage and that he had planned to add frog legs to his venture. In fact, it was during one visit to the ranch that Mary Akin commented that she “looked forward to going frog hunting one evening.”

In correspondences between Edwin and the LVLWCo, he was making attempts to extend his lease from five years to 15 years, noting that he would need a longer lease to make his venture the success that he had envisioned. During these correspondences, he had also made requests to make changes to the buildings on the property and also try to convince the LVLWco to build a dam on nearby waters to provide him with more water to grow his crops. At the time, Edwin noted that he wanted to remove certain buildings and renovate the original adobe home so that his son-in-law, LeRoy Mason, could live there and be in charge of the ranch. LeRoy Mason was also an actor who had worked with Edwin on several silent films. LeRoy was married to Rita Carewe, a daughter from his first marriage before he married Mary Akin, his second wife.

It was during a visit to his new ranch, renamed “Rancho Grande” in February of 1931 that while riding one of his horses, he was bucked from the horse and landed in the middle of the creek and was up to his neck in water and mud, commenting that his tailor would have much work to do in order to clean his fine riding clothes. The horse, a fine white steed can be viewed in the Gallery of photos on this website. At the time he also noted that his long standing friendship with Will Rogers and Tom Mix stemmed from before they were all famous while working together on the famous Miller Brothers 101 Ranch near Ponca City, Oklahoma noting that “ranching runs through my veins.” This would have been sometime around the turn of the century when Edwin was roughly 18 years of age. Ironically, the 101 Ranch was founded in 1893 by Colonel George Washington Miller, a veteran of the Confederate Army and was quite famous for developing a Wild West show featuring regional Indians with Buffalo Bill Cody, Pawnee Bill, Tex Ritter, Tom Mix, Will Rogers and Apache Indian Geronimo.

In March of 1931, Edwin had purchased the business interests of The Las Vegas Creamery at 406 South Second Street in Las Vegas by his new venture at Rancho Grande and was renamed The Rancho Grande Creamery in the grand scheme of production from the ranch to his new creamery in Las Vegas.

By December of 1932, shortly after Carol Carewe was born, his third and last child with actress/wife Mary Akin, Edwin had charged his brother Wallace with managing all the work to be done at the homestead and in conjunction with the Ranch Manager, LeRoy Mason.

In August of 1933, everything changed for Edwin when he declared bankruptcy in a Los Angeles court. Likely, this was a culmination of events in his life starting with the federal charges and indictment for tax evasion in April of 1932 as well as the developing Great Depression. His last film, “Are We Civilized” was produced in 1934 and was his first and only attempt to transition from silent films to talking films.

It is clear from this new discovery that Edwin had carefully planned to enter the ranching and garbage reclamation business as a means of continuing his legacy through his long career in the silent film movie business as both an actor and producer/director.


Spotlight: Wallace Fox

Wallace Ware Fox – Biography

Younger brother to Edwin by some 12 years, Wallace was an accomplished Hollywood movie Director, Producer and Writer who was able to make a successful transition from the silent era, as an apprentice under his brother Edwin, to the modern film era. Wallace directed some 84 films between the years 1927 – 1953. Married to Cleo Inez Easton, he and Cleo had two children, a daughter named Francis and Wally Jr., who recently turned 90 in late 2015.
Wallace joined the West Texas Military Academy prior to joining the Navy in 1910. He stayed in the military until 1919 and served in World War I or The Great War.

Wallace was well known for his work in both Westerns and Horror genres. He worked with such notable actors including Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, The Bowery Boys and Johnny Mack Brown. Late in his career he also directed several of the Gene Autry shows on television. He preferred to shoot movies over TV due to budgetary restrictions and was well known for bringing projects in under budget.
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Spotlight: Mary Akin

Born June 24, 1901 in Evansville, Indiana, Mary was one of three children born to Carrie Hoxsey and Ransom Lee Akin. Her first marriage was to Thomas Armstrong of Chicago. She met Edwin Carewe in 1921 and four years later, they were married for the first of two marital unions, the second of which was in 1929. Mary was married a fourth time to Gerard Colchord of California. Mary and Edwin had three children, Sally Anne, William Edwin and Carol Lee. While little is known about her early years, she was quite young at the time when she met Edwin. Considering that she had been married previously, there was a 20 year difference in age when she met Edwin.
Mary acted in CharleysAunt MaryAkinsome 11 movies roles, several of which were with Edwin and his production company. Beginning in 1924, Mary has an uncredited role in the silent film, “Picking Peaches,” and received her first credited role in the silent film, “My Son.” In 1925, she appeared in the silent film, “Charley’s Aunt,” starring Sydney Chaplin, the half brother of Charlie Chaplin. This movie can be seen on DVD and is available through any silent film archive or through Amazon.

June Mathis – Screenwriter

JuneMathis2GodsHalfAcreTom Slater on said:

Hello Everyone,

I’m working on a manuscript of the life and work of June Mathis, one of the most prominent screenwriters of the silent era. Edwin Carewe was extremely important in her career, giving Mathis her start in 1915. However, information about their collaborations has been very difficult to find. Outside of the film titles and credits, I have practically nothing. Mathis also collaborated with Finis Fox on at least two films. If anyone knows about the existence of any correspondence or other materials relating to the productions of these films, I would be very happy to find out about them. The relevant films are as follows (all titles except The Parisian Tigress were directed by Carewe):

Mathis with Carewe: 1916, The Upstart; Her Great Price; God’s Half Acre; The Dawn of Love; The Sunbeam; 1917, The Barricade; The Trail of the Shadow; The Voice of Conscience (story by Finis Fox); 1918, The Trail to Yesterday; The House of Gold; 1919, The Way of the Strong (story by Mathis and Fox); The Parisian Tigress (dir. Herbert Blache; scenario, Fox; story, Mathis and Albert Capellani.

Only one of these titles, as far as I know, is available for viewing: God’s Half Acre, which I thoroughly enjoyed watching at the Library of Congress.

1928 Ramona Screening Review!

We all enjoyed a wonderful weekend in Los Angeles in preparation for the sceening of “Ramona” on Saturday at the UCLA Billy Wilder Theater.

Prior to the event, we attended a pre-screening party hosted by Diane Allen, a granddaughter to Edwin Carewe and a cousin to many of us. The party was a huge success and was attended by a wide variety of industry people who also had an interest or hand in this project.

When we arrived to the Billy Wilder theater, you could feel the buzz in the air with anticipation of seeing a movie which had not been viewed for some 85 years. Ramona, based on the book by author Helen Hunt Jackson, is a wonderful story of early California history.

This particular film has had quite a storied history. During WWII, a print of “Ramona” was in Czechoslovakia and was confiscated by the Nazi’s and sent to Berlin. At the end of the war, Soviet soldiers took the movie back to Russia where it remained for many years in obscurity. In the 1960’s, a Czech archivist located the film in the Russian archives and brought it back to the Czech archives since this copy contained Czech language subtitles. It is truly amazing that this film survived such a journey and yet today, it has been restored to all its previous glory.

During the screening, which was also presented by Diane Allen, the Mont-Alto Motion Picture Orchestra was on hand to lend their talent and musical score to the movie. In my view, it was the music score to this movie which truly told the story in all of its lore. The music was so critical to telling the story and the Mont-Alto Orchestra did a superb job of presenting the music to accompany the film. You can learn more about the Mont-Alto Orchestra by visiting their website here:

On behalf of all of us and our greater family at large, we thank everyone who had a hand in making this restoration a reality. We would also like to thank Diane Allen for her unwavering support to make this event a true success and wonderful experience. There will be other showings of this film and we will do our best to post this information as it becomes available.

You can hear Dolores del Rio signing the title song, “Ramona” in both the Biography page and also the Filmography page to this website.