I’m doing research on silent cinema, with an emphasis on intertitles and title writers. One of the most famous title writers was named Ralph Spence, and I’m hoping someone out there knows more about him. More specifically, I’m hoping there is someone out there (a grandchild, I would imagine) that might actually remember him.
During his time (1920’s), he was the one of the highest paid title writers in Hollywood. He was known as a “film doctor,” some one that could take unsuccessful silent films, reedit them, and make them successful. More importantly, he was a character, an eccentric with a story. But it is a story that I am having a tough time uncovering. I get little bits and pieces, but the whole story is illusive. For example, Louise Brooks (a famous silent film starlet) wrote in her biography that
I remember late one night wandering into Ralph Spence’s suite in the Beverly Wilshire, where he sat gloomily amidst cans of film, cartons of stale Chinese food, and empty whisky bottles. He was trying to fix up a Beery and Hatton comedy, Now We’re in the Air, and no comic line he invented would fit the lip action.
I love the mess of film, stale food, and booze. There must be more. I you know anything about Ralph Spence, please write me at gscottrobinson(at)gmail.com or post it here. I’ll post everything I’ve found so far here as well.