|My Official Wife|
|Directed by||James Young|
|Written by||Marguerite Bertsch |
Richard Henry Savage
|Starring||Clara Kimball Young, Earle Williams|
|Cinematography||Robert A. Stuart|
|Distributed by||General Film Company|
The novel was first adapted to film in 1914 by Vitagraph Studios, starring Clara Kimball Young and Earle Williams, and directed by Young's husband James Young. The movie opened on July 13, 1914. Sime Silverman's review for Variety was mixed on the film, concluding that five-reels was too long, though he admitted that the scene of a boat being torpedoed at the end might go over well with audiences. Though the story is set in Russia, Silverman noted that the film "never dares go into the open because it was made so far away from any place even resembling the land of the Czar that the studio posing and setting becomes extraordinarily obvious."
Clara Kimball Young later estimated she had appeared in more than 100 films before My Official Wife, but this was the film that launched her as a star. When Motion Picture Magazine conducted a popularity contest in 1914, Earle Williams finished first and Young came in second. (Mary Pickford came in third). Young credited Vitagraph founder J. Stuart Blackton's supervision as responsible for the success of her emotional portrayal in the film. But now a hot commodity, Young soon signed with Lewis J. Selznick.
Based on its prior success, Vitagraph re-issued the film in late 1916.
Speculation once abounded that Leon Trotsky appeared in the film as an extra, based in part on a shot of Young with a bearded man with a resemblance to the man. Though this claim started appearing as early as 1918 and was vouched for by actors in the film, and was often repeated, the story was always specious and has been discredited. Trotsky was not in the United States in 1914, and he denied reports made during his life about alleged film appearances. The film also possibly had a young Rudolf Valentino as an uncredited extra, though this claim cannot be verified, as Vitagraph Studios head Albert E. Smith made a number of claims that later caused skepticism.
Though the full movie is now lost, two short clips were compiled in the 1931 Vitaphone short The Movie Album and still survive. One of the clips includes "Trotsky", which was played up in the press promotion for the release.
- Helen Marie by Clara Kimball Young
- Arthur Bainbridge Lenox by Harry T. Morey
- Laura, his wife by Rose E. Tapley
- Marguerite, their daughter by Mary Anderson
- Basile Weletsky, her husband by Arthur Cosine
- Baron Friederich, Chief of the Russian Secret Police by L. Rogers Lytton
- Eugenie, his spy by Eulalie Jensen
- Constantine Weletsky by Charles Wellesley
- Olga, his wife by Louise Beaudet
- Sacha, their nephew by Earle Williams
- Sophie, their child by Helen Connelly
- (1 August 1914)Live News of the Week, Motion Picture News, p. 54, col. 1-2 (noting that on Monday July 13, new features were offered at the Vitagraph Theatre in New York City, including My Official Wife).
- (14 July 1914). Two new film plays are shown, The New York Times
- (11 April 1914). Live News of the Week, Motion Picture News, p. 33, col. 2.
- Andrews, William Ressman (8 August 1914). "My Official Wife" Review, Motion Picture News, p. 68
- (August 1914). My Official Wife (story based on movie, with film stills), Motion Picture Magazine, pp. 67-75.
- (25 July 1914). New Bill At Vitagraph Theatre, The Moving Picture World, p. 552.
- Silverman, Sime (17 July 1914). Film Reviews, Variety, p. 17
- (October 1914). The Great Artist Contest: First Honors Go to Earle Williams and Clara Kimball Young, Motion Picture Magazine
- Slide, Anthony & Edward Wagenknecht. Fifty Great American Silent Films, 1912-1920: A Pictorial Survey, p. 110 (1980)
- Lowrey, Carolyn. The First One Hundred Noted Men and Women of the Screen, p. 200 (1920)
- Beauchamp, Cari. Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood, p. 59 (1997)
- Shorey, George N. (16 December 1916). My Official Wife, Motion Picture News
- (16 January 1918). Trotsky in Movies! But He Did Not Star, Seattle Star
- (8 June 1918). Untitled, Colonist (New Zealand) ("Leon Trotsky, now so prominent in Russian politics, was at one time, it is said, a moving picture actor in America. He appeared in a film entitled "My Official Wife," and his salary is stated to have been just five dollars a day.")
- Segrave, Kerry. Extras of Early Hollywood: A History of the Crowd, 1913-1945, p. 116 (2013) (citing 1932 Washington Post account of alleged "Trotzky" appearance for $7 per day)
- (22 February 1937). Travels of Leon Trotsky, Life
- Medved, Michael, and Harry Medved. The Golden Turkey Awards (Chapter: "The Worst Performance By a Politician"). 1980, Putnam. ISBN 0-399-50463-X.
- Shull, Michael Slade. Radicalism in American Silent Films, 1909-1929: A Filmography and History, p. 182 (2000)
- Rice, Cyrus F. (1 August 1954). Town Talent, Milwaukee Sentinel
- Ellenberger, Allan R. The Valentino Mystique: The Death and Afterlife of the Silent Film Idol, p. 236 (Alfred E. Smith of Vitagraph Studios claims that Valentino approached him and was cast as an extra, however a number of Smith's claims have met with skepticism from researchers)
- (28 February 1932). LEON TROTSKY REVEALED IN OLD FILM PLAY WITH CLARA KIMBALL YOUNG, source unclear