William Elmer Booth (December 9, 1882 – June 16, 1915) was an American stage and film actor. He was born in Los Angeles, California and was the elder brother of Margaret Booth, a renowned film editor for Hollywood productions for nearly 70 years.[1]

Elmer Booth
Booth as Jack Doogan in the
1913 play Stop Thief!
William Elmer Booth

(1882-12-09)December 9, 1882
DiedJune 16, 1915(1915-06-16) (aged 32)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Stage and film actor
Years active1901–1915
Irene Outtrim
(m. 1908)
RelativesMargaret Booth (sister)

Career edit

Elmer began acting in touring stock companies as a teenager and achieved great success in the stock company at the Central Theater in San Francisco from 1903 to 1906. Between 1910 and 1915 he starred in 40 movies; one of those was D. W. Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912), cited by many film experts as the first gangster movie.[citation needed]

Playing "The Snapper Kid", a Manhattan street tough engaged in a turf war on the Lower East Side, Booth interpreted the gangster as a cocky, entertaining antihero, far different from the standard teeth-gnashing movie bad guys of his time.[citation needed]

Death edit

In the early hours of June 16, 1915, Booth died in an accident in California while riding in a car driven by Tod Browning, an actor and new director with Reliance-Majestic Studios in Hollywood.[2] Actor George Siegmann was also a passenger in Browning's car. The day after the accident, the Los Angeles Times reported that the three men were returning to downtown Los Angeles from a roadhouse when Browning's car crashed into a train of the Salt Lake Railroad:

Elmer Booth was killed instantly. The motor car in which he was speeding towards Los Angeles with his two companions rammed the rear part of a flat car loaded with steel rails at Santa Fe avenue and Salt Lake tracks early yesterday morning. The conductor of the train, Harry Jones, approaching, had waved his lantern as a danger signal, and then had come to the crash that sent Elmer Booth, who was just realizing his dramatic ambitions, headforemost into the rails.[2]

Browning and Siegmann survived, although they both suffered serious injuries.[2][3] Later reports blamed the accident on heavy fog; nevertheless, Elmer's sister Margaret never forgave Browning for the loss of her brother.[3][4]

D. W. Griffith, who had planned to cast Booth in an important role in Intolerance, delivered the actor's graveside eulogy.[citation needed]

Personal life edit

Booth married actress Irene Outtrim in 1908. That same year, their son was born; he died of pneumonia in March 1910.[5]

Selected filmography edit

References edit

  1. ^ Brownlow, Kevin (1968). The Parade's Gone By. Ballantine Books. p. 342.
  2. ^ a b c "Investigating Ride to Death", Los Angeles Times, Pictorial City Sheet II, June 17, 1915, p. 1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers
  3. ^ a b "Elmer Booth Killed", Moving Picture World, July 3, 1915, p.75. Internet Archive, San Francisco, California. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  4. ^ Ska, David J. (2001). The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror. Macmillan. p. 35. ISBN 978-0571199969.
  5. ^ "Parents Permitted to Have Child Only Day Before Death Comes". The Salt Lake Tribune. March 23, 1910. p. 20. Retrieved April 7, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.

External links edit