Category Archives: Larry Semon


Here are several shows throughout Los Angeles in early 2017 featuring the sights, sounds and history of entertainment as experienced a century ago during the Silent Cinema era:

January 26, 2017 ♦ 5:30 pm

Los Angeles In The Ragtime Era

Ragtime Era in Los Angeles

Presented by Galen Wilkes
Calabasas-Las Virgenes Historical Society
Calabasas Library, 200 Civic Center Way, Calabasas

February 10 and 11, 2017 ♦ 2:00 and 8:00 pm


Mighty Wurlitzer at The Nethercutt Collection

For those of you who have tickets for the February Nethercutt show, here is the program:

The theme will be LOVE for Valentines Day. 

The show will feature:


Buster Keaton in “Neighbors”

Larry Semon in “Plagues And Puppy Love”

A very rare Edison Film from 1907 “The Teddy Bears”

 A rarely seen Charley Chase comedy “There Ain’t No Santa Claus”

 Plus a surprise from the Blackhawk film collection with special thanks to Mr. David Shepard

Joe Rinaudo will be assisted on the hand-cranked Powers Cameragraph Motion Picture Machine by Gary Gibson, projecting glass lantern slides, and Dean Mora on the mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ (third largest theater organ in the world).


Sorry, this event is sold out. If you have your tickets, enjoy the show! If not, hope to see you next October for our annual Halloween Spooktacular at the Nethercutt.

March 11, 2017  7:00 pm

“Steamboat Bill, Jr.” with
Live Orchestra
Steamboat Bill Jr


Featuring a live musical score performed by The Famous Players Orchestra under the direction of Scott Lasky.

Projected by Joe Rinaudo in 35mm on an original hand-cranked Power’s 1909 Cameragragh Model 6 Motion Picture Machine. Your Master of Ceremonies will be Stan Taffel.

The program will include a 30 minute intermission and there will also be a raffle with prizes. Concessions will be available downstairs at the snack bar.

Saturday, March 11, 2017
Doors open at 6:15 p.m.
Show starts at 7:00 p.m.

Christ Lutheran Church
2400 W. Burbank Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91506
(southeast corner of Burbank Bl. & Buena Vista St., directly behind the Dunn-Edwards paint store)

Admission is $10.00 (suggested donation)

Tickets will go on sale at the door approximately one hour before showtime.

You can also purchase tickets online starting February 1 through the Famous Players Orchestra website.

Famous Players Orchestra

March 25, June 17, and November 11, 2017  7:00 pm

On three special dates throughout the year,
Galen Wilkes will present

An Edwardian Evening of Entertainment


Edwardian Evening of Entertainment

Enjoy a period vaudeville show, witness a live recording of the audience onto an Edison wax cylinder, and experience other fascinating examples of the Edwardian era.

Perry Mansion, Heritage Square Museum
3800 Homer St., Highland Park



to the NEWSREEL, the informative newsletter of the Silent Cinema Society. Never miss an announcement of an upcoming, entertaining event.


Fresh Young Audience Loves Funny Old Films

The Dancing PigOur event was something like this (with Dean Mora, not Mildred Smith, at the piano).

“It was just amazing!
We had never had an audience like that before.”

On a recent Saturday evening, Scott Lasky, founder of Famous Players Orchestra, hosted an itinerant show billed as

Hand-Cranked 35mm Film on

Original Power’s 1909 Cameragraph Model 6
Motion Picture Machine
with Live Musical Accompaniment

The March 5, 2016 event was held at the Christ Lutheran Church in Burbank, California. Admission was $10 for a 2-hour show with intermission (program listed below).

I, Joe Rinaudo, cranked the projector and Dean Mora played the piano. Gary Gibson changed the glass slides during intermission. And the audience blew us all away!

Same old show, brand new audience

I’ve done over some 200 shows and, for the first time, having advertised on Facebook thanks to Scott Lasky, we got a young, effervescent, 30-something crowd in there. From the very beginning there was an electricity in the air. They were laughing and talking and buying hot dogs and popcorn and looking around and talking to everybody and inspecting the projector. It wasn’t the same audience that we usually get, which is mostly elderly and rather quiet. (They don’t laugh or talk very much, as they are familiar with this format as well as the films.) This was a young, new crowd and a new experience for them—and they even induced the “regulars” to laugh and enjoy the show even more.


When we started the first film, The Dancing Pig (featuring the ever-popular but always slightly disturbing dancing pig), brought forth gales of laughter and howling and cheering—and shock—from the audience. The response just kept growing and growing, and by the time we got to The Grocery Clerk, which is one of Larry Semon’s masterpieces, it brought the house down. We had people laughing hysterically. They were booing the villain, cheering the heroine, and shouting and laughing.

The audience saw a “moving picture” for the first time

It struck me that this is what the reaction would have been like for a 1920 audience seeing this film for the first time. Many of these people not only had never seen a silent film before, but they have never seen a show like this with live musical accompaniment and a hand-cranked projector doing the whole show for them. So it was a total overload, I think, of their senses. It absolutely floored me because their reaction was so positive and so upbeat. They were catching every little nuance in the film and every little gag was getting laughed at. It was just amazing. We had never had an audience like that before.

Not only was the film entertaining, many people wanted pictures of the projector and with me and with Dean and Gary. We were posing in period costume with the projector and they were filming it with their camera phones and such.

Don’t miss the next show!
to the Silent Cinema Society Newsreel.

It was a very interesting evening and everything went all very well. It ended on a big bang with Buster Keaton in Cops and we got a huge cheer and an ovation at the end. It was just a wonderful time.


I had a moment of clarity at that show, a life-changing moment, where suddenly I saw the reason for doing what I’m doing:

I’m bringing something to these people that they had never seen before and that truly entertained them—as if it was an audience that was seeing “moving pictures” for the first time. Because it actually was! It wasn’t a modern film in color and in digital technology in 3D; it was a flat screen black and white image from a hundred years ago.

The audience was also amazed that we were doing all the work by hand—I’m cranking the projector, Gary’s changing the slides and Dean is playing the piano. They listened attentively as I explained the role of the itinerant projectionist traveling from town to town, setting up a show in a hall or church basement, and drawing audiences through advance telegraphed announcements.

This show renewed my faith in humanity. The wonderful young audience is hungry for this type of entertainment.

I realized in this one show that what I’m doing is right, that it does make a difference.

Facebook: the new telegraph

Advertising on Facebook was a whole new dynamic for us. It spread the word and drew the audience, a fresh and curious audience who really didn’t know what to expect, much the same as the telegraph and handbills would have spread the word 100 years ago.

Through our new “telegraph” called social media, and your help in spreading the word, we’ll introduce this 100-year-old form of entertainment to a young, new generation of audiences who are attentive, curious and amazed. After all, you can’t hand-crank an iPhone.

“The Dancing Pig” (1907) Pathe
“The Acrobatic Fly” (1910) Comet Films
“It’s a Gift” (1923) Starring Snub Pollard
“The Rink” (1916) Starring Charlie Chaplin
“The Grocery Clerk” (1920) Starring Larry Semon
“Cops” (1922) Starring Buster Keaton

Don’t miss the next show!
to the Silent Cinema Society Newsreel.

The End