José Collins (1887-1958), English actress and singer, as she appeared in the Fox film, A Woman’s Honor, United States, 1916
(photo: Fox, USA, 1916)
FAMOUS DAUGHTER of a FAMOUS MOTHER
Pictures Interviews José Collins in Her Dressing Room.
‘Who has forgotten that amazing woman Lottie Collins, who made a name in one night, and in a few weeks had all the world singing the haunting ditty, “Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay”?
’ José is following in her mother’s footsteps on the high road to fame, and so quickly is she reaching her goal – by the stage-hall-cinema route – that we simply could not delay any longer in securing a chat with her for PICTURES.
‘Shown into her dressing-room at Daly’s Theatre, where she is nightly a star in The Happy Day, we beheld a medium-sized figure, full of vim and energy, with a pair of wonderful brown eyes, large and lustrous, a row of perfectly even white teeth, and a dainty little dimple, in a face wreathed in smiles, framed with a mass of blue-black hair.
‘“I simply hate being interviewed,” she warned us; “but as it is for PICTURES, and I never tire of talking about my film work, I guess I’ll have to fire away. My experience is limited; I only started playing in films a few months before I left America, so I only had time to do three pictures – The Light That Failed (Pathé ), The Impostor (World Film ), and A Woman’s Honour (Fox ). For the latter film we went to Cuba and Palm Beeches [sic], where the sun was so strong that we could only work for an hour and a half each day. The part I took in A Woman of Honour was that of a little Italian peasant girl, afterwards becoming a society woman. An Italian market was erected in the studio, and the real peasants from the foreign quarter were brought in with their donkeys and barrows. It was a wonderful sight.”
‘“Didn’t you miss the footlights, the audience, the music – in fact all the splendour of the stage?” we asked.
‘“Not a bit. Everyone was so kind – the directors so charming – that, although I found it rather hard work at first, I was never so happy as when playing before the camera. I had a beautiful dressing-room, and when not working I could rest on a comfortable divan or sing and play to myself.”
‘“Yes,” we interrupted, “it is a pity your beautiful voice does not reflect on the screen.”
‘“It has been tried in America, but it was not a great success.
‘“My salary was $200 per week,” continued Miss Collins, “and I had almost signed a contract for a year at the same salary when I suddenly had a longing to see dear old England again, and all the money in America could not have kept me there.”
Another Star to Twinkle Here!
‘”The Impostors has been shown in this country, we believe?”
‘“Yes, it is the only one so far; I expect to do some film work over here, but have not settled yet.”
‘“Did you have any thrilling experiences in pictures?”
‘“Oh, yes. In one film I had to jump from a height of thirty feet into the sea. While I was waiting for my rescuer, who was a very poor swimmer, I was being battered against rocks by a wild and overpowering sea, and when I eventually reached the shore I was a positive wreck.”
‘“What was your impression when you first saw yourself on the screen?”
‘“Oh, dreadful! I hated myself. All I could say was, ‘Do I do that? Am I like that?’ Every little mannerism came out. In one film the director shouted to me – ‘Cry, Miss Collins, please cry!’ I took him at his word, and for Art’s sake burst into a flood of tears, nearly sobbing my heart our. I had not cried like that since I was a tiny child, and only the congratulations of my producer compensated for the wretched nervous headache I suffered after.
‘“Just before I sailed [for England] a dinner was given for me, and many well-known film-artistes were present including Charlie Chaplin. Oh! No; that was not the first time we had met – we appeared on the halls together in this country. Charlie and José are real pals.”
‘“Miss Collins, please!” It was the call-boy.
‘The actress rose to go. “I’m sorry, but I really must fly. Give my love to all your readers. Good-bye!”
‘the delightful little lady disappeared, and as we made our way out of the theatre we heard strains of song. It was Miss Collins enchanting the audience with her melodious voice.’
(Pictures and the Picturegoer, London, Saturday, 18 November 1916, p.150)