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Panic in Polacca; Hollywood in Hopi Country

Panic in Polacca; Hollywood in Hopi Country
December 04
04:36 2019

Panic in Polacca

By John Christian Hopkins

Only the most ardent of Hollywood buffs will recognize his name today.

But there was a time when Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., was among the most famous men in the world.

In the years before Hollywood came into being Fairbanks was a popular Broadway star. However actors were considered low class, so his wealthy father-in-law, Daniel Sully, insisted Fairbanks give up the stage. But as the Sully fortune shrank Fairbanks turned back to acting.

By this time moving pictures were taking off and Fairbanks soon became a matinee idol, with charm, good looks and athletic ability. The formula was simple: poor young man, through pluck and luck overcomes the odds to find success.

In 1920 Fairbanks made a movie where he combined two of the things he loved – Theodore Roosevelt and the Hopi tribe.

In “The Mollycoddle” – a word coined by Roosevelt to describe the overindulged sons of the rich – Fairbanks is the spoiled son of wealthy Arizona ranchers. A trio of mischievous college boys kidnap Fairbanks and stow him away on a yacht. The yacht belongs to a diamond smuggler who thinks Fairbanks is a secret service agent.

Fairbanks is thrown overboard, but eventually manages to return to Arizona, where he meets and falls in love with the real secret service agent!

To save his sweetheart he must overcome his dainty ways and become the hero she needs. With help from his Hopi friends, Fairbanks rises to the occasion, the movie climaxing with the hero leaping from a cliff onto a treetop where he and the villain begin a savage battle.

Fairbanks always appreciated the help the Hopi Tribe gave him during the filming of “The Mollycoddle.” To show his gratitude, Fairbanks arranged for the tribe to see a special screening of the film in Polacca (in Arizona..about 70-miles southeast of Tuba City).

For most of the Hopi, it was likely the first movie they had ever seen. Things were going great until some of the scenes using Hopi extras began to appear.

Some of the Hopis had died before the movie was shown – and some people rushed out the door in panic, believing the ghosts of the dead people were returning!

“The Mollycoddle” was a critical and financial success – the last under the old Fairbanks movie formula.

The first two movies he did after “The Mollycoddle” would determine his destiny. “The Nut,” using the old formula bombed.

But “The Mark of Zorro” was smash hit, propelling Fairbanks to new heights of fame as the movies first swashbuckler and the unofficial King of Hollywood.

Featured Photo: From The Mollycoddle

Panic in Polacca; Hollywood in Hopi Country - overview

Summary: Panic in Polacca; Hollywood in Hopi Country


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