The star in the Stutz, ca. 1919
Sports-car aficionado and film star Wallace Reid graced Seattle’s streets during a promotional visit in 1919.
Special to The Seattle Times
HERE RELAXES star Wallace Reid, “the silent screen’s most perfect lover,” in a Stutz Bearcat. The racer was borrowed — with promotional considerations — out of Jim Parsons’ Stutz showroom on Broadway Avenue, which with Pike Street was Seattle’s “auto row” then. We found a captioned record of the sporty car and handsome ham, posing together here on the sidewalk at the pointed western end of The Seattle Times Building at Fourth Avenue and Olive Way, in The Times on July 20, 1919. Reid is described there as “a Stutz admirer and a lover of automobiles.”
For the “now” shot, Jean Sherrard considered asking the driver of the Seafair stagecoach heading south on Fourth Avenue to pull onto the sidewalk and pose, but the moving pressures of this year’s Torchlight Parade convinced Jean to record his “repeat” from afar — across Fourth. It is also a prospect that shows more of the architectural splendor of the Beaux Arts Times Building, which was home for this newspaper from 1916 until 1930, when the paper moved north a few blocks to the Cascade neighborhood.
Reid played the racer-hero in a string of sports-car dramas including “The Roaring Road“ (1919), “Double Speed” (1920), “Excuse My Dust” (1920) and “Too Much Speed” (1921). “Roaring Road” was released a few weeks before Reid and the borrowed Bearcat took this pose. (Check out “Roaring Road” on YouTube.)
Reid was seriously injured doing his own stunt work for the production of “The Valley of the Giants” in Southern Oregon in 1919. Prescribed morphine for the pain, Reid developed an addiction. He died of pneumonia in a California sanitarium on Jan. 18, 1923. He was 31 and left his wife, two children and many films.
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.