Thomas’s parents James and Mary (Lynskey) left Binghamstown, Belmullet, Co Mayo for America in 1864. James's brother Lawrence was already there. They ended up in Rushville, Indiana.
When Tom was 19, he wanted to marry his girlfriend Ethel Dale, but she was only 16. It looks like Tom pulled a few tricks as the local bishop refused due to her age, but somehow Tom got an affidavit as to the age of the bride and groom. Tom travelled 450 miles arranging the marriage. They had to sneak onto trains He had to go to a neighbouring county to get a marriage licence, and neither party told their parents. When they found out they were all fuming and Toms parents tried to oppose it to no avail. He was working at the time as a cigar maker.
Thomas’s best mates ended up being Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin. Fairbanks spotted Tom working in New York and liked his writing for a newspaper and invited him to move his family to Hollywood to work for him, and that’s how they became good friends.
Thomas was one of the 5 judges for The Oscars. Fairbanks presented the first ever Oscars. He was known at the time as “The King of Hollywood”.
Tom would often go to Douglas Fairbanks house for dinner parties with Greta Garbot, Albert Einstein, President Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Edison, Noel Cowerd, H.G Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Created Sherlock Holmes), Amelia Earhart (1st solo female to fly across Atlantic). F Scott Fitzgerald (Regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. He wrote The Great Gatsby). Helen Keller (Brought Braille to the world). Fritz Kreisler (Regarded one of the greatest violinists of all time). The list goes on.
Tom was also the witness at Gracie Fields wedding.
He also invented “The smellatone”, something you now see in the 4d/5d cinemas at Disney / Universal Studios in Florida where smells get blown into the cinema to give added affect.
Charlie Chaplin paid for Tom to go to London to run a film studio there. While there, Tom was the boss of Alfred Hitchcock who was a new recruit. The funny thing is, I was born 2 streets away from The Gainsborough studios, now The Gainsborough apartments. We used to know it as kids as “The Hitchcock’s studios”, because that’s where he made his movies. In Toms days it was called Players/Lasky studios. Little did I know until doing ancestry research that my cousin was his boss and my cousin Carmelita, Toms daughter was in one of Hitchcock’s first films The Pleasure garden (1925/1926).
In Chaplin’s biography he often talks about Tom, and on one occasion when Chaplin was coming back to England for the first time, he said he was nervous meeting the crowds. When the ship pulled in at Southampton from New York Chaplin spotted Tom, and the 2 of them got the train to London Waterloo then a car from there to the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly. Thousands were waiting for Chaplin. When Chaplin was 9, his father died and he had to put his mother into a lunatic asylum. He ended up begging on the streets of Piccadilly for food and work and he ended up in one of the theatres on Shaftsbury Avenue doing odd jobs. The theatre was doing a tour to the USA and they brought Chaplin along and that’s how he ended up there and got spotted. Also, on that trip with the theatre was a certain Stan Laurel. To think when he left London he was begging on Piccadilly, now watch the video link and see the welcome home he got back on Piccadilly.
Tom eventually left London and went back to the States. When World War 2 broke out, he became the Head of The Hollywood Bureau of Censorship of the Office of War Information. Basically, he had the power to say yes or no to whatever film was released in the cinemas, as Roosevelt wanted movies that would boost the morale of the public and put down the propaganda Hitler was throwing out.
It was Chaplin & Fairbanks that begged Tom’s daughter Carmelita to have a go at acting. She was in the original Great Gatsby, and starred in films with Jack Dempsey the World Heavyweight boxing champion and Oliver Hardy and as I said before The Pleasure Garden for Alfred Hitchcock. She was in 75 movies.
Carmelita was filming a movie called The Last Trail with a famous cowboy actor at the time Tom Mix. Tom Mix was desperate to get hold of tickets for a big American football game that was coming up, but could not get any. He heard there was a talented college footballer that had to retire due to a back injury, so Tom Mix tracked him down, and done a deal with him. He said, “If you can get me tickets for the big game, you can come and work on the set with me and Carmelita moving the set around during filming for their latest film The Last trail”. The college footballer agreed. Time went on and the fella got Tom Mix the tickets and the college footballer got the job. His name was John Wayne (The Duke). That’s how he got his first job in Hollywood, moving furniture around the set for Carmelita and Tom Mix. John Forde the director spotted John Wayne and said, “There’s something about that fella”, and he gave him his first chance at acting.
When Tom and Carmelita lived in a luxury apartment block next door to each other, their next-door neighbours either side were Clark Gable next door to Carmelita, and Cary Grant next door to Tom. A few doors down were Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn and Ginger Rogers. Others living in the block were Bette Davis, Ed Sullivan, George Burns, George Gershwin, Kathrine Hepburn among others. The apartment block was called Chateau Elysee in Los Angeles. There is a book called The Movieland Directory, you can find it all in there.
Carmelita married Carey Wilson (MGM film producer who done Ben Hur and Mutiny on the Bounty). Carmelita’s bridesmaid was Jean Harlow. They both have stars on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. I have photos of their wedding with Jean Harlow. I even have the marriage certificate with Jean Harlow’s signature on it. When sound came into the cinema, Carmelita eventually gave up the acting and started painting and she was quite successful having exhibitions in galleries in Paris. She died of a heart attack in a hotel in New York.
Carmelita’s 2 brothers Maurice and Gerald wrote 150 Hollywood movies. Maurice Geraghty wrote Elvis’s first movie Love Me Tender. Gerald wrote the Roy Rogers movies and they also worked on Lassie and The Adams Family shows.
They had one other sister Sheila Gladys, but for some reason she kept well out of the Hollywood limelight, and we can’t find nothing on her. What a talented family.
|Date of Birth||1881|
|Date of Death||1945|