Motion Pictures

In the spring of 1916 the Omaha World-Herald commemorated its move from 1412 Farnam Street to 216 South Fifteenth Street with a number of special events, including a motorcycle race from Omaha to Kansas City, a human fly performance, and most spectacularly, the filming of a “photoplay” or movie, Chandler Trimble’s A Young Man’s Country. The stars were two young Omaha women, Pauline Elsasser and Helen McMahon, who won the honor in a contest sponsored by the World-Herald. The leading man was Roy Hilliard.

The May 21, 1916, World-Herald announced: “The camera man is on the ground, having driven from Chicago in his own automobile, and has brought with him several forty-five thousand candle power lights which will be used in making some of the interior scenes such as the press room of the World-Herald, the dining room of the Fontenelle hotel and some scenes in some of the most handsome residences in the city. . . . [About forty scenes, chiefly around the University of Nebraska campus, were shot in Lincoln.]

“One of the most pathetic scenes in the play will be photographed Monday. the scene in which Miss Elsasser in the character of Beth applies for a position as reporter on the World-Herald, having been obliged to leave the university owing to her father’s business failure, and the fact that she had ‘made good’ on the college paper gave her the idea that she would be successful on a great metropolitan newspaper like the World-Herald. Whether she does or does not is shown in the picture.”

Elsasser and McMahon were also the centers of attention at a subsequent “movie ball” at the Omaha Auditorium. Unfortunately, the motorcycle race and human fly performance were less successful. Unfavorable road conditions between Omaha and Kansas City disrupted the race. The fly failed in his attempt to climb the Brandeis building but finally on June 15 gained the top of the Woodmen of the World building, signaling the close of the World-Herald celebration of its new quarters.

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