Mack Sennett

Mack Sennett

According to "The History of Sherlock Holmes" (E-GO Enterprises, c. 1975) Sennett played the part of Sherlock Holmes in 11 films from 1911 to 1913.

Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945." Pages 986-992. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.

Formed Keystone in August 1912 with Adam Kessel and Charles Bauman. The company was originally a production subsidiary of the New York Motion Picture Company.

Left Triangle and Keystone in 1917.

Mack always consider himself a comedian and often appeared in his films. The actors of the company, on other hand, thought he was terrible on camera and always tried to dissuade him from appearing.

Oddly, Sennett and his key competitor, Hal Roach, were both distributed by the same company, Pathe. This arrangement worked to the detriment of both producers while it lined the pockets of the French firm, which was able to play the comedy short giants off each other for years. By the time Pathe's U.S. fortunes declined considerably in 1925, Sennett was in far worse shape than Roach, who had valuable re-issue rights to Harold Lloyd's library, and the wildly popular "Our Gang" series gained him a lucrative distribution deal with MGM (Lloyd, his former associate, jumped to Paramount). Sennett had far less to fall back on. Although he had a well-deserved reputation for discovering talent, being able to keep them under contract was another matter. His inability to hang on to major stars became the stuff of legend. Equally problematic, his comedy style was seriously outdated by the mid-1920s and his most promising recent star, Harry Langdon, quickly departed in an ego-driven rage. Sennett's studio would be sold off in a 1933 bankruptcy and morph into Herbert J. Yates' Republic Pictures (also see Nat Levine,

Off screen pseudonym: Walter Terry

Portrayed by Robert Preston in the Broadway musical "Mack and Mabel" (1974). Book by Michael Stewart, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman.

Sennett was an inveterate chewer of tobacco, resulting in stained teeth.

Was the first producer to hire stars Charles Chaplin, Fred Mace and Ford Sterling in the movies, and while both Mabel Normand and Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle had worked in front of cameras before Keystone was established - Mabel at D.W. Griffith 1910-1912 and Roscoe at Selig 1909-1910 - it was during their employment at Sennett that they rose to stardom. Sennett eventually lost every one of them, however, always because they couldn't get on terms about honorarium.

Won an Oscar in 1935 for his great influence on film comedy.