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Shirley Temple Revisited, Part 3 — 3 Comments

  1. I just found your blog and, as everyone seems to agree, it's a brilliant one! (Although reading it has been detrimental to deadlines…)

    Anyway, we all hate unsolved mysteries, so I started looking for the little girl in Square Crooks. I went for it perhaps in an unnecessarily roundabout way, but it became quickly clear that the original play had no child part in it (it was for a few years something of an amateur favourite, thanks to limited demands on sets and cast): it was added by Fox screenwriters. Many reviewers followed Mori by saying the kid was a hoot, but Film Daily called the kid "him".

    That's not the end of it! We've all known the kid's name all along, as he's listed both at ImdB and the AFI catalogue, but with wrong character name. Phillip Carson was an adult part in the original play, and appears to have been eliminated from the film, but by mistake researchers must have allotted the part to the kid actor.

    I found online a 1928 theatre programme which stated simply "Kid" (no Carson in that list) and that confirms that the part was played by…

    Jackie Combs

    A boy of fleeting minor (pun unintended) stardom, playing Herbie in Van Beuren's Smitty two-reelers. Too bad his career was virtually over by 1929, although I suspect that his filmography is far from complete.

    Square Crooks is even listed on his casting card: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Jackie-Combs-Child-Actor/dp/B005DGKG78

    The movie survives at MoMA, so here's hoping of seeing him some day…

    There, my good deed of the day!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Charles! Thanks also for your kind words about Cinedrome and — most of all — for the crackerjack detective work in tracking down the identity of little Jackie Combs. He's a cute little dickens on that casting card on Amazon. I wonder if he's still with us; the IMDb doesn't say. (I won't bother to rewrite the pertinent paragraphs, so readers will kindly switch the gender ("little girl") accordingly.

    I'm also heartened to see that Square Crooks has survived and is safely ensconced at MoMA; maybe we will get a chance to see it, and Jackie, one of these days.