Way Down East (1920)

Passed   |    |  Drama, Romance

Way Down East (1920) Poster

A naive country girl is tricked into a sham marriage by a wealthy womanizer, then must rebuild her life despite the taint of having borne a child out of wedlock.

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  • D.W. Griffith and Lillian Gish in Way Down East (1920)
  • Lillian Gish in Way Down East (1920)
  • Lillian Gish "Way Down East" 1920 UA
  • Lillian Gish "Way Down East" 1920 UA
  • D.W. Griffith in Way Down East (1920)
  • Lillian Gish and Lowell Sherman in Way Down East (1920)

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1 October 2006 | itsfritz
Trivia about extra in cast
Louise Lawson, an extra in this film, was murdered in New York City in 1924. Her killing, which remains unsolved, was one of two "Butterfly Murders" (the other was Broadway actress Dot King) tied to alleged blackmail plots.

It has been speculated that Lawson and King were involved with underworld figures who attempted to extort payments from the women's wealthy, married lovers.

Lawson was a young woman from Texas who came to New York and was a popular performer for the Zigfield Follies until she made her one and only movie appearance in the 1920 version of Way Down East. For two days work as an extra, she earned $20.

Lawson was found tied up in her bed and had been strangled with one of her scarves. The investigation into her death revealed that while she earned $75 per week as a performer in the Follies, she was routinely depositing several hundred dollars each week -- far in excess of anything she could have earned as an actress or performer.

Lawson is buried her hometown of Walnut Springs, Texas.

King never made any movies, but appeared in "Broadway Brevities of 1920" which played 105 performances at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. She was found dead in her apartment on West 57th Street. Her killer attempted to strangle her, but she was killed by an overdose of chloroform.

Sources: "Which was the real Louise Lawson?" Syracuse Herald, March 16, 1924. "Mystery Beauty who earned $245 and spent $100,000" International Features Syndicate, March 1924.

Both sources include a photograph of "Way Down East" featuring Lawson as an extra in the background while Lillian Gish dances.

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