The late W. C. Fields was an old school film actor credited with a number of quotes about Philadelphia. Does this happen to be one of them?
If you don’t like the weather in Philadelphia, just wait a minute.
Wasn’t there snow on the ground last week and today I was able to walk around in just a sweat shirt. And the previous week was identical; snow on the ground at the beginning of the week and mild temperatures at the end. And while the above quote may not be attributable to W. C. Fields, over the last two weeks it is entirely accurate.
W. C. Fields, a Philadelphia native, is probably best known today for his work in the “talkies” of the 1930s. His career in entertainment started way before then, as an accomplished juggler in vaudeville and performing in Broadway shows before starring in a number of silent comedy shorts starting around 1915.
About this time, 1914, Pearl White was making one of the first film serials, the Perils of Pauline. Hollywood was not yet the movie capital of the world, and the backdrop for these enormouly popular shorts was Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Pearl, born just across the river in New Jersey was very atheletic and for the most part, performed her own stunts.
Pearl’s most famous stunt was perfomed a just a few hundred yards from GC2CX01: Perils of Pauline. At that time, this location was part of the Reading Railroad. The stunt, if you haven’t guessed all ready, is the legendary damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks with an angry steam locomotive rapidly approaching. The trestle over Ingham’s Run is today know as Pauline’s trestle and a steam locomotive in the form of New Hope and Ivyland Railroad’s number 40, still prowls these rails.
Unfortunately, about half of the Perils of Pauline episodes were lost to the sands of time, and there is no cinematic evidence remaining to support the claim of legendary stunt. AMC’s review of this serial did not find any supporting evidence among the remaining scripts and documents. However, the faith of the good people of New Hope remains unshaken and one thing is certain, Pauline missed the train.