Long before the Disney movie Newsies (1992) and the subsequent Broadway musical, there was a real-life newsie acting in the movies – George L. Morgan. This illustrated article is from the Seattle Star in Chronicling America.
As the article explains, in 1913, Morgan – a 13 year old newsboy – took the leading role in Jimmy’s Princess, which featured players from “the first motion picture company composed exclusively of children.” Sadly, the film is long since lost.
However, I did discover another newspapering connection! The article notes that Morgan was the grandnephew of Rev. George Lorimer, “who was at one time a well-known actor.” Lorimer was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and travelled to London at a young age where he reportedly assisted his stepfather, a stage manager at the Theatre Royal, and it was here that he began acting. Lorimer moved to the US in 1856, with the hope of furthering his acting career. Instead, after graduating from Georgetown College, Kentucky, he ordained as a Baptist pastor and dedicated his life to serving the Baptist church, and writing. Lorimer married Belle Burford and they had one daughter, Edith, and one son, George Horace Lorimer. And this is where the newspapering connection comes in …
George Horace Lorimer was a journalist, author and “one of America’s most important editorial figures.”* In 1898, Lorimer went from being a reporter on the Boston Post to literary editor at the Saturday Evening Post, but within weeks was appointed editor-in-chief of the then small, obscure publication. Over the next couple of decades, Lorimer took the circulation of the Saturday Evening Post from 1,800 to over 1 million. Under his editorship, the magazine published stories and essays by many popular writers. In 1903, for example, the Post published a serialized version of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. Lorimer was aslo responsible for hiring then-unknown artist Norman Rockwell as an illustrator. Rockwell’s work, and association with the publication, is now legendary.
I wonder if Lorimer ever saw his nephew’s cinematic appearance in Jimmy’s Princess?
* From George Horace Lorimer’s obituary in Time, November 1937, Vol. 30, No.18, p66.