Popular Players Contest – 1912

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Wayyy back in January of 1912, a contest was announced in Motion Picture Story Magazine. It was a contest to find which actor was the favorite of its readers! The contest initially was supposed to last a few months, but such a response was received that the contest lasted a full FIVE months! It was so exciting to follow the leaders in the poll as they were published in part each month. As they said numerous times during the contest, “You can’t applaud your favorite photoplayer, but you can vote!”

The first update only had a few leaders. It seems that Alice Joyce was the favorite here!

Pop Player 1
F-Law seems to be second.

It seems early on, the magazine realized they may have bit off more than they could chew. There was such a response, that they complained in every letter how many responses there were.

Pop Player 2
Notice the dashing Maurice Costello in the first place this time, pushing Alice to third. For shame!

They even tried to publish ‘coupons’ as they called them so they wouldn’t get so many single votes, the coupons being worth 50 or more votes. Didn’t work.

Toward the end of the contest, there were pages and pages of published verse and praise from the readers. It really is a beautiful thing to see all the love given to those early actors and actresses, particularly Alice Joyce. She stood out to me, because it seemed the letters about her were the nicest, most loving.

Pop Player 3
Maurice, still in the lead! Go, Man, go!

In the above picture, you can see a couple of the short poems sent in for the actors G.M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson, that famed cowboy, and Earl Williams.

Tangent time: Do you ever look at the letters section of an old magazine and look for your own hometown? I do. Sometime addresses were published, and I always look! It’s neat to look up the addresses on Google Maps. Just doing some century-later creeping, don’t mind me. :End Tangent

Pop Player 4
Uh, oh! Looks like Mr. Costello is in second, suddenly surpassed by Mae Hotely! Who will be the winner!?

Do you see how the contest department was trying so hard to lessen their workload? You brought it on yourself, boys! Did you think this was going to be a polite little contest? NO WAY! Not the Motion Picture Public!

And the time to learn the winner is nearing! An Avalanche of Votes were received, Millions of Votes! (at least that’s what it said at least one time).

Like I said, boys, you brought it on yourself! Stop complaining!

And finally! The moment you’ve all be waiting for! The FINAL RESULTS! Let’s get some fanfare here, a drumroll, please and the winner is……


Pop Player 5
1st Prize Maurice Costello! Whew! You did it!

Maurice Costello of Vitagraph!

Maurice Costello
He looks pleased with himself. You shouldn’t have!

There you have it! The winner was Maurice Dimples Costello.

Oh, what’s that you ask? Did the players win anything? I nearly forgot!

Pop Player Award 1
They really had no idea at first.
Pop Player Award 2
Really, they didn’t.

They did know what they’d give all the others. I wonder if any of those plaques they gave out are still in existence? Maybe? Perhaps? Hopefully. I also think it’s marvelous that the actors and actresses received all the poems that were submitted to the magazine. Let them deal with that, I’m sure they were thinking. Probably. Probably not.

As you can see, as noted in the last paragraph, they were worried about something that didn’t even cross my mind. Hardly any of the actors tried to cheat by sending in their own votes. Isn’t that wonderful? We can rest in the fact that Mr. Maurice Costello won fair and square.

So what did the first prize win? It’s going to be something really special, they claimed.

I assumed that they would announce the grand prize in the July. They didn’t. The grand prize, as far as I can see, is a mystery. Sorry to let you down, folks. They probably couldn’t think of anything good enough.

I had such fun reading about this! I’m only sorry that I was unable to contribute to the contest!

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5 years ago

I love all your writing but this is one of my favorites! The actual articles from the magazine are like stepping back in time and just make this that much more unique!! I am like you and want to know what the first place winner got that was super special. Maybe somehow we can find out ?

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