Born December 4th, 1891 in Boston Massachusetts, Adele Buck, who became known to the motion picture public as Vedah Bertram, was one of the most promising rising stars of 1912. According to all reports, this lady was extremely likeable, and always got rave reviews in the films she acted in. She was loved especially by the reporters and interviewers, because of her willingness to answer any and all questions they asked.
Her father was a writer, and her parents were eventually divorced. There doesn’t seem to be much info on her mother; it is believed that she died before Vedah got into the movies.
She was educated at Wellesley College in Boston. During her time there, she knew she wanted to become an actress. Believe it or not, she had never been with a motion picture company or acted on the stage, but she knew that this is what she wanted to do! Her family was very opposed to her being an actress, because they thought that was not enough for this smart society girl.
Vedah was discovered by cowboy actor G.M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson. According to Wikipedia, he had seen her in a Boston society column, and asked her to be his leading lady. This was the break she had been wishing for. She packed her bags and left for California, leaving her whole world behind for this new adventure. She changed her name to Vedah Bertram so as not to embarrass her family. Motion pictures were quickly becoming respected, but not quite yet. It was looked upon as much worse than the stage, a very low form of art.
She became very popular in her 6 months with Anderson. She had become engaged, (not with Anderson) and planned to go to the stage eventually.
I watched her in Broncho Billy’s Last Holdup, and I must say that her movements and facial expressions were very real looking. Hers was a subtle acting. I don’t think I saw any sudden dramatic movements at all in her performance.
It leads you to wonder— where would her career have taken her if she had not died at the early age of twenty?
That’s right, this poor girl who had real promise and only acted in about 24 film shorts, got appendicitis and died after surgery at 10:00 am on August 26th, 1912, exactly 104 years ago.
As reality set in that she may not live through the surgery, Vedah revealed her real name to doctors on the promise that the information would not be released unless she did not make it. Her family had no idea of her whereabouts and were equally in the dark about her movie career.
Here is an interesting article published in the San Francisco Call announcing her death the day after, August 27th, 1912. There are some interesting details in it. She also has an entry on Find-A-Grave, a very useful site.
This interview was published in June 1912, a mere two months before her death. I like to think the interviewer felt very lucky to have been able to have met her, and I think we are lucky to have this little interview.
Let’s honor this young girl’s contribution to the movies, however short it may have been. Let us be like her, take a leap, and if you want to do something, don’t think twice, because you may never have another chance.
Chats with the Players
VEDAH BERTRAM, OF THE ESSANAY COMPANY
The subject of this interview is perhaps not as well known as some of the other leading ladies, because she has only been in the Motion Picture business for a few months, and perhaps many of our readers have not yet seen her upon the screen. From staid old scholarly aristocratic Boston to California is a pretty big jump, but it required just such a jump for Miss Bertram to join G. M. Anderson and the Western Essanay Company in Lakeside, California.
Interviewing Miss Bertram was one of the pleasantest tasks to which I have been assigned. She greeted me cordially, as she does everybody, smiled charmingly, and showed her mischievous dimples to fine advantage. She made my visit extremely pleasant and interesting. Furthermore, she was perfectly willing to answer every question I asked— which is more than I can say for some of the other players. I even dared to ask if she was married, and she promptly gave me a smiling “No.” So that you may know what an exceptionally good interviewer I am, I will say that I had the brazen effrontery to ask the young lady her age. I must say, however, that appearances favored me, and lent courage. You know that when a young woman is under twenty-five she is always willing to admit it; but after that she seldom has any birthdays.
Miss Bertram was born December 4, 1891 in the good old town of Boston. When I say that she received her education at Wellesley College I need say nothing more about her education, culture, and refinement. She is a handsomely built girl, standing five feet six inches and weighing one hundred and thirty pounds, her figure being well modeled. As is to be expected from a college-bred girl, she is extremely fond of reading. When she is not reading for pastime, she is usually painting, at which art she has considerable talent. She spends about four hours a day, on the average, in posing for the pictures, and this means that she has plenty of time for her hobbies. Her principal outdoor pastime is horseback riding, and as we all know, she is an expert horsewoman. When she and G. M. Anderson— who usually plays opposite her— are mounted on their steeds you will note that the “bad man” or the Indians are soon overtaken and that the other cowboys, or members of the sheriff’s posse, are usually left far in the rear.
“Miss Bertram,” I asked, “would you mind naming some of the great Photoplays?”
“‘The Battle,’ and ‘Broncho Billy’s Xmas Dinner,'” came the answer without hesitation.
“Would you mind naming some of the Photoplays in which you think you have done your best work?”
“Well, I am not particularly proud of any of my work, because afer viewing it on the screen I can always see where I might have done better; but I rather think that my best work was in ‘An Arizona Escapade,’ and ‘The Deputy’s Love Affair.'”
Urged on by these interesting and unhesitating answers, I asked: “Are you particularly proud of any character that you have created?”
“Well,” said Miss Bertram, thoughtfully, “it may be immodest of me to say it, but I am rather proud of one of my characters, that of a lame girl; did you see it?”
I replied that I had, and lost no time in complimenting Miss Bertram upon her exceptionally fine work in that Photoplay.
Like most players, Miss Bertram is fond of the pictures, and fond of seeing herself upon the screen. “I enjoy seeing my errors,” she said, “in order that I may perfect myself.”
Miss Bertram is of French descent. She was never on the stage; neither was she with any Motion Picture company before she joined Mr. Anderson’s company. She was not even interested in theatricals during her childhood days, and not until she entered boarding-school did her remarkable talents begin to show themselves.
Mr. Anderson had been looking for a long time for a lady to play opposite to him, and since he is very exacting and particular, and since any lady who plays opposite to him must have unusual talent and various other remarkable qualities, it is no wonder that it was many months before he found a player to suit him. When he heard of Miss Bertram he began to make investigation. Then came an interview, a trial, and you know the rest. I have been very much surprised that a young woman without any experience whatever could step into a difficult place like this and make good from the start, as Miss Bertram has. There is not one in ten thousand who could have done it.
Miss Bertram showed extremely good taste, in my judgment, in answering many of the questions I asked, but perhaps the best of all when I asked: “What do you think of The Motion Picture Story Magazine?” Her answer was: “Extremely good.”
“What department interests you most?” I inquired.
“The stories of the plays,” was the answer.
Miss Bertram is very fond of music and plays very well indeed. She is fond of the opera and always attends when she is in town. She is not interested in politics, nor in baseball, but is fond of the seashore, of swimming and of walking.
So, these are the main points I gathered from the one hour’s talk I had with Miss Bertram, and upon leaving I shook her hand cordially, and said: “Miss Bertram, I am greatly indebted to you, not only for the many interesting facts you have given me, but for one of the most charming hours I have ever spent. I shall now tell all of the great Motion Picture public about you, and assure them, as I do you now, that they are to expect great things from you in the future.”