Francis X. Bushman: a biography and filmography
Before Burt Lancaster and Charlton Heston, before Bogart and Gable, even before Rudolph Valentino, there was Francis X. Bushman. Named the "King of the Movies" at San Franciscos Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, Bushman virtually created the Hollywood model of the male heartthrob that hundreds of others have sought to imitate over the years. Born in 1883, Bushman had his first acting jobs in stock companies in his hometown of Baltimore. His film career started in 1911 when he starred in a one-reeler entitled His Friends Wife. Over the next seven years, he became one of the top stars in movies. But his divorce from his wife, Josephine, and subsequent remarriage to leading lady, Beverly Bayne, effectively ended his career. He did manage a triumphant return to the big screen as Messala in Ben Hur (1926), but mostly thereafter he had smaller parts or was on stage. From contemporary sources and conversations with many of Bushmans surviving relatives, this is the compelling tale of one of Hollywoods first superstars and how his career laid the foundation for the matinee idols who followed.