Was Gloria Pressman a child star who appeared as part of the "Our Gang" comedies and in several of the most iconic films of the late 1920s and early 1930s...or not?
I often find several other interesting stories I want to write about when I research a particular post for Midwest Guest.
Other story ideas just don't pan out.
Such was the case with Gloria Pressman.
I recently wrote a story about Cleveland's Lake View Cemetery for the Discovering Ohio blog and found Pressman's name on several lists of famous folks buried there.
I'm a big fan of silent and early sound films, so stories about Pressman as an original "Our Gang" cast member, her appearance in the first talking movie (The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson), and appearances in well known films of the era like The Virginian (with Gary Cooper) and Moby Dick (with John Barrymore) caught my eye.
I found references to Pressman, her reported stage name of Mildred Jackson, and her burial place at Lake View Cemetery in the historical trail guide published by the cemetery and in the book Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio.
I recognize names of early child stars like Jackie Cooper, Jane Withers, Shirley Temple, Baby Peggy, Freddie Bartholomew, Jackie Coogan and "Our Gang" cast members like Spanky McFarlane, Darla Hood and Matthew "Stymie" Beard. I didn't recognize Gloria Pressman or Mildred Jackson, although child actress Mary Ann Jackson played a major "Our Gang" character during the very late 1920s and early 1930s.
There were entries for every other person I considered including in my Discovering Ohio article at the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, a Web site by Case Western Reserve University and the Western Reserve Historical Society, but not a word about Pressman.
The Internet Movie Database had no entry for Pressman or for a Mildred Jackson who would have been a very young girl during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Pressman/Jackson also failed to appear on cast lists for The Jazz Singer, The Virginian, or Moby Dick.
Meanwhile, I found numerous mentions of Pressman as a child star on sites like Dead Ohio and in brochures, press releases, and newspaper articles about Lake View Cemetery or history themed events sponsored there by various civic and tourism groups.
A possible clue to the mystery of Gloria Pressman surfaced at Find A Grave, a crowd-sourced site I don't consider particularly authoritative, but often useful because of the gravestone photos submitted by readers.
Find A Grave noted that conflicting evidence exists about Pressman and said some feel someone invented her movie star biography after her death. Find A Grave was the only place I found mentioning the controversy surrounding Pressman's biography, but it failed to prove, or disprove, her background as a movie star.
Disappointed that I couldn't verify what seemed to be a fun story about an old-time movie star from Cleveland, I found another name for my list of famous burials in the cemetery for my story.
The Web makes it easy to find, and pass along, information.
It's not always easy to make sure the information you share is particularly accurate.
© Dominique King 2011 All rights reserved