elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
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elisa_rolle

Wilna Hervey & Nan Mason

Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason were artists, actresses and occasional house painters, staying together for 59 years. 6’3” Wilna found some success in silent films, playing rugged mountain girls and other hardy characters. She met Nan, the daughter of her frequent co-star Dan Mason, on a film set in 1920 and soon after they were never parted. From Woodstock, New York to Carmel, California, Wilna and Nan danced, sculpted, painted and played their way through many of America’s bohemian artist’s colonies; Wilna studied art with Winold Reiss, and Nan performed music for Edward Weston and Johan Hagemeyer. You’ll find a biography of Wilna (with plentiful mentions of Nan) at the Betzwood Movie Database.

Wilna Hervey (October 3, 1894 – March 6, 1979) was an American silent film actress and artist.

Known to friends and family as "Willie," Wilna Hervey was the only child of the marriage of William Russell Hervey and Anna Van Horn Traphagen. She grew up in affluent circumstances at Beach Ninth Street, Far Rockaway.

During her youth in late 1910s, Hervey studied at the Art Students League in New York City, Winold Reiss' studio at 4 Christopher Street, New York City, and in Woodstock, New York during the summer of 1918. Her acting career began with a few silent movie roles at the Vitagraph Studios in Brooklyn as early as 1916; for her artistic pursuits Hervey adopted the professional name "Wilna Wilde."

In 1919, she was cast in the role of "The Powerful Katrinka" in The Toonerville Trolley silent film series based on Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Folks comic strip, which was produced by Siegmund Lubin's Betzwood Motion Picture Studios in Pennsylvania. Much of the slapstick comedy in the series revolves around Hervey's imposing physical stature—she stood 6 feet 3 inches—in contrast with her diminutive male co-stars.


Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason were artists, actresses and occasional house painters, staying together for 59 years. 6’3” Wilna found some success in silent films, playing rugged mountain girls and other hardy characters. She met Nan, the daughter of her frequent co-star Dan Mason, on a film set in 1920 and soon after they were never parted. From Woodstock, NY to Carmel, California, Wilna and Nan danced, sculpted, painted and played their way through many of America’s bohemian artist’s colonies.


Peter A. Juley & Sons/Archives of American Art. Nan Mason, American painter, 1896-1982, at work in her studio, Woodstock, New York


Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Nan Mason and Wilna Hervey in Italy, 1926


While Hervey was in Pennsylvania working on the production, she met the painter Nan Mason (1896-1982), the daughter of her co-star Dan Mason, who played the Skipper. Nan and Hervey became life partners, remaining together until Hervey's death in 1979.

When the Toonerville Trolley films ceased production in 1921, Hervey and Dan Mason reprised a version of their characters for the Plum Center Comedies, an unofficial knockoff comedy series produced by the Paul Gerson Pictures Corporation in California. This time Hervey played the "Amazonian baggage smasher" Tillie Overton, who was clearly inspired by the Powerful Katrinka.

Around 1919-1920, Hervey's father bought her a studio in Bearsville, New York. She and Nan Mason split their time between painting and farming in Woodstock, New York, and purusing acting opportunities in California, from 1922 to 1929. They became popular members of the Woodstock artists community, and both found some artistic success there during the 1960s. During the harsh New York winters they also spent time in Carmel, California and Manatee County, Florida.

After years of declining health in the 1970s, Hervey died at the Manatee Memorial Hospital near her Florida home on March 6, 1979. She is buried at Artists Cemetery, Woodstock, New York. Hervey's personal papers, which include an unpublished manuscript of her memoirs, are held at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilna_Hervey

Further Readings:

Under the North Light: The Life and Work of Maud and Miska Petersham by Lawrence Webster
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: WoodstockArts; 1 edition (November 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0967926866
ISBN-13: 978-0967926865
Amazon: Under the North Light: The Life and Work of Maud and Miska Petersham

The unusual and enduring partnership of Maud and Miska Petersham will intrigue everyone who is interested in the integration of life and work, values and livelihood. Maud and Miska met when they were young, aspiring artists working in their first New York City jobs. Maud, a 1912 Vassar graduate, had deep Yankee roots; Miska immigrated from Hungary in 1912 after rigorous study at the Royal National School for Applied Arts in Budapest. They met while working at a commercial design studio in New York City and married in 1917. They moved to Woodstock, New York, in 1920.
Pioneers in a golden age of children's book publishing in America, the Petershams were among a handful of people who set the direction for illustrated children's books as we know them today. They worked closely with such legendary editors as Louise Seaman Bechtel and May Massee, and with such inventive printers as Charles Stringer and William Glaser, greatly advancing the art of the illustrated children's book. Under their studio's north light they produced more than a hundred books, as illustrators or author/illustrators, during a career that spanned five decades.

Theirs was a deep collaboration of complementary backgrounds and temperaments, and a marriage that created a warm and welcoming household. Their books were not only immensely popular with children, but also admired by critics, librarians and tastemakers. In the years before the founding of the Caldecott Medal, their contributions were recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). Four of the Petershams' books were selected for inclusion in the highly competitive AIGA exhibitions in the late 1920s and early 1930s. During the 1940s the Petershams won a Caldecott Honor (in 1942, for An American ABC) and a Caldecott Medal (in 1946, for The Rooster Crows.)

The abiding value of their work and the principles they espoused are the subjects of this book.

More Real Life Romances at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance


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Tags: gay classics, real life romance
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