Mack Sennett (Michael Sinnott)
Photos with Mack Sennett
BiographyRichmond, Québec, Canada
His parents were Irish immigrants. When he was 17 his parents moved the family to East Berlin, Connecticut, and he became a laborer at American Iron Works, a job he continued when they moved to Northampton, Massachusetts. He happened to meet Marie Dressler in 1902, and through her went to New York to try for a career on the stage. He managed some burlesque and chorus-boy parts. In 1908 he began acting in Biograph films. His work there lasted until 1911; it included being directed by D.W. Griffith and acting with Mary Pickford and Mabel Normand. By 1910 he was directing. Read more... 1912 he and two bookies-turned-producers--Adam Kessel and Charles Bauman--formed the Keystone Film Co. Sennett brought Mabel Normand with him and soon added Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Chester Conklin Al St. John, Slim Summerville, Minta Durfee and Charles Chaplin (who was directed by Sennett in 35 comedies during 1914). He told Chaplin, "We have no scenario--we get an idea, then follow the natural sequence of events until it leads up to a chase, which is the essence of our comedy." To the slapstick chase gags of the Keystone Kops were gradually added the Bathing Beauties and the Kid Komedies. In 1915 he, Griffith and Thomas H. Ince formed Triangle Films. Comedy moved from improvisational slapstick to scripted situations. Stars like Bobby Vernon and Gloria Swanson joined him. In 1917 he formed Mack Sennett Comedies, distributing through Paramount--and later Pathe--and launching another star, Harry Langdon. When Sennett returned to Paramount in 1932, he produced shorts featuring W.C. Fields and musical ones with Bing Crosby. After directing his only Buster Keaton film, The Timid Young Man (1935), he returned to Canada a pauper. In 1937 he was awarded a special Oscar--"to the master of fun, discoverer of stars . . . for his lasting contribution to the comedy technique of the screen."