Thomas Graham

marlene lopez

(Graham, Thomas) Thomas Graham is professor emeritus of history at Flagler College where he has taught since 1973. A Miami native, he can trace his ancestry back to early Spanish Colonial times in Florida. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Florida and received his M.A. and B.A. from Florida State University. Silent Films in St. Augustine (University of Florida Press) takes readers to the era before Hollywood, when America’s rising motion picture industry was based on the East Coast, and early film stars like Rudolph Valentino, Ethel Barrymore, and Oliver Hardy made movies in St. Augustine, Florida. Filmmakers used St. Augustine’s striking architecture to create backdrops for movies set in exotic foreign locales. The famous Castillo de San Marcos fort, the stone houses on the narrow streets, and Henry Flagler’s Spanish Renaissance palace hotels were reimagined as Spain, Italy, France, Egypt, Arabia, South Africa, Brazil, and Hawaii. Residents of St. Augustine loved seeing film teams in action on their streets and would gather around the camera to watch the actors and marvel at the outlandish costumes. Describing the lavish sets, theatrical action, and New York movie personalities that filled St. Augustine, this book evokes an intensely creative time and place in the history of American moviemaking.