The JolivetsA Family Touched by Fate


Apr 11, 2001
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Thanks to the great kindness of Rita Jolivet's nephew, Lawrence "Jolly" Jolivet, the stories and photos found at this link are made available for those everywhere who study this ship and remember her people. Thanks also to Mike and Jim for bringing their stories to life.
http://www.revdma2.com/Rita.html
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Speaking on behalf of both myself and Mike, you are welcome and thank you for doing such an excellent job setting up the site for us! We'd also like to go on record as saying the Jolivet and Vernon families have been the absolute nicest we've ever worked with. They have shared information freely, and can in both cases be described as "classy people." We would like to thank Lawrence Jolivet's daughter Mary for 'getting the ball rolling,' so to speak, by contacting us and arranging for our phone meetings with her father, and thank Mr. Jolivet for being so remarkably candid an interview subject- he did not shy away from any question Mike asked him over the last year, nor did he ever give any 'off the record' quotes speaking on difficult topics. It is very seldom that so uniformly gracious an extended family pops up in the research world, and there are not words adequate to express how much we appreciate all they have done. We are certain that once they see your site they too will be pleased.

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More, of course, is forthcoming so your site will soon need updating
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Thanks again for the excellent job.

Jim Kalafus and Mike Poirier
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Sorry I ran out of room for Audrey Pearl's delightful appraisal of Rita- always so fascinating to know how survivors crossed paths later on in time. Here is the little clip from the article about Rita, one can almost picture that special encounter:
"She maintained a place in Monte Carlo where friends came to call on her. Amy Pearl and her daughter Audrey, survivors of the Lusitania, were among the visitors. Anthony Cunningham interviewed Audrey ( now Mrs. Hugh Lawson-Johnston ) for his upcoming book on shipwreck survivors. She fondly recalled the actress, " My mother and I often went to visit a survivor called Rita Jolivet who was an actress. Believe it or not she made two films about the disaster. She lived in Monte Carlo at the time and was retired by then. She was utterly charming. "
 

Jim Kalafus

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We'll use that as the introductory segment in the sequel. Have always wanted to pen a sequel with the Roman numeral II in the title, and hopefully now shall have the chance to do so. Have, within the last 20 or so minutes, been put on the trail of some potentially enlightening documents pertaining to Inez Vernon (photo on right in my previous post) which may well end up as part of an article with II promenantly featured.
 

Jim Kalafus

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This arrived too late to submit to Shelley's site as a curiosity piece- I recently picked up a piece of luggage which was aboard the final COMPLETED voyage of the Lusitania, which will serve as the filing cabinet for my glassplate negatives and 1915 newspapers.

It may be stretching 'fanciful' to the breaking point to imagine this trunk comingling with the "Not Wanted on Voyage" baggage of Beatrice Witherbee, WS Hodges, Marconi and others with 'last voyage' links.....

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K

Kevin Spaans

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Hey Jim,

I just wanted to include my own glowing reviews of the article you and Mike wrote. I recieved the hard copy of it just the other day and it has proven a most interesting and well-written read, despite the damage induced by a overzealous and indolent editor, that is...which I may not have noticed had you not pointed it out to me...but the less said of that the better!

I know how much you two have worked on the piece and it shows, for it seems no stone has been left unturned.

As my high school English teacher used to say, Brava! I am glad to see it has been added to Shelley's site for others to enjoy.

All the best,
~Kevin
 

Jim Kalafus

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Kevin: When the title of an article contains a typo, (Inez "Joliet" Vernon) one tends to notice more quickly if one is the person who wrote it
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Thanks for the kind words. 9 months were spent compiling the article and, thankfully, more information keeps coming to light. Additional essays will be sent to Shelley's site over the next few months.

The next article is being formatted as we speak, so to speak. We both hope that it proves to be as enjoyable to research and write as this one was.
 

Jim Kalafus

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RITA JOLIVET AD: Here is a pre-sinking ad for Waw Waw Sauce, containing an unexpected endorsement by Rita Jolivet

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I had to cut some of the copy to make room for this portion. It is tempting to speculate that the "Young English Singer" mentioned at the top of the text was Rita's Lusitania Victim brother in law George Vernon, who had been a singer and who, at this point, was working as an importer's agent in NYC- Waw Waw was distributed by St James Importers, of West Broadway NYC. Nepotism? Or perhaps Rita just liked the sauce.
 

Peter Kelly

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Nov 19, 2003
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Hi all, especially Jim & Mike,

I just want to say how much I enjoyed the Jolivet/Witherbee site, the content of which stunned me.

The articles and the photo albums are truly amazing and reflect the amount of time and hard work both Jim & Mike put into the project. It certainly sets new standards for Lusitania related articles.

Well done boys!!!

Peter
 

Jim Kalafus

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Thank you, Peter. We both appreciate your continued support, and look forward to meeting you when we are in Ireland and the UK. Thanks, too, for allowing us the use of your cemetery photos- we shall certainly be glad to repay the favor at some point.
 
May 12, 2005
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The Poirier-Kalafus article was fascinating and thorough, solidly-based and well-paced. And the website is attractive, as one would expect from Shelley Dziedzic.

It's good to have more information on Rita Jolivet. I know most readers here are interested in her because of her Lusitania experience but there are theatre and silent film buffs who are also glad to have an expansive biography available.

Jolivet was a well-respected, popular star and although her work as an actress has been eclipsed by her Lusitania notoriety, she deserves to have her extraordinary career documented. I look forward to learning more about her from the many top-notch researchers now at work on Lusitania's passengers/crew.

I have an interview with Rita in 1935. Asked how the Lusitania disaster changed her life, she was very defensive, revealing the visceral impact it had on her even 20 years later:

"How do you imagine it changed me? No, you cannot imagine. And I cannot tell you how much it changed me. There are not words."

(Thanks to Pedro Fernandi for translating from the Italian)
 

Jim Kalafus

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Soon to be added to Shelley's site are several "new" photos of Rita Jolivet and her second husband, Count de Cippico
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including the full version of this one, showing "Margherita" as she was then calling herself, posing with her WW1 "Camouflage Car" which she used as a prop during her Thrift Stamp drive.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Countess de Cippico, in a scene from One Law For Both (1917)
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Rita, upon her marriage, grandly announced that she was forsaking the stage and screen and, henceforth, would happily play the role of Wife. This retirement, as expected did not last long.

The still from which this image came can be documented through the editor's notes on back. It was used in the Sunday Supplement of an unnamed newspaper to advertise the screening of One Law For Both at "Miller's" on 1/27/1918. Nearly three years later it was pulled from the file and recycled to promote Rita's film Teodora: The Slave Girl (for which there must not have been a still provided) again showing at "Miller's" on 12/25/1920.
 

Jim Kalafus

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RITA RESURFACES: In addition to The Unafraid, and Teodora, which Randy listed as surviving Jolivet films back in 2001, another work has surfaced. Her 1926 work, Phi-Phi, a screwball comedy set in ancient Greece, was screened to excellent reviews during the summer of 2003. Hopefully a print of it will migrate from Portugal to NYC at some point.

Meryl Streep? An interesting casting choice. We've discussed whom we would like to see portray Rita on film but have never come up with a conclusive choice.
 
May 12, 2005
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Great news about the existence of another Jolivet film. I wish I’d get lucky and find just one Dorothy Gibson movie! I would assume Phi-Phi was one of Rita’s last pictures? Did she do any after the coming of sound?

I think Selma Hyak, who was fantastic as Frida Kahlo, would be a good casting choice for Rita.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Rita as Turandot. 1914
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"I strive to qualify for Princess Turandot by living in an atmosphere of chinoiserie. Oriental silks and brocades, perfumes and pictures, dinners a la chinoise, practice in Chinese gestures and dances for which I take lessons from natives, fill all my thoughts and time....."

The photos of Rita as Turandot have a strangely Beatrice Arthurian quality to them- the Colleen Moore/Louise Brooks "Oriental" bob did little to flatter the more full figured late-Edwardian woman.
 

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