Thanks to Twitter and my friend Cliff Aliperti of Immortal Ephemera (and occasionally blogging with me at Inherited Values — nudge, nudge, Cliff lol), I was alerted to a fabulous post by author Michael G. Ankerich (I now want every single one of his books!). Ankerich’s post is right up my alley — right down to the word “tinkle” lol
Olive Borden: The Sybil Tinkle Connection includes everything I love…
Beautiful female silent film stars, the joy and anguish of impeccable obsessive research, a case of mistaken (or misleading) identity which is only partially solved… For now.
Ankerich may have proved that Olive Borden was not Sybil Tinkle (despite the perpetuation of the story long after it was corrected), but so many questions remain…
Why does mythinformation continue to spread? What is it about this legend that keeps it going? Why the mix-up in the first place? Accident or on purpose?
And, most importantly, whatever happened to Sybil Tinkle?
I want to know because I’ve fallen in love with her.
Young Sybil was said to be the first girl in Timpson, Texas, to smoke and “often painted outdoors, clad only in lingerie.” After a disastrous marriage in the early 1920s, Sybil ran away to California where she attempted to break into the movies. “Once in Hollywood, she wrote notes and sent portraits but, after a while, the family lost touch with her–forever!” (I say, has anyone ever looked at her husband?!)
From there, the Tinkle trail runs dry. A tasteless pun, perhaps; but it also captures the essence of things for me… Researching through old newspapers and other ephemera is rather like CSI work: you can only work off of the evidence left behind and, as time passes, it’s much harder.
Kudos to you, Mr. Ankerich, for the work you’ve done, for the women you’ve introduced me to — and for leaving just enough of a mystery for me to become obsessed with.
Thought you may find the following interesting:
I started searching again and found a few new things. First the 1926 “The Film Daily” lists the following:
Sybil Tinkle, from Texas, will play the leading role in Banner’s “Old Dad.” Sybil Tinkle, — what a lot of wise cracks could be “cracked” on that name but they say she’s a beauty so we think Sybil Tinkle is a great name.
The only “Old Dad” silent I can find was in 1921, not 1926. Banner is Banner Productions. This helps prove again that Olive and Sybil were two different people since Olive was at Fox at the time and had numerous reviews of her own in the same issue of “The Film Daily”. I think the film was tanked and Sybil did not want tell her family back in Texas.
I also found an earlier article from 1926 that states Sybil changed her name to Olive and would be starring in “Three Bad Men”. This would be the earliest mention of the mix up.
San Augustine Tribune. (San Augustine, Tex.), Vol. 18, No. 28, Ed. 1 Thursday, October 14, 1926
Another article is even more interesting:
The Victoria Advocate April 26, 1928
It reads “School mates of Olive Borden who are living here (TX), say she got her first big chance in the movies through her close resemblance to an older star of the silver sheet, who had the same name. The original Olive according to the story had said she would retire as soon as she found a suitable successor.This person, she decided was Sibyl Tinkle, the East Texas school girl”.
It even sounds like a fabricated story someone would make up to pretend they are someone famous. Who was this “older Olive” The real Olive Borden? This just gets stranger and stranger!
The way I found this was by looking at the census again and seeing that Sybil was actually spelled Sibyl. Maybe a death record search under this spelling will yield something.
Thanks! I’m looking forward to some post-holiday research!