Stumbling into Film History (hardback)
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Stumbling into Film History (hardback)

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Stumbling into Film History

by Lon Davis


6x9 size

240 pages

ISBN 9798887713847


Lon Davis was one lucky young film buff.

Growing up in Southern California in the 1970s, he was able to spend quality time with some of the celebrated residents of the Motion Picture Country Home in Los Angeles. His great-uncle, a screenwriter and bit player since the movies’ earliest days, looked forward to Lon’s visits; so did silent film comedienne Babe London and original Stooge Larry Fine. Blessed with exceptional recall and the ability to bring those memories vividly to life, Lon shares anecdotes that are, by turns, comical, touching, and tragic. They are also true, right down to the smallest detail. As he matured, Lon became acquainted with other members of the silent film community (including the Oscar-winning historian Kevin Brownlow) and chronicles their stories as well. And finally, Lon reveals an intensely personal account of falling in love with his best friend while searching for the elusive grave of the legendary W.C. Fields.

As movie producer Pancho Kohner writes in the foreword: “Stumbling into Film History is more than a book; it’s an unforgettable adventure through the golden age of cinema, with the best guide you could ask for.”


Lon Davis is an author, editor, documentarian, and lecturer on film history. His first published book was Silent Lives:100 Biographies of the Silent Film Era (2008). He and his wife, Debra Davis (née LaCoe), co-authored King of the Movies: Francis X. Bushman (2009), and Ma and Pa Kettle on Film (2021). In addition to editing two hundred academic books on the performing arts, Lon and Debra released two volumes of essays: Stooges Among Us (2008) and CHASE! A Tribute to the Keystone Cops (2020). Debra also published a roman à clef entitled Flirtation Act: The Story of a Boy, a Girl, and Vaudeville (2016). Lon and Debra’s documentary film This is Francis X. Bushman (2021) is available on Blu-ray from Flicker Alley. Lon’s latest book, Stumbling Into Film History, is comprised of newly written and revised essays detailing his experiences with various denizens of early Hollywood.


“Lon Davis, Champion of the Silent Cinema.”

—Thomas Gladysz, Founding Director of the Louise Brooks Society

James L. Nebaur review:

Podcast hosted by Broadway performer Richard Skipper:

Chatter 330 Interview with Lon Davis: