Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sepia Saturday 165 : Auntie Dorothy and Uncle Hopalong


Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week is entitled "Group Portrait Of An Unknown Family" and we are therefore celebrating the "unknowns" in my photographic collection. Anyone who collects old family photographs will have a significant category tagged as "unknown" : photographs that could possibly be of Auntie Florrie as a young girl, or that woman from the Winding Shed that Uncle Wilf once had a passion for, or Elspeth's cousin from Crewe, or Herbert Sidebottom during his "difficult" period. There is always something intriguing about these "unknowns", a fascination based not on who they are but on who they might be.

And if our imagination needs any encouragement in its search for an answer to that "who could that have been?" question, we can always turn to facial recognition. There are several free, on-line systems that can be used and one of the easiest is Google Image Search. Once you get to the Google Image Search page, simply press the little camera icon and then upload the relative you would like to recognise. I did this with my unknown lady of the 1920s and, low and behold, it turns out to be none other than the silent film star Dorothy Sebastian. Auntie Dorothy, as I now like to call her, will be remembered as a star of several silent films including "Our Dancing Daughters'" and "Our Blushing Brides". She never really made it into the talkies era and I suspect that might have been because of her thick Bradford accent (I know Wikipedia says she was born in Alabama and lived in New York, but you know how unreliable Wiki can be).

Auntie Dotty eventually married William Boyd who you will remember as he was the actor who played Hopalong Cassidy in the films in the 1930s. Auntie Dotty and Uncle Willie sadly divorced after a few years, but it happens in the best of families doesn't it?

The big surprise in all this is that there have been no family stories passed down about these famous relatives of mine. Just that old crumpled photograph hidden away in a shoe box. Untitled and Unknown. How lucky I am that facial recognition is now so effective that I could track long-lost Auntie Dorothy down (having rejected the other possible Google matches which I have to confess included a mug-shot of a criminal in the Texas prison system, a copy-typist from Bogota, and an alabaster statue on a fountain in Brussels).

Get to know other unknowns by going to the Sepia Saturday Blog and following the links you will find there.

27 comments:

  1. I don't often laugh out loud when reading blogs. This one had me chuckling especially the match with an alabaster statue :0

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  2. That is an interesting post especially the way to identify unknowns. I can't help wondering about that system. There are people who look alike but are not related. Fancy finding a star in your family.

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  3. Alan,Your Family Album Is Sprinkled With Star Dust!

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  4. Oh, this has to be a fun way to spend a rainy Saturday!

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  5. I just wrote a post with the real story about Auntie Dotty who actually was the Texas Convict. Too bad the story is lost forever.

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  6. And a beautiful woman she was too. Old Hopalong missed out here. I must try that google image search.

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  7. I continue to be amazed at your reports of cutting edge ideas, Alan. This is almost as good as a time machine.

    I tried out this new Google feature recently with an image from Peter's blog and was startled when Google's algorithms found that a snapshot of his mother in the snow was the equivalent to photos of bathtubs and lavatories!

    How lucky that Aunt Dotty has such a distinctive face!

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  8. Google Images returns some very interesting results from your uploaded photos. I blogged about one that I uploaded last summer at http://allmyfamilytrees.blogspot.com/2012/08/today-is-society-saturday-and-am-i-glad.html. Not results I expected to see!

    I'm happy you were successful in finding Auntie Dotty at last. But I think you should take another look at the Texas convict and Brussels statue to rule them out before adding her to your tree.

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  9. How curious that no stories were passed down about her. Thank you for the information about Google Image Search - can't wait!

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  10. She is quite beautiful, and your post was a lot of fun. I'll give Google Image Search a whirl. Thanks, Alan.

    Kathy M.

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  11. Delusion can be a good friend! I like your story and how you make it very rational.

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  12. Yes well I can see the resemblance! Mind you I'm due a vivit to the optician's. Alan this is such a creative idea and of course in truth I'm just jealous that you have a film star in your family tree.

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  13. Ah, resemblance? Sure- okay! But surely these are lovely ladies that by all means should not ever have gone unknown by any means! Also, I am so honored to know you have such famous blood running through your family! Ha! Ha!

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  14. Hoorah! Someone mentioned facial recognition at last. Picasa keeps trying to do it for me but making my daughter me and vice versa which is deeply troubling for my daughter.

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  15. Wonderful! I have one program that organizes my photos that pulls out all of the faces for me, cropped out, and I am amazed that it can do that. Actually if i give it one face it will find all the other faces that match it in the many different files. I have no use for it right now but maybe someday. I vaguely remember Hop a long Cassidy on my old black and white tv. Fun blog Mr. Burnett.

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  16. Ha ha ha, had a good laugh Allan, think I will post my picture in that Google search and hope it links me with the rich and famous Bill Gates, and then, perhaps I could retire early...

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  17. Google images for this "jane fonda they shoot horses don't they"
    That's what your image reminded me of!

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  18. THis is a grand post I will be passing on to many friends!

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  19. Thanks for good old out loud laughs today! And thanks for your good wishes for our performance tonight. See what I'm doing while preparing for it? Me sing to warm up? Nah, read blogs!

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  20. I tried a google image search for one of mine, but I wasn't nearly as successful at finding a movie star in my family tree!

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  21. I really need to try that google images thingy! Dotty was a beauty!

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  22. That's so true about Wiki being unreliable. They do not accept it as a source in the academe, not even for a simple paper proposal. Thanks for the Google image search tip. I think I'll have fun experimenting on that. Searching for stories about these Unknowns is quite intriguing. I remember the actor's name Willia Boyd vaguely although I don't think I have ever seen a silent film, and will have to google it to have an idea.

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  23. I think "Dotty" had seen better days than the day this pic was taken.
    I've been doing research lately to find old classmates as we're planning a 30-year reunion... and when I looked for a certain someone, mugshots also came up. Same name, with various middle names of course, but it was weird seeing those come up. None where of my old classmate, fortunately!!!
    But we found her!!
    Keep on googling!! You do that so well!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  24. Dorothy clearly a modern girl she definitely had attitude. She also looks as if she is dying for a fag looking at the cigarette in her left hand.

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  25. And photo recognition always works so well in films:-) The Yorkshire Aunt Dorothy looks very young despite the rig.

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  26. Do you think she was unsuccessfully trying for thr dark/sultry look?

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  27. I guess I'm really gullible. I really believed your story and so hoping that you would be related to William Boyd. Darn.
    Nancy

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