After visiting the Cabinet Card Gallery page called Mabel May Yong the challenge to find something more about this mysterious actress was irresistible.
Google turned up seven sites discussing her appearance in up to 25 German silent movies. Among them are Sterri-lne.de (in German), European Film Star Postcards website and Cyranos.ch website plus a discussion group called “Silent Horror” message board. Obviously these copied information from one another and each inserts their own opinions about the name variations.
All of these sources tell almost the same story. Mable May-Yong appeared in movies and then disappeared. There is no biological information on her. All that remains beyond some of the movies, are six cabinet card poses printed apparently for promotional purposes.
A few hours spent on Ancestry.com following variations of the name (Mable May, Mabel May-Yong and Mable May Jong, with and without hyphens turned up nothing. The only obvious conclusion one could make is that the name was a stage name.
The next search was on Newspapers.com. It amazingly turned up four articles that included the name. They have been clipped and repeated on this page. One article, from the New York Times says her name is Baroness Alice Mabel von Schenck zu Schweinsberg and “danced” in Germany under the name Mabel May Yong.
So now it was back to Ancestry.com with that name and its variations and another hour that found nothing positive.
Following is a consolidation and paraphrase of what the above websites collected while omitting what appears to be speculation.
There’s no biographical data on Mabel May Yong (or any variation on that name). She apparently began her career as an “exotic” dancer in the mode of Mata Hari (1876-1917) the legendary Dutch dancer. She made her screen debut (as far as we know) as Queen Nyleptha in South African production “Allan Quatermain” (1919) by Horace Lisle Lucoque with Hal Lawrence as the title character in a script based on the novel “King Solomon’s Treasure” (with other title variations such as “King Solomon’s Mines”) by Henry Haggard from around 1885.
Apparently she mimed vampy actress Theda Bara in many of the roles that followed through 1922.
In 1923 she appeared in only one movie, “The Cabinet of Dr. Segato” and in 1925 her last known appearance was in the movie “Unsealed Lips” (sometimes translated “All Lips”) which apparently was a “Vampyre Movie”.
In all, she may have appeared in up to 28 silent movies.
IMDb lists 21 credits under Mabel May Yong, excluding the three titles from 1919 as suggested by Stefi-line.de.
Filmportal.de lists 23.
European Film Star Postcards website says 24 silent movies.
Steffi-line.de website says 25 (One movie is in three parts.)
Then, according to all accounts, she just disappears.
All that is left are sketchy accounts of the movies where she appeared and the seven promotional photographs and a few scant mentions in the newspapers of the era.
Did our exotic dancer possibly flee Germany and go back to the US to live? Schenck is not a very common name. Ancestry.com allowed a few connections in the right time frame. Some are obviously not our exotic dancer but others present a possible scenario.
In the timeline following, do any of the Census clues apply? There is one mention of an Alice Schenck in Pennsylvania; the rest are all in New York.
The 1905 New York State Census shows an Alice Schenck (b1885) boarding in Union, New York, working as a shoemaker.
The 1915 New York State Census shows an Alice Schenck (b1885) living with her mother Kate in Binghamton , New York, and working as shoemaker
Newspaper accounts from October 1914 through March 1915 show the known Mabel May Yong (Alice Mabel Schenck) was visiting the US from Germany. So the above two mentions of Alice Schenck, the shoe maker, can't apply.
In 1919 Mabel May Yong is credited in two movies (one in South Africa).
The 1920 US Census has an Alice M. Schneck (b1882), a widow, at the Lehigh County Almshouse in Pennsylvania.
In 1920 there are at least seven movies with Mabel May Yong included in the cast.
In 1921 there are at least seven movies with Mabel May Yong included in the cast.
In 1922 there are at least four movies with Mabel May Yong included in the cast.
In 1923 there is one movie listed with Mable May Yong in the cast.
In 1925 there is one movie listed with Mable May Yong in the cast.
The 1930 US Census has an Alice Schenck (b1884) living in Catskill, New York, with her husband Herman. They were married in about 1916 to 1918. (According to her film history, she should have been in Germany in 1919.)
Also in the 1930 US Census there is an Alixe Schenck (b1882) living in Rye, New York with her husband Stewart C. who is a real estate broker. (Spelling may be a census taker’s error or an accidental mark on the form.) Note also that her household "servant" Louise Kennedy was born in Germany.)
The 1940 US Census lists an Alice M. Schenck born 1885, living in New York, New York 1935-1940. Now a widow, no occupation listed.
Do any of these fit our exotic dancer? Some clues are obviously impossible.
Now, let's go to the movies!
While there seems very little on the life of our heroine Mabel May, there were many sources of information on the movies where she has credit. Most of these agree that although there are various spellings of her name, it's still the same Mabel May. Below is a copy of an advertisement for The Cabinet of Dr. Segato made in 1923 in which our Mabel May Yong is billed as Ma De Yongh. The experts say this is still Mabel May Yong.
Listed here are all the movies thought to include Mabel May Yong. This list is compiled from several sources and the sources do not always agree on the spelling or translation of the title, the actors, or even the dates.
1918: Um die Liebe des Dompteurs - To Love the Trainer
1919: Allan Quatermain
1919: Der Diplomatensäugling - Diplomat’s Infant or probably Infant Diplomat
1919/20: Dämon der Welt - Demon World (Listed only by Steffi-line.de, apparently in three parts. Mabel May Yong apparently appears only in parts 2 and 3.)
---1919: Dämon der Welt - II Wirbel des Verderbens - Vortex of Perdition
---1920: Dämon der Welt - III Das goldene Gift - The Golden Gift
1920: Manus Immaculata. Die Unbefleckte Hand - The Immaculate Hand
1920: Der indische Todesring oder Sieben Worte
------- The Indian Death Ring or Seven Worlds
1920: Indische Rache - Indian Revenge
1920: Das schwarze Boot - The Black Boat
1920: Der langsame Tod - The Slow Death
1920: Tamburin und Castagnetten - Tamourine and Castinet
1920: Kriminalpolizei, Abteilung Mord - Criminal, Division Murder
1920: Die Goldene Mauer - The Golden Wall
1920: Eine Gefahrliche Fahrt - A Dangerous Ride OR Dangerous Driving
1921: Fasching - Carnival
1921: Das Haus der Qualen - The House of Torment
1921: Die goldene Maue - The Golden Maue
1921: Der Flug in den Tod - The Flight to their Deaths
1921: Was der Totenkopf erzählt - What Tells the Skull
1921: Erzgauner - Erzgauner (as Mabel May-Jong)
1921: Das Abenteuer des Dr. Kircheisen - The Adventures of Dr. Kircheisen
1922: Schuld und Sühne - Crime and Punishment
1922: Millionenschieber - Millions Slider
1922: Frauen, die die Ehe brechen - Women who commit adultery
1922: Die Flibustier - The Filibusters
1922: Der Fund in der Eilenriede oder Liebesrausch und Opfermut
- The Discovery in the Eilenriede or Love Intoxication and Sacrifice
1923: Das Kabinett des Dr. Segato - The Cabinet of Dr. Segato
1925: Entsiegelte Lippen - Unsealed Lips or All Lips or Open Lips
LOST GALLERY has assembled all information from several sources to form a Mabel May-Yong FILMOGRAPHY.
Go back to THE MAIN INDEX PAGEThere are now more than 8,000 photographs in the Lost Gallery. Or try out the NEW BACK PAGE INDEX
Area 51 and a Half You are probably not authorized to see these.
Don't take my picture! Oh! You DID didn't you! This is a collection of photographs that disappear on the way home from the photo processing shop.
And don't missCabinet Card GallerySquare AmericaTattered and LostVernacular PhotographyThe bestFOUND PHOTOGRAPHsites on the web. And for postcards try POSTCARDY And see what's going on over at Sepia Saturday!
All images are the property of Lost Gallery and the author. Permission must be granted for their use. All rights reserved.
THE KIDS It is always a mystery how a photograph of any of these precious children could end up lost or abandoned. Here are a few. You will probably say "Ooh..." at least once.