The Million Dollar Mystery (1914)

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Grossing a cool 1.5 million dollars on a 125,000-dollar investment, this action serial, produced in 23 chapters by the New York-based Thanhouser Film Corp., proved the crowning glory of studio manager Charles J. Hite, one of the great success stories of the early silent era. The company's greatest asset, Canadian-born leading lady Florence LaBadie, starred as Florence Hargreaves, whose fortune is sought after by master criminal Braine (Frank Farrington) and the unscrupulous Countess Olga (Marguerite Snow). The huge cast list featured the entire Thanhouser stock company (including future director Irving Cummings) and the story was printed simultaneously in more than 200 newspapers across the country. Sadly, Hite, who more than anyone had championed the serial (and its less successful sequel, Zudora or The Twenty Million Dollar Mystery, 1915), did not live to enjoy the fruits of his labor; he was killed in a car accident on August 22, 1914.