THE ATTIC

SCRAPBOOK
Mabel "Mabelle" A. (Parmelee) Hollenbeck Raum Webb 1869-1960
David H., Frederick Edgar, Linus, Samuel, Joseph, Isaac, John, John
Tucked away in an attic for year, this scrapbook belonging to a young Mabel A. Parmelee was graciously lent to me to copy by Ceara McCusker of Baltimore. Mabel, or "Mabelle" as she was later known, was the mother of actor Clifton Webb.

Mabel's parents, David H. and Grace (Seville) Parmelee, were from Ohio and lived in Mattoon Township, Coles County, Ill., in 1870. By 1880, they'd moved to Indianapolis and had four children. Mabel was the only one who lived to adulthood; the other three -- Edwin, Grace and Marvin -- were buried in the family plot at Mattoon's Dodge Ridge Cemetery. David was a long-time railroad man.

Inside the cover, Mabel gives two addresses: 82 W. Ohio St., Indianapolis, and 165 E. Main St., Lexington, Ky. The latter address is a surprise to me; I had no idea that the family had lived in Kentucky.

Mabel married Jacob Grant Hollenbeck (1864-1939) an assistant passenger manager for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, on New Year's Day 1889, at Kankakee, Ill. They were divorced a few years after son Webb Parmelee Hollenbeck (1891-1966) was born. Years later, Mabel dismissed questions about Jacob by saying, "We never speak of him. He didn't care for the theater." Jacob had a second marriage to Ethel Brown; he died in St. Louis at age 72, the day after he retired.

By the turn of the century, she'd become "Mabelle" and had a second marriage, to copper manufacturer Green B. Raum Jr. In the 1900 census of Manhattan, they were living at 101 77th St. with son Webb and her widowed mother, Grace. Ten years later they'd all moved to 214 W. 83rd St. but things evidently weren't going so well for Mabelle -- there was also a separate entry for Green, at the Alexander Cummings Hotel on Reed Street. I don't know what ever happened to Green.

After her son had been a leading man on Broadway and become a familiar figure of menace in a series of Hollywood films, the two -- now Mabelle and Clifton Webb -- settled in Beverly Hills in the late 1940s; she served as secretary and manager of the Webb Dance Studio where he conducted private classes. She was her bachelor son's constant companion for years on the Hollywood social scene. They're buried in adjacent crypts at Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery (now Hollywood Forever Cemetery) on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Many pages of the scrapbook hold pictures she cut and pasted -- birds, flowers, fruit and drawings like these.

The oldest dated item I could find was this holiday card, at left, from the Home Insurance Co. of New York, wishing all the best in 1879, when she would have been 9.

There were also a few pages of newspaper clippings, of Mabel's own show-biz career. Above left is an April 18, 1882, notice of 13-year-old Mabel's recital at the St. Nichol's Hotel in Indianapolis. She gave readings of "Painter of Seville" and "Mrs. Candle's Lecture." Said the reporter: "All the recitations were well delivered but those of ... Mabel Parmelee ... deserve special mention.." At the right is a May 30, 1882, clipping of her part, "Order for a Picture."
At left is a series of shorts:
  • Aug. 9, 1885: Mabel's guest, Aggie Kerry of Kankakee, returned home; Mabel was living on Fletcher Avenue.
  • Sept 3, 1885: Mabel and friend Hallie Joyce returned from a week's visit to Shelbyville.
  • May 30, 1886: Mabel has left to visit friends in Kankakee; she was living on Huron Street. And a notice that J.G Hollenbeck of the Wabash ticket office had returned from St. Louis -- this is a few years before he and Mabel were wed.

And at right is a Nov. 21, 1882, notice of a production of "Daisies" in which Mabel performed a waltz from "The Pirates of Penzance."