Despite the unforeseen delays in her schedule, Anita achieved a notable accomplishment when on October 19, 1915, 49 days after she had left San Francisco, she pulled into New York City, the first woman to conquer alone the vast continent by automobile. A news story in the San Francisco Chronicle of October 24, 1915, reported:
  Completing one of the most daring undertakings by a woman that the annals of the automobile industry record, Miss Anita King, "The Paramount Girl," who left San Francisco on September 1st last in a KisselKar to drive across the continent, absolutely unescorted by any one, arrived in New York City Tuesday. Dispatches to the local KisselKar branch received yesterday told of the incident, wires being received both from the New York City branch of the Kissel company and from Miss King. That Miss King's unusual record will stand for some time is not only the opinion of the fair star of the screen, but of hundreds of persons scattered from one end of the country to the other who have watched with considerable interest the progress of the "shadow actress" across the continent in her motor car.

Shortly after Miss King's arrival in old Gotham, the actress, escorted by motorists, sisters and brothers of her profession and "movie" fans by the score, called on Mayor John Purroy Mitchel of New York and delivered to that executive a batch of messages from Mayors of the principal cities of the country through which she had passed, the ones which attracted the most attention being those from Mayor James Rolph, Jr. of San Francisco and Mayor Sebastian of Los Angeles. "There were redeeming features of the journey--many of them--else I never could have held out," Miss King tells the local Kissel branch in her message. "Not once during the entire racking drive did my car fail me and I put it to some terrible tests."18)

Life after the trip was for Anita a rush of activities. She continued to make personal appearances at theatres, lecturing on her experiences as a documentary film showing part of her journey was exhibited. On one occasion, she opened one of the country's first movie palaces, Seattle's new Coliseum Theater, described as "the world's largest and finest photoplay palace." When she arrived on January 8, 1916, to inaugurate the theatre, the orchestra humorously serenaded her with a rendition of "God Save the King" as the 2,400 patrons rose from their seats to greet her. Anita then addressed the crowd: "To you lovers of silent drama and to the great city of Seattle, I dedicate the most complete, the most beautiful and the most artistic photoplay theatre, not alone in the United States, but in (North) America." Films screened at the theatre on the opening day included Cecil B. DeMille's feature, The Cheat, a comedy short, and scenes of Anita shot in and around Seattle as well as the footage of her transcontinental trip. (19)

Copyright 2003 William M. Drew

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Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Endnotes

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