Tillie’s Tomato Surprise


Famed vaudeville and movie star, Marie Dressler, plays Tillie, the awkward but socially ambitious “hoyden” whose wealthy aunt plans to present to society. Comedic interventions ensue with the appearance of a Scottish magician and inventor,  “The Bat,” (dark horse love interest of Tillie’s) who can fly through the air and create cute pups out of hotdogs by cranking them through his machine. At auntie’s birthday party,  we are treated to Tillie’s version of an Isadora Duncan-style neo-classical modern dance. Finally Auntie is persuaded to try The Bat’s flying apparatus and disappears, apparently never to return. The last laugh belongs to Auntie, as Tillie unexpectedly inherits only a tomato pin cushion that she had passed off as a homemade gift to Auntie, though it was really store bought. The tomato contains a wonderful surprise, however.

This film was made in response to the film Dressler had made with Charlie Chaplin at the Keystone Studios in California the previous year, Tillie’s Punctured Romance, and was one of the more successful of the Lubin films of 1915. Dressler had originated the role of Tillie on the stage before playing her character in the movies.


2 thoughts on “Tillie’s Tomato Surprise

  1. Cynthia A. Eck

    I would like to be able to view this film. Is this possible? I have been told that my grandmother Ethel Maynel was in this film. I have an 8x 10 of her (many) and at least one of her costar Clara Lambert. Please contact me. Cindy Eck

    • jeckhard

      Hello Cindy,

      Thanks for your interest in the Betzwood Archive. We have a video of this film which you can arrange to view at the college. The contact information for our archivist, Lawrence Greene, can be found on this page:
      https://mc3betzwood.wordpress.com/about/ Keep in mind, though, that only a portion of the first reel of the film survives. Most of it has been lost, unfortunately.

      We would be very interested to see the photos you mentioned.

      Joe Eckhardt

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