Casque & Gauntlet

August 23, 2009

King_Arthur_and_the_Knights_of_the_Round_Table

His senior year at Dartmouth, Charles Starrett became a member of the secret society, Casque & Gauntlet.

The order was founded in 1887, inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and Sir Thomas Malory’s Mort D’arthur.  It is modeled on the knights of the round table, and members take the names of specific knights from the Arthurian legend.  The president is called “King Arthur” for the length of his reign, and the vice president is “Merlin,” and so forth.

One has to wonder about Charles’ pledge name.  Was he the romantic and conflicted Lancelot?  Or the chaste Galahad?  The hothead Lucan?

Regardless, the Knights’ code of chivalry, as described by Malory, could be that of the Durango Kid himself.

  • To never do outrage nor murder
  • Always to flee treason
  • To by no means be cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy
  • To always do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succor
  • To never force ladies, gentlewomen or widows
  • Not to take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods

I have been in contact with the helpful people in the Dartmouth College Alumni department. I have enjoyed the assistance of Mike Backman and especially Barb Krieger, Archives Supervisor of Raunr Library.

I have learned a great deal about Charles early life, and that information will help guide my research here.

Here are some interesting facts about Charles’ life in the years leading up to Hollywood.

Before Dartmouth, he attended Mitchell Military School (from 1913-1915) and then the Worcester Academy (from 1915-1922). At Worcester, he was on the swimming, track and football teams.

He was also a member of the dramatic club. In his senior year at Worcester, he was president of the Drama Club. There goes that bit of studio created mythology — the old story that he had no interest in acting until he participated as an extra in a silent film “The Quarterback” shot at Dartmouth.

He entered Dartmouth in 1922. He was on the freshman track team and the freshman football team. As an upper classman, he played varsity football and was on the swim team.

His fraternity was Psi Upsilon. He was a member of a number of secret societies: he was a member of Green Key, a sophomore society, and of Casque & Gauntlet, a senior society.

On Dartmouth’s football team he played fullback. According to the 1926
yearbook, he weighed 180 pounds and was 6 foot 1 1/2 inches tall; “Charlie will always be remembered by us as the man who intercepted a forward pass in the Cornell game last fall, and ran for a touchdown. For three years he had been trying to make the grade, then he got his chance, seized it, and you know the rest.”

The 1925 football team was undefeated, shutting out 5 of the 8 opponents it
faced, and racking up 341 points against 29!

Charles major at Dartmouth? Philosophy!

He also attended summer school classes at the University of Wisconsin in 1924 and at Cornell in the summer of 1925.

He graduated in 1926.

I have a number of wonderful quotes from his Class Notes, which I will add in future posts.