George Randolph Chester created a cartoon character, con artist J. Rufus Wallingford, who appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine and was hugely popular in the 1910s. In 1915, brothers Leopold Wharton and Theodore Wharton, who had a production company in Ithaca, NY, decided to create the first comedy serial around the Wallingford character (they had already had success with an action serial, The Exploits of Elaine). The 14-part serial was a success, in part because the story to each episode was run in all of William Randolph Hearst's newspapers (he also owned Cosmopolitan), and was highly publicized elsewhere. Burr McIntosh starred as Wallingford, and Max Figman portrayed his partner, Blackie Daw. Episode one establishes the situation -- Mr. Warden was swindled by several unscrupulous businessmen and his daughters, Fanny and Violet (Lolita Robertson), ask Wallingford and Daw to help them set matters straight. The con artists' first mark is Benzy Falls (Harry Mainhall), whose business is in portable homes. Wallingford becomes an investor, while Daw, posing as a farmer, offers to buy, providing that Falls makes certain improvements. With the help of another associate, Onion Jones (Eddie O'Conner), they break Falls with a dispute over patents.
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