GARBUTT, Frank Alderman

From Islapedia

Frank Alderman Garbutt (1869-1947)
Garbutt and his family.

GARBUTT, Frank Alderman (1869-1947)[#SS 546-22-5837], Illinois-born entrepreneur, short-story-writer, race-car driver and athlete, who engaged in the printing, oil, real estate, building and movie businesses. He was a pioneer in the Union Oil Company, and became a Hollywood movie mogul and Vice President of Famous Players Studio, which he later sold to Paramount Pictures. Garbutt was a founding member of both the Los Angeles Athletic Club and the California Yacht Club (1922). He owned the large yacht, Skidbladnir. Garbutt is referred to by Ira Eaton as a man who had gotten the concession rights to Santa Cruz Island from the Caire family in 1913. [Eaton 1980: 190] He was planning to build a big hotel at Fry’s Harbor, but nothing more is known of the his plan. He died of a heart attack at age 78, and was survived by his two daughters, Miss Theodora Garbutt and Mrs. Charles F. Hathaway. His wife, Emilie Laurine, died in 1934.

In the News~
Skidbladnir on the Ways, 1907

July 19, 1908 [LAT]: “Frank Garbutt and party of friends sailed in his private yacht to Santa Cruz Island Saturday for a week’s sport with yellowtail and tuna.”

July 26, 1910 [SBMP]: “Frank A. Garbutt’s fine yacht, the Skidblandnir, returned yesterday from Santa Cruz Island where it had been on a week’s cruise. It will probably sail for its home port, San Pedro, today. Mr. Garbutt is a director of the Union Oil Company.”

July 26, 1910 [SBI]: “There have been many camping parties and cruises at Santa Cruz Island the last couple of weeks… F. A. Garbutt showed up with the Skidblandnir, which was conceded to be one of the classiest boats seen this summer in these waters. He brought about seventeen…”

July 6, 1911 [SBMP]: “Next week another large party will go into camp at Fry's Harbor, headed by Commodore Frank Garbutt, owner of the famous yacht, Skidbladnir. Garbutt will be on a two weeks' cruise of the channel, and he has so many friends to entertain that the Skidbladnir will not accommodate them all. Twenty of them will come here to make the passage across the channel on the Gussie M, and the Skidbladnir will be in the service of the party during the entire stay; and while headquarters will be at Fry's, excursions will be made into every nook and cranny of the four islands of the westerly group.”

July 7, 1911 [LAT]: “Frank Garbutt put out to sea last night in his yacht, the Skidbladnir, on a voyage that is unique. His passengers and guests will be a company of moving-picture actors, and his destination is one of the Santa Barbara islands. In the early days of the Spanish occupation of California a fascinating pirate named Valdez used to ravage the shipping along this south coast. Owing to his careless habits of morality, no citizen could be safe at sea with his diamonds. The Spanish galleons which had to sail around with cargoes and silk from India in order to provide future literary material for short story writers had a perfectly fearful time of it. Old Kid Valdez had a rendezvous on Santa Cruz Island — an island dented with the most adorably romantic caves and caverns where the sea comes booming in and splashes the roaring sea lions. On one of these caves Valdez is supposed to have hidden his treasure hoard. He is also supposed to have died there. The Selig Moving Picture Company has undertaken the interesting task of reproducing the scenes of that romantic period at the place where they occurred. Old Valdez will live again at his old hang out…”

July 8, 1911 [SBMP]: “On Frank Garbutt’s big yacht, Skidbladnir, and on Captain Rosaline Vasquez’ Gussie M, a party of thirty actors and actresses of the Selig Motion Picture Company will cross the channel… It was planned yesterday to stage one picture on the wreck of the steamer Santa Rosa, but the developments of the night may make this impossible. The wreck will be visited on the way across.”

July 23, 1911 [LAT]: “Frank A. Garbutt has returned from a cruise in northern waters with his handsome yacht, the Skinbladnir. The party had an exceptionally fine trip down the coast… The Skinbladnir’s party consisted of Mr. Garbutt, his two daughters, son, and nephew. While at Santa Cruz Island, the Skinbladnir and her crew were loaned to a moving picture company, which used her to rescue the ‘heroine’ from the rocks. The company ‘shot’ two comedics in which the yacht figured prominently. One was a society feature, the other the capturing of a wild-man—the actor for this last part being furnished by the picture company.”

July 24, 1911 [LAT]: “Frank A. Garbutt’s yacht, the Skinbladnir, returned to the Los Angeles port yesterday, after having probably broken all records of having her picture shot… The Skinbladnir has completed a cruise about the Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands where she has been the scene of the thrilling rescues, romances, and foiled villains, of the Selig Company, which Mr. Garbutt accompanied on their trip north…”

August 3, 1911 [LAT]: “Frank A. Garbutt’s yacht, the Skinbladnir, had an exciting time in the outer harbor of San Pedro… Some scenes were shot which will be used in connection with those made a few weeks ago at Santa Rosa Island, where the company [Selig Moving Picture Company] took a series of scenes on the Skinbladnir…”

1913: Otter was a 40-foot boat built by Mr. Garbutt for Captain Colis Vasquez in 1913. Margaret Eaton reported: “Captain Colis Vasquez’s new boat the Otter brought 80 people to our new Pelican Bay Camp. Colis came ashore to visit as usual, but I told him he just came to show off his new uniform. He looked like an admiral... with a real captain’s cap with Otter in letters an inch high and a captain’s insignia on top. It was bought and paid for by a man lousy with money.” [Eaton 1980 p. 190-194].

January 31, 1913 [SBMP]: “Frank A. Garbutt, the millionaire yachtsman and oil king of Los Angeles, whose Skidbladnir has been a familiar sight in the channel every summer for some years, will build a fifty-foot boat for Captain Rosaline Vasquez, who has been in command of the Gussie M during recent seasons, and who is one of the best known mariners on the coast. The new craft, the name of which is not yet decided, will be built by the Fulton Company at San Pedro and will be ready for service in May. It will be used exclusively for island passenger traffic, in connection with Captain Vasquez’s exclusive privileges on Santa Cruz Island and will be quite the finest boat ever offered for public use in these waters. It is about 15 feet longer than the Gussie M, and will have two cabins, one for ladies and one for gentlemen, two toilets, eight berths and facilities for carrying about 40 passengers. The yacht will be equipped with fifty horse-powered Imperial engines, and will be complete and attractive in every way. The boat will cost more than $50,000. Mr. Garbutt is prominently identified with the Union Oil Company.”

February 1, 1913 [LAT]: “Santa Barbara. Backed by Frank Garbutt, the millionaire oil man and yacht owner of Los Angeles, Captain Rosaline Vasquez, one of the best known mariners of the southern coast, who lives in this city, has made preparations for converting Santa Cruz Island, one of the most picturesque of the channel group, into a summer resort. He has secured the exclusive privilege of the island from the Caire estate of San Francisco and has arranged to begin at once the erection of a tent city in one of the biggest harbors. Garbutt has agreed to furnish an up-to-date boat for the transportation of vacationists, the contract for the craft having been let to a San Pedro concern. The boat will be arranged for the accommodation of about three score people, women to have a compartment as well as men. The boat will be equipped with two fifty-horse-power engines and will make daily trips to the island. Many unique amusement features have been planned by Captain Vasquez, and while the tent city will in no manner be a competitor of Catalina, it will be large enough and attractive enough to draw good crowds throughout the summer months.”

April 16, 1913 [SBMP]: “Frank A. Garbutt and Captain Rosaline Vasquez’ Otter ready for sea. Captain Rosaline Vasquez will bring his new excursion boat, the Otter, to Santa Barbara next Tuesday. The Otter is expected to popularize the island trip among the Santa Barbara people… The Otter will make her trial trip from San Pedro to Catalina Island next Sunday, with a party of Los Angeles officials and newspaper men as guests of Captain Vasquez and of Frank A. Garbutt, the well-known yachtsman, owner of the Skinbladnir, who is capitalizing the Otter venture.”

April 18, 1913 [LAT]: “Santa Barbara. Catalina has another rival. Santa Cruz Island is to be developed. Frank Garbutt of Los Angeles builds fine excursion boat and the vessel will make daily trips from Santa Barbara. That Santa Cruz Island will vie with Catalina for attracting camping parties is promised by Frank A. Garbutt, the wealthy commodore of Los Angeles, who has had built one of the finest and best-equipped little excursion boat on the coast. The craft is to be known as the Otter, having been built in San Pedro. It will arrive here next Tuesday in charge of Captain Vasquez. It is the intention of the owner to have the boat make daily trips from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz Island, one of the most picturesque islands in the world, and it is expected that when the season opens, the trip will be very popular. There are many people in Santa Barbara who were born and raised here, who have never been to the Channel Islands because of lack of transportation, and with the Otter in the business, their long-cherished hope may be realized. The new boat is 52-feet long, has a beam of 12.9 feet, and six feet draught. Her engines are 55-horse-power and in addition there is a full set of sails, giving her the equipment of a yacht. The arrangement for the comfort of passengers is unusual. There are fourteen Pullman berths and a seating capacity of sixty. She will make the trip to the island in two hours.”

April 23, 1913 [SCICo Letter Books]: “The items which you read in the newspapers in regard to Santa Cruz Island are absolutely incorrect, as you may have seen from later numbers of the daily papers, and neither you nor your friends need worry about the consequences of these publications. We beg to call your attention to the fact that lately people have been telling us that you were interested with Captain Vasquez in the camp which he has established on Santa Cruz Island, and we hope that these statements are incorrect, because while we have rented him the privilege of establishing a camp at Fry's Harbor, we will not allow anything that looks like permanent improvements or such kind of improvements as may have the appearance of permanency. We, as we wrote Captain Vasquez, rented him the privilege with authority to drive out any trespassers and nothing more.”

May 14, 1913 [SBMP]: “The first step toward making Santa Cruz Island the Catalina of Santa Barbara has been taken by Frank Garbutt of Los Angeles and captain Rosaline Vasquez. Mr. Garbutt has built a gasoline yacht, Otter, for regular service between Santa Barbara and the island, and she is now in the channel under the command of Captain Vasquez. Concession rights for the establishment of a camp hotel on the island have been obtained from the Caire family of San Francisco, owners of the island, and the work of putting up the tents and making a resort at the hotel site will be started immediately. When it is done, the Otter will be put on a regular schedule to carry parties to and from the island. It means that the beautiful island on the other side of the channel, with its fine harbors, good fishing and hunt water will be made accessible to the general public. With the exploitation of the island, the men behind the project believe Santa Cruz will be to Santa Barbara and its tourists what Catalina is to Los Angeles. The Otter is a substantial, seaworthy craft 52-feet in length and with a passenger capacity of fifty, and she is driven by a 55-horse-power, six-cylinder engine and has a speed of ten miles an hour. It is planned to make the trip to the island in two hours and a half. The Otter has sleeping accommodations for fifteen and is fitted with men’s and women’s cabins. She was designed particularly for this service by Matt J. Walsh and built by Fulton and Woodley of San Pedro.”

May 15, 1913 [SBMP]: “Garbutt’s new boat proves a boon to those who love the channel. The island camp to be established at Fry’s Harbor, Santa Cruz, will be ready for business May 24. The Otter, Captain Rosaline Vasquez, will then make daily trips. The passage can be easily made in two hours. Yesterday the Otter was out on the channel with a party including Mrs. Brackenridge, Gaud, Chrisholm, Duffy, McComber and others, and all were greatly pleased with the experience.”

June 22, 1913 [LAT]: “Frank Garbutt will cruise around Santa Cruz Island in his big schooner yacht, Skidbladnir.”

June 24, 1913 [SBDN]: “The power launch Otter, that was driven on the beach opposite the Potter Hotel last Sunday night, is still aground, the effort to float her last night having failed. It is thought doubtful that the tide will dislodge her from her firmly settled bed, and that other means will be necessary to set the craft afloat. In case tonight’s tide fails to do the desired work, it may be found advisable to jack the boat up and slide her into the water on skids. It was reported today that Frank M. Garbutt of Los Angeles, owner of the Otter, had authorized the offer of a reward of $500 for the apprehension of the persons who are thought to have cut the boat’s anchor chain for the purpose of sending her adrift, and $60 for the recovery of the compass stolen from the craft a short time ago.”

July 11, 1913 [SBMP]: “Frank Garbutt’s yacht Skidbladnir sailed yesterday for the islands, after having spent a few hours in port. Mr. Garbutt, who capitalized the Vasquez summer camp at Santa Cruz Island, and the passenger launch Otter, is looking over the arrangements for handling the summer crowds, and also enjoying his annual cruise in these waters.”

July 29, 1913 [LAT]: “Absolutely the greatest deal which has been consummated in the moving picture world in half a decade was closed yesterday when incorporation papers were signed and sent to Sacramento, creating Bosworth Incorporated. At the helm will be no less a personage than Hobart Bosworth, actor of distinction… Behind the concern are the millions of Frank A. Garbutt, treasurer. Active work is to begin at once, and the first film which the new concern will produce will be that great story, The Sea Wolf. It will cost no less than $50,000 to reproduce this great story on the screen… The greatest asset of the new company is its contract with Jack London, whereby it has exclusive control, as far as the screen is concerned… The deck of the Santa Rosa Island on which the Sea Wolf will be staged.”

August 7, 1913 [SBDN]: “Frank A. Garbutt of Los Angeles, owner of the Otter, the local launch run by Captain Vasquez, is at Friar’s Harbor at Santa Cruz Island with his handsome yacht the Skidbladnir. Mr. Garbutt has been in the custom of visiting the Channel Islands every summer, dividing his time between cruising around them and visiting Santa Barbara. He will probably sail over to the city within a few days.”

August 16, 1913 [SBMP]: “From a very authoritative source it was learned yesterday that Frank Garbutt, the owner of the yacht Skidbladnir, plans the building of a yacht to cost no less than $100,000 in which the world will be circumnavigated. Jack London, the writer, is to be a member of the party. Mr. Garbutt yesterday took a party of friends to the islands and may be gone a few days. It is also understood that when Mr. Garbutt returns from the islands he may also have something to report on the alleged willful slaying of seals at Santa Barbara Island. He has become very much interested in the controversy between Commissioner Pritchard and Charles E. Davis, and proposes to visit some of the rookeries and see if the dead seals are in evidence. Mr. Garbutt is interested in true sport, and if there has been illegal killing of seals, he will lend his assistance to putting it to a stop. On the round-the-world trip two years may be spent. A motion picture operator and outfit will accompany the party.”

August 20, 1913 [LAT]: “Commission to hunt hunters. Stop seal murder, say Fish and Game officers… It appears that the alleged seal killing has taken place on Santa Barbara Island, which does not come under the law which protects seals in the waters of the Santa Barbara channel. There has been no violation in the Channel Islands, which have been visited by Frank A. Garbutt and James Rasmussen, our deputy in Ventura… The law reads: ‘It is unlawful to take or kill seals in the waters of the Santa Barbara channel, or on or near thereto.’… So far as any destruction of seals on the islands in the Santa Barbara channel is concerned we are convinced that the law has not been violated there, and we have received no information of unusual conditions on Santa Barbara, San Nicolas or San Clemente islands which are leased to Howland Brothers, and who would probably report anything unusual…”

August 21, 1913 [SBMP]: “The discussion started by Charles E. Davis relative to the murdering of mother seals on Santa Barbara and other Channel Islands now promises to bring good results. The game commission will very likely go outside the province of the game commissioner of this district and order an investigation. Frank Garbutt is now at the islands and he may have an interesting report to supplement the charges made by Mr. Davis… The law reads: ‘It is unlawful to take or kill seals in the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel, or on, near, or about any of the lands adjacent thereto.’…Frank A. Garbutt, in his report to the commission under the date August 13, says: ‘I have just completed an inspection of the entire coast of Catalina, Clemente, Anacapa, Santa Cruz and a portion of Santa Rosa. I have yet to sea one dead seal dying of starvation. To my mind, these seals should not be protected. They destroy large quantities of fish, and as far as I can determine serve no useful purpose.’…”

August 27, 1913 [SBMP]: “Island schooner new pirate ship. Jack London’s Sea Wolf is being portrayed on the south coast. The power schooner Santa Rosa Island, so frequently seen in Santa Barbara Harbor, has been transformed into a pirate ship for moving picture purposes, and is now terrorizing the peaceful inhabitants of the south coast. Re-christened the Ghost, and commanded by Captain Larsen, the Sea Wolf, the old gasoline schooner is doing duty in the portrayal of Jack London’s famous story. Hobart Bosworth has a contract with London for the reproduction of the Sea Wolf in moving pictures, and financial backing of Frank Garbutt to the extent of $50,000, which, it is estimated, the film will cost…”

September 3, 1913 [SBMP]: “The Comet wreck on the west shore of San Miguel Island has been used the last two days for scenes in Jack London’s Sea Wolf. Richard Garrick, director for the Balboa Amusement Company, had charge of the party, which consisted of Larry Peyton, who plays the part of the title role, Miss Jean McPherson and Harry King. Mr. Garrick says that some unusual work was taken about the wreck. The play will be of three reels and released for state rights. There is a bit of litigation over the production of this picture. Another concern, in which Frank Garbutt is interested, is also producing the play at this time. The Balboa concern, however, is claiming prior rights, in accordance with an agreement reached with the author. It was a bit odd that in making the San Miguel pictures Garbutt’s Otter was used to carry the party.”

September 9, 1913 [SBMP]: “Santa Cruz Island yachting rendezvous off Pacific Coast… Frank Garbutt’s large yacht Skidbladnir of San Pedro, after six weeks at the island making headquarters at Fry’s Harbor, has returned to Los Angeles, Mr. Garbutt’s children re-entering school there…”

December 14, 1913 [LAT]: “Harry Voorhauer, owner of Bull Pup III, has issued a challenge to Joe Fellows, the defender of the Frank A. Garbutt perpetual cup, for the free-for-all motorboat race around Santa Catalina Island…”

May 26, 1914 [TI/Avalon]: “Venice. May 25. Frank Garbutt’s new $25,000 launch is to be put in service between here and Catalina Island this summer. The Imperial Transportation Company of San Pedro is getting the launch in readiness. The launch will be arranged for the accommodation of 150 passengers. It is also intended to use the launch for sight-seeing trips as well as for visits to the fishing grounds.” [L. A. Herald.]

May 6, 1915 [SBMP]: “Bernard Hilbing, formerly of Los Angeles, has come to Santa Barbara to engage in the island excursion business. Mr. Hilbing has secured from Frank Garbutt of Los Angeles the powerboat Otter for the purposes in view, and he and Captain Vasquez came up from San Pedro last Tuesday night in that craft, which is well and favorably known here through her operations in the same line last year. Captain Vasquez will again be in command of the boat as sailing master.”

May 6, 1915 [SBDNI]: “The powerboat Otter is to renew its run between Santa Barbara and the islands. Bernard Hilbing, formerly of San Francisco, arrived here last evening to take the management of the business of Frank Garbutt, owner. Captain Vasquez will be the sailing master, and Mr. Hilbing assumes charge of the bookings, of the financial end. The Otter will be thoroughly renovated, and put in first class shape for the summer. When she again resumes her run she will be one of the most attractive boats in this section, and it will be the aim of the manager to keep her spick and span; the very last word in cleanliness. ‘We look forward to a very prosperous summer,’ said Mr. Hilbing today, ‘and are going to keep the Otter bright as a dollar, and attractive to ocean excursionists. We believe the island run will be more than ever popular. Santa Barbara is to have an all summer crowd of visitors, and there will be few of these who will not want to take a trip, besides the demands of residents who are fascinated with the island cruise will give a heavy business for all boat owners.’”

May 8, 1915 [SCICo]: “Mr. Frank Garbutt, Los Angeles, Calif. Dear Sir: For your information we enclose herewith a copy of letter which we are sending to Mr. R. Vasquez of Santa Barbara. The letter explains itself and our object in sending you a copy is to call your attention to this matter in case Mr. Bernard Hibling [Hilbing] has made any arrangement in the chartering or leasing of your boat Otter for the purpose of bringing excursionists to Fry’s Harbor or any other harbor of Santa Cruz Island. Kindly take notice of our letter to Mr. Vasquez. We remain Yours truly, The Santa Cruz Island Co., AJC.”

May 8, 1915 [SCICo]: “Mr. B. Hiblings [Hilbing]. Santa Barbara, Cal. Dear Sir, Here below we mention the conditions under which we can rent you the camping privileges of Fry’s Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, since R. Vasquez has failed to pay and rent and has no more rights at that place. For the next six months on pay rent of a monthly rental of Five Dollars ($5.00). You will have exclusive rights at that place mentioned, of establishing a camp for entertaining visitors; after that time we will discuss the terms under which the privilege may be extended. We will insist upon a strict compliance with the following rules:

  • — no cutting down of trees or carrying away of ferns or other plants;
  • — no Indian relics to be taken away;
  • — no fire arms to be discharged on the island;
  • — no damage or change of any kind to be allowed.

This contract is made with you personally and even if you are supported by Mr. Garbutt, we will not consider him as having any rights other than those which we are giving you. All permanent improvements to remain our property at the expiration of the contract. By paying the first month’s rent now, you will be considered as having accepted the proposition made by us. Yours truly, The Santa Cruz Island Company, A. J. Caire.”

July 24, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “The Mystery IV, owned by Frank Garbutt, shattered all racing records around Catalina Island from San Pedro on Saturday, in an event staged for the challenge trophy...”

September 11, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “Sky-rocketing across the blue surface of the channel, circling Catalina Island and with great fountains of sunlit spray and a long wake behind to mark the trail from Seal Rocks to San Pedro, sped two racing, straining speed boats early Thursday morning. The Catalina lookouts spotted the first one off Avalon at 9:15, the Garbutt flyer Mystery IV, followed three minutes later by the sturdy little Fellows III, owned by Joe Fellows…”

June 14, 1918 [SBMP]:Skidbladnir Is Off For Islands. Capt. Frank A. Garbutt's Skidbladnir arrived from San Pedro yesterday morning and with a jolly party aboard proceeding to the islands for an outing. Several sailed up and others had made this leg of the trip my motor. About a dozen will be enjoying the island beauties.”

October 26, 1919 [LAT]: “Dustin Farnham’s new speedboat, the Miss Los Angeles, won the first heat in the Los Angeles Motorboat Club classic for the Nordlinger trophy… Frank Garbutt’s new boat, the Mystery V, was not in finish time to enter today, but will probably be in the lists tomorrow when the second and final heats are run… Last year the Mystery IV won the Nordlinger cup for Frank Garbutt.”

July 20, 1920 [SBMP]: “Frank A. Garbutt’s yacht crossed the channel to Santa Cruz Island yesterday, carrying Mr. Garbutt, his family, and a party of friends.”

November 17, 1936 [LAT]: “After several other attempts to salvage her failed, the 135-foot Coast Guard patrol boat Hermes today pulled the 65-foot tug Imperial free of the Santa Cruz Island reefs on which she was grounded two weeks ago. The Hermes towed the Imperial into the San Pedro yards of her owners, Garbutt & Walsh.”

November 20, 1947 [LAT]: “Los Angeles lost another of her business and civic pioneers yesterday at 7:30 A.M. when Frank A. Garbutt, 78-year-old industrialist, died suddenly at his Coronado St. home after a heart attack. The wealthy sportsman, who reorganized the Los Angeles Athletic Club many years ago and guided it to financial and social success, also was a pioneer in the motion picture business here… His father was Frank Clarkson Garbutt, a Harvard graduate and engineer, and his mother was Mary Emma Garbutt, organizer of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.”