This blog includes text and images drawn from historical sources that may contain material that is offensive or harmful. We strive to accurately represent the past while being sensitive to the needs and concerns of our audience. If you have any feedback to share on this topic, please either comment on a relevant post, or use our Ask Us form to contact us.

Peking friends and family scenes

(This is our eighth post about the films of diplomat John Van Antwerp MacMurray. See the first post for more background.)

Although most films that have previously been discussed are interspersed with family scenes, shot in and around Peking and during outings and vacations, some of MacMurray’s films are more distinctively “home movies.”  Featured here are films of MacMurray’s family and friends in Peking, including his domestic staff and dogs. The films include rare footage of the Chinese dancer Yu Rongling (1882-1973).

This early personal movie, shot soon after the MacMurray family arrived in China in 1925, captures MacMurray’s children at play, riding bikes and ponies, at a birthday party, and in the company of servants and of their dogs. The film includes some footage of John Van Antwerp MacMurray and his wife Lois Goodnow MacMurray, as well as group shots of their staff.


This 100-foot reel, which was labeled by MacMurray himself, captures a three minute long dance with two swords by the Chinese dancer Yu Rongling, the wife of General Dan Pao Chao of Beijing. Yu, who received a Western education along with her older sister “Princess” Der Ling, had studied dance in Paris and introduced Western dances to China. There is no correspondence in MacMurray’s papers that documents the relationship with Dan Pao Chao and his wife.


The few fragments on this film include footage of MacMurray’s children, a nationalist flag (0:15), and British Ambassador Miles Lampson (0:32), who was a good friend of MacMurray.


This reel contains another fragment of the mime performance by the man identified as José Gallostra, who is mimicking the diplomats prescribed behavior at the bier of Sun Yat-sen during their trip to attend his reinterment in Nanking. It is followed by some footage of MacMurray’s children with an artist and performers.


The footage on this reel includes a picnic with guests, family swimming, and more footage of the performers seen on the above reel “1.”

Previous posts about the films of John Van Antwerp MacMurray:



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.