Most people have never heard of The Mysteries of Myra, much less seen the surviving footage. This 1916 silent serial was produced by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst and directed by The Wharton Brothers for The Whartons Studio in Ithaca, New York. As late as the early talkie era, New York was still a rival for Hollywood with Paramount Pictures based on the East Coast until the early 1930s. The Mysteries of Myra was intended to carry on the tradition of The Perils of Pauline and The Exploits of Elaine, it was the work of the same screenwriter of those two lucrative serials, Charles Goddard, but The Mysteries of Myra was very different from any serial before or since in terms of structure and content.
Charles Goddard’s 15 chapter screenplay was developed from an original story treatment by real life occult detective, Hereward Carrington. Dr. Carrington was a member of the infamous Society for Psychical Research and a colleague of Harry Houdini. While a skeptic who exposed many false claims of psychic phenomena and hauntings, Dr. Carrington was also a believer in demonic possession, the afterlife, and other preternatural occurrences. The hero of the piece, Dr. Payson Alden, occult detective is clearly based on Hereward Carrington. The Mysteries of Myra is concerned with Dr. Alden’s efforts to save heiress Myra Maynard from the occult society, The Black Order and to win her heart from her contemptible fiancé , Arthur Varney, who is the right hand man of The Grand Master of The Black Order.