Meet Ursula’s Fiancé, Sidney Lanier Bartlett

Passport photo

Passport photo for Sidney Lanier Bartlett and his mother, Pansy Edna Bartlett

When we left off, it was February 1925. Ursula had just gotten engaged to a young man after their whirl-wind romance in Florence and Rome. At this point, we know a lot about Ursula, but who was this man to whom she planned to vow, “I do”?

Here is what I’ve found out by researching various online resources, including, a digitized year book, historic newspapers, and more:

When Ursula met Sidney Lanier Bartlett, he was 19 years old going on 20—three years her junior. He was born on May 8, 1905 in Los Angeles, California, to Pansy Edna Bartlett and Lanier Bartlett, a prominent and well-to-do couple.

A young Sidney with his mother, published in the society column of the Los Angeles Herald (May 30, 1909)

A young Sidney with his mother, published in the society column of the Los Angeles Herald (May 30, 1909)

A seemingly sardonic item published May 30, 1909 in the “Society News of the Week” column of the Los Angeles Herald described Sidney’s mother as:

“A charming young matron who has entrée to the exclusive social circles of Los Angeles, but finds it far more interesting and engrossing being the mother and companion of a sturdy young son who has not yet attained to the dignity of five summers…”

The article goes on: “Neither Mrs. Bartlett nor her talented husband care at all for society, choosing rather the life of the literati.” (It’s funny that a large photo of Pansy and her “little son” Sidney dominated that day’s society column.)

Sidney's father, screenwriter Lanier Bartlett

Sidney’s father, screenwriter Lanier Bartlett

Sidney’s father was a Los Angles Times reporter and prolific Hollywood screenwriter, with many westerns and other dramas to his credit. Sidney’s namesake, Sidney Lanier, was his father’s cousin, and a poet, novelist and musician. Sidney’s grandfather, W. S. Bartlett, served as president and later chairman of the board of LA’s Union Bank of Savings. The Bartletts were said to be an “old southern family.”

Sidney’s parents divorced in 1919 when he was almost 14 years old. The summer after he graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1923 at age 18, Sidney and his mother set sail for Europe from the port of New York, on board the Conte Rossa. According to Pansy’s passport application, they planned to travel to the British Isles, France, Italy, Denmark and Sweden. Sidney would study art at the University of Paris.

Pansy Edna Bartlett's 1923 passport application

Pansy Edna Bartlett’s 1923 passport application

Because he was considered a minor, Sidney did not have his own passport. Rather, he had to travel under Pansy’s auspices, appearing with her in her passport photo (at top of post).

If we went by only this post’s two photos of young Sidney, we might think he was a “Mama’s boy,” but a year-and-a-half later, he met the woman of his dreams. I wish I had found a photo of Ursula and her fiancé from that period, but suffice to say she was charmed and smitten by him—and vice versa.