By November Colleen was at work on her next role in Come On Over, by Rupert Hughes. Rupert was a writer, and the first of his books to be adapted into a movie was What Will People Say? The film was released in 1916, same year as Old Folks at Home. While on military duty he wrote a short story about the impact of military mobilization on a Dutch girl; Mary Pickford had it adapted into Johanna Enlists, released in 1918.
In addition to Come on Over, Rupert Hughes wrote and directed The Wallflower, with Colleen playing Idalene Nobbin, the titular wallflower, who, after attempting suicide, is rescued and transformed by a society girl, who teaches her the social graces and finer points of fashion and society. He also wrote and directed (with James Flood) Look Your Best, wherein she played Perla Quaranta, an Italian girl.
The year 1921 saw the release of a song entitled "Colleen," written by Arthur Freed and inspired by none other than our own Colleen Moore. Written for use with a film, it was also released by itself.
In early January of 1922, The Lotus Eaters was released. That year First National co-founder John D Williams resigned over a disagreement over the issue of whether the organization out to build their own studio and hire their own staff. Williams was of the opinion that the distributors out to continue purchasing their films, which they had been doing since the beginning, rather than go into the production end. He was replaced by former Metro president Richard Rowland.
Colleen was introduced to John McCormick by Marshall Nielan, who thought he was a fine Irishman and
a good match for Colleen. McCormick had joined First national in 1920 as the western press representative of the company. He was on the road often, spent a good deal of time in New York. He had gotten an early start in the motion picture industry and seemed to have a grasp of how best to exploit the new media's qualities.
In June 1921, at a First National Pictures dinner in New York he was appointed West Coast Representative; the public face of the company on the west coast. During his time with First National, a lot of photographs of a lot of actresses doubtless passed across his desk. From among those images, it was Colleen's that caught his eye.
He was smitten even before he met her. And he made quite an impression upon Colleen during their first date. He was a vital, passionate, energetic man who mind seemed to be constantly at work. Ideas seemed to crackle out of his head like static electricity, and his ceaseless energy had made him a valuable asset for First National. He immediately set to work aggressively wooing Colleen, and she was charmed by his energy and sense of humor. What she did not realize was that John’s energetic moods were cyclical, interspersed with dark moods that he tried to fight through drink. At the time, there was little knowledge of bipolar disorders, and certainly no public awareness of them. Certainly there were people out there who self-medicated with drugs or drink, and this was viewed by the public at best as a moral failing on their part (this was still in the depths of Prohibition). Those who suffered from personality disorders seldom had any idea themselves why they fell into their moods.
None of this was known to Colleen when they met. All she saw was the energetic man. It was still early enough in his career with First National that few people would have known of his drinking, and at best they would have thought it his means of blowing off steam after long, hard hours at work. Nobody would have suspected the drinking was a form of self-medication. For her part, Colleen simply knew that he was a sharp, energetic and charming man whose attentions were flattering.
Before long, there were articles in the newspapers mentioning Colleen’s denial that she was engaged to McCormick. In fact, she was… the denials were short-lived, and the stories saw in their impending marriage a union of two great Hollywood powers. John’s ascent into the stratosphere of the First National organization was swift; he had an innate grasp of what the public was looking for from the still-new medium of motion pictures. Her own fame continued to grow. During 1922 she would be voted a WAMPAS baby star by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers; a new promotional campaign intended to signify new stars of unparalleled potential. Colleen’s popularity with the public was on the rise. That same year she signed on with First National.
Images from Colleen's engagement to John McCormick.
By February 9th, Grace Kingsley was reporting on the rumored engagement: "COLLEEN MOORE ENGAGED TO PICTURE MAN REPORT. Rumors are busy to the effect that Cupid has made a successful onslaught on the heart of that lovely young picture star, Colleen Moore. The happy man, say the reports, is John McCormack (sic), well known picture man, connected in a high position with one of the big film concerns. While Miss Moore has been denying her engagement to the newspaper folk, she is wearing a diamond ring, the gift of Mr. McCormack, and she has confided to intimate friends that she intended to marry the picture man. Mr. McCormack, too, has in confidential moments; let it be known that he expects to marry the beautiful young picture star.
"Devastating indeed, will be the word of her engagement to Miss Moore's many admirers, as she is personally one of the most popular stars in the business, possessing a charming Irish wit, as well as much beauty, tact and charm."