After The Big Parade, it was the legendary Lillian Gish who really was the next one to truly appreciate Karl’s talents.
She had seen an early screening of the The Big Parade before its official opening, and scribbled the following note in pencil
to Irving Thalberg, which still is tucked neatly into a folder in the King Vidor papers at USC: “Having just seen all of ‘The
Big Parade.’ Will be The Covered Wagon of 1925, I believe. There are scenes in it as fine as anything ever done. Hope to see
Gish had just made several films on location in Europe, such as the magnificent The White Sister, shot in Italy, and was looking
for the right director and co-stars for her first MGM feature in Hollywood. She selected the period piece La Boheme as the vehicle,
and requested John Gilbert as her leading man, King Vidor as director, Renee Adoree in a co-starring role, and Karl for a small part
as Benoit, elderly mustachioed building superintendent. Vidor initially questioned the judgment of trying to adapt an opera for the
silent screen, the film is effective and lovely to look at. Karl was not given much to do in the role, but proved his versatility
in playing an elderly character very different from that of Slim. Gish saw, and approved, and rewarded Karl with a much more prominent
role, that of Giles the barber-surgeon, in her next MGM high-profile feature, The Scarlet Letter.