04 March 2007

Elixir Vitae

We'll inaugurate this month's series of posts with the sort I especially enjoy doing --- and you seem to like best --- a series of light and diverse items, of no particular time and place beyond that of originating in our past.

At first glance, the rather awesome figure at the left would appear to have surely adorned Coney Island's famed "Dreamland" amusement area, but in fact we're looking at an amusement concession at Buffalo New York's Pan-American Exposition of 1901, a month or so before the ethereal beauty of the event would be forever linked with --- and marred by --- the assassination of President William McKinley.

When the image is enlarged (by clicking on it) we see nineteen concession employees dwarfed by the lathe and plaster facade, the surreal elegance of would have lured visitors alone --- although the addition of a string of illuminated globes doubling as a pearl necklace for the figure spells out "Midway Mystery" to further convince the doubtful to buy their entry.

Nine makeshift tables or stools, atop which sit lanterns, provide a clue as to what a patron was faced with upon entering the concession, which was in actuality anything lyrical and peaceful: a dark maze of mirror-lined walls. Bland fare today it seems, but imagine working your way across hastily laid plank wooden flooring, holding a hot and presumably smoking lantern (unless they were electric --- which I doubt) as you felt your way through mirrored passages, trying to see against the glare of the lantern reflected a hundred times over --- not to mention the constant care needed to keep the lantern from hitting mirrored surfaces! On a hot summer's day, in the stiff and heavy clothing of the day, the entire experience must have been closer to Dante's Inferno than Dreamland.

An alternate view of the Exposition's entertainment midway puts "Dreamland" in a very different perspective --- one in which it quickly loses it's assumed grandeur amidst other equally ornate and appealing concessions, among them an appearance by the infamous Cardiff Giant fraud, Lubin's Cinemagraph ("Life Motion Pictures,") one of many incarnations of "The Streets of Cairo"exhibition, and a beer garden offering "cool lager," which must have done brisk business with patrons having just escaped the confines of "Dreamland." While details of this image aren't as clear as one would hope, one odd feature is that a large duck seems to be intently following a man dressed in garish overalls of some sort, likely a walking advertisement for a midway feature --- while a few pedestrians and concession employees look on in amusement. Where they came from, or where they were going, we'll never know.

The 1918 tune "Hindustan" figured in a very early post in connection with another amusement area, so I can't resist offering a different version here, only because it seems to suit the images so nicely despite the skewed chronology --- this time a masterful modern re-creation of the melody.

Surprisingly, "Hindustan" first appeared with a set of lyrics too --- which while typical of the period and of the sort that adorned countless other songs of the day, nonetheless add a certain charm when matched with the music, either mentally or vocally if you're so inclined, which can be done easily while listening.

"Hindustan" (1918) Modern Re-Creation

"Camel trappings jingle,
Harp strings sweetly tingle,
With a sweet voice mingle,
Underneath the stars!

Memories are bringing,
Temple bells are ringing,
Calling me afar!

Where we stopped to
rest our tired caravan...

Where the painted peacock
proudly spread his fan...

Where the purple songbird
flashed across the sand...

Where I met her
and the world began!"

Having concluded a respectable run of 184 performances at New York's Knickerbocker Theater in June of 1912, the Klaw & Erlanger production of "Kismet" embarked on a long and successful tour, which would still be in progress when the above image was taken --- on February 26th of 1914, either in --- or in the vicinity of, Denver, Colorado. An easier to view enlargement of the image may be seen by clicking here.

Featuring actor Otis Skinner in a role that would be, quite literally, the role of a lifetime, the production was widely acclaimed for it's rich scenic beauty and myriad of lighting and special effects, some of which were more akin to the elaborate magic shows of the period than anything seen in a standard stage production.

Although production of a talking film version of "Kismet" was mentioned in newspapers as early as mid-1929, it wouldn't materialize until late 1930 --- and when it did, despite being by all account perhaps one of the most breathtaking early musicals (in Technicolor and, in some cities, screened in Warners' Vitascope widescreen process) it was largely ignored by the public --- many of whom had already seen Skinner in his famed role at some point during the past twenty years, if not on the stage then in a 1920 silent version. Playing in American theaters throughout early 1931 --- often on a double bill, print ads barely hinted at the film's opulence and completely omit any mention of Technicolor, suggesting it was never seen in this format during it's general distribution.

Not unlike the Indian lad who scampered up the rope and vanished --- so has the film. Two additional film remakes, in 1944 and 1950, offer a faint glimmer of hope that the 1930 film might have served as a reference tool for one or both of these productions and therefore might be still be tucked away somewhere awaiting rediscovery, but that's probably as wildly optimistic as it is improbable at this point.

At the same time a silent production of "Kismet" was appearing on screens throughout much of 1920, Isham Jones and His Orchestra had released their Brunswick recording of a similarly titled tune --- typical of the Orientalism themed melodies of the day that suggest mysticism as much as they do early jazz, it's an atmospheric ear-full as suitable for incense burning as it is for dancing as it is for an amateur magic act.

"Kismet" (1920) Isham Jones & His Orchestra

In December of 1919, newspapers across the country carried the odd item to the left, describing the construction of a female automaton --- a mechanical woman named "Isis," by one Dr. Cecil Evelyn Nixon, a San Francisco dentist. Described as containing 1,487 gears --- 300 in her breast alone, and being able to "play any tune requested on a zither," the creation supposedly took sixteen years to build.

There's certainly no mention of this mechanical wonder in the few earlier instances where Dr. Nixon received mention in newspapers, but we do learn more of this interesting fellow --- aptly described as a "colorful figure" upon his death in 1962. An eccentric, a dreamer, a skilled magician, and a self-described "Victorian Mystic" who dressed in frock coat, high collars and pince-nez decades after the style had fallen from fashion, Cecil Nixon was also a master showman and skilled self-publicist who, almost like the clockwork mechanisms contained within his automaton, secured newspaper space for himself at regular intervals between the late 'teens and early 1960's --- a remarkable feat in of itself for anyone of his ilk.

In June of 1917, Dr. Cecil Nixon was mentioned as participating in a Fairmont, California gathering of amateur magicians and slight-of-hand artists where he presented "a Hindu mystery with a real professional finish," and in February of the following year at the "Golden Gate Assembly & Society of American Magicians" held in California's Hotel Oakland, where he apparently partnered with one Dr. George Compton to present "new deceptions."

In June of 1923, the syndicated feature to the right announced that Dr. Nixon (now dubbed "a lonesome professor") had created a successor to his 1919 Isis automaton, this one named "Galatea." Let's enjoy the following sensational --- and somewhat sordid, description of Galatea --- supposedly in Dr. Nixon's own words:

"Galatea, who plays upon a violin, has more accomplishments than even her elder sister Isis, who has already made a reputation as a zither player. How does she look? Galatea is a life-size figure of a woman. As contrasted with Isis, the dark Egyptian, she is a Nordic blond. The young woman, Miss Grace Carrol, who posed as a model for Galatea, is an American blond of Anglo-Dutch ancestry. So natural is the figure that as a distance of ten feet, she can be mistaken for a living woman. In her construction the union of art and science has been so carefully studied and applied that the automaton exhibits, while in action, the many graceful movements of a human violin player."

"Galatea has the power to breathe --- air passes up through the nostrils and the chest expands. Her eyes move in a natural manner, and the flash of color on her cheeks deepens. She smiles, revealing her teeth. Both limbs and feet move slightly and shift their position during the playing of the violin. The entire coordination of these various gestures and movements provides the illusion of life."

Amidst all this fanciful nonsense in the article, which more than once hints at the fact that Galatea's true virtues might include more than just playing a violin, is one genuinely disturbing aspect. To quote the article directly:

"It had begun to be whispered about San Francisco, meantime, that the anonymous young woman who had posed for 'Isis' died a mysterious death. Her place was taken by Miss Grace Carrol, a beautiful girl who, disdaining the sinister superstition that the job was 'haunted,' stood undraped in inspiring, though tedious, attitudes for hours while Dr. Nixon modeled 'Galatea.' What caused the first model's death? This was a question which the California newspapers took quite seriously and to which they donated some space. The episode was gravely discussed in print. Indeed, the San Francisco Call (?) devoted a long first-page article to Dr. Nixon and his mechanical 'daughters.'"

Strong stuff, but I suspect that it's all a product of Nixon's fertile imagination and penchant for the bizarre --- that not only was there never a model who suffered a "mysterious death," but that there were never any models involved at all, as I could find no mention of any such instance or indeed mention of Dr. Nixon himself, between 1919's introduction of "Isis" and the 1923 feature on "Galatea."

Here, it's April of 1937 and Dr. Nixon is in newspapers again, looking eerily identical to his 1919 image --- which may well be the most jolting aspect of all. We see him with his zither-playing Isis of 1919 --- who's used the intervening years to learn (it's said) a repertoire of 3,000 songs.

But what of the eye-fluttering, supple figured "Galatea" of 1923 --- modeled by the brave and blond Jean Carrol?

The 1937 article concludes with: "Newest project of Dr. Nixon is a female automaton that will play a violin. Her head, already constructed, blushes violently when addressed in a loud voice."

Passing away on February 28th of 1962, Dr. Nixon's obituary is worth excerpting here:

"Dr. Cecil Nixon, a spare Victorian figure, lived in the past. He wore high button shoes, standup collars, frock coats, a pince nez. In his bleak house at 1555 Broadway, furnished with paintings and fine woods from wrecked Nob Hill mansions of San Francisco's Gold Rush days, he had played host to Houdini, Paderweski and Gertrude Lawrence."

"In bygone days, his doorbell sounded Taps. A dining room opened on voice command because of an electric connection inside the carved head of a Satyr. In recent years, he lived to himself. He bemoaned the fact he no longer could 'look out my window and see the carriages roll past.' "

"Gilbert Tonge, a retired artist who lived upstairs, said 'I tried to tell him about the astronauts but he didn't want to hear it.' Dr. Nixon died Tuesday, his age in doubt. Some said 82, some 88, some 90. He spoke of birth on the Virgin Islands to an Austrian mother and an Irish father. He never married. He had no religious faith. There will be no services."

In all, the real story here isn't the automaton Isis nor the unborn Galatea, but Dr. Cecil E. Nixon himself, a product of an earlier day who cloaked himself in self-invention and mechanical mystery to cling to a period where clockwork mechanisms --- and not astronauts --- were all the magic one needed to dream, gently deceive and thereby entertain.

I'm unsure what happened to Dr. Nixon's "Isis," or his remarkable house at 1555 Broadway in San Francisco for that matter, but he did bequeath a number of paintings by artist Thomas Hill depicting scenes of Yosemite to the Oakland Art Museum, where (presumably) they exist to this day.

The 1911 song "Oh, You Beautiful Doll" seems fitting here, and the familiar melody --- upon closer examination, is a remarkable composition, especially when heard as originally written and performed. Then too, the tune surely caught Dr. Cecil Nixon's fancy at one time or another --- possibly for a long time indeed.

"Oh, You Beautiful Doll" strikes me as nothing so much as the 1911 mating call of a strutting, preening and incredibly earnest young man transfixed by his lady love, with tricky shifts in tempo that rise and fall as he moves closer to his intended romantic target --- calming and reassuring her before ultimate capture results in a vocal and musical explosion of exultation and delight.

"Precious prize, close your eyes...
now we're going to visit lover's paradise.

Press your lips again to mine...
for love is King --- of everything!

If you ever leave me,
how my heart would ache ---

I want to hug you,
but I fear you'd break!"

Offered here are two renditions, the first a 1911 Edison cylinder recording by The American Quartet, and then an utterly faithful modern vocal re-creation that retains and perhaps even emphasizes the tremendous sense of passionate urgency originally inherent in the lyrics but long since obliterated by innumerable barbershop quartets in polystyrene straw hats and striped paper vests. These recordings deftly sweep away such distortions.

"Oh, You Beautiful Doll" (1911)

"Oh, You Beautiful Doll" (Modern Re-Creation)

Another example of a 1911 tune that has been warped by the passage of time is "Melancholy," which quickly became known as "My Melancholy Baby," and then ultimately depicted as the cheesiest of old chestnuts to be sung by inebriates in low dives at closing time.

When heard in it's original incarnation though, it's a sweetly plaintive lover's ballad with ragtime touches that speaks of lonely scenes in a moonlit garden redolent of heliotrope, never once suggesting the cloud of stale tobacco smoke stale beer that clings to it now.

Again, two versions --- the first a 1915 vocal by Walter Van Brunt, and then a spot-on instrumental modern era re-creation.

"Melancholy" (1915) Walter Van Brunt
"Melancholy" (1911) Modern Re-Creation

Lovely though the poster for the 1930 First National film "Playing Around" pictured left is (despite the fact that the figure representing Alice White bears only a passing resemblance to the actress and those depicting William Bakewell and Chester Morris almost none at all!) it serves here to simply introduce two songs featured in Alice White's first all-talkie, "Broadway Babies" released early in 1929.

"Playing Around" ought not be overlooked by fans of early sound films however, for while neither a musical or comedy it contains elements of both and --- most surprising of all, depicts Alice White in one of her most polished and pleasing of films although she's yet again cast as a thrill seeking but innocent girl who learns, too late, the error of her ways. Featuring a remarkable "Best Legs" contest set in a restaurant that's as amusing as it is unusual, and great work by Chester Morris and the always tightly wound William Bakewell, the TCM print also includes the film's original exit music, over which is seen a highly effective and entirely unexpected (and to my knowledge, unique) montage of still frames from the film prepared by some unknown person with the sort of loving attention and care that's usually absent in presentation of early sound films today.

1929's "Broadway Babies" featured three tunes, "Broadway Baby Dolls," "Wishing and Waiting For Love" and "Jig-Jig-Jig-A-Loo," the latter of which wasn't (to my knowledge) commercially recorded.

As rendered here by the California Ramblers for the expiring Edison phonograph company in early 1929, here is:

"Wishing And Waiting For Love" (1929)

"Broadway Baby Dolls" (1929)

Another pair of tunes from another First National musical, this time 1930's "Spring Is Here," which --- at least for me, has always been difficult film to warm up to, although it's hard to pinpoint exactly why. For one, it never "opens up" and leaves it's stage-bound house and garden setting, and some of the characterizations --- chief among them those by Louise Fazenda and Inez Courtney, can be tiresome if not altogether unappealing. Ford Sterling, as the exasperated father of this pre-screwball comedy era family comes off best. Skilled a vocalist as Bernice Claire is, she doesn't so much interact with the other performers as merely wait to speak or sing on cue, and then too --- while others frequently wax poetic over the Rodgers & Hart compositions heard in the film, they've always seemed discordant, shrill and overly clever in a showy fashion.

If anything, perhaps the real value of "Spring Is Here" is that it features three quite different male performers in supporting roles --- all key figures in early talkies and musicals, here at various points in their careers. For Lawrence and Alexander Gray, their early talkie glory days were fast fading --- while for Frank Albertson, a career that would last into the 1960's was just beginning. Perhaps the back-story behind "Spring Is Here," and the myriad of careers --- ranging from wildly successful to those that ended in obscurity --- is what casts a pall over the film for me in the end. Surely I'd be better off sometimes not dwelling on such things!

Two recordings by Jimmie Noone and His Apex Club Orchestra from the score of "Spring Is Here," are offered next --- both recorded in February of 1930, and capturing the melancholy aura the film inexplicably holds --- if not only for me, then perhaps for you too.

"Cryin' for the Carolines" (1930)

"Have A Little Faith In Me" (1930)

December 12th of 1924 was "Georgie Price Day" in the phonograph department of a Davenport, Iowa department store --- a day set aside to honor the youthful star of "The Passing Show" who'd come a long way by 1924 --- and who'd travel further still in the coming years.

George Price (also Georgie Price and George E. Price) was a protege of the decidedly amazing Gus Edwards (a man who's astounding career is deserving of the print exploration that has, to my knowledge, eluded it so far) who trained, nurtured and then let loose upon the world the likes of Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Lillian Lorraine, Eddie Buzzell, the Duncan Sisters, Herman Timberg, Lila Lee, Armida, Jeanie MacPherson, dance director Sammy Lee, Charles King, Bert Wheeler, Johnny Hines, Ona Munson and many others.

Georgie Price was paired with Lila Lee early on (modified newsprint photo left) and when the two struck out on their own, they formed a successful vaudeville partnership --- billed as "Georgie and Cuddles," that lasted until Cuddles entered pictures, at which point Georgie focused on forming a solo personality and act --- which he did, swiftly and successfully. If you imagine a cross between Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson and George Jessel, you'll have a fair idea of Georgie Price --- and that, in part, may have been why he never reached the heights of fame that the others did, for there really wasn't any one thing to distinguish him from the others. Indeed, the fact that his act would include impersonations of Jolson and Cantor couldn't in retrospect have helped much, and only further muddled matters.

But, when heard or seen on his own --- when not impersonating, Price's talent is evident, as is his performing persona --- that of a brash but somewhat coy and clumsy young fellow. In the end, he appears to be one of Gus Edwards' very few graduates who never quite managed to escape his origins. It's reported that when he turned up at Ziegfeld's office in the late 1920's, announcing himself as "George Price," Ziegfeld refused to see him, saying he knew no George Price --- but did know someone named "Little Georgie," and then inquired if the latter person would care to see him or not.

One of Price's early musical successes was 1921's "Angel Child," the sheet music for which is pictured here, and which can be listened to --- sadly without Price's vocal or vocal of any kind for that matter, in a 1922 Edison cylinder recording by The Broadway Dance Orchestra:

"Angel Child" (1922)

Price had numerous recordings for Victor throughout the mid-1920's, including "Morning Will Come" from the Al Jolson stage success "Bombo," which can be heard next. While not precisely an impersonation of Jolson, there's little doubt of the influence!

"Morning Will Come" - from "Bombo" (1923)

Price would really hit his stride however with another recording from 1923. "Barney Google," arrived on the scene at precisely the right time to capture and cash-in on the public's fondness for the similarly titled newspaper comic strip of the day, a strip who's title and characters were deftly licensed and marketed for all manner of merchandise, including touring stage companies --- and the public leaped on the chance to connect a melody with the beloved characters, resulting in perhaps Price's biggest recording success --- but also one, like almost every other, that seemed to hinge upon the success of someone or something else.

"Barney Google" (1923)

By the late 1920's, Georgie Price again attempted to re-invent and re-introduce himself although like previous attempts, he couldn't adopt the name "George Price" without being referred to as "Georgie" or "Little Georgie" in the press or likely by anyone who knew him.

Proving that there's no such thing as bad publicity, then as now, Price made sure that newspapers were alerted to the fact he underwent surgery to downsize and pin-back his ears, and news readers in September of 1929 were treated to this syndicated wire image of a doleful looking Price resting abed following his medical ordeal! The move would pay off in the press for months to come, with Price receiving mentions in countless gossip columns that mentioned the fact that Harry Richman had underwent surgery to trim his nose, and old timer Raymond Hitchcock had submitted to a procedure to erase at least some of his many, many years.

In 1929, Price appeared in two sound short subjects, Vitaphone's "Dont Get Nervous," and for Columbia, "Station B.U.N.K." which is seen here accompanying the Fox film "A Song of Kentucky."

"Station B.U.N.K" allowed Price the opportunity to trot out his vocal and comic talents to good effect, although his impressions of Jolson, Cantor and Will Rogers are difficult to appreciate sans his mobile face, expressive dark eyes and small, lithe frame.

"Station B.U.N.K." - 1929

As a performer, Georgie Price might have never been the break-out, immediately identifiable performer he could have been had he developed a different style early on, but his career and life remained undeniably successful, with Price ultimately becoming President of the American Guild of Variety Artists, and --- perhaps most worthy of all, as emcee for all manner of charitable fund-raisers and as spokesman for retired vaudevillians.

Heard as incidental music in "Station B.U.N.K." is the wildly popular tune "I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling," and although given a parody title in keeping with the short's setting, it's inclusion and brief vocalization by Price comes as a surprise, as it usually is when a popular tune unexpectedly turns up in a non-related film of the period. "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling" would also figure heavily in the scoring for the part-talking Universal Collegians two-reeler "Flying High" of 1929, come to think of it.

Just such an instance occurs late in the length of Universal's 1929 "Broadway," a film that featured a good many original tunes specifically prepared for it, but which utilizes a pop tune of the day, "My Sin" in a key dramatic sequence as underscoring. Given the dark subject matter being discussed by the film's characters at the moment the tune is heard, the use of "My Sin" might be deemed as intended irony --- or not, but its appearance is worth highlighting here nonetheless:

Dialogue and Music Excerpt - "Broadway" (1929)

Speaking of "Broadway," readers who'd like to see something wonderful are urged to skip over to YouTube and type "Broadway 1929" in the search field. If it hasn't been yanked, you'll be treated to the final Technicolor moments of the film, that have been joined up, by some inventive and caring fan, with music from a theatrical medley recording from the film. While not entirely effective, it's a heck of a lot more care and attention than has been bestowed upon the film by it's present owners and archivists, to whom the thought of pairing surviving silent Technicolor image with surviving audio has escaped them entirely over these many years --- leaving us with two incomplete versions, one sound missing it's final reel --- and one silent, with fragments of the original Technicolor final reel intact. An example of an astounding lack of interest and/or just plain apathy, but an equally predictable one insofar as early sound films are concerned.

"My Sin" is a fine tune all by itself --- without dead bodies littering nightclub office floors, so here's Ben Selvin's fine 78rpm rendition, recorded in April of 1929, with vocal.

"My Sin" (1929)

A sin of quite another kind, albeit still musical, occurs when a film like Lon Chaney's 1928 "Laugh Clown Laugh," which originally featured a skillful and memorable theme song, is bestowed with a new score --- a merely serviceable one at best, and the tune that was so firmly linked with the film for generations of those who originally viewed it, is simply ignored and tossed aside in favor of an entirely new interpretation, invariably deemed "fresh and innovative" in puff publicity pieces connected with the film and its new score. It's to the credit of the film itself and, of course, Chaney that "Laugh Clown Laugh" remains solid fare today no matter what soundtrack is hung upon it, but we must --- I believe --- be a bit more careful in what we dispose of in our rush to make proven successes seem "fresh and innovative" for a new audience of questionable size and even more questionable sense of film history. Preservation, and not alteration, is what's needed.

"Laugh Clown, Laugh" (1928) Waring's Pennsylvanians

The lyrics of "Laugh Clown, Laugh" speak of three actors in life's play --- the Lover, the Dreamer and the Clown. In a roundabout fashion, I think the subjects featured in this post touched upon all three --- OK, somewhat, that is!

To close this post, I'll leave you with a bit of image and sound of the sort I find irresistible and easily lose myself in --- perhaps too often. A view of the park fronting New York's City Hall, a bone chilling, rain swept evening, at the very dawn of the 20th Century --- and sound that eerily suits the image, providing a moment of drifting reverie of what once was, and what never was.

Dr. Cecil Nixon, Magician - 22 February 1918

Newspaper Ad - Charleston, WV - 6 October 1929

"Broadway" Contest - Charleston, WV - October 1929

Gus Edwards syndicated feature story - 22 November 1930

"Barney Google" Stage Presentation - Elyria, Ohio - 26 September 1923

Georgie Price - Victor Record Release - 10 May 1923

Georgie Price shares vaudeville billing with chimpanzee, Syracuse NY - January 1929

MGM's "Leo" on tour - Ironwood, Michigan - 31 July 1929

Jazz on the Radio - 1929

An Unfortunate Incident - 11 November 1920 - Oneonta, New York
"Then keep your darned old store!"

Not the scene of the crime! Image submitted by reader Joe Thompson

Entrance to the Pan-American Exposition Exhibit,
The Buffalo Historical Society Annex - Buffalo, NY
Image submitted by reader DanJK

Only surviving structure from the Pan-American Exposition
Buffalo, NY - Image submitted by reader DanJK



dankj said...

haha! Right around the corner from my house, there's this: http://img245.imageshack.us/img245/1296/pandreamlandsq3.jpg

It was meant to come down after 2001, but the exhibit inside (it's an old streetcar barn) is popular enough to keep it going.

Joe said...

Jeff: An excellent mixture of items.

As a native of San Francisco, a city with many characters, I have to say that Doc Nixon was a good one.

I was happy to see and hear about Barney Google and Spark Plug. Inspired by Spark Plug, an uncle bestowed the life-long nickname Sparky upon Charles Schultz, who went on to create the comic strip "Peanuts".

I also enjoyed the item about the spoiled young lady kicking in a window at Sing Fat's "Famous Oriental Bazaar" on the southwest corner of California Street and Grant Avenue. If you wish, you are welcome to use the postcard I posted here:

Contact me by email and I could probably find you a larger image.

Joe Thompson ;0)

Jeff Cohen said...

DanJK: Wow! What a labor of love that was! Makes me feel quite nice to see it, even though there were um, "liberties" taken with the face! ;)

Joe: Thanks for the kind words, and especially the postcard. I like to think that Sing Fat's was a chain-store, and that all owners recieved a copy of the article and then spent a few nervous weeks watching approaching late-night female customers!


Joe said...

Jeff: I'm glad the Sing Fat postcard was useful to you. The building is still there.

One more thing: You had a question mark about the "San Francisco Call". The newspaper was published from 1856 through 1965. Over the years it went from the Morning Call to the Call & Post to the Call-Bulletin to the News Call-Bulletin. In the end, it was a Hearst paper.

And thanks for the great music. It was good to hear Jimmie Noone and his Apex Club band.

Joe Thompson ;0)

dankj said...

Oh, I wasn't clear: It is an old streetcar barn, but is now an annex of the Buffalo Historical Society, and contains their 1901 Pan-American Centennial exhibit. AND it includes the gun & bullets used to kill McKinley! For some reason, the Feds didn't them locked away, as they have for the other Presidental murders.

Jeff Cohen said...

Joe: Yes, the original medium for the Nixon feature article was of such poor quality that I wasn't sure of the newspaper name, hence the question mark --- but then too, I hadn't heard of the S.F. Call until now either! I'd love to learn more of the "mysterious death" that the article rather flippantly refers to, if indeed there was one!

DanJK: Corrections duly noted, and it all makes a good deal more sense now. Does anything at all survive of the Exposition's original structures?


Alex said...

This is an incredible interesting blog. Came to it by chance, while googling to get some information on Charles Kaley. Found nothing, besides that he played in a 1930 musical called "Lord Byron of Broadway". I am intersted in knowing what happened to him, did he do other films when did he die? Would you know it?
Thanks, and congratulations on your amazing work.

Jeff Cohen said...

Thank-You, Welcome Aboard, and Spread the Word!

I've long been planning to prepare a closer study of Kaley's LORD BYRON, as it's one of the most unusual of all early musicals for a myriad of reasons, not least of all the use of an "anti-hero" as the lead.

Although there will be more on Kaley at that point, I can tell you that BYRON was Kaley's only major film of the period, although he'd appear in a 1937 western titled "The Singing Buckeroo," and the actor would pass away in California, in September of 1965.

Again, thanks for your kind words. It's response from readers such as yourself that makes it a pleasure.


la peregrina said...

Hi Jeff,

I agree with Alex and think your blog is incredibly interesting. I've been reading it for some time now.

I am de-lurking to give you some info about that photo of the company of "Kismet." It was taken in Denver in front of the old Broadway Theater at 1756 Broadway Street. The Denver Public Library Western History Department has quite a few photos just like this of other companies when they played the theater.

The glass awning to the right of the theater entrance in the photo is the entrance to the old Metropole Hotel. And to the left of the theater are stairs leading to the Metropole Restaurant.

I am not sure when the theater and hotel were build, either in the early 1880's or 1890's, but I do know the building they were housed in was was torn down in 1955.

DanKj said...

One building was/is permanent : http://img329.imageshack.us/img329/8864/buffhistou2.jpg ... and there's a little wooden ticket booth, preserved inside the exhibit.

Alex said...

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for the info. I surelly will spread the word, (since this is such an unusual subject, and therefore so fascinating) starting in our blog, that is one of the leading trend watching sites in Brazil. Unfortunatelly it is in portuguese.

Anonymous said...

There is a whole book about Cecil Nixon....


Jeff Cohen said...

Re: Cecil Nixon book.

I was aware of this book while preparing the post, but opted to not mention it owing to the questionable nature of other items being sold on that particular web site, as well as the fact that the book appears to play up Dr. Nixon's alliance with a shadowy figure who's claim to fame was being a Satanist --- among other things. Then too, the chronology of the book seemed rather dodgy.

But, as you've mentioned it --- readers can now follow your link to the website and decide for themselves, I suppose.

That aside, thanks for writing!