December 17, 1900 The Great Sarah Bernhardt Was Appearing At The Madison Square Garden Theatre
Madison Square Garden was the center of entertainment for wealthy New Yorkers in the late 19th and early 20th century. Occupying the entire block between Park and Madison Avenues from 26th to 27th Streets, the Garden Theatre was the work of architects McKim, Mead and White.
Program for week of December 17, 1900 at Madiison Square Garden
The Garden Theatre featured the most famous stars of the day and 100 years ago today, you could have seen the fabulous French star Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) during her “farewell” week. Bernahardt made over nine “farewell” tours of America between 1906 – 1918. In 1900 Bernhardt was just doing farewell weeks.
Bernhardt was appearing in a prose adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The crazy part was Ms. Bernhardt was playing….Hamlet! This was considered very controversial in 1900.
The other ads on the page show what major acts were appearing at theatres around the city.
The famous Maude Adams (1872-1953), was concluding her run at the Knickerbocker Theatre in L’Ainglon. There were only 12 more performances scheduled.
The Garden Theatre was managed by Charles Frohman, the most influential and important theatre impresario of the day. Frohman also managed the Criterion, Empire and Garrick Theatre. In addition to managing theatres, Frohman was the personal manager of Maude Adams.
If you have ever seen the movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, you may know that writer Richard Matheson based a good deal of Seymour’s character (Elise McKenna) on Ms. Adams. Continue reading
Maude Adams, Biggest Star of The New York Stage Had A Stalker Committed To Bellevue
Maude Adams In Quality Street
Today the paparazzi are considered the primary stalkers of celebrities and their children. But every now and then we read about the true psychopaths who are scary or downright dangerous to those who are in the limelight (see Rebecca Schaeffer and David Letterman).
What is interesting is that the phenomenon is not new. It was happening over a hundred years ago.
Maude Adams was one of the biggest stars of the legitimate stage in the late 19th and early 20th century. James Barrie the playwright, author and creator of Peter Pan wrote roles specifically for Maude.
For those who have seen the 1980 time travel love story Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, there is little doubt that author Richard Matheson based Seymour’s beautiful Elise McKenna character on Maude Adams.
Morris Gottlieb of East 14th Street had a thing for Maude Adams. Unlike many who just capitulated or ignored their overbearing admirers, she did something about it. Continue reading
What Was Happening On January 21, 1909
I picked a random day 103 years ago to see what was in the news. I read the entire New York Times newspaper for Thursday, January 21, 1909 to come up with the some interesting stories and unusual items. The paper was only 18 pages! The major differences compared to current newspapers: few photographs accompany any story and articles of different types are interspersed on the same page, so the news is not sectioned by category. I have put the article summary in blue and my comments are in black italics.
Crowds flocked to the Auto Show at Madison Square Garden. Lots of famous people showed up including Colonel John Jacob Astor and Mr. & Mrs. George J. Gould. There was a selection in gasoline powered and electric cars on display.
Not many people realize that in the early days of automobile manufacturing gasoline and electric cars were battling for market share. Steam cars were also an option, but were left unmentioned in the article. Before 1909 over 600 companies in the United States had at one time started manufacturing automobiles and half of them had already run out of business. An estimated 200,000 automobiles were in use in the United States according to the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers. What would our current energy situation be like today had the electric car won the battle for vehicular supremacy over the gasoline powered engine?
An advertisement for Renault showed they led all automobile companies in US imports with 214 in 1907 and 244 in 1908.
The runner-up for sales in each year (by half as much) were in order: Mercedes, Fiat and Panhard?!
The Conference Committee of the Independent Telephone Officers to meet the following week on plans to build a long distance telephone line from Boston to Omaha. The cost: $5,000,000 immediate expenditure and $30,000,000 over the next four years! Continue reading