Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Edwin Booth's 179th Birthday Celebration at The Players

It was a beautiful, crisp, clear night this past November 13th in New York City. A perfect night to celebrate Edwin Booth’s 179th birthday at the private club Edwin founded on the last night of 1888─The Players. The Players was his longtime dream; it was a first-class sanctuary where actors and eminent men in other professions in business and the arts could informally meet and rub shoulders, and still is today. For many it was and is a home away from home. It was also the last place Edwin chose to make his home.
The Players continues to honor Edwin’s life and the ground breaking theatrical contributions he made to the American theatre alive today. The birthday celebration they held in his honor that night achieved just that. It commenced with carefully selected readings by Players members, moderated by the Master of Ceremonies David Staller: Edwin Booth’s Youth by his sister Asia Booth Clarke and William Winter. Read by Nichole Donje / A Booth Saves a Lincoln by Adam Badeau. Read by Tom Vinciguerra / Edwin Booth’s Letter to the people of the United States read by John Martello / The Curse of Rome by Laurence Hutton. Read by Jim Brochu / An excerpt from Joseph Jefferson’s inaugural speech as second president of The Players. Read by David Staller. Then they presented a touching, beautiful slideshow of Edwin through his life produced by Elizabeth Jackson.
Cathy Rowan, a Junius B. Booth member who resides in The Bronx, and I, the President of the JBBS and a volunteer At the Historical Society of Harford County were honored to be invited to the celebration and were warmly introduced to the members in attendance. We all made a candlelight excursion across the street into Gramercy Park and a laurel wreath was placed on Edwin Booth’s statue. There David Copeland read On Edwin Booth’s 104th Birthday-November 13, 1937, written by Player Edgar Lee Masters. An impromptu rendition of Happy Birthday to Edwin was sung by all. We then made our way back to The Players for champagne and hors d’oeuvres in The Grill Room.
Elizabeth Jackson, who produced the celebration invited Cathy and I to join her and her guests at her table. We had a great time getting to know each other and talking about Edwin and his legacy. I met many wonderful Players members and answered a lot of questions about The Junius B. Booth Society. It really was a wonderful, unique experience─made even more special in Edwin’s beloved The Players.
Later Cathy and I were delighted to tour the club and visit Edwin’s bedroom, preserved just as it was when he died in 1893. I would like to thank Elizabeth Jackson and John Martello, Director of The Players, for their hospitality and making us feel at home. It was a night to remember. Well done The Players!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spirits of Tudor Hall Invites You to Join Us in the Adventure and Romance at Tudor Hall

Ever since we first organized in 2008, Spirits of Tudor Hall has been in the business of taking something old (Tudor Hall) and creating something new (our tours and our growing sense of team spirit). Not only do we work hard but we have fun as we work together to explore and share the history of Tudor Hall and the Booth family.If you enjoy “pitching in” and using your skills and knowledge to make things happen, Tudor Hall just might be the place for you. A few of the “jobs” currently available are described below. Take a look at the list. If you don't find anything that fits your skills and interests, feel free to write and contact us with your own job description.

If you wish to volunteer, please contact us with information about your skills, experience, and qualifications and explain how you can put them to work on behalf of Tudor Hall.

We invite anyone with a talent for storytelling to audition to bring to life the story of Tudor Hall and those who have lived there while guiding visitors through the house.

Oral Historians
There are many people in the community who have been associated with Tudor Hall over the years. It is important to collect and record the memories of these individuals. If you enjoy interviewing and photographing people and/or if you are skilled with a tape recorder or video camera and would like to help capture the oral history of Tudor Hall, please let us know.

Tudor Hall Speakers Bureau
To meet requests from community organizations and schools, Spirits of Tudor Hall needs people with a talent for public speaking to tell the story of Tudor Hall at local meetings and events and in local classrooms. Actors, re-enactors, and storytellers with experience at Tudor Hall may be interested in participating in community outreach of this kind.

There are no membership requirements or dues at the current time beyond participating in whatever way suits you best. However, we are proud to introduce the organizations that support Spirits of Tudor Hall. Memberships are available at: The Center for the Arts, The Historical Society of Harford County, and The Junius B. Booth Society. For more information about becoming a volunteer or member of any of these organizations, please call us at 443-619-0008 or

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Gift of the Skull

Junius Brutus Booth was known for his acts of kindness. In "Booth Memorials. Passages, Incidents, and Anecdotes in the life of Junius Brutus Booth (the elder)" by Asia Booth Clarke, are a few examples:

Junius Sr. indulged his philanthropic desire unrestrainedly, and the particulars of some charitable visit or donation would frequently be disclosed to the family by the recipient.
My earliest recollection of my father is seeing him upon his knees, before a rough sailor, who had asked alms at the door. The poor fellow had a bad wound on his leg, which was suffering neglect, and my father brought him into the house and washed and bandaged the wound for him with the tenderest care.

These little deeds of kindness were almost daily occurrences. He thus sought to impress upon our minds these lessons of humanity to man and beast, more by his own acts than by precept. He delighted to seek out the destitute and unfortunate, and aid by his sympathy as well as his bounty.

It was on one of these errands of mercy that the horse thief, Fontainne, alias Lovett, was pointed out to him. Lovett was then confined in the Louisville jail, and it was remarked that he had no means of obtaining counsel, and my father, although being assured that his case was hopeless, sent him a lawyer and defrayed the expenses; for which kindness, when Lovett heard of it, he bequeathed him his head, desiring "that it should be given, after his execution, to the actor Booth, with the request that he would use it on the stage in Hamlet, and think when he held it in his hands of the gratitude his kindness had awakened."
The skull was accordingly sent to my father’s residence while he was absent from the city; and my mother, finding what a horrible thing had been left in her house, immediately returned it to the doctor to whom it had been entrusted for preparation and delivery. In 1857, the doctor, who had retained the skull, sent it to Edwin Booth, who used it in the grave-yard scene in "Hamlet" on several occasions, and afterward had it buried.

Friday, January 6, 2012

An Awkward Moment

As a boy, Edwin accompanied his father, Junius Brutus Booth, on his grueling acting tours in order to help his father make it onto stage when the curtain opened, and keep him from strong drink after the curtain fell for the night. Some of the situations Junius subjected his young son to at this time were comical.

In The Prince of Players—Edwin Booth by Eleanor Ruggles, is one such situation:

Edwin protected his father from intrusions. In Boston at the Albion, a dingy public house over an apothecary’s on the north corner of Beacon and Tremont streets, he was resting in their room when his father dashed in, whispered hoarsely, “Gould! Coming up! Say I’m out!” and dived under the bed.

Thomas Gould was a Boston sculptor. He worshiped Booth, of whom he had done a fine bust, but Booth thought him tiresome. Now Gould seemed astonished not to find his idol, whom he had seen sprinting upstairs. He and Edwin talked lamely until there fell a pause, which Booth misinterpreted.

“Is that damned bore gone yet?” he sang out from under the bed.