Tag Archives: Performing Arts

Watertown’s Wizard of Show-Business (Conclusion)


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NYH3A CGiblynSelzPosterIn 1920, Charles Giblyn produced his first film for William Fox. (If the name sounds familiar, William founded Fox Film Corporation in 1915, the forerunner of today’s Fox TV and movie units.) The film, Tiger’s Cub, allowed Giblyn a homecoming of sorts. With his lead actress, Pearl White, who reportedly had the widest following of any star worldwide at the time, he came north for filming in Port Henry, about an hour south of Plattsburgh, where he once lived.

After producing a few more movies, Charles was sent to the West Coast on behalf of Fox, where he continued working. For a brief period, he assumed leadership of the Motion Picture Directors Association, but when Fox reassigned him to more movie projects back East, he surrendered the top spot with the MPDA and headed for New York. Continue reading

The Hamilton Musical and America’s Future (Part II)


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Hamilton MusicalLast week, I described what I think is a significant perilous trend facing history and the American culture through the process of hypehnization. I argued that identity in a society nominally based on We the People and e pluribus unum was being replaced by one where people self-identify as hyphenated Americans, with  corresponding history classes and museums to reflect these differences.

Diversity resonates in New York history. Take William Johnson, the the British royal agent in the 18th century, and an Irishman. His European world consisted of Dutch, French, English, and German (Palatines), all of whom were distinct from each other, as demonstrated for example, by the French and Indian War. Continue reading

Watertown’s Wizard of Show-Business (Part 2)


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NYH2A CGiblynBy 1911, Charles Giblyn, now 40, had been acting for more than 20 years and receiving many great reviews for his theater work. That he often stood out was reflected in comments like the following, taken from the pages of the Los Angeles Herald: “Not Yet, But Soon, currently at the Grand Opera House, has just one thing to commend it to theater-goers. This is the acting of Charles Giblyn as a dope fiend. Apart from Mr. Giblyn’s work, the piece is silly, stupid, and boresome.”

He had also managed several stock companies, and in recent years had directed many stage plays and vaudeville shows at LA’s Belasco and other theaters. The experience would serve him well as he plunged headfirst into a new show-business medium: the world of movies. Continue reading

Charles Giblyn: Watertown’s Wizard of Show-Business


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NYH1A CGiblynDuring research, trivial bits of information often lead to the discovery (or uncovering) of stories that were either lost to time or were never told. For instance, did you know that a North Country man once directed Harrison Ford in a movie role as a young adventurer? Or that a coast-to-coast theater star hails from Watertown? Or that a man with regional roots patented a paper toilet-seat protector two decades before it was offered to the public? Or that a northern New York man was once a sensation after posing for a famous calendar? Or that an area resident was the go-to guy for the legendary titans of a very popular American industry? Continue reading

Ticonderoga Actor Whitney Armstrong (Conclusion)


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NYH02MWitneyTyreeStarTrekWhitney Armstrong went to Los Angeles in late 1962. In less than a week, he tested for and won the role of Buck Coulter in a new TV series, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, with Kurt Russell among the cast members. After 14 episodes, Whitney was replaced by Charles Bronson.

By this time, his bulky name (Whitney Michael Moore Armstrong) was remade for Hollywood purposes. After jumbling it and dropping the “h” from Whitney, they arrived at Michael Witney. Continue reading

NYC Hip-Hop History Photograph Exhibit Planned


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Hip-Hop - 1The Museum of the City of New York is presenting HIP-HOP REVOLUTION: Photographs by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper, an exhibition that shows the historic early days of hip-hop culture and music, with its roots firmly in New York, and how it evolved towards the worldwide phenomenon it is today.

Bringing together for the first time the work of three renowned photographers of the hip-hop scene, the exhibition shows the birth of a new cultural movement – with its accompanying music, dance, fashion and style – as it quickly and dramatically swept from its grassroots origins into an expansive commercial industry. Continue reading

Ticonderoga’s Whitney Armstrong Had It All


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NYH01WhArmstrongIf you’re just a regular Joe or Jane, you’ve probably at some point—say, while lying back in an office chair, or doing the dishes, perhaps mowing the grass—entertained a number of Walter Mitty-like fantasies. You know … stuff like, “What’s it like to be that guy or girl?” For men, that guy could be anything. What’s it like to be the smartest kid in school? The star center on a school basketball team? The ace pitcher on the baseball team? A great running back in football? Better yet, how about doing all that in college? Wow … BMOC, plenty of attention from the girls, the coolest among the guys. Might as well toss in a professional baseball contract … what sports-loving boy doesn’t dream of that? Continue reading

Unique Circus Event At Troy Gasholder Building


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FAQCircus04_RenaldLaurinA Montreal-based circus group will perform in a unique historic space in Troy on Friday and Saturday, February 20th and 21st.  F.A.Q. Circus will perform three 55-minute shows in the Troy Gas Light Gasholder Building.

The events are an opportunity to see a remarkable new approach to a traditional circus, inside of one of Troy’s most remarkable historic buildings. Built in 1873, the Gasholder Building is one of only a handful of such structures remaining in the U.S. Continue reading

‘Hearts of Fire’ Composer On The Schenectady Massacre


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features Maria Riccio Bryce, the composer of the musical Hearts of Fire, a work that commemorated the 300th anniversary of the burning of Schenectady by the French and their Indian allies in 1690. The production was staged in 1990 and 1991. Bryce is now re-releasing the CD of the original cast recording. Featuring a cast of 60, the work is a powerful re-telling of the early struggles and sacrifices made by Schenectady’s first inhabitants. The CDs are available at Proctors Gift Shop and The Open Door in Schenectady and at Old Peddlers Wagon and The Bookhound in Amsterdam. Alternatively, CDs may be purchased by sending Maria Riccio Bryce a check for $21 to P.O. Box 66, Amsterdam, N.Y. 12010. Bryce is also the composer of two other major works, Mother I’m Here and the Amsterdam Oratorio. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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