Saturday, October 28, 2006

Mark Twain, Jesse James and Harry S Truman

From 1979 to 1983, I was the Director of Tourism for Missouri and my job was to advertise and promote the state as a destination for tourists and conventions. Mark Twain had lived in and wrote about Hannibal so he was part of our image.

British Caledonian Airways started non-stop service between St. Louis and London while I was Director so we set up a trade mission to take the Missouri story overseas. The airline supplied the seats and a group of businessmen accompanied us to the U.S. Embassy in London where we gave a rousing Mid-America presentation. We pointed out that since we were in the heart of America, we were "on their way" to anything in the USA.

As I researched the state's history to come up with superlatives, I realized that Twain was taught in British schools just as Shakespeare is studied in ours, so I brought along an actor who gave a rip-snorting, knee slapping 40-minute twangy Twain speech, immaculate in a white suit, hair in disarray and smoking a stogie. He really impressed this "Show Me" UK crowd.

Research also showed, and I shared this with the audience, that Jesse James was a well known Missourian as was President Harry S Truman. Unfortunately, it was in that order. Sorry Mr. President

So it's fair to say I am a fan of Mark Twain.

However, the picture above was not taken during the Missouri trip. Many years before - about 1958 - Hal Holbrook had just started doing his "Mark Twain Tonight!" and I snapped him during a show at Camp Lejeune, NC.

The color photo to the left was when I showed that photo to Mr. Holbrook backstage after he appeared as Twain in Charleston a few years ago. He graciously signed it for me and said "I remember that furniture." He also added that he spends a lot less time putting on makeup these days. Do the math.


At Sun Oct 29, 12:07:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Mark Twain too. Always wanted to see Hal Holbrok doing his show. You sure have had an interesting life.

At Fri Nov 22, 02:21:00 PM , Blogger chuckography said...

Well yes, Joan, so far!


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