Fievel and the Tooth Fairy visit the JMM

Posted on August 20th, 2015 by

This past Sunday, JMM Features continued, the second in a series of free movie screenings accompanying this summer’s exhibit Cinema Judaica. The classic animation An American Tail  drew a great crowd. Everyone seemed to enjoy the movie and there was plenty of popcorn to go around! It was especially wonderful to see lots of new faces.

The event included fun activities for the whole family. Children and parents learned how to draw their favorite Jewish cartoon characters. Other activities included creating Fievel out of pipe cleaners and illustrating modern cartoon version of An American Tail, considering the challenges faced by immigrants today.

The crowds gathering before the movie starts

The crowds gathering before the movie starts.

Learning how to draw Fievel

Learning how to draw Fievel.

My favorite activity -  making Fievel with pipe cleaners.

My favorite activity – making Fievel with pipe cleaners.

We also had a visit from an unexpected guest, the Tooth Fairy! Adam and his family, visiting from Ohio, joined us for the movie. However, while watching Fievel on his adventures, Adam’s wiggly tooth came out. We have welcomed guests from around the globe but this may be a first.

Adam

Adam

If you haven’t had a chance to join us yet for JMM Features you have one last chance this week. On Sunday, August 23rd at 8:00 p.m. we will be holding a free screening Gentleman’s Agreement in the lot in front of the JMM. Again this is a BYOC (bring your own chair) event but we will supply the popcorn. If you feel like making an evening of it, bring a picnic, or even grab something from one of the wonderful local restaurants.

I hope to see you on Sunday!

 

 

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The Alliterative Adventures of an Archivist and her Assistant

Posted on August 19th, 2015 by

While doing background research for our current exhibit Cinema Judaica, I came across a surprising number of photos in our collections showing Hollywood stars in and around Baltimore.  Most of these made obvious sense: people who owned homes nearby, or who were in town to raise funds for Israel Bonds or promote a film. One photo in particular was a little harder to parse, however: a publicity shot of Pearl White, silent movie star.

Headshot of actress pearl white.

Pearl White, 1916. Donated by Richard Millhauser, JMM 1995.88.27

In the 1910s, Miss White (1889-1938) was the daredevil heroine of film serials with fabulous titles like “The Perils of Pauline” and “The Exploits of Elaine.” You know the film cliché of a distressed damsel tied to the railroad tracks, cowering from a mustachioed, black-hatted villain? Though this specific trope is more common in later cartoons and spoofs than it ever was during the silent era, the broader notion of action-packed, anything-goes filmmaking in the 1910s and ‘20s is thanks in part to Miss White – who was famous for doing her own stunts – and her endangered-heroine films, including the occasional stint on a railroad tie. Please enjoy this thrilling advertisement for “The Fatal Ring” (1917):

Movie poster for The Fatal Ring

So many thrills! “The Fatal Ring” by Pathé Exchange (film) – Internet Archive. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

…But back to our collections, and the reasons Miss White appears in them.  As best I can tell from published material, such as her autobiography, Miss White was not Jewish, nor was she from Maryland.  What’s she doing in my archives?

With internet research, a field trip to the Enoch Pratt Free Library, and the assistance of intern Kaleigh, the question was easily solved. To start with, the back of our photograph is inscribed in pencil, “To Mr. David Millhauser – The man who got my life history – Sincerely, Pearl White – in Baltimore July 3 ‘16”.

Handwritten note on back of photograph.

Reverse of JMM 1995.88.27

David Millhauser (1892-1992) worked as a reporter for the Baltimore American.  Bits and pieces in our collections indicate that he covered political and industrial news around the city.  For example, here’s his U.S. Customs “Pass to Piers, Waterfront or Vessel” from 1918, listing his occupation as “newspaper reporter” and his employer as C.C. Fulton Co., the owner of the American.

Scan of customs passport

Donated by Richard Millhauser. JMM 1991.133.1

Pearl White filmed a now-lost movie, “Mayblossom,” at Carrollton Hall (Howard County, Maryland) in 1916.  On July 3rd of that year, she was photographed and interviewed at Baltimore’s Hotel Kernan by unnamed representatives of the Baltimore American; her photo appeared in the paper on July 4th, and a longer interview was published on July 9th.

Scan of newspaper image of Pearl White.

“Popular Movie Actress Here. Miss Pearl White, the daring and popular Pathé star, who is in Baltimore to take the leading role in a picture to be staged here. The photograph was taken in front of the Hotel Kernan yesterday afternoon by a member of the Art Department of The American.” From The Baltimore American, July 4, 1916, accessed at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Though the July 9th article – which consists almost entirely of Miss White’s own words, detailing her poverty-stricken background, her adventurous career, and her refusal to divulge her age – is unattributed, the source interview on July 3rd coincides neatly with the date noted on the photo given to Millhauser; unless there was some other way he elicited her life story on a Monday in Baltimore, I presume that he was the American’s interviewer.

Was a chat with an actress something of a departure from Millhauser’s regular beat? Based on the cursory nature of the article’s descriptions – Miss White is noted simply as “wearing a big blue hat fastened under her chin with a rubber band” – I’m inclined to think this kind of gossipy publicity piece wasn’t really in the author’s line. We’ll have to do some more research in the American’s archives to find out for sure… but in the meantime, there is one more connection to be made with Baltimore’s movie history.  In the 1910s David’s father Moses Millhauser owned the Elektra, a movie theater on North Gay Street in Baltimore.  The whole family, including David, took part in the theater’s operation, from managing the lobby to providing voiceovers for the silent films on the screen. Perhaps this connection is what garnered Millhauser the assignment of interviewing one of the most popular movie stars of the day. Whatever the reason, thankfully he held on to the personalized photo for many years, until it eventually made its way to our archives – providing just a hint of adventure and glamour to those who stumble upon it.

Entrance of the Cinema Judaica exhibit

The fanciful façade of Moses Millhauser’s Elektra Theater greets visitors to “Cinema Judaica”, open through September 6, 2015 at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Photo by Will Kirk.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

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Once Upon a Time…12.19.2014

Posted on August 18th, 2015 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

1996026366Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  December 19, 2014

PastPerfect Accession #:  1996.026.366

Status:  Identified! Speakers at Ner Tamid Greenspring Valley Synagogue, circa 1975. Left to right: 1) Rebbitzen Nachama Leibowitz 2) Rabbi Herschel Leibowitz 3) EITHER Joe Omansky (8 respondants) OR Cantor Arthur Schulman (6 respondants) 4) Arnold G. Cohen

Special Thanks To: Dr. Kaplan; Carol Zimmerman; Rita G. Chapin; Harry Chase; Warren Sollod; Max Jacob; Julian Cohen; Ruth Greenfield; Marilyn Yuman; Harry Raschbaum; Marvin Glass; Eileen Lesser; Leia Schwartz; Joyce Franklin; Arnold Goldberg; Bob Steinberg; two anonymous callers

 

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