When Princeton University fondly recalls Booth Tarkington’s ivied days as a member of the class of 1893, they consistently omit one little detail: he may have started out with the class of ‘93 upon matriculation, but he never actually finished. It’s possible that Tarkington may in fact be Princeton’s most famous dropout–sort of a 19th Century version of Bill Gates and Harvard.
Georgia Street was the center of “Super Bowl Village,” but something was apparently lacking once the big NFL event, lasting just a few days, was over. In what feels like a rebuilding-burnt-bridges move, the committee responsible for hosting the Super Bowl funded (among other projects) a series of seven-foot pillars along Georgia Street which commemorate Hoosiers of note.
Gallery has made good choices in this staging, opting for six adult actors and one child. Several of the adults will still play multiple roles, but the production promises to be much less confusing than it was (gauging by the reviews) at Keen and Taproot in Manhattan and Seattle, respectively.
Aside from Welles sharing a midwest heritage with Tarkington, I’ve always been puzzled at the filmmaker’s choice for his sophomore project. After all, Welles was such an entrenched figure in New York literary and theatre circles, Tark’s tale of an American aristocratic family in decline just has never seemed a good fit.
Tarkington really could present himself as something of an authority on Twain. Not only are the two writers considered seminal American authors of literary portraits of boyhood, they shared a great deal more. For a few years, as one man’s health declined and the other man’s marriage declined, they ran in the same circles… so to speak.
What role Tarkington played in the ongoing business of PEN is unclear. James Woodress, Tarkington’s biographer, makes not a mention of Tarkington’s involvement in PEN. Given that Tarkington was not residing in New York at the time, and that events in Indianapolis would soon wholly occupy his attention, I imagine that his direct involvement quickly tapered off.
More or less following in the tradition of Tarkington’s Juvenile Fiction oeuvre, The Flirt is kind of a natural sequel to Seventeen… except that it predated both Seventeen and Penrod! Published in 1913 after first being serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, the novel does not work nearly as well as its antecedents.
A few weeks ago, I ran a news item about the poetry of the first Mrs. Tarkington. Just the other day, one of my search engine feeds turned up a Library of Congress photo of Louisa, specified as from the period from 1910 to 1915. A link in the photo’s comment thread led me to the website of painter Tyler Alpern, one of whose muses is Louisa’s nephew Bruz Fletcher.
The influenza epidemic which brought an abrupt end to this Broadway production, as you may or may not recall, also killed millions of people around the globe in 1918… an epidemic spawned by injured soldiers returning home from the trenches of Europe’s drawn-out war. So I doubt that Penrod was the only show that flopped that year.
In 1939, Photoplay Magazine ran a very fine 2-part, detailed profile of actor James Stewart. Today, we mostly think of Stewart for It’s A Wonderful Life and the balance of his post-war oeuvre (including Liberty Valance, The Glenn Miller Story, Winchester ‘73, Rear Window, and his Anthony Mann Westerns), so it’s easy to forget that even before Stewart’s stint as a pilot during the War he was a household name.
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