New Items - Showboat Photos
The WASHINGTON behind the scenes of 1925 film STAGE STRUCK filmed on the Ohio River at New Martinsville, West Virginia
Just arrived today, original production still of the WASHINGTON alongside the showboat WATER QUEEN in the summer of 1925 on the Ohio River at New Martinsville, West Virginia during night time filming of the Gloria Swanson silent film STAGE STRUCK.
BELOW IS FROM THE WEST VIRGINIA CULTURE. ORG SITE ARE HIGHLIGHTS FROM A 1925 NEWSPAPER ARTICLE REGARDING THE FILMING OF 'STAGE STRUCK,' A SILENT FILM STARRING GLORIA SWANSON ABOARD THE SHOWBOAT "WATER QUEEN" AT NEW MARTINSVILLE, WEST VIRGINIA ON THE OHIO RIVER. ATTACHED A DAYTIME PHOTO OF THE SHOWBOAT THAT WAS INCLUDED IN THE WETZEL DEMOCRAT ARTICLE. THE ARRIVAL OF THE WASHINGTON AND THE EXCITEMENT ADDED TO THE NOVEL SITUATION OF A MOTION PICTURE COMPANY FILMING IN A LITTLE RIVERTOWN.
Gloria Swanson and the Filming of "Stage Struck"
August 20, 1925
New Martinsville, West Virginia
Actual filming of Gloria's great picture, "Stage Struck," was begun of Tuesday of this week with the "shooting," in the afternoon, of a number of scenes around the local wharf and on the floating theatre "Water Queen." Miss Swanson did some work on the boat during the day, and, in the evening, appeared and thanked the big crowd that was jammed in the auditorium of the "Water Queen" to furnish the "atmosphere" for the scenes that will feature Gloria's rise in the theatrical world from the position of waitress in a restaurant. There were assembled at the wharf Tuesday evening no less than 2500 persons to witness the work of the Famous Players organization, and it was a gay throng. The company had a number of powerful electric lights in operation preparatory to filming the crowd going up the stage plank of the show boat, buying tickets and going in to see the show, when the palatial excursion steamer WASHINGTON, bearing a merry throng from New Matamaras, Sistersville and Paden City, swung into the harbor with thousands of lights of varied colors gleaming from stem to stern. Thus there were presented to view at one time the great lights used for filming, the beautiful showboat, gaily bedecked, the brilliantly lighted excursion palace and the throng of people, all of which, against the background presented by the countryside across the Ohio, made a scene that beggars description. A very amusing incident of the evening occurred when, at a signal that all was in readiness for the crowd to start on the boat, Ford Sterling, the comedian, who was in full dress and with an unusually large "stove pipe" hat, began "barking" for the show. He vociferously urged both the people on the wharf and those on the excursion steamer to attend the big show, the price of admission being only a "quawthah" of a dollar. A number of amusing scenes were also "shot" inside the boat.
The filming of many other scenes, both of individual acting and the countryside, is progressing, but it will be several days before the work is completed. Perhaps the biggest single set to be filmed will be the picnic scene in Clark's grove. It was intended to have the picnic Thursday, but postponement was necessary, and it will probably be Saturday, the 22nd. The public in general is invited.
Quite a crush of the Water Queen Tuesday night. Scenes for "Stage Struck" were being made on the Water Queen all day on Wednesday. Already, all the girls are wanting their hair cut just like Gloria's.
A showboat makes and appearance at Hannibal, MO in 1927
A "Herald" announcing the forthcoming visit of French's "NEW SENSATION" showboat.
"AT THE RIVER" (the Mississippi) and rubber stamped HANNIBAL (MISSOURI) on THUR.OCT.6." October Sixth fell on a Thursday in 1927.
Showboat GOLDENROD program
ATTACHED IS MY SCAN OF THE COVER OF AN ORIGINAL UNDATED PROGRAM FOR THE GOLDENROD SHOWBOAT DURING THE PERIOD SHE WAS MOORED IN ST. LOUIS AT THE FOOT OF LOCUST STREET.
I CUSTOMIZED THE FRONT COVER, REPLACING THE HEAVILY SCREENED PHOTO OF THE GOLDENROD WITH A SHARPER PHOTOGRAPH.
A TRANSCRIPT OF THE RELEVANT TEXT ON THE BACK COVER AND THE 2 INNER PAGES FOLLOW:
HISTORY OF THE PLAY:
"The Drunkard" or "The Fallen Saved," had its initial curtain in 1843 in New York City under the management of P. T. Barnum of circus fame. The play was then taken quite seriously and ran for over a year.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Mrs. Wilson - EDNA BRADER
Mary, her daughter - VIDA FLETCHER
Squire Cribbs - E.S. FLETCHER
Edward Middleton - FRANCIS LANE
William Dawton - PAT TRACY
Agnes, his sister - BLANCHE FORBES
Landlord - BILL ROCHESTER
Julia - ARLYS TYSON
Arden Rencelaw - DUKE THOMPSON
Villager - JOE HALL
PLACE, NEW YORK STATE
Scene 1. (Interior of rural cottage) "Go forth, my dear, as a dove from the Ark of old."
Scene 2. (Lonely road in a wood) "I fear this is the gentleman I seek."
Scene 3. (The Cottage) "Hail, Happy Pair."
Scene 1. (The Barroom) "Drunk, Fighting, Shame, Agony!"
Scene 2. (Woods) "He is lost."
Scene 3. (The Cottage) "Oh, what a question for a doting wife."
Scene 1. (BROADWAY) "What?" "Forgery? Confusion!"
Scene 2. (A wretched Garret) "Help, Mercy!"
Scene 1. (A miserable shed) "Take not your life, but mend it."
Scene 2. (The woods) "Watched!" "Confusion!"
Scene 3. (BROADWAY) "Let me get my grip on the old fox."
Scene 4. (Renceiaw's Home) "I stand once more, a man."
Scene 1. (BROADWAY) "Cribbs was a forger."
Scene 2. (In the woods) "A villain I have lived, a villain let me die."
Scene 3. (The Cottage) "Home, sweet home." Sung by the full strength of the company
THERE WILL BE VAUDEVILLE PERFOMANCES BETWEEN THE ACTS
TEXT ON BACK COVER:
GET INTO THE SPIRIT OF SHOWBOAT DAYS!
To derive full enjoyment from this evening's entertainment, turn back the pages of history to the days when show boats provided the only outside amusement that ever reached that vast area through which flows the mighty Mississippi, the Missouri, the Ohio—every river and bayou throughout the country.
The GOLDENROD, depicted in Edna Ferber's "Show Boat," dates back a quarter of a century. Captain J. W. Menke, her owner and manager, has taken her up and down every navigable river. The advance agent, traveling by horse and buggy a week ahead of the Showboat, tacking cards and distributing hand bills to the natives, announces the coming of the GOLDENROD. When she noses around the bend there is a goodly crowd on the wharf and all day long a steady stream of horse- drawn vehicles wend their way to the river. By show time there is standing room only.
Showboat audiences are not ashamed of reaction. They laugh, they cry, they hiss, they cheer. Forget that you have ever seen a Jolson or a Barrymore. Give yourselves up to the enjoyment of the evening, as though these were indeed the Gay Nineties and that this was the one big night of your life.
Phone: GArfield 8675 for Reservations
— Special Rates to Organizations —
THE GOLDENROD IS THE ONLY SHOW BOAT OPERATING IN THE U. S.
The Goldenrod was built in 1909 by Pope Dock Company for W. R. Markle. She was originally named Markle's New Showboat but soon renamed Goldenrod. The Goldenrod claimed to be the last showboat built for the Mississippi River and the last showboat which survived. The Goldenrod has been registered as National Historic Landmark.
While it has been reported that Edna Ferber was inspired by the Goldenrod to write her book "Showboat", it's more likely that Edna Ferber's book actually is based upon the time she spent traveling with the James Adams Floating Theatre. The musical "Showboat" is based on Edna Ferber's book.
Steamboats.org also hosts an extensive paper about history, present and future of the Goldenrod showboat by Asley Weber, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, from April 23, 2003. The Goldenrod is considered the largest and finest showboat ever built being 200 feet long and 45 feet wide. She's seating more than 1,400 people. In 1913 Markle lost the boat by foreclosure. She went on auction and was sold for $11,000. In 1922 the Goldenrod was purchased by Capt. Bill Menke who run her as 12 months season. She spent two summers at Aspinwall, PA, in 1930 and 1931. In the summer of 1937 the Goldenrod went to St. Louis for repairs. She was moored at the Locust Street Landing until 1962. Until then the Goldenrod visited about 15 states each year.
In 1988 the boat was purchased by the city of St. Charles from Frank Pierson's heirs who owned her since 1964 and restored her. She was moved to the Missouri River in 1990. The Goldenrod was restored and renovated. She reopened in 1991 as dinner theater with live shows. In 2001 the Goldenrod closed due to financial problems.
Touring the Goldenrod Showboat in July 2003 in St. Louis
In June 2003 the showboat was given to the Lewis and Clark Landing LC at St. Louis, where the boat now is moored at a storage dock off Gratiot Street, south of the Poplar Street Bridge, waiting for a good idea what to do with her.
As of July 2003, the Goldenrod Showboat was located at St. Louis, privately owned by a real estate venture. One of the owners, John Schwarz, gave us a tour to the boat on July 25th, 2003. The most interesting part was seeing the old wooden hull. The old hull was in very bad shape - fortunately it is not needed for keeping the boat afloat, as there is a steel hull around it, built around the old wood hull in 1974. Nevertheless, adding the steel hull obviously was not done very well what you can recognize by looking at the terrible deformation of the decks that can be seen on the pictures from outside. Also John Schwarz told us that the electric installations and the plumbing and sprinkler system is in terrible shape, as are parts of the boats wood.
Clearly there would have been major expenses to restore the boat, so the boat definitely needed a concept for usage that makes money. Especially when you look at the amount of money the city of St. Charles obviously already had invested in the boat (about 4 Million $) and you have no idea where this money went to when are looking at the boat right now. This shows how expensive any restoration will be and how important a money making concept for the Goldenrod is.
Her final days on the Illinois River
Sometime around 2010/2011 the Goldenrod has been towed to Kampsville on the Illinois River. Wikipedia has a record of her proceedings, changing ownership, being sold in a Sheriff's auction after dispute about mooring fees et cetera. Eventually in 2016 volunteers saved some artifacts from the Goldenrod after she has suffered serious structural damage after being moved onto land in summer 2015.
SHOWBOAT MAJESTIC playbill 1952 for TEN NIGHTS IN A BAR-ROOM
Playbill from the Showboat MAJESTIC for the melodrama
TEN NIGHTS IN A BAR-ROOM
According to the book CARGO OF MEMORIES by Catherine Reynolds King the HIRAM COLLEGE PLAYERS first engagement for this season's tour began on:
June 7th 1952 - Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Second - Rochester, Pennsylvania
Third - Fairmont, West Virginia
Last engagement: October 6th 1952
The other 3 melodramas in the company's repertoire this season were:
MURDER IN THE RED BARN
THE VENGEANCE OF EMORY BLACKSLOTH
The Showboat WATER QUEEN - 8 frame captures from the 1925 silent film STAGE STRUCK
8 FRAME CAPTURES FROM STAGE STRUCK
The daytime scenes and interiors were tinted sepia and the night time exteriors tinted blue.
DVD from KING LORBER: kinolorber.com
1925, 84 minutes
Gloria Swanson - Jenny Hagen
Lawrence Gray - Orme Wilson
Gertrude Astor - Lillian Lyons
Ford Sterling - Waldo Buck
Directed by Allan Dwan
Screenplay Forrest Halsey from a story by Frank R. Adams
Photography George Webber
One of the last lighthearted collaborations between Gloria Swanson and Allan Dwan, Stage Struck (1925) is a sweetly funny account of a small-town girl with dreams of fame. Swanson plays Jenny Hagen, a diner waitress who fantasizes about a life on stage. Her heart belongs to Orme Wilson (Lawrence Gray), an expert pancake flipper, who only has eyes for the women in movie magazines. So when a river showboat comes to town, he only has eyes for the star, Lillian Lyons (Gertrude Astor). Inflamed with jealousy, Jenny is determined to get on stage herself, by any means necessary.
DVD Extras Include:
Brand New 2K Master from a 35mm archival print
Audio commentary by Frederic Lombardi, author of Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the Hollywood Studios
Booklet essay by film historian Farran Smith Nehme
Includes Original two-strip Technicolor prologue and epilogue
Piano score composed and performed by Andrew Simpson
Bryant's Showboat, 1918-1939
Opposite shore from left: the SHAMROCK 2 and unidentified boats
Bryant's Showboat, 1918-1939
Built in 1918 at Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Owned by Billy Bryant
Toured towns and cities on the the Mississippi & Ohio rivers
Seated 880 people. Two duplicate boats were later built and operated under the same name.
Towed by the VALLEY BELLE in Cincinnati in 1918
THE SPRAGUE SERVED AS A SHOWBOAT FOR THE VICKSBURG LITTLE THEATRE COMPANY - 1962
ATTACHED SCAN OF THE COLORFUL COVER FOR THE 1962 SOUVENIR PROGRAM 1962 FOR A MELODRAMA PERFORMED ABOARD THE SPRAGUE AT VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI, SO IT WAS TECHNICALLY FOR A WHILE ANYWAY IT WAS A "SHOWBOAT." ALSO INCLUDED FIVER PHOTOS OF THE CAST IN THEIR COSTUMES. I SCANNED SOME OF THE PAGES OF TEXT AND RECOMPOSED THEM FOR CLARITY.
THE TITLE OF THE MELODRAMA WAS PROBABLY AN ABBREVIATION OF THE FAMILIAR LINE "THAR'S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS!"
"GOLD IN THE HILLS"
"THE DEAD SISTER'S SECRET"
By J. Frank Davis
Perfomed aboard the retired Towboat
SPRAGUE On the Mississippi River at Vickburg, Mississippi
Produced by THE VICKSBURG LITTLE THEATRE
Founded in 1936
Spring Season opens on March 2nd and plays each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday through April 14th
Summer Season opens on June 15th and plays each Friday and Saturday evening through Sept 1st
The traditional calliope call heralds another season for the Little Theatre's Dixie Showboat players in the nationally famous Gay Nineties melodrama, "Gold in the Hills." Rollicking songs of the Old South; mustachioed gents; the bold, bad villain; the stalwart hero; the shrinking heroine; dancing can-can cuties; pompadours and crinoline—all are staged on the world's largest sternwheeler SPRAGUE.
Steeped in the tradition of the famous "Floating Palaces" of by-gone days, the Vicksburg Little Theatre's showboat play is one of few such attractions offered anywhere. Since its opening in 1936, the play has received recognition on many fronts. Over 140,000 visitors have come from far and near to relax and enjoy this performance. In a history-making trip to the heart of Yankeeland, Showboat Players captivated Pennsylvania audiences; May of 1959 when "Gold in the Hills" was staged on the SPRAGUE at the Pittsburgh Bi-Centennial celebration.
"Vicksburg Players Solid Hit on Board Steamer SPRAGUE," said the Pittsburgh Press.
" 'Gold' Players Captivating,"
"Packed House Howls," said other headlines.
The Pittsburgh trip was an exciting chapter in the colorful history of Showboat performances, which had their beginning in 1936 on a covered barge at the City Front in Vicksburg.
With the growth of "Gold in the Hills" in recent years, it has become imperative that there be alternate players for every role. Today, almost everyone in the cast has played more than one role and many members have appeared in six different parts
CAPTAIN ANDY GREETS YOU AT THE GANGPLANK Alternate actors in the role of the Captain are: G. Alexander, L. W. Callaway & Harry Gillespie
MADAME PIZZICATO at the Calliope Alternate Musicians: Grace Deppe Sauer, Marie Nutt & Cordelia Emerson
THE SINGING WAITERS, who during the Prologue Will Invite You to Join In Singing Some old Favorite Songs
Waiters: Goode Lee, David Ethridge, Paul Duval & Charles Kolb
The Old Homestead. Nellie, the Farmer's daughter. Moonlight and a locket.
The plot thickens. Nellie's temptation. A fate worse than death.
A blow for defenseless womanhood.
Big Mike's Beer Garden and Dance Hall on the Bowery.
The fugitive finds honest employment. "There's dirty work afoot."
The old Homestead again the following Christmas Eve. A face at the window.
A lamp to light the wanderer home. The erring girl's return. Charge and counter-charge.
The DEAD SISTER'S SECRET.
An honest child in the toils. A familiar voice.
In the Villain's clutches. John Dalton to the rescue.
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
LIZZIE, The Housekeeper - Josephine Alexander, Peg Hansen, Mary Sherard & Lucy Lee
BARBARA STANLEY, Little Sister Susan Gillespie, Janie Selby, Deleatha Rudd & Evaline Markel
HIRAM STANLEY, The Honest Farmer _____Clark Williams, Erie Metzen, George Schaff & Gerry Easley
NELL STANLEY, The Heroine Beth Vavra, Anita Collins, Linda Bovay & Marion Taylor
JOHN DALTON, The Hero Walter Johnston, Ben Piazza, John Collins & Donald Owen
RICHARD MURGATROYD, The Villain_____Shouphie Habeeb, Bill Hallberg, Roy Bailey, George Beulow, Wilfred Rotstein,
SAM SLADE, His Shadow Bob Ray, John Collins & Donald Owen
JENKINS, The Constable Dwight Anderson, Charles Kolb, & Russell Walker
A DERELICT John Martin & Harry Gillespie
BIG MIKE SLATTERY, Dance Hall Proprietor Charles Kolb, Joe Knapp, Oscar LaBarre & John Halpin
PETE, The Rat Ronnie Fowler, John Hebler, Larry Lanz, Charles Denzel & Ney Olertegei
OLD KATE Annabelle Jamison, Mary Louise Fielder, & Corinne Sartorius
LITTLE TOMMY Fisher Callaway, Bernie Callaway, Howard Lee, Reid Walker & Joe Johnston
CHUCK CONNERS, A Bowery Guide Bernard Freutel, Don Buffington, Marvin Meyer & Larry Lanz
HAPPY, The Singing Waiter Alonzo Trehan, Don Roberts & Roy Summers
Robert Holmes, Producer
James Canizaro, Director
John Martin, Theatre Manager
Jim Daughtrey & Paul Hadala, Stage Managers
Jack Hall, lighting
Sylvia Holmes, Costumes
Jo Lever, Make-up
Amanda Swett, Choreographer
Mary Ewing, Program Sales
Selby Martin, Peanut Sales
Lyle Hansen, Box Office.
THE HISTORIC SPRAGUE
" Big Mama "
The most valued and most publicized relic the river has ever known, The SPRAGUE, Big Mama of the Mississippi, has been the home of The Showboat Players since the boat was given to Vicksburg twelve years ago.
For more than five decades the SPRAGUE, mightiest sternwheeler of them all, plied the Mississippi, setting a record for tonnage towed.
She was retired from active service in 1946 and two years later given to Vicksburg by Standard Oil Company for preservation as a Memorial Shrine and Marine Museum for Mississippi River lore.
The Sprague was anchored at the city waterfront and opened to the public. In 1957 the River Hall of Fame, depicting evolution of transportation on the Mississippi, was added.
In March, 1959, in an unprecedented river trip, the huge sternwheeler was towed to Pittsburgh for a starring role in the Pennsylvania city's Bi-Centennial celebration.
Through agreement with the Pittsburgh Bi-Centennial Association, the SPRAGUE was given a $75,000 face-lifting.
Completely renovated, the boat was painted inside and out; upper and lower deck dining rooms were provided; the theatre section was enlarged and redecorated; and the big paddle wheel was motorized.
As though touched by a magic wand, the famous old sternwheeler, roughened by river drudgery, was transformed into a spacious, glamorous, floating amusement center.
The wall mural in the upper deck dining room was presented to the boat by The U. S. Steel Corporation. A copy of the Dean Cornwell original of the famous Robert E. Lee — Natchez race, the mural was painted by Edgar Roth, art director for U. S. Steel.
The Sprague measures 315 feet in length and 61 feet in width; her stern wheel is so tremendous that it made only ten revolutions per minute.
Some half million people toured the SPRAGUE while she was in Pittsburgh.
Returning to her home port in November, she was given a royal welcome and anchored at city waterfront again to offer visitors to historic Vicksburg one of the most unique and interesting attractions on the Mississippi.
Footlights Afloat by Rose B. Knox - dust jacket by E.P. Couse 1937
Dust jacket artwork by E.P.Couse FOOTLIGHTS AFLOAT by Rose B. Knox a novel for young folks about life aboard a showboat (pushed by a little towboat):
By Rose B. Knox
Illustrated by E.P. Couse
Doubleday & Co, 1937
Garden City, NY
With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact Steamboats.com for permission for commercial use.*
All captions provided by Dave Thomson, Steamboats.com primary contributor and historian.