Newly Acquired Items
Movies, Showboats, & Live Theatre



From the 1953 Dick Haymes musical comedy for Columbia Pictures CRUISIN' DOWN THE RIVER, here is the interior "cabin" set for which MGM's COTTON BLOSSOM represented the exterior of the CHATTAHOOCHEE QUEEN.

Actors left to right:
Douglas Fowley as Captain Humphrey Hepburn
Dick Haymes (in white) as Beauregard Clemment
Connie Russell as the singer Melissa Curry

Synopsis from a contemporary Ames, Iowa Daily Tribune story:

"Cruisin' Down the River," tells how Dick Haymes, (as Beauregard Clemment), a riverboat gambler, who, wins a gaudy showboat in a poker game, along with and its main attraction, singer Connie Russell (as Melissa Curry), who is the girl friend of Captain Hepburn (Douglas Fowley).

Two generations later, the gambler's grandson, a night club singer, inherits the old boat that has been long in disuse and decides to convert it into a floating nightclub. Haymes plays both the gambler and his grandson. Miss Totter plays Sally Jane Jackson, the grand daughter of one of the Clemments family's old enemies.

Lyrics from the song that the movie's title originated from:

Cruising down the river on a Sunday afternoon
With one you love, the sun above waiting for the moon
The old accordion playing a sentimental tune
Cruising down the river on a Sunday afternoon

The birds above all sing of love, a gentle sweet refrain
The winds around all make a sound like softly falling rain
Just two of us together, we'll plan a honeymoon
Cruising down the river on a Sunday afternoon

Songwriters: Eily Beadell / Nellie Tollerton


A steamboat mock-up on Universal's back lot, supposedly from the 1936 version of SHOW BOAT

8" x 10" vintage photograph identified as having been taken during the filming of the 1936 version of SHOW BOAT, featuring a group of motion picture extras wearing antebellum costumes as they stand waving at unseen folks off camera from the main deck of a steamboat mock-up on Universal's back lot. If this was actually from the 36 SHOW BOAT it doesn't seem to have appeared in film after viewing it on the DVD. This scene may have "ended up on the cutting room floor" as the saying goes. The steamboat set seems to consist only of the front half from the bow to "amidship" which could have been an economic decision to reduce the set building budget of a production since the motion picture camera's lens could easily include only selected portions of a set so it wouldn't be apparent to an audience watching the film that it wasn't a "complete" set. Matte paintings could also be employed by the art director to "complete" a set in post production in which case the stern and paddlewheel could have been painted on glass by an artist and superimposed where the stern did not exist on the set, this was a common practice in many studio productions. Universal photo archive #1363-59


lobby card for Disney's HUCK FINN

This International lobby card for Disney's HUCK FINN with the sternwheeler BONNIE BELLE.



Excellent 1957 photo of the stern and paddlewheel of the steamboat GENERAL JOHN NEWTON with it's Captain Joseph P. Lindsly standing on the wharf on the right watching the wheel turning. The photo dates from the last year that the boat served the Corps of Engineers prior to the boat being purchased by the University of Minnesota in 58.

1899: The General John Newton, a 175-foot-long paddle wheeler, is commissioned. Over the years it served as a maritime courthouse and was visited by at least four U.S. presidents.

1958: The University of Minnesota purchases the boat for $1 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and renames it the Minnesota Centennial Showboat in celebration of the state's 100th year. The showboat was anchored on the Mississippi River on the University's East Bank and opened with a production of Under the Gaslight.





The General John Newton


"8 x 12 inch photo print made from scan of original 1938 image printed at commercial photo lab on quality glossy photo paper"

From eBay seller redtwigs – additional prints available listed here: eBay

LILACsteamerWithCastOfConfidenceManForNORI The Confidence Man inspired by Herman Melville's novel of colorful steamboat passengers

September 16, 2009
The Confidence Man

It's a good thing "The Confidence Man" is free -- it requires at least three viewings.

By Sam Thielman

It's a good thing "The Confidence Man" is free—it requires at least three viewings. Not because it's particularly obtuse or dense, but because there are three different, dovetailing strands of playlets in simultaneous motion aboard the former steam driven Coast Guard Tender LILAC, a rusty old tub that sits at Pier 40 on the Hudson.

Nominally inspired by Herman Melville's novel of colorful steamboat passengers, Paul Cohen's gratifyingly ambitious script manifests itself less as a single play than an impressively cohesive piece of installation art about swindling, literally buoyed by the verisimilitude of its maritime setting.

Led around the ship by one of six docents, audience members follow three or four of the 16 storylines that play at different places and times around the elderly vessel—climbing stairs, ducking into tiny cabins, and embarrassedly turning their backs as one guide makes a lengthy phone call to the student she's extorting. Some of these pieces are as elaborate as a good thriller—the grad student bit is particularly inspired, as is the old-timey two-man con starring a salesman of holy relics and his accomplice, a crooked rabbi. Others are simply one-off monologues about dishonesty, frequently on the part of the teller.

The writing varies from bit to bit; many of the 31 performers seem to feel understandably less at ease spouting unconvincing "period" dialogue than running the more contempo lines. Cohen's ending, which puts a bow on the proceedings, is also a little problematic, mostly because of the show's diffuse, labor-intensive concept and execution. As a whole, "The Confidence Man" works well enough to make a pat ending feel redundant. The vignettes, all blocked and assembled very well by a team of three directors (Stephen Brackett, Lauren Keating and Michael Silverstone), are thematically cohesive without it, though one supposes some kind of conclusion was essential to signal auds when it's time to get off the boat.

But the writer comments intelligently on the novel itself, which is chiefly concerned with multiple perspectives on grifting, including that of the grifter himself. In the play, Cohen shuffles timelines, but he always maintains the spirit of the book, whether it's in a couple of doctoral candidates (Roger Lirtsman and Emily Perkins) discussing Melville or an earnest financial executive (Melissa Miller) encouraging her clients to stop worrying and trust their Madoff-like benefactor (Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum).

Since there's a cast of literally dozens, it's impossible to do all the actors justice, but Grigolia-Rosenbaum and Miller are notably good, and all the actors roll with the continuous challenge of a dozen people standing wherever they please while the scenes take place.

With only beer sales (not recommended—ladderlike stairs plus the vessel's mild swaying are plenty perilous sans booze) to keep the good ship Woodshed Collective afloat, it's a wonder this tiny company is able to mount such a huge entertainment. And it's heartening that they've pulled it off.

The Confidence Man
WAGL 227 LILAC; 55 seats; free
A Woodshed Collective presentation of a play in one act by Paul Cohen, inspired by the novel by Herman Melville.
Directed by Stephen Brackett, Lauren Keating and Michael Silverstone.
Sets, Sara Walsh, Daniel Zimmerman
costumes, Jessica Pabst
lighting, Zack Brown
sound, Daniel Kluger, Brandon Wolcott
production stage manager, Colin Miller.
Opened Sept. 16, 2009. Reviewed Sept. 10.
Running time: 1 HOUR, 45 MIN.
Ben Beckley, Kate Benson, Pepper Binkley, Felipe Bonilla, Rusty Buehler, Juliette Clair, Eric Clem, Dan Cozzens, Todd D'Amour, Danny Deferarri, Aaron Dias, Matt Dickson, Nicholas Feitel, Emmitt George, Chris Gliege, Lara Gold, Laurel Holland, Jocelyn Kuritsky, Jane Lee, Roger Lirtsman, Moti Margolin, Brendan McDonough, Melissa Miller, Heidi Niedermayer, Emily Perkins, Michael R. Piazza, Mallory Portnoy, Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum, Hugh Sinclair, Gina Vetro and Lee Zarrett.

"During the three years I've been covering theater for Gothamist, I'm quite confident I've never deployed the oft-overused word 'genius' to describe a production. So then perhaps you'll trust me when I tell you The Confidence Man is most definitely a work of dazzling genius, a spellbinding feat of collective creativity."


"☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆!" - TIMEOUTNY

"An impressively cohesive piece of installation art"
- Variety

"Heartbreakingly beautiful"

As disarmingly relevant today as it was in the 19th century, The Confidence Man begs the question: in whom may we safely place our confidence?

In light of recent economic events surrounding Bernard Madoff, sub-prime lenders, and the deflating of the real estate bubble, confidence is a word on many minds these days. President Obama included the theme in his 2008 inaugural address, noting a profound "sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights."

Woodshed Collective's production of The Confidence Man was composed of a series of interwoven and simultaneously performed vignettes throughout the ship, evoking the whirlwind of both a riverboat journey and the everyday urban chaos of New York City. Inspired by Herman Melville's iconoclastic novel, the show pushed the company's boundaries by allowing audience members to immerse themselves in the experience, the production seeks to blur the line between performer and patron, reclaim confidence in the power of live theater, and leave the lingering impression that the audience members themselves may not be immune to the confidence man's charms or cons.

Act II for steamship LILAC

By Soundings Editors

The most recent show to walk the LILAC's deck was New York director Adam Klasfeld's production "The Report of My Death," a one-man show about Mark Twain's life that had its final performance Aug. 22. Originally posted Dec 31, 2009 Updated: Jun 16, 2017 The deck of a 1933 steamship is not a conventional place to perform a play, but if you believe William Shakespeare, all the world's a stage.

In the efforts to raise funds for the restoration of LILAC, a 173-foot steamship that served as a lighthouse tender for the U.S. Lighthouse Service from 1933 to 1939, the LILAC Preservation Project has opened up the buoy deck as a venue for cultural and artistic events. "We are in the preservation stage to keep her from deteriorating further," says executive director Charlie Ritchie.

"We're trying to refurbish the state rooms, wheelhouse, captain's rooms and, of course, eventually get her engines running again." The LILAC is docked at Pier 40 on the Hudson River in the South Village of New York City.

"For the most part she is about 75 to 80 percent intact," says Ritchie. "She has one of the last intact steam engines left."

Though her engines are not functional at this point, Ritchie is hopeful she will be on the water again. Restoring a historic steamship is a big job, but fortunately in the case of Lilac, there are plenty of inner-city high school kids willing to lend a hand.

Ritchie has run the Maritime Adventure Program since the beginning of 2007, an after-school internship for high school students ages 14 and up that helps to restore the LILAC.

Students also participate in the Summer Youth Work Program where students are paid minimum wage for doing restoration work on the LILAC. The program is organized through the New York Department of Youth and Community Development. "When I tell the kids that they are responsible for 80 percent of the restoration work since 2007, they can't believe it," says Ritchie. "But they get so much more done than just a handful of adults, most of whom don't have a lot of time to devote."

The non-profit Tug Pegasus Preservation Project in New York City began negotiations to purchase the vessel in 2002 and she was dry-docked at a shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, to have her hull inspected. Upon a favorable review, she was purchased Feb. 25, 2003, and docked where she resides now at Pier 40.

"For the first three or four years no one really did anything with her," says Ritchie. "I was involved doing events with the kids, doing a Halloween haunted ship for instance, off and on for about four years before I became executive director in 2007."

Ritchie, who has had a longtime interest in canoeing and rowing boats, is also something of a thespian. He attended acting school for three years and thought one way of raising funds for the boat was to use it as a venue for plays.

"The buoy deck can accommodate 60 or 70 people and you can fit even more on the upper deck," says Ritchie.

The most recent show to walk the deck was New York director Adam Klasfeld's production "The Report of My Death," a one-man show about Mark Twain's life that had its final performance Aug. 22.

"I found an ad . . . on Craigslist, offering the ship to art venues," says Klasfeld, who is also the playwright. "Since much of the play recounts Mark Twain's world tour [in 1895] by steamboat, there couldn't have been a more perfect setting."

Actor Michael Graves, who portrayed Twain, says it was a challenge for him each night of the performance to somehow incorporate the outside noises and events into the script to keep the audience involved.

For instance, one time during the play a party boat floated by blaring techno music. Graves (as Twain) casually wandered to the side of the deck and shouted, "And don't come back!" much to the delight of the audience.

Another theatre company called The Woodshed Collective based in Brooklyn presented "The Confidence Man," a play based on the novel of the same title by Herman Melville about con men on a steamship, throughout the month of September.

"It's a much larger production than the Mark Twain play," says Ritchie. "It helps because it gets new people on the ship and aware of her existence and importance."

Ritchie says in October a group from Men's Vogue China used the Lilac for a photo shoot and hopes more art venues will find her a fun and unique place to hold their events.

Meanwhile, Ritchie and the group's historian Norman Brouwer are applying for her to gain status as a National Historic Landmark, which would make her more eligible for federal grant money.

They hope to have the status by spring.

"We don't know how she'll run, but there's also the possibility of her being used as a marine research vessel once her engines are running," says Ritchie.

For information, visit


Live From Lincoln Center: Kern & Hammstein's Show Boat in Concert with the New York Philharmonic
Live from Lincoln Center: Kern & Hammerstein's Show Boat was featured in the 2015 PBS Arts Fall Festival.

Premiere Date: Friday, October 16, 2015

Both a cultural and artistic watershed, this groundbreaking musical redefined entertainment and changed the face of American theater.

Spanning from 1880 to 1927, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's lyrical masterpiece concerns the lives, loves and heartbreaks of three generations of show folk on the Mississippi, in Chicago and on Broadway. Its impact remains unparalleled, addressing serious subjects like racial prejudice, introducing a bi-racial cast to Broadway, and pointing the way toward a new synthesis between music and spectacle.

With an all-star cast led by Vanessa Williams, Downton Abbey's Julian Ovendon, Tony Award nominees Lauren Worsham and Norm Lewis, and Fred Willard, this New York Philharmonic production highlights the lush musical journey at the center of this epic show.

More information about live theatre:

Must be one of the few times that Ol' Man River (first introduced by African American singer Paul Robson) has been performed by a female vocalist. Beth Leavel really belts it out with emotional conviction, actually more impressive than any performance recorded by males (including Frank Sinatra who sang it in Until the Clouds Roll by in 1946 a movie musical based on Jerome Kern's life. The choice of Sinatra as a crooner was kind of strange, Beth Leavel gives the song a lot more "oomph" in her version.

During the same concert Katrina Lenk performs If I was a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof, accompanying herself on the fiddle appropriately. Katrina is very exotic, often cast as very strange female characters. You don't need to included Katrina's video with Beth's unless you want to.



Published on Apr 3, 2019
MCC Theater's annual MisCast gala is one of the most exciting and unique theater events in town.

Broadway's hottest stars perform songs from roles in which they would never be cast.

Katrina Lenk (THE BAND'S VISIT) performs "If I Were a Rich Man" from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Youtube


Injun' Joe as Victor Jory

8 x 10 studio portrait of Victor Jory as the blatantly racist stereotype of the times, the villainous Injun Joe in the 1938 David O. Selznick Technicolor version of TOM SAWYER by Sam Clemens. In this portrait Jory was posed against a white background as Injun Joe so I extracted him from that neutral setting and put over in a photo I took inside Hannibal's Mark Twain Cave in 2011 which required finessing to blend the 2 images, then processing the black and white file to increase contrast and darkened it some more. I concluded that Victor's own hair was probably used above the bandana and a was wig sewn on the inside of his head band/kerchief to get the desired length. Jory was really present in character and uncannily Native American in appearance. He lived in the same Linda Vista neighborhood in Pasadena where I grew up as a kid but I didn't discover Clemens, Tom, Huck and Hannibal until the family moved to Torrance when I was 12 before moving up in the world to Palos Verdes. I never had an opportunity to meet Jory but I would have enjoyed visiting with him in person. Jory had a prestige role as Helen Keller's father in THE MIRACLE WORKER, 1962 co-starring Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft. I've had that film on DVD for years, it has inspired performances all around with Duke really convincing as "blind/deaf & dumb" Helen who was an adult became a friend of Sam Clemens and visited him at his last home "Stormfield" in Connecticut around 1909. THE MIRACLE WORKER (1962)


The story of Anne Sullivan's struggle to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate Selznick's TOM SAWYER is dated in many ways and a bit cloying at times but considering when it was made and the priority of Selznick to reach a primarily juvenile audience I guess he felt justified in styling it the way he did. His later epics were considerably more "adult" with GONE WITH THE WIND, REBECCA, PORTRAIT OF JENNY and the Western epic DUEL IN THE SUN which sometimes went overboard in the opposite direction of "family entertainment." The Blue-ray release of Selznick's SAWYER is a big improvement over the DVD's which were released previously, most of them originating in Korea. The Blue-ray appears to have been made from a 16mm prints rather than a 35mm print so there's room for improvement in a future release. I believe that the Library of Congress has a good quality 35mm print and hopefully that print along with the best quality sequences in other surviving prints can be assembled for the ultimate Blu-ray.

Directed by Norman Taurog

Tommy Kelly
Walter Brennan
May Robson
Jackie Moran
Margaret Hamilton
Victor Jory
Ann Gillis

Directed by Norman Taurog

This special edition includes both the original 91-minute cut and the 77-minute reissue. In this glorious adaptation of the Mark Twain classic, young Tom Sawyer (Tommy Kelly) is a big troublemaker. When he's not tricking others into doing his work, he's upsetting his aunt Polly (May Robson), or wooing his young love, Becky (Ann Gillis). But sometimes Tom's mischief gets him in over his head, and when he and his pal, Huckleberry Finn (Jackie Moran), witness a murder, they take a vow of silence and head down the river on a raft. The whole town believes they're dead, so when the boys return they're in a world of trouble.

Blu-ray Extras Include:
Includes both 90 minute cut and 77 minute 1954 reissue


Dave as villain Injun Joe from TOM SAWYER

Yours truly as villainous INJUN JOE in a Children's Theatre production of TOM SAWYER by Sam Clemens at Palos Verdes High School in 1963. They bussed in children from elementary schools to see us; = adults and kids were frightened during the midnight graveyard scene where I stabbed Dr. Watson and late in McDougal's Cave where I chased Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher around the set until I fell screaming into the orchestra pit as a grand finale. I autographed programs for the kids after the show in red ink: "Injun Joe, the name written in BLOOD!" The costume I improvised myself with pale yellow "long johns" and shirt and pants that I had worn out plus an old hat and pair of boots of my Dad's. The black "fright wig" was something I had left over from silent 8mm comedies that I made with friends in my garage. My make up included a scar under my left eye which was made with "collodion" which was used on stage and in movies for scary injuries.

The dialogue in the lower left corner between Huck and Tom is from the graveyard chapter of TOM SAWYER by Mr. Clemens.


This is a scene cut from the original film. They may have decided to do so because Moses would probably have smelled the alcohol on Efe's breath (from the POCAHONTAS REMEDY) which had to wait until the steamboat race sequence in which they burned up the store of REMEDIES to stoke the fire in order to save Duke and win the race, Turns out there is one more still from this French release in which we see Moses on the PADUCAH with a banner advertising his evangelistic services. I have to scan that next. It will also go with the photos relevant to the first sequence in the movie.

Attached scan of the most dramatic photo of the Round the Bend collection . . . The New Moses "Lording it over" poor Efe who's cowering in the lower right corner on the foredeck of the PRIDE OF PADUCAH.

It turned out that the dealer I bought these 3 promotional stills is is in Saint-Clair-de-la-Tour, a commune in the Isère department in southeastern France.

Had to plumb and clean up the scans of these 9 1/2 x 12 inch prints quite a bit since they needed to be refreshed and also "plumbed them up" to straighten out the Title and John Ford credit lines which were not parallel to the bottom edge of the prints.


From the opening sequence of ROUND THE BEND aboard THE PRIDE OF PADUCAH . . . New Moses bestows a DOWN WITH DEMON RUM badge of honor and promise to stop indulging alcoholic spirits until we get a dose of POCAHONTAS remedy from Dr. John a few scenes later. Also included a detail of the hand of the New Moses and the DOWN WITH DEMON RUM award.

The photo came from a dealer in the UK. This appears to have been a publicity still for a French release of the movie. Was probably dubbed rather than subtitled in the French language.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
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