"The drama of our times seems to have upstaged even you". "Not Booth".
March 21, 2006 8:42 AM   Subscribe

America's First Superstar. He was the highest paid actor in the world, beloved by fans so passionate about his performances that a riot (23 people killed, more than a hundred wounded) ensued when a rival dared to perform the role that had made him famous. He enjoyed all the trappings of a superstar's life: portraits taken by America's most famous photographer, a large mansion (now a historic landmark), and of course a scandalous divorce trial (he lost). He was also one of the most prominent book collectors in the country. Edwin Forrest was born 200 years ago.
posted by matteo (19 comments total)

Eh, his early stuff is ok.
posted by illovich at 9:08 AM on March 21, 2006

The Astor Place riot previously on MeFi. The 19th century was a fun time; congressmen beat each other up on the floor of Congress, too.
posted by languagehat at 9:15 AM on March 21, 2006

I love hearing about these strange bits of history which are so alive with personal quirkiness. I couldn't help but think Forrest's life would make a be great subject for a modern movie. Great post.
posted by tula at 9:17 AM on March 21, 2006

As a former theater criticand Omaha's most successful playwright, I can say with some authority that I wish people rioted more at plays.

However, having been beaten up at the Westwood riots that followed the debut of New Jack City, I would like to entreat people to riot less at movies.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:25 AM on March 21, 2006

Riot at Rocky Horror. Then it's a two-for-one.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:30 AM on March 21, 2006

man, illovich wins the thread as early as the second comment!

great post. I think I'm going to side with Astro Zombie on both accounts, but without his credentials to lend some authority to my beliefs. I also wish that congressmen would punch each other more often.
posted by shmegegge at 9:31 AM on March 21, 2006

Oh, man, I would like to see that to.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:34 AM on March 21, 2006

posted by Astro Zombie at 9:34 AM on March 21, 2006

Steel Cage Match.
I'm just sayin'.

Or actors and playwrights.
posted by willmize at 9:41 AM on March 21, 2006

I searched for a copy of Metamora earlier this year when my daughter was researching King Philip. Forrest commissioned the play in 1829 and played it to overwhelming success. The play was hard to find but is still available from Baker's Plays.

As a gauge of how successful the play was, towns were named Metamora in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.
posted by notmtwain at 10:23 AM on March 21, 2006

Very interesting post, matteo, thanks! One link always leads to another:All the world's a stage...
posted by cenoxo at 11:38 AM on March 21, 2006

The most successful, Astro Zombie? Perhaps. Certainly the favorable New Yorker review lauding your “intelligence and sheer talent” adds credence to this position. But can you not feel the breath of Joe Basque hot upon your neck now that his “Ping Pong Diplomacy” is shortly due to begin its off-Brodway run? Can you long hold your rank whilst you live in Minneapolis, when all the while Timothy Kaldahl and Doug Marr yearn for the laurels now heaped upon you? Much as your participation in the Great Plains Theater Conference places you among the luminaries, be careful lest it prove your undoing, as the youth of Omaha, inspired by your teachings and driven by their lust for blood and theater, conspire to bring you down!

(By the way, your picture looks awfully familiar, and I’m trying to place where I’ve seen it before. Do you know Adam Szymkowicz?)
posted by kyrademon at 12:19 PM on March 21, 2006

I'm going to the theater tonight and will endeavor to start a riot in this post's honor.

Cenexo's links remind me of the first time I visited my ex-husband's grandmother in Nashville (we weren't married yet, but were traveling together -- scandalous!!), and she proudly showed me the portrait of her famous cousin, John Wilkes Booth. I think my jaw must have dropped so far that it fell out of my head and bounced under the couch. Once I recovered it and managed to start speaking again, I made a point of sayinig how excited I was to go to Memphis in a few days and see the Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Things between us just sort of went downhill after that.
posted by scody at 12:59 PM on March 21, 2006

Very interesting FPP, thanks!
posted by ktoad at 1:23 PM on March 21, 2006

scody, you rock. :-)
posted by Asparagirl at 2:11 PM on March 21, 2006

posted by Smedleyman at 2:12 PM on March 21, 2006

the Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

the place where they keep MLK's baseball bat and Rosa Parks' cleats? they retired their numbers, right? Malcolm X's too.
too bad the Confederate granny didn't like sports!

and yeah, scody rocks a lot

posted by matteo at 3:49 PM on March 21, 2006

d'oh! not Hall of Fame! I clearly have baseball on the brain...

*rocks out with Asparagirl and Matteo*
posted by scody at 10:49 AM on March 22, 2006

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