Saturday, February 21, 2009

Presidents' Day, Part 3

Moving pictures were commercialized in the mid-1890s, during the tenure of US President Grover Cleveland. A lot of the early American movies are very short subjects filmed by Thomas Edison, with many being documentary in nature. As such, there are more snippets of the Presidents of the era than one might imagine. The fact that Buffalo hosted a major exposition in 1901, with a lot of new inventions on display, meant that there was a prime target for both Edison's cameras and then-President McKinley. He spoke at the exposition on September 5, 1901, and the Edison company filmed a portion (silent, of course). That snippet has unsurprisingly made is way to YouTube. Sadly, McKinley would be shot one day later and die as a result of the wound and resulting infection on September 14, 1901.

McKinley's successor, Theodore Roosevelt, was also a natural subject for Edison's films, although I think I prefer the phony Teddy Roosevelt of Arsenic and Old Lace. Much more interesting, however, is that Roosevelt also ended up in a color movie. The wonderful Wide Screen Museum site, which I've mentioned before, has the story.

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