Black, Alexander

Inventor of the “picture play”, made President Grover Cleveland a “film star”!

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Description:
(1859-1940) Author, journalist, editor, film-motion picture pioneer, called “The Grandfather of the Picture Play”. A “Kodak fiend” in the early 1890s, Black wrote press articles on new snapshot photography, lecturing on “Life through a Detective Camera, or Ourselves as Others See Us”, illustrated with slides made by himself and other amateurs. In 1894, using professional actors, he shot exteriors around NYC for Miss Jerry, the adventures of a female reporter, and interiors at the Carbon Studio at 5 West 16th Street, where it debuted on October 9, 1894. With a double lantern dissolving slides every 15 seconds and by using a fixed background, the actors appeared to 'move' between key positions within the scene. Black spoke all the different parts, changing his voice for each character. In spring 1896 it toured lyceum stages throughout the East, just as Edison’s Vitascope was making its debut. Miss Jerry was followed by the even more ambitious A Capital Courtship, featuring specially-taken shots of President Grover Cleveland. In Jan. 1897 Black lectured on “Ourselves as Others See Us” at the Brooklyn Institute, “’illustrated by Cinematographe, Chromograph and Stereopticon’.” He avoided vaudeville theatres, believing 'low-brow' audiences would not have the attention span for his presentation medium, which he later referred to as the 'slow movie'. He became a novelist and editor of graphic items for Hearst's Newspaper Feature Service syndicate. Grover Cleveland was the 1st US President film star. In 1895, Black came to Washington and asked the President to appear in A Capital Courtship. Cleveland agreed to be filmed while signing a bill into law. A Capital Courtship was a huge hit on the Lyceum circuit! TLS on 10 x 8 Newspaper Feature Service letterhead, New York City, February 25 1921, to Edgar Selden, the Friars Club, New York. Black’s boss, Mr. Koenigsberg, has communicated an invitation to Black to speak at a Friday noon gathering and as Black may be leaving NYC for one or two weeks, if the invitation can remain open he is likely to accept. Edgar Selden was a Broadway playwright, lyricist and composer of show & popular tunes at the end of the 19th - early 20th century.

Condition: Very good, small “Who’s Who” bio (pre-1940) affixed at lower right corner, normal mail folds, 2 file holes left side
Type:Letter






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