The Gilded Gentleman
The Gilded Gentleman
About The Gilded Gentleman
The Gilded Gentleman history podcast takes listeners on a cultural and social journey into the mansions, salons, dining rooms, libraries and theatres including the worlds above as well as below stairs of America's Gilded Age, France's Belle Epoque and late Victorian and Edwardian England. thegildedgentleman.com
While the Gilded Age's rich and powerful ruled from their mansions on Fifth Avenue, the poor and immigrant communities downtown struggled simply to survive. Arriving in New York in the early 20th century, journalist and novelist Zoe Anderson Norris devoted her talents to covering the world of the Lower East Side and do what she could to bring about acknowledgement of living conditions and to effect social change. Zoe wrote countless newspaper and journal articles and even launched her own literary magazine to further her mission - "I fight for the poor with my pen." Known as the "Queen of Bohemia", for solidarity, Norris created the "The Ragged Edge Klub" which met at local restaurants for cheap meals and passion-fueled conversation. Former New York Times columnist, author and independent scholar, Eve M. Kahn joins the Gilded Gentleman to share her insights and research into the life and work of this extraordinary crusader for human rights whose voice seems just as relevant and powerful today.
XXXIX. As the famed "demon barber of Fleet Street" gets ready to flash his razor and do his deeds once again in a new Broadway production, The Gilded Gentleman goes back in time to the early years of London's Victoria era to look at just how Sweeney Todd and his tale came to be. Born in the world of the sensational and gruesome stories of the "penny dreadfuls", Sweeney Todd and his story were quite different from what theater audiences know today. The episode features a very special treat - an interview with Sarah Rice who created the role of Johanna, Sweeney Todd's daughter in the original 1979 Broadway production of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street". Sarah shares what it was like to get the role, how she went about creating the character, and most of all, what it was like to work with extraordinary colleagues such as Angela Lansbury, Len Cariou, and of course Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince themselves. In the interview, Sarah shares the most important lessons she learned from Stephen Sondheim and Angela Lansbury in particular.
They were beautiful, elegant stylemakers. They were also savvy, shrewd businesswomen who, in one way or another, practiced the world's oldest profession. They were the courtesans of 19th century Paris. In this show we take a look truly "behind the glitter and the gold" to see what lives lay behind the opulence, elegance and sophisticated style that courtesans showed to the world. For many of these women, their exuberant public images hid lives of pain, sadness and abuse. In addition to a look at just what a courtesan's world was like, we delve into the lives of three of the most famous in 19th century Paris: Marie Duplessis, who went on to be immortalized in literature, opera, theatre and film; Cora Pearl, an English beauty who counted royalty among her lovers; and Liane de Pougy, a performer at the Folies Bergeres who left the world of the courtesans for an unexpected new chapter later in her life. From the boxes at the Opera to the gambling halls of Monte Carlo, this episode takes you into a world where much more of the story lay far beneath the surface. Related episode on The Gilded Gentleman: "Edith Wharton's Paris" Episode #35
XXXVIII. Silver from the 18th century days of Paul Revere through the glittering Gilded Age was a coveted and valued luxury. In this show, Ben Miller, antique silver specialist and host of the podcast "Curious Objects", discusses how American silver craftsmanship changed throughout the 19th century. Ben and Carl talk about some of the most important pieces made by Tiffany & Company, as well as Providence's Gorham Manufacturing Company. Ben discusses the role of the great 19th century European world expositions where America joined the world stage with its innovative silver manufacturing and design. In addition, Ben shares stories of two of the Gilded Age's most famous and fascinating silver collectors.
XXXVII. Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) was a member of Boston's Brahmin society during the Gilded Age. A philanthropist and passionate art collector, she created her very own museum she called Fenway Court which opened to the public in 1903. Her museum, now called the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, resembles a Venetian-style palazzo and rises above Boston's Fens, and showcases objects and art from the classical world to the 20th century, all displayed today just as she laid them out herself. Gardner was considered eccentric in her public behavior and the press eagerly reported on her latest moves, but what we do know of her inner life and love of art -- and her deep desire that the public could see it, too -- is the focus of this episode. Diana Seave Greenwald, interim curator of the collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum joins The Gilded Gentleman for a talk about "Isabella Stewart Gardner: A Life", the new biography that she co-wrote. We take a look at just who this deeply fascinating woman of the Gilded Age really was, and how she built her museum that was left, as she wished, for us all to see today.
XXXVI. The night of February 10, 1897 was a snowy one in New York City, but the weather did not deter those lucky enough to have received an invitation to the grand ball at the Waldorf held by the Bradley Martins. It was a costume ball and guests arrived dressed as nobility and historical figures from centuries past. Drinking fine vintage champagne and dining on lobster and canvasback duck, New York's elite danced until dawn. However, some social opinion held that it was an extravagant show of wealth alone and the efforts of the Martins came under some criticism. The Gilded Gentleman's guest for this special episode is Richard Jay Hutto, the great-grandson-in-law of the Bradley-Martins and he shares the story of the Bradley Martins, how the ball came to be and what really happened the morning after.
XXXV. It's an undisputed fact that the Gilded Age was an era (to some) of unbridled excess - provided that one had the money of course. Those with a place in society and those that wanted it were locked in a battle to see who could climb higher up the social ladder and exert a greater influence on just what made up a new emerging "American aristocracy". The grand ball was in many ways the battlefield upon which these social skirmishes were enacted. In this show, we'll take a look at just what going to the ball meant in the Gilded Age (whether you were invited or not) and just what it was like once you got there. The show delves into several of the Gilded Age's most famous balls, from Alva Vanderbilt's costume ball of 1883 to Mrs. Astor's annual Opera Ball to the ultimately disastrous ball thrown by James Hazen Hyde in 1905. We'll look at the fashion and the jewels and share some examples of what happened when it all went careening off the rails.
XXXIV. Just what is - or was - a dandy? Many recall that the early 19th-century tastemaker Beau Brummell was thought of a dandy with his meticulous style, and certainly many think of Oscar Wilde as a dandy. But there were others, including the French poet Charles Baudelaire, who was thought of as the "dark dandy". In this episode, Carl is joined by Natty Adams, author, journalist, maker of fine custom clothing and a self-described "modern dandy", to take a look at just how dandyism evolved through the 19th century and created a revolution in not only fashion, but as a broader philosophy as well. This episode looks at what criteria can be used to define a dandy, whether in the past or the present, using the classic examples of Brummell and Wilde and more modern gentlemen who challenge style and society's expectations.
XXXIII: In celebration of Edith Wharton's birthday on January 24, The Gilded Gentleman takes a look at a very special part of Wharton's life - her life in Paris. Wharton knew Paris from her childhood and made many trips there as a young married adult. But in her early 40's, the city became something more for her - it became a place where she finally felt connected and grounded as a creative and artistic woman. And to her surprise, it was a place where she found romantic love with a man (not her husband) at a most unexpected time in her life. This episode takes a look at where and how Wharton lived in her years in Paris - and why and how she ultimately transferred her life to France, leaving her American life behind -- except in her most famous fiction. We'll take a look at Paris the city as well, how it was evolving in the early years of the 20th century and just who some of the most artistic spirits were at the time, including Marcel Proust and Andre Gide and which became Wharton's most influential mentors and friends. Produced by Bowery Boys Media, edited by Kieran Gannon. FURTHER LISTENING: A Sprig of Witch Hazel: Edith Wharton's Secret Love Affair Edith Wharton's New York
XXXII: In celebration of his new book "The Delmonico Way: Sublime Entertaining and Legendary Recipes From The Restaurant That Made New York," author Max Tucci joins The Gilded Gentleman for a talk about food, family history and the real meaning of hospitality. Delmonico's! Just the name was legendary. Edith Wharton mentioned it in her fiction set in the Gilded Age. The dining room hosted royalty and heads of state along with, in later years, Hollywood's most famous stars. And then there was the equally legendary food. Max Tucci is the grandson of Oscar Tucci who reopened the legendary restaurant in the 1920s after the original - in business since 1827 - had been closed due to Prohibition. Oscar and his family built an empire that established Delmonico's as the gold standard of American fine dining and hospitality from the 1920s through the 1980's. Max, who holds the largest collection of Delmonico's memorabilia of his family's famous establishment, shares his memories, family history and anecdotes about the incomparable hospitality, fine dishes and famous clientele of America's first truly grand restaurant. Follow Max Tucci on Instagram Back in 2008 (!) the Bowery Boys did a podcast about the history of Delmonico's. A little rudimentary but good background information for when you've finished with this show.
XXX!. Champagne is unquestionably the world's most glamorous drink and has been used for centuries to celebrate everything from weddings and birthdays to royal coronations. It was the drink of choice for formal gatherings in the Gilded Age, the Belle Epoque and Victorian England. But there's so much more to understanding champagne than just enjoying the bubbles and the fizz. Champagne has a long and often misrepresented history that combines serendipity, ingenuity and sheer marketing brilliance. (Hint: The monk Dom Perignon didn't invent it.) Join Carl and guest Don Spiro (whom listeners will remember from their recent show on absinthe) as they take a look at the full story. They correct some misconceptions about champagne's history, examine just what exactly it is, and discuss how it's been made and enjoyed over the centuries.
XXX. Christmas and the holiday season is always extra special in New York City. From all the lights and the traditional treats of the Radio City Rockettes to the tree at Rockefeller Center and performances around the city of The Nutcracker, it's hard not to feel festive. In this episode, professional New York City tour guide and speaker, Jeff Dobbins joins Carl for a look at the city's holiday traditions dating back to the early Dutch days of New Amsterdam up the the Gilded Age and the early 20th century. Jeff shares how New Yorkers helped create the image of Santa Claus that we think of today, as well as how Hanukkah was celebrated and the influence of the waves of immigration on the city's traditions. In the second half of the show, actor John Kevin Jones joins Carl. Kevin has been performing an annual one man adaptation of Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" at the Merchant's House Museum, now in its 10th season. Kevin discusses the origins of Dickens's famous story, why he wrote it when he did and how he adapted it for the stage. Put on a woolly sweater, pour a glass of eggnog, and join The Gilded Gentleman to launch the holiday season.
XXIX. As a special bonus, enjoy this episode from the Bowery Boys Archives in which Greg Young and Tom Meyers tell the truly fascinating story of Jenny Lind, a 19th century soprano known as "the Swedish nightingale". Jenny came to America and made her concert debut in 1851 under the management of master showman PT Barnum. Barnum's relentless marketing and Jenny Lind, whose appearances caused enormous sold out crowds, a publicity frenzy and even the creation of merchandise with her name and image, may have prompted America's fascination with celebrity. And after you're done with this show, listen to the Gilded Gentleman's two-part tale on another opera star of the 19th century -- Lillian Nordica. Part 1 explores the making of this Gilded Age soprano superstar. Part 2 features an interview with Kate Aldrich, acclaimed Mezzo-Soprano, whose career has taken her around the world from New York's Metropolitan Opera to Milan's La Scala and the Opera Bastille in Paris. And visit the Bowery Boys website for more images regarding Miss Lind's incredible American tour.
XXVIII. International mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich has a career that has included performances around the world from New York's Metropolitan Opera to Milan's La Scala and the Opera Bastille in Paris. In today's interview she shares some perspective on the life and career of Lillian Nordica as well as the excitement and realities for a modern singer on the international stage. Kate has been called "the Carmen of this generation" (San Francisco Sentinel) and in this conversation she shares insights on performing one of opera's most iconic roles - one that Lillian Nordica performed herself. A unique aspect of this interview is that Carl, Kate and Lillian all share Maine roots and Kate talks a bit about how her Maine and New England background has contributed to her career. *** Be sure to also listen to Part One in our series on Lillian Nordica (episode #27). Love the show? Support the Gilded Gentleman on Patreon! We'll thank you with exclusive audio extras, VIP invites, and more.
XXVII. The glamour of the Gilded Age was found not only at dinner parties and balls but in theatres and opera houses as well. Lillian Nordica, originally from the small town of Farmington, Maine, rose to the heights of operatic stardom both in Europe and here in America in the last years of the Gilded Age and the early years of the 20th century. Her unlikely story, little known today, combines a hardworking background of near poverty with the audiences and applause, the diamonds and gowns of an international superstar. Unlike some divas, Lillian used her fame to support human rights and became an outspoken advocate for women's right to vote and equality in the workplace - whether a factory or opera stage. Her fame had even entered popular culture - she was one of the first models in ads for Coca Cola . Join Carl on this week's episode for Lilian's story which takes us to Paris, St. Petersburg, Milan and around the world. We'll take a look onstage and offstage at just how a star in the Gilded Age was really made. *** Love the show? Support the Gilded Gentleman on Patreon! We'll thank you with exclusive audio extras, VIP invites, and more.
XXVI. Jessica Fellowes is known to listeners as the best-selling author of the five companion books to the Downton Abbey television series, which was created by her uncle, Julian Fellowes. An accomplished journalist, novelist and public speaker, Jessica went on to write a unique and tremendously popular mystery series using the world of the famed Mitford family in the 1920's and 1930's as a backdrop. Most recently, Jessica has published a stunning new novel on the subject of life-long friendship, The Best Friend. This episode of "The Gilded Page" delves deeply into the writing life of Jessica Fellowes and reveals some unique and fascinating aspects of the creative process.
XXVI. In July 1922 an unassuming book with a rich blue cover landed on bookstore shelves. Titled simply "Etiquette" by a moderately successful writer named Emily Post, the book went on to become a cornerstone of America's social fabric. Now, 100 years later, Emily's original book has been entirely rewritten by her great-great grandchildren for a new generation while maintaining the spirit and philosophy of Emily Post's original intentions. Join The Gilded Gentleman for this unique look at just who Emily Post was, why she chose to write the book at all and how it has evolved - and yet in some ways - stayed the same since it was first published. Carl is joined by Lizzie Post, Emily Post's great-great granddaughter, podcast host, and co-author of the new edition, to take a look at Emily and etiquette, then and now.
XXV. The Merchant's House Museum is one of New York City's most important and cherished historic house museums. Built in 1832 and still intact to this day, the house was home to patriarch Seabury Tredwell and his family for just about 100 years before opening to the public as a museum in 1933. Nowhere can one see the antebellum world of Old New York quite as clearly one can see here with much of the family's original furniture and belongings still in place. Hidden in the Tredwell family tree is Effingham Nichols, the husband of Seabury's eldest daughter. Born into old Knickerbocker New York, Effingham rose in wealth and stature to become a true player in the Gilded Age that ended the century brushing up against Astors and Vanderbilts. Join me and my guest, Merchant's House historian Anne Haddad for a look at his life, what he did and where he was, to gather a very personal and extraordinary picture of the life of a long forgotten, but very real, gilded gentleman and just how that life and the life of others like him, came to be. Credits: The Gilded Gentleman is produced by Kieran Gannon and is a production of Bowery Boys Media.
Bertha Palmer was the wife of Potter Palmer whose famous Chicago hotel, the Palmer House, was one of the grandest of the Gilded Age. Bertha has been compared to the queen of New York society, Mrs. Astor. However, as my guest, historian Tom Miller shares in this week's show, that comparison minimizes who Bertha Palmer truly was. While both women ran and ruled society in their respective cities, Bertha was in many ways the more complex and deeper character. Among her many accomplishments, she was an astute businesswomen, cared deeply about charity work, rolled up her sleeves to do what needed to be done, assembled a major collection of French Impressionist art, and became one of the first real estate developers of Florida. Join Tom Miller of "Daytonian in Manhattan" and me for a look at this fascinating woman and a look at Chicago's Gilded Age.
Beatrix Farrand, Edith Wharton's niece, was born during New York's Gilded Age and went on to become the first successful female landscape designer of the early 20th century. Her path was not easy, since any career for a woman held challenges at the time and landscape design was at that point a man's domain. But her perseverance, determination, business acumen and exceptional talent led her to create some of America's most beautiful gardens, including Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, DC and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden on Mount Desert, Maine. Join me for a look into the extraordinary life of Beatrix Farrand to celebrate her pioneering vision and style.
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