Join author Richard Schwartz as we celebrate the release of his new book "The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M.B. Curtis" from Heyday Books!
Jewish immigrant actor M.B. Curtis' fascinating life story contains great success and great disappointments. Curtis rose to stardom as the first American Jewish actor to portray a Jewish character on stage in America, using his charisma and comedic talents to overcome common stereotypes and prejudices of the time. But his influence spread beyond the stage. As an immigrant, he couldn’t bear to see the Statue of Liberty go unlit due to congressional deadlock immediately after its dedication, so he paid to have it lit himself. Curtis had a dramatic impact on the mainstream culture of the day, so much so that Mark Twain asked him to star in a rare stage rendition of one of his books. Curtis then became a pioneer in the nascent silent-film industry, a producer, a real estate developer, a promoter, a hotelier, a benefactor, and a murder suspect. M. B. Curtis’s life encompassed the highs of celebrity and fame as well as the lows of failure, illness, and a faltering career. What defined him, however, was that he always followed his dreams even in the face of extreme adversity.
Come witness Curtis' contributions to early-Twentieth Century pop culture, explore his Bay Area connections, and celebrate the life of a man who so loved his adopted country that he refused to let it's most powerful symbol of greeting sit in darkness. Schwartz will read from his book, show artifacts of Curtis' career, and introduce you to a one-of-a-kind American story.