“Forgotten Hollywood”- Rare Vinyl Account of Lincoln’s Death

Posted on June 6, 2017 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here…

“`Conjecture filled nationwide periodicals the day after Abe Lincoln’s assassination on Good Friday, 1865. Among those people at Ford’s Theater who actually witnessed all chaos unfold was Joseph Hazelton; a stage – cinematic actor that  was employed as a program boy. By 1933, Joe was the last living witness of the tragedy. He gave a detailed account at the May Company Exposition Hall, in Los Angeles, of what he observed. The only remaining recording of his speech — rare audio of the eyewitness chronicle of Abraham Lincoln’s murder — is preserved at the Huntington Library. This is singular treasure complimented by a video,  which includes a portion of Hazelton’s dramatic account to bring a tragedy to life. His retelling was transferred onto vinyl at Freeman Lang Studios in Hollywood.

“`Created by the South Pasadena repository’s video producer, Aric Allen, the eight-minute clip compliments the history behind the 16-inch phono record. It’s made of shellac, as were many transcription vinyl from the late 1920s to the early 1930s; and it’s incredibly fragile. It resides in the library’s most secure, atomic bomb–proof vault.  What is fascinating about this account  preserved on the recording, as curator Olga Tsapina explains, is how it relates to the memory and mythology of the assassination.

“`Personal descriptions of that evening survive in the form of correspondence, diary entries, affidavits, and similar documents. However, listening to a witness offers a more vivid scene. Those attending the free 1933 lecture would have heard an oral presentation detailing John Wilkes Booth’s shooting of Lincoln, then leaping over the railing of the presidential box onto the stage, breaking his leg, and making his declarative exit. Booth made a ready escape on horseback.

“`Since Hazelton was a thespian, he delivered his narrative as if reading a theatrical script. During his oration, he surmised:

I shall never forget to my dying day, the look of anguish and despair on that man’s face, as he half dragged and half limped to the center of the stage with a wild maniacal stare, brandished the knife above his head, and cried out…

Sic semper tyrannis!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

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