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Holy Huckleberry! There’s Video Footage of Mark Twain!

August 7, 2012
English: Mark Twain (penname of Samuel Langhor...

Rumor has it that Mark Twain tried to make duck face for this photograph, but he mistimed his facial expression. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It makes sense that there’s video footage of Mark Twain (even though I didn’t know about it until a couple days ago).  He was friends with Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla, and if you put those three together, anything is possible. 

The video (found at the Internet Archive… I promise you won’t get Rick rolled!) is a little over a minute long, but I despise spoilers, so I won’t tell you what happens in it. However, I don’t mind telling you what doesn’t happen. 

  • Mark Twain doesn’t get whacked in the crotch.
  • Mark Twain doesn’t play air guitar in his underwear. 
  • Mark Twain doesn’t go face to face with the camera and pucker his lips. 
  • There aren’t any cats jumping crazily out of nowhere to mess things up. 
  • There aren’t any creepy looking girls climbing out of wells and crawling toward the viewers. 

By today’s standards, the video footage is kind of dull, but it’s Mark Twain! 

***** 

The video reminds me that Mark Twain used to hang out with Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison (but not at the same time… I don’t think).   Hanging out with Edison, Twain, and Tesla at the same time would have been cool (and impossible), but I would have been the odd man out.  I probably would have needed Twain to explain everything that Edison and Tesla were saying, and I would have been the guinea pig (once Twain got tired of the gig) in Tesla’s experiments. 

The only contribution I could have made to their conversations would have been something like:

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.  Don’t hit that switch yet.  I said don’t hit that… AAAaaarrrrgh!  I TOLD YOU NOT TO HIT THAT SWITCH YET!”

I don’t think the other three guys would have been interested in what I had to say.

*****

My grandfather’s favorite author was Mark Twain, and one of the few books I kept when I got rid of most of my collection is a 1953 edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that used to belong to him.  It’s kind of beat up, but I think it’s cool that my grandfather used to read that copy before I was born.  At least I think it was his.  If I’m wrong about that, I don’t want to know. 

I’m pretty sure that my grandfather didn’t get to see this video, unless it could have been viewed at a Mark Twain museum decades ago.  I live in a time when I can move my fingers on a screen and watch a video of Mark Twain.  Twain, Tesla, and Edison probably would have thought that was impressive.

***** 

One thing (out of many) that I respect about Mark Twain was that he wrote two books about kids (Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn) without making me cringe.  I’m not a fan of kids that are supposed to be (or think they’re) cool, but Tom Sawyer is probably the the coolest fictional kid ever, way cooler than Holden Caulfield.  I respect O. Henry a lot too, but I despised that kid in “The Ransom of Red Chief,” and that was just a short story (yes, I know we’re supposed to despise the kid).  In reality, no kid is cool (they just think they are), but Tom Sawyer is as close to cool as a kid can get. 

It probably takes a cool guy to write about a cool kid, so I’m guessing that Mark Twain was a cool guy, and I’m glad there’s video footage of him. 

Man, I hope this footage doesn’t turn out to be a hoax.

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32 Comments
  1. Joe 'Blondie' Manco permalink

    Here it is on YouTube, if you want to embed it for your viewers – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leYj–P4CgQ

    I also highly recommend Ken Burns’s 3-hour documentary of Mark Twain if you can track it down. Probably my favourite writer of all time.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0306355/ – for the doco

    • Thanks for the information (and the comment). I didn’t know Ken Burns did a Mark Twain documentary. I don’t think I’ve finished his baseball film yet (the VHS tapes are around here somewhere).

  2. Great observations and: Oh gosh Tom Sawyer :P

    MontrealDSL
    Business Blog

  3. odd, because Edison and Nicola were mortal enemies.

  4. I love this and didn’t know that they hung out together.
    I think you are selling yourself a bit short. Straight guys always need a funny man and you could have met them at the pub after work for some laughs!
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!
    Off to check out the video~

    • Thank you. I think Twain would be considered the funny man, and I would be the guy who (tried to be funny but) they let tag along because he would do anything they told him to do. Ouch! That previous sentence was one Twain would never write.

  5. That video looks legit and is really amazing!

  6. Nice find and congrats on being freshly pressed.

  7. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Thank you. It’s kind of funny because a few months ago when I wrote “Best Dirty Jokes Ever” on this blog, I thought to myself, I’ll never get Freshly Pressed now.

  8. Haha, I loved your post. So stream of thought and so funny.

    Thanks for letting us know, I had no clue about this! I checked out the youtube video another commenter posted, and it gave me the chills! Technology sure can be a wonderful thing, and I can’t even imagine how Edison and Twain must have felt as the pioneers of something so incredible.

    Congrats on being FP!

    • Thank you! I didn’t even think of checking youtube before I wrote this. If Twain HAD gotten whacked in the crotch in the film, then maybe I would have thought of it.

  9. I’m glad you found and enjoyed this footage. One small clarification, only because you repeatedly use the word “video”. It is a YouTube clip, but it isn’t video. Video didn’t exist until 60 years after this footage. It’s a digitized film clip. Edison worked exclusively in film.

    • Thank you for the clarification. You’re right, and the thing is… I’m old enough to know better (ugh!), but I’m so used to writing and saying the word “video” now that that’s what I automatically did.

  10. Makes me feel embarrased for not reading “Huckleberry Finn” in high school. Well maybe it will inspire Ken Burns to make other documentaries about authors we never read. Thx for the interesting post.

  11. That is the pornstache to end all pornstaches.

  12. That video IS definitely legit and thanks for the tip! At first it seemed that the photo you have in your post was a “still” from this alleged 1909 video and it was obvious that that photo could not be from 1909, since Twain’s hair was white by then – so it looked like you’d been sold a bill of goods. Happily, it’s not the case. Who’s the debonair guy bringing Twain’s daughter her hat?

    IWPCHI

    • I hesitated using that picture because it wasn’t from the Edison film, but it was too cool to pass up, and I didn’t see any stills(?) that I could use. You’re right, that was one nice looking guy!

  13. What a great find on the WordPress homepage!
    I enjoyed your post – it was a smooth read, about fabulous people who changed the world.
    Mark Twain is a true American gem. Thanks for highlighting the ‘film clip’.
    Congrats on being FPd!

    • Thank you. I’m not the biggest Twain fan (definitely not as much as my grandfather was), but something about that video.. uh, film… I don’t know, but I’m just glad it’s around.

  14. Very insightful post. Can’t wait to view the clip. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  15. I love Mark Twain…the coolest…who makes their autobiography available 100 years after their death???

  16. Archive.org is a great resource…I posted about it myself a few weeks ago and found a few other gems waiting to be discovered: http://thelivingnotebook.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/another-great-online-tool/ … congrats on the fresh pressing!

  17. duck face eh.haha

  18. oh mark twain. will you never cease? i love him. this is wonderful. thank you for sharing! x

  19. Twain is the man, and I definitely side with Tesla over Edison any day!

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