• Today Show visits Second Street

    The Borden house is hosting guests from the TODAY show this afternoon.  The filming, which was to have taken place last Wednesday, was postponed until today.  The segment is slated to air sometime in May.  The crew will be filming at the house, with an interview by Barbara Borden Morrissey and will then relocate to the Fall River Historical Society to film case artifacts and to discuss the upcoming Parallel Lives.  The crew picked a beautiful day to be in the city, with high temps and plenty of sunshine.

    MSNBC and NBC reporter Amy Robach is shooting the feature.

  • Nance O’Neil 1904

     

    A new page has been added on the site today featuring excerpts from The Critic- a theatrical publication which printed reviews by authors on various productions and performers.  This excerpt is from 1904, the year in which Lizzie and Nance crossed paths and underlines the celebrity Nance is enjoying in Boston at the time. 

    http://lizziebordenwarpsandwefts.com/nance-oneil/

    During the short interval in which Lizzie and Nance were friends, Nance was often on the road and much in demand.  The opportunities in which the two ladies could have enjoyed leisure time together must have been few and far between.  Lizzie made a visit to Nance’s estate in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts and no doubt enjoyed the menagerie to be found there, both house pets and farm animals.  Nance, at least on one occasion enjoyed hospitality at Maplecroft, along with some of her troupe.  Whether or not this friendship was the cause of Emma’s unhappy departure from Maplecroft and her sister’s company has been the source of speculation since the rift occured.

  • Lizzie & Nance- A Passion for Animals

    From the January 1911 American Primary Teacher Actresses and Their Pets by Grace Agnes Thompson (excerpt).

    “Miss Nance O’Neil is another actress who has made friends with animals under unusual circumstances, and she has, perhaps, more pets at any one time, and of a greater variety, than any other actress.

    On one occasion when Miss O’Neil was playing in Denver, where Magdalena, a very favorite cat, had just died, and thereby deeply grieved her mistress, she returned from the theatre late in the evening and found a very pretty, woe-begone stray Angora kitten cuddling for refuge from the icy cold and falling snow against her door. The sight of the draggled gray fur and the sound of the pitiful mewing went straight to Miss O’Neil’s heart, and from that moment pussy had a good home. Miss O’Neil tried in vain to find out whose lost pet the little creature was, and decided to keep it herself.

    Among the more interesting of her other pets have been the Turquoise donkey, which used to carry her about so cheerfully in Egypt; Teazle, the white Angora cat, which now lives in Bedford street, London; Jim, the orang-outang, which,, though delightful company at any time, was so big and bothersome to journey about with one on a tour, that he had to be given away; and the Manling (named from one of the Jungle Tales), one of the only two black cockatoos ever brought north across the equator, and now to be seen in the London zoo, to which he was sold about four years ago. The other of these two black cockatoos is kept at the Berlin zoo. Miss O’Neil has also a specimen of the white cockatoo, the more common variety, in Binkie, now kept at her beautiful country home in Tyngsboro, Mass. Binkie is rather a traveled bird, for he has crossed the equator twenty times, and journeyed all the way around the earth in the company of his mistress.

    On the Tyngsboro estate also live Kintaro, a big yellow coon cat, found once upon a time in Lawrence; and Tom and Jerry, the famous driving span of horses; and a small multitude of chickens, sheep, pigs, cats, canaries, dogs, and fine cows. Miss O’Neil’s farm contains two hundred and sixty splendidly cultivated acres, with a large and very charming country house, which she is able to visit for scarcely more than two weeks out of each year, but leaves in charge of capable caretakers during her absence.

    Togo and Nogi, two handsome dogs, named for the distinguished Japanese admiral and general, are Miss O’Neil’s latest favorites, and they have been her companions during the last few months of her tour. Their Japanese names are accounted for by the fact that Miss O’Neil, through her liking for Oriental philosophy and peoples, is attended always by a dear little Japanese maid, called Toto, who says she has “a awful fond to animals,” and who is constantly in charge of all the pets.—Our Dumb Animals.”

    Perhaps the great friendship between Lizzie Borden and Nance O’Neil was prompted by a mutual love of animals.

  • The Buzz is Global on HBO project

    Chances are if you Goggle Lizzie Borden under the “News” heading, you will find several pages of stories on the Chloe Sevigny HBO project for a four hour mini-series, including stories in Polish, French, Russian and Italian!  And if you live in Connecticut, Rhode Island or Massachusetts, tonight at 6 p.m., Channel 10 news jumped on the promotion band wagon.  With all of the very positive buzz and excitement, it is hard to believe Tom Hanks and Playtone would change their mind about producing the four -hour series.  To view the Channel 10 clip, http://www2.turnto10.com/entertainment/2011/mar/17/sevigny-may-play-lizzie-borden-miniseries-ar-426649/

    The casting of Miss Sevigny as Lizzie is spot-on.  She has all the right physical attributes, right down to the mesmerizing and unsettling eyes, and is of the right age to pull it off.  She is also a better-than-good actress.  It will be very interesting to see who will be cast in the major roles.   Maybe Uncle John Morse will be included this time around.

     Due to street noise and the encroachment of modern living, and many other factors, the house on Second Street will not be a likely candidate for the  filming venue.  The 1975 Elizabeth Montgomery attempt did a pretty fair job of recreating Borden house interiors on stage sets. 

    There are very high hopes in Fall River, among the Borden house bed and breakfast employees, and students of the Borden case and Fall River history that this version will get the facts right and do the story justice.  Playtone and Hanks are synonymous with quality productions, so the end result holds very great promise.  It is surprising that it has taken so long to revisit the case and Lizzie Borden as the topic has been building momentum and interest since the Borden house opened for business in 1996.

    The buzz about the upcoming  Fall River Historical Society’s Parallel Lives, detailing Lizzie’s life and Fall River has been the hot topic around Fall River for many months as it promises revelations about Miss Borden which will open a few eyes.  The date of publication has not yet been announced but the long-awaited tome is in final proofing and chances are  it will be published by late Spring.  The nearly thousand -page volume will feature over 500 photographs, including some new views of Lizzie herself, and will disspell some commonly -held notions about her. It will be a must-read for Miss Sevigny and should have some major impact on her characterization of the enigmatic Lizzie. The series will probably have an early 2012 air date according to some sources.

     In any event, Lizzie is bigger now than ever, and the upcoming series will be a boon to the city as well as book sales of Parallel Lives.  It will be a very exciting year ahead.

    http://screenrant.com/hbo-chloe-sevigny-lizzie-borden-miniseries-yman-106311/

  • Busy days for Lizzie Borden & Co.

     

    The snows did fall and the wind did blow, but the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast had a busy winter and the month of March is jammed- packed with activities too.  The first Murder Mystery Weekend was held over the Valentine’s Day weekend, followed by the Dead of Winter paranormal event with Chris Moon.  The news, posted here earlier, detailing  B&B visitor Chloe Sevigny’s proposed upcoming project of an HBO mini-series about the Borden case filming this summer was icing on the cake.

    Last week, those who work at the house were thrilled to learn the TODAY show will be making a visit the end of the month to shoot a special on the fascination with the case.  The timing could not have been better for the release of the eagerly-awaited Parallel Lives from the Fall River Historical Society.  The authors will also be appearing on the morning televison special segment.  The Second Street Irregulars will be descending on the 31st for a jammed-packed 3 days at the house and on the road, with some special guests and stops along the way. It looks like 2011 will be another banner year for Lizzie & Co.

  • Debut of cover art for Parallel Lives

    Today the Fall River Historical Society has released the working cover art for its long-awaited volume, Parallel Lives, a history of Lizzie Borden’s Fall River.  The cover features an expanded view of the famous “pansy brooch” portrait of Lizzie, with her dress tinted in a rich shade of burgundy and was designed by Charles S. Medeiros of Burnt Toast Graphics.  It is a rare treat to see colorized photographs of the well-known black and white images so familiar to students of the Borden case.  The rich hue used for the dust jacket is one which perfectly reflects Victoriana.  Lizzie truly comes to life. The photograph in black and white featured in the background is of the wedding day of the William Lawton Slade Braytons, June 18, 1913.

    For all the latest on publication date, follow the historical society online at  http://www.lizzieborden.org/ParallelLives.html  and on Facebook.  The volume is currently in final revision with a publication date soon to come- and not a minute too soon for the many eager enthusiasts and historians who are eager for the new photographs of the Bordens and more than 500 photographs in all.  

  • Lizzie Borden HBO 2-part mini-series to air

    It’s no secret actress Chloe Sevigny loves the Lizzie Borden story and enjoyed her recent visit to the popular Bed and Breakfast in Fall River where the crimes took place.  She recently announced in an interview that she will be starring in the role of Lizzie Borden for an HBO two-part miniseries on the famous case. This is a pet project which has been initiated by the actress herself.  For more on the details see the interview here. Air date is yet to be announced. http://www.thenewsgallery.com/2011/02/chloe-sevigny-talks-to-imagine-fashion.html

  • Lizzie back in the Big Apple next month

     “THE WORKSHOP THEATER and ALVIN OUT PRODUCTIONS present the New York premiere of Lizzie Borden at Eight O’Clock at the WorkShop Jewel Box Theater March 24th-April 3rd.  The WorkShop Theater is located at 312 West 36th Street, 4th floor. Subway: A, C, or E to Penn Station. General admission tickets to Lizzie Borden At Eight O’Clock are $18, $15 for students and seniors. Also limited number of  TDF @ the $9 Off-Off-Broadway rate (2 per performance). For Information / Tickets visit: www.workshoptheater.org or call 866-811-4111. The play is directed by Kenneth Tigar.

    THE WORKSHOP THEATER and ALVIN OUT PRODUCTIONS’ production of Lizzie Borden at Eight O’Clock, tells the chilling first person account from Lizzie Borden herself of her father and stepmother’s gruesome murders.

    Decades after her acquittal, Lizzie Borden takes the podium at her local Historical Society to once and for all clear her name, or will she?  With a tour de force performance by Ellen Barry (Terrence McNally‘s A Perfect Ganesh) as Lizzie Borden, Lizzie relives the compelling events that lead to the headline murders of the century.  The bloody dress, the food poisoning, the broken hatchet in the basement, the mysterious bloodless-ness of the crime scenes— all clues pointed towards Lizzie for the murders.  But Lizzie has an alternate explanation, and, at long last, she’s ready to tell the whole spine-tingling story.  Originally produced and developed and performed at the Historic North Hall in Huntington, MA, this is Lizzie Borden At Eight O’Clock’s New York City debut.

    **NOTE*** Lizzie Borden At Eight O’Clock deals with graphic material that may be unsuitable for younger audiences.”

    For more about cast and crew http://offoffbroadway.broadwayworld.com/article/Workshop_Theatre_and_Alvin_Out_Productions_Present_LIZZIE_BORDEN_AT_EIGHT_OCLOCK_32443_20110209

  • A Little Death Metal?

    The list of Lizzie Borden tunes grows ever-longer.  Here’s the latest from death metal band, Macabre, track 10 off Grim Scary Tales.  Here is what “Gruesome Greg” has to say about the album, released in 2010:

    “Thematically, it’s a concept album about historical murderers. Whereas their previous work dealt with Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and the Nightstalker, here we have tunes named after Dracula, Lizzie Borden, a demented take on “The Big Bad Wolf” and a competent cover of Venom’s campy classic “Countess Bathory”.   (Well, that explains Vlad the Impaler on the cover).

    Third track “The Black Knight” is another one of those catchy, I-can’t-believe-I’m-singing-along-with-this songs that Macabre does so well. A driving, punky chorus alternates with slower tempos and clean, monotone singing. “Dracula” is old-school Macabre, blast-beats and guitar-synth-a-plenty. It’s also the first time on the album that Corporate Death unleashes his trademark wail—a whole four songs in! As previously mentioned, “The Big Bad Wolf” is awesome. I know I’d buy an album of Macabre singing children’s campfire songs—oh wait, they’ve already done that…

    Anyways, if you’re one of those weirdos like me who worship Macabre, you’ll want this one. Although the production is a lot better and the sound slightly more modern, there are enough shades of Sinister Slaughter on Grim Scary Tales that oughtta make solid additions to their live set next time they’re in our vicinity. (I’m already looking forward to it!)”

    And here you can hear Lizzie Borden by Macabre, and probably understand some of the lyrics ! Turn your volume down.

  • 40 Whacks Museum Closed in Salem

    As has been reported elsewhere, the Salem enterprise has decided to call it quits.  A number of newspapers have carried the news and comments by locals on the closing.  The economy and failure to connect with local schools, plus high cost of operation have been cited as reasons the business failed to make a go of it in Salem, a city connected with witches far more than Lizzie Borden in the minds of tourists.

      Fall River Herald News
  • Library of Congress Broadside

    Among the Library of Congress collection of unusual broadsides, (those prolific paper tributes written by budding writers about popular topics of the moment), rests this Lizzie Borden case effort by Mr. Beard of New Hampshire, who  gives his home address at the bottom of the page, no doubt in hopes of hearing from a publisher keen to publish his opus.

    Thanks to CLEWS crime blog for bringing this to our attention a few years ago. If you missed it then, here it is again.

  • Lizzie on the keyboard

     Most well-born ladies of the period took up the study of a musical instrument as part of their well-rounded education.  The pianoforte was a favorite as the lady might accompany herself singing or might become a sought-after party guest to accompany around-the-piano impromptu group singing which was so popular among all age groups .  Lizzie Borden took up the piano as a teenager but in the end abandoned the serious study of music as she felt her playing was inferior.  Sister Emma Borden also played, as her school records at Wheaton Female Seminary attest.  Andrew Borden had to pay five dollars per term to furnish Emma with a practice instrument. By 1892, even middle class families could afford to own a parlor piano.  Different sources list Lizzie’s piano as either a square parlor grand or an upright grand. Considering the decade of her piano playing, a square parlor grand is more likely. These were somewhat large, boxy instruments with thick carved legs.

      

     In 1892, the most popular tune of the time was After the Ball, a waltz by Charles K. Harris. He had written the piece in 1891.  According to Wikipedia:

    “In the song, an older man tells his niece why he has never married. He saw his sweetheart kissing another man at a ball, and he refused to listen to her explanation. Many years later, after the woman had died, he discovered that the man was her brother.

    “After the Ball” became the most successful song of its era which at that time was gauged by the sales of sheet music. In 1892 it sold over two million copies of sheet music. Its total sheet music sales exceed five million copies, making it the best seller in Tin Pan Alley‘s history.”   

    The song is still familiar to many and is often the last selection played at dances and cotillions.

    Did Lizzie amuse herself at the piano on Second Street as an adult?  – Most likely she did.  She would also have a handsome piano in her parlor at Maplecroft.  It’s fun to picture the sisters around the piano at Christmas trying out a few carols and Christmas tunes from the hymnal. Two other huge hits of 1892- The Bowery and Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built for Two).

  • Lizzie Borden Cupcakes are a winner

      Cupcakes have been a trendy foodie item recently.  After the TV success of shows such as Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, and now Cupcake Wars, it was only a matter of time before Lizzie made it to the cupcake competition.  Iron Cupcake, an organization which celebrates the miniature morsels and hosts themed cupcake bake-off contests, has cupcake affiliate chapters all over.  In October of this year, the Toronto branch had a Halloween competition. The entries were creative and tasty, and the competition was fierce,but in the end it was the Lizzie Borden display which won. The photo of the winning display below is from the “Cake Bites” web blog of Gabriella Caruso who was a competitor in the Halloween challenge. http://cakebitess.blogspot.com/2010/10/iron-cupcake-toronto-halloween.html

    The white chocolate hatchet is spectacular and the cupcake shown on the ribbon and lace bedecked round platter in the background has a small skull on the top.  Monica Law was the creator.

    For more on the competition, read an article about the contestants and entries at the link below.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/11/27/bake-off-brawling-at-the-iron-cupcake-competition/

  • W&W’s Top 10 Borden Case Errors

     

    Axe or hatchet?  –  Most likely a hatchet or a short-handled axe.

    Top Ten List of Most Often-Quoted  Borden Case Errors

     

     1. Lizzie was found guilty by jury of the murders of her mother and father.

    Actually Lizzie was acquitted on all three counts, the murder of her father, her stepmother and both at the trial in New Bedford, June 1893.

     2. Lizzie Borden was a redhead.

    According to her passport she had light brown hair.

     3.  Lizzie’s father cut off the heads of  Lizzie’s pet pigeons with a hatchet.

    Andrew Borden did kill the pigeons, but by wringing their necks, according to Lizzie’s inquest statement.

     4.  Lizzie decapitated Abby Borden’s tabby kitten.

    We have only the interview of Abby Borden’s niece, Abbie Whitehead Potter stating that Lizzie killed a kitten. The Whitehead family, with reason, had very little sympathy towards Lizzie, and this tale cannot be validated.

     5.  Lizzie Borden was a big, mannish woman.

    Lizzie was 5 ft. 3 inches tall according to her passport, average for the times.  She had put on weight during the ten months she was incarcerated in Taunton jail. Her face did have a heavy lower jaw and was described by one newspaper as a face with attributes very common to the region.

     6.  Lizzie and her sister sold the house where the murders took place on Second Street after Lizzie was acquitted in 1893.

    The sisters held on to the property until 1918.

     7. Lizzie was a kleptomaniac.

     Legend has it that she shoplifted at local Main St. stores and that the bill for what she had pilfered would be sent to her father to pay.  Shoplifting was surprisingly not uncommon among ladies of the period. There is no documentation at present in existence  that Lizzie was a kleptomaniac and that Andrew paid the bills.  The only corroborating bit of evidence is of a documented thievery of a porcelain wall ornament which went “missing” from the Tilden and Thurber jewelry  store in Providence.  When the item was taken back to the store for a repair, the owner was questioned about its provenance only to be told Lizzie Borden had been the gift giver. This matter was eventually settled privately. It is possible that Lizzie was a shoplifter in younger years, but not proven so.

     8. Andrew Borden was a mortician.

     Andrew Borden was trained as a carpenter and then went into business as a furniture and household goods retailer.  He invested wisely in real estate, including two small farms, all of which would bring him a good financial return, and as a sideline, he was an undertaker.  Undertaker in 1890 parlance meant a person who would supply items needed for a funeral.  He was neither a funeral director, embalmer, nor mortician. An invoice has been found for his services and for a casket, signed by Borden.  It was not uncommon for furniture retailers to supply wooden coffins and caskets and have a showroom or warehouse facility containing these items.

     9. Lizzie committed the two murders in the nude. 

     Thanks to the 1975 film starring Elizabeth Montgomery as Lizzie, the nude murderess scenario has its supporters.  In 1890, the thought was put forth that the killer must be saturated with blood, and it should have been impossible to hide or escape without the telltale blood evidence being detected.  In fact, the killer need not have been covered from head to toe with blood, or could have worn, then later destroyed a protective covering garment. It would be unusual for a lady  in the era of corsets and petticoats to have stripped bare twice on a sunny morning and walked around the house in broad daylight , then to clean up in between in a large tin basin in the cellar. Not impossible- just unlikely.

    10. Lizzie Borden killed her stepmother and father.

    So often assumed as fact ,  –  in fact, nobody will ever have the final answer to this one. Based on the evidence given to the jury then, and in re-examinations of the trial evidence now, Lizzie is acquitted. Her inquest testimony, prussic acid evidence, and dress-burning evidence were not allowed at the trial.  The fact that a side door remained open for almost an hour, and that an intruder could have entered the house and concealed himself, allows for reasonable doubt.  And therein lies the fascination with this case.

    Got a favorite oft-quoted but unsubstantiated Borden case statement to share?  Please leave a comment!

  • Channeling Lizzie onstage

    Gillian Murphy as Lizzie Borden in Fall River Legend

    Gillian Murphy a principal dancer in the New York’s American Ballet Theatre, previewed the upcoming controversial film, The Black Swan and compares approaching such a terrifying role undertaken by Natalie Portman to her take on channeling Lizzie Borden.

     I once played the character of Lizzie Borden in “Fall River Legend.” That was fairly intense because you have to embrace the role onstage and experience what that character is about — very repressed and angry. But does that mean I was a nightmare to live with? Absolutely not — Ethan [Stiefel, her boyfriend ] would not have lived with me if that was the case.”

  • Lizzie appears in new crime novel

    Bruce A. Brennan, attorney from DeKalb, IL released a novel on November 10, 2010. The book is historical fiction in the crime genre. The book takes place in the late 1880s through the early 1900s and involves Jack the Ripper and other infamous criminals of that period..  Jack the Ripper, Chicago’s H.H. Holmes, the Dalton gang and others make guest appearances.  The novel is e-published and can be downloaded at this link.  Send us your reviews!  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/11/prweb4774174.htm

    About the Author:

    “Bruce A. Brennan is a practicing attorney handling criminal defense work. This is his first published novel. A second one is expected within four months. He writes a daily blog and contributes to several others. This is the story of the investigation and crime solving techniques used to track down the most notorious murderer in the world. The killer plied his trade in Europe and the United States during the 1880s through the early 1900s. After an exhausting investigation, Ian Dean gets his man.”