Beginning on January 1st, W&W will begin featuring fascinating short clippings from the Fall River papers and other newspapers from 1892 through the present which concern Lizzie herself or the endless parade of personalities involved in the case. They will remain accessible here in a sort of clippings archive. There is much to be learned from these small snippets in print!
Fall River Globe, June 1892
In honor of Lizzie’s birthday, one, in what will become a series of free downloads to augment your Dressing Miss Lizzie paper doll book is released today, Lizzie’s birthday. Here is an imagined walking suit for Lizzie to wear on her visit to Chicago during the Columbian Exposition in October, 1893. White matte photo paper, card stock or 28 lb. regular copy paper is suggested for printing out the pdf file on your home printer. Click on the link below to print out Lizzie’s new duds! Results, will of course vary from printer to printer.
Signing party with Q & A and refreshments, July 13th, Saturday 12 -4 p.m. Jules Antiques and General Store, Rt. 138 in Richmond, R.I. (Exit 3 East off 95). Copies of Dressing Miss Lizzie are now available exclusively in Rhode Island at Jules! Miss Lizzie is getting out of town this summer!
Yes! Even the props are for sale at Jules Antiques!
Dressing Miss Lizzie, which is a paper doll book featuring Lizzie’s garments described in newspapers of 1892 -1893 is now available through hollisterpress.com as well as at the Second St. Borden home and the Fall River Historical Society if you live near Fall River. The Fall River Herald News recently featured a story about the new publication.
So- did Lizzie have a sweetheart? It would seem one Curtis I. Piece had high but unrequited hopes of winning Lizzie’s heart. Lizzie had met the ambitious itinerant preacher around 1882 at the Tripp’s house in Westport. Curtis was never one to turn down a possible single lady prospect from a well-heeled and connected family. His advances were tenacious if not welcomed by Lizzie. Although he had not written to her for several years before the murders, he fired off a letter to her while she was incarcerated in the Taunton Jail :
“Westport, Sept. 20, 1892,
To Miss Lizzie with friendly greetings, I am very anxious to meet you and cannot presume upon your presence without your permission, will you be so kind as to appoint a day for me to visit you as soon as convenient? I can come any day or hour. Please do not deny me this one request, believe me, you have my deepest sympathy and constant prayer. I am sincerely yours, Curtis I. Piece.”
Lizzie handed the note over to her family attorney, Andrew Jennings who told Curtis, in short- to bug off! Although grateful for his sympathies, Jennings added, ” She has told me of your previous conduct and I am surprised that any man should attempt to renew it under the current circumstances” and to ” cease your attempts to force yourself upon her notice”! Poor Curtis. He finally gave up.
(Rebello, Lizzie Borden Past and Present, p. 14, Alzach Press, 1999)
Lots of Lizzie to look forward to in the early months of the new year. Available in March and ready to pre-order on Amazon now
In addition to the hoped for opening of Maplecroft in the very near future is the debut in NYC of the rock musical LIZZIE. Follow the production news on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/LizzieMusical/
This is GREAT news. We have high hopes for this one with Hanks at the helm!
If Lizzie could only have known!
For many summers the For Sale sign has been up in front of the famous address on French Street, Lizzie Borden’s beloved and last home. Over the past few weeks, an interested buyer has made trips to Fall River and at last the house, owned for many years by Robert Dube, has transferred ownership. The Fall River Herald News broke the story this afternoon at this link. http://www.heraldnews.com/article/20141121/NEWS/141128850
The house will operate as a Bed & Breakfast and it looks like exciting times ahead for the old Queen Anne house. The photo above was taken recently after a fresh coat of cream-colored paint was applied. The new owners should be taking possession after the holidays. The house did operate briefly as a B&B some years ago. It will be fun to watch what the months ahead will bring.
After years of watching grainy old VHS tape, the long-awaited DVD version of the Legend of Lizzie Borden with Elizabeth Montgomery is available through Amazon.com! Get ‘em while they’re hot! The 1975 version of the Borden tale is the best thing to date on film. http://www.amazon.com/Legend-Lizzie-Borden-Elizabeth-Montgomery/dp/B00HZVX14O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412913687&sr=8-1&keywords=Lizzie+Borden
The FRHS announced an exciting donation to the Borden archive today. The following appears on the FRHS Facebook page and is very exciting. How can we wait until August 4th?
“Lizzie Borden’s home: Extremely rare photograph discovered! Lizzie Borden had this green and gilt “Maplecroft” seal made for use on her correspondence — a rare example of her personal style during her years in that residence. Now we are excited to report that a truly unique photograph taken inside the French street mansion while Lizzie lived there has been given to the FRHS! It’s the only suchphoto ever to have surfaced, and anyone with an interest in Lizzie will find it fascinating. For the first time, we have a partial but revealing glimpse of the interior of her home. And the subject of the photo – something Lizzie apparently cherished — helps to debunk one of the biggest myths perpetuated about her.
Donated by a descendant of Lizzie’s personal maid, Ida S. Carlson, the photo came to us with impeccable provenance. Lizzie hired a professional photographer to capture the compelling image and had it mounted in an ornate frame, and around 1899 she gave it to Ida, who displayed the treasured piece in her home until her death, at which time it was acquired by a relative.
The photo will make its debut at the FRHS at a special exhibit opening on August 4, 2014, where it will join a collection of other recently acquired Borden-related items of note. Mark your calendar, and be sure to come and take our informative tour about the life and trial of Lizzie Borden!” (Posted April 22, Facebook).
Released on May 13th, most likely prompted by the recent popularity of the Lifetime Channel’s Christina Ricci effort- the 1975 version with Elizabeth Montgomery can now be pre-ordered on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Legend-Lizzie-Borden-Elizabeth-Montgomery/dp/B00HZVX14O/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1394644302&sr=1-1&keywords=Legend+of+Lizzie+Borden
For many, this made-for-TV movie was the starting point for interest in the Borden case. Highly recommended viewing, as Montgomery gives a compelling performance in the title role and the script stays closer to the real story than the recent Lifetime Channel effort, even though some liberties are taken and some key figures left out. Youtube has had the film online, albeit chopped up in segments, for some time but it will be a treat to see it start to finish uninterrupted. The film’s signature musical theme is unforgettable.
After the great ratings and enthusiastic reception of the less-than-accurate Lifetime attempt at telling the Borden story, you can be sure a little flurry of books will soon be out there, hopefully getting it right. Random House has signed up a new Lizzie young adult book to be published in Spring ‘16. It’s a narrative non-fiction book called The Borden Murders, and is by Sarah Miller. Another released this month is now available on Amazon. Keep your fingers crossed for accurate research. We can only hope, Lizziephiles!
So, Bordenphiles everywhere are probably burning up their keyboards tonight writing reviews of the much-hyped Lifetime movie, Lizzie Borden Took an Axe. Before the verdict is in, why indeed was this production rushed to the screen? Clearly with a gross lack of fact checking on the case, the culture and mannerisms of the times, set dressing and costume, this was a low-budget rush job to get something in the can to beat out the anticipated Playtone-Tom Hanks production starring Chloe Sevigny. Ms. Sevigny, a visitor to Fall River and a case enthusiast would have done the role justice.
The never-ending inaccuracies, too numerous to mention in full, indicate a total laziness on the part of the scriptwriters to even consult Google for the most basic of facts on the case. In fact, other than the undeniable truth that two people were murdered in Fall River, most probably with a hatchet, there is not much else this version of the story got right.
Filmed in Halifax, presumably for the vintage atmosphere and possibly budget constraints, the film begins with a house which looks nothing like the Borden house, a city which looks nothing like a city and most certainly nothing like Fall River. There is no flavor of the mills, Main Street, the Hill section or the river. At least they did not attempt the distinctive Fall River accent.
Even those not in the know about speech patterns, costume, mannerisms and culture of 1892 will instantly sense something is quite wrong on all these counts. For example, a woman would never have appeared on the street without a hat, and most assuredly not at an inquest. When making a period piece, attention to the smallest detail is essential lest the entire screen illusion of the event be destroyed. And speaking of destroyed- what did you think of Lizzie’s playlist?
• The Black Keys, “Psychotic Girl”
• Ian Clement, “The Hammer & the Nail”
• Sons of Jezebel, “Whoo Boy”
• Kreeps, “Pennsylvania Boarded House Blues”
• Paul Otten, “Dangerous Mind” *
• The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, “Are You Listening Lord,” “Shake It”
• Pow Wow, “All In” *
• Lady of the Sunshine, “White Rose Parade”
• Cavendish Music Library, “Razzamatazz Man”
It is always a great risk to incorporate contemporary music in a period piece. The end result may be campy or it may turn out to be another Marie Antoinette film disaster of recent years. In this case, the spectacle of Christina Ricci striding out defiantly to a forbidden party in what might be construed as a “Soiled Dove”, cleavage-baring bodice to the strains of “Whoo Boy” is laughable. At the party Lizzie meets Nance O’Neil who makes her entrance into Lizzie’s life at least 12 years too early. Understandably, in a two hour film, many factual sequences must be collapsed or even omitted in the interest of time. What is unforgiveable is that in this production, they managed to find precious minutes for total fabrications which never occurred, or did not serve the history timeline in the least, while leaving out vital information and actions and incidents crucial to the case. It’s almost as if the script writer had a large handful of facts about the case scribbled on post-it notes, threw them all up in the air, and whatever order they landed in was the order in which they appear, sometimes tarted up or altered at will and with zero relationship to the actual timeline of the true events.
As in the Elizabeth Montgomery 1975 film, (a vastly superior effort), Lizzie’s Uncle John Morse was left out as well as Mrs. Churchill, the very important star attorney and former Massachusetts Governor Robinson, Mr. Moody for the Prosecution, and others. Andrew Jennings was the sole embodiment of Lizzie’s defense. With the actual Borden trial transcript available, the screen writer for this sad attempt himself should have been hanged for Laziness in the First Degree. Kudos for getting the famous line uttered by Lizzie in response to whether she and her mother were cordial, “It all depends on your idea of cordiality”.
Also disappointing was the performance of Christina Ricci, a talented young actress who turned in a one-note song as Lizzie. The real Lizzie Borden was a multi-faceted and subtle person; refined, dignified, meticulous, affectionate to friends and also stubborn, having feelings of inferiority, and a full spectrum of traits as most human beings possess. Ricci has made her name as a quirky, Goth-Girl, dark performer and is good at it. She is better than the lines given her in this production. Ricci’s distracted, crazy poses, bulging eyes, and defiant little outbursts did not make for much depth-of character.
So many disappointments for even the most casual Lizziephile: Lizzie standing over a cauldron stirring up that infamous dress, outside, while Emma shrieked and Alice Russell peered out a second storey window, City Marshal Hilliard played as a fool, Andrew Borden with dark hair and a mustache, Lizzie racing around in her underwear with hair streaming wantonly down her back, the missing scene where neighbor Addie Churchill spies the corpse of Abby Borden under the bed, Dr. Bowen popping out of his house like a jack-in-the-box when Bridget hammers on the door. All so incorrect. All so maddening. When will anyone recognize that this story deserves to be told as it actually happened? If Cameron could not get it right with his Titanic epic, as pretty as it was to look at- then there is little hope the real, and truly fascinating story of the Borden case will ever see the light of day. Another golden opportunity missed.
Two thumbs way down. Not released tonight, it escaped. Airing again on Sunday. Give it a miss.
Once again Fall River is about to tear down a fine old building to make room for a parking lot. The Morgan Street School, known as the N.B. Borden School more recently, was sold for a pitiful sum. Last used in 2007 as a grammar school, there had been plans for the redundant building to be converted into a community center. The layout inside would have been ideal for a city museum. Timetoast.com ran this article on its timeline about the sale of redundant schools in the city: ”
In February 2012, the city council delays sale on Belisle; awards bids for Osborn to SB&A Realty Group, Fall River, for $3,111 for professional building, and for N.B. Borden to TA Restaurant Inc., Fall River, for $5,000 for parking and possibly apartments. Council President Linda Pereira removes Pat Casey from RE Committee related to Belisle School controversy.
For more information on Lizzie at the school visit the W&W link below.
The Pear Essential Productions’ annual August 4th dramatization at the Borden house will have a few new faces this year. Mike Shogi, from Cleveland will be directing this year for the first time as long-time producer-director and script writer Shelley Dziedzic steps down after a long run. She will still assist with ticket sales, script and costuming.
There will be some big changes in casting this year as well as a few old familiar faces reprising their usual roles. Stay tuned for more cast announcements here.
Below: The cast from August 4, 2012.
A much-anticipated series debuted today in the Sunday Providence Journal. ” Projo” writer Paul Davis certainly did his homework for this six-part article which runs all week and features some new, never-before-published information. The writing is crisp, accurate and thought-provoking and highlights trial coverage from 1893 Providence Journals. Lizziephiles will be over the moon with the expansive coverage. If you cannot obtain a hard copy of the paper, read all about it at the newspaper online link.
A short trailer was put up on Saturday night to heighten anticipation.
A promotional online video is also on the Projo site and Youtube which features Warps and Wefts writer, Shelley Dziedzic who made a tour with Journal reporter Paul Davis in May. The tour encompassed all things “Lizzie” in and around Fall River and a jaunt to the New Bedford courthouse to visit the scene where the 1893 trial unfolded.