Sunday, March 29, 2009

Nazimova Slept Here

Or not. What I do know, is that Alla Nazimova has a connection to my hometown that I never knew!

This weekend, a friend and I went to The University of Akron's Hower House for an antiques fair. The home, a gorgeous Victorian Italianate home (complete with tower and mansard roof -- my dream house) was built by John Henry Hower, who owned one of the city's early mower and reaper works.

The Howers, being very prominent citizens, were quite Victorian in that they were well-travelled, literate, and cultured. They were hosts to not only the city's elite but appear to have cultivated theatrical connections, as well, as evidenced by the framed signatures in the ballroom.

Yes, the third floor contains the obligatory mansion ballroom, complete with separate picture gallery, lounge, and kitchen. Prominently displayed in the ballroom were small pieces of paper, nicely framed into three sets, of what I would guess to be about 100 signatures of actors and other prominent folks.

A few I recognized: Otis Skinner, Lew Fields...and Alla Nazimova, whose card was signed and dated 1909. Very surprising, to say the least!

I wonder if she stayed in the mansion as a guest, or in one of the hotels. I also wonder if she was appearing in a Cleveland or Akron production, or was "just passing through." I will have to do some research on that.

In the meantime, here a few links on Alla (but mostly her famed "Garden of Allah:"

I'll add these links to At the Movies sometime this week.


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