Sometimes things appear and they may have very little significance but I feel they need to be documented somewhere. I’m constantly making connections from one person to another after many years if research.
Thus is the case with this advertisement for Bruce Forsythe, african american music teacher in New York. You can see he can provide testimonials from Carl Van Vechten, Benjamin DeCasseres and others.
The following article on a young stage actress named Mary Nash (August 15, 1884 – December 3, 1976) was published in Shadowland magazine in April 1922. Wikipedia notes that “she started her Hollywood career in 1936, appearing in 18 films.”
“Mary Nash: Versatile Actress”
by Benjamin DeCasseres
If you’ve seen Mary Nash as Anna Valeska in “Captain Applejack”– that rip-roaring “kidded melodrama” which is partly “Peter Pan,” partly “Seven Keys to Baldpate,” and partly just itself– you have seen a quivering, vital personality, totally unlike the blonde, pretty-face heroine of the average Broadway play.
To follow her saps your strength. Her methods are more Continental than American or English. Her whole body acts– not merely her lips, her eyes and her gowns. She fires her role at you. It goes over with a rush and a roar.
When I went ino her dressing-room to interview her after the fall of teh final curtain of a certain Wednesday matinee, she was still Anna Valeska. She was still vibrating with the part, still pulsing tot he music of a fictional dream.
She is the dark, Spanish type of beauty– and every feature is fired by a cracking earnesness when she talks to you.No one is more perfectly natural and less stagy off-stage. One can see she enters con amore into her parts– she loves her art.
Humor threads all she says. Her eyes dance with laughter and over her face emotion after emotion– often contradictory– chase each other like thunderclouds mixed with golden sunshine.
When only seventeen years of age, Miss Nash was cast to play a child of fourteen by Clyde Fitch himself in “The City”– that astoundingly bold drama– for that time– which was produced after Fitch’s death. That was really her first part.
“I never had a bit of stage fright,” she said. “I took to acting naturally from the first time I faced an audience. From childhood I had been a play ‘fan,’ and while sitting on my seat I always conceived myself on the other side of the footlights doing the things that those actresses did which I admired. I could always project myself mentally into the parts I loved and, when my great moment came in ‘The City,’ I merely felt as tho I was taking posession of something that belonged to me– from before birth probably.
“Some actresses are born, some made, and others have their parts thrust upon them by producers. I was a born actress. Voila!”
Miss Nash has appeared with Ethel Barrymore and Grace George. She has appeared in plays by William de Mille and David Belasco.
“I have never played two parts alike in my life. I have never been and never want to be —- identified with any special role or any special school of acting. There is not only fun but health in versatility. I am avid. I am hungry, for all kinds of roles, serious -— comic, melodramatic, vamp and ingenue. No producer can say ‘That is a Mary Nash part.’ It doesn’t exist. But I always like them to say when they are stuck, “Let’s get Mary Nash– she can handle anything.”
I congratulated her on a healthy sense of self-appreciation, but she waved me off with a n’importe!
“What we need in this country badly,” she said with a quick pirouete of thought, “is soemthing like the Conservatiore in Paris. We need a national school of acting that will at least standardize our language. The stage here suffers from too many kinds of American brogue. We ave new England schools of acting, Southern schools, Western schools, New York schoos– all handling the same words with different prnunciations and enunciations. The American stage lacks an American tongue common to all.
“Then again technical training for the stage– in the sense that it exists in Europe– is almost unknown here. A born actress, of course, does not require much technical training. Acting is an art. It is not taken seriously enough here. Doing tricks of illusion on the stage is not acting. Before I learn my part, for instance, I know everbody elses part in the play. I play into the spirit of the drama or comedy in which I am cast. During the first week of a new play when I’m off stage, I watch the parts I’m not in from the wings, and make mental notes on where I can improve my own work. I want to fit perfectly into the spirit of the whole action– not merely ‘do a part.’ The latter is a fault of many of our actors and actresses, and savors too much of the movies—-”
“My cue!–the movies. (It’s always a cue in every conversation.)
“Yes—I love the movies—real movies. I do not go to the movies merely to see them—there is so much trash. I select—as I do plays and books and gowns.
“I was in one picture—a George Fitzmaurice picture ; but found that I could not act on the speaking stage and keep up my work in the pictures without doing myself and my employers an injustice. After one has spent the morning and afternoon in the studio doing pictures, one is totally—at least I was—unfit for work at night. I attribute a great deal of the inferior work of many of our actors and actresses on the speaking stage to the fact that they are played out by the picture work they are doing on the side.
“The pictures themselves I consider the most tremendous innovator and social influence of modern times. In the small towns thruout the country, for instance, they have become the glass of fashion for the young women. The pictures have taught them how to dress. They have brought to them new ideals of feminine charm and beauty. They all want to dress and smile like Norma Talmadge. The movies have revolutionized the wardrobes of the middle-class young woman.
“They are doing the same for furniture and interior decoration. I noticed in many Middle Western and Southern homes that rooms were furnished like movie sets. Imitative maybe—but it has raised the level.”
At the mention of “foreign pictures,” Miss Nash was all excitement again.
“Pola Negri !—she is an event. At her best she is one of the greatest actresses on or off the screen. She is a born actress. One does not believe she is acting to the directions of a megaphone or that she is conscious of the camera. She seems to be living her part, ejecting it from her very self, not from a scenario. Her vitality, her facial and bodily emotions swim right out of the screen. She does in the dumb world of the film what very few actresses have even been able to get over on the speaking stage. She conveys, in her parts, every nuance of the feminine soul. There is something great in that woman that I cannot describe. I only know it ‘gets you.’ It is genius.
“How different from the insipid, vapid, doll-baby stuff of most of our American screen actresses ! Pola Negri puts vital womanhood on the screen—not a director’s trick-bear.
“Personal habits—likes and dislikes ? I haven’t any outside of those I told you. I am not athletic or outdoors. In books I am hopelessly Mid-Victorian. I love my home. I love to embroider—and I love the play from an orchestra seat. I am at every odd matinee around town.
“I have embroidered whole luncheon sets on the stage in parts where I have used the basket and the knitting-needle. I believe I am the only actress who does this. And I never missed a cue. I cant embroider in my present part-but I hope my next part will enable me”I have embroidered whole luncheon sets on the stage in parts where I have used the basket and the knitting-needle. I believe I am the only actress who does this. And I never missed a cue. I cant embroider in my present part-but I hope my next part will enable me to complete on the stage ”
“Those two silk ties you promised me.” broke in Miss Nash’s husband, who had come in just in time to hear her last sentence.
The editor-in-chief of UnionOfEgoists.com and owner of Underworld Amusements has pulled a small stack of desirable new and used items from his personal collection and has listed them on ebay starting at $6.66. Every book listed is worth well more than that, some tens, some hundreds. He’s funding a secret project and you can be a part of that just by buying yourself a book.
THE Jew is the enigma of history. A giant shadow out of the East, the mystery and the problem of his destiny confront his own mind with a force as great as it strikes the minds of Christians and agnostics.
The evolution of the Jew is the romance of the races. He carries the Cross that he spurned on Calvary. and on his face is the dust of his humiliation; but to the mind’s eye he wears about his form something of the splendor of deniers. His toga is a winding-sheet, but he wears it proudly. His neck wrung for ages under the heel of hatred and bigotry, he emerges unconquered and is broken anew in the iron coils of circumstance. He challenges with a sneer on his lips the while his mind holds mystic parlance with his dream.
His dream! It is that that keeps him alive. He is a wanderer on the face of the earth who fingers perpetually the amulets of hope. He sees each race with its country, each religion with its hierarchy. Only the Hebrews are scattered to the four winds of heaven—cut, drawn and quartered, yet, like the ameba, they multiply by fission. A vague nostalgia keeps them alive, and above their heads is flaunted the mirage of Zion.
The Jew is an egotist—and in this lies his grandeur. He believes that he is of the race of Chosen People—that the Eternal has elected his race to be its mouthpiece. The Hebrews believe that a special divinity watches over them, that their terrible God is trying them. testing the metal and fibers of their nature, and that they will somehow, through the grace of Jehovah. cross the threshold of the New Jerusalem to the fanfare of the acclaiming servitors of the Only God. To them, their history is the epic of the ages. An outrage against one is an affront to all. If you attack a Jew you attack his race. He is of the elan of God, and when you scoff at him you scoff at the soul of the race.
Despised, degraded, shackled, outlawed, he has fashioned for a weapon of revenge a cudgel of gold dug out. of the earth. The world is today in pawn to him. He has studied the weaknesses of his adversaries and measured his thrift and, acquisitiveness against their needs. He knows in his heart of hearts that his Christian conquerors are at bottom things of earth like himself, and that the dynasties of power in this world are dynasties fed from money-bags, that the joists of authority, whether it be at the Vatican or the Quirinal, are mortared with lucre. He knows that more men pray to the Dollar than to God.
Proud, humble. calculating, thrifty, dreaming, the Jew wanders up and down the ages preyed upon by the beasts of religious fanaticism and preying like a beast in turn. Rejecting the Cross, he, by a fine irony, has been transfixed to it since his rejection. Dreaming of Zion. lie erects his tent in Paris, London and New York, where he sits throned in a lustrous martyrdom. Driven out of the temple. he rules from the market-place. He is unconquerable and indissoluble. His blood is intellectual, and his intellect has bloody intents.
as published in The Smart Set magazine, Vol. LXI, No. 3, MARCH, 1920.
By Benjamin De Casseres
I – Economics A SOCIALIST and an Individualist sit late into the night in a Fourteenth street restaurant arguing excitedly. The Socialist has his mouth full of mush and the Individualist has a pickle in his mouth. A man rises lightly from a table in back of them and pinches both of their overcoats.
II – Government The Board of Aldermen is in a solemn discussion over changing the license fee to carry a pistol from $2.00 to $2.25. The Board of Estimate in the next room is voting $400,000,000 in new building contracts. The Mayor sits in his private office between the two dictating a letter to the Commissioner of Licenses on the rights of peanut vendors.
III – God She trips along on French heels. A man passes her with waterlogged, heelless shoes. The pavement remains impersonal, neutral.
IV – The Onlooker His soul bubbled in the champagne of her beauty. Her soul aviated with him to the heights of his Olympian intellect. The teeth of their ten-year-old are in a hideous condition.
V – Crowds A great crowd of stars swarms through the streets of Space. A great crowd of people swarms the streets of Paris, London and New York. A great crowd of cells swarm through the brain of a poet looking at the other swarms and gives them meaning and beauty.
VI – Strata At the top of the Woolworth Tower stands the Prince looking at the greater city. At the base of the Tower, in Broadway, a panhandler is plying his trade. Between the two, in the eighteenth story, a man sits at his desk and writes an advertisement about his New Hampshire diamond mine.
VII – Peace He lounges in her luxurious boudoir and yawns about the inroads of Bolshevism over a fifty-cent cigarette. She is lacing her scented body for the evening in the Diamond Horseshoe. Under their window a boy yelps an extra about five deputy sheriffs and eight strikers dead in a riot.
This book review was published in The Sun (city?) on July 20th, 1919.
By BENJAMIN DE CASSERES. GIOVANNI PAPINI, the Italian iconoclastic and sometimes humorous, all too humorous, philosopher, has written an amusing sketch for one of the magazines called “The Satanic Genius.” It tells of the quest of a youthful worshipper of a world famous poet who lives in Paris. The poet’s Satanism has thrilled the world and made the gooseflesh vibrant where none had vibrated before.
The breathless disciple after many attempts at last stands face to face with the Master in the latter’s very commonplace apartment. And the Great Man is still more commonplace—a sort of baldheaded and bowlegged D’Annunzio.
To the killing astonishment of the believing boy the Genius relates just how be concocts his flights, aphorisms, demoniacal frenzies and super-vamps. Even shows him his catalogue of paradoxes, his dictionaries of obsolete phrases and words, his assortment of nude jokes, medical terms—in fact, all the trappings and Liberty Motors that beautify the outside and buzz inside of Pegasus!
He relates his money wrangles with his publishers and bows out the young man with a satanic grin after explaining that the water colors on the wall were painted by his wife.
This is the very triumph of Satanism, but the boy didn’t know it—and he probably bopped off the Pont Neuf forthwith.
In the age long controversy whether genius is a matter of infinite pains or inspiration, Signor Papini seems to go in for the infinite pains side. Inspiration, anyhow, is only the result of the infinite pains of our ancestors. All the words that Shakespeare used in his plays are in the dictionary. Take twenty thousand of them, sit down sonic Saturday afternoon and arrange them as Shakespeare knew the trick and—pouf !—you’ll have something bigger than Hamlet on your paper. Personally having been a genius up until my fortieth year, and having then given it up in order to live decently, I can now blazon the secret of the concoction of those great books that no publisher will publish—Roget’s Thesaurus, the Standard Dictionary, Walker’s Rhyming Dictionary, Smith’s Classical Dictionary, Woods’s Dictionary of Quotations and a briar root pipe, mixed with tea and rum.
But here comes another ready genius maker just as we were all going in for Bolshevism and root beer. It is A Dictionary of 6,000 Phrases, compiled and arranged by Edwin Hamlin Carr. It is an aid to ready and effective conversation and to social letter writing, with over 100 model social letters. It is (Papini, Pegasus and fooling aside) a valuable book for beginners in the art of conventionalizing their style if they flout the genius game. The author truly says “We think in phrases as well as words.” Can you deny it? And here is the phrase for any exigency, social, political, religious or literary.
A person that could memorize them all would go through the world as slickly as a kitten in a molasses factory. He would be a perfect genius of manners, poise, courtesy and grace, the Fourteen Points of elegance and the Ten Commandments of fashion. May I venture to suggest that with this book one could write a peace treaty that posterity would look on as a Magna Charta of Thought?
At the top of each page there is an index word. Suppose, for instance, you are interested in “Progress.” Page 203 is your cubbyhole. Here are “the chariot of progress,” “an aggressive movement,” “a thorough going reform,” &c. In fact there are 17,000 ready made editorials right on this page. Every man his own brisbane.
As I am seriously thinking of becoming a genius again, thanks, Mr. Editor, for this valuable book.
A DICTIONARY OF 6,000 PHRASES. Compiled by EDWIN HAMLIN (‘ARK. 0. P.
Putnam ‘s Sons.
And for the intrepid, I bring you:
Giovani Papini’s “The Satanic Genius.” Published in Vanity Fair, Vol. 12, No. 5, p. 47, July 1919.
Paul Avrich’s Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America gives this brief biographical sketch of Mr. Ross:
Arthur Leonard Ross, a New York attorney, met Emma Goldman in Paris in 1924 and became her legal representative in the United States, from which she had been deported in December 1919. He helped raise money for the purchase of her cottage in St. Tropez, sent books to her for her preparation of lectures in Toronto, negotiated with Alfred Knopf for the publication of her autobiography, and helped arrange her visit to the United States in 1934. “Arthur Leonard Ross, kindest and most lavish of men,” she wrote in St. Tropez in 1931, “gave me his untiring efforts as legal representative and adviser…. He was the rare type that one gets to consider in a short time as a good friend?” Ross died in New York in the spring of 1975.
There are only four copies of this book–probably the most restricted edition of any work.
There is an error in the copyright line. It should be 1936, there is a page missing giving an account of other books and the ??? ??? is missing.
I am retaining 3 copies for myself and present this again to you with salutations.
To Arthur Leonard Ross
Benjamin De Casseres
New York, 1936
As Curtis Weyent pointed out in a post on his blog, Ben DeCasseres’ signature is often wildly inconsistent. With that in mind, I collected every signature I have of Benjamin DeCasseres, from letters to inscriptions and regular “signed copy” signatures. There is up to two decades between some of these signatures, but I have not ordered them in any way.
Welcome to a new category of post called “Signatures and Inscriptions.” If you click on the category, you will find all post we have made so far. If you would like to contribute an interesting signature, inscription, or letter (starting soon), please contact me. There is a form on the front page: http://www.benjamindecasseres.com/
Many thanks to Robert Carmonius for this contribution and some of the further research.
This inscription found in a copy of The Superman in America, and is dated the same year of publication, 1929.
Of interest is his “Anno Volstead 9”, I hadn’t seen him do that before (or I don’t recall it either way). Year nine of prohibition.
To Al Satterthwaite
in memory of those
nights so long ago when we
used to wander under the
morning stars talking Schopen-
hauer and Saltus, rending
life and the Universe to tatters–
since which time I–they–
have never been quite well,
for did not God say to me
over the other day, “Say, Ben, you
give me a pain in my
It seems both Benjamin DeCasseres and an Albert Satterthwaite contributed to Pendant la mêlée: acrate, individualiste, éclectique (title translates as During the melee), a French individualist anarchist publication from 1915-1916. The journal was one in a series associated with Emile Armand.
November 15, 1915 , in full World War, exit the fortnightly Paris “during the melee ,” the newspaper proclaimed acrate, individualistic and eclectic. The manager is Charles Michel. From January 1916, the newspaper published in Orléans, change its name to ” beyond the fray .” The executive of a department of the newspaper then E.Armand but after the arrest of the latter in October 1917 (for desertion complicity) is Pierre Chardon who will succeed him until February 1918. The following month, the newspaper will change as for ” The Melee “. – translated by Goole from http://www.ephemanar.net/novembre15.html
This postcard with text from “Alba Satterthwaite” was found at:
Ignorance in the brain, hatred in the heart, cowardice in the will, these are the crimes I impute to the idea of God and his fatal corollary: religion. — SÉBASTIEN FAURE.
The most terrible fact to the charge of Christianity is neither its intolerance, nor its tortures, nor its excommunications, nor its internal wars, nor its fatuity or falsehood, but this: it teaches man To resign himself to life, not to enjoy it, thereby depriving him of the most precious possession he has acquired by right of birth. He teaches him to be satisfied with social injustice. He taught her to tighten the other cheek and not to resist the evil. He treacherously induces him to barter the present, now, for a mythical beyond. And this is why men who are intellectually intellectually reject with sincere repugnance his theology, his dogma and his profession of faith. — ALBA SATTERTHWAITE
Before The American Mercury, there was The Smart Set. Wikipedia says: “The Smart Set was an American literary magazine, founded by Colonel William d’Alton Mann and published from March 1900 to June 1930. During its heyday under the editorship of H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan (1914-1923), The Smart Set offered many up-and-coming authors their start and gave them access to a relatively large audience. Its headquarters was in New York City….
…the magazine featured works by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Theodore Dreiser, Aldous Huxley, Sinclair Lewis, Eugene O’Neill and Dashiell Hammett, among others.”
I have subsequently added Ben’s name to that list.
“A Conversation Between George Bernard Shaw and the Dictionary”- Vol. XLIV, No. 4 – December, 1914
“Variations On An Old Theme” – Vol. LIII, No. 1 – September, 1917
“The Resignation Of New York” – V o l. L III, N o . 2 – October , 1 9 1 7
“The Psychology Of The Avenue” – Vol. LV, No. 1 – May, 1918