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The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty

May 6 history talk and book signing with author Richard Schwartz

The Martinez and Contra Costa County Historical Societies invite you to be the first to hear author & historian Richard Schwartz talk about his new book The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M.B. Curtis. Richard’s presentation will reveal the life of this incredibly influential immigrant actor of the late nineteenth century. As the first Jewish male actor allowed to portray a Jewish male on stage in America, Curtis’ story is one of immigration, assimilation, theatre history and how the invisible wings of comedy can affect the nation’s direction. It is also a story that connects the actor intimately (though forgotten until this book) with the Statue of Liberty, Mark Twain, a murder and the greatest African American entertainment troupe of its day. After all that, Curtis became a pioneer in the still-infant silent movie industry. Focusing on the actor’s early days in San Francisco’s theatrical history and his overnight rise to stardom, Schwartz’s talk will reveal how San Francisco became the actor’s home base from the 1870s through the 1906 Earthquake as he toured the country and how it almost ended his life. Richard’s talk begins at 1:00 p.m. A wine & cheese reception and book signing with the author will follow at 2:30 p.m. Hosted by the Martinez Historical Society and the Contra Costa County Historical Society. Free Parking. Refreshments will be served. RSVP is requested. Email: or Call: (925) 229-1042 For more information, visit A $10 donation is suggested at the door. All proceeds benefit the preservation work of the Martinez & CoCo County archives.
Date & Time
  • May 6, 2017
  • 1:00PM - 3:30PM
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