Friday, May 15, 2015

I Love Harry

 Harry Ackerman is one alumnus you’ve probably never heard of, but probably should have. He was a high executive at Screen Gems, a company owned by Columbia Pictures, and during his prime was responsible for up to seven popular TV shows at a time on the network. His life is documented through his papers which are all housed at Rauner. Although his correspondence and pictures are interesting, what’s really unique is the scripts that we have. The collection includes numerous pilot scripts, from flops you never knew were written to the origins of smash hits.

One of the pilot scripts is Archie by Ray Allen. Although Archie wasn't quite a hit, this 1962 script was the prelude to the 1964 movie of the same name. It’s bizarre to read the script without the visual presentation that the comic provides. Bits that would usually be resolved at the end of a strip are awkwardly connected to a larger plot. In case you were wondering, Archie doesn’t end up with Betty or Veronica this time. He takes Mildred to the dance.

Another curiosity is the pilot script for Bewitched. It turns out Samantha, the witch who charmed television screens for eight years starting in 1964, was actually originally named Cassandra. This script is from a little under a year before the air date. The title is penciled in, so it may be this copy is one of the first with the actual title “I Darrin, Take This Witch Samantha.”

Ackerman's legacy that you’re probably most familiar with is I Love Lucy. Ackerman saw Lucille Ball ad libbing on a charity show and wanted her for the part. He was an exec at the time, and in an article he wrote titled “The Legacy of Lucy,” he talks about how she was terrible during rehearsal, but completely stepped it up for the live performance. We have an early draft of the article, and it seems it was Ackerman who decided I Love Lucy had to be taped live. This, in combination with the filming style, led to the three-camera technique that has become a staple of the industry.

We also have the pilot of Dennis the Menace, which, aside from being really cool, includes a list of “don’ts” during shooting, ranging from “No drunkenness” to “No shaving or display of shaving equipment.”

The collection is housed under ML-81
For Archie, ask for Box 8 folder 24
For Bewitched, ask for Box 8, folder 40
For I Love Lucy, ask for Box 12, folders 17-21
For Dennis the Menace, ask for Box 10, folders 7-8

Posted for Maggie Baird '18

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Geneva Bible

When the Catholic queen Mary Tudor ruled England (1553-1558), a group of Protestants fearing persecution fled to Geneva. While there, they created a new English translation of the Bible, which they printed in Geneva in 1560. Because it drew from the renowned international and academic resources in Geneva, the Geneva Bible was considered the best of contemporary scholarship. At the same time, the composition and style of the Geneva Bible made it attractive and accessible.

The Geneva Bible quickly became the most popular English translation and was printed primarily by the Royal Printer in London. As the notes on the text were considered to have a Calvinistic bent, the Puritans particularly loved it. Indeed, many of the early American colonists brought Geneva Bibles with them to the New World. Most of the Geneva Bibles at Dartmouth were passed down through families for generations and then donated to the college.

While one might perceive of Bible printers and sellers as pious individuals, those involved in the production of the Geneva Bible were anything but saintly. London printers and their rivals in Amsterdam engaged in a series of nasty lawsuits in the first half of the seventeenth century. The John Alden Bible on display in Rauner is an example of a Geneva Bible printed in Amsterdam in 1633 with a false imprint claiming it was printed in London in 1599.

The Geneva Bible was given the nickname “Breeches Bible” in the nineteenth century because of the reference in Genesis 3:7 to Adam and Eve clothing themselves in “breeches.” Though this rendering was memorable, it was not unique to the Geneva Bible. In fact, the earlier Wycliffe translations also contained this wording. This nickname can be seen on the spine of at 1584 Geneva Bible on display in Rauner. This Bible has original covers containing tooled leather with metal bosses and clasps, but the spine was rebound more recently.

The exhibit will be on display through Commencement in the Rauner Library Reading Room.

Posted for Abby Thornburg '15