Friday, November 22, 2019

"Is It You?"

Headshot of Maude Adams
This is a line uttered by actress Jane Seymour in the 1980 romantic drama film Somewhere in Time. In the movie, Seymour portrays the fictional character of Elise McKenna, an actress living in the early part of the 20th century who falls in love with a writer from 1971, portrayed by the late Christopher Reeves. It is a tale of star-crossed love and was based on the novel "Bid Time Return" by Richard Matheson.

Matheson based Elise's character on the actress Maude Adams who was a famous stage actress in the late 19th and early 20th century. Today, Adams is best known for portraying Peter Pan on the American stage in 1905.  However, as an actress she was in demand, touring the country in plays such as The Little Minister, Quality Street, Joan of Arc, and The Legend of Leonora. She retired from the stage in 1918 and did not return until 1931, when she played in a production of The Merchant of Venice in Ohio.
Photo of Maude Adams as Peter Pan

At its release Somewhere in Time was not a critical success but has over the years become a cult movie whose followers meet once a year at the famed hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan where the movie takes place.

Matheson used many characters from Maude Adam’s life for his book, including basing Elise’s manager in the book on Charles Frohman, the man who oversaw Adam’s career. He also gave his protagonist the name of a roommate of Adams'.

We have here at Rauner a small collection of Maud Adams’ papers. The collection is particularly rich in photographs of Adams on and off the stage.

Maude Adams retired again from acting in the 1930s and became the head of the drama department at Stephens College in Missouri where she taught until 1949.

To view the collection, ask for MS-285.

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