Episode #85: The Adirondacks and Great Camp Sagamore: Retreating to Nature in the Gilded Age

Historian and scholar Connor Williams joins Carl for this look at the Gilded Age retreat of the Adirondacks. 

Read more about this episode 

Episode #84: Hyde Park’s Vanderbilt Mansion: Building a Gilded Age House

Carl is joined by curator Frank Futral for a special on-location visit to the Vanderbilt Mansion in New York’s Hudson Valley. 

Read more about this episode 

Man About Town: The Story of Murray Hall ENCORE

To celebrate a month of diversity, courage and pride, we are rereleasing this episode which continues to be one of the most talked about shows ever to appear on The Gilded Gentleman. 

The story of Murray Hall — Gilded Age bail bondsman, Tammany Hall representative and loving and devoted father is one that few know.  It’s a story that leaves you inspired, one that is impossible to forget and one that when you first hear it, takes you by surprise.  

Murray’s story, like countless others nearly forgotten, is one that is deeply relevant in our modern world long after his own death in 1901. Murray Hall lived an extraordinary life in a small nondescript house in New York’s Greenwich Village that still remains as a testament to his story even today. 

Episode #83: Gilded Age Newspapers:  All That Was (Mostly) Fit to Print

To take a look at the news business Gilded Age style, Carl is joined by veteran journalist, writer, and tour guide, Michael Morgenthal for a journey through the pages of 19th-century newspapers. 

Read more about this episode

Episode #82: The Gilded Age’s Most Famous Dress: Alice Vanderbilt’s “Electric Light”

Carl pays a visit to the Museum of the City of New York for a very special episode with Collections Manager for Costumes and Textiles Elizabeth Randolph.

Read more about this episode

Episode #81: Jack the Ripper: Inside the World’s Most Famous Unsolved Murders

Renowned historian and author Richard Jones joins The Gilded Gentleman for this special extended show that delves deeply into perhaps the world’s most fascinating unsolved series of crimes. 

Read more about this episode

Episode #80: Royal Mothers and Daughters: A Conversation with Tracy Borman

Royal historian and author Tracy Borman returns to The Gilded Gentleman following her appearance on Crown & Scepter: The Coronation Show last year.   

Read more about this episode

Episode #79: Sweeney Todd’s Original Johanna: A Tribute to Broadways’ Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice passed away suddenly earlier this winter. As a tribute to her memory, we are re-posting an interview with her from 2023.

Read more about this episode

Episode #78: The Edwardian Country House: Elegance and Eccentricity

Join Carl and returning listener favorite  British country house historian Curt DiCamillo for a look into the world of the Edwardian country house. 

Read more about this episode

Episode #77: Gilded Age Undergarments: What did Mrs. Astor Wear (Under There)?

Fashion historian and author, Dr. Elizabeth L. Block returns to The Gilded Gentleman for a truly “undercover” investigation.

Read more about this episode

Episode #76: The Hidden World of Gramercy Park: Unlocking History with Keith Taillon

Listener favorite historian Keith Taillon returns to the show for this in-depth look at one of New York City’s most unique and historic enclaves. 

Read more about this episode

Episode #75: The American Renaissance: Beaux-Arts Architecture in New York City

Carl is joined by noted architect, interior designer and author Phillip James Dodd for an in-depth discussion of the “look” of the Gilded Age — a style known as American Beaux-Arts.

Read more about this episode

Episode #74: Daring Dandies: Early 20th Century Men of Style and Scandal

Carl and Nathaniel Lee Adams discuss and focus on the early 20th century where a new brand of dandy was emerging — one with style perhaps, but also often tinged by scandal. 

Read more about this episode

Episode #73: The Sculptor and the Angel: The Untold Story of Emma Stebbins

In this episode, journalist and biographer, Maria Teresa Cometto joins The Gilded Gentleman for a look into the life of New York-born 19th century sculptor Emma Stebbins. 

Read more about this episode

Episode #72: The Real Mamie Fish with Ashlie Atkinson and Keith Taillon

Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish, known to all as just Mamie, was another of the larger-than-life personalities during the Gilded Age. For this episode, Carl is joined by Keith Taillon as well as actor Ashlie Atkinson who portrays Mamie Fish in HBO’s “The Gilded Age” for a look at who this complicated but fascinating real-life woman was. 

Read more about this episode

Episode #71: Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence with Dr. Emily Orlando

In celebration of Edith Wharton’s birthday on January 24, join The Gilded Gentleman for this very special look into perhaps Wharton’s most famous and best-loved novel.  

Read more about this episode

Episode #70: Having a Ball: The Gilded Age’s Most Outrageous Parties (encore)

It’s ball season! Time to wear your finest, certainly the time to dress to impress and call the carriage for your visit to the Gilded Age’s greatest party — the ball. 

Balls were perhaps the most lavish entertainment one could attend in the Gilded Age — from Mrs. Astor’s annual Opera Ball for around 400 to smaller affairs for 200 or 300 hundred, that ball was far more than an elegant night out. Being invited signaled that you were “in” society, who you saw there often determined how you then navigated society, and whom you could introduce your daughter to indicated possible prospects for the marriage market. Balls were grand and elegant to be sure, but your every move watched, catalogued and judged. Go back to the Gilded Age to revisit ball season in this classic Gilded Gentleman episode — find out what you had to wear, how you had to behave, what you had to eat and even how to interpret the secret language of a lady’s fan.   

Episode #69: The Roeblings: The Family Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge

As a special bonus episode to end the year, enjoy this show from the Bowery Boys archives that traces and explains the Roebling family who — father, son, wife — all contributed significantly to the building of the great 19th-century marvel, the Brooklyn Bridge. Greg and Tom share all the history and include a talk with Kriss Roebling, Washington and Emily Roebling’s great-great grandson who leads specialty tours of the Bridge today.

The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge was a technological wonder when it opened in 1883. But the story of its construction over the 14 years it took to build the bridge, included passion and ingenuity as well as tragedy. In the end, it was Emily Roebling, wife of Washington Roebling who, in the face of her husband’s debilitating illness dedicated herself to completing the project in the male-dominated world of engineers and contractors. It was, in fact, a woman — Emily Roebling herself — who was the very first person to cross the bridge on its final opening day. The story of Emily was introduced as a plot line in Season Two of HBO’s “The Gilded Age” and it has intrigued many viewers. In this special episode, Greg and Tom fill out the story of a fascinating family and a truly fascinating woman. 

Episode #68: Delmonico’s: The Return of a Legend with Max Tucci

A New York phoenix has risen! Delmonico’s, New York’s most legendary restaurant, first established in 1827 has reopened to welcome, as third generation partner Max Tucci shares with us, all to the table.

Delmonico’s began as the dream of two Swiss immigrants in the 1820’s and grew to be a social center of the great Gilded Age.  Prohibition shuttered Delmonico’s along with other great New York restaurants. Italian immigrant Oscar Tucci looked at the closed great brownstone former restaurant at 56 Beaver St and decided to open it himself — first as a speakeasy, then then as a full continental restaurant that went on to welcome the famous, not-so-famous, and never famous to dine side by side and celebrate tradition and connection.

Max Tucci, Oscar Tucci’s grandson has returned as part of the team to reopen Delmonico’s and carry on his family’s traditions.  Max’s story as he shares in this very special show recorded at Delmonico’s itself, is about great food to be sure but is about something more — it’s about honoring tradition and one’s ancestors which is the very best lens to consider history.  

Related episode: The Delmonico Way: A Conversation with Max Tucci

Episode #67: Simon Jones (Bannister on HBO’s “The Gilded Age”)

Join The Gilded Gentleman for a truly unique and special conversation with actor Simon Jones whose distinguished career has included roles in film such as his recent appearance as King George V in Downton Abbey”, on stage on both Broadway and the West End,  and on television in his current role as Bannister on HBO’s “The Gilded Age

Simon Jones takes us backstage with him as he discusses his career from his earliest roles including in the radio drama of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and film version, his role as Brideshead in the iconic 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited”, and his work with John Cleese and “the Pythons” among others.  Simon discusses his experiences with his many well-known co-stars and colleagues over the years including Sir Laurence Olivier, Dame Maggie Smith,  Lauren Bacall, Penelope Keith and Angela Lansbury.  In addition, Simon takes us behind the cameras and shares some fascinating insight on creating his role as Bannister and what it’s like filming the HBO series. 

Episode #66: Inside Newport: Objects and Observations with Ulysses Dietz

Join The Gilded Gentleman and curator and historian Ulysses Dietz for a unique, in-depth look at the inside world of Newport in the GIdled Age.  

Ulysses Dietz, noted curator, author and historian is the great-great grandson of President Ulysses S. Grant. In this unique and very special show, Ulysses takes us behind the doors of several of Newport’s great mansions to understand how architecture, design and decorative arts all combine to tell the story of how this social community came to be and grew during the Gilded Age. Ulysses shares insight into some of the famous personalities of the Gilded Age including Alva Vanderbilt, and the architects Richard Morris Hunt and Ogden Codman, Jr. as well as offering a look at several mansions including Chateau-sur-Mer, The Breakers and Marble House. A very special part of this show includes Ulysses’ discussion of several objects he included in an exhibition he curated in Newport last year that tell the behind-the-scenes tale of aspects of the Gilded Age and its personalities that we perhaps never knew. 

Episode #65: Christmas in Victorian America: City House/Country House

A festive look at how Christmas was celebrated with two real-life 19th-century New York families in both the city and in the country. 

Christmas traditions evolved over the 19th century combining influences from the days of the Dutch settlers to British practices inspired by the work of Dickens and came to become something truly American. In this special holiday episode, The Gilded Gentleman visits with Ann Haddad, House Historian of New York’s 1832 Merchant’s House  Museum to take a look at how the well-to-do Tredwell family and their servants would have celebrated the holiday around mid-century. We then travel outside the city up to the Hudson Valley for a visit with Maria Reynolds, curator of the Mills Mansion in Staatsburgh, New York, a grand Stanford White-designed country house right out of the Gilded Age. For the Mills family, the holidays around 1899 and 1900 in the country included many outdoor winter activities including sledding and skating and even, with a great greenhouse on the estate, some special items served on holiday tables. And through some unique archival material, we’ll even get a sense of just who may have come to visit for a holiday dinner. 

Episode #64: Jay Gould at Home: Life at Lyndhurst Mansion

Financier Jay Gould was one of the most famous and infamous of the Gilded Age robber barons. He was ruthless in his business dealings, tangled with the Vanderbilt for control of the railroads and fought battle after battle on Wall Street. Gould sought respite from New York City with his family at his country home, Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, a rolling estate where instead of Wall St. warrior he could be father and husband. In this unique episode, The Gilded Gentleman travels to Lyndhurst for a look inside both the Mansion and the life of Jay Gould. 

Executive Director of Lyndhurst, Howard Zar joins Carl for a fascinating interview recorded in the picture gallery in Jay Gould’s own mansion. Surrounded by Gould’s precious hand chosen art collection, still hung as Gould intended, Howard and Carl delve into what life was like at the Mansion and what visitors can see today.  As a special treat,you can follow Howard and Carl on a tour through the Mansion visiting Gould’s reception room, library, private office and dining room. Lynddhurst may be familiar to viewers of the HBO series “The Gilded Age” since a number of its rooms served as filming locations in the show. The mansion and estate is owned and managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and visitors are welcomed year round.  

Episode #63: The Gilded Age Cookbook: A Conversation with author Becky Diamond

Join author Becky Diamond and Carl for a true Gilded Age feast! Carl and Becky enjoy a hearty and delicious conversation on all aspects of dining during this opulent period including what more modest home cooks were whipping up in their newly outfitted kitchens.

The Gilded Age was a period of rapid industrialization and innovation – and that was abundantly true in terms of what was happening in the kitchen.  New marvels like refrigeration, the availability of today’s essential ingredients like baking powder and new tools from egg beaters to meat slicers all made creating over-the-top meals much easier than ever before.  Becky Libourel Diamond, food historian and author of the just published The Gilded Age Cookbook shares some rich insight into a number of these kitchen innovations along with stories of recipes and dishes that defined grand Gilded Age dining.  In this season of holiday entertaining, Becky even shares some ideas from her book on how to create your own Gilded Age inspired holiday dinner. 

Episode #62: Black Gotham: Origins of Gilded Age New York’s Black Elite

Esteemed author and scholar, Dr. Carla Peterson joins The Gilded Gentleman to share her research and perspective on the growth and development of the prosperous black professional class throughout the nineteenth century up to the Gilded Age. Dr. Peterson’s work revealed a fascinating story that had up til then barely been told. 

One of the most fascinating storylines in Season One of the HBO series “The Gilded Age” was that of young black writer Peggy Scott and her Brooklyn family. Elements of the portrait we saw of Peggy’s father were based on scholar Dr. Carla Peterson’s own ancestral family.   In her groundbreaking book, Black Gotham: A Family History of African-Americans in Nineteenth Century New York City, Dr. Peterson sheds light on how this community grew, how diverse the community actually was, and she provides insight into leading figures and their contributions often missing in standard accounts of the period. In this very special episode. Dr. Peterson discusses the path of her own research which ultimately revealed a richer, deeper sense of community and identity that many realized. 

Episode #61: The Opening of the Metropolitan Opera 1883 (ENCORE)

Celebrate the opening of the opera season Gilded Age style!  In this encore episode, Carl delves into just how the Metropolitan Opera came to be and what it meant to those bejeweled Gilded Age audiences. Most of the drama took place in the audience – and not so much on the stage. 

On the night of October 22, 1883, the brand-new Metropolitan Opera House opened its doors. The new theater was able to accommodate many more prime seats than the old Academy of Music and as a result “new money” socialites like Alva Vanderbilt could finally get their dream — a private box at the opera. But most of these operagoers weren’t there for the music — they were there to jockey for social position, play the game of “see and be seen” and hopefully get one’s daughter married off to an appropriate fortune.  

This episode goes into the drama on stage on off that accompanied that first opera season at the Met — so put on your favorite gown from Paris, don your top hat and cane and join The Gilded Gentleman for a Gilded Age night at the opera. 

Episode #60: Ghosts of the Gilded Age

A special episode from the Bowery Boys Archives! Join Greg and Tom as they travel back in time to investigate a few personalities from the Gilded Age that, well, seem to have never left. 

In this truly spooky episode. Greg and Tom travel between Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island to delve into four tales of the unexplained, the perhaps unforgotten and definitely the unsettling.  Our stories include a massive elegant mansion that once graced the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx. Built by merchant and trader Benjamin Whitlock in 1850 and later owned by Cuban sugar importer Inocencio Casanova, the mansion is the site of numerous still unexplained mysteries including an extensive system of vaults and secret rooms hidden well beneath the mansion’s main floors. 

A stop on Manhattan’s E. 27th St, near the Gilded Age’s fashionable Madison Square uncovers reports of a curious and very active poltergeist and a trip out to Queens explores two mysterious deaths at the location of a remote farmhouse, the site now part of Calvary Cemetery.  Greg and Tom conclude their visits with a few of the ghosts of the Gilded Age with a stop at the Vanderbilt Mausoleum in Staten Island, the final resting place of the great Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt as well as his son William H. Vanderbilt and grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt II.  And as with any visit with the Vanderbilts, one discovers a few secrets may lurk beneath the surface. 

Episode #59: New York Real Estate: Mansions, Money and Madness

Returning listener favorite, historian Keith Taillon joins Carl for a look at some of New York’s prime real estate in the Gilded Age. This episode looks at some very desirable areas in the late 19th century and early 20th century to build one’s great palace — in some cases it was the owners themselves that created surprising tales of drama and scandal.

John Jacob Astor is considered to have been New York’s first great real estate mogul and indeed the Astor family has been said to have been “New York’s landlords” for much of the 19th century. But other developers and builders were responsible for establishing desirable areas in which to build as well.  In this episode guest historian Keith Taillon takes a look at five particular properties and mansions — all except for one can still be found today.  With locations as diverse as today’s midtown Manhattan to the Upper West Side and up into Harlem, Keith weaves the tales of how each area became fashionable, how desirability rose and fell, what styles of architecture prevailed and just who some of the owners were.  Our journey will include the homes of JP Morgan Jr. and Andrew Carnegie as well as other lesser well-known Gilded Age luminaries such as Robert Davis and James Bailey but all with equally intriguing and drama-filled stories to tell. 

Related episode: “Chasing the Gold: A Gilded Age Tour up Manhattan” 

Episode #58: Music of the Gilded Age: Symphonies to Saxophones

Join Carl and his guest historian and professional musician Dr. Christpher Brellochs for a tour through the musical influences of the Gilded Age. 

Music in the Gilded Age incorporated many different styles and influences from the classical symphonies and operas brought to American concert halls and stages from Europe to more home grown music that included military-influenced music as well as music that reflected the fusion of cultural influences like ragtime.   Dr. Brellochs shares insight into just what Gilded Age audiences were tapping their feet to and where they were going to hear music from the brand-new Carnegie Hall in 1891 to the opening of the Metropolitan Opera in 1883.   This episode covers some American composers that you might not know including John Knowles Paine who was tremendously influential in the Gilded Age and nearly forgotten today.  And just to give some special perspective Dr. Brellochs played the role of John Knowles Paine in an episode of HBO’s first season of “The Gilded Age”.   We also discuss the popularization of a new instrument – the saxophone – which Dr. Brellochs has called a Gilded Age “coming of age story”.  

Episode #57: The ‘Real’ Buccaneers: Gilded Age Million Dollar Princesses

This episode takes a look at how and why a large number of young American women of the Gilded Age sought marriages among the European nobility.  Many of these marriages were much more business deals than love affairs although some did in fact produce happy unions. 

Join The Gilded Gentleman as we delve into the world of the “million dollar princesses” willing to trade cash for coronets. 

In the latter part of 19th century America, over 200 young women married into British and European noble families.  Some Gilded Age families wanted their daughters to gain titles to insure secure their social standing, and many willing aristocrats needed the significant marriage settlements to repair crumbling estates and fill up their bank accounts.  From the marriage in 1874 of Jenny Jerome to Lord Randolph Churchill, many mothers and daughters went in search of eligible nobles to marry. 

This episode looks into the marriage of Jenny Jerome, mother of Winston Churchill as well as perhaps the most famous aristocratic match – Consuelo Vanderbilt’s marriage to the Charles Spencer-Churcill, 9th Duke of Marlborough in 1895  to see just what motivated these matches and just what they were like in reality.  

Episode #56: Venetian Days: Henry James and Friends on the Grand Canal

A look at Venice in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and a view into a unique community of artists and writers that came to be known as the “Barbaro Circle” and which included the great American-born novelist Henry James.

Venice by the end of the 19th century had lost much of the glory it once had known.  Crumbling palazzi, a bad economy and an overall sense of decay permeated the city. New writings published on the long-forgotten Venetian Renaissance painters and artists brought a new stream of visitors to the city including Henry James, John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler among others. 

American expatriate art connoisseurs such as the Dainal and Ariana Curtis and the great Isabella Stewart Gardner all made Venice a kind of home for a time. Much of the activity centered around the majestic Palazzo Barbaro on the Grand Canal which the Curtises bought and which became the scene of much entertaining and socializing among artists. 

This episode takes a look at what the city meant to Henry James on his many visits since his first in 1869 when he was a young man to his last in 1907. In addition, the show considers what it meant to other artists and how they interpreted it amidst a fascinating, eccentric, educated community of people flowing into the city.  We will take a look at the two great works in which James captured the city and this community, The Aspern Papers (1888) and The Wings of the Dove (1902).  

Related episode: “Isabella Stewart Gardner and Her Museum: A Curated Life”  

Episode #55: Monaco’s First American Princess (ENCORE)

As we continue our visit to the Riviera in the Belle Epoque, The Gilded Gentleman revisits one of our classic episodes to tell the little-known story of an American-born European princess. 

Many people think that Grace Kelly became the first American princess of Monaco when she married Prince Rainier in 1956. The truth however is that decades before in the glittering years of the Belle Epoque, another American-born woman married a Monegasque prince and claimed that honor.   Alice Heine was born in New Orleans to a French father and a mother with European as well as Southern roots.  

Moving to Europe with her family when she was a child, she married a French duke at a young age.  His untimely death left her a widow, but she caught the eye of Prince Albert I of Monaco who despite his family’s objections married her in 1889 making her his princess. 

The story of Alice’s life as Princess of Monaco is a fascinating one which includes many famous names of the era such as the Prince of Wales the future King Edward VII. Among other efforts to modernize the principality, Alice devoted much of her time to raising the cultural prestige of Monaco and Monte Carlo. Her marriage faltered due to infidelity on both sides and following a dramatic incident discussed in the show, Alice abruptly left Monaco in 1901 never to return. Her influence and spirit as a strong, determined woman with American Southern roots can still be felt today. 

Episode #54: The French Riviera: Tales of Royals, Rascals and Rothschilds

A glittering, glamorous look at the history of the French Riviera and its height in the years of the Belle Epoque — where not everything was always quite as it seemed. 

Originally popular as a warm weather destination for convalescing British aristocrats, the rocky, dramatically beautiful eastern coastline of southern France, the Riviera and its resorts of Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo, have been populated with the rich and the royal. It was also a good place if one just wanted to hide out. In many ways, it was a place where anyone could be anyone they wanted to be — as long as they looked the part. Queen Victoria discovered Nice and its neighboring region beginning in 1882 and made it her winter home for many years. 

Wealthy aristocratic families such as the great Rothschild banking family found it too and in this episode, we spend time with two unique Rothschild ladies. 

For many movie fans, the Riviera will always remain as it appeared in Hitchcock’s 1955 film “To Catch a Thief” and indeed this episode includes the story of one particular real-life jewel thief with a surprising identity who preyed upon the wealthy in the Belle Epoque.

Episode #53: In the Good Old Summertime: Where the Gilded Age Played

Join returning guest, Esther Crain, author and creator of Ephemeral New York for a look at how New Yorkers stayed cool on summer days in the Gilded Age. 

Read more about this episode

Episode #52: The Glamour of Gilded Age Shopping ENCORE

As a special summer bonus, join me for an encore of this classic Gilded Gentleman episode. 

Be sure to wear your best hat and dust off your gold-topped cane for this very gilded shopping trip. 

Join me and my guest Emma Guest-Consales, PhD art historian and master New York City tour guide for this special look at the evolution of shopping in 19th-century New York and just how revolutionary some retailers were in the Gilded Age. Emma takes us on a virtual visit to Ladies Mile, the elegant shopping thoroughfare along Broadway as well as for a look at several of the great cast iron shopping emporiums such as Siegel Cooper and Stern Brothers. Many of the standard elements of a retail experience such as end-of-season sales, good customer service, merchandise displays and even everyone’s favorite pastime, window shopping were revelations in the 19th century and this episode will delve into just how it all came to be. 

Episode #51: The Golden Age of Gilded Age Cocktails

Join returning guest Don Spiro for this elegant and classy journey through the 19th century and find out just how the cocktail developed and how so much of what we love about fine cocktails today actually began in the Gilded Age. 

To celebrate a special occasion even if it’s just a typical Tuesday, there is nothing like a finely crafted cocktail to enhance the experience. While many think that so much of what we think of classic cocktail history began in the Jazz Age in the 1920’s (even though America was in the middle of Prohibition), the truth is that much happened about fifty years before in the Gilded Age.  

Vintage beverage specialist Don Spiro takes listeners through the history that includes just when a mixed drink began to be called a “cocktail”, what the very first cocktail actually was, and most importantly, how the great Gilded Age hotels like New York’s Waldorf and the Hoffman House contributed to cocktail history. Don shares some of his favorite vintage cocktails, his favorite vintage cocktail books and stories of some of the most famous and influential celebrity bartenders. You’ll hear the histories of some of today’s favorites including the Manhattan, the Martini, the Daiquiri and, as a special bonus, Don has created a brand new cocktail — The Gilded Gentleman. Join us to find out just what’s in it and how you can make it at home!

Episode #50: Whitman and Wilde Part 2: Oscar Wilde in New York, 1882

In this second part of our special celebration of this month of Pride, The Gilded Gentleman moves the story ahead to the height of the Gilded Age and the arrival in New York of another brilliant and talented poet and writer, Oscar Wilde.  

When Oscar Wilde arrived in New York in January of 1882, one of his most important intentions was to meet the great Walt Whitman, over 30 years older than Wilde, and whom he had idolized since his youth. The two poets met and in this show, we expand on what that meeting would have been like, how each writer influenced the other, and what perhaps did and didn’t happen. But the story is larger than that, this special show, with noted Wilde scholar and expert John Cooper takes a look at the New York Wilde met upon his arrival and just why and how this 27-year-old Irish poet charmed them and began to develop his own unique brand of celebrity. In this insightful conversation, John guides listeners on a journey to discover just who Oscar Wilde was at the point in his life and career, how he and the city of New York interacted with each other — and just how Oscar would likely have defined and described his own much debated sexual identity.  

Episode #49: Whitman and Wilde Part 1: Walt Whitman in New York, 1855

In celebration of this month of Pride, this two-part show takes a look at two revolutionary writers, Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde, a surprising meeting they actually had, the times in which they lived and the city of New York and how it inspired them to move onto great fame and celebrity. 

The New York world the Walt Whitman knew as a young man in the 1850’s was really two cities — that of New York which was only today’s Manhattan and the growing Brooklyn across the East River.  These two cities in the midst of pre-Civil War and pre-Gilded Age development inspired the young Whitman to give voice to a new America and new experience.  In this first episode, guest writer and historian Hugh Ryan (“When Brooklyn Was Queer”) talks about just how revolutionary Whtman’s “Leaves of Grass” was, and just how Whitman would have defined his same sex attractions which had not yet evolved into the concepts of sexuality and gender identification we know today. This unique episode includes a look at the New York and Brooklyn that Whitman knew, what it meant to him and Hugh contributes his own perspective and insight into just what that famous meeting between the older Whitman and the younger Wilde years later might have been like. 

Episode #48: Architect of the Gilded Age: The Triumphant Tale of Richard Morris Hunt

A special bonus episode from the  Bowery Boys archives!  Join Tom and Greg for an in-depth look at the architect that, as some have said,  gave the Gilded Age its look. 

In the years before the great firm of McKim, Mead and White with its star architect Stanford White, another American-born and Paris trained-architect was translating European style with uniquely American taste. Richard Morris Hunt was one of the very first to establish architecture as an art form and his work included such iconic structures as the base of the Statue of Liberty, the grand facade and entrance hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as mansions for Mrs. Astor and the Vanderbilts. 

Join Tom and Greg for this uniquely fascinating look at Hunt’s life and influence and how he brought a refinement and sense of art into American architecture. 

Episode #47: Before Broadway: Where the Gilded Age Went to the Theater

A look at New York’s theater world before Broadway theater became what we know it to be today. Tim Dolan, theater historian and theater district tour guide (owner of Broadway UpClose) takes us on a journey back in time to look at theater in the Gilded Age including the shows, the stars and particularly some theaters that those glittery audiences once saw and that we can still see today. 

Through most of the 19th century, New Yorkers thought of Broadway as a street, not a term that meant great theater or even a theater district. This episode takes a look at what theater was like in the late 1800’s and early 1900s just as the world of Times Square was beginning and which included some famous shows like Floradora and the beginnings of the Ziegfeld Follies. Tim discusses some famous performers such as the star Lillian Russell and the fascinating Julian Eltinge. We look at a few theaters still playing to full houses from that time — the Hudson, the Lyceum, the New Amsterdam and the Belasco — and a couple of those, it could be said, may contain a few ghosts of the past that continue to wander the halls. 

Episode #46: Crown & Sceptre: The Coronation Show with Tracy Borman

Take a fascinating journey back in time to revisit a few British royal rulers past and present with an intimate look at their reigns as well as at their majestic coronations. British author and historian Tracy Borman joins The Gilded Gentleman for this unique look at history based on her book “Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy from William the Conqueror to King Charles III”. 

In this second part of our coronation celebration, historian and author Tracy Borman, joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces takes us into the world of the Tudors to discuss just what Henry VIII and his chief minister Thomas Cromwell were really like.  We move on to the glorious rule of Elizabeth I whom Tracy says “makes us fall in love with queens”. Entering the 19th century, we look at the world of Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales who became Edward VII. Tracy gives us a look at each of these monarch’s coronations and surprisingly how they compare to that of King Charles III. 

If you are a royal watcher or lover of British history, don’t miss this show – we end the episode with a discussion of just how the current monarchy fits into the long line of history. 

Episode #45: The British Crown Jewels: History and Mystery

In celebration of the coronation of King Charles III, this first of two very special shows delves deeply into the history of the Crown Jewels from where they came from to what we see today. 

Join Carl and historian and curator, Curt DiCamillo for a fascinating look deep into the history of the British Crown Jewels.  Curt shares the history of the crowns and jewels including a discussion of the oldest (and newest!) pieces in the collection. The show includes an intriguing look at how crowns likely first came to be in royal history and how they have evolved in shape and decoration from medieval times to the present day. The crowns we see today feature an extraordinary array of precious gemstones which contain stories both light and dark of how they entered the collection. This show will be the perfect preparation for those watching the upcoming coronation to understand just what those attending and those watching around the world may actually see. 

Episode #44: Gilded Age French Fashion: The House of Worth and Beyond

An in-depth look into the world of French couture fashion during the Gilded Age with author Elizabeth Block

The world of couture designers during the Gilded Age and the Belle Epoque went far beyond just the designers themselves.  Houses such as Worth, Doucet and Paquin and many others created the stunning gowns and dresses worn by both Europe’s and America’s moneyed elite.  But, the network of milliners, hairdressers, perfumers and even shippers and tax agents all made up the larger network that created this uniquely interdependent world.  Author Dr. Elizabeth Block (Dressing Up: The Women Who Influenced French Fashion, MIT Press) takes us deep into the Parisian fashion world of the late 19th century for a unique and fascinating look to see just how these fashions were made, how much they really cost, how they were sold, and how they were shipped back to mansions of Fifth Avenue.  Discover why the House of Worth is the most well-known today as well as some of the contributions of houses lesser known today such as Maison Felix.

Episode #43: Chasing the Gold: A Gilded Age Tour Up Manhattan

A fascinating tour through over 100 years of New York history showing how the Gilded Age developed and evolved from an architectural and urban planning point of view. Guest historian and tour guide Keith Taillon takes listeners on a journey explaining how key Gilded Age neighborhoods became established and grew. 

Some tour guides and historians have said that to understand the early history of New York, just follow the population’s migration up the island of Manhattan during the 19th century before all the boroughs consolidated. Historian and tour guide Keith Taillon takes us on a virtual tour and discusses how wealthy neighborhoods like Washington SquareGramercy ParkMadison Square and of course the “gold coast” of Fifth Avenue all developed and what factors contributed to how it grew the way it did. Along the way, Keith discusses many well-known figures such as Astors and Vanderbilts as well as some lesser-known but important trendsetters such as the outrageous Mamie Fish and groundbreaking (literally) Mary Mason Jones. After this show, you’ll never look at Manhattan or the Gilded Age in quite the same way again. 

Episode #42: Fighting Poverty with Her Pen: Gilded Age Journalist Zoe Anderson Norris

Arriving in New York in the early years of the 20th century, journalist and novelist Zoe Anderson Norris passionately devoted her time and her talent to uncovering the world of the Lower East Side to do what she could to bring about acknowledgment of living conditions and to effect social change. 

Read more about this episode

Episode #41: Sweeney Todd’s Victorian London and a Chat with Broadway’s Sarah Rice

A look at the historical origins of the tale of Sweeney Todd and a very special conversation with Sarah Rice who starred in the original 1979 production of the Sondheim musical in the role of Johanna.

As the famed “demon barber of Fleet Street” gets ready to flash his razor and do his deeds once again in a new Broadway production, The Gilded Gentleman goes back in time to the early years of London’s Victoria era to look at just how Sweeney Todd and his tale came to be. Born in the world of the sensational and gruesome stories of the penny dreadfuls, Sweeney Todd and his story were quite different from what theatre audiences know today.  

The episode features a very special treat — an interview with Sarah Rice who created the role of Joanna, Sweeney Todd’s daughter in the original 1979 Broadway production. Sarah shares what it was like to get the role, how she went about creating the character, and most of all, what it was like to work with extraordinary colleagues such as Angela Lansbury, Len Cariou, and of course, Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince themselves. In the interview, Sarah shares the most important lessons she learned from Stephen Sondheim and Angela Lansbury in particular. 

Episode #40: The Art of Hooking Up: Great Courtesans of 19th Century Paris

A look into the public and private worlds of the 19th-century Parisian courtesan and an exploration of three of the century’s most famous. 

They were beautiful, elegant style makers. They were also savvy, shrewd businesswomen who, in one way or another, practiced the world’s oldest profession.  They were the courtesans of 19th-century Paris. In this show we take a look truly behind the glitter and the gold to see what lives lay behind the opulence, elegance and sophisticated style that courtesans showed to the world.  For many of these women, their exuberant public images hid lives of pain, sadness and abuse.  

In addition to a look at just what a courtesan’s world was like, we delve into the lives of three of the most famous during 19th century Paris — Marie Duplessis who went on to be immortalized in literature, opera, theatre and film, Cora Pearl, an English beauty who counted royalty among her lovers and Liane de Pougy, a performer at the Folies Bergeres who left the world of the courtesans for an unexpected new chapter later in her life. 

From the boxes at the Opera to the gambling halls of Monte Carlo, this episode takes you into a world where much more of the story lay far beneath the surface. 

Related Episode: “Edith Wharton’s Paris” Episode #35

Episode #39: Gilded Age Silver: All That Glittered Wasn’t Always Gold

Antique silver specialist Ben Miller, host of the podcast “Curious Objects” joins The Gilded Gentleman for a tour through the 19th century looking at silver making and design including the revolutionary influence of Tiffany & Company. 

Silver from the 18th-century days of Paul Revere through the glittering Gilded Age was a coveted and valued luxury. In this show, Ben Miller, an antique silver specialist, discusses how American silver craftsmanship changed throughout the 19th century. Ben and Carl talk about some of the most important pieces made by Tiffany & Company as well as Providence’s Gorham Manufactuing Company.  Ben discusses the role of the great 19th-century European world expositions where America joined the world stage with its innovative silver manufacturing and design. In addition, Ben shares stories of two of the Gilded Age’s most famous and fascinating silver collectors.

Episode #38: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Her Museum: A Curated Life

In celebration of a new biography of Isabella Stewart Gardner, this show focuses on the life of one of the Gilded Age’s most passionate art collectors and the creation of one of the most extraordinary American museums. 

Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) was a member of Boston’s Brahmin society during the Gilded Age. A philanthropist and passionate art collector, she created her very own museum she called Fenway Court which opened to the public in 1903. Her museum, now called the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, resembles a Venetian-style palazzo and rises above Boston’s Fens, and showcases objects and art from the classical world to the 20th century, all displayed today just as she laid them out herself. 

Gardner was considered eccentric in her public behavior and the press eagerly reported on her latest moves, but what we can know of her inner life and love of art and her deep desire that the public could see it too,  is the focus of this episode. 

Diana Seave Greenwald, curator of the collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum joins The Gilded Gentleman for a talk about the new biography which she co-wrote and a look at just who this deeply fascinating woman of the Gilded Age really was and how she built her museum, left, as she wished, for us all to see today. 

Episode #37: The Bradley Martin Ball 1897: The Gilded Age’s Greatest Party

Of all the balls and parties thrown during the Gilded Age, the extravagant evening hosted by Bradley and Cornelia Martin at the Waldorf in 1897 was perhaps the most legendary, but also perhaps the most filled with misconceptions. This episode shares the story of the Bradley Martins and explains the fascinating background of the ball that makes this a true tale of the Gilded Age. 

The night of February 10, 1897, was a snowy one in New York City, but the weather did not deter those lucky enough to have received an invitation to the grand ball at the Waldorf held by the Bradley Martins. It was a costume ball and guests arrived dressed as nobility and historical figures from centuries past. Drinking fine vintage champagne and dining on lobster and canvasback duck, New York’s elite danced until dawn. However, some social opinion held that it was an extravagant show of wealth alone and the efforts of the Martins came under some criticism. 

The Gilded Gentleman’s guest for this special episode is Richard Jay Hutto, the great-grandson-in-law of the Bradley Martins. He shares the story of the Bradley Martins, how the ball came to be, and what really happened the morning after.  

Episode #36: Having a Ball: The Gilded Age’s Most Outrageous Parties

An in-depth look at some of the Gilded Age’s grandest evenings from the almost regal to the absolutely ridiculous. 

It’s an undisputed fact that the Gilded Age was an era (to some) of unbridled excess — provided one had the money of course. Those with a place in society and those that wanted it were locked in a battle to see who could climb higher up the social ladder and exert a greater influence on just what made up a new emerging “American aristocracy”.  The grand ball was in many ways, the battlefield on which these social skirmishes were enacted.  In this show, we’ll take a look at just what going to the ball meant in the Gilded Age (whether you were invited or not) and just what it was like once you got there.  The show delves into several of the Gilded Age’s most famous balls from Alva Vanderbilt‘s costume ball of 1883 to Mrs. Astor‘s annual Opera Ball to the ultimately disastrous ball thrown by James Hazen Hyde in 1905. We’ll look at the fashion and the jewels and share some examples of what happened when it all went careening off the rails. 

Episode #35: Dandies: Gentlemen of Style from the 19th Century to Today

The evolution of the “dandy” from the days of England’s Regency and Victorian periods on to today’s modern men of style. 

Just what is — or was — a dandy? Many recall that the early 19th-century tastemaker Beau Brummell was thought of as a dandy with his meticulous style and certainly many think of Oscar Wilde as a dandy. But there were others including the French poet, Charles Baudelaire, thought of as the “dark dandy”. In this episode, Carl is joined by Natty Adams, author, journalist, maker of fine custom clothing, and a self-described modern dandy to take a look at just how dandyism evolved through the 19th century and created a revolution in not only fashion but as a broader philosophy as well. 

This episode looks at what criteria can be used to define a dandy whether in the past or the present using the classic examples of Brummell and Wilde and more modern gentlemen who challenge style and society’s expectations. 

Episode #34: Edith Wharton’s Paris

A unique look at the City of Light and what it meant to Edith Wharton both as a writer and as a creative woman. 

In celebration of Edith Wharton‘s birthday on January 24, The Gilded Gentleman takes a look at a very special part of Wharton’s life — her life in Paris. Edith Wharton knew Paris from her childhood and certainly made many trips there as a young married adult. But in her early 40’s, the city became something more for her — it became a place where she finally felt connected and grounded as a creative and artistic woman. And to her surprise, it was a place where she found romantic love with a man not her husband at a most unexpected time in her life. 

This episode takes a look at where and how Wharton lived in her years in Paris — and why and how she ultimately transferred her life to France leaving her American life behind, except in her most famous fiction. We’ll take a look at Paris the city as well, and how it was evolving in the early years of the 20th century, and just who some of the most artistic spirits were at the time such as Marcel Proust and Andre Gide and who became Wharton’s most influential mentors and friends. 

Episode #33: The Delmonico Way: A Conversation with Max Tucci

In celebration of the just published new book,  The Delmonico Way: Sublime Entertaining and Legendary Recipes From The Restaurant That Made New York, author Max Tucci joins The Gilded Gentleman for a talk about food, family history, and the real meaning of hospitality. 

Just the name was legendary — Edith Wharton mentioned it in her fiction set in the Gilded Age, the dining room hosted royalty and heads of state along with, in later years, Hollywood’s most famous stars. And then there was the equally legendary food. 

Max Tucci is the grandson of Oscar Tucci who reopened the legendary restaurant in the 1920s after the original – in business since 1827 – had been closed due to Prohibition.  Oscar and his family built an empire that established Delmonico’s as the gold standard of American fine dining and hospitality from the 1920s through the 1980’s. Max, who holds the largest collection of Delmonico memorabilia of his family’s famous establishment, shares his memories, family history and anecdotes about the incomparable hospitality, fine dishes and famous clientele of America’s first truly grand restaurant. 

Episode #32: Tasting Stars: A Sparkling History of Champagne

Carl and his guest, vintage cocktail event curator, Don Spiro, take a look at the myths and magic of champagne, the world’s most elegant drink. 

Champagne is unquestionably the world’s most glamorous drink and has been used for centuries to celebrate everything from weddings and birthdays to royal coronations. It was the drink of choice for formal gatherings in the Gilded Age, the Belle Epoque and Victorian England

But there’s so much more to understanding champagne than just enjoying the bubbles and the fizz. Champagne has a long and often misrepresented history that combines serendipity, ingenuity and sheer marketing brilliance. (Hint: the monk Dom Perignon didn’t invent it.)

Join Carl and guest Don Spiro whom listeners will remember from their show on absinthe, to take a look at the full story and correct some misconceptions about champagne’s, history, just what exactly it is, and how it’s been made and enjoyed over the centuries.


Episode #31: Christmas in Old New York and a Chat with Charles Dickens

A special festive double episode tracing the history of Christmas and holiday celebrations over 19th-century New York City history and a very special look at Charles Dicken’s beloved A Christmas Carol. 

Christmas and the holiday season is always extra special in New York City. From all the lights and the traditional treats of the Radio City Rockettes to the tree at Rockefeller Center and performances around the city of The Nutcracker, it’s hard not to feel festive. In this episode, licensed New York City tour guide and speaker, Jeff Dobbins, joins Carl for a look at the city’s holiday traditions dating back to the early Dutch days of New Amsterdam up to the Gilded Age and the early 20th century. Jeff shares how New Yorkers in some ways created the image of Santa Claus we think of today as well as how Hanukkah was celebrated and the influence of the waves of immigration on the city’s traditions. 

In the second half of the show, actor John Kevin Jones joins Carl — Kevin has been performing an annual one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House Museum, now in its 10th season. Kevin discusses the origins of Dickens’ famous story, why he wrote it when he did and how he adapted it for the stage. Put on a woolly sweater and pour a glass of eggnog and join The Gilded Gentleman to launch the holiday season.  

Special Bonus Episode: Jenny Lind at Castle Garden (from the Bowery Boys Archives)

A 19th-century tale of celebrity, fame, exploitation and ruthless marketing between a soprano and perhaps, history’s ultimate showman. 

As a special bonus, enjoy this episode from the Bowery Boys Archives in which Greg Young and Tom Meyers tell the truly fascinating story of Jenny Lind, a 19th-century soprano known as “the Swedish nightingale”. Jenny came to America and made her concert debut in 1851 under the management of master showman PT Barnum. Barnum’s relentless marketing and Jenny Lind, whose appearances caused enormous sold-out crowds, a publicity frenzy and even the creation of merchandise with her name and image, may have prompted America’s fascination with celebrity. 

Episode #30: Lillian Nordica Part 2: A Conversation with international mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich

As a special bonus, listeners can enjoy an extra episode featuring Carl’s interview with international opera star Kate Aldrich as they discuss a modern perspective on Lillian Nordica’s career as well as Kate’s own career as one of today’s incredibly busy opera stars. 

International mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich has a career that included performances around the world from New York’s Metropolitan Opera to Mian’s La Scala and the Opera Bastille in Paris. In this unique interview, she shares some perspectives on the life and career of Lillian Nordica as well as the excitement and realities for a modern singer on the international stage. She has been called “the Carmen of this generation” (San Francisco Sentinel), and in this conversation, she shares her insight on performing one of opera’s most iconic roles — one that Lillian Nordica performed herself. A unique aspect of this interview is that Carl, Kate and Lillian all share Maine roots and Kate talks a bit about how her Maine and New England background has contributed to her career. 

Episode #29: Lillian Nordica Part 1: The Making of a Gilded Age Soprano Superstar

This week’s show will lead you into the glamorous world of a superstar soprano of the Gilded Age. Despite challenging moments in her personal life, Lillian Nordica rose to become one of the most glamorous international stars of the late 19th and early 20th century. 

The glamour of the Gilded Age was found not only at dinner parties and balls but in theatres and opera houses as well. Lillian Nordica, originally from the small town of Farmington, Maine rose to the heights of operatic stardom both in Europe and here in America in the last years of the Gilded Age and the early years of the 20th century. Her unlikely story, little known today, combines a hardworking background of near poverty with the audiences and applause, the diamonds and gowns of an international superstar.  Unlike some divas, Lillian used her fame to support human rights and became an outspoken advocate for women’s right to vote and equality in the workplace — whether a factory or opera stage.   Her fame had even entered popular culture — she was one of the first models in ads for Coca-Cola. 

Join Carl on this week’s episode for Lilian’s story which takes us to Paris, St. Petersburg, Milan and around the world. We’ll take a look onstage and offstage at just how a star in the Gilded Age was really made.

Episode #28: The Gilded Page: A Conversation with Jessica Fellowes

Jessica Fellowes joins The Gilded Gentleman for a talk about her work on the Downton Abbey book series, her mystery writing and her new novel, The Best Friend. 

Join Carl for another look into the literary world, as the niece of Julian Fellowes, Jessica Fellowes is known to listeners as the best-selling author of the five companion books to the Downton Abbey television series. An accomplished journalist, novelist and public speaker, Jessica went on to write a unique and tremendously popular mystery series using the world of the famed Mitford family in the 1920’s and 1930’s as a backdrop. Most recently, Jessica has published a stunning new novel on the subject of life-long friendship, The Best Friend. This episode of The Gilded Page on The Gilded Gentleman delves deeply into Jessica’s writing life and reveals some unique and fascinating aspects of the creative process. 

Episode #27: 100 Years of Emily Post’s Etiquette: The Simple Art of Getting Along

In July of 1922, an unassuming book with a rich blue cover landed on bookstore shelves. Titled simply “Etiquette” by a moderately successful writer named Emily Post, the book went on to become a cornerstone of America’s social fabric and a true cultural cornerstone. Now, 100 years later, Emily’s original book has been entirely rewritten by her great-great-grandchildren for a new generation while maintaining the spirit and philosophy of Emily Post’s original intentions. Join The Gilded Gentleman for this unique look at just who Emily Post was, why she chose to write the book at all and how it has evolved — and yet in some ways — stayed the same since it was first published. Carl will be joined by Lizzie Post, Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter and co-author of the new edition, to take a look at Emily and etiquette, then and now. 

Episode #26: A Forgotten Real-Life Gilded Gentleman: The World of Effingham Nichols

The Merchant’s House Museum is one of New York City’s most important and cherished historic house museums. Built in 1832 and still intact to this day, the house was home to patriarch Seabury Tredwell and his family for just about 100 years before opening to the public as a museum in 1936. Nowhere can one see the antebellum world of Old New York quite as clearly as one can see here with much of the family’s original furniture and belongings still in place. HIdden in the Tredwell family tree is Effingham Nichols, the husband of Seabury’s eldest daughter. Born into old Knickerbocker New York, Effingham rose in wealth and stature to become a true player in the Gilded Age that ended the century brushing up against Astors and Vanderbilts. Join me and my guest, Merchant’s House historian Anne Haddad for a look at his life, what he did and where he was, to gather a very personal and extraordinary picture of the life of a long forgotten, but very real, gilded gentleman and just how that life and the life of others like him, came to be. 

Episode #25: Chicago’s Bertha Palmer: More than Mrs. Astor

Bertha Palmer was the wife of Potter Palmer whose famous Chicago hotel, the Palmer House, was one of the grandest of the Gilded Age.  Bertha has been compared to the queen of New York society, Mrs. Astor. However, as my guest, historian Tom Miller shares in this week’s show, that comparison minimizes who Bertha Palmer truly was.  While both women ran and ruled society in their respective cities, Bertha was in many ways the more complex and deeper character.  She was an astute businesswoman, cared so deeply about her charity work, she’d often roll up her sleeves to do what needed to be done, assembled a major collection of French Impressionist art and after her husband’s death, became one of the first real estate developers of Florida. Join Tom and me for a look at this fascinating woman and a look at Chicago’s Gilded Age. 

Episode #24: Where Thrushes Sing and Dreams are Dreamt: The Gardens of Beatrix Farrand

Beatrix Farrand, Edith Wharton’s niece, was born during New York’s Gilded Age and went on to become the first successful female landscape designer of the early 20th century. Her path was not easy since any career for a woman held challenges at the time and landscape design was at that point a men’s domain.  But her perseverance, determination, business acumen and exceptional talent led her to create some of America’s most beautiful gardens including Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, DC and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden on Mount Desert, Maine.  Join me for a look into the extraordinary life of Beatrix Farrand to celebrate her pioneering vision and style.  

Episode #23: Beneath the Gold: The Gilded Age with Tom Meyers of The Bowery Boys

Julian Fellowes’ new series on HBO “The Gilded Age” fascinated viewers with its complex plotlines and endlessly entertaining characters, some of whom were based on actual historical figures.  The show depicted the enormity of the age in so many of its social, political and cultural layers.  It also raised so many new insights and new viewpoints on this, not always, glittering age.  Tom Meyers of The Bowery Boys joins me for this show to take an even deeper look at it all.  Tom was co-host along with TCM’s Alicia Malone of HBO’s The Official Gilded Age podcast and he had the unique opportunity to delve further into the history behind what we saw on screen and hear insights from members of the cast and creative team.  Joins us for a unique look behind the glitter and the gold. 

Episode #22: English Country House Style: The Legacies of Nancy Lancaster and Nancy Astor

While the sumptuous dinner parties and grand country house weekends of years past may have vanished, the secrets of elegant entertaining and hospitality live on. Nancy Lancaster and Nancy Astor, two American-born women entered upper class British society in the early 20th century and brought the traditions of great Southern hospitality to some of England’s greatest estates including the renowned Cliveden. Today, Emilly Astor and Jane Churchill descendants of Nancy Lancaster and Nancy Astor continue the tradition and share its elements with today’s hosts and hostesses in their book of history, memories, and recipes “Entertaining in Style” (Rizzoli). Join me and both Emily and Jane for a look back at the tables of the two Nancys and particularly Nancy Lancaster’s vision which led to what we think of as great English Country House style. 

The Dining Room at Cliveden

Episode #21: Dancing with the Green Fairy: The Mysteries of Absinthe

Absinthe was one of the most popular and most mysterious drinks that fueled Paris and London’s cafe society and artistic circles in the Belle Epoque and late Victorian and Edwardian worlds. Artists and writers from Henri Toulouse-Lautrec to Marcel Proust and Oscar Wilde were proponents along with members of the upper classes as well as everyday workers. Myths sprang up that it created dramatic hallucinations and even provoked crimes to be committed. It became banned throughout most of  Europe and even in the United States by the early 19th century. Join me and my guest, Don Spiro, creator of New York’s Green Fairy Society to discuss and demystify the myths and legends of this most evocative of spirits. 

Episode #20: Creating Drama with Edith Wharton, Henry James and Jennie Jerome

Edith Wharton’s novels were full of drama of course but so were moments from her own life. Jennie Jerome, Lady Randolph Churchill,  the mother of Winston Churchill,  had a life of high drama, public scrutiny and moments of happiness as well as tragedy.  Join me and my guest, playwright and actor, Anne Undeland as we discuss how she dramatized the characters of Edith Wharton, Henry James and Jennie Jerome in her plays, “Mr. Fullerton Between the Sheets” and “Lady Randy”. We’ll discuss how Anne brought these complex characters to the stage as well as take a look at how some of Wharton’s own work has been dramatized.  

Episode #19: Stealing a Smile: The Theft of the Mona Lisa, Paris 1911 

The enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa has captured the attention of the public for centuries,  But even today, few people actually realize that on a warm summer morning in Paris in 1911, the Mona Lisa was also stolen.  The theft captured the attention of the world and made this masterwork of DaVinci’s quite simply the most famous painting in the world.  Much is still murky in the tale of the theft and recovery so join The Gilded Gentleman to take a look at this case and attempt to piece it together. 

Episode #18: Victory and Apollo: Black Artists Models Hettie Anderson and Thomas McKeller

Gazing up at the dramatic gilded statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman being led into battle by the allegorical figure of Victory in New York’s Grand Army Plaza or staring at the mythological figures that are painted on the Rotunda ceiling of Boston”s Museum of Fine Arts, one can’t help but be struck by the beauty, majesty and power of elements in these works. Sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens’ model for the image of Victory on the Sherman monument was a mixed-race woman named Hettie Anderson and John Singer Sargent used the black model Thomas McKeller as the principal model for his depictions of the Greek deities in his Boston paintings. Recent scholarship and discoveries have shed light into the lives and work of both of these models  This episode tells the story of what is known about the worlds of these exceptional artists models and the great art that they inspired.  

Episode #17: Mary Rogers Williams: The Rediscovered Life Of A Gilded Age Impressionist

Eve Kahn, independent scholar and author, calls Mary Rogers Williams “the Mary Cassatt you never heard of”. While Cassatt and Rogers lives differed and they likely never met, the rediscovered life of Gilded Age painter, Mary Rogers Williams is a fascinating tale of late 19th-century artistic circles. From the farmlands of Connecticut, Mary Rogers Williams lived and painted among the famous in New York, London, and Paris and her studies included time with artists such as William Merritt Chase and James MacNeil Whistler. A mysterious painting and an extraordinary discovery in 2012 led my guest Eve Kahn to reconstruct the life and world of a unique, innovative, yet little known until now, female artist of the Gilded Age. 

Episode #16: Golden Plates and Dinners on Horseback: Tales of Dining in Gilded Age New York

Outrageous stories of Gilded Age dinners served on plates of gold, live swans swimming in a lake in the center of your table and yes, even dinners served on horseback are all true. In this show, find out what some of the actual dishes served really were made and served along with stories of the restaurateurs, chefs and hostesses that created these lavish events. We’ll take a look at some actual balls and dinners given by Mrs. Astor among others and even on the fictional table of Bertha Russell in the recent HBO series “The Gilded Age.”

Episode #15: Castle Howard to Highclere: Treasures of the English Country House

For fans of the great period television and film dramas Downton Abbey and Brideshead Revisited among many others, one of the great pleasures is seeing the grand, sumptuous, imposing interiors of some of England’s greatest homes used as stage sets in the drama.  This week’s episode features Nick Dawes, master specialist and appraiser seen regularly on “Antiques Roadshow” who shares some insight into the decorative arts collections of some of these fictitious as well as some very real families.  

Episode #14: A Sprig of Witch Hazel: Edith Wharton’s Secret Affair

As writer Edith Wharton began to spend more and more time in Paris during the early years of the 1900s, she made the acquaintance of the American journalist Morton Fullerton.  Their meeting grew into a passionate and complicated love affair combining joy and emotional pain. Still, the affair led Wharton to some of her greatest creative moments and it wasn’t until the 1980’s when a long thought lost trove of letters brought the full story of the affair to light.  This week’s episode brings you to the Paris of the Belle Epoque and into the story of this surprising romance. 

Episode #13: The Gilded City: New York 1870-1900

To viewers of the first season of HBO’s “The Gilded Age” by Julian Fellowes, the city itself became one of the show’s most fascinating characters.  In this episode, join master tour guides Emma Guest-Consales, PhD. and Jeff Dobbins for a unique look at the architecture, neighborhoods, and landmarks that we see portrayed in the show.  Tune in for a look deep inside the Gilded Age metropolis with a perspective that only a tour guide can give.
Explore upcoming tours with Emma, Jeff and Carl at Bowery Boys Walks www.boweryboyswalks.com

Episode #12: Social Climber: The Iron Will and Determined Rise of Alva Vanderbilt

The fight for social dominance and acceptance was a battle fought by many Gilded Age wives along with their financial warrior husbands.  One of the most famous was Alva Vanderbilt who rose to finally make it through the golden portals into Mrs. Astor’s social circle.  Her iron determination resulted in her daughter Consuelo’s seemingly fairytale marriage to a British aristocrat in 1895 — but none of it was a fairytale.  Join The Gilded Gentleman for a look inside the story of who Alva really was as a social climber but also as a 19th-century woman.

Alva Vanderbilt

Episode #11: How to Pluck a Peacock: Delmonico’s Charles Ranhofer and The Epicurean

Delmonico’s restaurant became famous for bringing elegant, luxurious dining to and sophisticated French dishes to American tables.  The culinary genius behind these dramatic dishes was Delmonico’s celebrity chef, Frenchman Charles Ranhofer who guided their kitchens from 1862-1896.  He left us with his extraordinary cookbook published at the height of the Gilded Age in the 1890’s,  detailing the ingredients and preparations of Delmonico’s classic dishes.   Join me and my guest, creative director and food stylist, Victoria Granof (www.victoriagranof.com) to take a look at this extraordinary chef and some of the most outrageous dishes from Delmonico’s tables – including a peacock. 

Episode #10: Invisible Magicians: Domestic Servants in Gilded Age New York 

Join The Gilded Gentleman and Esther Crain, author of The Gilded Age in New York 1870-1914 for a look below stairs!  In this show, we’ll take a look at the various roles and responsibilities of domestic staff in grand mansions and even in more modest homes.  The Gilded Gentleman will explore what servants did and most importantly who they really were.  This show pays tribute to the vast numbers of “invisible magicians” without whom the dinners, balls and just daily workings of households of the Gilded Age would never have been possible. 

Episode #9: The Education of a Snob: Ward Mcallister’s American Aristocracy

The famous Mrs. Astor was credited with building and shaping the Gilded Age elite. At her side and combining forces with her to create “the 400”,  was the controversial Ward McAllister.  McAllister was originally a Southerner who himself developed a complex persona as the most socially knowledgeable and refined gentleman of the New York elite.  Join me for a look into who Ward McAllister really was, how he developed his famous reputation and what led to his infamous break from the social court of Mrs. Astor.

Episode #8: Ladies’ Mile and the Glamour of Gilded Age Shopping

During the 1870’s and 1880’s New York’s famous Ladies’ Mile shopping district took hold along Broadway and grand palaces of retail grew filled with splendors and luxuries to tempt the glittering clientele that swept through their doors. Join me and my guest, art historian and master guide, Emma Guest-Consales, PhD for a unique and fascinating Gilded Age shopping trip. 

Episode #7: Getting a Bad Rap: Spiritualism in the 19th century

Many people throughout the 19th century were fascinated with the idea of connecting with the beyond including the famous Commodore Vanderbilt. Historian Anthony Bellov joins this week for a look into some rather strange phenomena and the story of Vanderbilt and one of the most famous spiritualists of the period, the fascinating Victoria Woodhull.  

Episode #6: The Gilded Page: A Conversation with NYT Bestselling Author Carol Wallace

“Carol Wallace, New York Times bestselling author, discusses her just-published novel of the Gilded Age, “Our Kind of People” as well as shares insights on her book “To Marry an English Lord” which served as an inspiration for “Downton Abbey”. 

Episode #5: To Catch a Prince: The Story of Alice Heine, Monaco’s First American Princess

Grace Kelly captured the attention of the world when she married Prince Rainier III and became Princess of Monaco in 1956.  Few people realize that she wasn’t the first American-born princess to hold the title.  Travel back to the Belle Epoque and discover the story of a New Orleans beauty who captured the heart of a prince nearly 100 years before. 

Alice Heine, Princess of Monaco (photo: Public Domain)

Episode #4: Man About Town: The Story of Murray Hall

When Tammany Hall politician, Murray Hall died at his home in Greenwich Village in 1901, his death sparked a national scandal.  Murray Hall had a secret he kept hidden for over 20 years — what was it? Historic preservationist Ken Lustbader joins The Gilded Gentleman for a look at this little-known and deeply compelling story. 

Episode #3: The Real Mrs. Astor: Ruler or Rebel?

Historian Tom Miller joins The Gilded Gentleman for a discussion about who Caroline Astor really was.  

Episode #2: Divas, Diamonds, Drama: The Opening of the Metropolitan Opera 1883

Join the Gilded Gentleman for a night at the opera! The glittering, glamorous opening night of New York’s new opera house at the height of the Gilded Age had perhaps more drama going on in the audience than on the stage.

Metropolitan Opera House on 39th Street (Library of Congress)

Episode #1: Gilded Age or Gilded Cage?

Was the Gilded Age as glamorous as it seemed? Join Carl and his guests — Tom Meyers and Greg Young from the Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast — to discuss the light and the dark of this fascinating era.

Carl, Tom, and Greg recording at the Salmagundi Club.

Carl recording an episode with Emma Guest-Consales about Ladies’ Mile.