Episode #49: Whitman and Wilde Part 1: Walt Whitman in New York 1855 (coming 6/13/23)
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 Square, Gramercy Park, Madison 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
While the Gilded Age rich and powerful ruled from their mansions on Fifth Avenue far uptown, the poor and immigrant community downtown struggled simply to survive. 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. Zoe tirelessly wrote countless newspaper and journal articles and even launched her own literary magazine to further her mission — “I fight for the poor with my pen.” Known as the “Queen of Bohemia”, for solidarity, Norris created the “The Ragged Edge Klub” which met at local restaurants for cheap meals and passion-fueled conversation.
Former New York Times columnist, author and independent scholar, Eve M. Kahn joins the Gilded Gentleman to share her insight and research in rediscovering the life and work of this extraordinary crusader for human rights whose voice seems just as relevant and powerful today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.