That Time Thomas Edison Shot the Only Known Film Footage of Mark Twain

By  · Published on August 13th, 2012

In 1909, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) would turn 73 years old and spend a lot of his time at his homestead in Redding, Connecticut. This was decades after giving birth to American literature, making friends with Tesla and fighting ghosts or whatever supernatural beast writers will faddishly shove into his autobiography. It was also a troublesome year. It was the year his youngest daughter Jean as well as his close friend Henry Rogers died, and it’s the same year that he predicted his own demise to coincide with Halley’s Comet (just as he’d come into the world).

He was right. The next year, he died. Right on schedule with the comet.

But 1909 also saw good friend Thomas Edison visit Twain and his family in Redding to capture some moving images. A bit of the footage ended up in the short film The Prince and the Pauper, but it holds the unique distinction of being the only known footage of Twain out there. Check it out for yourself:

Now someone edit in Twain punching a ghost in the face or something. It’ll get optioned immediately.

Hat tip to Mental Floss for making the old new again.

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.