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Richard Reineccius <[log in to unmask]>
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Richard Reineccius <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 9 Mar 2012 13:17:40 -0800
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Dennis - et al

Others have reported the facts, so no need for repetition.

Of course the Dramatic Chronicle, which Bob Gill cites, was an upstart paper that Twain had a brief contract with, and for which he wrote a number of columns, bylined or not, including the quite famous "Earthquake Almanac" which was about the 1865 shaker. (and worth re-reading)

So today the Chron, now run by Willie Hearst, takes credit for having employed Twain. Incomplete but not technically untrue, as is generally the case with newspaper stories, especially the SF Chron.  I don't think their brag piece claimed that papa Randolph personally hired him or owned the Chron back then, but only that the original version of the paper once had him as a staffer, but never bragged about the fact until now. There's more to any story than what gets ink.

But the Dramatic Chronicle was founded in 1865 (not 125 years ago, by my math), and was actually an insert and Playbill of a downtown Theatre in SF. The DeYoung brothers borrowed money (a $20 gold piece, they boasted), obtained a telegraph connection somehow, and printed "Tomorrow's News Tonight" for folks who were ticket buyers at the theatre - which news included the first SF notice of Lincoln's assassination. Twain's contract, which he thought promised a byline, was not honored, and he was offered the career-changing trip to Europe and the Middle East by the Sacramento Union, which he promptly accepted. I knew, but don't at the moment recall, if the Dramatic Chronicle transformed itself into the San Francisco Chronicle before Twain left town for good (meaning New York) in 1868.

Thus almost nothing he wrote for The Dramatic Chronicle had his name attached, from what I found at the Bancroft Library at the U of C in 1985, when I was producing, directing and acting Bixby in the musical "Life On The Mississippi" (by Thr Red Clay Ramblers of N. Carolina) at The Julian Theatre in San Francisco. The Chron's own librarian flatly told me that "all Chronicle issues prior to the 1906 quake were destroyed in the fire", but a trip to Berkeley proved otherwise. The Bancroft came up with the very first day edition - January 16, 1865, on microfilm that blew up to a clear newspaper-size print, which we posted on the lobby wall for our LOM opening night, 1985.*

We also turned the Playbill into a tabloid called "The New Dramatic Chronicle" - adding some extra news if we felt like it, and kept publishing it to promote our plays and opinions until our theatre went broke and I went to teach in Poland in 1994.

Twain was recruited shortly after the birth of the SF Dramatic Chronicle, as theatre/entertainment reviewer, and wrote home that he had been hired in a real job, to write about things he really liked, and would get a steady paycheck for doing it. Barb Schmidt asked me once if there was any listing of items he wrote for the Dramatic Chron, but I didn't find one. Time to try again. 

   The present Theatre critic, Rob Hurwitt, told me once he came west to do research on Twain's dramatic writings, but he has never put that in print that I know of.

*The first Dramatic Chron edition print was stolen the very night we opened "Life On The Mississippi".  I always thought it was absconded by the Chronicle's own reviewer, there to write about the production. The scoundrel gave us a thumbs up review ("Little Man" clapping), so we didn't make an issue of the theft.


----- Original Message -----
> From: Dennis Kelly <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Sunday, March 4, 2012
> Subject: Hearst and Twain
>This morning the San Francisco Chronicle, which has become a Hearst paper, =
> ran an article about their 125 years in the newspaper business and cited wr=
> iters who had worked for them, including Mark Twain.> 
> Does anyone know what in particular Twain wrote for William Randoph Hearst?
> > 
> Dennis Kelly