Monday, March 11, 2013

More Real Alfred E.

The Los Angeles Herald, December 2, 1894
For the full story, go to my first post - The Real Alfred E.

Here, I just want to supplement the previous post with some additional New Boy/Neuman images.

The first image I ran across was in an article announcing the upcoming performances of the national touring company of The New Boy in Los Angeles.  The show was scheduled to be performed at the Los Angeles Theater for three days, two performances daily, on Thursday through Saturday, December 6, 7 and 8.  The Los Angeles Herald had earlier featured The New Boy in an article about the New York theater scene published on November 7, 1894.

The Morning Call (San Francisco) November 18, 1894

I later found the same image in an advertisement for The New Boy in San Francisco's The Morning Call, November 18, 1894.  The show was scheduled to play in San Francisco for two weeks.  The show's billing as, "The Mirthmaker of 3 Continents!" was a reference to its success in England, the United States and Australia.

The Evening Dispatch, January 10, 1895
The New Boy image also appeared in newspapers in Utah.  It appeared in the Salt Lake Herald on December 22, 1894 and in the Evening Dispatch (Provo) on January 10 and 11, 1895.

Salt Lake Herald, December 22, 1894

The face from these newspaper advertisements was copied nearly exactly for the Atmore's plum pudding and mince meat pie advertisement in 1895, with the addition of the hand and slice of pie held in front of his chest.


Weedon Grossmith, who originated the role of Archibald Rennick in The New Boy included photographs of himself in costume and in character for the role in his autobiography, From Studio to Stage, John Lane Company (1913).

At left, Archibald is wearing a child's sailor suit and kinickers and shielding his face from Bullock's fist.  Is this where he lost his front teeth?

At right, he is wearing the Eton jacket and Eton collar that are apparently shown in the advertising image and which were copied in most of the painless dentistry advertisements.

Weedon Grossmith and the James T. Powers, who popularized the role of Archibald Rennick in the American production of The New Boy, shared some things in common.  The American James T. Powers toured England with The Vokes Family, an English company of actors, in the early 1880s; and his wife, Rachel Booth, played the role of the seductress, Nancy, in The New Boy.  The Englishman Weedon Grossmith honed his acting chops touring the United States with the Vokes Family in 1885 and married the woman who played Nancy in the London production of The New Boy.

The St. Louis Republic, January 14, 1903
Examples of painless dentistry advertisements were apparently fairly common from the early 1900s and into the 1920s.  Numerous examples of them can be seen in John Adcock's blog postings on The Mysteries of Melvin and Painless McPhee.

Here are a few more that I found which all appear to have been either copied from or based on The New Boy advertising image.

El Paso Herald, March 10, 1913
The Salt Lake Tribune, November 1, 1904


One of the best surveys of early Alfred E. Neuman-like imagery is Maria Reidelbach's 1992 book, Completely Mad: A History of the Comic Book, which devotes an entire chapter to early-Neuman-alia.  I believe that she had access to Mad Magazine's archive of material that they collected during a copyright lawsuit in the 1960s and other items that readers had sent them over the years.

John E. Hett, the publisher of the Mad Magazine fanzine periodical, The Journal of Madness, has written at least two articles on the history of the image in the magazine, America Loves an Idiot: The Origin of Alfred E. Neuman (Issue #14) and Alfred, We Hardly Knew Thee! (Issue #16).  He also organized an exhibition of Alfred E. Neuman art and artifacts at Eastern Michigan University in 2008.

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