The Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) in partnership with the Enoch Pratt Central Library present a free screening of the rarely seen 1928 silent film GLORIOUS BETSY on 16mm film with live piano accompaniment. GLORIOUS BETSY is a different take on the story seen in the latest exhibition at the MdHS, Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and her Quest for an Imperial Legacy. Warning: Hollywood endings pay little mind to historical accuracy!
Saturday, July 13th
Enoch Pratt Central Library’s Wheeler Auditorium
400 Cathedral Street.
Elizabeth Patterson “Betsy” Bonaparte was born in 1785 into Baltimore’s wealthy merchant class. Her sharp wit and scandalous fashion sense made her the talk of DC and Baltimore Society during the 1812 era. She was catapulted to the international spotlight when she married Emperor Napoleon’s brother Jerome in 1803. Unfortunately, Napoleon did not approve and, despite the birth of the couple’s new son, annulled the marriage and banished Betsy from France. Betsy spent the remainder of her life trying to secure an imperial legacy for her child. The drama captured the country’s imagination and Betsy’s statement: “nature never intended me for obscurity”, has proven true as we continue to tell her story generations later in the form of books, plays, and films.
MdHS is thrilled to show one of those stories in its original format. GLORIOUS BETSY, on loan from Niles Silent Film Museum of Fremont, California, stars silver screen icon Dolores Costello in the titular role and Conrad Nagel as Jerome Bonaparte. The 79-minute film was one of the first hybrid films made—a silent film with a few talking sequences. There are only two known copies in existence today but the vitaphone tracks have been lost to time. MdHS has arranged for live musical accompaniment courtesy of Peabody graduate pianist Chris Whittaker. Preceding the film, Chief Development Officer and resident expert on the American Bonapartes, Mark Letzer will provide historical context for the film.