Updated January 18, 2006
If you can add any further information about these photographs, the photographer(s), or Marshall Wilder, please e-mail me!
When you do an Internet search you will find considerable confusion between Marshall Pinckney Wilder (1859-1915) the comic monologuist and Marshall Pinckney Wilder (1798-1886) the famous horticulturalist. After some intensive genealogical research I have ascertained that they were fourth cousins, twice removed. Marshall Pinckney Wilder (1798-1886) was named for the noted Federalists, John Marshall and Charles C. Pinckney, and it is most likely that Marshall Pinckney Wilder (1859-1915) was named after his illustrious relative, who was living and at the height of his fame when he was born.
This Marshall Wilder was known as The Prince of Entertainers, and Entertainer of Princes. He was the editor of the ten-volume "The Wit and Humor of America" published in 1911, and the author of "The Sunny Side of the Street" (1905), "The People I Have Smiled With" (1889) and "Smiling 'Round the World" (1908).
He appeared in twelve silent films between 1897 and 1912.
Some of Wilder's comic monologues and vaudeville skits were recorded on Edison Cylinders. You can hear one of them HERE.
Marshall Wilder, the celebrated humorist and monologist, was an attraction at Oakland Beach in Rhode Island early in his career.
"I knew a fellow named Otto Kahn," Groucho Marx once recalled. "His close friend was Marshall P. Wilder, who was a hunchback. One day they passed a synagogue on Fifth Avenue and Kahn turned to Wilder and said, 'You know, I used to be a Jew.' 'Really?' said Wilder. 'I used to be a hunchback.'"
Source: Speech at the University of Wisconsin
Wilder's Riddle House Monologue
Internet Movie Database Listing for Marshall P. Wilder
Internet Movie Database Listing for Mrs. Marshall P. Wilder
Marshall Wilder Cabinet Card c. 1870
Marshall Wilder at PictureHistory.Com
"The entertainer Marshall Wilder explained that “the more intent the mind is, the more diverting and alluring must be the agency that would induce it to pause for a time” In Wilder’s view of the past, the 'old fogies of the back centuries were not intense' and thus were too easily amused, whereas 'the blasé mind of today needs spice and the entertainer must be that spice.' Wilder’s conclusion? 'The people want more fun.'"
From “The Gilded Age: Scandal and Sensation in Turn of the Century New York by M.H. Dunlop, pp 224-225
"This circa 1903 postcard published by the Roycrofters bears the caption “Honest Roycrofters Three (more or less.” Marshall Wilder (center) is flanked by George Wharton James on the left and [Elbert Greene] Hubbard on the right. Wilder was known as the pre-eminent humorist in the nation at this time. He was a frequent visitor at Roycroft, where a unique chair was designed for him to accommodate his special needs as a dwarf and a hunchback. The Marshall Wilder chair is rare and highly collectible. It has Mackmurdo feet and eventually was marketed and sold as a youth chair. Wilder was the editor of the ten-volume set The Wit and Humor of America."
From “The Roycroft Campus” by Robert Rust and Kitty Turgeon in the Images of America series. Pg. 91
“Marshall Wilder gives free range to his own effervescent spirit. He is bubbling over with mirth, and the mirth becomes contagious and also infectious.”
From “Philistine – A Periodical of Protest, December 1913-May 1914” by Elbert Hubbard and H. P. Taber. Pg. 21
(These magazines were printed for the Society of the Philistines and published by them monthly. The Society of the Philistines was an association of book lovers and folks who write and paint. It was organized to further good fellowship among men and women who believed in allowing the widest liberty to individuality in thought and expression. Such notable authors as Elbert Hubbard, Stephen Crane, John Langdon Heaton, Edward Carpenter, Leo Tolstoy and a myriad others, are contributing writers. Sample contents: Heart to Heart Talks with Philistines; Shade of Alexander the Great; Message to Uncle Sam for the Perusal of His Nieces and Nephews; and much more.)
“Marshall Wilder was dwarfed, deformed, hunchbacked, ugly faced; yet he became one of our most beloved, most sought after leaders of human society.”
From “The Means Which Guarantee Leadership” by Brown Landone, pg. 77
“Marshall Wilder, whom I knew, was deformed, dwarfed, face twisted and ugly overcame these handicaps. He pushed them back and put the spirit of himself in front of them – that is, a personality born of joyous humor and love of people. He became one of the most beloved of public men, and people paid money just to hear him speak. He could have been embittered, and people would have seen what he himself saw – ugliness and deformities. Instead they saw what he was within, and not notice physical conditions of face and body.”
From “Do Four Things Now: Positism, the Great New Discovery of Power” by Brown Landone, pg. 4
“To Mrs. Johnson [Robert Browning] spoke of another American. He said, ‘I have been meeting in various houses a countryman of yours who has made a great impression upon me, - a young fellow of marked character, for, though he is both a hunchback and a dwarf, he is yet one of the happiest natures I have ever met. He is a professional reciter and his name is Marshall Wilder. I have been much touched by the gaiety of this young fellow’s life. Here is a man with every disadvantage who yet refused to be daunted by his misfortune. In his recitals he rushes out upon the platform and tells a little story with a humorous point to it and is off again and back with another before you are done laughing at the first, and all with such simplicity and high spirits! It really is very impressive!’
I could not but think that Mr. Browning’s interest in Wilder was of the sort with which he would regard a court jester of the middle ages, but I found his note of personal sympathy quite in keeping with the richness of feeling that runs through his verse. Of all the poets of his day, Browning seems to me to have had the biggest heart and the broadest vision.”
From “Remembered Yesterdays” by Robert U. Johnson, pg. 505
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