Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley

By Jeffrey Spivak | Go to book overview

1
Actress and Son

In the northeast corner of New York State, on the western banks of Lake Champlain, lies the formidable town of Plattsburgh. On September 11, 1814, the Battle of Plattsburgh proved a crucial victory for the United States in the War of 1812. The fledgling U.S. Navy, under the command of Brig. Gen. Alexander Macomb, fought back an invasion from England, which, after defeating Napoleon, had turned its attention to retaking the northern states and possessing all navigation rights over Lake Champlain. The defeat of the British against overwhelming odds boosted national morale and was a chief catalyst in ending the war.

The town, named after the Continental Congress member Zephaniah Platt, was incorporated in 1815. The indigenous Iroquois had been driven from the area by Quebecers and other Canadians who journeyed south to settle there during the booming days of the fur trade. In the nineteenth century, the town welcomed a new breed of citizenry in the form of families from England, Ireland, and Scotland. Robert Barclay of Stirling, Scotland, settled in nearby New Hampshire with his wife, Rhoda Way, when they started a family in the late 1700s. By that time, Robert had adopted a new and similar-sounding surname, Berkeley, an Americanization perhaps of a family name dating back to the 1600s. He and Rhoda welcomed a son, Robert, on September 1, 1798. When Robert was in his twenties, he married a New Hampshire girl, Susan Woodbury, and together they had seven children. On December 5, 1848, their second-oldest child, Arthur Tysdale Berkeley (b. 1823) married Mary Jane Hooey of New York and moved to Black Brook, New York, in Clinton County, thirty miles southwest of Plattsburgh.

Over the course of twenty-four years, Arthur and Mary raised a brood of twelve, corresponding, almost exactly, to one newborn every two years. There was Susan Elizabeth (1850), George (1852), Edgar Eugene (1854), Susan Ella (1856), Alpheretta (1858), Billie May (1860),

-4-

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Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Screen Classics ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Prologue 1
  • 1 - Actress and Son 4
  • 2 - In Formation 20
  • 3 - The Show Fixer 27
  • 4 - A Cyclopean Vision 48
  • 5 - The Cinematerpsichorean 66
  • 6 - The Cancerous Tire 123
  • 7 - Post-Traumatic Inspiration 143
  • 8 - Buzz’s Babes 164
  • 9 - Art and Audacity 198
  • 10 - The Stage Debacle 211
  • 11 - Inconsolable 218
  • 12 - One Last at Bat 225
  • 13 - Jumping, Tapping, Diving 235
  • 14 - Out of Sight 257
  • 15 - The Ringmaster 262
  • 16 - Remember My Forgotten Director 266
  • 17 - The Figurehead 272
  • 18 - The Palmy Days 292
  • Epilogue 296
  • On Busby Berkeley’s Memoirs 300
  • Appendix- The Works of Busby Berkeley 303
  • Notes 327
  • Index 353
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