Kisses, Comedy and Early Cinema

Interrupted Lovers
R & K: William Heise, James White. Edison Manufacturing Co. USA 1896

The John C. Rice-May Irwin Kiss
R: William Heise. Edison Manufacturing Co. USA 1896

“Recorded by May Irwin on 20th May 1907, the song originated from the Broadway show ‘The Widow Jones’ produced at the Bijou Theatre on 16th September 1895.
In 1896 the Edison Company purchased the rights to a motion picture projector that had been invented by C. Francis Jenkins and Thomas Armat. The projector was renamed the ‘Vitascope’ and had its commercial debut on April 23, 1896. During its first year the most popular film shown using the ‘Edison’ vitascope was the May Irwin Kiss.
May Irwin and John Rice were the two principal actors appearing in the New York stage hit ‘The Widow Jones’. At the request of the New York World newspaper, the two staged their kiss from the last act of that comedy for Edison’s camera.”

Birth of the Pearl
R:  Frederick S. Armitage.  P: American Mutoscope & Biograph. USA 1901
Print: Library of Congress /Paper print collection

“This film is one of a series of ‘Living Pictures’ filmed by Biograph in an apparent attempt to recreate the burlesque stage living picture exhibitions of the mid-19th century. As with the New York City stage tableaux, the living pictures were often representations of famous paintings or statues of nudes; in this particular case, of Botticelli‘s ‘Birth of Venus’.”
Library of Congress

625-birth of venus
Sandro Botticelli: Birth of Venus, ca. 1480