The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis by Richard Schwartz
As the Statue of Liberty stood unlit and unloved by American politicians in 1886, one of her saviors was creating a theatrical sensation at New York’s Fourteenth Street Theatre. Actor M. B. Curtis, who had achieved overnight success in Sam’l of Posen, a groundbreaking play that transcended the common stereotypes of Jewish characters current at the time, was basking in public accolades at every curtain call when he came to Lady Liberty’s aid. Curtis’s rise to the top of his profession and his resulting fall from grace is a dramatic arc that rivals anything created for the stage. Actor, producer, real estate developer, promoter, hotelier, benefactor, and murder suspect, Curtis reached the highs of celebrity and fame as well as the lows of failure, illness, and a faltering career. The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty rescues his story from the dusty archives of forgotten history and reexamines an actor whose creativity and cultural influence still resonate today.