Frankenstein Thomas Edison’s Monster Role at the History Museum at the Castle


Historic Sites Partner to Screen Thomas Edison’s “Frankenstein”

The inventor who was first to bring electrification to Appleton also was the first to bring life to Mary Shelley’s fabled monster, Frankenstein.
“Frankenstein: “Thomas Edison’s Monster Role in Film History” presents an evening of early cinematography, special effects and film history in this program co-hosted by the Hearthstone Historic House Museum and the History Museum at the Castle.
The event is slated for Wednesday, October 30 from 6:30-8 p.m. in Ogilvie Hall at the History Museum, 330 E. College Ave., Appleton. Cost is $12.50 for members of Hearthstone or the History Museum, and $15 general admission. Seating is limited so advance registration is recommended. Reservations may be made by calling the History Museum at 920-735-9370 ext. 115, or stopping there during open hours Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Watch Edison Studios’ 1910 one-reel pioneering film “Frankenstein”, produced by Thomas Edison, as Frank Rippl plays his original musical score on the Museum’s 1926 Austin pipe organ. Hear film historian Dr. Jack Rhodes discuss early cinematic history. Enjoy the presentation of Robin and Joan Rolfs who will portray costumed “Edison jobbers” and display vintage phonograph and kinescope machines. Enjoy wine or soda and time to socialize with friends prior to the program.
The film is J. Searle Dawley’s adaptation of Shelley’s classic tale, with an unlisted cast that included Augustus Phillips as Dr. Frankenstein, Charles Ogle as the Monster, and Mary Fuller as the doctor’s fiancée. Edison is believed to be the film’s producer. It was shot at the Edison Company’s Studios in the Bronx, New York City in three days, and contains what at the time were innovative special effects. For many years, the film was believed to have been lost, although a plot description and still images were discovered to have been published in a March 1910 issue of an Edison film catalog, The Edison Kinetogram.
Rhodes will put the film into context and share his knowledge of cinematic history. Rhodes received his PhD in English Literature from The University of Texas at Austin and later became interested in Communication and Film Studies.  His principal academic assignments were at Colorado College, The University of Utah, and Miami University (Ohio), where he taught the graduate course on Rhetoric of Film for several years.  He also served as Chair of the Department of Communication at Miami and retired in 2002 as Executive Director of Miami’s regional campus in Hamilton, Ohio.  He is the author of three books and several scholarly articles and has recently concentrated his research and lecturing on the rhetoric of film genres. He has taught film study seminars for five summers in Door County at Lawrence University’s Bjorklunden campus.
Joan and Robin Rolfs present talks about vintage talking machines and the famous RCA trademark dog Nipper, and dress for the part in vintage attire. They will introduce the “new” Edison Talking Phonograph as they portray jobbers, traveling promoters of Edison’s new phonograph that was a marvel of the 20th century. They also will display an Edison cylinder phonograph from the 1900s. The Rolfs explain that Edison’s quest was to invent a high-speed camera that could record moving images on a strip of film and then play back the images in a machine called the Kinetoscope. After years of work by his assistant, W.K.L. Dickson, Edison patented his kinetoscope in 1894.
The Rolphs have authored a host of articles on early phonograph machines, gadgets, accessories and advertising. They have authored several books including Phonograph Dolls and Toys, Nipper Collectibles, and Lewis Lueder, Official Photographer to Mr. Thomas A. Edison.
Frank Rippl, a retired Appleton music teacher, each year pens original musical accompaniment for the History Museum’s Silent Film Series. He is a seasoned performer on the Museum’s 1926 Austin pipe organ, housed in Ogilvie Hall on the Museum’s second level.
Reservations for the event are recommended and may be made by contacting the History Museum at (920)735-9370 ext. 115. For further information on the History Museum, visit online at To learn about the Hearthstone Historic House Museum, visit

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There's so much to like about Downtown Appleton. Thanks to its 60+ distinctive shops ... 50+ casual, fine dining and ethnic restaurants... nearly 30 pubs, clubs and live music hot spots ... a leading performing arts center and world-class visual arts gallery ... family-friendly activities and attractions ... a variety of coffee shops and gathering places ... PLUS Northeast Wisconsin's best events, Downtown Appleton is a favorite destination for many -- and it just keeps getting better and better!

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