STAMFORD, Conn. -- Film and stage actor Hal Holbrook guestimates he's played Mark Twain 2,313 times over the years (he began in 1954, according to Wikipedia).
He will perform again at The Palace Theatre in Stamford Saturday, Sept. 26 and he said if you thought Twain just wrote books for children, you'll be in for a surprise.
Holbrook has performed at The Palace twice before -- in May 1988 and June 1992 -- and said what he loves about playing this character is that it gives him a chance to say things that have meaning for him in the guise of a character who understood what was happening to our country over 100 years ago, along with what has now come to pass and is happening today.
"To put it simply," said Holbrook, "We have lost our faith in who we are. We've sold out for money."
"It was not by accident that George Bernard Shaw called Mark Twain 'America's Voltaire,' he added. "Twain was a major social critic in America during the last half of the 19th century and early 20th. He saw the whole mess coming which we're living through now."
"In Congress: 'These lobbyists are called our invisible government in Washington.'
"The greed. 'Get rich. Dishonestly if we can. Honestly if we must.'"
And, Holbrook quoted: "Regarding slavery. 'Argue and plead and pray as they might, those agitators in the North could not break the universal stillness, the clammy stillness created and maintained by the lie of Silent Assertion, the silent assertion that there wasn't anything going on in which sane and intelligent people ought to be interested.'
Holbook said this is the same "lie of silence that stops people today from speaking out and doing something constructive about the waves of racism betraying our country."
The Emmy and Tony-award winning actor said he stands by a quote he gave long ago calling Mark Twain his "side arm through life."
And though he's 90 years old, Holbrook said he plans to continue this character many years to come. "Maybe 10," he said. "I'll be 100 then and slowing down."
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