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The New York Times, May 7, 1907

Roosevelt Presses the Button and Then Mark Twain Makes a Speech.
SEEK TO RAISE $250,000
First Two Tickets Bring $1,500 - Actresses Preside Over Many Attractive Booths.

At exactly 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon President Roosevelt, in Washington, pressed a button; the lights of the Metropolitan Opera House here, which had been extinguished, flashed on again; cannon boomed; the band played; Mark Twain made a speech; and the Actors' Fund Fair was declared open to the public. Even while the building was reverberating with the report of the canon a shower of tiny American flags fluttered from the roof down into the village street of Stratford-on-Avon, the central highway of the bazaar.

As soon as the sound of the cannonade had died away, the officers of the fund filed on to the platform at the western end of the Opera House. Daniel Frohman, President of the fund, made the opening address.

"Nothing is more appropriate than that we should begin with the playing of 'The Star-Spangled Banner,'" said Mr. Frohman. "We intend to make this a banner week in the history of the fund. The Actors' Fund is not a restricted institution. It takes a broad and sympathetic interest in every one on the stage - whether he be actor, singer, dancer, or workman. Since the time of the last fair at Madison Square Garden the fund has expended from $500 to $600 weekly in its charities. In other words, we have spent more than $40,000 a year.

Mr. Frohman, after briefly describing the nature of the fund and citing the necessarily precarious living of the actor, continued: "Charity covers a multitude of sins, and it also reveals a multitude of virtues. We are grateful for the help of Mr. Roblee, and his assistant, Mr. Price, and Mrs. A. M. Palmer, who has taken up the work that her husband would have done had he remained with us. We are grateful to all who have assisted in bringing preparations to a successful conclusion.

"At the opening of the former fair we had the assistance of Edwin Booth and Joseph Jefferson. In their place we have today that American institution and apostle of wide humanity - Mark Twain."


Mark Twain, whose famous white suit and white hair made him a conspicuous figure from the minute he entered the hall, was received with general applause. He spoke tersely and deliberately.

"As Mr. Frohman has said," the humorist began, "charity reveals a multitude of virtues. This is true, and it is to be proved here before the week is over. Mr. Frohman has told you something of the object and something of the character of the work. He told me he would do this - and he has kept his word! I had expected to hear of it through the newspapers. I wouldn't trust anything between Frohman and the newspapers - except when it's a case of charity!

"You should all remember that the actor has been your benefactor many and many a year. When you have been weary and downcast he has lifted your heart out of gloom and given you a fresh impulse. You are all under obligation to him. This is your opportunity to be his benefactor - to help provide for him in his old age and when he suffers from infirmities.

"At this fair no one is to be persecuted to buy. If you offer a twenty-dollar bill in payment for a purchase of $1 you will receive $10 in change. There is to be no robbery here. There is to be no creed here - no religion except charity. We want to raise $250,000 - and that is a great task to attempt.

"The President has set the fair in motion by pressing the button in Washington. Now your good wishes are to be transmuted into cash.

"By virtue of the authority in me vested I declare the fair open. I call the ball game. Let the transmuting begin."

$1,500 for the First Two Tickets.

Though the fair was not formally opened until 2 o'clock, the doors were thrown open to the public at 12:30. Even before that the building was thronged with women - and some men - putting final touches on the booths. The first two admission tickets were bought by Marc Klaw and Abraham L. Erlanger, each of whom paid $750 for the privilege of entering the enchanted ground.

The only manner in which to get any real conception of the present appearance of the Metropolitan Opera House is to visit in - and help the fund. The orchestra floor has been built up to the level of the stage, and the entire auditorium has thus been transformed into one immense level hall. At one end of this hall the band is stationed on a slightly raised platform, behind which is a painted landscape on an immense curtain.. This main hall has been made into a Shakespearean village, with Shakespearean dwellings and shops on either side. In the middle of the hall, up and down the entire length, are a dozen elaborately decorated booths and stands. In the centre of the hall stands a high pole from which streamers of evergreen and electric lights reach to the balconies above.

Many Attractions.

The oldest and most experienced gambler in Manhattan never saw collected in one building so many implements for games of chance as are now to be found in the Metropolitan Opera House. One may be on the horses. One may buy chances on everything from a piano to an automobile or a diamond necklace.

Nor are all the attractions by any means to be found on the floor of the Opera House. Three stories up you may ascent and yet find new novelties to entice the eye - and to separate you from your money. Palmists and fortune tellers of all descriptions are stowed away in the boxes, where the grand dames of society are wont to listen to the opera.

On the grand tier are to be found the Japanese tearoom, with Mme. Fuji-Ko, Pilar Morin, and a host of others arrayed in Oriental garments; the Cafe Chantant [sic] of the Lambs Club, where one may dine as comfortably as at any restaurant on Broadway' the Chinese room of the Actors' Society, the marvelous side show of the Green Room Club, the vaudeville of the Actors' Order of Friendship, the White Rats and the Vaudeville Comedy Club, the "Red Mill" booth, and a score of other allurements.

On the dress circle are Music Publishers' Hall and the Punch and Judy Show. On the balcony floor are the Trained Monkeys, Bostocks' Liopan - the quaint and curious combination of Lion and Panther - the Hippodrome Indians, and various raffles. On the orchestra promenade are the $25,000 art exhibit, the art exhibit of the Players, the printing office of The Daily Spectator, the daily paper issued by Mr. Price for the Fair, and numerous other places of interest.

On the main floor, to return to the beginning, are more than forty booths. They are presided over by the Actors' Church Alliance, the Professional Woman's League, the Century Theatre Club; the Twelfth Night club, the "Man and Superman" company, the "Man of the Hour" company, the Players' Club - which controls the Shakespeare House, devoted to art objects; the Floral Booth, presided over by Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish and a number of other society women; the candy booth in [the] charge of other society women, and ever so many more. There is a booth of Teddy Bears of most [?] beauty and proportion; there is a booth for dolls, there is a soap booth, under the supervision of Douglass Fairbanks, who is to leave the stage and go into the soap business; there is a motto booth, there is a tobacco booth, and there are booths for all sorts of commercial articles, and even for the sale of real estate.

Vaudeville and Side Show.

Probably one of the most popular attractions of all is to be the vaudeville, where on may see such performers as Robert Mantell, Vesta Victoria, Alice Lloyd, James J. Corbett, Mary Shaw, Ainslee Scott - the actor of 83- and a hundred others who have volunteered their services.

The wonders of the Green Room Side Show are not to be slighted. There one may see the human skeleton, the wild man from Harlem, who has a marvelously savage head of hair and is confined behind bars on which he thrums [sic]; the Albino girl, the giant, and various other alleged monstrosities from foreign climes. The showman will explain all about them and the barker will advertise them. Speaking of barkers, the Lambs' Club has an expert in its service. He stands in the Grand Tier, between the roofs of two Shakespearean houses, and with the aid of a megaphone explains repeatedly that "Douglass Faribanks is serving lunch in the Lambs' Club Cozy Corner. Richard Golden is a waiter. Vincent Serrano is a waiter, too, and handsome Charley Wayne is there to seat you."

However, when all is said, the greatest game at the Actors' Fund Fair is something that has not been sufficiently advertised. This is the game of trying to recognize all your favorite actresses and Broadway show girls in their gala costumes off the stage. You may take it as a tip that many of them are to be found at the hat booth.

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