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The Great Clivette: Greenwich Village’s Renaissance Man
Village Preservation

The Great Clivette: Greenwich Village’s Renaissance Man

In this talk, Michael David MacBride discusses his book, The Great Clivette: Renaissance Man, Artist, Magician, Acrobat, Shadowgraphist, Mindreader and so much more, which comes out this month. A resident of 1 Sheridan Square, he retired to the Greenwich Village to focus on his painting. He was enrolled in the Arts Students League around 1906 and studied under masters known for the Greenwich Village influence such as John La Farge and William Merritt Chase. He lived a life as full-time painter, entrepreneur, and landlord after retiring from the stage to Greenwich Village and that storied address. Merton Clivette once dominated the 1920s and 1930s art world; ruled the Orpheum Circuit as a magician, shadowgraphist, mindreader, and acrobat; performed in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show; worked with Houdini and PT Barnum; inspired Mark Twain; and taught Sir Arthur Conan Doyle how to be a medium. But, after his death in 1931, he essentially disappeared from the history books. This new biography by Michael David MacBride seeks to rectify that. MacBride collaborated with the Clivette Estate and utilized their archives to write a book as if from Clivette’s own hand. In keeping with Clivette’s journals, letters, and books he wrote during his lifetime, the new book—The Great Clivette—tells the full story of Clivette’s life for the first time. Clivette’s family member, Chris Lieber, will join Michael to discuss Clivette’s legacy. Join us as we discuss this historical figure as we ensure he’s included in the history books on our neighborhoods. Michael David MacBride is originally from Michigan, but now calls Minnesota home. Michael received his PhD in 19th century American and 18th century British Literature, but his true focus was 1870-1930. He studied Mark Twain and the period of American history from 1780-1930, and sought out the odd and unusual moments of history. Michael has written academic books about pedagogy and cultural studies, non-fiction about LGBTIA+ history, contemporary “bookclub” fiction, speculative/science fiction, and a series of mid-grade interactive detective books.
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