gillette.jpg The curved pipe, deerstalker cap and Inverness cape were not the invention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Sidney Paget, the illustrator for The Strand magazine which first published the Sherlock Holmes stories, concocted the pipe and cap, but it was American actor, William Gillette who made these props famous.

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Mr. Gillette was a big star of the late Victorian stage, under the wing of the legendary Charles Frohman who managed the careers of many famous actors such as Maude Adams, Billie Burke, John Drew, Ethel Barrymore, Nat Goodwin, George du Maurier, Marie Tempest, Seymour Hicks, and Ellaline Terris, to name but a few.  Frohman would die in 1915 in the sinking of the Lusitania, quoting Barrie as the ship was going down in lines from Peter Pan – “Why fear death? It is the most beautiful adventure in life.”

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A proposed field trip for the spring or summer meeting is Gillette’s Castle- a bizarre construction of Gillette’s own design which was finished in 1919.  The castle overlooks the Connecticut River in East Haddam, and can be reached by a ride on an old steam train from Essex station.  Even Conan Doyle would approve!  http://www.essexsteamtrain.com/gillette.html