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What Happened on Twenty-third Street, New York City (August, 1901)

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What Happened on Twenty-third Street

Released in August 1901: 80 seconds of motion picture history, and possibly the inspiration for Marilyn Monroe's most famous photo, Alfred Abadie, a cameraman for Thomas Edison walks with a willing Florence Georgie over an air grate in 1901 New York City.

Directed by unknown

The Actors: Alfred Abadie (the man), Florence Georgie (the woman).


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What-Happened-1901.mp4 (7mb - 720x540 ipad/mobile)
What-Happened-1901.wmv (14mb - 720x540 for computers)

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23 Skiddoo and Marilyn Monroe

My passion for the early days of motion pictures is fueled by my interest in history and the people that came before us. With the invention of motion pictures for the first time in the history of mankind future generations are blessed with the opportunity to watch how our ancestors walked, talked and acted in the world that came before we were born. On a warm day in August of 1901, when Thomas Edison was still experimenting with motion pictures, one of his cameramen and a willing lady went to Twenty-third street and 6th Avenue in New York City. A director-cameraman set up a motion picture camera and sent the couple up the street in preparation for a most titillating adventure in film making. As the camera rolled on that sunny afternoon we see an amazing look at typical street life in 1901 New York City. You can see startled passers-by as they see the camera and get out of the way, and a young fellow mesmerized by the camera who stands staring at it intently. Then our couple walks into the scene, and when they deliberately pass over the famous air grate, her billowy skirts blow up exposing her legs from the knee down. Scandalous for 1901, and surely would have been censored if the Hays Office had existed. If you are old enough, you may remember the phrase '23 skidoo' - and wondered what it meant. I am told that after this 80 second motion picture was shown to audiences in New York City it became the fashion for young men to hang around the area hoping to catch a passing girl walking over that grate. Police officers assigned to Twenty-third street were constantly shooing boys away saying things like, 'skidoo young fellow, skedaddle along now. . . .' Soon it was common for people asked to leave an area to refer to it as getting the '23 skidoo.' Quite possibly this adventurous scene was the inspiration for the most famous photo of Marilyn Monroe from her movie The Seven Year Itch.