Current and Coming features detailed information about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania. Originated as “Currents.” Retitled “Current and Coming,” Winter 2003, and then retitled “Out and About,” Fall 2005. Revived as “Current and Coming,” Winter 2013. Ran regularly, Spring 1984 to Spring 2008, and then occasionally, Winter 2013 to Spring 2015.

Jimmy Stewart

Upon his death at the age of eighty-­nine, James Maitland Stewart (1908-1997) – Jimmy Stewart to adoring fans throughout the world – was described by Washington Post staff writer Bart Barnes as “a motion picture Olympian with an all-American image and a universal appeal whose roles as a movie actor helped define a national culture.” During his career, he made more than eighty films, beginning in 1935 with The Murder Man, which included mysteries, romance, comedies, and high drama. Many remember him for the quiet dignity he brought to film. He is also remembered for his Pennsylvania associations.

Stewart was born in Indiana, Indiana County, the eldest child of Elizabeth Jackson and Alexander M. Stewart. His father, a 1898 graduate of Princeton University, operated a successful family hardware store in Indiana, founded in 1853. The young Stewart attended Mer­cersburg Academy, established in 1893, in Mercersburg, Franklin County, after which he studied architecture at Princeton University. During his college years, he joined a fledgling theater group, the University Players, and after graduation in 1932 began working on Broadway. Three years later Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer gave him his first movie contract and Stewart moved to Hollywood, where he shared an apartment with actor Henry Fonda. Within a year, he appeared in several movies, among them Rose Marie, Wife vs. Secretary, Small Town Girl, and After the Thin Man. In 1939, he was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor for his performance in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Stewart earned an Oscar in 1940 for his role in an enormously popular motion picture whose roots in the Key­stone State ran deep. He appeared as magazine reporter Macauley Connors in director George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story, also starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn, a graduate – like her mother, Katharine Houghton Hepburn – of Bryn Mawr Col­lege, played the part of Tracy Lord, based on the life of glamorous Philadelphia socialite Helen Hope Montgomery Scott (1905-1995). The daughter of Colonel Robert L. Montgomery, head of a wealthy and distinguished family, Hope Montgomery made her formal entrance into society as a debutante at Philadel­phia’s Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in 1922 – during which she received four wedding proposals! At a dinner party the following year on the Main Line, she met “an older man,” twenty-four-year-old Edgar Scott, heir to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company fortune, and a Yale classmate of playwright Philip Barry, who wrote The Philadelphia Story. Their son, philanthropist Robert Montgomery Scott, former president of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, received, in 1996, a Governor’s Award for the Arts, a program administered by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, for leadership in, and service to, the arts.

Another Pennsylvanian added to the rich mix – none other than Grace Kelly, who played Tracy Samantha Lord in the highly entertaining musical remake of The Philadelphia Story, director Charles Walters’s High Society (1956). Starring Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, High Society was the last film Kelly made before her marriage to Monaco’s Prince Ranier.

Jimmy Stewart’s career spanned five decades, during which he played real-life heroes and ordinary people, pioneers, cowboys, lawmen, military officers, businessmen, reporters, politicians, and fools and wise men. He played an idealistic young senator fighting the entrenched political establishment in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Charles Lindbergh flying across the Atlantic in The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), and a shrewd country lawyer outwitting the city slickers in Anatomy of a Murder (1959). He played opposite the leading actresses of his time, including Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Ginger Rogers, Jean Arthur, Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford, Claudette Colbert, Ros­alind Russell, Grace Kelly, June Allyson, and Kim Novak. He outlived nearly all of the leading men of the early years of Hollywood, among them Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, James Cagney, Henry Fonda, Fred Astaire, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, and Gary Cooper.

To audiences around the world, Stew­art is remembered as the hero of such Alfred Hitchcock suspense thrillers as Rear Window (1954), during which he dangled from an apartment window ledge in New York City’s Greenwich Village, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Vertigo (1958). His favorite role was the civic-minded yet tormented George Bailey, saved from suicide by his guardian angel in It’s a Wonderful Life, which has become a Christmas season classic – despite the fact that it was a commercial disaster when it was released. In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, he delivered one of the more memorable lines of his career: “I wouldn’t give you two cents for all your fancy rules if behind them they didn’t have a little bit of plain, ordinary kindness, and a little lookin’ out for the other fella.”

On the screen, Stewart projected a presence that was self-effacing and mod­est. He could be engagingly awkward, sometimes delivering his lines with a slight stammer, winning over movie viewers and critics alike. Most of his roles, however, evoked the cinematic epitome of common sense and common decency. He was the proverbial “boy-­next-door.” His style of acting seemed effortless and natural, and he established an easy rapport with his audiences. He often said that one of the hardest and most difficult aspects of his work was making his acting appear effortless. In fact, it required hard work and concen­tration, and Stewart was a tough and demanding taskmaster on himself.

The Jimmy Stewart Museum, located in the actor ‘s hometown, not far from the former J.M. Stewart Hardware Store on Philadelphia Street – where Alexander Stewart displayed for many years the Oscar his son won for The Philadelphia Story – chronicles the storybook life and celebrated career of one of twentieth-century Hollywood’s brightest stars. Housed in the Indiana Public Library, the museum offers movie buffs and Stewart fans a look at the actor and his family, from a nineteenth-century daguerreotype of his grandfather and his father’s old desk from the family store to original movie posters, theater lobby cards, photographs, and awards. The exhibits feature mementos selected by the actor himself to represent various phases of his career, such as a propeller blade autographed by the cast and crew of Flight of the Phoenix (1965), a psychological thriller directed by Robert Aldrich. In addition to galleries highlighting Stewart’s celebrity, the museum also houses an intimate, 1930s-style movie theater where visitors can enjoy film clips and career retrospectives.

For more information, write: Jimmy Stewart Museum, 845 Philadelphia St., Indiana, PA 15701; telephone (724) 349- 6112 or toll-free (800) 835-4669; or visit the Jimmy Stewart Museum website. Admission is charged.


Times of Change

Tracing the development of American art following the landmark Armory Show of 1913 – which introduced explosive new ideas of modernism to many Americans – until the end of World War II, “Times of Change, 1913-1945: Master­pieces of the Permanent Collection,” on exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), Philadelphia, illustrates the tremendous spirit and energy of the new twentieth century at a critical juncture in the nation’s history. The artists of the period witnessed prodigious and extremely rapid economic, social, geographic, political, and cultural changes, driven largely by advances in technology and industry. The works of art they created recorded the rise of cities and the working class, social upheaval, and the disparity of wealth, new and unprecedented roles for women, the influx of immigrant labor, and the mounting tensions of race relations and class distinctions.

While witnessing such rapid changes of the new century, the artists also faced decisions about the direction of modern art, derived from European models and developed at home. Artists of the time chose between realism and abstraction, or forged their own stylistic advances by exploring combinations of the two.

“Times of Change, 1913-1945: Master­pieces of the Permanent Collection” showcases works by Pennsylvania Academy alumni, including John Marin, Charles Demuth, and Arthur B. Carles, and pieces by Milton Avery, Lionel Feininger, Isabel Bishop, Thomas Hart Benton, Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis, Georgia O’Keefe, Charles Burchfield, Guy Pene du Bois, Gaston Lachaise, Reginald Marsh, William Grop­per, Charles Sheeler, Robert Gwathmey, Horace Pippin, Florine Stettheimer, and Walker Hancock, among others. The exhibition is part of an ongoing series highlighting PAFA collections, alumni, and history.

The exhibition continues through Sun­day, April 4, 2004.

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, recognized as the nation’s first art museum and school of fine arts, will observe its bicentennial in 2005 with the opening of the Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building at Broad and Cherry Streets, adjacent to the historic landmark building designed by the architectural partnership of Frank Furness (1839-1912) and George W. Hewitt (1841-1916) and completed in 1876. PAFA collects and exhibits the work of distinguished American artists and is renowned for its reputation in training artists from across the United States and, increasingly, from throughout the world. Notable alumni include Thomas Eakins, Robert Henri, Cecilia Beaux, John Sloan, Mary Cassatt, and Maxfield Parrish.

To obtain additional information, write: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118 North Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19102; telephone (215) 972-7600; or visit the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts website. There is an admission charge.


Sweet Kisses

Since their introduction in 1907 by candymaker Milton S. Hershey (1857-1945) Hershey’s Kisses, small, bite­sized chocolates, have become known the world over. To showcase the candy’s unusual history and cultural significance, the Hershey Museum has recently unwrapped a major, long-term exhibit, “KISSTORY: The Story of An American Icon.” The latest of the museum’s long-­term installations reveals the fascinating stories behind one of America’s most popular and enduring sweets through colorful vignettes, interactive displays, and equipment actually used in the production process.

While it’s not known how the Kisses received their name, a popular theory holds that the candy was named for the “smooching” sound the liquid chocolate made when it dropped to the conveyor belt during manufacturing. Another suggests that it is derived from the puckering sound made when popped the mouth. The truth has been lost in history, fueling much conjecture and speculation.

To make Kisses, chocolate is deposited by machines onto a continuously moving stainless steel belt. The chocolate moves through a cooling tunnel for approximately eighteen minutes before emerging as a solid product. Any imperfectly wrapped candy is rejected . Before automated wrapping machines were developed in 1921, each Kiss was individually wrapped in silver foil squares by hand. Today, machines wrap up to thirteen hundred Kisses a minute and Hershey’s Pennsylvania and Oakdale, California, plants produce thirty-three million Kisses daily, for more than twelve billion pieces each year.

While the shape and configuration of Hershey’s Kisses have not changed since their introduction, there were several changes in the early decades of the twentieth century, such as the experimentation with chocolate formulas, in addition to the standard milk chocolate, but none have been produced since 1931 . Other Hershey names familiar to longtime chocolate lovers include Sweethearts (1900-1918), a vanilla sweet chocolate product with the shape of a heart imprinted on the base; Sil­ver Tops (1909-1931), specially produced for individual sale; and Silver Points (1918-1929), a candy made with a chocolate paste containing a higher percentage of milk. The company also marketed Silver Bells and Liberty Bells, named for an obvious reason.

The manufacture of Hershey’s Kisses has been interrupted only once since their debut near a century ago. The candy was not manufactured for seven years, from 1942 to 1949, due to the rationing of sil­ver foil during and following World War II. During the war, the ingredient mixing units were utilized for tempering military ration bar chocolate paste. Company officials estimate that more than 1.6 billion ration bars were shipped to troops serving overseas. Production of Kisses resumed when an adequate supply of foil was assured.

Hershey received a trademark in 1924 for the paper “plume” extending out of the foil wrapper. Previously, when wrapped by hand, a small slice of paper had been hidden in the foil. Unscrupulous competitors were able to fool unsuspecting consumers with imitations of Kisses – until the plume topped each genuine candy.

“KISSTORY: The Story of An American Icon,” divided into four themed areas, covers a variety of topics, such as the story behind the naming of the candy; innovative production and wrapping methods; the significance of the trademark plume; early packaging, promotions, and advertising; the company’s contributions during the war years; and the evolution of new product lines. The installation features the huge, five hundred-pound gold­-foiled Kiss dropped from the company’s Times Square retail location that accompanied the announcement of the introduction of Hershey’s Kisses with Almonds; a Racine Depositor, a machine used in the early manufacturing process; and Kiss-shaped street lights that have graced the community’s Chocolate Avenue since 1963.

The exhibition articulates the museum’s mission to relate the many stories of Hershey – the man, the company town he cre­ated, and the candy empire he founded.

Additional information is available by writing: Hershey Museum, 170 West Her­sheypark Dr., Hershey, PA 17033; by tele­phoning (717) 534-3439; or by visiting the Hershey Museum website. Admission is charged.