Cap’s Off to You! – Hal Holbrook (Posthumously) and Celebrating Story

Featuring: Hal Holbrook

Convincing Mark Twain, Phenomenal Actor, Thoughtful Author

Hal Holbrook has inspired many people to look into living history. Some people would claim that Hal was a second Mark Twain. For me, I have known many storytellers who are fantastic at portraying Mark Twain. I would be curious as to how many years these people have been Mark Twain and compare to Hal Holbrook. It would not be a contest, only to see if those same people could connect their love of Mark Twain to Hal Holbrook. When listening to Hal become Mark, I was transported…as is usual for anyone who is wonderful at storytelling.

Perhaps Hal was seen more in the world due to all the awards he won. Perhaps. But is that really what makes a person. I wondered what Hal would have said was his favorite Mark Twain quote. What got him on that path? There are hints here and there in the life he lived. He developed that one-man show of “Mark Twain Tonight!” back in 1954. Only 12 years later, he won a Tony for his one-man show. Even at the age of 91, he toured this show. Wow! Who can claim more than 60 years of performing a show? Let alone 50 years or 40 years? Hal passed away at age 95…and I am sure he was still quoting Mark Twain to the end.

He was nominated for an Academy Award (“Into the Wild”), he won four Emmy Awards, and he was seen in many notable films. In between it all, he wrote books. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio and died in Beverly Hills, California. He was buried in McLemoresville, Tennessee next to his wife, Dixie. Those are short lines that reveal that much happened within those three places.

What I love is that Hal grew the living history world of storytelling. He made it amazing and inspiring so that others would want to take on the mantel of Mark Twain or any other number of historical figures. People did not have to win a Tony or Academy Award or an Emmy. They could simply…be.

Let us remember Hal’s stories and the influence he still has across the storytelling, acting, and writing worlds.

If you have links to add – video, audio, articles – please share by emailing info@storycrossroads.org or commenting on this blog post.

You can see more details on Hal Holbrook with the Story Artists Memorial.

Do you know a Story Artist who has passed on and want others to remember them? Memories? Pictures? You can submit names and memories of Story Artists who have passed on through our online form. 

I appreciate Hal Holbrook for his dedication to the craft and showing people that what you love can be something that the world celebrates.

Alice still has a story. You have a story. We all have stories.

Cap’s Off to You!-Alice Kane (Posthumously) and Celebrating Story

Featuring: Alice Kane

Delightful Librarian, Storytelling Pioneer, Enchanting Storyteller

While born in Ireland, she then lived in Canada and co-founded Storytellers School of Toronto. The audacity to create such an organization already brings warmth to my soul. One can always be a storyteller. Not everyone is a leader in the art. Yet, Alice inspired so many including those who had led as well as continue to lead the Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada.

Yet, does it stop in Canada? Of course not. While I never met Alice, I have heard her name whispered or celebrated upon the wind. Yes, much of what she did was in Canada. She was a children’s librarian who then shared stories from the page and gave it life to all who heard. She easily bridged Canada and Ireland, as her stories celebrated her ancestry and gave happy permission to anyone who would wish to share them. She laughed that although a children’s librarian, she told many of her stories to adults and often sang Irish tunes or even was accompanied by an Irish harpist.

One of Alice’s inspirations was Augusta Baker, another name known for creating a foundation for the national and international movement of storytelling. Alice quoted Augusta when she said, “If you recall the story and not the storyteller, then the teller is good.”

So it is fitting that Elinor Benjamin, former president of Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada, told one of Alice’s stories in the video below.

Let us remember Alice’s stories AND her. For she is good. Beyond good.

If you have links to add – video, audio, articles – please share by emailing info@storycrossroads.org or commenting on this blog post.

You can see more details on Alice Kane with the Story Artists Memorial.

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Story told by Elinor Benjamin but was heard first by Elinor on a cassette tape of stories told by Alice Kane. The quality of video is a little off at the beginning but gets better a few seconds later.

Do you know a Story Artist who has passed on and want others to remember them? Memories? Pictures? You can submit names and memories of Story Artists who have passed on through our online form. 

I appreciate Alice Kane for her way to go down the path of storytelling and waving people onward to also continue that path.

Alice still has a story. You have a story. We all have stories.

Cap’s Off to You!-Juel Ulven (Posthumously) and Celebrating Story

Featuring: Juel Ulven

Dedicated Leader, Banjo-Strummer, Heart-Warmer Human

The name Juel Ulven will forever be connected with the Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival. He led with such generosity. I never met him, though I knew of the importance of this Festival that continues on despite his passing. Seen strumming a banjo or sharing music and advice with others, his spirit will be with the 46th Festival coming up Labor Weekend 2022 and forever after.

While learning more about Juel, I noticed a newspaper pictures where he is holding up a sign of the Festival cancelled due to flooding. The last couple of years have brought us COVID and all the adapting for events including for Fox Valley. Juel was no stranger to fighting through the hard stuff. In fact, part of his battle included Long COVID and Leukemia.

Yet the battle continues. Despite declining health, Juel put 100%–nay 300%–in the continued planning of that event. Many volunteers and audience members can attest to his attention to detail and wanting to always be of help. Vel Weiss told me that he organized much from the hospital. Even two weeks before he passed, he participated in some sea shanties virtually.

If you have links to add – video, audio, articles – please share by emailing info@storycrossroads.org or commenting on this blog post.

You can see more details on Juel Ulven with the Story Artists Memorial.

I found it touching that while I had a hard time finding a video of Juel performing, I did find a different artist who was helped by Juel Ulven. This artist wished to find the first song in Carl Sandburg’s “The American Songbag” published in 1927 called “He’s Gone Away.” The artist said in the video description, “I ran across a reference to this book and was poised to order one from Amazon when I asked Juel Ulven if he had a copy. He answered “Several” and offered me one which I gladly accepted.”

The second video gives some flavor to what Juel dedicated so much in leading a wonderful festival. Now, the volunteers of today and those of the tomorrows can honor him forever. What a fitting image that the 2015 Fox Valley Festival shows a banjo.

Do you know a Story Artist who has passed on and want others to remember them? Memories? Pictures? You can submit names and memories of Story Artists who have passed on through our online form. 

I appreciate Juel Ulven for his dream and commitment that provides a legacy to inspire everyone around the world.

Juel still has a story. You have a story. We all have stories.