Slapstick Summer Series: Vaudevillians | Robetta and Doretto, No. 2 (1895)

Short recording of 1890s vaudeville slapstick act, “Robetta and Doretto”, performing one of their routines (Chinese Laundry Scene). It’s funny that even in these plot-less few seconds we glimpse elements familiar from the earliest slapstick movies.


1st Movie Soundtrack and Musical Score

Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894) – William K.L. Dickson

This is the world’s first known experiment in creating a movie with a synchronized soundtrack. Filmed in Thomas Edison’s Black Maria studio, it features director W.K.L. Dickson playing on violin a piece of “The Chimes at Midnight”, an opera by Jean Robert Planquette.

1st Movie Kiss

The May Irwin Kiss (1896) – William Heise

The May Irwin Kiss (aka The John C. Rice-May Irwin Kiss) is a controversial re-enactment of the performers’ end-scene kiss from the stage musical, “The Widow Jones”, written by John J. McNally. The filmed action results in the world’s first on-screen kiss.

1st Hand-Tinted Movie

Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1895) – William K.L. Dickson

The 1st hand tinted movie, Annabelle Serpentine Dance, was filmed in Edison’s Black Maria Studios. Annabelle Moore, a young dancer from Broadway, is dressed in white veils that appear to change colors as she dances.

1st Woman in a Movie

Carmencita (1894) – William K.L. Dickson

The 1st woman to appear in front of an Edison motion picture camera and possibly the 1st woman to appear in a motion picture within the United States. In the film, Carmencita is recorded going through a routine she had been performing at Koster & Bial’s in New York since February 1890.

1st Commercially Exhibited Movie

Blacksmith Scene (1893) – William K.L. Dickson

The 1st commercially exhibited film and the 1st staged scene with actors performing a role, Blacksmith Scene is a Kinetoscope film first shown on May 9, 1893. It was filmed entirely within the Black Maria studio at West Orange, New Jersey, in the USA, which is widely referred to as “America’s First Movie Studio”.

The scene is all filmed from a stationary camera. On screen is a large anvil with a blacksmith behind it and one to either side (portrayed by Edison employees). The smith in the middle uses a heated metal rod he has removed from a fire and places it on the anvil. All three begin a rhythmic hammering. After several blows the metal rod is returned to the fire. One smith pulls out a bottle of beer, and they each take a drink. Following this drink they then resume their work.

1st Publicly Shown Movie

Dickson Greeting (1891) – William K. L. Dickson

Believed to be the 1st movie shown in public, Dickson Greeting was played for viewers at National Federation of Women’s Clubs. Directed and starring motion-picture pioneer William Dickson, it displays a 3 second clip of him passing a hat in front of himself, and reaching for it with his other hand. It was filmed on May 20, 1891 in the Photographic Building at Edison’s Black Maria studio, West Orange, New Jersey, in collaboration with Thomas Edison using his kinetograph.