The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M.B. Curtis | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M.B. Curtis
with author Richard Schwartz

Thursday, July 6, 2023 - 6:00pm

A picaresque biography of immigrant and entrepreneur M.B. Curtis of San Francisco, whose claim to fame was on stage and in silent films, but also includes many extraordinary ventures.

Winner of the 2018 Bronze IPPY for biography, The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M.B. Curtis tells the biography of immigrant actor M.B. Curtis who saved the Statue of Liberty in 1886, though his actions were forgotten. Curtis’ rise and fall from grace is a dramatic arc that rivals anything created for stage. Actor, producer, real estate developer, promoter, hotelier, benefactor, and murder suspect, M.B. Curtis’s life encompassed the highs of celebrity and fame as well as the lows of failure, illness, and a faltering career.

Richard Schwartz is a historian and the author of Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley; Earthquake Exodus, 1906; Berkeley 1900; and The Circle of Stones. Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he graduated from Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. An outdoor enthusiast and animal lover, Schwartz worked on a Pennsylvania Dutch farm for two years before heading west to find higher mountains. He now lives in Berkeley, California, where he works as a building contractor and documents early Native American sites in the Bay Area. The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty (April 2017) is his fifth book and was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick Library to be included in their collection. The book was also recently awarded the bronze medal in the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards.






Mechanics Institute Members FREE


Public sliding scale, $5 to $10


Meet the Author(s)

Members of Mechanics' Institute Free
Public sliding scale $5 to $10
Register now ›
4th Floor Meeting Room
Pam Troy - 415-393-0116
Register now by using the form below or calling 415-393-0116.

Future Meet the Author(s)

Jun 16 - 6:00pm

Bloomsday 2023
with Anne Bingham Goess (fiddle, vocals), Ellen Hoffman (piano) with singers and actors John Ilyin, Esther Mulligan and Simon Winheld

Jun 20 - 6:00pm

Author Talk with Grandmaster Vinay Bhat
How I Became a Chess Grandmaster

Jun 29 - 6:30pm

NEA Big Read Finale
NEA Big Read "Interior Chinatown" Grand Finale with Chef Martin Yan

Jul 14 - 7:00pm

Bastille Day Concert
with Le Jazz Hot Quartet

Jul 20 - 6:00pm

Summer Espionage
with authors Linda Joy Myers (The Forger of Marseilles) and Leslie Absher (Spy Daughter, Queer Girl)