Lightnin'


Lightnin'
   Winchell Smith and Frank Bacon collaborated on this remarkably long-running hit, which opened on 26 August 1918 for a phenomenal 1,291 performances at the Gaiety Theatre, produced by John Golden. Bacon played "Lightnin'" Bill Jones, a bragging drunk, who owns a hotel sitting on the California/Nevada border. The hotel, run by Jones's wife, features a line painted down the middle of the lobby indicating the borders of the two states. Mrs. Jones, along with Lightnin's young friend, John Marvin (played by Ralph Morgan), are bilked by two shady speculators who convince Mrs. Jones to sell the hotel to them, but when Lightnin' refuses to cosign the agreement, Mrs. Jones threatens divorce. However, Lightnin' saves his marriage and John's fortunes by revealing the duplicity of the speculators. Lightnin' was the longest running play of its day until Abie's Irish Rose surpassed it in the mid-1920s. John Ford made a motion picture version in 1925. An early "talkie" starring Will Rogers was a hit in 1930. Revived on stage in 1938 with Fred Stone, Lightnin' closed after 54 performances.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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