The Emperor's Bridge Campaign

TO HONOR THE LIFE + ADVANCE THE LEGACY OF EMPEROR NORTON

RESEARCH • EDUCATION • ADVOCACY

Filtering by Category: Legacy

Campaign Receives Major Pledge to Help Fund Limited-Edition Compilation Album of "Emperor Songs"

On the eve of a crowdfunding campaign in support of its project to produce a compilation album of “Emperor songs” — songs about, or in some way inspired by, Emperor Norton — the Campaign has received a pledge of $3,000 for the project — which represents one-half of the projected $6,000 needed to pay for all costs associated with producing and distributing the album, including engineering, design, vinyl pressing, shipping materials and postage.

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The Emperor Norton Rooms of 1961

In spring 1961, two establishments opened in San Francisco.

One was a hotel bar on Geary Street. The other was a lunch spot and cocktail lounge on Maiden Lane.

Both were less than two blocks from Union Square.

One was created by a designer who went on to be celebrated in the pages of the Architectural Digest. It had an "Emperor Norton" doorman. And, per Herb Caen, it once was host to Jack Dempsey and Lefty O'Doul — sharing a bowl of peanuts on the same night.

The other was home to a new portrait of the Emperor commissioned by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Both were called the Emperor Norton Room.

Here’s the intriguing story of two Nortonian stars that briefly rose and just as quickly fell in the same San Francisco season.

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Emperor Norton Plaque Restored

A well-known and fondly regarded Emperor Norton plaque created in 1939 most recently was installed at San Francisco’s old Transbay Terminal for 34 years — from November 1986 until the terminal was prepared for demolition in late 2010.

The weathered bronze plaque has been out of the public view for the last 8 years. But, recently, the plaque was lovingly restored — and plans are moving forward to reinstall the plaque at the new Transbay Transit Center.

Read on for a photograph of the plaque as most have never seen it — and for details on the location now being eyed for this rare and wonderful tribute to the Emperor.

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New Life for an 1879 Drawing of Emperor Norton

On 9 November 1879 — just two months before Emperor Norton's death — the San Francisco Chronicle published a Sunday front-page profile of the Emperor that was based on rare interview with the Emperor himself.

The profile was accompanied by a lovely drawing of the Emperor that was reproduced 60 years later for Allen Stanley Lane's 1939 biography, Emperor Norton: The Mad Monarch of America — but that has languished since then.

The Emperor's Bridge Campaign has had a new photographic print made of the drawing and has added a hi-res scan of it to ARENA, our digital ARchive of Emperor Norton in Art.

Learn more and see the drawing, after the flip.  

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LIGHTS! CAMERA! NORTON! A Campaign Fundraiser

On Thursday 23 March, The Emperor’s Bridge Campaign presents Lights! Camera! Norton! —  an evening of three films about Emperor Norton at the legendary Roxie Theater in San Francisco.

The event includes a screening of our own 35mm print of a 1936 short that we believe features the earliest dramatic portrayal of the Emperor on film.

This special evening takes place in the 254-seat Big Roxie theater and is a fundraiser for the Campaign: After the first 50 tickets sold, 50 percent of all proceeds from this screening will benefit The Campaign.

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Admiral Santa Norton Claus

In 1926, San Francisco-born artist Charles William Saalburg penned an article for The New York Times, in which he recalled many of the storied figures that peopled the San Francisco of his younger years. The piece featured Saalburg's own illustrations of these characters, including an undated rendering of Emperor Norton, which he depicted — perhaps from childhood memory — as a Santa Claus figure with an admiral's hat.

Saalburg's illustration of the Emperor is included in the Paintings gallery of ARENA, the Campaign's digital Archive of Emperor Norton in Art, Music & Film. 

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An Evening of Artists in Conversation About Emperor Norton

At a special event on Thursday 13 October, titled My Emperor, My Muse, The Emperor's Bridge Campaign will bring together an eclectic and interesting mix of people — artists who've created specific Emperor-themed works and others who have thought deeply about Emperor Norton — for a conversation about the Emperor's abiding cultural import as an avatar of whimsy, openness, tolerance and fair play.

We'll learn why Emperor Norton moves these people; how he has shaped their projects; why they think the Emperor remains a cultural touchstone; and the role that they think art can play in shaping and polishing the stone.

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The Emperor Norton Sundae: Vintage Ghirardelli Menus Edition

For at least 50 years, it appears, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company featured on the menu of its shops an Emperor Norton Sundae. Ghirardelli discontinued the Emperor Norton in 2004, possibly earlier but evidence of the Emperor remains in this little collection of Ghirardelli menus from the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

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Sleuthing the Origins of an Early Film Portrayal of Emperor Norton

At the recent San Francisco History Days fair at the city's landmark Old Mint building, Stephen Parr of the San Francisco Media Archive and Oddball Films screened a rarity from the Oddball archive — a 1947 film short titled Emperor Norton, from the Academic Film Company.

In fact, Emperor Norton is a retitled reissue of the film The Story of Norton I, made by Columbia Pictures in 1936. This may be the earliest film portrayal of the Emperor.

We haven't yet connected all the dots. But the picture of this film is much clearer than it was. It's a fascinating story.

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