The Gilded Gentleman

History Podcasts

The Gilded Gentleman history podcast takes listeners on a cultural and social journey into the mansions, salons, dining rooms, libraries and theatres including the worlds above as well as below stairs of America's Gilded Age, France's Belle Epoque and late Victorian and Edwardian England.


United States


The Gilded Gentleman history podcast takes listeners on a cultural and social journey into the mansions, salons, dining rooms, libraries and theatres including the worlds above as well as below stairs of America's Gilded Age, France's Belle Epoque and late Victorian and Edwardian England.






Having a Ball: The Gilded Age's Most Outrageous Parties

XXXV. It's an undisputed fact that the Gilded Age was an era (to some) of unbridled excess - provided that one had the money of course. Those with a place in society and those that wanted it were locked in a battle to see who could climb higher up the social ladder and exert a greater influence on just what made up a new emerging "American aristocracy". The grand ball was in many ways the battlefield upon which these social skirmishes were enacted. In this show, we'll take a look at just...


Dandies: Gentlemen of Style from the 19th Century to Today

XXXIV. Just what is - or was - a dandy? Many recall that the early 19th-century tastemaker Beau Brummell was thought of a dandy with his meticulous style, and certainly many think of Oscar Wilde as a dandy. But there were others, including the French poet Charles Baudelaire, who was thought of as the "dark dandy". In this episode, Carl is joined by Natty Adams, author, journalist, maker of fine custom clothing and a self-described "modern dandy", to take a look at just how dandyism evolved...


Edith Wharton's Paris

XXXIII: In celebration of Edith Wharton's birthday on January 24, The Gilded Gentleman takes a look at a very special part of Wharton's life - her life in Paris. Wharton knew Paris from her childhood and made many trips there as a young married adult. But in her early 40's, the city became something more for her - it became a place where she finally felt connected and grounded as a creative and artistic woman. And to her surprise, it was a place where she found romantic love with a man (not...


The Delmonico Way: A Conversation with Max Tucci

XXXII: In celebration of his new book "The Delmonico Way: Sublime Entertaining and Legendary Recipes From The Restaurant That Made New York," author Max Tucci joins The Gilded Gentleman for a talk about food, family history and the real meaning of hospitality. Delmonico's! Just the name was legendary. Edith Wharton mentioned it in her fiction set in the Gilded Age. The dining room hosted royalty and heads of state along with, in later years, Hollywood's most famous stars. And then there was...


Tasting Stars: The Sparkling History of Champagne

XXX!. Champagne is unquestionably the world's most glamorous drink and has been used for centuries to celebrate everything from weddings and birthdays to royal coronations. It was the drink of choice for formal gatherings in the Gilded Age, the Belle Epoque and Victorian England. But there's so much more to understanding champagne than just enjoying the bubbles and the fizz. Champagne has a long and often misrepresented history that combines serendipity, ingenuity and sheer marketing...


Christmas in Old New York and a Chat with Charles Dickens

XXX. Christmas and the holiday season is always extra special in New York City. From all the lights and the traditional treats of the Radio City Rockettes to the tree at Rockefeller Center and performances around the city of The Nutcracker, it's hard not to feel festive. In this episode, professional New York City tour guide and speaker, Jeff Dobbins joins Carl for a look at the city's holiday traditions dating back to the early Dutch days of New Amsterdam up the the Gilded Age and the...


Jenny Lind At Castle Garden

XXIX. As a special bonus, enjoy this episode from the Bowery Boys Archives in which Greg Young and Tom Meyers tell the truly fascinating story of Jenny Lind, a 19th century soprano known as "the Swedish nightingale". Jenny came to America and made her concert debut in 1851 under the management of master showman PT Barnum. Barnum's relentless marketing and Jenny Lind, whose appearances caused enormous sold out crowds, a publicity frenzy and even the creation of merchandise with her name and...


A Conversation with Kate Aldrich, Acclaimed Mezzo-Soprano: Lillian Nordica Part 2

XXVIII. International mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich has a career that has included performances around the world from New York's Metropolitan Opera to Milan's La Scala and the Opera Bastille in Paris. In today's interview she shares some perspective on the life and career of Lillian Nordica as well as the excitement and realities for a modern singer on the international stage. Kate has been called "the Carmen of this generation" (San Francisco Sentinel) and in this conversation she shares...


Lillian Nordica, Part 1: The Making of a Gilded Age Soprano Superstar

XXVII. The glamour of the Gilded Age was found not only at dinner parties and balls but in theatres and opera houses as well. Lillian Nordica, originally from the small town of Farmington, Maine, rose to the heights of operatic stardom both in Europe and here in America in the last years of the Gilded Age and the early years of the 20th century. Her unlikely story, little known today, combines a hardworking background of near poverty with the audiences and applause, the diamonds and gowns...


The Gilded Page: A Conversation with Jessica Fellowes

XXVI. Jessica Fellowes is known to listeners as the best-selling author of the five companion books to the Downton Abbey television series, which was created by her uncle, Julian Fellowes. An accomplished journalist, novelist and public speaker, Jessica went on to write a unique and tremendously popular mystery series using the world of the famed Mitford family in the 1920's and 1930's as a backdrop. Most recently, Jessica has published a stunning new novel on the subject of life-long...


100 Years of Emily Post's Etiquette: The Simple Art of Getting Along

XXVI. In July 1922 an unassuming book with a rich blue cover landed on bookstore shelves. Titled simply "Etiquette" by a moderately successful writer named Emily Post, the book went on to become a cornerstone of America's social fabric. Now, 100 years later, Emily's original book has been entirely rewritten by her great-great grandchildren for a new generation while maintaining the spirit and philosophy of Emily Post's original intentions. Join The Gilded Gentleman for this unique look at...


A Forgotten Real-Life Gilded Gentleman: The World of Effingham Nichols

XXV. The Merchant's House Museum is one of New York City's most important and cherished historic house museums. Built in 1832 and still intact to this day, the house was home to patriarch Seabury Tredwell and his family for just about 100 years before opening to the public as a museum in 1933. Nowhere can one see the antebellum world of Old New York quite as clearly one can see here with much of the family's original furniture and belongings still in place. Hidden in the Tredwell family...


Chicago's Bertha Palmer: More than Mrs. Astor

Bertha Palmer was the wife of Potter Palmer whose famous Chicago hotel, the Palmer House, was one of the grandest of the Gilded Age. Bertha has been compared to the queen of New York society, Mrs. Astor. However, as my guest, historian Tom Miller shares in this week's show, that comparison minimizes who Bertha Palmer truly was. While both women ran and ruled society in their respective cities, Bertha was in many ways the more complex and deeper character. Among her many accomplishments, she...


Where Dreams are Dreamt: The Gardens of Beatrix Farrand

Beatrix Farrand, Edith Wharton's niece, was born during New York's Gilded Age and went on to become the first successful female landscape designer of the early 20th century. Her path was not easy, since any career for a woman held challenges at the time and landscape design was at that point a man's domain. But her perseverance, determination, business acumen and exceptional talent led her to create some of America's most beautiful gardens, including Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, DC and...


Beneath the Gold: "The Gilded Age" with Tom Meyers of The Bowery Boys

XXII.Julian Fellowes' new series on HBO "The Gilded Age" fascinated viewers with its complex plotlines and endlessly entertaining characters, some of whom were based on actual historical figures. The show depicted the enormity of the age in so many of its social, political and cultural layers. It also raised so many new insights and new viewpoints on this (not always glittering) age. Tom Meyers of The Bowery Boys joins me for this show to take an even deeper look at the Gilded Age -- both...


English Country House Style: Nancy Lancaster and Nancy Astor

XXI. While the sumptuous dinner parties and grand country house weekends of years past may have vanished, the secrets of elegant entertaining and hospitality live on. Nancy Lancaster and Nancy Astor, two American born women, entered upper class British society in the early 20th century and brought the traditions of great Southern American hospitality to some of England's greatest estates including the renowned Cliveden. In recent years, Emily Astor and Jane Churchill, descendants of Nancy...


Dancing with the Green Fairy: The Mysteries of Absinthe

XX. Absinthe was one of the most popular and most mysterious drinks that fueled Paris and London's cafe society and artistic circles in the Belle Epoque and late Victorian and Edwardian worlds. Artists and writers from Henri Toulouse-Lautrec to Marcel Proust and Oscar Wilde were proponents along with members of the upper classes as well as everyday workers. Myths sprang up that the elixir created dramatic hallucinations and even provoked ghastly crimes. It became banned throughout most of...


Creating Drama with Edith Wharton, Henry James and Jennie Jerome

XIX. Edith Wharton's novels were full of drama of course but so were moments from her own actual life. Jennie Jerome -- Lady Randolph Churchill, the mother of Winston Churchill -- also had a life of high drama, public scrutiny and moments of happiness as well as tragedy. Join Carl and his guest, playwright and actor, Anne Undeland as they discuss how she dramatized the characters of Edith Wharton and Jennie Jerome -- as well as Henry James -- in Undeland's plays "Mr. Fullerton Between the...


Stealing a Smile: The Theft of the Mona Lisa, Paris 1911

XVIII. The enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa has captured the attention of the public for centuries. But even today, few people actually realize that on a warm summer morning in Paris in 1911, the painting was actually stolen. Press hysteria surrounding this unusual theft made the masterwork of DaVinci's quite simply the most famous painting in the world. But much is still murky in the story of its theft and recovery. Join The Gilded Gentleman as he takes a look at this case and and attempts...


Victory and Apollo: Black Artists Models Hettie Anderson and Thomas McKeller

XVII. Gazing up at the dramatic gilded statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman being led into battle by the allegorical figure of Victory in New York's Grand Army Plaza or staring at the mythological figures that are painted on the Rotunda ceiling of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, one can't help but be struck by the beauty, majesty and power of elements in these works. Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens' model for the image of Victory on the Sherman monument was a mixed race woman named...