ADDENDUMS AND CORRECTIONS TO THE 2009 BOOK ABRAHAM LINCOLN ON SCREEN SECOND EDITION BY MARK S. REINHART
PREPARED BY THE AUTHOR, NOVEMBER 2017
pp. 133-135 In my discussion of the 1939 film Lincoln in the White House, I wrote that Sibyl Harris was the actress who played the part of Mary Lincoln in the production. This information is incorrect – Sibyl Harris actually played Mrs. Scott, and Nana Bryant played Mary. Unfortunately, this mistake also occurs in my caption for the photo from the film that shows Lincoln and Mary – so that photo is of Nana Bryant, not Sibyl Harris.
pp. 179-180 My discussion of the 1936 film The Prisoner of Shark Island will require the most attention here. In the first edition and the hardcover second edition of the book, I wrote that the film “accurately depicts the real-life experiences of Samuel Mudd.” This passage is an overstatement, because The Prisoner of Shark Island actually changes many facts relating to Mudd’s life for the sake of dramatic effect.
I then went on to write that “the majority of real-life evidence points to the conclusion that the filmmakers were likely correct in asserting that Mudd was wrongly accused and imprisoned” for his role in Lincoln’s assassination. This passage is also an overstatement, because in reality the evidence relating to Mudd’s involvement in Lincoln's murder has long allowed for both “guilty” and “innocent” arguments to be made.
I realized that my discussion of The Prisoner of Shark Island contained these overstatements before Abraham Lincoln on Screen Second Edition was scheduled to be released as a paperback in 2012, so they were corrected for that particular version of the book. Obviously, I wish that both versions of Abraham Lincoln on Screen Second Edition contained these corrections, but at least I did get them into the paperback! (By the way, if you do own the paperback version, I’m sorry for taking up your time with a discussion of mistakes you won’t even see in the first place!)
This next item relating to The Prisoner of Shark Island will be of interest to owners of both the hardback and paperback copies of the book. I should have been more specific about just what bone Booth broke while he was assassinating Lincoln. Booth broke his fibula, one of the main bones in the ankle region.
p. 189 In my discussion of Prairie Lawyer, a 1975 episode of the miniseries Sandburg's Lincoln, I feel that did not devote enough attention to an element of the production that is every bit as noteworthy as its depiction of Lincoln’s awkward romance with Mary Owens. I mentioned that Prairie Lawyer documents Lincoln's growing skill as a lawyer, but I should have also made note of the fact that the episode devotes much of its running time to the Henry B. Truett murder trial, a real-life case from Lincoln's law career.
In 1838, Truett shot and killed one of his political rivals, Dr. Jacob Early. Lincoln and his senior law partner Stephen T. Logan successfully defended Truett against the charge of murder, arguing that their client had shot Early in self-defense. The Truett case marked the first time Lincoln participated in a murder trial, and the lead prosecuting attorney who faced off against him in the case was none other than Stephen A. Douglas. Prairie Lawyer does a fine job of recounting this important milestone in Lincoln's law career.