Fans of the recent Meryl Streep movie Florence Foster Jenkins will be delighted to learn that a batch of eight films, commissioned by the real Florence Foster Jenkins and documenting seven of her performances, have come to light and are in the process of being restored by Historic Films archive in Greenport, New York. While there are a number of photographs of Ms. Jenkins, not to mention the infamous 1941 recordings, these films are the only motion pictures of Ms. Jenkins known to exist.
Discovered in 2008 in the attic of the 1920’s home originally owned by Ms. Jenkins executrix were eight cans of 16 mm film. These one of a kind films document seven years (1934-39, 1941) of Ms. Jenkins’ recitals.
Documentary filmmaker Donald Collup was aware, through information he gleamed in a Jenkins recital program, that Madame Jenkins did indeed film her 1934, 1935 and 1936 Ritz Carlton recitals. He and everyone else assumed the films were long lost.
Upon attending a recent tribute to Ms. Jenkins and her mother held by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mr. Collup was approached by a family member of the executrix of the Jenkins’s estate who said to him “we have movies of Jenkins.”
Besides footage of Ms. Jenkins in recital and greeting her fans, the films include glimpses of her husband St. Clair Bayfield and Ms. Jenkins long-time accompanist Cosme McMoon. These films did not meet the light of day until after the movie Florence Foster Jenkins was released.
Historic films archive is now offering excerpts of the footage for licensing. Historic Films archive is also planning on working with Mr. Collup on a new documentary. Historic Films archive can be contacted at www.historicfilms.com or by calling (631)477-9700.