Sholem Aleichem, the great Jewish writer whose stories were the basis of Fiddler on the Roof, is profiled in the new documentary Laughing in the Darkness. This trailer has some superb images of Aleichem and his milieu.
Thomas Edison filmed this footage of Mark Twain and his daughters in 1909.
Of course audio has its place too. That you can get from the behemoth set One Hundred Greatest: The Greatest Speeches, News Stories, Personalities, Scandals and Sports Moments of the Last Century. I gravitated to the 100 Greatest Personalities CD, where George Bernard Shaw issues a pacifist manifesto; Ernest Hemingway broods on the solitude of the writer; and James Baldwin accuses people who ask what black people want of a "fantastic" dishonesty and cowardice because "they're asking if I would please be quiet and not really insist on being a human being because it's not that important."
If you could wave a magic wand, which author(s) of the past would you like to see and hear in action? Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Virginia Woolf come to mind for me.
A recent survey of our neighbors up north revealed that Margaret Atwood is the author most Canadians would invite to a Canada Day barbeque. I would invite comedian Paula Poundstone because she's so hilarious and because technically she's a writer, even though There's Nothing in This Book I Meant to Say had to be dragged out of her. But if Atwood would deign to grace my humble patio, I'm all for it. What writer would you invite?