Page 2 of 2 Previous
Horrigan believes Hauptmann was probably guilty, but he did not receive a fair trial and did not act alone.
Playing the media circus
Peluso heard of “Baby Case” in 2003 and inquired about the rights. He lost interest when he heard there were 24 actors in the play. A trimmed version was presented at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2012 and received mostly positive reviews. Ogborn’s music and lyrics and director Jeremy Dobrish won festival awards and the production was named “Best of the Fest.”
The play is as much about the media and the criminal case as it is about Lindbergh. “It is wickedly satirical about how the media treat crime,” Peluso said. “William Randolph Hearst put up the money for the defense and he owned 28 papers at the time.”
Peluso’s cast includes Peter Middlecamp, who plays both Lindbergh and Hauptmann. Kendall Anne Thompson plays Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Anna Hauptmann. Jon Hegge is the famous radio broadcaster Walter Winchell, who is presented as the ringmaster for the circus.
Minnesota innocence lost
The Lindberghs withdrew to Europe after the kidnapping to escape the public hysteria, and returned to the United States in 1939. Despite the retreat, Horrigan said, Lindbergh was able to surmount the tragedy almost immediately.
“He and Anne went on one of the world tours, and he got on with his life,” Horrigan said. “From 1930 on, he wrote about his life and his thoughts and there is almost no scrap of writing that is about the kidnapping.”
If Lindbergh was deeply affected, Horrigan said, it was in his attitudes about the media.
“He went to his grave blaming the media for the death of his son,” Horrigan said.
Lindbergh was a complex individual — although many of the contradictions and unsavory proclamations stemmed from his inability to fully understand early in his life the implications of being a media star.
Horrigan, who curated the exhibit at the Lindbergh historic site in Little Falls, said Charles wanted to be a mechanic, something that was not possible once he achieved a fame he could not possibly have foreseen.
The Little Falls center, which includes Lindbergh’s childhood home, has an elegiac quality when a visitor considers the life that awaited a lanky kid who woke up every morning with the Mississippi River in his back yard, and who was more comfortable with machines than he was with people. Lindbergh made one of his last public appearances at the dedication in 1971.
“Reeve [Lindbergh’s daughter] has said it is that home on the river that helps her to understand her father better than any other place,” said Horrigan. “That was the only time in his life that he had that innocence.”
Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299