This Week in Universal News: Elmer Trudgen’s One-Man Band, 1937.

This week, we have a performance from Elmer Trudgen, who created a one-man band with an impressive eleven different instruments. And yet Trudgen was not content to stop at that achievement–according to a 1939 newspaper article, he added a banjo to bring the grand total to fourteen instruments.

From the Release Sheet:

Elmer’s A Real One-Man Band 

New York City–Elmer Trudgen, a Canadian farm boy, shows Gotham that the One-Man Band is no longer imagination. He has a contraption that enables him to play the piano, violin, guitar, harmonica, bass drum, snare drum, triangle, wood blocks, cymbals, cowbells and chime-all at once!

You can view the rest of this partial reel, which also includes stories about a London bus strike and the return of Professor I.M. Nuts (aka Russell E. Oakes), this time with an invention to protect your sleeves from the butter on your table.

Elmer Trudgen plays the harmonica, violin, and dobro (along with eight other instruments!) all at once.

About the Universal Newsreel Collection at NARA:

The Universal Newsreel Collection is one of the most used motion picture collections at the National Archives and Records Administration. Universal Newsreels were shown in movie theaters twice a week, from 1929 until 1967, and covered a wide range of American life and history during that time period. Each release usually contained five to seven stories averaging two minutes in length.

In 1974, Universal deeded its edited newsreel and outtake collection to the United States through the National Archives (NARA), and did not place any copyright restrictions on its use (some stories may contain other underlying intellectual property or proprietary use rights).

While Universal disposed of many of the soundtracks, leaving the newsreels incomplete, supplementary material like scripts, shot lists, and event programs can be found in the production files, available for research at Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

Learn more about the Universal Newsreel Collection in this post and in this Prologue article. Watch other Universal Newsreels in our research room, in OPA, and on this playlist.

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