Mark Twain in popular culture

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Mark Twain has appeared in popular culture as a character in books, films and comics:

  • The 1944 biographical film of his life, The Adventures of Mark Twain, featured Fredric March as Clemens and Alexis Smith as his wife Olivia.
  • Broadway, television & cinema actor Hal Holbrook has been performing his one-man show Mark Twain Tonight! annually since 1959, with each show somewhat different in Twain content.
  • Sam Clemens is one of the main characters of the Riverworld series by Philip José Farmer (19711983), depicting the posthumous career of various famous people resurrected at the banks of a mighty river in a mysterious world . In particular, the second book of the series, The Fabulous Riverboat, describes the quest of the character Clemens to build a paddle-boat to travel the vast river, with many echoes from the life of the real Clemens.
  • Winston Churchill recounts being introduced by Mark Twain during his American lecture tour following the Boer War, and writes of making his friendship.
  • Mark Twain appears in To Sail Beyond the Sunset (1987), part of Robert A. Heinlein's Lazarus Long cycle, as a family friend of the protagonist.
  • Samuel Clemens is a character in the 1987 novel Never the Twain by Kirk Mitchell. In the story, Howard Hart, the last living descendant of Western writer Bret Harte, a contemporary of Twain, travels back in time in an attempt to prevent Twain's literary career from taking off and overshadowing his ancestor's.
  • Clemens is a major character in a series of Historical mysteries by Peter J. Heck. In the series, Clemens hires a travel secretary before leaving on a lecture tour, which provides a variety of settings (such as New Orleans and London) through the course of six books. The secretary, Wentworth Cabot, is not only the narrator of the series, but usually a prime player/suspect in each adventure. With Cabot, or to clear him, Clemens gets involved and uses detective skills, his intelligence and his insight into human nature to solve each mystery. The title of each volume is a spin on a work by Twain: “Death on the Mississippi” (1996), an homage to Life on the Mississippi; “A Connecticut Yankee in Criminal Court” (1997) for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court; “The Prince and the Prosecutor” (1998) for The Prince and the Pauper; “The Guilty Abroad” (1999) for The Innocents Abroad; "The Mysterious Strangler" (2000) for The Mysterious Stranger; “Tom’s Lawyer” (2001) for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow" (1992) featured a fictionalized version of Mark Twain, played by Jerry Hardin.
  • Twain appeared in a comic strip story featuring The Phantom. The story featured the 16th Phantom meeting Twain in the wild west.
  • Singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett has written three songs based on Twain's travelog, Following the Equator ("That's What Livin' is to Me", "Take Another Road", "Remittance Man") and has paraphrased Twain in other songs. He also gives Twain a nod in his own literature, most notably by naming a main character's horse Mr. Twain.
  • Samuel Clemens is a main character in Fires of Eden (1994) by Dan Simmons. The main protagonist, Eleanor, follows in her aunt's footsteps, recreating a journey Aunt Kidder took with Clemens to the volcanoes on the Big Island of the then-Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii). The book alternates between Eleanor's modern day experiences and the events described in the diary.
  • Samuel Clemens appears in the book How Few Remain (1997) by Harry Turtledove. In this work of alternate history, one of the side-effects of the South winning the American Civil War is that Clemens remains in San Francisco and there becomes a newspaper editor there rather than an author, and never takes up a literary career or the pen name Mark Twain. When the United States and the Confederate States go to war again in 1881-1882 he writes many a scathing editorial. In this history he marries a different wife than in our history, and has different children - one of whom, a daughter named Ophelia, appears in a sequel as a famous journalist herself.
  • The webcomic series Achewood features Mark Twain as a character in one of the strip's story arcs. This arc features a narrative written in an imitation of Mark Twain's style, as Twain journals his encounter with two of the strip's central characters, who time-traveled from the modern day to the late 19th century.
  • Another webcomic, Thinkin' Lincoln, features a zombified Mark Twain as a frequent character.
  • Wonder of the Worlds is a 2005 novel depicting Twain joining Harry Houdini and Nikola Tesla on a journey to Mars in 1893.
  • In The Five Fists of Science (2006) Twain teams up with Nikola Tesla to defeat the evil plans of Thomas Edison.
  • In 2006, Twain appears in The Transformers: Evolutions "Hearts of Steel" comic series set in the United States during the Industrial Revolution. Mr. Twain is attacked by a steam powered Puma.
  • The stop motion animated fantasy film The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985), directed by Will Vinton, features a series of vignettes extracted from several of Mark Twain's works built around a plot that features Twain's attempts to keep his "appointment" with Halley's Comet.
  • An audio-animatronic of Mark Twain acts as co-host of a show named The American Adventure at Epcot, Walt Disney World.
  • Late Show with David Letterman occasionally features a segment titled "Mark Twain Tonight", in which a man dressed as Mark Twain does a short comedy solo while sitting on a rocking chair.
  • An episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, titled "Rolling Down the River", had Mario and Luigi helping a caricature named Mark Twang win a riverboat race against Bowser.
  • The Histeria! episode "Super Writers" featured a sketch about Samuel Clements taking on the Mark Twain identity on suggestion from Chit Chatterson. Twain also appears in the same episode as a member of the Legion of Super Writers.
  • Mark Twain appears in Joe R. Lansdale's Flaming Zeppelins: The Adventures of Ned the Seal in 2010, an omnibus of Lansdale's novels Zeppelins West and Flaming London.
  • In the Frank Capra film It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Clarence, George Bailey's Guardian Angel, gives George a copy of the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In it, he writes: "Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence." Clarence also mentions that Twain is writing a new book (presumably in Heaven).
  • The street in Detroit, Michigan was named originally after him with Mark Twain that located on Detroit's North Westside.
  • Twain is mentioned in Tom Petty's song "Down South" from his album Highway Companion.
  • On November 30, 2011, Google celebrated Mark Twain's 176th birthday with a Google doodle. The Google logo depicted the famous whitewashing scene from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
  • Three episodes of Bonanza are about Samuel Clemens publishing The Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City. They were "Enter Mark Twain", from October 10, 1959; "The Emperor Norton", from February 27, 1966, and "The Twenty-Sixth Grave", from October 31, 1972
  • Colonel Sassacre, a character heavily inspired by Mark Twain, appears in the webcomic Homestuck.