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Hudson -- It is a Good Day in jolly Olde Hudson when founder David Hudson (1761-1836) and the city's benefactor James W. Ellsworth (1849-1925) are interviewed by Good Day in Hudson host Frank Youngwerth.
The program will begin airing Feb. 6 at 8 a.m. and run that week and the week of Feb. 20. The 90-minute special was first shown on Hudson Community Television during October 2007.
Hudson is played by Richard Grell, and Ellsworth by Tom Vince. Both Grell and Vince are experts in the the histories of both characters and have portrayed them many times in the past, Youngwerth said.
For the first segment, Youngwerth interviews David Hudson at the oldest home in the city, the one Hudson constructed for his family in 1806. They discuss Hudson's trip from Connecticut to what was to become Hudson. Local artist Hilary Sheeter illustrates the journey with his drawings.
In the second segment Youngwerth interviews James W. Ellsworth in the Seymour House on the Western Reserve Academy campus. Ellsworth talks about growing up in Hudson and returning in his later years to revive the academy and make Hudson what it is today.
"After both interviews, I asked each if they realized the other was coincidentally in town at the same time and if they would like to meet each other," Youngwerth said. "Both agreed to meet at the appointed time in the WRA Chapel."
Ellsworth and Hudson sit in a pew and talk for segment three.
"That meeting and subsequent conversation between the two, turned out to be magic," Youngwerth said. "Almost as if the real Hudson and Ellsworth were really there."
Both men, who missed each other's lifetimes by more than a decade, had many things to talk to each other about, Youngwerth said. That final segment of the program makes watching worth the viewers time.
"I stay totally out of the way until they say goodbye to each other," Youngwerth said. "Then I close the program away from the two. I believe this is the most important GDH that we have ever done. What Tom Vince and Richard Grell came up with, for their private conversation, was pure magic. They conversed as you might expect the real Hudson and Ellsworth to react to each other."
Tom Vince as Ellsworth
Vince said he hadn't seen the David Hudson/James W. Ellsworth program for 10 years but remembers meeting with Grell before the taping to discuss what areas they could talk about when the two historic characters met.
"I'm not sure my James W. Ellsworth is exactly right, but I don't think anyone in recent decades has done as much research into Ellsworth as I have," Vince said. "Back in the early '90s, I did a one-man program of Ellsworth for HHA [Hudson Heritage Association], and I did it with questions from the audience."
Plenty of research material was readily available since the Western Reserve Academy archives is home to the personal and family collection of Ellsworth documents, letters, scrapbooks, albums and even some of his personal books with his distinctive signature and writing in them, Vince said.
"The most compelling part of this research was to note how much Ellsworth cared about this community," Vince said. "He was not the grim aristocrat that his portrait at Ellsworth Hall would suggest. He was a caring father and doting son of his own parents."
Ellsworth was rich enough to live a "Downton Abbey existence," Vince said. He owned a house in New York City, a historic villa near Florence, Italy and a huge castle in Switzerland, but "Ellsworth's heart was in Hudson, Ohio, where he and his entire family are buried."
Vince said it was fun interacting with another historic character.
"David Hudson literally founded the community in the early 19th century, and James W. Ellsworth renewed the town in the early 20th century that gave it the charm that it has today," Vince said. "These are the two important figures who really made this town what it is in the 21st century."
Richard Grell as Hudson
Prior to portraying David Hudson for the bicentennial in 1999, Grell said he did extensive research using his own personal journal. Many hours were spent reading every historical bit of information he could find.
"Following someone's life that was born before the revolution and accomplishing everything that David Hudson did, was quite remarkable," Grell said.
Hudson traveled from Connecticut to Hudson but his life had challenges and accomplishments, Grell said.
"He had a profound impact on many other lives in a very challenging time in our history," he said.
Grell said he enjoyed working with Vince and trying to imagine what a meeting between Hudson and Ellsworth might involve.
"Mr. Hudson was a little more serious and subdued," Grell said. "I believe his life experience would have reflected that personality trait. His counterpart was one of the richest men in the country, a man of the world, and one of the great industrialists of his time. Tom's portrayal was excellent."
The show provides an opportunity for anyone to learn how two very different men from different times impacted Hudson with their perseverance and drive, Grell said.
"When this segment was recorded with Frank, we shot it in one take and no script," Grell said. "Frank Youngworth had the creative idea and Tom and I just went along with his vision. There are always little things you wish you had added but time is always a factor. I hope everyone enjoys this little bit of history again."
Check the Hudson Community Television program log in todays paper, as well as in the Feb. 19 Hudson Hub-Times.