Milford actor meets Zane Grey; Helps celebrate his birthday
January 22, 2014 —
LACKAWAXEN, PA — Seventy-four years after his death, the popular Western novelist Zane Grey is still a local celebrity in the Upper Delaware River Valley. He was born on January 31, 1872, and on that date this year and for the following two days, his birthday will be celebrated at his Delaware River home in Lackawaxen (now the Zane Grey Museum, operated by the National Park Service). In addition, Zane Grey himself (portrayed by actor Darren Fouse) will visit his own birthday party at The Columns, the museum of the Pike County Historical Society, to share some of his own story.
“He’s quite an interesting character,” Fouse said in a recent interview. The actor has been working hard on his monologue, having never before portrayed the famous author, who is perhaps best known for writing “Riders of the Purple Sage.” Published in 1912, the Western novel has sold more than two million copies over the years and its story made into three Hollywood movies. But if that’s all you know about Zane Grey, you just may learn a few things from Fouse and his presentation.
Fouse himself has discovered things he didn’t know about Grey, who is the latest historical character the actor will portray for the Pike County Historical Society (PCHS). (Previously he has portrayed Abe Lincoln; Father Francis Craft, a Pike County youth who later in life served as liaison between the United States and Native Americans at the Battle of Wounded Knee, among other interesting tales; and David Irwin, whose book “Alone: Across the Top of the World,” published in 1942, tells of his 3,000-mile trek across Alaska and the breadth of Arctic Canada in the early 1930s.)
Fouse was surprised to find that as a young man Grey set out to be a dentist, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1896, where he is still a bit of a celebrity (www.upenn.edu/pennnews/current/node/4028), known mostly for his prowess on the baseball diamond.
“And I didn’t know about the whole baseball thing,” Fouse reflected, telling how Grey played for a brief time in the minor leagues and his brother, who “got to play one day in 1903 with the Pittsburgh Pirates,” made a living as a minor league player.