Moments in Forgotten History: Nicholas Cage


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Nicholas Cage, actor and star of Ghost Rider, has been acting for some time. Some time indeed. Many do not know this but, Nicholas Cage acted in a very special play, Our American Cousin, on April 14, 1865. What was special about this play? It was the play that was being performed when President Lincoln was assassinated.

Nicholas Cage was not part of the original plan to kidnap Lincoln and was certainly not a part of the plan to kill Lincoln but was however a victim of circumstance, much like everyone else involved. At this point in his career, Cage had not appeared in much. He, like many other actors of his generation got his start in print ads for shaving cream and ox butter. After working the print scene for some time, Cage finally broke into acting, his first role being in Our American Cousin. Cage played the role of the idiotic Lord Dundreary who later became a popular character in Southern Drama. The character Cage played was meant to be overly British in both dress and manner. He was also meant to be idiotic and was so by using turns on aphorisms and idioms such as “A bird in the hand is worth the price of rice in China”.

Despite being a beginner actor at this time, Lincoln did very well in this role. So well in fact that he became strongly associated with the role and more or less was typecast as Lord Dundreary that is until that fateful night on April 14, 1865.

The week leading up to this very important night was intense for all involved. The war was just winding down, a plot to kidnap Lincoln had just had the finishing touches put on it, and a very nervous group of actors were told they may have a special guest to watch their performance. Little did they know, this would be the worst week of their lives.

During the play it was said that Cage gave his best performance. When the assassination occurred, Cage kept on acting, some say out of ignorance, others out of necessity. The death of Lincoln rattled the actor and later inspired him to leave the trade and pursue a career as a scientist. Bent on saving Lincoln, Cage invented a time machine and intended to use it to save the life of the late president. After a few test runs, Cage noted some issues with the machine but concluded that they were “Nothing to worry about.” While using the machine to time jump to the night of the assassination, Cage accidentally set the machine to 1965 instead of 1865. After making such a massive jump in time and space, the machine simply burnt out. Cage spent the next fifteen years trying to repair the machine but eventually gave up and fell back on his acting skills to make a living.

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