Bid Time Return for Somewhere in Time you will Come Back To Me

IT ALL STARTED WITH A NOVEL, ‘Bid Time Return’ by Richard Matheson in 1975..
In Bid Time Return, Richard Collier is a writer dying of an inoperable brain tumor. Following a sudden, inexplicable urge to escape his life, Collier finds himself checking into a grand old seaside hotel. Here he sees a photograph of Elise McKenna, star actress from the turn of the century, and falls in love. By the strength of his love and desire, Collier manages to will himself back in time to find Elise.  Richard Matheson also wrote the screenplay for the 1980 film titled Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Matheson is well known for his many novels, short stories and television and movie screenplays.  He also authored the novels The Incredible Shrinking Man, I Am Legend,and Hell House, all of which were made into classic Sci Fi/horror films. Also,What Dreams May Come which inspired the movie starring Robin Williams.

In Bid Time Return, Matheson evokes a mood very similar to that of Finney's Time And Again - a somewhat wistful and sentimental longing for an escape to the past - only to discover that the past is not the simpler, happier time he thought it would be.

 'Bid Time Return' is out of print and very hard to find. The now mass market movie paperback, 'Somewhere in Time' is available worldwide.  

Somewhere in Time is the story of a young writer who sacrifices his life in the present to find happiness in the past, where true love awaits him. Young Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) is approached by an elderly woman who gives him an antique gold watch and who pleads with him to return in time with her when she tells him, ‘Come Back To Me’. Years later, Richard Collier is overwhelmed by a photograph of a beautiful young woman (Jane Seymour). Another picture of this woman in her later years reveals to him that she is the same woman who had given him the gold watch. Collier then becomes obsessed with returning to 1912 and the beautiful young woman who awaits him there.

 Elise's Soliloquy
"The man of my dreams has almost faded now.
The one I have created in my mind.
The sort of man each woman dreams of in the deepest
and most secret reaches of her heart.
I can almost see him now before me.
What would I say to him, if he were really here?
Forgive me, I have never known this feeling . . .
I've lived without it all my life.
Is it any wonder, then, that I failed to
recognize you?
You . . . who brought it to me for the first time.
Is there any way I can tell you how my life has changed?
Any way at all to let you know what sweetness you have given me?
There is so much to say . . . I cannot find the words.
Except for these. . .
I love you.
Such would I say to him,
. . . if he were really here."

   So what do the book and the movie have in common? One woman…that turn of the century actress for which Richard Collier falls desperately in love.  Her name was Maude Adams.  


Actress, Jane Seymour as Elise McKenna on the left and inspiration, theatre turn of the century actress Maude Adams on the right. Do you see how almost identical the white dress they're wearing is?

I have always wanted to do some research to find out who this turn of the century theatre actress, Maude Adams was and why her life held such interest for author, Richard Matheson and his character Richard Collier.  

                                                                Actress Maude Adams [1872-1953] Billy Rose Theatre Collection photograph file / Personalities / A / Maude Adams The New York Public Library Theatre Division

"I believe the only way to study for the stage is on the stage. If I had gone to school as they wanted me to until now, I couldn't bend myself to the life as I do now. I would have been formed, you see." Maude Adams from Maude Adams by Acton Davis, 1911 edition

Maude (Kiskadden) Adams was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on November 11, 1872. Her parents were James Kiskadden and stock actress Annie Adams. Maude was only a few months old when she made her stage debut during one of her mother’s performances. From 1877-1887 she played children’s roles in twenty-six plays. In 1890, both mother and daughter joined a new stock company at New York’s Empire Theatre. 

Miss Adams eventually became John Drew’s leading lady, made a great hit in The Masked Ball, and was fortuitously cast in J.M. Barrie’s The Little Minister. She met with incredible success as Lady Babbie and went on to become the quintessential Barrie heroine in What Every Woman Knows, Quality Street, The Legend of Leonora, and, of course, Peter Pan. Among her many other successes were roles in L’Aiglon, Chantecler, and The Jesters.

For years Miss Adams not only performed in New York but also took many of her productions on tour along the East Coast and abroad. When she retired from the stage in 1918, she focused on perfecting stage lighting and became interested in color photography for motion pictures. She returned to the stage twice: in 1931 to play Portia in The Merchant of Venice and in 1934 to play Maria in Twelfth Night.

In 1937, at the at the age of 65, she accepted a teaching position at Stephens College in Missouri where she developed an acting program and directed student productions. In 1950, when she was no longer physically able to continue her activities, she returned to her home in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. where she died in 1953 at the age of 81.

Maude Adams at Stephens College
Billy Rose Theatre Collection photograph file / Personalities / A / Maude AdamsLocation: The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts / Billy Rose Theatre

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