The First Recording of Rifle Exhibition Drill

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In 1899 in Chicago, Thomas Edison took his new video recorder and captured this:

YouTube Account Ceric had this information about the video:

Arabian Gun Twirler, Thomas A. Edison, Inc.

United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., 1899.

Hadji Cheriff, of the original Midway Plaisance- performer. A bearded man performs a rifle twirling act on a stage with a painted backdrop of a city street corner. He wears a white turban and a dark two-piece costume of tunic and baggy pants that narrow at the knees; perhaps the costume of an Arab infantryman.

Hadj Cheriff was a regular at the Midway Plaisance, where he headed a small troupe that got in trouble with the police due to his wife’s sexy dance performances. He eventually joining Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, even though he purported to be a dervish rather than a wild west Indian.

Copyright: Thomas A. Edison; 20Mar1899.

Duration: 0:40 at 18 fps.

Materials listed originate from the paper print chosen best copy of two for digitization; for other holdings on this title, see the M/B/RS Paper Print database.

Portion of summary from K.R. Niver, Early motion pictures, 1985, p. 11.

Cheriff was apparently a performer on the Midway Plaisance of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, perhaps in the “A Street in Cairo” or Turkish village exhibits.

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