45 Great Cultural Icons Revisited

It’s no secret. We love to highlight vintage video of cultural icons. This weekend, we showed you the last days of Leo Tolstoy to commemorate the centennial of the great writer’s death, and you expressed your appreciation. And it led us to think: why not dig through our archive, and revive some of the great treasures previously featured on Open Culture? And so here it goes: Below, you will find 45+ video & audio clips that record the words and actions of major figures from a bygone era. Artists, architects, filmmakers, actors, poets, novelists, composers, musicians, world-changing leaders, and those not easily categorized – they’re all here. So close, you can almost touch them. Enjoy the list, and if we’re missing some good clips, don’t hesitate to send them our way


  1. Salvador Dali (and Other VIPs) on “What’s My Line?”
  2. Arthur Conan Doyle Recounts the Backstory to Sherlock Holmes
  3. Orson Welles’ Final Moments
  4. William S. Burroughs Shoots Shakespeare
  5. Borges: The Task of Art
  6. Jack Kerouac Meets William F. Buckley (1968)
  7. Ingmar Bergman Visits Dick Cavett, 1971
  8. Picasso Painting on Glass
  9. Leonard Bernstein Breaks Down Beethoven
  10. Record Making With Duke Ellington (1937)
  11. Bertrand Russell on God
  12. Mark Twain Captured on Film by Thomas Edison (1909)
  13. A Young Glenn Gould Plays Bach
  14. Rod Serling: Where Do Ideas Come From?
  15. Richard Feynman: Fun to Imagine
  16. Rare Interview with Alfred Hitchcock Now Online
  17. Miles and Coltrane on YouTube: The Jazz Greats
  18. Footage of Nietzsche’s Final Days (May be bogus)
  19. Samuel Beckett Speaks
  20. Jimi Hendrix Plays Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  21. Django Reinhardt at 100
  22. When Pavarotti Met James Brown, the Godfather of Soul
  23. James Dean and Ronald Reagan Clash in Newly Discovered Video
  24. The Last Czar (1896)
  25. Leon Trotsky: Love, Death and Exile in Mexico
  26. Revisiting JFK on YouTube
  27. Mahatma Gandhi Talks (in First Recorded Video)
  28. Malcolm X at Oxford, 1964
  29. Helen Keller Captured on Video
  30. Anne Frank: The Only Existing Video Now Online
  31. Mike Wallace Interviews 1950s Celebrities (Frank Lloyd Wright, Pearl Buck, Salvador Dali, Reinhold Niebuhr, Aldous Huxley, Erich Fromm, etc.)


  1. Tchaikovsky’s Voice Captured on an Edison Cylinder (1890)
  2. Aldous Huxley Narrates Brave New World
  3. Truman Capote Reads from Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  4. Kurt Vonnegut Reads from Slaughterhouse-Five
  5. William Faulkner Audio Archive Goes Online
  6. The John Lennon Interviews
  7. Rare Recording of Walt Whitman Reading
  8. Virginia Woolf: Her Voice Recaptured
  9. T.S. Eliot Reads The Waste Land
  10. Ernest Hemingway Reads “In Harry’s Bar in Venice”
  11. F. Scott Fitzgerald Reads Shakespeare
  12. James Joyce Reading from Finnegans Wake
  13. Rare Ezra Pound Recordings Now Online
  14. William Carlos Williams Reads His Poetry (1954)
  15. Interviews with Schoenberg and Bartók

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