Mark Twain Makes a Visit to Elder High School

“You have to hit it a little bit and it makes it sticky,” Bill Hartnett explained to Mr. Rogers’ 7 th period journalism class. No—Hartnett isn’t a sculptor, nor is he a carpenter. For years, Harnett has worked as a Mark Twain impersonator, doing shows all around Cincinnati. Harnett’s story starts way before his days as Mark Twain though, so let’s go back to his college days at the Northeast Broadcasting School in Boston, Massachusetts. Like most college students, Hartnett made the most of his four year at Northeast with friends and having fun. Upon graduation, Hartnett received a job as News Director in Bengal, Maine.According to Hartnett, his first two days on the job went pretty well. On his third day, however, Hartnett hit a snag. “After switching from News to Sports,” recalled Hartnett, “I was supposed to thank the show’s sponsor—the local fire truck company. “Instead of saying ‘Fire truck’ though, I dropped the [F Bomb] three times…then we went to a commercial.” Even after such a big comic mishap his first week, Hartnett was able to keep his job as news director in the tiny news station in Maine. He quit his job after a year, however, because he was only making $65 a week. For the rest of his career as a broadcaster, Hartnett bounced around from city to city,station to station, job to job. Over the years, Hartnett has held jobs in cities such as Cadillac, Palm Beach, Toledo, Fort Wayne, Buffalo, and even Cincinnati. “Journalism is very rewarding if you get into the right station,” said Hartnett “I just never did”. While Hartnett’s broadcasting career may not have been as successful as he wanted, he was able to find work elsewhere. Upon quitting is work in the broadcasting world, Hartnett turned to the theater. He starred in and directed many plays, including some with our own Mr. Gary Rogers. Eventually though, Hartnett found a new calling in life—Mark Twain impersonator. Hartnett has performed countless renditions of his “An Evening Gone Mark Twain” around the Tri-State area. He has performed in nursing homes, community centers, and on the big stage in theaters. For Hartnett, putting on the Mark Twain persona is just a fun way for him to entertain an audience. It’s something he has loved doing for the last chapter of his life. Hartnett’s performance has entertained many a fan over past years, myself included. Over the course of his life,Hartnett has faced much adversity. Going from job to job was certainly hard—but Hartnett never gave up, and I think that makes him even more like Mr. Twain himself. Mark Twain once said, “ Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. ” Throughout his life, Bill Hartnett has let this quote become his own personal motto, and that has made all the difference.