May Yohe Book Release!

Sep 27th, 2012Press Release from Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites, Historic Hotel Bethlehem

Bethlehem, Pa. (September 27, 2012) – Dennis J. Costello, General Manager of Historic Hotel Bethlehem, and Charlene Donchez Mowers, President of Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites are pleased to announce that the Hotel and Historic Bethlehem Museum and Sites will be hosting a book release on Sunday, October 14th with events beginning at 3:00pm for Madcap May: Mistress of Myth, Men and Hope.  The Author, Dr Richard Kurin Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture for the Smithsonian Institute will be the special guest.

Dr. Kurin has written a biography of dynamic Edwardian actress, May Yohe, who was born in Bethlehem’s Eagle Hotel.  Yohe’s grandparents Caleb and Mary Yohe owned and operated the Eagle Hotel from 1843 until 1874, their son, May’s father, William Yohe, worked at the hotel and was known throughout the Lehigh Valley as the “Prince of Putzmakers” for his famous Christmas Putz displays.

May Yohe became one of the most famous figures of her era, marrying into British Peerage and wearing the Hope Diamond.  In researching his book on the Hope Diamond, Dr. Kurin became enamored with May and began to write what is the first biography written on the actress. Dr. Kurin made numerous visits to Bethlehem in his exhaustive research for the biography.

According to Kurin, “May Yohe epitomized the Naughty Nineties. Larger than life, Yohe burned a path to greatness from humble beginnings in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Known for her sexuality and contralto voice that allowed her to take on male roles, Yohe scandalized audiences just as much on stage as off. Headlines of her rumored affairs captured public attention and when she married Lord Francis Hope, owner of the Hope Diamond, in 1894, her standing within high society seemed assured.

But after divorcing him eight years later, her life took a tumultuous turn. She ended up doing 10-cent vaudeville shows around the United States and traveling the world sometimes having to perform to raise funds for the next leg of the trip.

Throughout her life, Yohe continued to scrape by. If she wasn’t helping to write and create movie serials about the curse of the famous diamond that she had once owned, she was working as a janitor in a steamship yard. Yohe married twice more, her profile rising and falling with every decade, until she died in 1938 at age 72.”

Event tickets will be $30 with the proceeds benefitting Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites, a non-profit organization and will offer a discount for Partnership members and Yohe family descendants.  The event begins at 3:00pm with a tour of the present day hotel and an overview of the Eagle Hotel, along with a tour of Main Street and some detail as to the town when May Yohe was young.

At 4:00pm in the Grand Ballroom, Libby (Haight) O’Connell, Ph.D., Chief Historian with the History Channel and native of the Lehigh Valley will interview and moderate questions from the audience for the Author, Dr Kurin, as well as Charlene Donchez Mowers and the Hotel’s Historian, Natalie Bock, who are credited in helping with the books’ research.

At 5:00pm, guests can meet the Author at a book signing and wine and cheese reception.

* There is talk in the spirit world that Miss Yohe herself will make an appearance!

For more information and reservations please call Historic Bethlehem Museum and Sites (610) 882-0450 extension 10.  Reservation deadline for the event is Friday October 12, 2012.

Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites mission is to bring history to life by educating the public about Bethlehem’s rich heritage, by preserving historic sites, and by collecting, preserving and exhibiting historical and artistic objects that can be used to tell the stories of Bethlehem’s people.

The Historic Hotel Bethlehem is located in Bethlehem, Pa.  It is in the heart of Bethlehem’s nationally registered historic district.  The hotel is a proud member of Historic Hotels of America.  Experience world-class service, charming guest accommodations and award winning cuisine, all on a site that has been warmly welcoming guests since 1741.

For more information for please contact Kelly Ronalds at moc.mehelhtebletohnull@sdlanork or visit our Website at

For more information on Dr Kurin:

For more information on May Yohe:

For more information on Historic Bethlehem:

For more information on Moravian “Putz”:

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