As the conclusion of Ken Burns' two-part biography begins, it's 1885 and Mark Twain is celebrated, rich and content. The good times wouldn't last. The money went first ("He was hopeless as a businessman," says Arthur Miller), forcing him on lecture tours and into virtual exile abroad. Then family tragedies left him embittered, toward God, mostly. But his celebrity kept him going, and at his death, on April 21, 1910, he was "the most conspicuous person on the planet," says narrator Keith David.
Ken Burns traces the life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910). He "used the way we talk and turned it into literature," says Hal Holbrook, who has portrayed Twain in one-man shows. Burns supplements comments by Holbrook and 12 other interviewees with Twain readings (by Kevin Conway) in a four-hour portrait. Part 1 covers Clemens' early life on the Mississippi and concludes with the publication of "Huckleberry Finn." It "put a face on black folks," says Dick Gregory. Narrator: Keith David.