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Nebraska State Journal
April 8, 1894
page 13

Between the Acts

          
Drawing of the words "Between the Acts" with a theater box, curtains, and figures.

The past week has been a gala week for the theatre goers of Lincoln, and despite the sleepiness which is a necessary result of attending five good plays in one week everyone seems more cheerful for the dissipation. Such a theatrical run does not often happen in a western town, and Mr. Church is to be congratulated on the financial and artistic success of the week. It was quite a serious undertaking to run so many first class attractions in one week late in the season of a very bad year. Mr. Church has always shown a flattering confidence in the Lincoln public and this time it did not disappoint him.

          

The crowning absurdity of the season is the news that Cora Tanner has decided to quit emotional roles and go into lyric drama. Now Cora can never be a dramatic actress; she is too stout. Emotional actresses can be as stout as they wish, but lyric heroines must be slender. Actresses so often seem to have an ungovernable desire to do the things they can't. Now there is Marie Tempest , who has the elements of a strong actress in her and yet prefers to be an opera singer who does not sing. Miss Tempest has a face that is made for strong emotional roles. It is one of the most mobile and expressive faces on the stage. Anyone who can get that tense, drawn look about the eyes and be pained between the brows as Miss Tempest can owes it to the public to be an emotional actress. Miss Tempest's flippancy was often overdone and stagey, but her few opportunities to show any depth of feeling were well improved. That wonderful little shudder of the voice with which she said, "I am a woman," is enough to show her possibilities in emotional roles. She is too great an actress to be trotting about the stage posing to avoid solos that she can't sing and dropping her sword to avoid fencing that she can't do. Why she ever thought the operatic stage has any need for her is the open question. It may not be fair to judge her by a one night stand. She may have been ill last Tuesday evening, but if Miss Tempest always sings like that she must have a very poor ear for music or she would suffer unutterable pain from her own performance. She simply gasped and breathed for bars at a time, she choked on her low notes and strangled on her high ones, all the time looking lovely enough to make one more than pardon it all. Badly as she sings it is a delightful privilege to hear Miss Tempest in opera, only it seems that she is wasting the power of a great actress to make a mediocre prima donna. Actresses always want to do the wrong thing anyway. It is strange they don't let the all-wise critic select their roles for them. If they only did, doubtless Bernhardt would long since have appeared in vaudeville, Lottie Collins in classic tragedy and Clara Morris as a charming soubrette.

          

Mounet-Sulley's season in New York has begun with curious effect. The critics and public are divided over him and the factions in warring with each other very nearly forget the great Frenchman. It seems that Mr. Mounet-Sully is especially billed for Greek and is at his best in translation of Sophocles . It must be a wonderful thing to see a Frenchman of this century who can play the stern classic roles of old Greece well. It is hard to see how a Frenchman could be severe and simple enough to play "Œdepus Roi." It is almost a revival of the age of great sculpture. The New York critics say that his every pose is a sculptured god, that his emotion is simple, direct and rises perfectly to the climax of universal woe and bitter fate which is the key note of all Greek tragedy. If M. Mounet-Sully plays Creon and Oedipus so well it is easy to see why he does not make any astounding success as Hernani . A Lincoln dramatic said truly when he said that versatility is a nightmare. Mr. Willard seems to be able to play "Hamlet" one night and "The Silver King" the next and could probably play the "Police Patrol" the next, but not many men can wear the cap and bells and the tiara with equal grace, much less can they combine the classic and romantic. If M. Mounet-Sully has sufficient statuesqueness to impersonate such characters, he will only lower his tone by attempting romantic drama. He can never attain the warmth and complex sympathies of Ruy Blas or Don Roderique , he must keep himself like the cold classic literature and the shapely marble gods of the language he adores. He has a grand serenity that is almost a reproach to the fret and fume of modern art. He has dignity and beauty of person and mind. He belongs to an age when men hewed out lofty ideals in white rock and embodied in literature only what was noblest and purest in life. His acting belongs to the time when man's only enemy was fate, when he was strong against his doom, before he feared his own weakness and was his own foe. The Greeks lived just at the balancing period when mind and sense were equally active and were not ashamed of each other. Man was a healthy animal with a healthy mind, he succeeded or he failed, all his emotions were positive. He lived while he could for he knew that the fates would trick him and thwart him, that the Euminides would torture and laugh at him. He had only one fear, the fear of fate and the inexplicable vengeance of the heavens. Such life was all action and swift motion in white sunlight with night and the sea for a background. The great French tragedian can suffer as Oediyus or meet black doom as Creon, but the suffering is all inflicted upon him, he cannot suffer from himself. He cannot know the success of Faust which was failure, the failure of Hamlet, which was success. He has the chisel of Praxiteles , he must forge the brush of Murillo .

          

Whatever success M. Mount Sully have in overcoming American prejudice, the prospects are that he will not carry much American capital back to Paris The Kendalls , Irving and Mr. Willard came across the briny deep and made fortunes, but "L'Enfant Prodique" and M. Mounet-Sully go home poorer than they came. Yet all that is best in American drama or American acting comes from France. Madame Bernhardt is the only French artist whoever made money in America. Of course the fact that the general public does not understand French must be taken into consideration, but it is a consideration that is not particularly flattering. Madame Bernhardt's French is just as much French as M. Mounet-Sully's and a great deal more so than the pantomine "L'Enfant Prodique," but the truth is that the American public did not go to see Sarah Bernhardt act, but to see Sarah Bernhardt. To see the woman who sleeps in a coffin and has pet snakes and does many other things that are not pleasant to mention in a Sunday newspaper. The truth is that in a sneaking way Americans admire Madam Bernhardt's personality. If the Theatre des Varieties makes an American tour next year they can count on good houses, and they are the only French players that can.

          

Henry T. Wing's address before the students of Harvard college was one of the best talks that the newspapers have had the privilege of printing for a long time. Its subject was "Individualism," and it was not quite in accordance with some of the doctrines that are laid down in colleges. His definition of mediocraty was "a well rounded and well developed mind." It was all intensely practical, showed more delicacy and culture than most addresses delivered by "well rounded" college men. The day is long since past when an actor is classed with a circus rider. Today a great actor is recognized as a gentleman and an artist. An actor is no longer looked upon as an imitator, but is an author who writes a book every night, an artist who every evening paints a picture in the gas light. The day will come when the profession will attain still higher honor. An actors life is the hardest of all the hard lives men lead for art's value. Other men can do their work and forget the travail in success. But an actor's creation must be born again every night out of his own brain sweat. He should have all working while he lives for when he dies his work dies with him. Poets can die trusting their work to the appreciation of the future, but an actor's greatness dies in him, as music dies in a broken lute.

          

It is rumored that Charley Mitchell will star in a comedy which is now being written for him by an English playwright. There is nothing like prize-fighting to insure success on the stage. A single exhibition in the ring will do more to gain notoriety for an actor than ten years apprenticeship under the best actor. In a few years Hamlet and Lear will be played by discarded prize fighters. Every aspirant for stage honors should learn to box and after his debut to the ring he can lay aside the gloves for the tragic buskin, confident of success.

          

Romance is not dead on the stage yet. Phyllis Rankin , the daughter of McKee Rankin , married the company property man in Atlanta last month. The gentleman's name is Gibbs and he does not appear to be destined to professional greatness, but it is refreshing once and awhile for so charming a young lady as Miss Rankin to marry a man with no visible motive except that of affection.

Felix Morris' first starring season has been a great and unquestionable success.

Emma Juch and Mr. Willman seem to be very much hurt by the popular rumor that they are engaged.

Lottie Collins sprained her ankle at the Haymarket theatre Chicago. She will not be able to dance again for another month and will go to England with her husband as soon as she is able. It is feared that Lottie's star has set with her celebrated "Ta-ra-ra."

Marie Wainright will revive the "Jealous Wife" next season.

Next season Fanny Davenport will play a new tragedy by Sardou .

Henry Guy Carleton , Miss May's new husband, is writing a play for Julia Marlowe .

Benjamin Howard , who was lately a member of the Niobe cast, has joined the Craigen-Paulding company . The press commends his Louis de Ligney .

Miss Theresa Vaughn denies that she caused a divorce between Mr. and Mrs. Alferd Byrne .

Charles Froham has purchased the American rights of "The New Boy," Rosina Volk's great success,

The Boston cadets bought the entire house the first night of Seabrooke's presentation of the new comic opera, "Tobasco," at the Boston museum.

Lee Harrison has left Hoyt and signed with Richards and Canfield to play in "The Circus Clown" next season.

Jennie Kimball has flooded all the dramatic newspapers with column articles on Corinne's new boots.

Mrs. James Brown Potter writes that her production of "Charlotte Corday" is the most successful play she has ever put on.

Cora Van Tassell will star next season.

Lottie Mortimer has a bran new divorce.

Harry Holy has written a new melodrama called "The Man From the West."

Stuart Robson will make a short spring tour on the Pacific coast.

Henry E. Abbey will manage Lillian Russell next year.

Marie Tempest is having a new opera written. It will be a satire on Mormonism.

The latest thing among the impressionable young men of New York is the "Marie Tempest Advocation Society." Their pins are gold and enamel; a black square in a red flag and in the square the name "Marie." The flag is supposed to signify a "Tempest."

Daniel Froham has engaged Miss Isabel Irving for next season. She will first appear in the "Amazons" in the part now played by Georgie Cavyan . After that she will play various leading roles in Mr. Froham's companies.

Henry Irving's tour ended March 17, at the Tremont theatre, Boston, Mass., and was the occasion of a presentation of an address to Mr. Irving by a number of Boston's citizens. The address was engrossed on parchment and mounted in a unique manner. At the top of the parchment is a silver bar, tipped at either end with a spear head and a halbert of burnished silver, typical of the eras of Louis XI and "Faust," and at the bottom another bar, having at either end an Episcopal cross and crozior, which are intended to mark the productions of "Becket" and "Henry VIII. A silver chain supports the top, and from this is dependent a smaller chain on which is hung three silver bells, suggestive of "The Bells." This parchment was in a casket twenty-two inches in length, six inches broad and four inches high, made of oak from a tree that grew in Windsor forest. The casket is lined with blue satin and, externally, is richly ornamented in silver. In the center of the lid is the monogram "H. I." supported on either side with masks and other emblems of tragedy and comedy. There are engraved corner pieces to the casket, which is supported on four globular feet. After the address was read it was presented with an appropriate presentation speech, to which Mr. Irving responded, which was followed by a collation.

The tour of Otis Skinner as a star next season will be directed by J. J. Buckley one of the present managers of Modjeska , and nearly every member of the Modjeska organization has been engaged for the supporting company.

Rhea has two new plays for the coming season. One, a comedy, is called "Elizabeth and Shakespeare," and deals with the imaginary efforts of Queen Elizabeth to rescue the great poet of the age from the dangers of drink. The other play is called "The Lion in Love," and is a tragedy on the events of the French revolution.

Signor Flavio Ando , the Italian actor who was seen here as the leading man of Mme. Duse's company, and who is now playing in Rome at the head of his own company, intents to visit this country early next fall. Signor Ando is associated with Signor Claudio Leigheb , a prominent Italian comedian, and has a large supporting company. He proposes to visit the principal cities in the United States and South America.

Mazie Molyneaux and Little Lovell were the guests of Etta Reed and Corse Payton during the Corse Payton company's engagement at Cedar Rapids, Ia. Miss Reed was presented with a beautiful brooch and a marquise ring.

Among the plays which Ottis Skinner announces for his repetory for next season is "His Grace de Grammart," an adaption from the French by Clyde Fitch .

Many changes have been made for the better in Hoyt's "A Milk White Flag." The revised edition was presented for the first time April 21, at the Boston theatre, and the new matter seemed to meet with the approval of the audience. The disagreeable haggling for the purchase of the body of Piggott Luce has been eliminated from the second act. In the third act the "corpse" comes on and joins in the poker game. There are many new songs and new lines.

Dore Davidson had decided that there is too much worry and hard work in the position of manager and actor for him to continue his company on the road, so both he and Ramie Austen will devote their abilities to salaried positions next season.

Henry Irving, Ellen Terry , William Terris and Jessie Millward sailed for England March 21. The remainder of Mr. Irving's company sailed later on the same day.



Notes

Go back Mr. Church: Edward A. Church (d. 1927), had been manager of the Funke Opera house in the late 1880s, and became manager of the Lansing Theater after it was built.

In 1894 Lansing Theater manager Ed Church organized a touring company to perform Goethe's Faust. George Baker of Beatrice, Nebraska, played the role of Faust, according to the Nebraska State Journal (18 December 1894). The company had an engagement in Chicago.

Cather referred to this company in her September 13 and 16, 1894 columns.

 

Go back Cora Tanner: Cora Tanner appeared on the New York stage between 1880 and 1902; she first appeared on the New York stage as a member of McKee Rankin's company in The Danites. She had made a hit in Alone in London, and her big production c. 1891-1892 was with her own company in Will She Divorce Him? She no longer appeared in New York after 1902. Cora Tanner made her professional debut at the age of fourteen in the McVicker stock company in Chicago; she first appeared on the New York stage in 1880 as a member of McKee Rankin's company in The Danites. In 1884 she played Princess Ida in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta of that name, in John Stetson's company. She was a member of one of Col. William E. Sinn's companies when she married him in 1885; early in 1893 Sinn sought to have the marriage annulled on the grounds that she was already married, but the court ruled their marriage was valid. By the late 1880s she was a star, with plays such as Alone in London and Fascination identified with her. Later in the 1890s she toured in The Sporting Duchess. Her last performances in New York were in a drama, The Last Appeal, in April 1902.Images: Marketworks NYPL Digital Gallery  

Go back Sarah Bernhardt: Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), generally acknowledged as the greatest actress of her time, was born Rosine Bernard. She made her debut at the Comédie Française in 1862. By the mid 1870s her position was secure; though critics were divided as to her beauty, they agreed on the power of her golden voice, her realism, and her magnetic personality, which she cultivated off-stage as well. She owned her own theater in Paris and toured throughout the world in the 1880s and 1890s; Cather saw her in Omaha in 1892. Bernhardt played most of the great roles of the 19th century theater, and American and English emotional actresses such as Morris and Fanny Davenport frequently followed her lead, since a role Bernhardt made popular had a good chance of success elsewhere. University of Pennsylvania Library

Sarah Bernhardt


Sarah Bernhardt


Sarah Bernhardt


Sarah Bernhardt

 

Go back Lottie Collins: Lottie (Charlotte Louise) Collins (1866-1910) began her stage career in a skip-rope dance with her sisters in 1877. She had a minor role in Monte Cristo Junior, starring Fay Templeton, in 1886 at London's Gaiety Theatre, then toured as a solo variety act. On tour in New York, she heard the song, "Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay" and made a smash hit with it in London in 1891, then brought it back to America in September 1892. She would pause after the first verse, then go into her cancan-like skirt dance, with high kicks that showed off the sparkling suspenders that held up her stockings. Collins starred in other shows, but her fame rested on "Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay." She married three times; her daughter, Jose Collins (1887-1958), was also a popular singer and actress.  

Go back Clara Morris: Born Clara Morrison, Morris (1848-1925) made her New York debut in 1870 and was a great success playing passionate, suffering heroines in roles in such plays as Jezebel, Camille (1874), Miss Multon, a version of East Lynne (1876), Jane Eyre (1877), and The New Magdalen (1882). She formed her own company about 1878 and toured the country. She was never famous for her beauty, and her voice was flawed, but the emotional power of her acting overcame these defects. Morris retired in the 1890s as the new kinds of realistic plays of Ibsen and Shaw and Pinero made the older dramas seem old-fashioned and histrionic. In retirement she wrote articles and columns on acting, as well as volumes of reminiscences that show her acting was not so instinctive and unpracticed as Cather supposed.

Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Image available at the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections.


Clara Morris


Clara Morris


Clara Morris


Clara Morris


Clara Morris

 

Go back Mounet-Sully: Tragedian Jean Mounet-Sully (1841-1916) was considered the greatest tragic actor of the nineteenth century French stage. He made his debut in 1868, but had his first real success in 1872. He soon became one of the stars of the Comédie Fran?aise, renowned for his work in tragedy and romantic drama, playing such roles as Oedipus, Achille, Hamlet, Ruy Blas, and Hernani. He became a chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1889, and a street in Paris is named for him.

Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

 

Go back Sophocles: Greek playwright Sophocles (496 or 497-406 B.C.) was born near Athens. His first recorded prize in the playwriting competitions associated with the festival of Dionysius occurred in 468; only seven of the 123 plays he is said to have written have survived in complete form. He is best known for the three Theban plays, Antigone, Oedipus Rex, and Oedipus at Colonna. The other plays include Ajax, Electra, The Trachiniae, and Philoctetes.  

Go back "Oedipus Roi": Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the king, is one of the best-known and most performed of Sophocles' tragedies. The play begins as a plague strikes Thebes; Oedipus, the king, vows to find and punish the person responsible for bringing the gods' curse on the city. Although warned by the blind prophet Tiresias, Oedipus does not realize until late in the play that he had, as prophesized, killed his father, the former king of Thebes, and married his mother, the queen. The audience was expected to know that after Oedipus's birth, his mother, Jocasta, had tried to get around the prophecy by exposing the infant to his death on a mountainside. The infant was found and raised in a neighboring court, not knowing of his adoption. As a young man, Oedipus met a traveler on a road, and kills him after a dispute; the man was his father. Oedipus goes on to become king of Thebes. When they learn the truth, Jocasta kills herself and Oedipus blinds himself and goes into exile.  

Go back Creon: Creon (or Kreon) is the brother of Jocasta, queen of Thebes and mother/wife of Oedipus. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus accuses Creon of conspiring to overthrow him. In Antigone, Creon precipitates the action of the play when he forbids Oedipus' daughter, Antigone, to bury the body of her brother, the rebel Polyneices. The blind prophet Tiresias forces Creon to see his errors, but before he can undo them, Antigone, Haemon (his son and Antigone's fiancé), and Eurydice (Creon's wife) have all taken their lives.  

Go back Oedipus: Oedipus, the hero of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, was taken by his mother to be abandoned on a mountainside to his death because, according to a prophecy, he would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. He was found by shepherds, and raised in a neighboring court, without knowing of his adoption. On growing to manhood, he has various adventures, including solving the riddle of the Sphinx; on the road one day he falls into a dispute with another traveler and kills him, not knowing until much later that the man was his father. He becomes king of Thebes and marries Jocasta; neither knows that she is his mother. The gods curse Thebes because of the parricide and incest of Oedipus; when at last he realizes his fault, he goes into exile, leaving the kingship to be shared between his two sons.  

Go back Hernani: Victor Hugo's verse play, Hernani (1830), was one of the first Romantic plays, written in rebellion against the classical dramatic conventions, such as the strict unity of time and place. Although it ran for a hundred performances, there were struggles every night between Hugo's supporters, led by Gautier, and supporters of the classic French drama. In the play, Hernani, a Spanish bandit, falls into the power of Ruy Gomez, and gives Gomez his hunting horn with the promise that when Hernani hears the horn, he will take his own life. When finally Hernani, revealed as a Spanish nobleman, marries his love, Gomez's niece, Doňa Sol, he hears the hunting horn. True to his pledge, he takes poison, but Doňa Sol takes it also in order to die with him. Verdi's opera, Ernani (1844), with a libretto by Piave, is based on Hugo's play.  

Go back Mr. Willard: Actor E. S. (Edward Smith) Willard (1853-1915) was born in England and began acting in 1869, playing in provincial theaters. Soon after his London debut in 1875, however, he returned to the provinces in the leading roles he was unable to obtain in London. In 1881 he returned to London, joining Wilson Barrett's company; he made a hit in a supporting role in The Silver King, and was successful in Shakespearean and modern roles. He remained in London when Barrett's company went to the U. S. in 1886. His role of Cyrus Benkam in The Middleman (1889), by Henry Arthur Jones, made him a star. He brought the play to America in 1890, with Maxine Elliott making her debut as his daughter, and remained until 1894. He returned to America periodically until his retirement in 1906.

E. S. Willard

 

Go back Hamlet: Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (written 1599-1601), a five act tragedy, is widely considered the greatest play in English. It was apparently based on a 12th century history, or on a preceding play on the same subject, possibly by Thomas Kyd. The play deals with murder, revenge, madness, and man's will. It contains some of the most famous lines in English, especially Hamlet's soliloquy, "To be or not to be" as well as such famous scenes as Ophelia's mad scene, and Hamlet with Yorkick's skull.  

Go back The Silver King: This four-act play by Henry Arthur Jones (1851-1929), with Henry Herman, established Jones' position as a leading British playwright. It was produced at the Princess's Theatre in London in 1882 by Wilson Barrett, playing the hero, Wilfred Denver, and with E. S. Willard in the role of the villainous "the Spider." The plot concerns Wilfred Denver, who is accused of murdering a man who had wronged him; with the help of his wife, he flees; his train car burns in an accident, with several unidentifiable bodies. Thought to be dead, Denver escapes to America, makes his fortune in Nevada silver; returning to London, he helps his unwitting family and searches for the real killer.  

Go back Police Patrol: The Police Patrol, a melodrama by Scott Marble, played in various minor theatres before opening at the Grand Opera House in October 1892. The New York Times review said it "holds a mirror up to police captains, safe-breaking, murder, love faithful under difficulties, and other interesting phenomena" (October 4, 1892).  

Go back Ruy Blas: Victor Hugo's tragic verse drama (1839) concerns Ruy Blas, a valet to a corrupt Spanish nobleman, Don Salluste, and a double for Salluste's cousin, Don Cesar. Salluste introduces Ruy Blas to the court of Charles II of Spain in a plot against the queen. Ruy Blas exposes the corruption of the court and saves the honor of the queen, dying just after she confesses her love for him. Hugo's play became acclaimed as one of his greatest. Felix Mendelssohn wrote an overture for a German production of Ruy Blas in 1839 (op. 95). Filippo Marchetti (1831-1902) wrote an opera based on the play in 1869. The play was made into a silent movie starring Maurice Costello and Julia Arthur in 1909. Jean Cocteau wrote the screenplay for a black-and-white French film (1948) starring Jean Marais and Danielle Darrieux.  

Go back Don Roderique: Two lyric dramas in three acts were published in Spain under the title of Don Rodrigo; the first, by Antonio Arnao, was performed in 1857 and published in 1859; the other, by Agustín Fernando de la Serna, was published in 1873. Both may have been inspired by a poem by Victor Hugo, "Don Rodrique est à chasse" (1828), in which a Spanish nobleman seeks to kill his half-Moorish rival.An opera by Alberto Ginastera, Don Rodrigo, was first performed c. 1966, according to WorldCat.  

Go back Euminides: The Eumenides, or the kindly ones, is a placating name for the Erinyes (known as the Furies by the Romans), female spirits or deities who were born from the blood of Uranus when he was attacked by his son Cronus. The Eumenides, often portrayed with snake hair, bloody eyes, and wings, pursue and torment the guilty.The third play of Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy is The Eumenides (458 B.C.).  

Go back Faust: There was one (or possibly two) German astrologer-magicians named Faustus in the sixteenth century, who allegedly sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge. His (or their) feats were recorded or invented in an anonymous work, Faustbuch (1587), full of coarse humor and vivid descriptions of hell and the strange character of the devil Mephistopheles. An English translation in 1592 inspired Christopher Marlowe's Tragicall History of Dr. Faustus (1604). In early versions of the legend Faust's damnation is assured.  

Go back Praxiteles: The sculptor Praxiteles (c. 390-330 B.C.), considered the greatest of the Greek sculptors, was the son of the sculptor Cephisodotus. His mistress was the Greek courtesan Phryne, who is said to have served as the model for his statues of Aphrodite. His works were known through descriptions by ancient writers and through marble copies by the Romans, such as that of the Apollo Sauroktonus and the Aphrodite of Knidos. However, in 1877, his statue of Hermes with the infant Dionysius was discovered at Olympia and quickly became famous. In 2004 the Cleveland Museum of Art announced that it had acquired what it believed to be Praxiteles original bronze statue of the Apollo Sauroktonus.  

Go back Murillo: Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (c. 1617-82) was born and lived most of his life in Seville, where he grew up in the household of an artist, Juan de Castillo, after his parents died. He probably visited Madrid when he was in his twenties, where he may have been influenced by Velazquez. Murillo's serene religious paintings became very popular and influential throughout Europe. He also painted street scenes and a few portraits.  

Go back Kendals: Madge (née Margaret Robertson) Kendal (1849-1935) was born in an established English theatrical family (her brother Tom Robertson was a well known playwright), and was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1929. Her husband, William Hunter Kendal (1843-1917) was less celebrated than his wife; as a shrewd actor manager, he produced plays to showcase his wife.  

Go back Irving: Henry Irving (1838-1905), the great British actor-manager, was born John Henry Brodribb, and after a long apprenticeship made his debut under the Irving name as the Duke of Orleans in Richelieu. His London debut followed in 1866, and he began a long association with the Lyceum Theatre in 1871, making it known for the quality of the acting (Ellen Terry was his leading lady) and for the rich production values of the staging. Irving was especially famous in Shakespearean roles, and in 1895 he was the first actor to be knighted.

Henry Irving


Henry Irving as Matthais in "The Bells"

 

Go back L'Enfant Prodigue: Although a number of works bore this name, the most likely seems to be Michel Carré's play, L'Enfant Prodigue: Pantomime en 3 Actes, with music by André Wormser (c. 1891). It was produced at the Theater of Shadows in Paris by Henri Rivi?re, and was very popular in England, where it is credited with reviving the art of pantomime. The actors performed in whiteface, with costumes derived from the Commedia dell' Arte.  

Go back Theatre des Varieties: Paris's Théâtre des Varietés opened in 1807. It featured, as its name suggests, less classic fare than the more prestigious Comédie Fran?aise.It was a favorite venue for the operettas of Offenbach; Réjane was a member of its company until she formed her own troupe; later Sarah Bernhardt leased it as a home for her own company.  

Go back Henry T. Wing's address: American essayist and lecturer Henry T. Wing (b. 1842) published The Idealist in 1892.  

Go back Harvard University: Harvard University, the oldest such institution in the United States, was founded in 1636 by a charter from the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; it was named for a young minister, John Harvard, who left it his library and half his estate in 1638. Although many of its early graduates became ministers, it was not affiliated with any church and increasingly became an independent institution of learning with the curriculum broadened in the eighteenth century. Under President Charles Eliot Norton, who served from 1869 to 1909, the college became a modern university, with professional and graduate schools, and an "Annex" for women (1879) that became Radcliffe College in 1894.  

Go back Charley Mitchell: British boxer Charles Mitchell, formerly a bare-knuckle pugilist, met James J. Corbett in a match for the heavyweight championship of the world at Jacksonville, Florida, on January 25, 1894.  

Go back Phyllis Rankin: Actress Phyllis Rankin (c. 1873-1934), a daughter of actor McKee Rankin, married a man named Gibbs, by whom she had two children, silent film actor Arthur Rankin Gibbs (who played under the name Arthur Rankin), and Katherine Gibbs. In 1899 Phyllis Rankin played Fifi in the Casino Theatre production of The Belle of New York, which traveled to London and ran for nearly 700 performances. In the cast was Harry Davenport (1866-1949), younger brother of Fanny Davenport, whom she married c. 1907. Phyllis Rankin continued to appear on Broadway until the early 1920s.  

Go back McKee Rankin: Arthur McKee Rankin (1841-1914) was born in Windsor, Ontario. At the age of twenty-one he was a member of Mrs. Drew's Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia. He married an actress, Kitty Blanchard, with whom he toured. He took over John McCullough's California Theater in San Francisco, building up a well-known repertory company. He wrote some of the plays which they performed, notably '49, a story of gold rush days, and The Danites, an anti-Mormon exposé; both were made into silent films c. 1911. One daughter, Phyllis, married Harry Davenport; her son was a silent film actor under the name of Arthur Rankin. Another daughter, Gladys, married Sidney Drew, and a third married Lionel Barrymore.  

Go back Felix Morris: Actor Felix Morris (1845-1900) was born in England and studied medicine before deciding to pursue a career on the stage. He came to the U.S., supporting himself occasionally as a drugstore clerk. He became a member of Eugene McDowell's and George Fawcett Rowe's companies in the 1870s, touring in the U.S. and Canada. In the 1880s he formed his own touring company, adapting plays such as Mona(1885) for actress Helene Dauvray, and The Pavements of Paris(1884), starring himself. By 1890, however, he was a member of Rosina Vokes' London Comedy Company. After her death in early 1894 he formed his own company again, writing and adapting plays, such as The Old Musician(1891).

Morris's Reminiscences was published in 1892. He married actress Florence Wood and had two daughters, Mildred and Felice.

 

Go back Emma Juch: Soprano Emma Juch (1863-1939) was born in Vienna to naturalized American parents. Although her father was musical himself, he did not want his daughter to be a professional musician, so she studied in secret. At a recital, he realized his daughter's talent and withdrew his opposition. Emma Juch made her London and New York debuts in 1881, singing the lead roles in standard operas. In 1885 she joined Theodore Thomas's American Opera Company, winning acclaim for the purity of her voice and her beautiful diction, especially singing in English. She formed the Emma Juch Grand English Opera Company in 1889, with singers who were mostly American-born, believing that singing in English was the future of opera.Emma Juch met New York Assistant District Attorney Francis Wellman in the summer of 1893. The New York Times announced their engagement in May 1894, and they were married in June. Juch did not perform again after her marriage; she and Wellman were divorced in 1911.  

Go back Mr. Willman: New York Assistant District Attorney Francis L. Wellman (1854-1942) had been an assistant corporation counsel in the 1880s, making his name as one of America's eminent trial lawyers before joining the office of New York District Attorney DeLancey Nicoll. His The Art of Cross Examination (1903) remained a classic in the twentieth century. He met Emma Juch on board ship as she returned from Europe in the summer of 1893. They were married in June 1894; it was his second marriage. The couple was divorced in 1911. Wellman published reminiscences of his legal career in Gentlemen of the Jury (1924).  

Go back Ta-ra-ra-ra Boom de aye: The title (which is also the chorus) of this early hit song, credited to Henry J. Sayers, is given on the early sheet music as "Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay." Sayers was a press agent for various performers in Missouri and is not otherwise known as a composer; some sources suggest the words originated in the brothels of St. Louis, and that the tune is a German one. The 1891 song was introduced by Lottie Collins first in London, and then in New York in 1892. Verses were soon added, and many parody versions exist using the famous title.  

Go back Marie Wainright: Actress Marie Wainwright (1853-1923) was born in Pennsylvania. By 1866 she was co-starring with Louis James in Shakespeare and plays such as Virginius. This partnership lasted until the late 1880s, although Wainwright also toured with Lawrence Barrett in Francesca da Rimini (1882). Wainwright apparently formed her own company, touring in the early 1890s in Shakespeare and classic comedies. She was still playing on Broadway c. 1915, playing older woman roles, as she did in three silent films, 1918-1920.  

Go back the "Jealous Wife": The Jealous Wife, a comedy by George Colman the elder, English dramatist and theater manager, was first produced in 1761. The plot derives, in part, from the story of Lady Bellaston in Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749). Mrs. John Drew revived the play in New York on January 22, 1894.  

Go back Fanny Davenport: Fanny Davenport (1850-98) was born into an American theatrical family; she took her first speaking part at the age of six. She performed with Augustin Daly's company from 1869 to 1876, when she formed her own company to tour with her hit Pique. She bought the American rights to a number of Sardou's plays and had great success with many roles first performed by Sarah Bernhardt. Illness forced her retirement in March 1898 and she died in September of that year.

Fanny Davenport


Fanny Davenport


Fanny Davenport as Fedora

 

Go back Sardou: Victorien Sardou (1831-1908) was one of the dominant playwrights of the nineteenth century; his influence was felt far beyond his native France in the many translations and adaptations made of his plays. An exponent of the well-made play, his work seemed to become dated quickly after his death. His first play was produced in 1854, but quickly withdrawn, and he suffered difficulties until a friend interested the actress Mlle Déjazet. Some of his best-known works include A Scrap of Paper (1860); Diplomacy; Fedora (1882) and La Tosca (1887), both written for Sarah Bernhardt, and both made into operas; Frou-frou; and Madame Sans-Gêne (1893), which was made into an opera and two silent movies, one with Gloria Swanson. Sardou was elected to the French Academy in 1878.  

Go back Carleton: Henry Guy Carleton (1856-1910) was one of the relatively few American writers of original plays, rather than adaptations of foreign ones. His Victor Durand had appeared in 1884, and he had some solid successes in the 1890s, including A Gilded Fool (1892), written for Nat Goodwin and made into a silent film in 1915, and Butterflies (1894); That Imprudent Young Couple (1895), however, ran for only two weeks. He was the son of General James Henry Carleton, commander of the Department of New Mexico during the Civil War, who forced the Navajos on the disastrous "Long Walk" to Bosque Redondo. Henry Guy Carleton married actress Effie Shannon in 1890; they were divorced in 1892; in 1894 he married actress Olive May, whose family lived in Beatrice, Nebraska, in the 1890s.

Cather devoted much of a 4 August 1895 column to discussing Carleton and his integrity as a playwright.

 

Go back Miss May: Olive May (c. 1870-73-1938) was born in Chicago; her family had moved to Beatrice, Nebraska, by the early 1890s, although she may have already gone on the stage by then. She appeared onstage in Lincoln with Stuart Robson's company in the fall of 1892, and made her New York debut in Henry Guy Carleton's Butterflies (1894), playing Suzanne to Maude Adams' Miriam. She married Carleton later that year and retired from the stage until 1897. She had a fairly successful career playing soubrettes and comediennes until about 1920. After Carleton's death she married John Albaugh.The New York Times reviewer "E. A. D." wrote of May's performance in Butterflies: "Olive May has made the individual hit in the performance at Palmer's. She is young, small, and trim, round-faced, agile, and pretty. She has a bubbling laugh, and her speaking voice is pleasing. Above all, she is something new. . . . Olive May has the richest part in "The Butterflies"; she says a lot of things Mr. Carleton wouldn't be ashamed to say himself in an after-dinner speech, and she is not a bit like anyone else now before the public" (Feb. 11, 1894; 10:4)Nebraska State Journal; she saw May in Pittsburgh in 1899, reporting on it in the December 23, 1899 Courier.  

Go back Julia Marlowe: Marlowe (born Sarah Frost in England in 1866) made her stage debut in 1878 and first appeared in New York in 1887. Her beauty and refinement made her immensely popular with audiences, and she toured frequently with her own company, with both her first husband, Robert Taber (married 1894, divorced 1900), and her second, the almost equally well-known actor, E. H. Sothern (married 1911). She was considered a romantic rather than an emotional actress, especially famous in Shakespearean roles. She retired in 1924 and died in 1950.

Julia Marlowe


Julia Marlowe


Julia Marlowe


Julia Marlowe

 

Go back Benjamin Howard: Actor Benjamin Howard (d. 1906) appeared with a number of different companies in the 1890s; he toured with the cast of Niobe before joining the Craigen-Paulding company in the spring of 1894. After touring in Gustave Frohman's Charity Ball road company, he appeared on Broadway with Stuart Robson in Mrs. Ponderbury's Past, when the New York Times said he "looked and acted the part with modesty and vigor" (8 January 1896). He turned to musicals at the turn of the century, appearing on Broadway in The Strollers (1901) and A Chinese Honeymoon (1904). With his brother, actor George Howard, he was in the company of Charles Frohman's long-running musical, The Rollicking Girl (1905) before being found dead of poison, an apparent suicide, in New York in June 1906.  

Go back Niobe: In Greek mythology Niobe was the daughter of the Lydian king Tantalos. She bore twelve (or in some accounts, fourteen) children, and boasted of being a better mother than Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis. Leto had her divine children kill all Niobe's children, and Niobe herself was turned to stone.  

Go back cast: Niobe; A Mythological Farcical Comedy in Three Acts, by Edward A. Paulton and Harry Paulton, and starring Beatrice Lamb and Harry Paulton, opened at the Strand Theatre in London in April 1892 and ran for 550 performances. The American cast starred Carrie Turner as Niobe, with W. F. Owen, Charles Coote, and A. F. Buchanan. In the play a statue of Niobe touched by an electric wire comes to life in the home of an ordinary man, causing complications with his wife and family.The play was made into a silent film in 1915; it was produced by Daniel Frohman and directed by Hugh Ford and Edwin S. Porter.  

Go back the Craigen-Paulding company: After playing supporting roles in other companies, Maida Craigen and Frederick Paulding formed their own company c. 1893.  

Go back Louis de Ligney: In Alexandre Dumas the elder's history, The Borgias, Louis de Ligny is mentioned as one of the commanders of the army of the French king Charles VIII when he invaded Italy. The play in which this character occurs has not been identified.  

Go back Miss Theresa Vaughn: Theresa Vaughn was a popular singing and dancing comic actress. She worked often with her husband, actor William A. Mestrayer (1846-1896). The New York Times reviewer said of their performance (in an "idiotic farce-comedy") that "Mr. W. A. Mestrayer and Miss Theresa Vaughn have long been popular in this city as entertainers and they sustained their respective and conjunctive reputations" (1 January 1887). An October 2, 1896 Times review said, " She is one of the best comic actresses ever seen here, endowed with genuine talent and a keen sense of humor."Vaughn was probably performing in 1492 (opened February 5, 1894) when Melba applauded her singing  

Go back Mr. and Mrs. Alferd Byrne: Librettist Charles Alfred Byrne was co-author of a number of successful musicals in the early 1890s, including Prince Kam, The Isle of Champagne, and Princess Nicotine, with Louis Harrison, and with music by William Furst.  

Go back Mr. Charles Frohman: Charles Frohman (1860-1915) became the most important theatrical manager of his time; he was one of the founders of the Theatrical Syndicate which for a time controlled U.S. theaters. His first big success was with Bronson Howard's Shenandaoh in 1889. He developed the star system when he engaged John Drew in 1892 for his Empire Stock Company, and later managed many other of the top stars; he encouraged many playwrights such as Clyde Fitch and David Belasco. Frohman died in the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915.

Charles Frohman

 

Go back The New Boy: The British play, The New Boy (1894), by Arthur Law, was described by the New York Times as a "clever farcical comedy" though it imitated Vice-Versa and Little Puck (13 September 1894). It was a British boys' boarding school story, with the roles of the boys taken by adult actors. The New York production initially starred Willis Sears, but the play did not become popular until James T. Powers took over the lead role in October 1894.  

Go back Rosina Voke: Rosina Vokes was one of the most popular of a large family of English comic players (nearly a dozen are listed in the New York Times dramatic index as playing on the New York stage between 1872 and 1917). Rosina Vokes appeared with them in their first New York production in 1872, in their often-revived The Belles of the Kitchen, and in many other productions through the years. Her last year on the New York stage was 1893, a year in which she performed in eight plays. The New York Times reviewer said of her in her last play, "Miss Vokes has been a popular star in light comedy and burletta" and "Miss Vokes retains her large share of popularity, and her unique powers have not diminished" (16 May, 1893).Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.  

Go back The Boston cadets: The Boston Cadets were a volunteer militia organized by John Hancock in the mid eighteenth century. In the early nineteenth century its function had become largely ceremonial, they were the governor's bodyguard and had become an elite social group for wealthy young men who could afford the many splendid uniforms. Many members, however, served in the Civil War—the 45th Massachusetts regiment was known as the Boston Cadets because so many of their officers had been members. After the Civil War, the Cadets became increasingly social, marching in parades, giving dinners to notables, and, towards the end of the nineteenth century, sponsoring musicals and revues. The great female impersonator Julian Eltinge (1881-1941) is said to have gotten his start in 1891, playing a girl in the Boston Cadets' annual revue.  

Go back Thomas Q. Seabrooke: American actor and singer Thomas Q. Seabrooke (1860-1913) was born Thomas James Quigley in New York. He spent some years as a bank teller, then decided to go into show business, making his debut in Rhode Island about 1880. Although he played leading juvenile parts in various stock companies, his talent for comedy was discovered, and he played in several Charles Hoyt farce comedies, making a hit as the Deacon in A Midnight Bell (1889). His first comic opera role was in The Little Tycoon (1888) and he afterwards appeared with De Wolfe Hopper in Castles in the Air (1890). His greatest success was with The Isle of Champagne (1892), which he toured with for several years and revived occasionally. This was followed by Tobasco (1894); his last big hit was with A Chinese Honeymoon (1902). He tried straight comedy and drama several times, unsuccessfully; after 1906 he played in vaudeville.

Seabrooke's first wife was actress Elvia Croix (or Crox), whom he married in 1883; they were separated in 1896, and she sued for divorce in 1899. He later married actress Jeannette Lowrie; a month before his death he married actress Mattie Quinn (Martha Shepard).

 

Go back "Tobasco": Tabasco, a musical or comic opera with music by George W. Chadwick and libretto by R. A. Barnet, was first performed in an amateur performance in Boston in January 1894. The professional premiere was by the Seabrooke Opera Company on 9 April 1894 in Boston.  

Go back Boston museum: The first Boston Museum, built in 1841, was so popular that a new building, designed by H. and J.E. Billing, was constructed in 1846 on Tremont Street. Moses Kimball, the owner, was an associate of P. T. Barnum, and the Boston Museum housed, in addition to its popular theater, a gallery of curiosities and wax figures as well as displays from the New England Museum. The Boston Museum claimed to be the city's premier theater, staging the first American performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's H. M. S. Pinafore in 1878. The theater was associated with actress Mrs. J. R. (Mary Ann) Vincent from1852 to 1887. The building was torn down in 1903.  

Go back Lee Harrison: Singer Lee Harrison was touring with Hoyt's A Temperance Town late in 1894. He later made a hit with songwriter Gus Edwards' "Tammany," which was interpolated into Fantana in 1907.  

Go back Charles Hoyt: Charles Hoyt (1860-1900) was born in New Hampshire, moved west to a cattle ranch in Colorado, became a newspaperman, then wrote his first play and had it produced in 1883; he became one of the most successful producer-playwrights by the late 1880s, perfecting the style of Broadway musical in which a farcical, light-hearted plot gives opportunities for songs and specialty features.  

Go back George Richards: George Richards was a comic actor who first appeared on the New York stage in 1885, and was appearing in Charles Hoyt's productions by 1888; he was featured in A Hole in the Ground (1888) and and was teamed with Eugene Canfield in A Temperance Town, which, according to the New York Times, toured for three years before coming to New York in 1893. The Times reviewer said of the latter play, "The best piece of acting was probably the town drunkard of Mr. Richards, in which the character was steadily sustained and the element of personal humor was never lacking" (19 September 1893). His last reviewed stage appearance in New York was in 1910.  

Go back Eugene Canfield: Eugene Canfield was a comic actor who was featured in Charles Hoyt's A Bunch of Keys (1884) and in other Hoyt productions. The New York Times reviewer said of his appearance in Hoyt's A Midnight Bell (1889), which ran for more than a hundred performances, that his character "was impersonated with much grotesque fun and agility by Eugene Canfield" (7 March 1889).  

Go back The Circus Clown: The indexes to the New York Times drama reviews and Odell's Annals of the New York Stage do not mention a play called The Circus Clown.  

Go back Jennie Kimball: Jennie Kimball (1848-1896) had been a singer and an actress in her youth, prima donna of the Florence Burlesque Company. After the birth of her daughter Corinne she devoted herself to Corinne's career as a child star, forming and managing the Kimball Comic Opera and Burlesque Company (which operated under slightly different names at various times) to showcase her daughter's talents. Jennie Kimball was an excellent business manager and publicist.  

Go back Mrs. James Brown Potter: Cora Urquhart (1857-1936) was born in New Orleans; she married wealthy New Yorker James Brown Potter in 1877, and became a popular member of New York's social set, as well as London society after a visit there in 1886. Her first professional stage appearances were made in England in 1887; she returned to the U.S. and made her New York debut before a brilliant audience of socialites in October 1887. She co-starred with Kyrle Bellew until 1898, appearing in many of the standard nineteenth-century roles such as Camille and Pauline, as well as Shakespearean ones such as Juliet. Mrs. Potter and Bellew toured the Far East and Australia in the early 1890s; much of her career after the late 1890s was in Great Britain with Beerbohm Tree. She undertook the management of the Savoy Theatre in London in 1904, toured South Africa in 1907, and the British provinces thereafter. She retired in 1912; her last performance, at a benefit, was in 1919. In 1933 she published her memoirs, The Age of Innocence and I.  

Go back Charlotte Corday: Charlotte Corday, a play by Kyrle Bellew, opened in New York on March 25, 1895, though Bellew and his co-star, Cora Brown Potter, had been playing it on their tours for several years. The play depicts the early days of the French Revolution and the events leading up to the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), the radical politician and journalist, played by Bellew, by Charlotte Corday (1768-1793), a moderate republican (Girondin), played by Mrs. Potter. Corday, a convent-educated woman of an aristocratic family, came to Paris to ask Marat's protection for herself and fellow Girondins. Marat granted Corday an interview while he was in his bath; when he refused exert his influence in favor of the Girondins, she took the knife she had concealed in her dress and stabbed him. She was promptly arrested, tried, and guillotined.  

Go back Cora Van Tassell: Actress Cora Van Tassel was managing her own company in 1899 when she gave her twelve-year-old nephew, Roland West, his start in the theater; he later became an innovative director of silent and early talking pictures.  

Go back Lottie Mortimer: Dancer Lottie Mortimer was described as a "serpentine dancer" by the New York Times when she appeared in the show of the roof garden of Madison Square Garden (30 May 1893). She also appeared at the Eden Musée earlier in 1893, according to Odell's Annals of the New York Stage, and and then played Flirt for a week in Hoyt's A Trip to Chinatown in March 1894. An 1896 song, "The Racoon and the Bee" by Edward S. Abeles was dedicated to her.  

Go back Harry Holy: No actor of this name (or surnamed Holly) appears in Odell's Annals of the New York Stage or in the New York Times drama review index.  

Go back a new melodrama called "The Man From the West.": A play of this name, starring boxer Jim Jeffries, opened on Broadway in November 1900; the author is given as Clay M. Greene, however.  

Go back Stuart Robson: Comic actor Stuart Robson (1836-1903) was famous for his squeaky voice. He made his theatrical debut in 1852, and was for a time a member of Laura Keene's company and Mrs. Drew's Arch Street Theatre company in Philadelphia. He achieved his greatest fame in his partnership with William H. Crane from 1877 to 1889. The pair was especially noted as the two Dromios in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors. Robson saw Nat C. Goodwin perform at a private entertainment and gave Goodwin his start in one of Robson's own shows in the mid-1870s.

Robson's second marriage was to actress May (Mary Dougherty) Waldron (1858-1924), in 1891; their son, Stuart Robson,Jr., had a brief stage career and ran a magic shop in New York for many years.

Image available at the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections.


Stuart Robson as Bertie in "The Henrietta"


Stuart Robson

 

Go back Henry E. Abbey: Manager Henry E. Abbey (b. 1846) was born in Ohio and reputedly had early careers as a jeweler and as a cornet player. He made his name as a manager of great stars, managing Adalina Patti on her 1880 and 1892 tours of America, Lillie Langtry during her 1882 tour of America, Irving and Terry on their 1884 tour, and Berhhardt in 1891. He produced opera at the 13th Street Theatre in New York in the early 1880s, and was appointed general manager of the Metropolitan Opera when it opened in 1883. However, the Met reportedly lost $600,000 that first season, and the managership passed to Leopold Damrosch; Abbey returned to the Met in 1892 with partners Walter Schoeffe and Maurice Grau.  

Go back Lillian Russell: Lillian Russell, born Helen Louise Leonard (1861-1922) in Clinton, IA, was educated in Chicago, and then in New York, where her mother took her to study in hopes of an opera career. Her first appearance on the New York stage was in the chorus of a production of Pinafore in 1879; Tony Pastor, owner of one of the best variety theaters in New York, gave her the new name, Lillian Russell, and billed her as "The English Ballad Singer." Her blonde beauty, lovely singing voice, and fashionable figure quickly made her a star, one of the highest paid in America. She starred at the Casino Theatre from 1888 to 1891, when she headed her own company at the Garden Theatre. In 1899 she joined the Weber and Fields company, staying with them until 1904. Her voice had suffered over the years, so she toured in comedy from 1906-1908.

Russell was famous for the number of her husbands and for her long liason with "Diamond Jim" Brady. Her first husband was the Pinafore company's orchestra leader, Harry Graham. Her second husband, composer Edward Solomon, was arrested for bigamy in 1886, after two years of marriage. She married her third husband, John Chatterton, known as Giovanni Perugini, in 1894; they were divorced in 1898. Russell retired from the stage after marrying her fourth husband, Alexander Moore, owner of the Pittsburgh Leader. She wrote columns and articles on love and beauty for women, and advocated woman suffrage.

Lillian Russell epitomized the stage beauty of the 1890s. A movie was made of her life in 1940, starring Alice Faye, with Henry Fonda as her fourth husband. Her character also appears in various other movies about the theatrical life of the time.

Image available at New York Public Library Digital Gallery.


Lillian Russell

 

Go back Satire on Mormonism: Mormonism was a controversial topic in the early 1890s, since Utah was admitted as a state in January 1896 only when it renounced polygamy, a central practice of the dominant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  

Go back Marie Tempest Advocation Society: A Marie Tempest fan club, as it would now be called.  

Go back Daniel Froham: Theatrical and film producer Daniel Frohman (1851-1940) was born in Ohio. He and his brothers, Charles and Gustave, were early developers of touring companies for New York productions. Daniel Frohman became manager of Steele Mackaye's Madison Avenue Theatre in the early 1880s, then in 1887 developed his own Lyceum Theatre stock company, which he managed until 1909. Like his brother Charles, Daniel Frohman gave some opportunities to American playwrights, but relied more heavily on established successes by English and French playwrights. Frohman joined forces with producer Adolph Zukor in the Famous Players Film company, producing over seventy films between 1913 and 1917.

Frohman's autobiography, Daniel Frohman Presents, was published in 1935.

 

Go back Isabel Irving: Isabel Irving (1871-1944) joined Daly's company in 1888, playing Shakespearean roles, among other; she was Audrey to James Lewis's Touchstone in As You Like It in 1889. She left the Daly troupe in 1893 to join that of Daniel Frohman, in the Lyceum Theater in New Your, where she played more contemporary roles.  

Go back Amazons: In The Amazons, a farce by Arthur Wing Pinero (1855-1934), three aristocratic English girls are brought up as boys; they discover their true natures when they meet the right men. Herbert Kelcey and Georgia Cayvan were two of the stars. The New York Times reviewer said, "Mr. Pinero gets all the fun that is possible out of his idea" (20 February 1894).Isabel Irving replaced Georgia Cayvan when the play went on tour.  

Go back Georgie Cavyan: Actress Georgia Cayvan (1858-1906) was born in Bath, Maine; she graduated from the Boston School of Oratory and earned her living as a professional reader before going on stage as Hebe in Pinafore with the Boston Ideal Opera Company in 1879. She was afterwards a member of the Union Square Company before signing with Daniel Frohman in 1886, becoming the star of the Lyceum Company. During this time she became, as an obituary said, "the most popular actress in this country." Her health began to fail in 1892, when an operation was performed. By 1896 she was touring with her own company (which included the young Lionel Barrymore); she was involved in a divorce case that same year, but was exonerated after defending herself and with the support of many women's groups. In 1900 her health forced her to retire to the sanitarium in which she died.  

Go back Irving: Henry Irving (1838-1905), the great British actor-manager, was born John Henry Brodribb, and after a long apprenticeship made his debut under the Irving name as the Duke of Orleans in Richelieu. His London debut followed in 1866, and he began a long association with the Lyceum Theatre in 1871, making it known for the quality of the acting (Ellen Terry was his leading lady) and for the rich production values of the staging. Irving was especially famous in Shakespearean roles, and in 1895 he was the first actor to be knighted.

Henry Irving


Henry Irving as Matthais in "The Bells"

 

Go back Louis XI: King Louis XI of France (1423-1483) was six years old when Joan of Arc placed his father, Charles VII, on the throne of an embattled France. He rebelled against his father and was exiled to Dauphine, where he developed the practices that he would use as king of France after his accession in 1461: he formed alliances with the bourgeoisie against the nobility and drew his advisors from men of talent of whatever rank and country. His aim was to unify France under his crown, putting down the powers of the great dukes and counts. He fostered commerce, but his taxes bore oppressively on the lower classes. He spent the last few years of his life in isolation in one of his castles, the "spider's nest." He was succeeded by his son, Charles VIII.

The role of Louis XI, in Dion Boucicault's tragedy Louis XI, King of France (1854), was one of Henry Irving's most notable.

 

Go back Faust: Part one of Goethe's verse drama was published in 1808, the second shortly before his death in 1832. In it Goethe presents Faust as a romantic hero, a seeker after knowledge who is ultimately purified and saved from damnation. Goethe's Faust inspired many other 19th century versions, including a cantata by Hector Berlioz (1846) and an opera by Charles Gounod (1859). Later versions tended to focus more on the love story between Faust and Marguerite.

Lawrence Fossler, professor of German at the University of Nebraska, presented a series of lectures, "Goethe and Faust," in the fall of 1891 which Cather, then a freshman, may have attended. In "Old Mrs. Harris," the young Vickie Templeton looks at a German edition of Goethe's Faustand wishes she could read it (Obscure Destinies 90).

 

Go back Becket: Alfred, Lord Tennyson's verse drama, Becket, was performed by Henry Irving's company in London in February 1893, and in New York February 26, 1894. The play tells the story of Thomas Becket (1118-1170), Archbishop of Canterbury, whose disputes with Henry II over the rights and privileges of the Church led to his death at the hands of four of Henry's knights. He was canonized three years later, and his tomb in Canterbury became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England (the object of the pilgrims in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales).T. S. Eliot's verse drama, Murder in the Cathedral, is also based on the story of Becket and Henry II, as is Jean Anouilh's play (and movie) Becket.  

Go back "Henry VIII.": Shakespeare's play, The Life of Henry VIII (1612 or 13), was printed in the First Folio (1623), but some scholars ascribed in it part to John Fletcher. King Henry must deal with the machinations of the greedy, ambitious Cardinal Wolsey; at the same time he begins to fall in love with Anne Bullen. Wolsey tries to foment a divorce between Henry and his wife, Katherine of Aragon, so Henry can marry a French princess. The Protestant Archbishop Cranmer and other judges declare the divorce legal and Henry's marriage to Anne valid. Henry defends Cranmer against various plots, in the end making him godfather to the infant Princess Elizabeth, for whom Cranmer predicts a great future.

A number of plays have been attributed to Shakespeare; scholars in the early eighteenth century attributed various anonymous plays to him on what they considered to be internal evidence. The play Henry VII would seem to be one of these, seeming to fit neatly between the three parts of the early plays of Henry VI and the late Henry VIII.

Bacon wrote The History of the Reign of Henry VII (1622); the similarity of an image in the play and the history, of parasitic ivy on a tree, has been used as an evidence of Bacon's authorship of Shakespeare.

 

Go back The Bells: Leopold Lewis's The Bells (1871) was based on Eckmann-Chatrian's play, Le Juif polonaise. In it a poor innkeeper, Mathias, kills a Jewish traveler for his money; the story is set fifteen years later, when Mathias is rich and able to give his daughter a great dowry. However, he is tormented by the sound of bells, the traveler's sleigh-bells, and he is eventually driven mad. At the end he dreams that he is before judges accusing him of the crime, and a mesmerist elicits his confession under hypnosis. Shortly after he is wakened the next morning, he dies as if strangled by a hangman's rope. The role of Mathias was Henry Irving's first great success, showing his talent for the macabre; it remained one of his most popular plays.  

Go back Windsor forest: Windsor Forest once covered much of the ancient English county of Berkshire. Henry III enclosed a part, now known as Windsor Great Park, for deer hunting, and it was later connected to nearby Windsor Castle. The forest is famous for its ancient trees and the legends of outlaws and hunters who once lived there.  

Go back Otis Skinner: Actor Otis Skinner was born in Massachusetts in 1858. He made his debut in Philadelphia in 1877, spending two years with the Walnut Street Theatre company. He made his New York debut in 1879, becoming a member of Booth's company and then Barrett's. In 1884 he joined Augustin Daly's company, making his London debut in 1886. He joined Modjeska's company, becoming her leading man in 1892. He formed his own company in 1894. Skinner was noted for his Shakespearean roles and the standard dramas, but his greatest success came later, when he played Hajj the Beggar in Kismet (1911); he also starred in two movie versions of the play, one in 1920, the other in 1930. He was also acclaimed for his role as the matador in Blood and Sand (1920). He remained active in the theater until his death.Skinner married actress Maud Durbin in 1895; their daughter was noted actress and writer Cornelia Otis Skinner (1901-1979).

Otis Skinner as Henry VIII


Otis Skinner as Shylock


Otis Skinner as His Grace de Grammont


Otis Skinner as Charles Surface

 

Go back J. J. Buckley: J. J. Buckley was one of Modjeska's managers in the 1890s.  

Go back Modjeska: Helena Modjeska (1840 or 1844—sources differ) was born in Cracow, Poland, and went on stage in 1861; the name by which she is best known is a simplified version of her Polish stage name. She was acclaimed as the greatest Polish actress, but emigrated to a ranch in Orange County, California, in 1876 with her husband, Karol Chlapowski, a minor Polish nobleman; the titles of Count and Countess appear to have been bestowed on them later. Modjeska learned English quickly enough to make her American stage debut in 1877 and soon became one of the best known and most respected actresses in the country, known for her historical and Shakespearean roles as well as the modern emotional dramas. She retired in 1907 and died in 1909.

Modjeska appears in Cather's My Mortal Enemy (1926).

Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery and the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections.


Helena Modjeska as Ophelia


Helena Modjeska

 

Go back Mlle. Rhea: French actress Hortense-Berbe Loret (1843-1899) was born in Belgium. She began her dramatic career at the age of twenty, playing chiefly in Europe and Russia. She made her London debut in 1881 and then came to New York in November 1881. She never scored a great success in that city, but she was popular in the rest of the U.S. for many years; in 1893-94 she toured with a new play, The Queen of Sheba, with W. S. Hart as Hiram.  

Go back Elizabeth and Shakespeare: Elizabeth and Shakespeare is not a play listed in the New York Times dramatic index.  

Go back "The Lion in Love,": Possibly a play by Fran?ois Ronsard; an Italian version, Il leone inamorato (1869) is known.  

Go back Signor Flavio Ando, the Italian actor: Italian actor Flavio Ando (1851-1915) was one of Italy's most popular leading men—there are streets in some Italian towns named after him. He played opposite Eleonora Duse from the 1885 into the 1890s before forming his own company; their affair contributed to the breakup of her marriage. Later in life Ando became a director.  

Go back Eleonora Duse: Eleonora Duse (1859-1924) was born into an impoverished Italian acting family and began performing at an early age; when her mother became ill, Duse had to take over her roles. Her first success was as Juliet in 1873, though her career did not take off until 1879, after performing in Zola's Thérèse Raquin. She toured Italy and by 1885 was acclaimed as Italy's greatest living actress. After a tour in South America, Duse formed her own company in 1886, with a large repertoire ranging from classical and contemporary French drama to Shakespeare and Ibsen. She met with great success in Paris, where she was considered Bernhardt's only rival. In 1893 Duse came to the U.S., where the restraint and naturalism of her style (for many years she wore no makeup on stage) were also acclaimed. She became the type of the actress who subsumes herself in her art. Her health was fragile, and she retired from the stage in 1911, returning to it in 1921; she toured Europe and then the U. S. in 1923. She collapsed and died in Pittsburgh in April 1924; her body lay in state there and then was taken to be buried in Asolo, Italy.

Duse became known for her love affairs, both with men and (perhaps lesser known at the time) with women. She was married to actor Teobaldo Checchi in 1881, with whom she had a daughter; they were divorced in 1885 after an affair with another actor. The most famous affair was a tempestuous one with Italian poet and playwright Gabriele d'Annunzio, whom she met in 1895; he wrote several verse dramas for her.

Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.


Eleonora Duse


Eleonora Duse

 

Go back Signor Claudio Leigheb: Italian actor and comedian Claudio Leigheb (1848-1903) sometimes played women's roles.  

Go back Mazie Molyneaux: No actress of this name, or similar spelling, appears in Odell's Annals of the New York Stage or in the New York Times drama review index.  

Go back Little Lovell: Although several actors surnamed Lovell appear in the New York Times drama review index, none appears to be a child actor, as the "Little" suggests, nor does Odell's Annals of the New York Stage index an actor of this name.  

Go back Miss Etta Reed: Actress Etta Reed (1866-1915) was born in Ravenna, Ohio, a daughter of Gustavus and Caroline (Buck) Reed. She married Corse Payton and was the leading lady of the company. Once a week, after the matinee, Reed would host a tea, or reception, onstage, for the ladies and children of the audience, a practice that was soon copied by other popular companies. An undated playbill notes "Miss Reed, during the week, will wear sixty different dresses. Count them."  

Go back Corse Payton: Actor and manager Corse Payton (1866-1934) was born in Centerville, Iowa; he made his stage debut at the age of 16 in his family's company; his elder sister married Benjamin Spooner of the Spooner Family company. He organized his own company, Corse Payton's Comedy Company, in 1891 and toured the Midwest until taking his company east in 1895. An undated playbill that has been preserved notes that Payton "carries an entire [railroad] car load of Special Scenery, his own carpets, furniture, bric-a-brac." By 1900 he had his own popular theater, Corse Payton's Lee Avenue Theatre, in Brooklyn, NY, where his company performed two shows a day, with seats at 10, 20, and 30 cents each. Reputedly future stars such as Mary Pickford, Ed Wynn, and the Gish sisters served in his company at various times. Later he managed stock companies in Newark, NJ, and Jamaica, NY. He married Etta Reed, the leading lady of his company; after her death in 1915 he married another actress, Henrietta Brown (d. 1958).  

Go back Corse Payton company: The acting company headed by actor-manager Corse Payton and his wife, leading lady Etta Reed. An undated playbill that has been preserved notes that Payton "carries an entire [railroad] car load of Special Scenery, his own carpets, furniture, bric-a-brac."  

Go back Cedar Rapids, Ia.: Cedar Rapids, in east central Iowa, the county seat of Linn County, was once the capital of Iowa. It was settled on the Cedar River in the 1840s.  

Go back "His Grace de Grammart": Clyde Fitch's play, His Grace de Grammont, opened in Chicago on September 24, 1893, with Otis Skinner in the title role, and starring also Maud Durbin. It opened in New York a year later.  

Go back Clyde Fitch: American playwright Clyde Fitch (1865-1909) graduated from Amherst College, where he had shown a talent for light verse and clever sketches. He had his first success at the age of twenty-four, with Beau Brummell (1889), with the collaboration of its star, Richard Mansfield. For the next twenty years the prolific Fitch was the most popular playwright in the country, turning out adaptations and original plays: light comedies and character studies with witty, seemingly realistic dialogue. Among his other hits were The Masked Ball (1892) starring John Drew and Maude Adams; His Grace de Grammont (1894), starring Otis Skinner; Mistress Betty (1895), starring Modjeska; Barbara Freitchie (1899), starring Julia Marlowe; and Captain Jinx of the Horse Marines (1901), starring Ethel Barrymore in her Broadway debut.  

Go back "A Milk White Flag.": Charles H. Hoyt's play A Milk White Flag: And Its Battle Scarred Followers on the Fields of Mars and in the Courts of Venus did not open in New York until October 8, 1894. Hoyt satirized state militias for their love of fancy uniforms, and questionable courage (since a white flag is a flag of surrender).Edison made several early kinetoscope films of parts of Hoyt's popular play in the months after its New York opening.  

Go back Piggott Luce: Piggott Luce is a character in Charles H. Hoyt's play A Milk White Flag: And Its Battle Scarred Followers on the Fields of Mars and in the Courts of Venus (1894).  

Go back Dore Davidson: Actor Dore Davidson (1850-1930) trained in the Yiddish theater. One of his early successes was as Chuff in Danger Threatening (1884). By 1900 he was appearing in mainstream Broadway productions; later he went into films, playing in D. W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916) and a variety of other films—chiefly playing Jewish characters—until 1927.  

Go back Ramie Austen: Ramie Austen co-starred with Dore Davidson in the early 1890s, appearing in such plays as The Dangers of a Great City, My Jack, Guilty Without a Crime, and By the World Forgotten in various non-Broadway theaters around New York. She next appeared in a minor role in a revival of Humanity in 1896—her former co-star Dore Davidson had had a role in the original production in 1894. Her last role, as indicated by the New York Times index, was in That Man in 1899, when the reviewer said, "Ramie Austen as a knowing servant is particularly good" (7 March 1899).  

Go back Ellen Terry: Ellen Terry (1847-1928), considered the greatest nineteenth century English actress, was born in a theatrical family and went on stage as a child, performing mostly in provincial theaters. She met painter George Frederick Watts, who painted her and her sister Kate as The Sisters in 1862; they were married in 1864, when she was sixteen. The marriage lasted less than a year; Terry returned to the stage, appearing for the first time with Henry Irving in The Taming of the Shrew in 1867. The following year she left the stage again to live with architect Edward Goodwin, by whom she had a daughter, Edith Craig, and a son, Edward Gordon Craig. The relationship with Goodwin was breaking up when Terry returned to the stage in 1874. She made a great success as Portia in The Merchant of Venice in 1875, and by 1878 she was the leading lady in Henry Irving's company at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Their partnership lasted over twenty years, and their productions were particularly noted for lavish, historically based productions of Shakespeare, as well as modern plays. The Lyceum company broke up in 1902; thereafter Terry managed her own theater for a time, then toured England and the U.S. doing lecture-recitals of Shakespeare. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1925. Terry published her memoirs, The Story of My Life, in 1908. She was married three times: to Watts; to actor Charles Kelly (Wardell) from 1878 until his death in 1885; and to an American actor, James Carew, twenty-three years her junior, from 1907-1909.  

Go back William Terris: British actor William (Lewin) Terriss (1847-1897) had a varied career: he tried sheep farming in the Falkland Islands and tea planting in India. Returning to England, he adopted the stage name of Terriss; he played opposite Ellen Terry in 1878, and played Romeo to Mary Anderson's Juliet in 1885. He joined Henry Irving's Lyceum Company in 1880, then became the immensely popular leading man of the Adelphi Theater in 1883, though he occasionally played with Irving and the Lyceum company as well. He was nicknamed "Breezy Bill" for his light-hearted, debonair style. Terriss was murdered at the stage door of the Adelphi by a deranged, unemployed actor, Richard Prince.Terriss married Isabel Lewis in 1868; their daughter, Ellaline Terriss (1872-1971), became one of Britain's most popular actresses; she married actor-producer-playwright (Sir) Seymour Hicks (1871-1949).  

Go back Jessie Millward: British actress Jessie Millward (1861-1932) made her start in acting with the Kendals' company; she made her debut in 1881 and was engaged by Henry Irving for the Lyceum Company in 1882. In 1885 she joined William Terriss at the Adelphi as his leading lady. The two were reputed to be lovers off-stage as well. Terriss and Millward visited the U.S. in 1890 and again in 1892, when they did costume recitals of scenes from Shakespeare.Millward married (Sir) John Glendinning, a leading man with the Kendals' company.  


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