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American Actors 
and Actresses 

by Frederick Wagner 
and Barbara ttrady 


Dodd, Mead Company 

NEW YORK 1961 





To Mary Ward 
the bearer of glad tidings 

about the theatre 
to every part of America 


All sources consulted are listed in the Bibliography. In addi- 
tion, we are most grateful for their invaluable help to May 
Davenport Seymour, Curator of the Theatre and Music Col- 
lection of the Museum of the Qty of New York; to her as- 
sociate, Sam Pearce; and to George Freedley and his associ- 
ates in the Theatre Collection of the New York Public Li- 

The chapters on the Lunts, Miss Cornell, Miss Hayes and 
Miss Harris were sent to their subjects for factual approval 
prior to publication. We deeply appreciate their gracious 
and prompt responses. 


EDWIN FORREST (1806-1872) 13 

JOSEPH JEFFERSON (1829-1905) 27 

EDWIN BOOTH (1833-1893) 43 


E. H- SOTHERN (1859-1933) AND 

JULIA MARLOWE (1865-1950) 77 

MAUDE ADAMS (1872-1953) 89 

GEORGE M. COHAN (1878-1942) 101 


LYNN FONTANNE (1892- ) 113 


HELEN HAYES (1900- ) 133 

JULIE HARRIS (1925- ) 143 


INDEX 155 

Edwin Forrest 


Edwin Forrest as King Lear 

Edwin Forrest 


I HE first American-born actor to win greatness, Edwin 
Forrest was one of the most colorful, controversial and tragic 
figures in the history of the American theatre. The story is told 
that, toward the end of his life, he was complimented on die 
way he played King Lear* The aging actor drew himself up to 
his full five-feet-ten-inches and roared in his deep, penetrating 
voice, "Play Lear? Sir, I play Othello and Macbeth, but I am 
Lear/' Indeed, he had much in common with Shakespeare's 
proud, obstinate and ill-fated king. 

Edwin Forrest's father, William, was a poor, humble 
workman who came to America from Scotland. He finally 
settled in Philadelphia, where, in 1795, he married Rebecca 
Lauman, a native Philadclphian of German descent. They had 
seven children, six of whom survived infancy. Edwin, the 
next to the youngest, was born on March 9, 1 806. 

William Forrest never was able to rise above his humble 
beginnings; he worked as a bank runner, earning barely enough 
to support his large family. When he died in 1819, they were 
plunged even deeper into poverty. Instead of admitting de- 
feat, Mrs. Forrest put herself and her children to work; and 
she lived to enjoy the tremendous fame and fortune Edwin 

When only eleven, Edwin, who was playing outside a 



Philadelphia theatre, was asked by the manager to substitute 
for an ill performer in the show that evening. Undaunted by 
die fact that the role was that of a young girl, he accepted. 
Unfortunately, some of his friends were in the audience that 
night. When they recognized him, their howls of laughter 
drowned out nearly everything he said. 

This experience whetted his appetite for the theatre, and 
he spent considerable time watching performances and reading 
plays, especially Shakespeare. One night he attended a dem- 
onstration of the effects of laughing gas and volunteered for 
one of the experiments. After inhaling the gas, he launched 
into a soliloquy from Richard HI. Even though the spectators 
were impressed, he fled the auditorium in embarrassment as 
soon as he recovered from die gas. 

Edwin's schooling, which always had been sporadic, 
ended with his father's death. He was apprenticed successively 
to an importer, a printer, a barrel maker, and a ship supplier; 
but his early taste of acting had spoiled any other type of work 
for him. In his spare time he took elocution lessons and was 
an energetic worker with an amateur theatrical group. 

On November 27, 1820, when he was only fourteen, he 
made his formal professional debut at the Walnut Street The- 
atre in Philadelphia, playing die young hero, ultimately poi- 
soned by his stepfather, in Douglas, a popular tragedy of the 
era. Although his performance was well received, the man- 
agers of the Philadelphia theatres were not sufficiendy im- 
pressed to give him many professional acting jobs in the next 
few years. However, he gained more and more experience 
with the amateurs. 

Finally, in the fall of 1822, he was engaged for a company 
diat was to pky at a chain of theatres in Pittsburgh, Cincfor 
nari, and in Lesdngton, Kentucky, which were then still f ron- 



tier towns. The actors, especially the novice Edwin Forrest, 
received excellent notices in the newspapers; but attendance 
was sparse, and in April, 1823, the managers abandoned the 
venture. Instead of disbanding, the company stayed together, 
playing wherever they could find a stage and a few paying 
customers in the smaller Ohio towns. Despite the many hard- 
ships, Edwin was fascinated by life on the frontier and de- 
lighted with his reception by the rough, boisterous audiences. 
His experiences during these months aroused a patriotic fervor 
and an admiration for the common man which he never lost. 

Following a brief stint with another acting company in 
Lexington, and an even briefer stint with a circus, he was hired 
by James Caldwell, an actor who managed a very successful 
theatre in New Orleans. After a week's journey by steamboat 
down the Mississippi from Louisville, Forrest reached New 
Orleans early in February, 1824. 

Although the acting company was first-rate, his ambition 
was constantly thwarted because James Oaldwell reserved all 
the best roles for himself. At eighteen, Forrest thought he de- 
served something better than secondary parts. In other re- 
spects Caldwell treated the burly, good-looking young actor 
well; he even made several attempts to introduce him to the 
socially prominent families in New Orleans. Forrest, however, 
preferred the robust frontiersman to the socialite and sought 
out the rougher elements in town. James Bowie, inventor of the 
bowie knife, and an Indian, Chief Push-ma-ta-ha, became his 
boon companions. 

Even in secondary roles Forrest's talent was evident; his 
vigorous acting attracted an outspoken and intensely loyal 
following. By January, 1825, Caldwell was forced to bow to 
Forrest's increasing popularity and award him better parts, 
but the stormy young actor had found a new source of dis- 



satisfaction. He and Caldwell, it developed, were rivals for 
the attentions of the troupe's leading lady, Jane Placide. 

After a violent quarrel with Caldwell over the young ac- 
tress, Forrest resigned from the company and published an 
announcement in the local paper calling the actor-manager a 
scoundrel and a coward Caldwell reduced this grand gesture 
to insignificance by ignoring it. Realizing his hot temper had 
exposed him to public ridicule, Forrest retreated from New 
Orleans and went to live with the tribe of his Indian friend, 
Push-ma-ta-ha. After two months he returned home to Phila- 
delphia, knowing that his devoted family would not reproach 
him for his folly. He was right: as always, his mother and two 
unmarried sisters greeted him adoringly; in kter years he re- 
paid their devotion by supporting them in splendor. 

In the fall of 1825 Forrest joined an acting company in 
Albany, New York. There his roles were substantially better 
than they had been in New Orleans: Macduff in Macbeth, 
Richmond in Eschar d 111, and even lago when Edmund Kean, 
the great English tragedian, played Othello. Kean, appearing 
as a guest star with the company, was greatly impressed with 
the young actor's characterization of lago; it was an original 
interpretation, not merely an imitation of other actors' por- 
trayals. Albany critics and audiences shared Kean's enthusiasm; 
and when the season ended in May, 1826, the manager offered 
the promising young actor a New York City engagement in 
the fall 

Edwin Forrest made his official New York debut on No- 
vember 6, 1826. For his first performance he chose the role of 
Othello, one ideally suited to his robust manner and resonant 
voice. When the final curtain came down, the ovation was 
thunderous. It was an historic moment in the American thea- 
tre: for the first time, an American-born actor had emerged 



as a star of major importance. At twenty, Edwin Forrest had 
achieved his goal; in almost one leap he had bounded to the 
top of his profession. Audiences cheered him; society wel- 
comed him; and the stockholders of the theatre voted him an 
immediate salary increase from twenty-eight to forty dollars 
a week* 

In the seasons that followed Forrest proved that his New 
York debut had not been merely a momentary flash of genius. 
He triumphed in a series of exacting Shakespearean roles: 
Richard III, Macbeth, Shylock, Julius Caesar, and King Lear. 
In New York, Albany, Providence, Boston, Philadelphia, Balti- 
more, Nashville, and New Orleans, his popularity increased 
with every engagement. To audiences he was something more 
than just another outstanding actor: he signified that a native 
American from the working classes could rival the English in 
an artistic field they previously had dominated, 

Edwin Forrest was deeply moved by this patriotic en- 
thusiasm and responded by announcing a contest designed to 
encourage American talent in another field: playwriting. In 
the fall of 1828 he offered a prize of five hundred dollars and 
half the receipts of the third performance for a five-act tragedy 
by an American playwright in which an Indian would be the 
chief character. 

Among the judges of the first contest was the noted poet, 
William Cullen Bryant; die prize went to Metamora, based on 
the tragic struggle against the encroaching white man by the 
New England Indian called King Philip* Metamora became 
one of the most successful roles in Forrest's repertory; un- 
doubtedly his experiences with the tribe of Chief Push-ma-ta- 
ha contributed to the effectiveness of his characterization. 

The contest was repeated for a number of years; nine 
plays were awarded prizes, and Forrest actually produced 



seven of them* Even though none of these contests produced 
a notable dramatist, they opened the way for aspiring writers 
in the future. Unfortunately, Forrest marred his generous 
purpose in originating the contests by getting into a number 
of squabbles with the contest winners over royalty payments 
and the question of who actually owned the rights to the plays. 

In July, 1834, this brusque, brilliant American set sail 
for a cultural tour of Europe. He attacked sightseeing with 
the same energy and thoroughness he applied to his acting. 
During his two-year stay abroad he spent considerable time 
in Paris, made a trip across Russia from St. Petersburg to the 
Crimea, and also visited Greece, Italy, Germany and England. 
In August, 1836, he returned to the United States for a series 
of performances in Philadelphia and New York, but by Octo- 
ber he was back in England, ready to undertake his first pro- 
fessional London engagement. 

The leading English actor at this time was William Mac- 
ready. Although he strongly disapproved of Forrest's style 
of acting, considering it crude and extravagant, he made a few 
gestures of hospitality on behalf of the London theatrical 
world. Since Forrest just as strongly disapproved of Mac- 
ready's acting, which he thought was overrefined, the basic an- 
tagonism between the two men could not be concealed for 
long. The seeds of a bitter feud were sown; thirteen years later 
it was to erupt in violence and bloodshed. 

After a generally enthusiastic critical reception in Lon- 
don, Forrest set out in December for a tour of the English 
provinces, where he had only moderate success. By February 
he was back in London, to embark on an intensive courtship 
of Catherine Sinclair, the pretty nineteen-year-old daughter 
of an English acting couple. Forrest bluntly overrode their ob- 



jecrions that he was twelve years older than Catherine and 
an American as welL Late in June, 1838, he married the viva- 
cious girl and, after a brief honeymoon on the Continent, 
brought his bride back to the United States. 

His long absence had only whetted the American public's 
enthusiasm for him; his return engagements were an unbroken 
series of triumphs. Endowed with tremendous physical en- 
durance, he worked incessantly; a perfectionist, he never 
ceased trying to improve his characterizations. In the years 
that followed, his good fortune continued; no other American 
actor had yet emerged to challenge his supremacy. He had 
only one rival, in fact, and that was Macready, who returned 
to die United States in 1 843 for his second tour in this country. 
The antagonism between the two tragedians became more pro- 
nounced, and the newspapers began to mention it. Because 
of an underlying anti-British feeling, public sentiment was 
on Forrest's side. 

Events moved toward a crisis when Edwin Forrest went 
to England in February, 1 845, for another acting engagement. 
On his opening night in London in Othello, he was hissed by 
several members of the audience. Rumors circulated that Mac- 
ready, or at least Macready's partisans, were responsible. In 
any event, Forrest, with his almost aggressive Americanism, 
his pride and his temper, was not one to pass over this affront 
to his country and to himself. When the newspaper writers 
attacked his portrayals of the other roles in his repertory, es- 
pecially the Indian chief in Metamora, Forrest rather abruptly 
ended his London engagement and set out on a tour of the 
provinces, where matters did not go much better. So many 
other acting companies were touring at the time that there 
were not enough audiences to go around. Only in Dublin, 



where the Irish were eager to approve anyone of whom the 
English disapproved, did he meet a really enthusiastic recep- 

In Edinburgh, Forrest made it a point to attend Mac- 
ready's opening in Hamlet in March, 1846. In the scene just 
before the entrance of the players, Macready, as Hamlet, tried 
to portray indifference by daintily fluttering a handkerchief. 
At this point a loud hissing was heard from one of the boxes 
in the auditorium. Several members of the audience recognized 
the culprit: it was Edwin Forrest. 

The incident caused an uproar and was given considerable 
newspaper publicity in both England and America. Forrest 
made no attempt to deny his action; instead, he vigorously 
defended it, pointing out that hissing was an accepted method 
of expressing disapproval. He overlooked the fact that one 
star rarely hissed another. 

In August, 1846, Forrest returned to America, where he 
still was the reigning favorite. By now he was having marital 
problems: he and Catherine had a series of quarrels about her 
parents' interference and about the friends she chose. Forrest 
also tended to brood because all four of their children had 
died in infancy. Nevertheless, he purchased land south of Yon- 
kers, New York, and began building a magnificent stone castle, 
which he named Fonthill. 

In the autumn of 1848 Macready returned to die United 
States for another tour. In New York and Boston the press 
attacked him for the rude reception Forrest had received in 
England; and when both Macready and Forrest undertook 
appearances in Philadelphia at the same time, matters came to 
a head. The audience hissed Macready and threw things at 
him; he made a curtain speech disclaiming any responsibility 
for the troubles Forrest had had in London. He also made 



capital of Forrest's having hissed him in Edinburgh. Forrest 
then attacked Macready in a notice he inserted in a Philadel- 
phia paper; Macready, in turn, threatened to sue Forrest for 
libel. Fortunately, for the next few months the two rivals were 
booked for tours in different parts of the country, but the 
newspapers kept the controversy alive. 

Macready was not the only person with whom Forrest 
was feuding: after a series of violent quarrels with Catherine, 
he left her shortly after beginning a New York acting engage- 
ment early in 1849. 

On May 7, 1849, Macready opened in Macbeth at the 
Astor Place Opera House in New York. Anti-British sentiment 
was rampant; Macready became die butt of the resentment 
of the common man toward the aristocratic factions. On open- 
ing night he was bombarded from the balcony by coins, eggs 
and even theatre seats. The next day he cancelled the remainder 
of his engagement, but changed his mind when he received a 
petition signed by Washington Irving, Herman Melville and 
forty-five other prominent New Yorkers, urging him to con- 

The announcement that Macready would repeat Macbeth 
on May 10 caused a furor. The anti-British groups organized a 
full-fledged demonstration in protest. Pamphlets denouncing 
Macready were distributed; placards were prepared. A mob 
of several thousand collected in the streets around the Astor 
Pkce Opera House. More than three hundred policemen were 
on hand to maintain order, but a riot broke out soon after die 
performance began. The militia was called out; its arrival only 
increased the fury of the mob. Finally, the soldiers were or- 
dered to fire. Thirty-one of the rioters were killed; many more 
were injured. Macbeth played through to die end, but after 
die performance Macready went into hiding, then fled to Bos- 



ton, where he took the first ship back to England. Forrest re- 
peatedly denied any connection with the demonstrations that 
led to the Astor Place Riot, yet even his closest friends did 
not hold him entirely blameless. 

Two years later Forrest was involved in another scandal 
When he filed suit for divorce, his wife filed a counter-suit. 
N. P. Willis, editor of the Home Journal, attacked Forrest 
and defended Catherine in an article; soon afterwards Forrest 
encountered Willis in New York's Washington Square, 
knocked him down and caned him. Willis sued for damages 
and woru The divorce case lasted for nearly two months, end- 
ing in January, 1 852, after sensational accusations on each side. 
Although Catherine was awarded three thousand dollars a year 
alimony, Forrest fought the decision so doggedly in the courts 
that she had little left after paying all her legal fees. 

Despite the controversies that had swirled about him, 
Forrest found his popularity undiminished. However, in 1857 
a combination of gout and rheumatism forced him into tem- 
porary retirement. When he returned to tie stage in the fall 
of 1860, he found that younger men and newer fashions in 
acting were beginning to threaten his position. In 1865 he 
became partially paralyzed More and more he was forced to 
play in less and less important cities. He still drew audiences, 
but they came more out of curiosity about his past grandeur 
than from admiration for his present state. Lonely, plagued by 
ill health, battling against the rising reputation of such younger 
stars as Edwin Booth, he found life increasingly difficult. By 
the fall of 1872 he was so crippled that he no longer could 
move about the stage; he tried giving a series of readings, but 
abandoned them to return to his home in Philadelphia for a 
rest. There, on the morning of December 12, 1872, he was 
found dead in his room. 



His name survives in the Edwin Forrest Home overlook- 
ing Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, a haven for aged actors 
which he endowed in his will. Philadelphia also has remem- 
bered him with the handsome Edwin Forrest Theatre on Wal- 
nut Street. And, although his extravagant, emotional, rough- 
hewn style of acting was outmoded even before his death, his 
fame endures: as the first native American actor to win star- 
dom, as a patron of American playwrights, and as one of the 
most vivid personalities in the entire history of die American 


Joseph Jefferson 


Joseph Jefferson as Bob Acres in The Rivals 

Joseph Jefferson 



JNTCE, late in life, Joseph Jefferson visited Oatskill, New 
York, to speak before the Rip Van Winkle dub. While hav- 
ing supper at the local hotel, he overheard a conversation be- 
tween a waiter and a commercial traveler. 

"Yes, sir," the waiter was saying, "Rip Van Winkle went 
up into the mountains and went to sleep. He slept so long his 
head wore a hollow right into the stone. After twenty years 
he woke up and came back here." 

Purely you don't believe that," the traveler objected 

"It's true," the waiter insisted seriously. Then he pointed 
to Joseph Jefferson. "There he is. That's Rip sitting right over 

It is not surprising that the Oatskill waiter identified Jef- 
ferson as the actual Rip. He had appeared in Rip Van Winkle 
thousands of times before several generations of theatre-goers 
all over America, and in England, Scotland, Ireland and Aus- 
tralia as well. Some small towns even declared a "Jefferson 
Holiday" when he arrived, so that everyone could go see Joe 
Jefferson bring Rip to life. Even the most reserved and fault- 
finding critics acclaimed his acting for its warmth, charm and 
engaging naturalness. 

He was the third Joseph Jefferson to act on the stages of 
America. His grandfather, the first Joseph Jefferson, had emir 



grated to America from England in 1 80 1; he was a comedian 
of skill, highly regarded for his performances with stock com- 
panies in New York and at the old Chestnut Street Theatre in 

The second Joseph Jefferson was less successful than 
either his father or his son. He was a courteous, cheerful, 
kindly man, with some talent as an actor and a painter, but 
unable to assert himself. Once some friends reproached him 
for spending time fishing when he had just gone bankrupt. He 
replied with a smile that he was so poor he could not afford to 
let anything worry him. 

With scarcely a thought about whether he could support 
a wife and family, he married an actress eight years older than 
himself, the daughter of a penniless French planter from Santo 
Domingo and the widow of a dissolute Irish comedian. By 
her first husband she had had one son, Charles Burke, who also 
became an actor. 

The third Joseph Jefferson, still remembered today as 
the greatest comic actor of his time, was born in Philadelphia 
on February 20, 1829. The family was too poor for his mother 
to stop acting merely because she had a baby to care for, so 
one theatre or another served as young Joe's playpen. As soon 
as he could toddle he was pressed into service whenever a small 
child was needed for a bit part in one of the productions; it 
meant a few more dollars added to the meager family income. 

At four he greatly impressed the leading comedian at a 
Washington theatre with the skill of his imitations. One day, 
without telling him what was going to happen, the comedian 
put him in a sack, carried him on stage, and dumped him out to 
face the audience. Whereas most children would have fled in 
terror or in tears, young Joe smiled, bowed to the audience, 
and did a little song and dance along with the comedian. The 



people in the audience took him to their hearts, as many audi- 
ences were to do in the future. Then, according to the custom 
in those days, they showered coins upon the stage. Joe's de- 
light when a bright silver dollar landed was so infectious that 
by die end of the performance he had collected twenty-three 
more dollars. Hard-pressed as his parents were for money, they 
let him keep this magnificent sum as his own private savings 

When he was eight, he made his first appearance on a New 
York stage, playing a Greek pirate slain in combat with an 
American sailor. Even at this age his acting was natural: tradi- 
tion has it that he nearly cut off the big toe of his child op- 

By now the Jefferson family had been increased by the 
birth of a daughter, Cornelia. In 1839 Joe's father, discouraged 
by failure in the East, decided that the family should seek its 
fortune in Chicago, then a thriving little town of four thousand 
inhabitants. From Albany the Jeffersons took a packet-boat to 
Buffalo. Since they had no money they planned to pay their 
passage by acting in towns where the boat stopped along the 
way. But bad weather kept audiences away, and in despera- 
tion they persuaded the captain to agree that he would settle 
their account if young Joe would give him a private perform- 
ance. Joe embarked bravely on the twenty-five stanzas of a 
popular song, 'The Devil and Litde Mike." The captain was 
not so brave; halfway through Joe's performance he said he 
had had enough but he declared their debt paid. Joe realized 
that he would never make his fortune as a singer. 

From Buffalo the family continued to Chicago by 
steamer, with Joe watching fascinated as Indians paddled out 
in canoes to offer beadwork and moccasins for sale. 

Mr. Jefferson f ound Chicago no more receptive than the 



East, and soon die family was on the move again, crossing the 
prairie in open wagons, using wardrobe trunks as seats. They 
passed from town to town, and once, while they were travel- 
ing in sleighs down a frozen river, the sleigh bearing the ward- 
robe and scenery went through the ice. It was a bedraggled 
troupe that performed in the next village. 

Something even more embarrassing soon occurred. Few 
real theatres existed outside the larger cities; actors played 
wherever a makeshift stage could be devised. In one town the 
only platform available was in a slaughterhouse, so the pigs 
were turned out, to take refuge under the building. The high- 
light of the pky that evening was the familiar song, "Home, 
Sweet Home." As Jefferson's mother began to sing, the pigs 
started to bump their backs against the floorbeams. Mrs* Jef- 
ferson sang louder and louder; the pigs squealed louder and 
louder. By the end of the last stanza Mrs. Jefferson was in 
tears; the audience was hysterical with laughter. 

In Springfield, Illinois, the Jeffersons erected their own 
theatre, a very simple and inexpensive wooden building, forty 
feet wide and ninety feet long, with plank benches for seats. 
Because even gaslight was litde known in the region, illumina- 
tion was by sperm-oiL With the theatre finished and the open- 
ing night set, the future for once looked bright. 

Then the blow fell. The city fathers, prejudiced against 
the vagabond actors, passed a kw requiring an expensive li- 
cense for any dramatic performances. The Jeffersons des- 
paired; all their funds were tied up in the building. 

A young kwyer in town heard of their predicament and 
offered to intercede. He wanted no fee, he said; only to see 
fair pky. Arguing the actors' case skillfully and humorously, 
he persuaded the kwmakers that the theatre was an ancient and 
honorable institution; the kw requiring a license was repealed. 



The young, unknown lawyer was Abraham Lincoln. 

Even so, the Springfield venture failed to prosper, and 
soon Mr. Jefferson had moved his family to Mobile. There, 
at thirty-eight, he died of yellow fever on November 24, 1 842. 
His family was destitute. Joe and his sister worked at small 
jobs around the theatre; Mrs. Jefferson was reduced from 
leading lady to running a boarding house for actors. But since 
most of them were as unsuccessful as her husband, this project, 
too, collapsed. 

Joe Jefferson was receiving a hard training in life and 
in acting. Not yet fourteen, he found himself once more on the 
road with his mother, sister and half-brother, Charles Burke. 
Again they moved from town to town; again audiences were 
small and receipts poor. But there were a few happy occasions. 
Near Liberty, Mississippi, they acted before an ideal audi- 
ence. Not one of these people had ever seen a pky before, yet 
a dollar apiece admission was cheerfully paid. The stage was 
a covered platform between two barns, and, because a steady 
breeze was blowing, the candles burned out halfway through 
the performance. It was finished by the light of the harvest 
moon, to the delight of both the audience and the actors. 

They went on to Galveston, and from there to Houston. 
Even when they followed the American troops into Mata- 
moras during the Mexican conflict of 1846, they barely man- 
aged to earn enough to keep alive. Worn out by the struggle, 
Mrs. Jefferson died in 1 849, and Charles Burke five years later, 
at only thirty-two. 

Six months after his mother's death Joseph Jefferson mar- 
ried a young actress named Margaret Lockyer, who was to 
bear him six children in eleven years. By now he was twenty- 
one. His childhood had been insecure, filled with misfortune, 
poverty, ill luck. But though his father had left no other legacy, 



he had endowed his son with a cheerful disposition in the face 
of adversity; and, unknowingly, he had inspired his son with 
the determination to succeed. 

Joe Jefferson now worked unflaggingly. He acted with 
several companies in Philadelphia, embarked on a short-lived 
tour as leading man with a second-rate troupe, then tried stage- 
managing companies in Macon, Savannah, Wilmington, Balti- 
more and Richmond. Gradually he accumulated enough 
money for a brief journey by clipper ship to England and 
France, where he visited the birthplace of his mother's parents. 

By September, 1857, he was back in New York, engaged 
as the leading comedian for the opening of a theatre named in 
honor of Laura Keene, a popular actress-manager, noted more 
for good looks than for her dramatic abilities. This was his 
first opportunity to star with an important company, and he 
made the most of it. Then, the following year, he established 
his right to stardom with his performance as Asa Trenchard in 
Oitr American Cousin. Our American Cousin is remembered 
today only as the comedy President Lincoln was watching at 
Ford's Theatre the night he was shot by John Wilkes Booth; 
Jefferson, however, had left Miss Keene's troupe by this time. 

In the summer of 1859, after his success with Laura 
Keene's company, Jefferson could afford to take his family 
to board at a Dutch farmhouse in Paradise Valley, Pennsyl- 
vania, at the foot of the Poconos. On one dull, rainy day he 
climbed to the loft of the barn and, lying on the hay, browsed 
through The Life and Letters of Washington Irving, noting 
with pleasure that Irving had seen and praised one of his per- 
formances. Then he remembered The Sketch Book and "Rip 
Van Winkle," and inspiration struck! Surely, he thought, an 
American story by an American author was just the thing for 
an American actor. 



Both his father and his half-brother, Charles Burke, had 
played in Rip Van Winkle, and Jefferson knew that the exist- 
ing dramatizations of the story were wretchedly inadequate. 
Nevertheless, he immediately set eagerly to work on his char- 
acterization of Rip. Wardrobes yielded old leather and bits of 
mildewed cloth for his costume; he personally supervised the 
making of a special v wig. Soon he had everything needed for 
a performance of r^p Van Winkle except a good version of 
the play. With the resourcefulness he had learned in early 
childhood, he sat down and wrote the play himself. 

Joseph Jefferson made his first appearance in Rip Van 
Winkle in Washington. The performance was a success with 
the critics and with the audience, but Jefferson himself was 
not satisfied with it. His plans to perfect the play and his char- 
acterization, however, were interrupted by the death of his 
wife in 1861. 

Two of his six children had died young, and now his wife 
was gone. A lesser man would have grown embittered; but 
Jefferson, though grief-stricken, set himself a new course of 
action. In September, 1861, he sailed out of San Francisco, to 
be away from America for five years. After touring through- 
out Australia and New Zealand, he traveled to England by way 
of South America. This visit to England was to produce tie 
version of Rip Van Winkle he so eagerly sought. 

While in England Jefferson worked with Dion Bouci- 
cault, a popular playwright of the day, on a revision of the 
play. One change Boucicault insisted upon was the inclusion 
of scenes at the beginning of the play showing Rip as a young 
man. This, he thought, would make the ne'er-do-well more 

The revisions in the pky finished, Jefferson worked night 
and day to revise his characterization. One evening he was 



practicing before the mirror in his room. Suddenly there came 
a knocking at the door, which he opened to find his landlady 
and a crowd in the hall, demanding to know where the mad- 
man was. Jefferson blushed to realize that he had been re- 
hearsing Rip with all the lights on and the window shades up. 

Finally the opening night at the London theatre drew 
near. Boucicault was pessimistic about the play's chances; he 
thought the character of Rip was too complex. 

"I think," he said, "you're shooting over the heads of 
your audience." 

"Fm not aiming at their heads," replied Jefferson, "I'm 
aiming at their hearts." 

His aim was sure. Rip Van Winkle was an overwhelming 
success in England; the triumph was repeated when he re- 
turned to America. Jefferson's position as a star was now 
secure. Perhaps he put something of his father's cheerful in- 
ability to cope with the world into his characterization of 
Rip. In any event, with his new success, poverty and hardship 
were behind him forever. 

A contemporary critic described his first entrance in the 
play as: 

". . . the incarnation of the Ia2y, good-natured, dissipated, good- 
for-nothing Dutchman that Irving drew . . . the kindly, simple, 
ruddy face, lighted by the tender, humorous blue eyes . . . the 
lounging, careless grace of the figure; the low, musical voice . . . 
the sweet, rippling laughter . . ." 

and the scene of Rip's awakening: 

**Here he has thrown off his youth, his hair has whitened, his 
voice is broken to a childish tremor, his very limbs are shrunken, 
tottering, palsied. The maundering, almost imbecile old man, out 
of whose talk come dimly rays of the old quaint humor, would 
excite only ridicule and laughter in the hands of an artist less gifted 



than Mr. Jefferson; but his griefs, his old affections, so rise up 
through the tones of that marvelous voice, his loneliness and 
homelessness so plead for him, that old Lear, beaten by the winds, 
deserted and houseless, is not more wrapped about with honor 
than poor old Rip, wandering through the streets of his native 

"From the rising of the curtain on the first scene, until its fall 
on the last, nothing is forced, sensational or unseemly. The re- 
markable beauty or the performance arises from nothing so much 
as its entire repose and equality." 

Shortly after his return to America he met Sarah Warren; 
they were married on December 20, 1867, in Chicago. This 
marriage was to produce four more young Jeffersons. 

While touring the West in 1868 and 1869, Jefferson be- 
came one of the pioneers in an innovation in theatrical custom, 
known as the "combination system," Up to this time nearly 
every large city and many smaller ones had what were known 
as "stock" companies. These companies had permanent head- 
quarters in one city, even though they did go out on brief 
tours to smaller towns. Just as the stock company had perma- 
nent headquarters, so it had a permanent group of actors, 
each of whom pkyed a wide variety of roles in a wide variety 
of plays. A young actress might appear as Ophelia in Harriet 
one night, as Lydia Languish in The Rivals the next, and as a 
chambermaid the next. Frequently these stock companies were 
made up of excellent actors, but just as frequently the actors 
were called upon to play parts for which they were badly 
suited by talent, temperament or physical appearance. 

Under the combination system, a group of actors was 
recruited to pky in a combination of only a few plays, instead 
of in dozens as they did with the stock companies. This meant 
that the actors could be carefully selected to fit the very few 
parts they would have to play; it also meant that the group 



would have to be constantly on the move from town to town 
to find new audiences. Jefferson felt that the greatest benefit 
to the public from this system was that an audience in a small 
Calif ornia town, for example, could see a play performed by 
the same cast seen earlier by an audience in New York City. 
An advantage for Jefferson himself was that he could pky 
Rip all over the country, supported by his own hand-picked 

When he was not out on tour with Rip Van Winkle, 
Jefferson performed the pky at Booth's Theatre in New York 
in 1869 and again from 1870 into 1871. During this ktter 
engagement an actor friend of his died, and when Jefferson 
started to help the family make funeral arrangements, he was 
shocked to discover that the minister at the church his friend 
had attended would not conduct the burial service, since he 
disapproved of theatre people. Jefferson was told, however, 
that there was a little church around die corner where the 
funeral might be held. And so "The Litde Church Around the 
Corner" (the Church of the Transfiguration on East Twenty- 
Ninth Street in New York City) received its name. To this 
day it is regarded as the Protestant actors' church. 

In 1875 Jefferson returned to England for a two years' 
stay, which included engagements in Edinburgh, Glasgow, 
Dublin and Belfast. His one failure was in Dublin, where he 
turned down the manager's suggestion that he pky Rip as an 
Irishman; the ardent Dubliners were actively hostile toward 
the Dutchman from America. 

By kte 1876 Jefferson, now approaching fifty, was back 
in America. One more milestone in his theatrical career re- 
mained. This was die role of Bob Acres in The Rivals, which 
he performed first in 1880 and revived in 1896 with an all-star 
cast, including Mrs. John Drew (the grandmother of Lionel, 



Ethel and John Banymore) and Julia Marlowe, later to be 
famous as part of the Shakespearean team of Sothern and Mar- 

Now that he was firmly established as a great comedian, 
Jefferson, for the first time in his strenuous life, was able to 
relax. He was a prosperous man, with an estate in New Jersey 
and a huge plantation on Orange Island, near New Iberia, 
Louisiana, the country associated with the pirate Lafitte and 
the wandering Acadians of Evangelme. In 1889 he built an- 
other home at Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts, and in his last 
years he acquired still another home, in Palm Beach, Florida. 

By now his brown hair was mixed with gray; he wore k 
somewhat longer than was the general custom, perhaps to dis- 
guise the fact that his head was rather smalL Jefferson described 
himself as having a classic profile, not Greek or Roman, but 
"pure Nut-cracker." 

During these later years he toured only twelve weeks in 
the fall and six weeks in the spring. In his spare time he began 
to paint seriously. Again his talent proved greater than his fa- 
ther's. When his paintings were exhibited in 1899 and 1900, 
the critics greeted them respectfully, if not enthusiastically. 

He also amassed a notable art collection, which included 
works by Constable, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Rembrandt, 
Sir Thomas Lawrence, and his two special favorites, Mauve 
and Corot. 

Honor followed honor. Yale awarded him an MA. in 
1892 and Harvard followed suit in 1895. In 1893 he succeeded 
the great tragedian Edwin Booth as president of The Players, 
the famous club for theatre people and other eminent men. 

His supremacy as an actor was now unchallenged; audi- 
ences all over the country laughed and wept at his perform- 
ances, and came close to adoring him. His contagious humor, 



his loveableness, his cheerfulness and generosity were not 
qualities reserved only for his performances in the theatre, 
however. Those who knew him as a man loved him as much as 
audiences did. His friend Helen Keller once said, "If you were 
deaf and blind, and could hold Mr. Jefferson's hand, you would 
see in it a face and hear a kind voice unlike any other you have 
ever known." When a testimonial dinner was announced in his 
honor in 1 895, actors and actresses outdid each other in making 
arrangements for it. 

As he grew older, he spent a great deal of time gardening. 
"All old people," he remarked, "should have a garden. It is so 
full of hope." For a while he took up shooting, but soon aban- 
doned it, because cruelty, even to animals, was not in his na- 
ture. Like his father, however, he always had time for fishing. 
Grover Cleveland, his frequent companion in these years, said 
he never saw any other man get so much joy from the sport of 

One great achievement remained, and it came about al- 
most by accident. This was his autobiography, published first 
in 1889. He had started to write it merely as a legacy for his 
children, but a chance remark aroused the enthusiasm of Wil- 
lim Dean Howells, author of The Rise of Silas Lapbam and 
other novels; he persuaded Jefferson to have it published. It is 
a fascinating, genial and modest account of a remarkable life. 

Some measure of the man may be found in his remarks 
about acting: 

"The surest way to fail is to imitate someone else. You must 
be yourself ." 

"Never try to gauge the intelligence of your audience by 
the price of the seats." 

"Always keep the promise you make to the public. Always 
do the thing you can do best." 

"Never allow vulgarity or impurity to tarnish a performance." 



He summed up his feeling about his profession by saying 
that an actor must be gifted with imagination and personal 
magnetism, must have a passion for his calling, and must com- 
bine these qualities with industry and earnestness. He himself 
acted best, he said, with a warm heart and a cool head. 

He took fame in a quiet way. His last performance was 
on May 7, 1904, in a dramatization of Charles Dickens' The 
Cricket on the Hearth. He died on April 23, 1905, one month 
after his seventy-sixth birthday, at his home in Palm Beach. 
He had become almost as much of a legend as Washington 
Irving's Rip, and the New York Evening Telegram paid a fit- 
ting tribute: 

"He could act, paint, fish, write, plant, dig, pity, enjoy and love, 
and, above all, he knew how to be a friend. . . . Americans loved 
him living and they love him dead. Farewell, good man and great 
Farewell! Farewell!" 


Edwin Booth 


Edwin Booth as Hamlet 

Edwin Booth 


IN MANHATTAN'S Gramercy Park stands the statue of a 
grave, handsome actor as he appeared in Hamlet, his most fa- 
mous role. Across the street is the home of The Players, the 
famous club he founded for actors, artists, writers and men of 
affairs. These are two enduring monuments to the memory of 
Edwin Booth, who has been called "the darling of misfortune" 
by one of his biographers, and "the last tragedian" by another. 

The omens at Edwin Booth's birth seemed propitious. He 
was his parents' seventh child; he was born with a caul cover- 
ing his head; and, on the night of his birth, a shower of meteors 
streaked across the sky these, according to superstition, were 
signs of great good fortune. 

But there were other circumstances not so favorable: 
Junius Brutus Booth, his father, was a gifted but erratic actor, 
given to fits of madness and bouts of excessive drinking. 

Born in London in 1796, Junius Brutus Booth eloped to 
America in 1821 with an eighteen-year-old Covent Garden 
flower girl named Mary Ann Holmes; they settled on a small 
farm near Belair, Maryland. 

There, in a log cabin, Edwin Thomas Booth was born on 
November 13, 1833. He was named after Edwin Forrest, the 
first great American-born actor, and comedian Tom Flynn, an 
old crony of Junius Brutus Booth, Almost five years after Ed- 



win's birth another son appeared, a child adored and pampered 
by his parents. This was John Wilkes Booth. 

A quiet child with large brown eyes so intense they 
seemed almost black, Edwin grew up in the midst of a large 
and disorderly family circle. In addition to his mother and 
father and nine brothers and sisters (five of whom died quite 
young), there was his grandfather, a gruff old dissolute whom 
the children nevertheless loved; and, before long, Junius's sis- 
ter, her husband and their eight children arrived to live on the 

Soon the family began living in Baltimore during the 
winter, spending only summer on the farm. Edwin's formal 
schooling was sketchy: he learned his "three R's" from a Miss 
Susan Hyde; then he was tutored, mainly in fencing, by a re- 
tired French naval officer; finally, and briefly, he attended a 
school emphasizing elocution and dramatic reading. 

While in Baltimore in 1 845, Edwin, with a group of neigh- 
borhood children, undertook his first theatrical venture. In a 
cellar in Triplet Alley, they gave amateur performances, 
charging three cents for reserved seats and one cent for stand- 
ing room; the admission fees were turned over to the janitor as 
rent. Edwins career with this group came abruptly to an end 
after he cut up one of his father's costumes to clothe himself 
for the leading role in Richard HI. Midway in the performance, 
a raging Junius Brutus Booth appeared at the entrance. Edwin 
tried to escape through a window, but his unwieldy armor 
trapped him. He never again tampered with his father's ward- 

In the meantime, Junius Brutus Booth's behavior was be- 
coming more and more erratic. Frequently he failed to show 
up at the theatre; sometimes he never even arrived in the town 
where he was scheduled to perform. His wife realized it was 



imperative for some member of his family to watch over him 
when he was away from home. The task fell to young Edwin, 
only thirteen at the rime. 

Even though Edwin was under a constant strain as his 
father's guardian, he enjoyed the excitement of travel, and he 
gradually began to absorb valuable lessons in acting from 
watching performance after performance. On September 10, 
1849, he made his professional debut as a messenger in Richard 
HI at the Boston Museum. Junius lent him a pair of spurs, but 
offered no other help; and had Junius not been the star of the 
production, few people in the audience would have noticed 
the nervous sixteen-year-old boy with a quavering voice. 

Two years later, in 1 85 1, Edwin had a better opportunity. 
Junius was scheduled to appear in Richard III at a New York 
theatre, but he refused to leave his hotel room. When Edwin 
pleaded with his father not to miss the performance, Junius's 
only answer was that Edwin could go act the part of Richard 
HI himself. 

In desperation, Edwin went to the theatre, where, to his 
surprise, delight and terror, the manager agreed to let him 
appear. No announcement of the change was made to the au- 
dience; applause greeted Edwin's entrance, but a chilly silence 
fell as soon as people realized that this was not the great Junks 
Brutus Booth they had paid to see. 

Edwin struggled on. The many nights spent observing 
his father's performances as Richard HI served him well; he 
knew most of the lines by heart, and he was able to produce an 
excellent imitation of his father's mannerisms. Soon the audir 
ence wanned to his performance, and at the final curtain he 
received an ovation. 

Shortly after this, one of Edwin's brothers, Junius, Jr., 
returned from Calif ornia with glowing tales of the gold rush 



and booming theatres. Edwin and his father accompanied him 
on the return trip to the West, going by way of the Isthmus of 
Panama. They arrived just in rime for a depression. The elder 
Booth, supported by his two sons, pkyed in San Francisco and 
Sacramento, but soon grew discouraged and sailed for home. 
Edwin stayed behind and soon was off on a tour of the rugged 
mining camps Nevada City, Grass Valley, Rough and Ready, 
Downieville. On the return swing, the troupe was stranded by 
a blizzard in Nevada City. Here Edwin received word that his 
father had died on November 30, 1852, on the way up the 
Mississippi from New Orleans. 

Back in San Francisco, Edwin became a popular favorite 
in Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, The Rivals and The 
School for Scandal. Junius, Jr., complained that Edwin did not 
take his work as an actor seriously enough; he was careless 
about learning his parts and careless in performing them. But 
Edwin, freed of the responsibility for his father's behavior, was 
too busy having a good time to pay his brother much heed. 
With a friend he built a shack in an actors' colony known as 
'Tipesville" and listed himself in the city directory as a 
"comedian and ranchero." Soon he had a reputation for play- 
ing practical jokes. His gaiety and handsome looks attracted 
women young and old. 

In July, 1854, Edwin set out for Australia, lured by tales 
of thriving business other actors had brought back. But, as in 
California, he arrived just as a depression occurred. Audiences 
were small and unenthusiastic in both Sydney and Melbourne, 
so he headed back toward America, stopping briefly in Hono- 
lulu. There, the King of the Sandwich Islands, in mourning for 
his father, watched the performance from backstage to avoid 
appearing in public. When the chair on which he was sitting 
was needed onstage as the throne in a scene in the play, the 



king graciously consented to stand. 

When Edwin landed in San Francisco in April, 1855, ke 
had only ten dollars in his pocket. Discouraged and depressed 
by his failure in Australia, he went on a wild spree. His brother, 
Junius, Jr., did little to help him; perhaps he resented the fact 
that Edwin, despite his carelessness and foolhardy actions, was 
by far the more brilliant actor of the two. 

In the fall of 1 856 Edwin returned to the East and settled 
down to serious work as an actor. His first notable success came 
in Boston on April 20, 1857, as Sir Giles Overreach in A New 
Way to Pay Old Debts. Less than a month later, at twenty- 
three, he was starred in Richard III at a New York Gty thea- 
tre. The manager of the theatre, in publicizing the perform- 
ance, had pkyed upon the fame of Junius Brutus Booth; the 
house was full. The slender, pale young man, just over five- 
and-a-half-feet tall, with flowing black hair and flashing, dark- 
brown eyes, caught the imagination of the audience. The crit- 
ics had some reservations, but praised his tremendous power 
and energy. 

By now Edwin and a young actress named Mary Devlin 
had appeared together in several cities in Romeo and Juliet. 
Soon they had fallen deeply in love, and on July 7, 1860, they 
were married 

Like so many other families, the Booths were divided 
when the Civil War broke out in April, 1861. Edwin and 
Junius, Jr., sided with the North, John Wilkes with the South. 
At this time, however, Edwin was invited to appear at the Hay- 
market Theatre in London. He considered this a splendid op- 
portunity and, with high hopes, sailed for England 

His London engagement was not a success. Sympathy for 
die Confederacy was running high in England, and Edwin was 
known to side with the Union; perhaps this was a factor con- 



tributing to his failure. The critics attacked his performances in 
The Merchant of Venice, A New Way to Pay Old Debts and 
Richard HL Only Richelieu, a romantic drama, was a success; 
but this was the last bill of his engagement. A brief tour of the 
English provinces followed, notable only because Booth's sup- 
porting cast in Manchester included a young actor named John 
Henry Brodribb, later to become famous as Henry Irving. 

By fall, 1862, Booth and his wife were back in America 
with their infant daughter, Edwina, born in London the pre- 
vious December. Even though the London engagement had 
been a failure, it brought Booth tremendous prestige in Amer- 
ica. When he rented a house in Dorchester, outside Boston, 
Julia Ward Howe, famous for the "Batde Hymn of the 
Republic," welcomed the Booths with a huge reception that 
all Beacon Street attended. 

But tragedy was imminent. Mary was seriously ill with 
tuberculosis; and Edwin had started drinking again. When he 
returned to New York for an acting engagement, Mary stayed 
behind in Boston, too sick to travel. One night in February, 
1863, Edwin felt a cold draft as he lay on his bed, and he heard 
Mary calling to him^ A few nights later telegrams arrived from 
Boston urging Him to rush to Mary's bedside at once. As the 
train pulled out of New York the following morning, Edwin, 
peering out the window, was shocked to see Mary's face appear 
before him. In Boston, just about this moment, Mary died. 
Booth blamed himself for her death, sure that worry over his 
dissipation had weakened her condition. 

Still stunned by grief over his wife's death, Booth, with 
his brother-in-law, leased the Winter Garden Theatre in New 
York that f alL Junius, Jr., was installed as business manager. 
There, on November 24, 1864, to raise funds for a statue of 
Shakespeare in Central Park, a benefit performance of Julius 



Caesar was given. Edwin appeared as Brutus; Junius, Jr., as 
Cassius; and John Wilkes Booth as Mark Antony, who cries 
out for vengeance upon Caesar's assassin. Less than six months 
later this performance was to be remembered with horror. 

The night following the benefit of Julius Caesar, Edwin 
opened in Hamlet. It was to run for one hundred consecutive 
performances, breaking Shakespearean records in this country. 
His handsome appearance, his grace, his elegance of diction ad- 
mirably fitted him for the role. Audiences were rapturous, 
critics only slightly less enthusiastic. Even John Wilkes Booth, 
like Junius, Jr., always resentful that his brother's fame as an 
actor overshadowed his own, conceded: 'There's but one 
Hamlet to my mind; that's my brother Edwin. You see, be- 
tween ourselves, he is Hamlet melancholy and all." 

The assassination of Lincoln by this same John Wilkes 
Booth at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, plunged the nation 
into mourning and stunned the world. The Booth family, to- 
tally ignorant of the insane plot, was overwhelmed; existence 
became a nightmare. A guard was pkced around the Philadel- 
phia home of one sister; her husband, though later proved inno- 
cent, was thrown into prison. In Cincinnati, Junius, Jr., nar- 
rowly escaped a mob of five hundred ready to lynch him; later 
he too, though innocent, was imprisoned. 

Edwin was playing in Boston; the manager abruptly 
dosed the theatre as soon as the news from Washington ar- 
rived. Blanch Hanel, whom Edwin planned to marry, broke 
die engagement. Alone, Edwin returned to his New York 
home early in the morning of April 1 7 ; he was there when Lin- 
coln's body was brought to New York to lie in state at City 
HalL Newspapers attacked all the Booths, dredging up old 
scandals, true and untrue. Hundreds of vilifying letters poured 
in upon Edwin and other members of the family. Edwin found 



that few friends stood by him, and these few he treasured, es- 
pecially Thomas Bailey Aldrich, author of Marjorie Daw, who 
moved into Edwin's home to help his friend bear his trouble. 
Although Edwin's supporters were influential enough to save 
him from arrest, he was sure that, at thirty-one, his career and 
his life were shattered. First his father, then his wife, and now 
his brother one misfortune had followed too closely upon 
the next. How wrong the omens at his birth had been! 

Booth had declared he would never appear on a stage 
again, yet some of his greatest triumphs and disasters in the 
theatre lay ahead of him. Financial necessity forced him back 
to work; his return to the New York stage in Hamlet was an- 
nounced for January 3, 1866. The house was packed, but no 
one, Booth least of all, was sure what his reception would be. 
The answer came a moment after the curtain rose on the sec- 
ond scene: a tumultuous outbreak of cheers and shouting. The 
public had absolved him of any share in his brother's infamy. 

But his misfortunes were not at an end. One morning in 
March, 1866, the New York theatre where he had been ap- 
pearing burned to the ground, with Booth's entire supply of 
costumes and the scenery for several lavish productions, a loss 
of more than forty thousand dollars. Undaunted, Edwin de- 
cided to build his own theatre at Sixth Avenue and Twenty- 
Third Street, and went out on tour to pay for it. 

While at McVicker's Theatre in Chicago, he pkyed op- 
posite eighteen-year-old Mary McVicker, who, like so many 
other women, became infatuated with him. When Edwin left 
Chicago, Mary McVicker went along as a member of the act- 
ing company. Within a year she became his wife. 

On February 3, 1869, in the midst of a downpour of rain 
and snow, Booth's Theatre opened with Edwin Booth and 
Mary McVicker in a splendidly mounted production of 



Romeo and Juliet. The critics had small praise for the per- 
formances; Edwin Booth was rarely successful in his portrayal 
of stage lovers, and Mary McVicker was rarely successful in 
any role. But the theatre itself received magnificent notices. Its 
three towers rose imposingly above the street. The impressive 
lobby was faced with Italian marble; a marble staircase led to 
the balconies. The auditorium would seat eighteen hundred 
people. Booth's Theatre cost Edwin more than a million dol- 
lars and several years of unceasing hard work, and k brought 
him close to disaster. 

The very qualities which made him an excellent Hamlet 
made him a bad businessman. Always striving for perfection, 
he presented one splendid production after another; but die 
expenses always exceeded the income. The Panic of 1873 was 
the final blow. Booth lost his theatre; early in 1874 he filed a 
petition of voluntary bankruptcy. 

Edwin, who had worked so hard to build his beautiful 
theatre, now worked twice as strenuously to pay off his debts. 
After a New York engagement in the fall of 1875, he set out 
on a grand tour of the South, receiving $30,000 for fifty per- 
formances. Then he moved west to San Francisco for an eight- 
week engagement that smashed all local records and netted 
him $50,000. In November, 1876, he was back in the East, and 
between then and May made $72,000. In less than two years 
he had managed to pay off what had seemed an overwhelming 
burden of debt. 

By now his stature as America's foremost tragedian was 
unquestioned. Critics praised his masterful skill in declaiming 
blank verse, the brilliance with which he dramatized every line 
of his roles, and his deep understanding of the characters he 
portrayed, a sympathy that spoke to the hearts of his audiences. 
As he matured, he abandoned the exaggerations of his early 



characterizations; his performances became more and more 

One more personal tragedy awaited him. Ever since her 
infant son had died in 1870, Mary McVicker Booth had been 
behaving more and more oddly. Now, in the summer of 1877, 
she spent several months in voluntary confinement in a sana- 
torium. Her condition had not visibly improved when, in June, 
1 880, she sailed with Edwin for his second engagement in Eng- 

Once more, Booth's reception in Engknd was not cordiaL 
Princess's Theatre, where he played in London, was a run- 
down house, unpopular with theatre-goers. Hamlet opened to 
a mixed reception, and even Richelieu did not succeed this 
time. Only King Lear was popular, and that came at the end 
of his engagement. 

Then Henry Irving, by now as popular in England as 
Booth was in America, came forward with a proposal. He sug- 
gested that Booth co-star with him and Ellen Terry, his lead- 
ing lady, in a production of Othello. As a novelty, Irving pro- 
posed that he and Booth alternate in the roles of Othello and 
lago. The production played to full houses throughout its run; 
both lagos were judged first-rate, both Othellos second-rate. 

Mary McVicker Booth was by now totally deranged and 
dying. Her parents had come over to London, and when the 
group returned to New York, the McVickers carried Mary 
off to a house they had rented on West Fifty-Third Street. On 
November 13, 1881, she died, but not before the newspapers 
had publicized the McVickers* hostility toward Booth, whom 
they blamed for the disaster. His dignity in the face of this un- 
founded slander won him new respect among his friends. 

At forty-eight Edwin Booth had many misfortunes be- 
hind hjm 3 and they had taken their toll. His tendency to mel- 



ancholy had increased; he shunned personal publicity and was 
inclined to be solitary. To the world at large he seemed to be 
at the very pinnacle of success; actually he was worn out be- 
fore his time. 

In the summer of 1882 Booth and his daughter Edwina 
sailed again for Europe. After a London engagement and a 
three-month tour in England, Scotland and Dublin, he opened 
in January, 1883, at the Residenz Theatre in Berlin. The sup- 
porting cast and director were hostile and doubtful of Booth's 
ability; his own doubts were strong, because he was to speak 
in English and the others in German. The opening night audi- 
ence gave him a resounding ovation. The intense quality of his 
playing, which had failed to stir the English, roused the Ger- 
mans; and the ovations were repeated in Hamburg, Bremen, 
Hanover, Leipzig and, finally, Vienna, 

Shortly after his return to America he purchased a house 
near Newport, an exclusive Rhode Island summer resort, and 
another home in Boston. Although he continued to work stead- 
ily, in the next few years he was bothered more and more by 
illness. While appearing with the Italian actor, Salvini, in 
Othello, he actually collapsed on stage, but managed to finish 
the performance. 

In 1 887 Booth and Lawrence Barrett, the only actor at that 
time who even came close to rivaling Booth's popularity, 
formed a co-starring partnership; it was so powerful in audi- 
ence appeal that other touring attractions found it almost im- 
possible to compete with them; the partnership continued until 
Barrett's sudden death in 1891. Booth finished out the tour, 
and, on April 4, concluded with a matinee of Hamlet at the 
Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was to be his last performance 
on any stage. 

His home was now at The Players, die club he had 



founded a few years earlier as a place where actors could min- 
gle with artists, writers and other men of prominence. The 
Pkyers had been incorporated in January, 1888, by Booth, 
Joseph Jefferson, John Drew, Augustin Daly, Mark Twain, 
General Sherman and eight others. Booth was elected presi- 
dent; he presented the club with a beautiful house at 16 
Gramercy Park, reserving only the right to use the third floor 
as his own quarters. 

Shortly after one o'clock on the morning of June 7, 1893, 
the lights in The Pkyers suddenly went out. On the third floor 
a woman's voice cried, "Don't let Father die in the dark!" It 
was Edwina, Booth's daughter, who was sitting by his bedside. 
The failure of current was only momentary, and the lights 
flashed back on. A second or two later Edwin Booth was dead. 

The newspapers acclaimed him as the last of the great 
tragedians, leaving no successor. That November, on the six- 
tieth anniversary of Booth's birthday, The Players honored 
his memory at a public meeting at Madison Square Garden 
Concert Hall. The cards of admission were headed simply: 
"Good night, sweet Prince." 


The Drews 
and the Barrymores 

Ethel, Lionel and John Barrymore in Rasptain and the Empress 

The Drews 
and the Barrymores 

OR more than a century the Drews and the Barrymores 
were dominant figures in the American theatre, a family of 
brilliant, spirited, commanding actors and actresses; of beau- 
tiful women and handsome men, as dever in comedy as they 
were heartbreaking in tragedy. Starting with Mrs. John Drew, 
through her son John, her son-in-law Maurice Barrymore, and 
her grandchildren Lionel, Ethel and John Barrymore, each of 
them cut a distinctly individual path through the history of the 
American stage. All of them won fame, and some gained no- 
toriety. Most of them earned a tidy fortune, but they some- 
times spent even more than they made. The comedy and trag- 
edy they portrayed so well on die stage were equally a part of 
their personal lives. 

Mrs. John Drew was born Louisa Lane in Lambeth Parish, 
England, on January 10, 1820, of actor parents. Before Louisa 
was a year old her mother carried her on stage in a play ; instead 
of crying as the role required, she laughed with delight. In 1 827 
she and her mother came to America; that September the 
seven-year-old actress made her American stage debut at a 
Philadelphia theatre as the Duke of York in a production of 
Shakespeare's Richard HI starring the popular tragedian Junius 
Brutus Booth. The Duke of York was a boy's rote, but k was 



common practice at that time for girls or even women to por- 
tray young boys. Soon Louisa was hailed as a child prodigy; in 
January, 1829, she played five different characters in Twelve 
Precisely) a farce written especially to suit her talents. 

In the years immediately following, Louisa made a few 
appearances in New York City and several tours throughout 
the South and the Middle West; but Philadelphia, where she 
was a great favorite with audiences, was always the center of 
her stage activities. 

In 1836 Louisa married an English tenor, Henry B. Hunt, 
a marriage that ended in divorce. She then married an Irish 
singing comedian, George Mossop, in 1848; Mr. Mossop died 
in less than a year. On July 27, 1850, she married another Irish- 
man, an actor nearly eight years her junior, John Drew, Sr. 
Before he died in 1862, they had three children: John, Georg- 
iana and Louise. There was a fourth child, Sidney, whom Mrs. 
Drew sometimes claimed as her own and sometimes said was 

On August 3 1, 1 86 1, Mrs. Drew assumed management of 
the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia; she was one of the 
first women in America to undertake such a project. Although 
the building was heavily mortgaged when she took control, 
her shrewd business sense enabled her to pay off the mortgage 
quickly and establish the Arch Street Theatre as one of the 
most famous playhouses in the country. Until 1877, when she 
began to book traveling companies, she maintained her own 
permanent acting group, known as a stock company, in which 
she played many of the leading roles. Her skilled performances 
in such roles as Lady Teazle in The School for Scandal and as 
Mrs. Malaprop in The Rivals contributed significantly to the 
brilliant reputation of her theatre. 

John Drew, her son, had been born on November 13, 



1 853. His acting debut with his mother at her theatre on March 
24, 1873, was so unpromising that Mrs. Drew departed from 
the script to remark to the audience how dreadful he was. 
However, two years* training at the Arch Street Theatre gave 
him considerable polish, and in 1875 ^ e joined the noted com- 
pany managed by Augusrin Daly at the Fifth Avenue Theatre 
in New York After his first season in minor roles, his rise was 

Another promising young actor joined Daly's company 
in 1875: Maurice Barrymore. Barrymore was the stage name 
of Herbert Blythe, born in Fort Agra, India, in 1847, the son 
of a British civil servant. After attending England's highly es- 
teemed Harrow and Oxford, he began studying to be a lawyer. 
However, while vacationing at an English seaside resort, he 
rescued an elderly gentleman and a young lady from a gang 
of toughs. This elderly man, a well-known actor, convinced 
Barrymore that his handsome looks and dashing manner qual- 
ified him for a career in the theatre. Barrymore, who had re- 
ceived considerable publicity when he won the English ama- 
teur middleweight championship, found little difficulty in ob- 
taining work as an actor. Managers felt his reputation as a boxer 
would draw audiences out of curiosity; in a short time he 
developed into an extremely capable actor. 

Maurice Barrymore and John Drew, Mrs. Drew's son, be- 
came friends when the two young actors appeared in minor 
roles at Daly's Fifth Avenue Theatre in a production of Ham- 
let starring the great Edwin Booth, then at the peak of his 
career. Drew invited Barrymore down to his Philadelphia 
home as soon as they had a free weekend; there Maurice met 
John's nineteen-year-old sister, Georgiana Drew, with whom 
he immediately fell in love. Despite Mrs. Drew's vigorous 
criticism of Barrymore's irresponsible, fun-loving ways, Mau- 



rice and Georgiana were married in 1876. Lionel was born on 
April 12, 1878; Ethel on August 15, 1879; and John on Febru- 
ary 14, 1882. 

Georgiana discovered that many of her mother's objec- 
tions to Maurice Barrymore were well-founded. He was a very 
talented actor, but rarely took his talent seriously. When in 
the right mood, he gave brilliant performances, but his moods 
changed quickly. Although he was dashing, witty and charm- 
ing, these qualities did not make him a loyal and devoted hus- 

But Georgiana had consolations. There were her children, 
and there was her own blossoming career. A tall, slender, blue- 
eyed woman, she had developed into a highly gifted and popu- 
lar comedienne. 

Usually, when Maurice and Georgiana went out on tour 
with plays, their children Lionel, John and Ethel were left 
in Philadelphia with Georgiana's mother, Mrs. Drew. When 
Lionel was five and Ethel four, they were given a great treat 
by being taken along when their parents toured with the great 
Polish star, Madame Helena Modjeska, then a reigning favorite 
on the American stage. Shortly after this tour the Barrymore 
family went to England for nearly two years; during this stay 
abroad Maurice had several acting engagements at London's 
famous Haymarket Theatre. 

Once back in America, Ethel was sent to school at a con- 
vent, and Lionel to a Catholic boarding school. John stayed at 
home with his grandmother, Mrs. Drew, to whom he was 
deeply devoted. Later the two boys attended Seton Hall in 
South Orange, New Jersey. 

In the meantime, Georgiana's health had begun to 
weaken. In 1892 she went on a long cruise to the Bahamas; on 
her return she seemed better, but the improvement was only 



temporary. Early in the summer of 1893, her condition was 
diagnosed as bronchitis, and a trip to California was prescribed. 
Her husband, Maurice, was touring with a company in the 
West; her mother, Airs. Drew, was acting in Boston; and her 
brother, John Drew, was appearing in London in a highly suc- 
cessful production of Twelfth Night. Thirteen-year-old Ethel 
was taken from school to accompany her mother on the trip 
to Calif ornia by way of the Isthmus of Panama. 

The future looked brighter when Georgiana and her 
daughter reached Santa Barbara. People in the California town 
were friendly; Georgiana seemed happy and animated. Then, 
suddenly, she died. Too late, it was discovered that she had 
been suffering from tuberculosis. All alone, Ethel had to make 
the arrangements to bring her mother's body back East for 
burial; and on the week's journey by train back to Philadel- 
phia she had to sit up night after night in the coach because she 
could not afford a berth. 

Their mother's death was an overwhelming blow to 
Lionel, Ethel and John; and when their father, Maurice Barry- 
more, remarried the following year, they were deeply shocked. 
They also were deprived even of the haven of the Philadelphia 
home of their grandmother, Mrs. Drew: through a series of 
reverses she lost control of the Arch Street Theatre 

and, after closing her home, began living in rooming houses or 
visiting briefly with either her son John or her son Sidney. 

Now in her seventies, Mrs. Drew did her best to help her 
daughter's three children. Though neither Lionel, Ethel or 
John had shown the least interest in acting, Mrs. Drew decided 
to train them for the stage because this was the only profes- 
sion she knew. This decision, born of necessity, was to produce 
three of the greatest actors the American theatre has ever 



Mrs. Drew and her son Sidney were then touring in 
Sheridan's comedy, The Rivals. Fifteen-year-old Lionel Barry- 
more was assigned a small role and told he would make his 
acting debut at a matinee in Kansas City. Inexperienced and 
awkward, Lionel played the matinee and evening perform- 
ances in an agony of embarrassment. When he returned to his 
room in a Kansas City boardinghouse that night, he was greatly 
relieved to find a note from his grandmother, Mrs. Drew, firing 

While still a teen-ager, Lionel made a few more appear- 
ances in small roles in various productions in New York and 
elsewhere, none of them especially distinguished. Because his 
real ambition was to become an artist, not an actor, he was over- 
joyed when his family allowed him to attend classes for three 
years at the Art Students League in New York. 

In the meantime, Mrs. Drew's son John had risen to be 
leading man in Augustin Daly's company; but after a quarrel 
with Daly over the sharing of profits, John Drew signed a 
contract with the brilliant producer Charles Frohman. Under 
Frohman's management, he became known as a master of 
drawing-room comedy. Of average height, with aristocratic 
features and a carefully groomed mustache, suave and dignified 
John Drew acted with a style so polished it seemed almost ef- 
fortless. One contemporary critic aptly remarked, "John 
Drew doesn't act; he just behaves," Most of the plays in which 
he appeared were slight comedies of litde lasting merit, but his 
popularity was so great that audiences flocked to see them. 

Off-stage as well as on he was a model of graciousness. 
His one marriage, to an actress named Josephine Baker, was a 
very happy one. Their country home was in the exclusive 
Long Island resort of East Hampton, where today the John 
Drew Theatre honors his memory. Louise Drew, their daugh- 



ter, was sent to school in France; the ease of her life provided 
quite a contrast to the hardships suffered by her cousins, the 
three Banymore children. 

In June, 1894, Ethel Banymore was summoned to Mont- 
real, where her uncle Sidney and her grandmother, Mrs. Drew, 
were still touring in The Rivals, in which Lionel had made 
his disastrous debut a year earlier. Like Lionel, Ethel was given 
a tiny part; but, unlike Lionel, she carried off her scene ex- 
tremely well and stayed with the troupe during its tour of 
eastern Canada and Maine. 

Then she came to New York Qty, where for several 
months she tried doggedly to obtain work as an actress. Finally 
her uncle, John Drew, arranged for her to be understudy in 
his current comedy, The Bauble Shop. When the show was 
scheduled to go on tour, one of the actresses did not want to 
leave New York Qty, so Ethel was given her pare Barely 
sixteen, she appeared as a worldly noblewoman of forty-five, 
and she played the role beautifully. 

After the tour, more understudy jobs for Ethel followed 
in plays in which John Drew starred under Charles Frohman's 
management. At last, in the fall of 1896, she was assigned the 
part of a hearty country girl in the New York production of 
Rosemary, starring John Drew, with the charming, wistful 
Maude Adams as his leading lady. Although EthePs role was 
small, she received pleasant notices from the critics and began 
to feel that her acting career finally was underway. 

Then came an opportunity to play a minor role in the Lon- 
don production of William Gillette's popular melodrama, 
Secret Service, in which Mr. Gillette played the starring part. 
Because Ethel all but idolized the handsome William Gillette, 
and because she remembered London so fondly from her child- 
hood visit, she considered this a splendid chance. Now seven- 



teen, five-feet-six-inches tall, with dark-brown eyes and hair, 
Ethel had blossomed into a remarkable beauty; she was given 
a joyous welcome by the English theatrical and literary circles. 

Life still was not easy. When the run of Secret Service 
ended, she decided to stay on in London even hough she had 
only two decent dresses and very little money on which to 
live. Although she received many dinner invitations because of 
her great popularity, frequently, when not invited out, she 
was forced to exist on fruit, especially dates, which she ate in 
her room. By the late spring of 1897, having given up hope 
of obtaining an acting job in London, she reluctantly decided 
to return to America. The day before she was to sail, however, 
Sir Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, then the most popular team 
on the London stage, asked her to stop by to see them. Having 
been greatly impressed by her beauty, wit and charm at sev- 
eral dinner-parties, they offered her a job in their acting com- 

Ethel was jubilant, and so were a number of young men 
who had fallen desperately in love with her* First she became 
engaged to Irving's serious, intense son Laurence; then she be- 
came engaged to Gerald DuMaurier (who later became the 
father of novelist Daphne DuMaurier). Newspapers in both 
England and America rumored her engagement to several other 
eligible young bachelors: the Duke of Manchester, journalist 
Richard Harding Davis, and Winston Churchill 

When she returned to America late in 1898, she found 
that her social success in London had brought her considerable 
fame, but no guarantee of a job on the New York stage. Once 
again she found herself in a series of small roles in various 
plays produced by Charles Frohman. 

The death of her grandmother, Mrs. Drew, in the fall of 
1897 had left a significant gap in Ethel's life and in the lives 



of Lionel and John. John Barrymore, only fifteen at the rime, 
had been living with Mrs. Drew in a rooming house in Larch- 
mont, New York, when she died. Mrs. Drew's death was a 
profound shock for the boy, who had felt closer to her than 
to any other Member of his family. Depressed and unhappy, 
he had begun to ran wild by the time Ethel came back from 
England. In an attempt to distract him from his grief, she saw 
to it that he was sent abroad to the Slade School, a famous an 
institute in London. 

In the spring of 1900 Lionel, Ethel and John had the first 
intimations of the tragedy that was about to strike their father, 
Maurice Barrymore. For many years Maurice had appeared as 
leading man in support of such foreign-born stars as Madame 
Modjeska, Lillie Langtry and Olga Nethersole, hovering on 
the verge of greatness but never achieving it. Then, in the fall 
of 1899, he had scored a tremendous personal success as the 
dashing, romantic Rawdon Crawley in Becky Sharp, a drama- 
tization of Thackeray's novel, Vanity Fair. By early 1900, 
however, there were ominous signs. He began to forget his 
lines; frequently he appeared half dazed; often he was unable 
to distinguish between reality and illusion. His first great suc- 
cess, Becky Sharp, was also the last play in which he appeared. 
In 1903, hopelessly deranged, he was confined in a private 
sanitarium, where he died in March, 1905. 

1900 brought Lionel Barrymore little advancement in his 
career as an actor. In February he appeared on tour in a melo- 
drama called Arizona; not quite twenty-two, he was called 
upon to play a very old man. In the fall he came in to New 
York in a play called Sag Harbor; the pky lasted for seventy- 
six performances, but Lionel was fired soon after the opening. 
Sixteen days before Sag Harbor had its New York premiere, 
Lionel's uncle, John Drew, opened in Richard Carvel, one of 



the greatest successes of his career. 

Late in 1900 Ethel Banymore began rehearsals for her 
first important role, that of the opera singer, Madame Trentoni, 
in Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, a comedy by the popu- 
lar American dramatist, Clyde Fitch. The play opened its pre- 
New York tryout in Philadelphia; at the first performance, 
Ethel, very unsure of herself, was both comforted and dis- 
tracted when a voice from the balcony shouted, "Speak up, 
Ethel! You Drews is all good actors." 

The Philadelphia critics attacked both the play and Ethel's 
performance. Completely discouraged, she begged producer 
Charles Frohman to close the production before exposing her 
to the barbed comments of the New York reviewers; to her 
despair, Mr. Frohman refused 

Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines was unveiled in New 
York on February 4, 1901. Contrary to everyone's expecta- 
tions, most of all Miss Barrymore's, the production was a 
sensational success; the critics seemed to have difficulty finding 
adjectives lavish enough to express their enthusiasm for the 
lovely young actress's performance. One evening a few days 
later, on her way to the theatre, Ethel was astounded to see 
her name up in lights on the theatre marquee. Charles Frohman 
had elevated her to stardom! 

In a short time Ethel Barrymorc became one of the most 
popular personalities the American stage had ever seen. Her 
regal beauty, her haunting voice, her ability to play comedy 
or tragedy with equal skill, all these contributed to her fame. 
Young girls imitated her walk and her voice; it even became 
fashionable to claim to have "the Ethel Barrymore neck." 

In the fall of 1901 Lionel appeared in a small role in The 
Second in Command y a comedy in which his uncle, John Drew, 
was starred; unlike Ethel, Lionel attracted scarcely any atten- 



tion at all. The following year, however, he scored his first 
outstanding success as a colorful Italian organ grinder in a 
play called The Mummy and the Humming Bird. John Drew 
had the starring role, but audiences left the theatre remember- 
ing Lionel's impassioned performance. His forte, he realized, 
was character parts. 

The youngest of the Barrymore children, John, now was 
past twenty. His London art training had enabled him to ob- 
tain a job as an illustrator on the New York Evening Journal 
when he returned to New York, but he soon was fired because 
of his erratic ways. By borrowing clothes from his uncle, the 
impeccable John Drew, and by borrowing money from his 
sister Ethel, he was able to pose as a dashing young man about 

When Ethel went on tour in Captain Jinks, she called in 
young John to substitute for another actor at one performance; 
he forgot his lines and capered about the stage, much to the 
embarrassment of his sister. A few unimportant roles in unim- 
portant plays followed; then he was given a small but effective 
role as a wireless operator in The Dictator. This farce was a 
success in New York, where it opened in April, 1904; after 
New York it went on to tour the United States and then was 
taken to London, where it also was popular. 

Christmas night in 1905 saw the three Banymores playing 
together in the same theatre for the first dine, although they 
were not all in the same play. The main attraction of the eve- 
ning was James M. Barriers Alice Sit-by-tbe-Fire, a whimsical 
comedy about an attractive, forty-year-old mother who resigns 
herself to a tranquil life by the fireside in order to watch over 
the happiness of her twenty-year-old daughter. In this, Ethel, 
just twenty-six, played the mother; John was seen in a small 
role. He also appeared as Harlequin in Pantaloon, a one-act 



play by Barrie which preceded Alice Sit-by -the-Fire on the 
program; Lionel played the title role in Pantaloon. 

By now Lionel Barrymore had married a young actress 
named Doris Rankin; dissatisfied with his career as an actor, 
he yearned more than ever to become a painter. Ethel, who 
had helped him in every possible way to obtain parts in the 
theatre, now offered to loan him enough money so that he and 
his wife could live in Paris while he studied art at the Acad6mie 
Julien. Deeply grateful, he accepted her offer and sailed for 
Europe; he did not return to the United States until 1909. 

Soon after Alice Sit-by-the-Fire, John also was on his 
way out of the country. The Dictator, in which he had pkyed 
die wireless operator, was scheduled for a tour of Australia, 
John joined the company, which was to sail from San Francisco 
on April 18, 1906. Shortly after five o'clock that morning, 
however, the city was shaken by the disastrous earthquake, and 
the ship on which the scenery and wardrobe for The Dictator 
had been loaded sank to the bottom of die bay. John wired 
his family that he had been thrown from his hotel bed by the 
tremors and had wandered down to the street, where an army 
sergeant put him to work helping victims of die disaster. When 
someone asked Barrymore's uncle, John Drew, whether he be- 
lieved this story, Drew replied he was sure every word of it 
was true: obviously k would take an act of God to get his 
nephew out of bed and the United States Army to get him to 
work. Two weeks after the earthquake, young John Barry- 
more and The Dictator company finally got underway to 

Ethel's faith in her two brothers never wavered. She con- 
tinued to support Lionel and his wife in Paris; and when John 
returned from Australia, she mothered him, protected him, sup- 
ported him, and did her best to extricate him from the scrapes 



in which he constantly was becoming involved. Now in his 
middle twenties, John, five-feet-ten, with his sister's dark- 
brown hair and eyes, had developed into an incredibly hand- 
some, incredibly charming, and incredibly irresponsible youth. 
Even though most people dismissed him as a charming wastrel, 
Ethel saw his potential greatness. 

In the fall of 1909, The Fortune Hunter, a comedy by 
Winchell Smith, revealed John Barrymore's talent to the 
theatre-going public. John gave an electric, uproarious per- 
formance as Nat Duncan, a discouraged young man on the 
verge of suicide who, instead of killing himself, sets out to win 
a million dollars (and the small-town girl who owns them). 

When Ethel had married socialite Russell Griswold Colt 
early in 1909, Lionel Barrymore decided to abandon his art 
studies, return to America, and find a way to support his wife 
and himself. Now past thirty, a stocky, blue-eyed man, he had 
little success on the stage immediately following his return 
from abroad. Finally, one day in 1912 while seeking work in 
New York, he wandered down to the Fourteenth Street offices 
of D. W. Griffith, then experimenting with a new form of 
entertainment: motion pictures. Griffith gave Lionel a bit part 
in the film he was shooting; in a few weeks Lionel was playing 
leading roles. 

One of his first films was The New York Hat, in which 
he appeared with a young actress whose real name was Gladys 
Smith; soon she was famous as Mary Pickford, "America's 
Sweetheart." The scenario for The New York Hat was writ- 
ten by a sixteen-year-old girl, Anita Loos, who later wrote 
two extremely popular books, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and 
But They Marry Brunettes. 

Lionel, who acted solely because it was the only way he 
knew to earn a living, found morion picture work very much 



to his taste. It was not overly demanding, and it paid well; 
Lionel, like the other Barrymores, had a flair for spending 
money. Moving back and forth between New York and Cali- 
fornia, he continued acting in films and also wrote a number 
of scenarios. Not until 1917 did he return to the stage. 

Throughout these years Ethel Barrymore had continued 
to create one brilliant characterization after another, shifting 
skillfully from comedy to tragedy and back to comedy. There 
was the foundling raised by cowpunchers in Sunday; at re- 
hearsals of this play Miss Barrymore suggested that a letter- 
reading scene end with a line that has since become better 
known than the play itself: "That's all there is; there isn't any 
more." After Sunday, there was the tragic charwoman in John 
Galsworthy's The Silver Box; the clever and beautiful heroine 
of W. Somerset Maugham's comedy, Lady Frederick; the 
middle-aged wife who is driven to suicide in Arthur Wing 
Pinero's Mid-Channel. 

In 1911 Ethel Barrymore appeared in a one-act play by 
Barrie, The Twelve-Pound Look. She portrayed a bored, rest- 
less woman who discovers that her husband's first wife had 
achieved independence and happiness by becoming a typist; 
at the end of the playlet her own face reflects the twelve-pound 
look, twelve pounds being the cost of a typewriter. In 1912 
Miss Barrymore revived The Twelve-Pound Look for a tour 
on the vaudeville circuit from coast to coast; it was a tremen- 
dous success then and remained a success whenever she revived 
it during the next quarter-century. 

Since his hit in The Fortune Hunter in 1909, John Barry- 
more had maintained his popularity as a light comedian; but 
more energy was devoted to off-stage escapades than to devel- 
oping his dramatic talents. Then, in 1916, he switched from 
light comedy to the stark tragedy of Galsworthy's Justice. 



With consummate skill, he portrayed a clerk who commits 
forgery, is sent to prison, and, mistreated and hounded even 
after his release, finally commits suicide. His performance 
proved to the critics what Ethel had constantly maintained: 
that he was one of the greatest actors the American stage had 
ever seen. 

The following year John and Lionel joined forces in a 
dramatization of George DuMaurier's novel, Peter Ibbetson, 
with John as the dashing, romantic hero, and Lionel as the evil, 
loathsome uncle. Colonel Ibbetson was one of Lionel's biggest 
stage successes. He followed this with Augustus Thomas's The 
Copperhead early in 1 9 1 8, in which he portrayed a Northerner 
unjustly suspected for many years of having been a Confed- 
erate spy. Lionel's characterization, ranging from youth to ex- 
treme old age, won him outstanding praise from the critics. 
In this same year John also scored a triumph; his portrait of 
a failure who pretends suicide so that his wife may marry a 
better man, in Tolstoy's Redemption, won him new laurels. 

In April, 1919, The Jest brought John and Lionel together 
again. The Jest was a colorful drama set in Florence in the 
time of Lorenzo the Magnificent; John appeared as a romantic 
young poet who ultimately manages to defeat his arch-enemy, 
a vicious captain of mercenaries, played by Lionel. This was 
Lionel's last big stage success; during the next six years he ap- 
peared in a series of short-lived productions, including a ca- 
lamitous revival of Macbeth. In 1925 he left the stage perma- 

For John Barrymore two great triumphs in the theatre 
remained. In 1920 he gave a memorable performance in Rich- 
ard Illy and in the fall of 1922 he appeared in a production of 
Hamlet which ran for one hundred and one performances in 
New York, breaking the record set by Edwin Booth more than 



half a century earlier. Critics and public alike acclaimed his 
Hamlet as one of the greatest portrayals by any actor in any 
role in decades. After a brief appearance in Hamlet in London 
early in 1925, John abandoned the theatre, except for an un- 
fortunate appearance in an embarrassing farce, My Dear Chil- 
dren, in 1939 and the early 1940*5. Brilliant though he was on 
the stage, he grew almost unbearably restless when forced to 
play the same part night after night; Hollywood offered him 
more variety, and, like Lionel, he found a motion picture salary 
very attractive* 

Another chapter in the Drew-Barrymore saga closed in 
1927 when John Drew, the Barrymores' uncle, on tour in an 
all-star revival of Trelavmy of the Wells, was stricken with 
rheumatic fever and septic poisoning. He died early in the 
morning of July 9, a few months before his seventy-f ourth 

With one exception, marriage for all three of the Barry- 
mores ended in divorce. After his divorce from Doris Rankin, 
Lionel had married Irene Fenwick, who died in 1936; their 
two daughters died in childhood In 1923 Ethel divorced Rus- 
sell Colt, by whom she had had three children. John had four 
wives: Katherine Corn Harris; poetess Michael Strange, the 
mother of Joan Strange Barrymore (better known as the late 
actress Diana Barrymore) ; actress Dolores Costello, the mother 
of John Barrymore II and Dolores Ethel Mae Barrymore; and 
Elaine Banie. 

After abandoning the theatre in 1925, both John and Lio- 
nel achieved considerable success in motion pictures. Ethel 
joined them in Hollywood in 193 2 for the film Rasputin and the 
Empress; this was die only occasion, either in the theatre or in 
motion pictures, that all three Barrymores appeared together 
in the same vehicle* 



In 1928 Ethel Banymore was honored by having a New 
York theatre named after her; for nearly two decades after 
John and Lionel went to Hollywood she continued on the 
stage with such successes as Declassee, The Second Mrs. 
Tanqueray, and The Constant Wife. One of her greatest roles, 
that of Miss Moffat, the English spinster in The Corn Is Green 
who goes to teach in a small Welsh village, came late in her 
career. The Corn Is Green opened in New York in November, 
1940, and ran for fourteen months; it then toured for nearly 
two years. 

While playing in The Corn Is Green in Boston in 1942, 
Miss Barrymore received news that John had died on May 29. 
His was a tragic story of a brilliant talent abused and mistreated; 
the last seven years of his life were a record of almost total 
dissipation and disintegration. Although he had made hundreds 
of thousands of dollars in Hollywood, he died deeply in debt. 

Like her brothers, Ethel Barrymore also finally left the 
stage for motion pictures; after 1945, troubled by increasing 
ill health, she found work in the theatre too arduous and con- 
fined her activities to making films. Lionel Barrymore died in 
California on November 15, 1954, at seventy-six; and on June 
1 8, 1959, Ethel Barrymore died, less than two months before 
her eightieth birthday. The era of the Drews and the Barry- 
mores, one of the most brilliant periods in the American theatre, 
had ended. 


E. hi Sothern 


Julia Marlowe 


E, H. Sothern in The Prisoner of Zenda 
and Julia Marlowe in The Hunchback 

E. H. Sothern 


Julia Marlowe 


'NTE evening in the fall of 1 879 a nineteen-year-old actor 
made his stage debut as a cabdriver in a New York production 
in which his father was starring. The intense, nervous young 
man had only one line to say; he had practiced it hundreds of 
rimes. As he walked out to face the audience, he felt supremely 
confident. After all, with one line, what could go wrong? Then 
the moment came for him to speak He opened his mouth, 
and stage fright seized him. Not a sound came out! All he 
could do was gesture frantically while his father grew angrier 
and angrier, and finally ordered him off the stage. 

A few years after this an earnest girl of twenty-one, who 
had just spent three years studying day and night to be an 
actress, was approaching manager after manager in search of 
a job. Her ambition, she announced, was to play all the Shake- 
spearean heroines- One man, on hearing this, looked her over 
stonily and then concentrated his attention on her rather large 
nose. **With that?" he sneered, and dismissed her. 

Twenty years later these two young people were to be 



famous throughout America as die team of Sothern and Mar- 

Edward Hugh Sothern was born on December 6, 1859, 
in New Orleans, where his father was acting with a stock com- 
pany; but with the outbreak of the Civil War the Sotherns 
returned to their native England. Edward, one of four chil- 
dren, was sent to a school near Rugby that concentrated more 
on cross-country riding and fox-hunting than on books. Since 
his father opposed his interest in acting, he decided to attend an 
art school in London. Even his family soon recognized that 
his talent as a painter was very, very slight. 

In the meantime his father, a high-spirited man with a 
great love of practical jokes, had returned to America, where 
he was a great favorite in comic roles. Edward came over in 
1879; tk e ill-fated stage debut soon followed. 

Although the elder Sothern had absolutely no faith in his 
son's abilities as an actor, he agreed to provide an allowance of 
twenty dollars a week while Edward gained experience with 
the company acting at the Boston Museum- This actually was 
as much a museum as a theatre, for Boston was still opposed to 
the notion of using a building solely for the frivolous purpose 
of play-acting. For three months Edward played small parts 
there without pay, although he was presented with an envelope 
each payday. The other members of the company did not 
realize it was empty. After this, he went on tour with his 
father's company, a tour that was cut short by his father's 
illness. They returned to England, but Edward soon was back 
acting in America. 

One day in Washington he received word of his father's 
death. The impact of the news did not hit htm until the follow- 
ing evening, in the midst of a performance of Richard HI. 
Playing the Prince of Wales, he had to speak of the king's 



death. Suddenly the realization of his own father's death over- 
whelmed him, and he sobbed out loud. The audience, having 
read the news in the papers, remained silent; in a moment he 
was able to control himself and go on with the part. 

For the next few years Edward had very little success. 
He did manage to obtain work now and then, but always with 
touring companies that went bankrupt or in New York pro- 
ductions with brief runs. He even wrote a play called Whose 
Are They?, which he produced with a small legacy his father 
had left him. The production opened in Baltimore, stopped 
briefly in New York, and closed in Brooklyn. The next sea- 
son a foolhardy manager sent k on tour under the title Crushed 
and it was. 

Then Edward was asked to rehearse, on a temporary basis, 
a small part in a new play, One of Our Girls, until the right 
actor for the part could be found. He agreed and, because die 
right actor never did appear, was still in the cast when the play 
opened in New York. It was his first success. 

A real triumph soon followed One day in going through 
some of his father's possessions he ran across an old play that 
seemed to have possibilities. He took it to Daniel Frohman, 
manager of the Lyceum Theatre. Frohman set him to work re- 
vising it with David Belasco, who was then Frohman's stage 
manager. Under the name The Highest Bidder the play was 
produced; it was a success; and E. H. Sothern found himself 
a star. 

Sothern was to be the popular leading man with Daniel 
Frohman's Lyceum Theatre Stock Company for a number of 
years. There Maude Adams (just starting her career on the 
New York stage, a career that was to lead her to fame in Peter 
Pan and other comedies by James M. Barrie) appeared with 
him in Lettarblair and other plays. There he scored an out- 



standing success in the romantic drama The Prisoner of Zenda. 
At the Lyceum one of his leading ladies was Virginia Harned. 
She and Sothern were married in 1896, but over the years 
their careers separated them, and they were divorced in 1911. 

After leaving the Lyceum, Sothern appeared in Gerhart 
Hauptmann's The Sunken Bell and in If I Were King, in which 
his dashing performance and ardent love-making as the poet 
Francois Villon brought him tremendous popularity. 

In 1900, the year before his great success m If I Were 
King, E. H. Sothern had carried out a longstanding ambition 
to appear in Hamlet. The production seemed plagued by mis- 
fortune. Soon after opening in New York, Sothern was 
wounded during one of the fencing scenes; blood poisoning 
sent him to the hospitaL He recovered and took Hamlet on 
tour; in Cincinnati all the scenery and costumes were destroyed 
when the theatre burned to the ground. There were compensa- 
tions, however; his portrayal was highly praised by the critics, 
and Julia Marlowe, by then a star in her own right, saw one 
of die performances. Almost immediately she went to Daniel 
Frohman's brother Charles, also a producer, and proposed that 
she and E. H. Sothern co-star. It was a partnership that would 
last the rest of their lives. 

The woman known to theatre audiences as Julia Marlowe 
had been born on August 17, 1865, in die litde village of Cald- 
bcck in England's Lake District, the region made world famous 
by Wordsworth and other poets. Her real name was Sarah 
Frances Frost* When she was five she was brought to America, 
where her father was then struggling to operate a store on the 
Kansas prairie. He had taken the name of Brough on coming 
to America; so Sarah Frances Frost now became Fanny Brought. 
One of her first memories was of raging blizzards and lurking 



Her father, ineffectual as a wage-earner, soon abandoned 
his store and Kansas. The family moved from one small town 
in Ohio to another, finally settling in Cincinnati By now there 
were three more children, and all of them heartily detested 
die man their mother married after divorcing their father. Be- 
cause this stepfather constantly insisted that the children learn 
some trade and earn some money, Fanny Brough went down- 
town one afternoon when she was thirteen and applied for a 
job with a juvenile production of Gilbert and Sullivan's 
HMJS. Pinafore. Her family was completely surprised when 
she returned home and announced that she was setting out on 
tour the next day. 

For nine months the Pinafore company moved about the 
Middle West; Fanny Brough was soon promoted from the 
chorus to the role of Admiral Sir Joseph Porter. At the end 
of the tour she returned home, to be set to work first as a packer 
of gingersnaps, then as a trainee telegraph operator, and finally 
as a dressmaker. 

Just about this time a salesman called at her home, selling 
a volume of Shakespeare's plays illustrated with pictures of 
famous actors and actresses in the various roles. Fanny, by 
promising to give up her small weekly allowance, persuaded 
her mother to buy the book. From that moment on she was 
determined to become a great Shakespearean actress. 

After a few tiny parts, including one in a touring company 
of Rip Van Winkle, she was engaged as a member of the com- 
pany of a Cincinnati actress who planned to appear through- 
out the Middle West as the star of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth 
Night and several other plays. Although Fanny Brough's parts 
were small and the company was a poor one, she worked in- 
dustriously and managed toJearn a great deal about the craft 
of acting. Off stage she was shy and solitary. Of medium height, 



she seemed frail; her large brown eyes and abundant dark- 
brown hair were her most attractive features. 

By now she had attracted the attention of an ex-actress 
named Ada Dow, who persuaded Fanny's mother to let her 
bring the eighteen-year-old girl to New York for intensive 
training as an actress. Three years of arduous study followed 
before Fanny Brough again appeared on the stage. In the morn- 
ings she went up to Central Park and walked along the paths 
rehearsing speeches aloud. In the afternoons she studied one 
part after another under Miss Dow's guidance. In the evenings 
she usually went to the theatre to observe others act. In addi- 
tion, she spent many hours at singing lessons. When she and 
Miss Dow moved to cheaper, quieter quarters in Bayonne, 
New Jersey, she could no longer walk in Central Park, but 
otherwise her schedule was much the same as before: hard work 
and very little companionship with anyone her own age. 

Finally Miss Dow felt that her protegee was ready, and a 
new name was picked to fit the young actress's new personality: 
Julia Marlowe. They were both determined that Julia Marlowe 
was to play only Shakespeare and other poetic or classic plays; 
they were both determined that she should begin as nothing 
less than the star of the productions. Perhaps because they re- 
fused to recognize the possibility of defeat, they gained both 

First, in the spring of 1 887, they managed to obtain enough 
money to hire a company for a two-week tour of some small 
New England towns, with Julia Marlowe starred in three plays. 
Then, in the fall, they persuaded Julia's mother to pay the cost 
of hiring actors and renting a theatre in New York for a single 
matinee of a play called Ingomar, with Julia Marlowe starred. 
Mainly out of curiosity to see this daring young woman who, 
unknown and unrecognized, announced herself as a star, an 



audience gathered at the theatre where the matinee was to take 
place. A number of managers and critics were present. To their 
surprise, but not to hers, they were captivated by her perform- 
ance. The reviews that appeared the following day were filled 
with praise, especially for the clarity and resonance of her 
melodious voice. 

A restaurant owner financed a week's engagement at an- 
other New York theatre for productions of Ingomar, Tivelftb 
Night 9 and Romeo and Juliet, all starring Julia Marlowe; this 
engagement brought bookings for a six-week tour of Chicago, 
Cincinnati, Louisville and the West. To outsiders, Julia Mar- 
lowe's sudden leap to stardom seemed miraculous; they did 
not know of the determined years of intense study that pre- 
pared her for it. 

Miss Marlowe received many offers to do contemporary 
plays, but she persisted in acting the type of parts she felt 
represented worthwhile drama. For the most part she preferred 
to tour outside New York City. In 1890 she did appear for a 
brief engagement in Manhattan; financially it was disastrous. 
But in Boston, in Philadelphia, in Indianapolis and elsewhere 
she proved that a classic repertory could draw a paying audi- 
ence. In Memphis, Tennessee, a theatre was named after her. 

Some misfortune followed. In Philadelphia she was 
stricken with typhoid fever and was critically ill for a long 
time. Her marriage, in 1899, to a young actor named Robert 
Taber, proved unhappy. He insisted that they be co-starred 
and that she use the name Julia Taber; strange as it seems, much 
of her public failed to recognize her under this name, and audi- 
ences diminished. Robert Taber insisted on a production of 
Henry IV, Part I because the role of Hotspur offered him 
splendid opportunities; Julia Marlowe Taber played Prince 
Hal, and did not play it well. Soon they had separated and in 



1900 were divorced. 

In the meantime, Julia Taber once again became Julia 
Marlowe. She had impressed New York audiences with her 
Juliet in 1887 and again in 1896; now, in 1899, she captivated 
them in Barbara Frietcbie, a new melodrama by Clyde Fitch. 
In most ways the heroine resembled the Barbara Frietchie of 
Whittier's poem; the exception was that Miss Marlowe, at 
only thirty-four, did not gray her deep-brown hair. 

A number of the critics bewailed the fact that Miss Mar- 
lowe had compromised her ideals by appearing in such an in- 
ferior play; she agreed, but the profits made possible projects 
dearer to her heart. 

In 1901 she appeared in another inferior play, When 
Knighthood Was in Flower; again she scored a tremendous 
popular success and made a fortune. 

But a great fortune and overwhelming popularity were 
not Julk Marlowe's goals. Her goal was a repertory company 
performing Shakespeare and other classics. When she saw E. H. 
Sothem in Hamlet, she was convinced that they could work 
together perfectly. 

Producer Charles Frohman and Mr. Sothern shared her en- 
thusiasm in the proposition, and Mr. Frohman agreed to pay 
cadi of them $100,000 a year for a period of three years; in 
the early i poo's this was an amazing sum. 

In October, 1904, they presented their first three repertory 
pixxhicrions: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Much Ado About 
Nothing. The team of Sothern and Marlowe was an immediate 
success. Both took their work very seriously; both were ex- 
tremely meticulous about every detail of the production. Every 
scene, every costume had to be strictly authentic. And a care- 
fess or inattentive performance was not tolerated from any 
member of their company. 



Sothcrn and Marlowe continued together during die 
1905-1906 season; and then, despite the fact that American 
actors had always met with disaster in London, they took their 
productions to England, fully expecting to lose $40,000. Be- 
cause they lost less than half this sum, they regarded the venture 
as successful. 

After their three-year partnership agreement expired, they 
acted separately for a while, but in 1900 joined forces again. 
That year they co-starred in Antony arid Cleopatra, which 
opened the New Theatre, a huge and handsome building in 
New York Qty financed by a group of wealthy men who 
hoped to establish an institution comparable to London's "Old 
Vic." Unfortunately this high-minded project, like so many 
others in the history of the American theatre, failed to succeed 

On August n, 1911, E. H. Sothern and Julia Marlowe 
were married in London. They continued to present their rep- 
ertory of Shakespeare and other classics in New York and 
throughout the country; and after their marriage, in order to 
make touring more comfortable, they began to rent furnished 
houses wherever they played, however briefly. In 1914 iHnesg 
compelled Miss Marlowe to leave the stage; and in 1916, al- 
though Mr. Sothern continued to act, she announced her re- 

After World War I, they were persuaded to return to 
the stage as a team in 1919 and continued acting until 1924, 
when they retired permanently. Both Miss Marlowe and Mr. 
Sothern had, by this time, been awarded doctorates by George 
Washington University in recognition of their contribution 
to the American theatre; Miss Marlowe was awarded a gold 
medal for diction by the American Academy of Arts and Let- 
ters in 1929 and received a second doctorate in 1943 from 
Columbia University. 



After their retirement they traveled widely, spending most 
of their time abroad. Mr. Sothern died on October 3, 1933, 
shortly before his seventy-fourth birthday. With the outbreak 
of war in Europe, Miss Marlowe returned to the United States 
and settled at the Hotel Plaza in New York, rarely making pub- 
lic appearances of any sort. There, on November 12, 1950, 
she died at the age of eighty-five. 

During their years as a team, E. H. Sothern and Julia Mar- 
lowe were regarded as the foremost exponents of Shakespeare 
in this country; they made both an artistic and commercial 
success of their productions, which they carried to towns and 
villages rarely visited by other touring companies. If, as some 
critics maintained, neither Mr. Sothern nor Miss Marlowe was 
inspired, they were capable, studious, energetic and dedicated. 
What they may have lacked in genius, they more than made 
up in hard work and devotion to the art of acting and to the 
intelligence of their public. 


Maude Adams 


Maude Adams as Peter Pan 

Maude Adams 


/\T THE beautiful theatre built by the Mormons in Salt 
Lake City, a crisis occurred one summer night in 1873 during 
die performance of a farce called The Lost Child. The plot 
centered on a small infant who was rushed on and off stage 
and finally carried in on a platter. This night the five-weeks- 
old baby appearing in the play began screaming so furiously 
when placed on the platter that he could not be taken back on 
stage. The manager was rantic. Then he learned that the nine- 
months-old daughter of one of the actresses was in the theatre. 
He grabbed the child, set her on the platter, and in a moment 
she was on the stage. Because the baby had grown so large in 
just a few minutes, the audience roared. Then the baby sat 
up on the platter and smiled, and the people in the theatre were 
captivated. Many theatre-goers in the future were to be capti- 
vated by that smile, for the child was Maude Adams. 

James Kiskadden, Maude's father, was a bank clerk, a fun- 
loving, rather irresponsible man. Her mother, Annie Adams, 
a descendant of the two Adams presidents, was an industrious 
actress, passionately interested in die theatre. Maude was born 
on November 1 1, 1872, in Salt Lake City; when she was two, 
the family moved to Virginia City, Nevada, and from there 
to San Francisco. 

Theatre business in San Francisco was flourishing, and 



Annie Adams appeared in one play after another. Very often 
her daughter's name appeared on the programs, too, as "Little 
Maude." Often Maude had no lines to speak, but she learned 
how to sing and dance, and these skills were frequently put 
to use. By the rime she was five or six she had begun to think 
up little touches that made her characterizations more effective: 
in one production she suggested to the manager that she skip 
rope instead of merely standing about with the other child 
actors; in another she insisted on serving real beer, instead of 
tea, so that the audience could see the foam running over the 
rim of the mug. 

"Little Maude" was quiet and reserved, but she was very 
serious about the fact that she was an actress. She worked hard 
on her parts and always knew her lines perfectly; sometimes 
she knew the other actors' lines better than they did. 

In 1 882, when she was almost ten, she came to New York 
from San Francisco in the cast of a touring production. Al- 
diough the play never opened in Manhattan, Maude was over- 
whelmed with excitement over her first visit to New York City. 
She was reluctant to return to the West because her mother 
and grandmother had decided she should attend school regu- 
larly, instead of going to classes only on rare occasions. 

Despite her objections, Maude was enrolled at the Salt 
Lake Collegiate Institute. Modest, industrious, unassuming, 
she was popular with students and teachers alike. One teacher 
even tried to persuade her to continue her education and be- 
come an elocution teacher; but, for Maude, two years of school 
were enough. When she was twelve, she returned to San Fran- 
cisco and the stage. 

Her father had died in 1 883 ; now she and her mother were 
closer than ever. They became, and remained, inseparable com- 



By this time the name "Miss Maude Adams'* had replaced 
'TJttle Maude" on the theatre programs. For a while, she and 
her mother were members of a company that toured the smaller 
California towns by stagecoach. In 1887 she was dancing in 
the ballet of a melodrama at a San Francisco theatre at a salary 
of six dollars a week; ten years later, in her first season as a 
star, she was to make more than forty thousand dollars. 

In 1888 another touring company was heading back East 
from San Francisco, and Maude was given a small part in the 
cast. Halfway across the country, the star resigned, and her 
role went to Maude* Before the New York opening, however, 
the management engaged another star, and Maude was reduced 
to a bit as a servant. Though deeply disappointed, she realized 
her inexperience and set about perfecting the few lines she had 
been given. On the opening night in New York, even in her 
tiny role she was so charming that a few critics mentioned her 
in their reviews. 

That fall she joined the acting company headed by E. H. 
Sothern, who was later to achieve fame as part of the famous 
Shakespearean team of Sothern and Marlowe. By now Maude 
was sixteen, rather frail in appearance, with long brown hair 
and large, expressive blue eyes. More and more, her sincerity, 
grace and delicate skill on stage attracted the attention of audi- 
ences. On leaving E. H. Sothern's company, she obtained a 
good part in a farce called A Midmght Bell. 

Then she attracted the attention of producer Charles 
Frohman, who was already being called "The Star Maker." 
He saw her potentialities immediately and engaged her as a 
member of his newly organized stock company, a group of 
actors he intended to use for several seasons in a number of 
plays. After two seasons of this apprentice work, she was of- 
fered an opportunity far greater than anything she or her 



mother had ever expected, 

Frohman had just lured the debonair actor John Drew 
away from another management. For years Drew had been co- 
starring with the vivacious Ada Rehan in a series of tremen- 
dously popular light comedies. Now Frohman had to find a 
new leading woman for Drew. He decided to gamble on the 
talented nineteen-year-old Maude Adams. 

The Masked Ball, Frohman's first production starring 
John Drew, opened on October 3, 1892. It was a triumph for 
Frohman, for Drew, and, most of all, for Maude Adams. Her 
role had posed an especially difficult problem: she had to appear 
on stage as a tipsy woman, and because she was so young this 
could easily offend the audience, instead of amusing it. She 
solved die problem brilliantly by making her entrance carrying 
a long-stemmed rose. She moved steadily, but the rose dipped 
and bobbed and staggered. There was a tipsy rose, not a tipsy 
Maude Adams. The critics were delighted; the audience found 
her irresistible. 

For five seasons Maude Adams appeared as John Drew's 
leading woman while Frohman groomed her for stardom. From 
the start Frohman was very canny in the way he managed her. 
Her private life was kept a secret. She never granted inter- 
views. Her public appearances off stage were held to an abso- 
lute minimum. This element of mystery aroused the public's 
curiosity and brought her innumerable mentions in newspapers 
and magazines, By 1896 Frohman was ready to launch her as 
a star; all he needed was an appropriate play. 

That year the famous Scotch novelist James M. Barrie 
made his first trip to America. While in New York, he attended 
a matinee of Rosemary, the comedy in which John Drew then 
was starring with Maude Adams as his leading woman. After 
the performance Barrie rushed to Frohman and announced that 



he planned to dramatize his novel, The Little Minister, as a 
vehicle for Maude Adams. The Little Minister tells of a rather 
self-righteous young minister in a small village in Scotland, 
who, much against his will, falls in love with a gay, mischievous 
girl, Lady Babbie, who has been raised by the gypsies. 

The Little Minister, with Maude Adams as star, opened 
at the Empire Theatre in New York on September 27, 1897. 
In Lady Babbie, Miss Adams found full scope for her cap- 
tivating talents. She seemed to have a special gift for making 
Barrie's gentle characters ring gloriously true. The production 
was a spectacular success: it ran for three hundred consecutive 
performances and brought in receipts of more than $370,000, 
a record for those days. By the end of the run there was no 
doubt in anyone's mind that Maude Adams was firmly estab- 
lished as a star. A nation-wide tour and several revivals proved 
equally popular. 

The combination of Barrie's whimsical plays and Maude 
Adams' elfin, elusive charm proved popular again in 1901 with 
Quality Street, in which Miss Adams appeared as Miss Phoebe, 
a lovely girl who, believing her soldier-sweetheart dead, grows 
plain and spinsterish, but blossoms again when he reappears. 

Then, in 1905, came Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Woidd 
Not Grow Up. Barrie was so dubious about its chances for 
commercial success that he offered to give Charles Frohman 
another play to make up for the probable losses; Maude Adams 
wanted to pky Wendy instead of Peter. Both of them were 
wrong. Peter Pan was Barrie's most successful play and Maude 
Adams' most famous role. 

Peter Pan opened on November 6, 1905, at the Empire 
Theatre and ran for 223 performances. Alice Sit-by-tbe-Pire, 
the play Barrie had offered as a recompense for Peter Pan, 
lasted only eighty-nine performances; with Ethel Banymore 



in the tide role. 

The highlight of each performance of Peter fan was 
the moment when Peter, in his desperate attempt to save the 
life of the fading Tinker Bell, rushed forward to the footlights 
and asked the audience if they believed in fairies. Children 
became so familiar with this part of the play that at one per- 
formance a little boy stood up in his seat fully fifteen minutes 
before the proper time and eagerly shouted that he believed 
in fairies. 

Between 1905 and 1915 Miss Adams played Peter Pan 
more than 1,500 rimes, including the original New York run 
and various revivals and tours. 

After Peter Pan, the Maude Adams-James M. Barrie com- 
bination achieved another success with What Every Woman 
Knows in 1908. In this, Miss Adams appeared as Maggie Wylie, 
the quick-witted, self-effacing wife who helps her humorless 
husband to success without ever letting him realize it. 

A Kiss for Cinderella, in which Miss Adams starred from 
1916 through 1918, was still another hit. Her winsome appeal 
brought exactly the right touch to the character of Miss Thing, 
the poor little waif who believes so firmly in the Cinderella 
legend that it comes true for her. But even Miss Adams' infinite 
charm and great popularity could not save Barrie's The Legend 
of Leonora and The Ladies' Shakespeare; both were failures. 

Between her first starring role in 1897 and A Kiss for 
Cinderella in 1916, Miss Adams appeared in a number of plays 
other than the ones by Barrie. In 1899 she tried Romeo md 
Juliet; her portrayal of Juliet was popular with the public but 
not with the critics. In the fall of 1900 she played in UAiglon, 
the story of Napoleon's ill-fated son, written by the French 
dramatist Edmond Rostand. To prepare for this role she spent 
a summer in Europe, where she visited Schoenbrunn, the castle 



near Vienna where L'Aiglon lived out his brief life in virtual 
imprisonment. In 1911 she did another Rostand play, Chant- 
ecler, a symbolic drama in which she portrayed a barnyard 
rooster, feathers and all. The critics had small praise for her 
performance, although they admitted the play was difficult. 

During the periods when she was not performing in New 
York or on tour, Miss Adams made several trips to Europe; 
but she never acted outside the United States. In 1901, worn 
out by illness and fatigue, she spent the summer in almost 
complete seclusion at a convent near Tours, France. Although 
not a Catholic, she grew so fond of her small convent cell 
that she had it reproduced as her bedroom in her New York 
home at 22 East Forty-First Street. The summer of 1902 she 
rested in Switzerland; that of 1903 she visited Paris and Egypt. 
In 1908 and 1909 she studied at Trinity College in Dublin, and 
in 1910 she made a quick trip to France to do some research 
for her appearance in Cbmtecler. 

By 1915 Maude Adams was probably the most popular 
actress in America. Whether or not the critics liked her per- 
formances, her public seemed to feel that she could do no 
wrong. Young and old alike were entranced by her elfin qual- 
ity; even Taft, when he was President, had kept her picture 
in his study at the White House. 

Her air of mystery remained. When she appeared on the 
street, she usually was dressed in dark browns or grays. She 
was now forty-two, unmarried, with many years of unceasing 
hard work behind her, and, by choice, only a handful of friends. 

Then, in less than a year, the three people dearest to her 
died. First was Charles Frohman, who went down with die 
Lusitama when it was torpedoed off Ireland on May 7, 1915; 
in December her grandmother died; and in March, 1916, her 
mother died. After these personal tragedies she made a valiant 



effort to resume her theatrical career, but while on tour with 
A Kiss for Cinderella in 1918, she was stricken with influenza, 
then sweeping the country in a dreadful epidemic. 

Illness, grief and exhaustion forced her into what she 
thought would be a temporary retirement. She knew that 
Barrie was writing a new play, Mary Rose, and she planned 
to return to the stage in it in 1920. But with Charles Frohman 
gone, she discovered that those who had taken over his in- 
terests had inserted a clause in her new contract requiring that 
she abandon her rights in the other Barrie plays. She refused 
to sign. Mary Rose was presented with a young actress named 
Ruth Chatterton in the title role; it was only mildly successful. 
Maude Adams never again appeared on the stage of a New 
York theatre. 

Retirement did not mean inactivity. For two years in the 
early 1920'$ she had her own laboratory at the General Electric 
plant in Schenectady, New York, where she experimented with 
lamps to be used in color photography. Then she became in- 
terested in filming Kim, Rudyard Kipling's novel of India; 
she also tried to persuade Barrie to write the script for a trav- 
elogue; but neither film was ever made. In 1926 and 1927 the 
Ladies' Home Journal published her autobiography. 

There were a few attempts to return to acting. In 1930 
she went to Hollywood to work on the script for a motion 
picture in which she hoped to appear. In the winter of 1931 
to 1932 she toured the country as Portia in The Merchant of 
Venice; die production came to Newar but never played in 
New York City. In 1934 she did a series of radio broadcasts 
of her famous roles and then played Maria in Twelfth Night 
on the summer theatre circuit. 

In 1937, at sixty-four, she joined the faculty at Stephens 
College, a junior college for girls at Columbia, Missouri, where 



she taught or served as advisor until 1950, when she retired 
to her home at Tannersville, New York. There, early in 1953, 
she was stricken with pleurisy; her resistance was seriously 
weakened, and she died on July 17, 1953, at eighty. Through- 
out the thirty-five years of her retirement she remained as 
elusive as she had been during her years as America's best-loved 
actress. To the very end she was an enigma, even to those few 
who knew her best. 


George M Cohan 


George ML Cohan 

George M Cohan 


JVlY MOTHER thanks you, my father thanks you, my sis- 
ter thanks you, and I thank you." 

A brash young man of eighteen made this speech one 
afternoon late in 1896 on the stage of Hyde and Behman's 
Adams Street Theatre in Brooklyn. At that rime, Hyde and 
Behman's was the goal of every vaudeville act; an appearance 
there practically assured engagements at other first-rate vaude- 
ville houses. 

George M. Cohan, the young man who thanked the audi- 
ence, had good reason to be grateful The Four Cohans com- 
posed of his mother, father, sister and himself had been a 
last-minute substitute for another act. They had been given 
the opening spot on the program, the traditional place, as the 
audience knew, for the act the management considered weak- 
est. Yet, despite these handicaps, The Four Cohans had scored 
a resounding hit. George and his family were jubilant because 
the future now looked so bright. 

George M. Cohan (pronounced Co-HAN, accenting the 
last syllable), actor, pkywright, director, producer, as well as 
composer and lyricist of more than five hundred songs, in- 
cluding "Over There" and "The Grand Old Flag," always; 
claimed the Fourth of July as his birthday. Actually, he wasi 
born just a few hours before midnight on July 3, 1878, in 



Providence, Rhode Island. His parents, Jerry and Helen Cohan, 
who already had a two-year-old daughter, Josephine, returned 
to their work as vaudeville performers soon after George's 
birth. While still a small infant, George made his first stage 
appearance, carried by his father in a vaudeville sketch. 

Growing up in the free-and-easy atmosphere backstage 
in theatres, George developed into a brash and unruly child. 
He argued with stage managers; he even argued with the stars 
of the programs; as a result, his parents lost a number of jobs. 
Every attempt to send him to school was a fiasco. At eight, for 
example, he was sent to stay with friends of the Cohans in 
Orange, New Jersey, where he could attend classes regularly; 
within three weeks the friends rushed him back to his parents. 
This was the end of his education. Twenty years later, in an 
article he wrote for Theatre Magazine, he boasted that he had 
read only three books: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Innocents Abroad. 
Whether or not this was true, young George had much in 
common with both Tom and Huck. 

When George joined his parents after his disgrace in 
Orange, they were touring in a melodrama called Daniel Boone 
on the Trail. On reaching each new town, George, dressed in 
a cowboy suit, had to ride a donkey through the streets in a 
parade announcing the arrival of the actors. At every perform- 
ance he had two jobs selling song books and playing second 
fiddle in the orchestra. Even so, he still had rime to get into 
one scrape after another. 

At nine, George made his formal stage debut playing the 
violin in a specialty number. Soon he developed a comedy rou- 
tine in which he appeared as *The Lively Bootblack." 

In the spring of 1889, the family, now called The Cohan 
Mirth-Makers, had considerable success in smaller towns with 



a vaudeville sketch written by Jerry Cohan called "Goggles* 
Doll House." By now George was trying his hand at writing 
sketches; although Jerrry always turned them down, he en- 
couraged George to try again. 

1891 brought George the chance to play the ride role in 
Peck's Bad Boy at a Brooklyn theatre; he thought it was a 
splendid opportunity. Consisting of loosely-connected slapstick 
episodes, Peck's Bad Boy centered on the exploits of an incor- 
rigible (but, said the program, good-hearted) boy, who made 
life unbearable for his father, for a pawnbroker, a storekeeper 
and many others. At the opening performance George played 
the role to the hilt; but after the performance he found a gang 
of children lying in wait for him in the alley by the stage door. 
They all had seen Peck's Bad Boy many rimes before, and k 
had become a neighborhood tradition to fight with the "Bad 
Boy." George soon developed into a swift runner. 

In the next few years The Four Cohans played many en- 
gagements: thirty-five weeks with a troupe in Buffalo, New 
York; seventeen weeks touring in a farce called April Fool; 
sixteen weeks of one-night stands with a German comedian; 
and numerous other short-lived ventures. 

By now George had composed and sold several songs, 
starting with a number called "Why Did Nellie Leave Her 
Home?" He had also written and sold several vaudeville 
sketches; and, as a member of The Four Cohans, he had de- 
veloped an exaggerated comic dance routine called an "ec- 
centric dance." 

Then, in 1896, The Four Cohans made their big success 
in Brooklyn at Hyde and Behman's. "My mother thanks you, 
my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you" 
became a standard speech for George in the years that followed. 
George, now business manager for his family, also began writ- 



ing all their sketch material. 

Under his management The Four Cohans were steadily 
employed: there was a tour with a group called "Hyde's Co- 
medians," an appearance in New York at the famous Tony 
Pastor's vaudeville house on Union Square, a tour with another 
popular troupe known as cc Vesta Tilley's AU-Star Vaudeville." 

While the Vesta Tilley group was playing in Chicago in 
1898, George met a Scotch-Irish singing-comedienne named 
Ethel Levey. They were married in July, 1899, in Atlantic 
City, New Jersey, then and for many years afterwards a very 
popular spot with theatre people. The marriage was not a suc- 
cess. They had one child, Georgette; Ethel Levey appeared 
with the Cohans in several productions; but she and George 
were divorced in 1907. 

Meanwhile, in 1901, George M. Cohan, not yet twenty- 
three, wrote a three-act musical farce called The Governor's 
Son; cast his mother, father, sister, wife and himself in im- 
portant pans; persuaded L. C Behman or Hyde and Behman's 
in Brooklyn to finance the production; and opened it at a New 
York theatre. This was the Cohans' first appearance in a legiti- 
mate theatre instead of in a vaudeville house. 

Although not a success in New York, The Governor's 
Son was both popular and profitable on tour. In 1903 George 
brought his whole family back to New York City in his new 
musical comedy, Running for Office; k ran for only forty- 
eight performances. Like The Governor's Son, however, it 
was a success on tour. These two failures in New York did 
not discourage George; his ego was bolstered when one of his 
songs, "Always Leave Them Laughing When You Say Good- 
bye," became a nation-wide hit. 

Then, in 1904, George M. Cohan met a brilliant, dynamic 
young man named Sain Harris. On the Sunday after their first 



meeting, while they were coming back from a baseball game 
on Staten Island, they decided to become partners and produce 
plays. From this casual decision emerged one of the most suc- 
cessful producing teams in the history of the American theatre. 

One of their first ventures was Little Johnny Jones, which 
opened in New York on November 7, 1904. Sam Harris was 
listed as the producer, presenting George M. Cohan in his first 
starring role. George M. Cohan wrote the book, lyrics and 
music; George M. Cohan directed; and Jerry Cohan, Helen 
Cohan, and Ethel Levey Cohan were featured in the cast- The 
only Cohan missing was George's sister Josephine, now mar- 
ried and touring with her actor-husband. 

Even though Little Johnny Jones included such songs as 
"Give My Regards to Broadway" and "The Yankee Doodle 
Boy," it did poor business for its fifty-two performances in 
New York. George M. Cohan was furious: he moved the pro- 
duction to Philadelphia, where it was a great hit. Then he 
brought it back to New York for another engagement; this 
time, the New York public flocked to the performances. 

After Little Johnny Jones, Cohan became more and more 
successful. His musical comedies, although not always popular 
with the critics, set a new style in pace and form. His plays 
set a fashion for swift-running comedy. Cohan attributed his 
success to the fact that he frequently started rehearsals with 
only the first act written and completed the show as rehearsals 
progressed. He directed and acted in most of his own plays; 
in addition, he rewrote many pieces by other playwrights. 

Among the musicals and plays he wrote between 1904 and 
1919 were: Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway (with such 
songs as "Mary Is a Grand Old Name" and "So Long Mary"), 
George Washington, Jr. (with "The Grand Old Flag"), The 
Talk of New York (with 'When a Fellow's on die Level with 



a Girl That's on the Square" and "Under Any Old Flag at 
All"), Fifty Miles from Boston (with "When We Are 
M-a~double-r-i-e-d" and "Harrigan"), The Yankee Prince, 
The Man Who Owns Broadway, Get-Ricb-Quick Walling- 
ford, Broadway Jones, Seven Keys to Baldpate (a mystery 
farce, one of Cohan's greatest successes), Hello Broadway, 
Hit-the-Tratt-Holliday (another big success), The Cohan Re- 
vue of 2916 (and The Cohan Revue of 1918, which he de- 
scribed as "A hit and run play batted out by George M. 
Cohan") and A Prince There Was. 

For a long rime the critics associated Cohan so closely 
with vaudeville that they failed to recognize his acting abilities. 
However, as time passed, they came to realize that his breezy, 
swaggering style and his straight-faced delivery of comic lines 
contributed immeasurably to the success of his plays. Gradu- 
ally his reputation as a comedian grew, although there were 
numerous dissenters. The controversy was summed up in a 
1914 magazine article: "Is George M. Cohan to be Regarded as 
a Joke or a Genius?" More a genius than a joke, the article 

By 1919 George M. Cohan was one of the most success- 
ful men in the American theatre. He had written and acted in 
many hit plays; with Sam Harris, he had produced many hits 
by other playwrights. His songs were extremely popular, es- 
pecially one he dashed off in a few hours in 1917: "Over 
There." His second marriage, in 1907, to Agnes Nolan, was 
a happy one; they had two daughters, Helen and Mary, and 
a son, George, Jr. In 191 1 he had built a theatre in New York 
Chy and named it after himself. A good many people in the 
Manhattan neighborhood known as "Broadway" all but idol- 
ized him for his generosity. Five-foot-six, with a wiry figure, 
humorous blue eyes, and hair shot with gray, he was a familiar 



and popular figure throughout America. 

Then, on August 7, 1919, Actors' Equity Association, the 
actors' union, called a strike. Equity sought to have theatre 
managers recognize it as the bargaining agent for actors, which, 
up to then, the managers had refused to do. Twelve produc- 
tions closed right away; one of them was Cohan's presentation 
of The Royal Vagabond, Cohan was infuriated, and, though 
he had been an actor all his life, took the side of the managers 
against Equity. He reopened The Royal Vagabond with him- 
self in a starring role. He made countless public and violent 
statements against Equity. He was instrumental in the organ- 
ization of the Actors' Fidelity League, a group opposed to 
Equity (and a group that was dissolved soon after the end of 
the strike). In protest against the strike he resigned from both 
the Lambs and the Friars, two famous theatrical clubs. 

But the public and the majority of the stars sympathized 
with Equity. By September, twenty-three plays had closed, and 
on September 6 the strike ended Equity was victorious; 
George M. Cohan never recovered from has bitterness. He 
announced his retirement; in July, 1920, he dissolved his part- 
nership with Sam Harris. 

However, he soon was active again; in the next thirteen 
years he wrote many plays and produced many by other 
authors. Although he had some success, the critics and the pub- 
lic now regarded his work as sentimental and unsophisticated. 
The Cohan vogue seemed to have passed; there were more 
failures than hits. 

Then, in 1933, Eugene O'Neill sent the Theatre Guild 
the script of Ah, Wilderness!, a comedy about an adolescent 
boy in a sm^l Connecticut town in 1906. One of die chief 
roles in the play was Nat Miller, the boy's father, a wise, kind, 
shrewd and humorous man, Theresa Helburn, a member of 



the board of directors of the Theatre Guild, had an inspiration. 
She offered the part to George M. Cohan, and he accepted. 
For the first time since leaving vaudeville, he appeared in a 
pky that he had not either written or re-written; it was a 
triumph for him. Critics who had belittled his talents as an 
actor in his own plays acclaimed him in O'Neill's comedy. A 
number of reviewers hailed him as "The dean of American 
comedy." Ah, Wilderness! did thriving business for a full sea- 
son in New York and repeated its success on tour. Once out 
of New York, however, Cohan began elaborating his perform- 
ance, using long pauses after certain comic lines to emphasize 
their humor. By the end of the tour each performance was 
running more than twenty minutes longer than in New York. 

After the dosing of Ah, Wilderness!, he wrote and pro- 
duced a comedy called Dear Old Darling in the spring of 1936; 
it was withdrawn at the end of two weeks. Cohan sailed for 
a vacation in Ireland; returned to America to join forces with 
Sam Harris once again for the production of a comedy, Fulton 
of Oak Falls, in which he starred for its brief engagement; and 
then sailed for London in April, 1937. 

He soon was summoned back for the leading role in a 
musical pky written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, 
with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart. 
Once again George M. Cohan appeared in a production he had 
not written; once again he achieved astounding success as an 
actor. The pky was Pd Rather Be Right, and George M. Cohan 
portrayed President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

The New York engagement and subsequent tour of Fd 
Rather Be Right kept Cohan occupied until February, 1939. 
His role probably brought him greater publicity and acclaim 
than anything else he had ever done. Yet the fact that credit 
for the pky and music had to go, not to George M Cohan, but 



to Kaufman, the two Harts, and Rodgers seemed to be a con- 
stant source of irritation. 

In the fall of 1939 he appeared briefly in Baltimore and 
Washington in the tryout of a new comedy by Sidney Howard, 
Madam, Will You Walk?, and in 1940 a play of his own, The 
Return of the Vagabond, was a quick failure. The following 
year he spent in retirement. 

On November 5, 1942, he died at the age of sixty-four, 
tired and discouraged, feeling that both he and everything he 
had done were hopelessly outdated Yet he left behind a pro- 
digious number of plays and musical comedies; hundreds of 
songs, including the rousing "Over There** and "The Grand 
Old Flag"; and the lasting memory of his superb performances 
in Ab y Wilderness! and Fd Rather Be Right. 


Alfred Lunt 


Lynn Fontanne 


Alfred Lorn and Lym Fontanne in The Taming of the Sbrev 

Alfred Lunt 


Lynn Fontanne 


'N THE very last night of their 452-perfonnance New 
York ran in O Mistress Mine, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne 
were overheard deep in conversation backstage, discussing how 
they could pky a scene in the second act of the comedy more 
effectively. They still were polishing their performances, even 
after having done O Mistress Mine in the English provinces 
and in London, throughout the Q.L camps in Europe, and for 
many months in New York* Regarded as the foremost acting 
team on the American stage today, the Lunts, with their con- 
stant search for perfection, have achieved an unparalleled 
brilliance of stage technique. 

Alfred Lunt was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on 
August 19, 1892, the son of Harriet Briggs Lunt and Alfred 
Lunt, Sr., a lumberman who died when his son was two. Mrs. 
Lunt later married a Finnish doctor, Karl Sederholm. After 
attending a Milwaukee high school and Carroll College in 
Waukesha, Wisconsin, Alfred was sent to Boston in 1912 to 
enroll in the Emerson School of Oratoiy* Instead, he joined 



the acting company at Boston's Castle Square Theatre at a 
salary of five dollars a week 

In 1 9 14 he joined the touring company of an actress named 
Margaret Anglin, then toured the vaudeville circuits with 
comedienne Laura Hope Crews, and, late in 1916, became the 
leading man in a vaudeville sketch starring the aging Lillie 
Langtry, in her youth a famous English beauty. In the sketch 
Lunt played the man with whom Mrs. Langtry was in love; 
since Lunt was only twenty-four and Lillie Langtry was in 
her sixties, the sketch proved more amusing than intended. 

He made his Broadway debut on October 17, 1917, in a 
short-lived comedy, RoTnance arid Arabella, and in the spring 
of 1918 went on tour with Booth Tarkington's The Country 
Cousin. Tarkington saw his performance in Boston and was 
so impressed that he told the young Lunt he would write a 
play especially for his talents. 

Tarkington kept his word; Clarence, the comedy he wrote, 
was a delightful piece about a young entomologist, just out 
of the army, who is hired as a handyman by a scatterbrained 
family and becomes their guiding light. It called for one talent 
Lunt did not possess: playing the saxophone. His attempts to 
practice the instrument during rehearsals kept the other mem- 
bers of the cast, including eighteen-year-old Helen Hayes, in 
an uproar. 

When Clarence opened in New York on September 20, 
1919, the audience greeted it with wild enthusiasm; the actors 
took more than twenty curtain calls. The next morning the 
critics hailed Clarence as the great American comedy; it ran 
for two years in New York and on tour. 

Alfred Lunt's next big success was in January, 1924, as 
the young ne'er-do-well, Tom Prior, in Sutton Vane's Out- 
loard Bound, the drama about a group of people aboard an 



ocean liner who find they are bound for the hereafter. By 
the time of Outward Bound he had met and married Lynn 

Miss Fontanne was born Lily Louise Fontanne on Decem- 
ber 6, 1892, in Woodford, Essex, England, the daughter of 
Frances Ellen and Jules Fontanne, a Frenchman who was a 
type designer. When eleven years old, she was taken by a friend 
to audition for Dame Ellen Terry, one of Englands' greatest 
actresses. Impressed by the girl, Dame Ellen coached her for 
two years and then was instrumental in helping her obtain a 
part in Cinderella at London's Drury Lane Theatre in Decem- 
ber, 1905. Tradition has it that young Lynn played a fairy 
dangling on the end of a wire. 

For the next few years she played a variety of small parts 
in London and on tours of the English provinces; in 1910 she 
came to the United States in a farce called Mr. Preedy and the 
Countess, which opened in New York on November 7 and 
closed three weeks later. Miss Fontanne returned to England 

In London she gained an increasing reputation for skillful 
performances in character roles. Laurette Taylor, the Ameri- 
can actress who had scored a resounding success both in New 
York and London in Peg O* My Heart, liked one of Miss 
Fontanne's performances so much that she brought her back 
to America for supporting roles in several plays, starting in the 
spring of 1916. Alfred Lunt first saw her in The Wooing of 
Eve, which opened in New York on November 9, 1917. 

They did not actually meet until the late spring of 1919, 
at rehearsals in a New York theatre for a summer production 
in Washington, D.C. When introduced, Lunt made a gallant 
attempt to kiss Miss Fontanne's hand, but lost his balance and 
fell flat on his face. Although the Washington production 
dosed at the end of a week, by that time their friendship was 



well established. 

After Clarence opened in New York, Miss Fontanne 
frequently ventured backstage at the theatre to visit Mr. Lunt, 
despite the jealous glances of the young actresses in the cast. 
In die spring of 1920 she appeared in the Philadelphia produc- 
tion of Eugene O'Neill's Chris (which he later rewrote as 
Anna Christie, the Pulitzer Prize winner); then she returned 
to England for a play with Laurette Taylor. On the opening 
night in London, a riot broke out in the balcony, reportedly 
started by troublemakers paid by an English actress whose 
wrath Miss Taylor had aroused. Lynn Fontanne soon was back 
in the United States. 

Then came Dulcy, a comedy written especially for Miss 
Fontanne by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly. Dulcy 
had its New York premiere on February 21, 192 r ; as Dulcinea, 
the feather-brained heroine, Miss Fontanne was one of the big 
hits of the season. Fifteen months later, on May 26, 1922, she 
and Alfred Lunt were married. 

Although they both appeared in a benefit revival of Sweet 
Nell of Old Drury in 1923, their first great success as a team 
was in The Guardsman the following year. This comedy was 
produced by the Theatre Guild, which had been formed in 
1919 by several members of an experimental group, the Wash- 
ington Square Players; from The Guardsman on, the Theatre 
Guild was to have a hand in nearly all the productions in 
which the Lunts appeared. 

The GuardsTnm, Ferenc Molnar's comedy about a jealous 
actor who disguises himself as a Cossack soldier and makes love 
to his own wife, opened in New York on October 13, 1924. 
The Lunts gave a daTy.Hng comic performance which took both 
critics and audience by surprise. Mr. Lunt in Clarence and 
Miss Fontanne in Dulcy had each been uproarious, but their 


playing as a team had a brilliance which neither had achieved 

In the years that followed they had an almost unbroken 
succession of hits, many of which they did in London as well 
as in New York and on tour throughout the United States. 
With each of these their acting virtuosity and their popularity 
increased. They did Shaw's Arms and the Man in 1925 and 
The Doctor's Dilemma in 1927, Maxwell Anderson's Eliza- 
beth the Queen in 1930, Robert E. Sherwood's Reunion in 
Vienna in 1931 and Idiot's Delight in 1936, Noel Coward's 
Design for Living in 1933, Shakespeare's The Taming of the 
Shrew in 1935, and, in 1938, S. N. Behrman's adaptation of 
Amphitryon 38 by Jean Giraudoux. 

Brooks Atkinson's review in The New York Times of The 
Taming erf the Shrew is typical of the critical acclaim they 
received: ". . . Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne were pounc- 
ing on The Taming of the Shrew and playing it in the Guild 
Theatre like a game of ninepins. . . . Here are the actors 
who have more gusto for every sort of stage hocus-pocus than 
any other performers on the American bulletin boards." 

The Lunts acted separately in several productions in 1926 
and separated as actors again in 1928 when Mr. Lunt played 
in O'Neill's Marco Millions and Miss Fontanne in O'Neill's 
Strange Interlude. Performances of Strange Interlude began 
at four thirty, recessed for dinner and continued until after 
eleven at night; Mr. Lunt is reported to have said that if the 
performance had lasted two hours longer he could have sued 
for divorce on the grounds of desertion. Since 1928 they have 
always acted together. 

They went to Hollywood to make the motion picture 
version of The Guardsntan in 193 1; since then they have re- 
sisted the temptation to make another film, except for a brief 



appearance in Stage Door Canteen in 1943. The story is told 
that Mr. and Mrs. Lunt turned down one Hollywood offer of 
one million dollars by saying that they could be bought 
but not bored. 

In 1940 Robert E. Sherwood's There Shall Be No Night 
brought the Lunts one of their greatest successes; it won Sher- 
wood a Pulitzer Prize. This drama of a Finnish scientist and 
his American wife caught up in Finland's resistance to Russia 
opened in New York on April 29, 1940, and played to capacity 
audiences until the fall The following spring the Lunts played 
it in nearly fifty cities in nineteen states and two Canadian 
provinces; in the fall they toured again, playing mostly one- 
night stands throughout the South and the Middle West. At 
the height of the Battle of Britain, they took the play to Eng- 
land, opening in London on December 15, 1943, after a tour 
of the provinces. At rimes the scenery shook so badly from 
bomb explosions in the vicinity of the theatre that the Lunts 
had to prop up the sets while saying their lines. 

During the midst of the V-2 raids the Lunts switched to 
a comedy, Terence Rattigan's Love in Idleness (later to be 
called O Mistress Mine) ; it opened in London late in 1944. In 
the summer of 1945, after touring the army camps in Europe, 
the Lunts returned to their Wisconsin farm for a much-needed 

The farm at Genesee Depot, twenty-eight miles west of 
Milwaukee, was bought by Mr. Lunt as a young man; h now 
includes neariy 160 acres. The Lunts have spent most of their 
summers there, living in a gaily-painted replica of a Swedish 
farmhouse which has an ultra-modem kitchen where Mr. Lunt 
performs as an excellent chef . On the farm he is an early riser 
and an energetic worker. 

After doing O Mistress Mine in New York and on tour 



from late 1945 well into 1949, the Lunts then played in S. N. 
Behrman's / Know My Love until 1951. This rather weak 
comedy about fifty years in the life of a married couple was 
redeemed by the Lunts* superb performances. Their skillful 
technique also saved Noel Coward's Quadrille, which they 
played in England and the United States from 1952 through 
March, 1955; Lunt appeared as a blunt American railroad 
baron of the late 1 870*5 and Miss Fontanne as a beautiful Eng- 
lish aristocrat. The Lunts' flair for elegant buffoonery rescued 
still another comedy, The Great Sebastians, in which they 
portrayed a pair of vaudevillians with a mind-reading act who 
become entangled with the Communists in Prague. They acted 
in this from late 1955 until 1957 and then used it as the vehicle 
for their television debut. 

Usually the Lunts have appeared in plays in which the two 
leading characters fight an affectionate verbal duel in a spirit 
of glittering sophistication and great good fun; yet they can 
also range from savage satire to deep tragedy. They have a 
strong sense of obligation to the theatre-going public and de- 
mand absolute perfection from themselves and from all those 
who work with them. Mr. Lunt is the more excitable of the 
two; Miss Fontanne exerts a soothing influence. Both in their 
manner and appearance on stage they express the essence of 
sophistication. Six feet tall, with brown eyes and gray hair, 
Mr. Lunt has a distinctive voice which projects easily to the 
last row of the balcony. The brown-eyed Miss Fontanne, who 
started her career as an unglamorous character actress, is now 
regarded as one of the greatest beauties on the stage; one of her 
most charming characteristics is her graceful, gliding walk. 

In 1958 die Lunts began playing The Visit in England. 
This grim and terrifying drama by Friedrich Duerrenmatt 
presented Miss Fontanne as a cigar-smoking, fantastically 



wealthy European who returns to her native village to avenge 
herself on the man, portrayed by Mr. Lunt, who had seduced 
her in her youth. With The Visit, on May 5, 1958, the Lunts 
reopened a New York theatre formerly called the Globe, 
which had been completely refurbished and re-named the 
Lunt-Fontanne. This opulent, glittering theatre is a fitting 
namesake for the foremost acting couple on our stage, if not 
in the entire history of the theatre, a couple who, for more 
than three-and-a-half decades, have given audiences perform- 
ances unsurpassed in beauty, charm, wit and gaiety. 


Katharine Cornell 


Katharine Cornell as Elizabeth Barrett 
in The Barretts of Wimpole Street 

Katharine Cornell 


IN 1930 a young actress made a bold decision: to produce 
the plays in which she acted, and to produce only plays of 
real dramatic merit instead of mere commercial appeal In 
addition, she planned to recruit the finest actors and actresses 
for her company and to take her productions on tour from 
coast to coast. 

Because she announced this program when the United 
States was in the midst of the worst depression in its history, 
few people thought she would achieve anything but financial 
disaster. But the actress-manager, Katharine Cornell, stood firm 
in her belief that a good play with a good cast would attract 
a good audience. 

Miss Cornell's faith in herself and in the American public 
proved justified. Her first production, The Barretts of Wim- 
pole Street, ran for a full year in New York; on tour it played 
successful engagements in towns no theatrical company had 
visited in years. 

Katharine Cornell was born on February 16, 1898, in 
Berlin, Germany, where her American father, Dr. Peter 
Cornell, was taking a post-graduate course in surgery. Six 
months later, Dr. Cornell, his wife Alice, and their infant 
daughter returned home to Buffalo, New York. 

Kit, as the girl was nicknamed, was an awkward, self- 



conscious tomboy. At first she showed no interest in acting, 
even when her father abandoned the practice of medicine and 
became part owner and manager of a Buffalo theatre. Then 
she attended a performance of James M. Barriers Peter Pan, 
with the famous Maude Adams starred From that day on, 
she knew she wanted to be an actress. 

At that time Jessie Bonstelle, an actress-director, would 
bring a company of actors to Mr. Cornell's theatre every year 
to appear in a series of plays. Day after day Kit watched the 
rehearsals of this "stock" company, as it was called. A few 
years later Miss Bonstelle was to be responsible for launching 
Katharine Cornell's acting career. 

When she was fifteen, Kit went to boarding school in 
Mamaroneck, New York, where, as part of her studies, she 
wrote plays, directed them, designed sets, and acted. The 
school faculty occasionally asked someone from the Washing- 
ton Square Players in New York City to come to Mamaroneck 
to coach the students; the Washington Square Players, which 
later evolved into the Theatre Guild, was a group comparable 
to the "Off-Broadway" producing organizations today. One 
member of this group was so impressed with young Kit that 
he suggested she get in touch with him if she ever came to 
New York City for a career in the theatre. 

This was all the encouragement needed; in 1916 Kit ar- 
rived in New York City. No one among the Washington 
Square Players paid much attention to the eager young girl 
until the day an actress failed to appear to rehearse her role 
in a one-act play called Btisbido. Kit was given the part, that 
of a Japanese mother, and made her New York stage debut 
with a four-word speech: "My son, my son." 

Later that season she had a slightly more important role 
in the Washington Square Players' Plots and Playwrights. A 



young talent scout for an important producer saw her in this 
and noted on his program: "Interesting, monotonous, watch." 
The young man was Guthrie McClintic, later to become Miss 
Cornell's husband. 

After two seasons with the Washington Square Players, 
Miss Cornell was engaged by Jessie Bonstelle for thirty-two 
weeks of stock in Buffalo and New York during the spring 
and summer of 19 1 8. A different pky was presented each week 
for ten performances. In addition, the actors rehearsed another 
play for the following week. It was exhausting work, but gave 
Kit an excellent opportunity to learn the craft of acting. 

In the fall, on returning to New York, Miss Bonstelle got 
Kit a part in a play starring Grace George, a clever comedi- 
enne. At the first rehearsal Kit was nervous and read her part 
badly; Miss George suggested that perhaps she was miscast. 
In tears, Kit handed her script to tie stage manager and left 
the theatre. Only later did she learn that Miss George had 
meant her comment as criticism, not dismissal; but by then the 
role had been given to another actress. 

Jessie Bonstelle did not lose faith. She persuaded Grace 
George's husband, producer William A. Brady, to hire Kit for 
the touring company of a popular melodrama, The Alan Who 
Came Back. Her role was that of a cabaret singer who became 
a dope addict. Although Miss Cornell had never encountered 
such a person, she gave a convincing performance. 

After The Man Who Came Back and another season in 
stock in Buffalo and Detroit, Miss Cornell was taken to Eng- 
land by Jessie Bonstelle to pky Jo, the tomboyish heroine of 
Little Women. The pky, enthusiastically received by the Eng- 
lish critics, ran for three months in London during the winter 
of 1919; Miss Cornell then returned to America* 

In die spring of 1920 Miss Bonstelle assembled her stock 



company for the coming summer at William A. Brady's office 
in the Playhouse Theatre in New York. Guthrie McQintic, 
who had been hired as an actor-director, saw Katharine Cornell 
there and announced to a friend that she was the woman he 
planned to marry. The wedding took place on September 8 
of the following year, 192 1. 

When she was married, Katharine Cornell had just finished 
playing in Nice People, a comedy presented for six months in 
New York, and was rehearsing the role of Sydney Fairfield 
in Qemence Dane's A Bill of Divorcement. A Bill of Divorce- 
ment and four other plays opened in New York on October 
10, 1921. Only two of the important critics attended the pre- 
miere of the Qemence Dane drama, and their reviews were un- 
favorable. Business was poor and closing imminent when 
Alexander Woolcott, an influential and outspoken critic, was 
persuaded to attend a performance. He jumped to the defense 
of the play and heaped praise on Miss Cornell. Within a few 
days A BUI of Divorcement had become one of the biggest 
hits in New York. 

Sydney Fairfield is young, gay, intense and doomed: she 
discovers, almost on the eve of her marriage, that there is 
hereditary insanity in her family. Miss Cornell's performance 
established her as one of the leading younger actresses. 

During 1923 and 1924 Katharine Cornell received excel- 
lent critical notices for her performances in seven different 
plays, each of which ran only briefly. The last of these was 
a revival of Bernard Shaw's Candida, presented for a series of 
special matinees during the 1924 Christmas season. Candida 
was to be one of Miss Cornell's most popular roles; she revived 
the play on four different occasions for successful engagements. 

1925 brought a lurid melodrama adapted from a best- 
sdling novel, The Green Hat. Miss Cornell portrayed the 



glamorous but ill-fated Iris March, the epitome of the daring 
"flapper" of the Twenties; Guthrie Mcdintic directed the 
production. When The Green Hat opened in New York on 
September 15, 1925, the critics ridiculed the play, but ac- 
claimed Miss Cornell The Green Hat ran for seven months 
in New York and for more than a year on tour; it brought 
Katharine Cornell stardom. 

Three successes followed: Somerset Maugham's The Let- 
ter; The Age of Innocence, a dramatization of Edith Wharton's 
well-known novel; and Dishonored Lady, based on a famous 
murder case in Glasgow in the nineteenth century. Then Miss 
Cornell made her debut as an actress-manager with The Bar- 
retts of Wimpole Street, which had its New York premiere on 
February 9, 1931. 

This dramatization of the romance between Elizabeth 
Barrett and Robert Browning was a triumph. The original 
production ran in New York until February 13, 1932, and 
then toured across the country to San Francisco. Miss Cornell 
has revived it several times since then, most notably for a tour 
of the front lines in Italy and France during World War EL 
In 1956 the play served as a vehicle for her television debut. In 
all, she has appeared as Elizabeth Barrett more than one thou- 
sand times. 

After two relatively unsuccessful productions, Lucrece 
and Alien Corn, Miss Cornell decided to take The Barretts 
of Wimpole Street, Candida and Romeo and JuKet on an am- 
bitious twenty-nine-week cross-country tour, lasting from 
November, 1933, to June, 1934, At that time most theatrical 
producers were saying that "the road" (that is, cities and towns 
outside of New York) was dead, that the only place a stage 
attraction could hope to draw an audience was in New York 
or, perhaps, in Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia. Miss Cornell's 



tour covered nearly 17,000 miles; 225 performances were given 
in seventy-five cities and towns. 

The company found "the road" anything but dead On 
Christmas day, 1933, for example, their train was delayed by 
a flood and did not reach Seattle until after eleven at night. 
The theatre manager was at the station to tell them that the 
audience, which had arrived for an eight-thirty performance, 
was still waiting patiently. The actors rushed to the theatre; 
the stage hands began setting up the scenery in full view of 
the audience; and the performance began shortly after one 
o'clock. At four o'clock in the morning the final curtain went 
down, amid thunderous applause. 

Following a summer's rest at the end of her tour, Miss 
Cornell undertook a second production of Romeo and Juliet, 
which opened in New York on December 20, 1934, after en- 
gagements in Buffalo and Detroit. The critics felt that her 
Juliet was as great as the Juliets of Julia Marlowe and Jane 
Cowl, two famous actresses who had scored tremendous suc- 
cesses in the role. Miss Cornell was now established as an actress 
of the first rank. 

Since then, her performances, most of which have been 
directed by Guthrie McQinric, have constantly increased her 
stature, both as an actress and as a manager. In 1941 her pro- 
duction of Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma had the longest run 
this play ever achieved in America. The 230 performances in 
New York and on tour of Chekhov's The Three Sisters in 
1942 established an American record for any Chekhov play. 
Her 1947 production of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra 
broke still another record for total performances. 

Among her other distinguished productions have been 
Shaw's Saint Joan in 1936, S. N. Behrman's No Tune for 
Comedy in 1939, an adaptation of Jean Anouilh's Antigone in 



1946, and Christopher Fry's The Dark Is Light Enough in 
1955 and The Firstborn in 1958. In 1953 she appeared in The 
Prescott Proposals, which she did not produce. During 1959 
she made an extensive tour, prior to a New York run in the 
spring of 1960, in Dear Liar, based on the famous correspond- 
ence between Bernard Shaw and the highly emotional actress, 
Mrs. Patrick Campbell 

In her productions Miss Cornell has always had her name 
placed last on the list of players. Her modesty and her courtesy 
to the other members of her acting company have made her 
as popular with her co-workers as she is with die theatre-go- 
ing public. Typical is an incident connected with her 1951 
production of Somerset Maugham's comedy, The Constant 
Wife. As one of the stars of this production, she engaged Grace 
George, who had expressed such doubts about Miss Cornell's 
ability thirty-four years before. Miss George, still an expert 
comedienne, was in her late seventies; her eyesight was failing. 
On tour and in New York Miss Cornell personally made every 
effort to see that the elderly actress was comfortable and happy. 

Miss Cornell's impressive record reflects the results of 
years of unceasing hard work in which most of her energies 
have been devoted to making her productions as nearly perfect 
as possible. Her marriage to Guthrie McQintic has been a 
happy partnership, both in the theatre and in private life. Mr. 
McQintic's casting and direction of the plays have contributed 
immeasurably to their success. Of great assistance, too, have 
been Gertrude Macy and Stanley Gilkey, who have worked 
on the Cornell-McQintic productions for more than thirty 

In private life the McQintics have lived quietly, first on 
Beekman Place in New York City, and now at Sneden's Land- 
ing, New York, on the Hudson River. Innumerable dachs- 



hunds usually live with them. On their rare vacations from 
theatre work they have made several trips abroad; they now 
own a summer home, "Chip Chop," on Martha's Vineyard, an 
island off the Massachusetts coast. 

Five-and-a-half-feet tall, with brown eyes deeply set in 
an unusually striking face, Miss Cornell today is regarded as 
one of the greatest actresses the American theatre has known, 
notable especially for the depth of understanding she imparts 
in her characterizations. It has been three decades since the 
words "Katharine Cornell Presents" first introduced the pro- 
duction of The Barretts of Wimpole Street. They have been 
distinguished years for Miss Cornell and for the American 
theatre she has served. 


Helen Hayes 


Helen Hayes as Mary, Queen of Scots 

Helen Hayes 


'x NOVEMBER 26, 1955, a newly remodeled theatre 
opened in New York City, named for one of America's fore- 
most actresses: Helen Hayes. This was the first time since 1928, 
when the Ethel Banymore Theatre was dedicated, that an 
actress had been given such recognition. It was a fitting honor 
for Miss Hayes. Since her professional debut at nine in the 
musical comedy, Old Dutch, her memorable characterizations 
had ranged from Cleopatra to Harriet Beecher Stowe; from 
the sub-deb, Bab, to the eighty-year-old Queen Victoria. 

Catherine Hayes Brown, Helen's mother, was determined 
that her daughter, born on October 10, 1900, in Washington, 
D.C, should become an actress. Her husband, Francis van 
Arnum Brown, a salesman in the wholesale meat-packing busi- 
ness, thought the notion a bit far-fetched, but offered no stren- 
uous objections. At five, Helen started to school in Washing- 
ton; she also began attending dancing classes and for two weeks 
in the summer acted in children's roles for a local theatrical 

Each year the dancing class gave a special matinee per- 
formance at a Washington theatre; when Helen was seven, 
she appeared as a Gibson Girl, named after the stylish models 
drawn by artist Charles Dana Gibson. Among the audience 
at this matinee was the famous musical comedy star, Lew 



Fields; he was so captivated by Helen's imitation that he wrote 
a note to the theatre manager praising the little girl. 

The following summer Mrs. Brown took Helen to New 
York and began making the rounds of producers' offices. No 
one showed the slightest interest in the small child. Then, with 
her money running low, Mrs. Brown remembered the note 
Lew Fields had written. When she and Helen appeared at his 
office, he was delighted to see them; a contract was drawn up 
on the spot for Helen to appear in his next musical comedy, 
Old Dutch, which had its New York premiere on November 
22, 1909. 

After Old Dutch, Helen played in three more musicals 
for Lew Fields and in 191 2 returned to Washington to resume 
the life of an ordinary schoolchikL In 1914 she was called 
back to New York for a small part in The Prodigal Husband, 
a new comedy starring the debonair John Drew. Helen ap- 
peared as the little girl who grows up to be the woman Mr. 
Drew loves. The Prodigal Husband was not a success in New 
York; soon it was sent on tour, closing in Washington just 
before Helen's fifteenth birthday. 

For the next few years Helen had great difficulty in ob- 
taining a part. She had outgrown children's roles, but because 
of her tiny size (even today she is only five feet tall), pro- 
ducers were wary of casting her as a girl her own age or older. 
Finally, in 1917, she was hired for die tide role in die touring 
company of PoUyarmt, a play based on Eleanor H. Porter's 
novel about the litde girl who brings sweetness and light into 
die life of everyone she encounters. By the aid of the nine- 
xnonth tour, Helen was heartily tired of die constantly glad 
and good Poilyanna. 

A welcome change of pace was provided by her next 
role, Margaret, die irrepressible older sister in Pernod, a com- 



edy drawn from Booth Tarkington's stories about the esca- 
pades of an unruly young boy. The New York run of Penrod 
was cut short by a polio epidemic in the fall of 1918, which 
caused the closing of plays catering primarily to child audi- 

Before the year was out Miss Hayes was cast as another 
Margaret, in James M. Barrie's Dear Brutus, a charming fantasy 
about a group of people who are given a brief opportunity to 
live life as it might have been. Miss Hayes* only scene came 
at the end of the second act when she appeared as the dream 
daughter an artist might have had. Although the director con- 
standy criticized her at rehearsals, the star of Dear Brutus, 
William Gillette, who played the artist, believed in her talent. 
For many evenings he had Mrs. Brown bring Helen to secret 
rehearsals in which he and Helen practiced their one scene 

His faith was rewarded. On the opening night, December 
23,1918, Helen Hayes made a notable impression on the critics. 
The comment that appeared in the New York Tribune review 
die following morning was typical: "Miss Hayes is as eager 
as Christmas morning and as Haggling as Christmas night. It 
may be that nobody will ever call her the great Miss Hayes, 
but if not she will have to grow out of an amazing equipment 
of natural charm and technical skilL" 

With many regrets, she left Dear Brutus in May, 1919, 
to fulfill a previous commitment to another producer for a 
summer repertory season in Washington. Her regrets were in- 
creased when the new venture collapsed at the end of the sec- 
ond week However, by July she was in the midst of rehearsals 
for Booth Tarkington's Clarence, which became one of the 
biggest hits of the season when it opened in New York in 



While Clarence still was running, Miss Hayes left the cast 
to play the ride role in Bab, a new comedy based on Mary 
Roberts Rinehart's stories about a sub-deb. Before coining in 
to New York, Bab toured throughout New England in the 
spring of 1 920 to highly enthusiastic audiences. For the brown- 
eyed, brown-haired, petite Helen Hayes, the reception was 
as cordial off-stage as on, especially while Bab was playing in 
Boston, within commuting distance for the Harvard under- 
graduates. It was during this tour that the name of Helen Hayes 
first was given featured billing on a theatre marquee. 

When Bab closed temporarily for the summer, Mrs. 
Brown took Helen to an exclusive vacation resort where she 
might have an opportunity to study sub-debs at first hand. 
Unfortunately, when Bab opened in New York in October, 
Miss Hayes' performance seemed to have suffered from the 
realistic touches she added; the critical notices were not very 
favorable. After a brief New York engagement, Bab went 
on tour. 

The fall of 1921 brought two quick failures in a row, 
The Wren (in which one critic remarked that she "suffered 
from fallen archness") and Golden Days; but in 1922 she had 
considerable success with a comedy called To the Ladies, both 
in New York and on tour. To the Ladies had been written 
by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly; Marc Connelly 
was to be responsible for one of the most important events in 
Helen Hayes' life: her first meeting with the man who was 
to become her husband. 

One November day in the fall of 1923, whfle walking 
down Fifth Avenue after rehearsals for her new play, We 
Moderns, Miss Hayes was hailed by Mr. Connelly, who per- 
suaded her to accompany him to a party in the studio of a 
popular woman artist. Helen went reluctantly; she was shy 



and timid and never could think of anything to say when con- 
fronted with brilliant, witty people. A story is told that, at 
one party, summoning all her courage, she loudly and some- 
what desperately announced, "Anyone who wants my piano 
is willing to it." In the midst of the silence that greeted this 
rather incomprehensible remark, George S. Kaufman turned 
to her and said, <c We!l, that's very seldom of you, Helen." 

Once at the studio party with Marc Connelly, Helen 
found herself off in a corner, increasingly ill-at-ease, until a 
good-looking young man with tousled hair came toward her 
holding forth some peanuts. "I wish they were emeralds," he 
said. The young man, she discovered, was the successful young 
playwright, Charles MacArthur. Five years later, on August 
17, 1928, they were married. 

After the eventful meeting with Charles MacArthur, 
Miss Hayes appeared in several productions which lasted only 
briefly, including a presentation of Bernard Shaw's Caesar and 
Cleopatra, in which she played the kittenish Egyptian queen. 
By the spring of 1926, both Helen and Mrs. Brown were some- 
what discouraged. Most of Helen's performances had been 
popular with both the critics and the public, even when the 
plays themselves were failures; however, with the exception 
of Caesar and Cleopatra, she had had little opportunity to dis- 
play her ability in anything but ingenue roles. 

Then, just as they were making plans to sail for Europe 
aboard a tramp steamer, they received a call from producer 
William A. Brady. His lease on a New York theatre had only 
two months to run, and, rather than leave the theatre vacant, 
he planned to revive James M. Same's What Every Woman 
Knows for a limited engagement. His wife, actress Grace 
George, had insisted that Helen Hayes would be ideal as Mag- 
gie Wylie, die spirited heroine who hides her great charm be- 



hind a plain manner. 

Remembering her success in Barrie's Dear Brutus, Helen 
Hayes accepted Mr. Brady's offer. It was the turning point in 
her career. What Every Woman Knows opened in New York 
on April 13, 1926; instead of a limited engagement of a few 
weeks, it ran for more than a year in New York and on tour. 
With the splendid blend of pathos and comedy in her char- 
acterization of Maggie Wylie, Helen Hayes at twenty-six had 
emerged as one of the most promising actresses on the Ameri- 
can stage. 

In the fall of 1927 her performance as a Southern belle 
who commits suicide to conceal her pregnancy turned a very 
poor play, Coquette, into an outstanding popular success. In 
193 1 she went to Holly-wood to spend the first of several sum- 
mers making motion pictures. The Sin of Madelon Claudet, for 
which Charles MacArthur wrote the script, won her an Acad- 
emy Award. Films of Sindiar Lewis's Arrowsmth and Ernest 
Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms also were successful, but 
she was unhappy with her other motion pictures and obtained 
a release from her contract as soon as possible. 

In the meantime, she had achieved another dramatic tri- 
umph on the New York stage in Maxwell Anderson's Mary 
of Scotland late in 1933. Critics were astounded by the fact 
that the diminutive Miss Hayes, by the very force of her char- 
acterization of the six-foot queen of the Scots, gave the illusion 
of towering over die other actors on the stage. 

Mary of Scotland was followed by one of Miss Hayes* 
greatest successes, Victoria Regin*, which opened in New 
York the day after Christmas, 1935; with a few brief vacations, 
she played k until January, 1939. To prepare for the role, 
Miss Hayes made a special trip to England to do research on 
Queen Victoria, whom she was to portray from girlhood to 



old age. Her remarkable performance was so authentic it 
amazed even one of Victoria's granddaughters who saw the 
play in New York. Miss Hayes was now established as one of 
the most expert actresses in the theatre. 

October, 1939, brought Ladies and Gentlemen, written 
by her husband and Ben Hecht; 1940, the role of Viola in 
Twelfth Night; 1941, Maxwell Anderson's Candle in the 
Wind; 1943, Harriet, in which she portrayed the crusading 
authoress of Uncle Towis Cabin. 

On October 3 r, 1946, Happy Birthday had its New York 
premiere. The critics scorned the play; but Miss Hayes' per- 
formance as a librarian who pursues the man she loves into 
the Jersey Mecca Cocktail Bar and becomes delightfully tipsy 
in the process attracted capacity audiences for 564 perform- 

After a London appearance in 1948 as the mother in Ten- 
nessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, Miss Hayes returned 
to America and began touring the summer theatres in 1949 in 
a pre-Broadway tryout of a new comedy, Good Housekeep- 
ing. In die cast was her nineteen-year-old daughter, Mary 
MacArthur. Toward the end of the summer Mary complained 
of a cold; Miss Hayes sent her to their home in Nyack, New 
York, to recuperate. A few days later Mary was in the hospital; 
she had been fatally stricken with polio. Less than seven years 
later Miss Hayes suffered another tragic loss when her hus- 
band died. Before this, however, Miss Hayes and her husband 
had watched, with increasing pride, the blossoming career of 
a promising young actor, their adopted son, James MacArthur. 

Since 1950 Helen Hayes has achieved a number of notable 
successes: the charming, gracious, ineffectual mother in The 
Wisteria Trees, Joshua Logan's adaptation of Chekhov's The 
Cherry Orchard; the giddy Mrs. Howard V. Lame II in Mary 



Chase's comic fantasy, Mrs. McThing; Mrs. Antrobus in a 
revival of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, who 
endures war, flood, famine and an errant husband to hold her 
family together. In 1957 she played an eccentric French count- 
ess in an adaptation of Jean Anouilh's Time Remembered; in 
1958 she played the wife of a New England tavern keeper in 
Eugene O'Neill's A Touch of the Poet. In the last decade she 
also has made two motion pictures, My Son John in 1951, 
and Anastasia in 1956. In 1960 she was busy with plans to 
head a repertory company on a thirty-week tour of Europe 
and Latin America, starting in Madrid in March, 1961. 

The "amazing equipment of natural charm and technical 
skill" which the New York Tribune critic praised back in 1 9 1 8 
has increased, rather than diminished, with the years. The 
sincerity and authority of her performances have turned medi- 
ocre plays into popular successes; her skill in comedy has made 
many merely silly lines seem uproariously funny. Quiet, gen- 
erous, unassuming and courageous, she has moved steadily for- 
ward into the very front rank of the contemporary theatre. 


Julie Harris 


JoHe Harris as Joan of Arc in The Lark 

Julie Harris 


IN 1950, while appearing in The Member of the Wed- 
ding, Julie Harris received from Helen Hayes a handkerchief 
that had been given to Miss Hayes by Julia Marlowe, the 
famous Shakespearean actress, and to Miss Marlowe by the 
great Sarah Bernhardt. The gift indicated Miss Hayes* belief 
that a promising future in the theatre awaited the young ac- 
tress. In the years since then, Julie Harris has amply fulfilled 
that promise. 

The daughter of William Pickett Harris, a prosperous 
Detroit stockbroker and associate curator of mammals at the 
University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology, Julie Ann 
Harris was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, on December 2, 
1925. Her mother, Elise Smith Harris, had been a trained nurse 
before her marriage. The Harris home, on the shore of Lake 
St. Qair, Michigan, was so huge that in childhood Julie had 
a difficult rime remembering exactly how many rooms it had. 

From an early age she was determined to be an actress. 
Her first real challenge came when she was a fourteen-year- 
old student at the Grosse Pointe Country Day School Cast in 
the title role in The Juggler of Notre Dame, Julie was momen- 
tarily stymied by the scene in which the juggler performs be- 
fore the church altar as a sign of his devotion. Although she 
was a skilled fencer and hockey player, she had never learned 



to juggle. At the performance she solved the problem bril- 
liantly by doing the scene in pantomime. 

At fifteen she spent the first of three summers studying 
acting and dancing at the Perry-Mansfield Workshop in 
Steamboat Springs, Colorado. In 1944, after a year at a fashion- 
able girls' school in Providence, Rhode Island, and another year 
at Miss Hewitt's school in New York City, she enrolled at the 
Yale School of Drama. 

A part in a Manhattan-bound comedy, Its a Gift, lured 
her away from Yale in the spring of 1945- Although the direc- 
tor fired her at the end of five days of rehearsal, she was later 
re-hired at the author's insistence. Even so, she soon was out 
of work; If 5 a Gift lasted only forty-seven performances in 
New York. Julie returned to her classes at Yale. 

While working at a summer theatre in Bridgeton, Maine, 
in 1946, she met and married a young lawyer named Jay Julien; 
they were divorced eight years later. 

From 1946 through 1949 Julie Harris had small roles in 
ten productions, none of which lasted more than ten weeks 
in New York. They did challenge her versatility: she played 
an Irish peasant in The Playboy of the Western World, the 
White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, a witch in Macbeth, a 
South American hostage in Montserrat. Brief as her appear- 
ances were, they brought her an increasing reputation. Sun- 
down Beach lasted only seven performances in September, 
1948, but it won her a Theatre World award as a "Promising 
Personality." In November, 1948, her portrayal of a klepto- 
maniac in The Young and Fair gained her the New York 
Drama Critics' Qrde award as the "Most Promising Actress." 
During these years she also worked and studied with the Ac- 
tors' Studio, the famous group that stresses the "Method" 
originated by the Russian actor Stanisiavski, by which an actor 



totally identifies himself with the character he is portraying. 
Late in 1949, Julie Harris began rehearsals for Carson 
McCullers' The Member of the Wedding. Mrs. McCuIlers' 
first play, it was loose and rambling in structure, but had many 
beautifully written scenes. It was not a success in its tryout 
engagements before coming in to New York and, despite con- 
siderable re-writing, seemed to have only a slight chance of 
success when it opened in Manhattan on January 5, 1950. 

Twenty-four-year-old Julie Harris was cast as a twelve- 
year-old tomboy, Frankie Addams. Suffering the bittersweet 
agony of growing up, Frankie, in a desperate attempt at so- 
phistication, decides to call herself "F. Jasmine Addatns." For 
her brother's wedding, of which she is to be a member, she 
buys a scarlet evening dress, realizing too late that it is in 
hideously bad taste. A slim girl, five-feet-four-inches tall, with 
her reddish gold hair cut short, the blue-eyed Miss Harris was 
physically credible in the role; but it was her brilliant blend 
of pathos and comedy that made her characterization so mem- 
orable. The Member of the Wedding was an overwhelming 
success at its New York premiere; it ran until March, 1951. 
Miss Harris received both a Donaldson Award and the New 
York Drama Critics' Circle Award as the best supporting ac- 
tress of the season. 

After spending the summer of 1951 in Europe, Julie 
Harris undertook a role distinctly different from that of 
Frankie Addams: Sally Bowles in / Am a Camera, a play by 
John van Druten based on Christopher Isherwood's stories 
about life in pre-Hider Berlin, Sally Bowles is a flamboyant, 
amoral English girl who has fled from her middle-class family 
to lead a Bohemian existence in Germany. At the New York 
opening of / Am a Camera at die Empire Theatre on Novem- 
ber 28, 1951, Miss Harris's bravura performance was hailed 



by the critics. John Mason Brown called her "A young actress 
blessed with unmistakable genius." Brooks Atkinson com- 
mented: "She plays with a virtuosity and an honesty that are 
altogether stunning . . . Miss Harris has the quicksilver and 
the genius we all long to discover on the stage." On January 
io t 1952, at a party after the performance, Julie Harris was 
elevated to stardom. 

After the New York run of 7 Am a Camera^ she made her 
first trip to Hollywood, where she re-created the role of 
Frankie Addams in the screen version of The Member of the 
Wedding. She then embarked on a coast-to-coast tour of I Am 
Camera^ which lasted well into 1953. In the fall she began re- 
hearsals for Louis Kronenberger's adaptation of Jean Anouilh's 
Mademoiselle Colombe, the story of a young French wife who 
goes on the stage and is led astray by the immoral life of the 
theatre. Mademoiselle Colombe opened in New York early in 
January, 1954; it dosed at the end of February. 

Two motion pictures followed: John Steinbeck's East of 
Eden in Hollywood and the film version of I Am a Camera in 
England. Her next stage venture was I .illian Hellman's adapta- 
tion of The Larky Jean Anouilh's version of the story of Joan of 
Arc. Before The Lark opened there was considerable specula- 
tion as to whether the Hellman-Anouilh portrait of Joan could 
withstand comparison with Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan and 
whether Miss Harris's characterization would measure up to 
the Joans of Katharine Cornell and Uta Hagan* All doubts 
disappeared after the New York premiere on November 17, 
1955. The cast received eight curtain calls; Julie Harris was 
given a standing ovation. Brooks Atkinson called her perform- 
ance 'Triumphant"; Walter Kerr called it '^Fiercely, wonder- 
folly believable." She received five different awards as the best 
actress of the season. After the New York run* The Lark 



toured the country for twenty-one weeks, starting at the Cen- 
tral City, Colorado, Drama Festival in August, 1956. 

For the next few years Julie Harris was an energetic 
traveler, accompanied by her present husband, theatrical pro- 
ducer Manning Gurian, and their son Peter, born on July 19, 
1955. In April, 1957, s ^ e filmed The Truth About Women in 
England; in the fall she appeared in New York in the Restora- 
tion comedy, The Country Wife; in May and June, 1958, 
she filmed The Ne*w Gossoon in Ireland with the famous 
Abbey Players. From October, 1958, until May, 1959, she 
toured the United States in The Warm Peninsula, a comedy 
about a Milwaukee girl who seeks happiness in Miami; it had 
a brief New York run in the fall. 

Equally adept on television, Miss Harris has made six no- 
table appearances: The Good Fairy, The Lark, Johnny 
Belinda, A DolFs House, Ethan Frome and Little Moon of 
Alban, the last of which, in an expanded form, served as her 
stage vehicle for the fall of 1960. 

The only one of the younger actresses to follow the tra- 
dition of touring the country set by Katharine Cornell, Helen 
Hayes and the Lunts, Julie Harris set herself a new challenge 
in the summer of 1960: her first Shakespearean roles, Juliet 
and Blanche, in Romeo and Juliet and King John for the Shake- 
spearean Festival Theatre of Canada. Her performances lived 
up to the tribute once paid her by the late Ethel Barrymore: 
"That girl can do anything! " 




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Harrison, Gabriel Edisin Forrest: The Actor and the Man. 

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Moody, Richard Edurn Forrest: First Star of the American Stage. 

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Moses, Montrose J. The Fabulous Forrest: The Record of an 

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flin Co., 1922. 

Jefferson, Eugenie Paul iTttimate Recollections of Joseph Jeffer- 
son. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1909. 
Jefferson, Joseph. u RJp Van Winkle": The Autobiography of 

Joseph Jefferson. New York: Appleton-Century-Orofts, In<x, 

. Rip Van Winkle, as played by Joseph Jefferson. New 

York: Dodd, Mead & Co n 1899. 
Wilson, Francis. Joseph Jefferson. New York: Charles Scribner's 

Sons, 1906. 
Winter, William. Life and Art of Joseph Jefferson. New York: 

Macmillan & Co., 1894. 
The Atlantic Monthly, June, 1867. 



Cosmopolitan. June, 1899. 
Uppmcotfs Magazine. July, 1879. 


Clarke, Asia Booth. The Elder and the Younger Booth. Boston: 

James R. Osgood & Company, 1882. 
Copeland, Charles Townsend. Edimn Booth. Boston: Small, May- 

nard & Co., 1901. 
Goodale, Katherine. Behind the Scenes 'with Edwin Booth. Bos- 

ton: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1931- 
Grossman, Edwina Booth. Edivin Booth: Recollections by His 

Daughter. New York: The Century Co., 1894. 
Hutton, Laurence. Edwin Booth. New York: Harper, 1893. 
Kimmel, Stanley. The Mad Booths of Maryland. Indianapolis: 

The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1940. 
Lockridge, Richard. Darling of Misfortune. Edwin Booth: 1833- 

1893. New York: The Century Co., 1932. 
Morris, Clara. Life on the Stage. New York: McQure, Phillips & 

Co., 1901. 
Ruggles, Eleanor. Prince of Players: Edwin Booth. New York: 

W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1953. 
Skinner, Otis. The Last Tragedian. New York: Dodd, Mead & 

Company, 1939. 
Winter, William. JJfe and An of Edwin Booth. New York: 

Macmillan & Co., 1894. 
The Atlantic Monthly. October, 1901. 
The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine. July, 1900. 
Harper's New Monthly Magazine. April, 1861. 
Memorial Celebration of the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Birth of 

Ed'win Booth. New York: The Gilliss Press, 1893. 

Barrymore, EtheL Memories. New York: Harper & Brothers, 

Barrymore, John. Confessions of an Actor. Indianapolis: The 
Bobbs-Mcrrill Co., 1926. 



Barrvmore, Lionel, as told to Cameron Shipp. We Earrymores. 

New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1951. 
Drew, John- My Years on the Stage. New York: E. P. Dutton & 

Co., 1922. 
Drew, Mrs. John. Autobiographical Sketch of Mrs. John Drew. 

New York: C Scribner's Sons, 1899. 
Fowler, Gene. Good Night, Sweet Prince. The Life & Tmes of 

John Earrymore. New York: The Viking Press, 1944. 
The New York Evening Post. July 9, 1927. 
The New York Times Afagazine. August i, 1926. 
Theatre Arts. April, 1940; August, 1948; November, 1949; June, 

1954; December, 1954. 
Time. November 29, 1954. 


Barry, John D. Julia Marlowe. Boston: E. H. Bacon & Co., 1907. 
Russell, Charles Edward. Julia Marlowe: Her Life and An. New 

York: D. Appleton and Company, 1926. 
Sothern, E. H. Julia Marlowe's Story. Edited by Fairfax Downey. 

New York: Rinehart & Co., Incx, 1954. 
Sothern, Edward H. The Melancholy Tale of "Me": My Re- 

Tnembrances. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916. 
Symons, Arthur. Great Acting in English. Privately Printed. 1907. 
The Arena. July, 1892; October, 1892. 
The Century. November, 1906; May, 1915. 
The Critic. December, 1904; November, 1905; August, 1906. 
The Literary Digest. December 28, 1929; November 18, 1933. 
The Theatre. September, 1901; December, 1901. 


Davies, Acton. Maude Adams. New York: Frederick A. Stokes 

Company, 1901. 
Patterson, Ada- Maude Adams: A Biography. New York: Meyer 

Bros. & Co., 1907. 
Pyper, George D. The Romance of m Old Playhouse. Salt Lake 

City: The Seagull Press, 1928. 



Robbins, Phyllis. Maude Adeems: An Intimate Portrait. New 

York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1956. 
Commonweal. February 16, 1934. 
Good Housekeeping. May, 1913. 
Ladies 9 Home Journal March, April, May, June, July, October, 

1926; May, 1927. 
Life. July 27, 1953. 
The Literary Digest. July 28, 1934. 
Mimsey^s Magazine. January, 1902. 
Time. July 27, 1953. 


Cohan, George M. Twenty Years on Broadway and the Years It 
Took to Get There. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1925. 

Middleton, George. These Things Are Mine. New York: The 
Macmillan Company, 1947. 

Morehouse, Ward George M. Cohan: Prince of the American 
Theater. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1943. 

American Magazine. May, 1915; November, 1917; August, 1919. 

Current Opinion. March, 1914. 

Everybody's Magazine. January, 1914. 

Good Housekeeping. November, 1938. 

Life. May 27, 1940. 

The Theatre. February, 1907. 

Theatre Arts Monthly. November, 1931; October, 1933; Decem- 
ber, 1933; April, 1936. 

Theatre Guild Magazine. February, 1930. 

Time. May 8, 1939. 


Freedley, George. The Lunts. (Theatre World Monograph No. 

10). London: Rockliff, Salisbury Square, 1957. 
Colliers. June 4, 1932. 
Coronet. June, 1948. 
Life. November 7, 1949. 
The New Yorker. December 4, 1954- 



Theatre Arts. April, 1954. 

Theatre Arts Monthly. June, 1936; November, 1936; December, 

Time. November 8, 1937; January i, 1945; March 7, 1949, 


Cornell, Katharine (as told to Ruth Woodbury Sedgwick). 7 
Wanted to Be m Actress. New York: Random House, 1939. 

Mcdintic, Guthrie. Me and Kit. Boston: Little, Brown and Com- 
pany, 1955. 

Ufe. April 16, 1945; December i, 1947. 

The Literary Digest. January 5, 1935. 

Newsvoeek. January 19, 1948; April 9, 1956. 

Saturday Review. April 2, 1960. 

Theatre Arts. October, 1942; July, 1949; August, 1952; May, 
1954; June, 1958. 

Theatre Arts Monthly. June, 1936; January, 1937. 


Brown, Catherine Hayes. Letters to Mary. New York: Random 

House, 1940. 
Hecht, Ben. Charlie: The improbable life and times of Charles 

MacArtbtar. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957. 
Center: & Magazine of the Perfoimmg Arts. December, 1954. 
ColUers. September 22, 1951. 
Good Housekeeping. February and March, 1957. 
Ufe. November 18, 1946. 
Newsweek. January 3, 1955; September 3, 1956. 
The Reader's Digest. September, 1958. 
Theatre Arts. June, 1950; July, 1954; December, 1955. 
Theatre Arts Monthly. June, 1936. 


Colliers. January 17, 1953. 

Life. January 23, 1950; December 24, 1951; April 7, 1952; Jan- 
uary 19, 1959. 



Nevosweek. November 28, 1955. 

Saturday Review. November 14, 1959; July 16, 1960. 

Theatre Arts. July, 1952; March, 1953. 

Time. November 28, 1955; December 9, 1957. 

Other books on the American theatre which contain information 
about the men and women in Famous American Actors and 
Actresses are listed below: 

Binns, Archie. Mrs. Fiske and the American Theatre. New York: 
Crown Publishers, Inc^ 1955. (for Maude Adams and 
Maurice Barrymore) 

Blum, Daniel Great Stars of the American Stage. New York: 
Greenberg, 1952. (for John Drew, Ethel Barrymore, John 
Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, E. H. Sothern, Julia Marlowe, 
Maude Adams, George M. Cohan, Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fon- 
tanne, Katharine Cornell, Helen Hayes, and Julie Harris) 

Blum, DanieL A Pictorial History of the American Theatre^ 1900- 
1956. New York: Grecnberg, 1956. (for the plays in which 
the actors and actresses in Great Stars of the American Stage 
appeared from 1900 on) 

Brady, William A. Showman. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 
Inc., 1937. (for Maude Adams, Katharine Cornell, and Helen 

Goad, Oral Sumner, and Edwin Mims, Jr. The American Stage. 
New Haven: Hale University Press, 1929. (for all except 
Julie Harris) 

Frohman, DanieL Memories of a Manager. Garden City: Double- 
day, Page & Company, 19x1. (for Edwin Forrest, Joseph 
Jefferson, Edwin Booth, Georgiana Drew Barrymore, John 
Drew, Ethel Barrymore, E. H. Sothern, Maude Adams, Julia 

Kobbe, Gustav. Famous Actors & Actresses and Their Homes. 
Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1903. (for John Drew, 
E. H. Sothern, Julia Marlowe, Maude Adams and Ethel 

Langner, Lawrence. The Magic Curtain. New York: E- P. Dut- 
ton & Co., In<x, 1951. (for George M. Cohan, Alfred Lunt, 
Lynn Fontanne, Katharine Cornell and Helen Hayes) 



Marcosson, Isaac F., and Daniel Frohman. Charles Frohman: Man- 
ager and Man. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1916. (for 
John Drew, Ethel Barrymore, Maude Adams, E. H. Sothern 
and Julia Marlowe) 

McKay, Frederic Edward, and Charles E. L. Wingate, editors. 
Famous American Actors of Today. New York: Thomas Y. 
Crowell & Company, 1896. (for Joseph Jefferson, Edwin 
Booth, Mrs. John Drew, John Drew, Maurice Barrymore, 
Julia Marlowe, and E. H. Sothern) 

Morehouse, Ward Matinee Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Our 
Theater. New York: Whittlesey House, 1949. (for all except 
Edwin Forrest, Joseph Jefferson, Edwin Booth, and Julie 

Morris, Lloyd. Curtain Time: The Story of the ATnerican Thea- 
ter. New York: Random House, 1953. (for all except Julie 

Moses, Montrose J. Famous Actor-Families m America. New 
York: Crowell, 1906. (for Joseph Jefferson, Edwin Booth, 
and the Drews and the Banymores) 

Strang, Lewis C Famous Actresses of the Day in America. 
Second Series. Boston: L. Q Page and Company, 1902. (for 
Julk Marlowe and Maude Adams) 

An additional source of interesting and valuable information is 
the multi-volume series, edited by Burns Mantle, Louis Kronen- 
berger and others, starting with The Best Plays of 1894-2899. 
New York: Dodd, Mead & Gx, 1920 to the present. 



Actors' Strike of 1919* I0 7 
Adams, Annie, 89-91, 95 
Adams, Maude, 63, 79* 89-97* 124 
Age of Innocence, The, 127 
Ah, Wilderness!, 107-108, 109 
Aldrich, Thomas Bafley, 50 
Alice m Wonderland, 144 
Alice Sit-by-the-Fire, 67-68, 93 
Amphitryon 38, 117 
Anastasia, 140 

Anderson, Maxwell, 117, 138, 139 
Anouilh, Jean, 128, 140, 146 
Antigone, 128 

Antony and Cleopatra, 85, 128 
Arms and the Man, 117 
Arrotosmth, 138 
Astor Place Riot, 21-22 

Bab, 136 

Barbara Frietchie, 84 

Barrett, Lawrence, 53 

Barretts of Wmpole Street, The, 

123, 127, 130 

Barrie, James M-, 67, 70, 79, 92-94, 

124, 135, 137-13* 
Barrymore, Diana (Joan Strange 

Banymore), 72 

Barrymore, Dolores Costello, 72 
Barrymore, Doris Rankin, 68, 72 
Barrymore, Elaine Barrie, 72 
Barrymore, Ethel, 37, 57, 60, 61, 

63-73 93* 147 
Barrymore, Georgiana Drew, 58- 

Banymore, Irene Fenwick, 72 

Barrymore, John, 37, 57, 60, 61, 

*5* 6 7-73 

Barrymore, Katherine Corri Har- 
ris, 72 

Barrymore, Lionel, 36, 57, 60-62, 

Banymore, Maurice (Herbert 

Blythe), 57, 59-61, 65 
Barrymore, Michael Strange, 72 
Bauble Shop, The, 63 
Becky Sharp, 65 
Behrman, S. N., 117, no, 128 
Belasco, David, 79 
Bernhardt, Sarah, 143 
BUI of Divorcement, A, 126 
BonsteHe, Jessie, 124-125 
Booth, Edwin, 22, 37, 43-54, 59> 7 1 
Booth, Edwina, 48, 53, 54 
Booth, John Wilkes, 32, 44, 47, 49 
Booth, Junius Brutus, 43-47* 57 
Booth, Junius Brutus, Jr., 45-49 
Booth, Mary Devlin, 47-48 
Booth, Mary McVicker, 50-52 
Booth's Theatre, 36, 50-51 
Boucicault, Dion, 33-34 
Bowie, James, 15 
Brady, William A-, 125, 126, 137- 


Brown, Catherine Hayes, 133-137 
Bryant, William Cullen, 17 
Burke, Charles, 28, 31, 33 

Caesar and Cleopatra, 137 
Caldwell, James, 15 
Candida, 126, 127 



Candle fe the Wad, 139 
Captain Jinks of the Horse Ma- 
rines, 66 
Chantecler, 95 
Chase, Mary t 139-140 
Chatterton, Ruth, 96 
Chekhov, Anton, 128, 139 
Cherry Orchard, The, 139 
Chris, xi6 

Churchill, Winston, 64 
Clarence, 114, 116, 135-136 
Cleveland, Grover, 38 
Cohan, Agnes Nolan, 106 
Cohan, Ethel Levey, 104, 105 
Cohan, George M., 102-109 
Cohan, Helen, 102, 104, 105 
Cohan, Jerry, 102-105 
Cohan, Josephine, 102, 104, 105 
Colt, Russell Griswold, 69, 72 
Connelly, Marc, 116, 136-137 
Constant Wife, The, 73, 129 
Copperhead, The, 71 
Coquette, 138 
Corn Is Green, The, 73 
Cornell, Katharine, 123-130, 146, 


Country Cousin, The, 114 
Country Wife, The, 147 
Coward, Noel, 117, 119 
Cowl, Jane, 128 
Cricket on the Hearth, The 9 39 

Daly, Augustin, 54, 59, 62 

Dane, Qemence, 126 

Dark Is Light Enough, The, 129 

Davis, Richard Harding, 64 

Deer Brutus, 135, 138 

Dear Liar, 129 

Dfclassee, 73 

Dictator, The, 67, 6S 

Dishonored Lady, 127 

Doctor's Dilemma, The, 117, 128 

Dow, Ada, 82 

Drew, John, 54, 57, 58, 59, 61-63, 

65-68, 72, 92, 134 
Drew, Josephine Baker, 62 
Drew, Louisa Lane (Mrs. John 

Drew), 36, 57-61, 63-65 
Drew, Sidney, 58, 61, 62, 63 
Duerrenmatt, Friedrich, 119 
Dulcy, 116 

Du Manner, George, 71 
Du Maurier, Gerald, 64 

East of Eden, 146 
Elizabeth the Queen, 117 

Farewell to Arms, A, 138 
Fields, Lew, 133-134 
Firstborn, The, 129 
Fitch, Clyde, 66, 84 
Fontanne, Lynn (Lfly Louise 

Fontanne), 113-120 
Forrest, Catherine Sinclair, 18-22 
Forrest, Edwin, 13-23, 43 
Fortune Hunter, The, 69, 70 
Forty-Five Minutes from Broad- 

way, 105 
Frohman, Charles, 62, 63, 64, 66, 

80, 84, 91-92, 95, 96 
Frohman, Daniel, 79, 80 
Fry, Christopher, 129 

Galsworthy, John, 70 
George, Grace, 125, 129, 137 
Get-Rich-Quick WaUmgford, 

1 06 

Gilkey, Stanley, 129 
Gflktte, William, 63, 135 
Giraudocx, Jean, 117 



Glass, Menagerie, The, 139 
Governor's Son, The, 104 
"Grand Old Flag, The," 101, 105, 


Great Sebastians, The, 119 
Green Hat, The, 126 
Griffith, D- W., 69 
Guardsman, The, 116, 117 

Hagen, Uta, 146 

Hamlet, 20, 35, 43, 46, 49, 50, 52, 

53* 59t 7 7* 8o 84 
Happy Birthday, 139 
Harned, Virginia, 80 
Harriet, 139 
Harris, Julie, 143-14? 
Harris, Sam, 104-105, 106*, 107, 


Hart, Lorenz, 108-109 
Hart, Moss, 108-109 
Hayes, Helen, 114, 133-140* H3 


Hecht, Ben, 139 
Helburn, Theresa, 107 
Hellman, Lillian, 146 
Henry IV, Part 1, 83 
Highest Bidder, The, 79 
Hit-the-Trail-Holliday, 106 
Howe, Julia Ward, 48 
Howells, William Dean, 38 

/ Am a Camera, 145 

/ Know My Love, 119 

Pd Rather Be Right, 108-109 

Idiot's Delight, 117 

If I Were King, 80 

Ingontar, 82, 83 

Irving, Henry (John Henry 

Brodribb), 48, 52, 64 
Irving, Washington, 21, 32 

Jefferson, Cornelia, 29 
Jefferson, Joseph, I, 27-28 
Jefferson, Joseph, H, 28, 29, 31 
Jefferson, Joseph, m, 27-39, 54 
Jefferson, Margaret Lockyer, 31 
Jefferson, Sarah Warren, 35 
Jest, The, 71 
Julius Caesar, 48-49 
Justice, 70 

Kaufman, George S^ 108-109, 

116, 136, 137 
Kean, Edmund, 16 
Keene, Laura, 32 
Keller, Helen, 38 
King John, 147 
King Lear, 52 
Kiss for Cinderella, A, 94, 96 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 139 

Lady Frederick, 70 

L'Aiglon, 94 

Langtry, Lillie, 65, 114 

Lark, The, 146-147 

Letter, The, 127 

Lincoln, Abraham, 31, 32, 49 

"Litde Church Around the 

Corner, The, n 36 
Little Johnny Jones, 105 
Little Minister, The, 93 
Little Moon of Alban, 147 
Little Women, 125 
Logan, Joshua, 139 
Loos, Ajnita,69 
Lunt, Alfred, 113-120, 147 

MacArthur, Charles, 137-139 
MacArthur, James, 139 
MacArthur, Mary, 139 
Macbeth, 13, id, 17, 21, 71, 144 



Macready, William, 18, 19, 20, 21 
Macy, Gertrude, 129 
Mademoiselle Colombe, 146 
Man Who Came Back, The, 125 
Marco Millions, 117 
Marlowe, Julia (Sarah Frances 

Frost), 37, 77, *>-% 128, 143 
Mary of Scotland, 138 
Mary Rose, 96 
Masked Ball, The, 92 
Maugham, W. Somerset, 70, 127, 


Mcdinric, Guthrie, 125-129 
McCullers, Carson, 145 
Melville, Herman, 21 
Member of the Wedding, The, 

Merchant of Venice, The, 48, 06 

Metamora, 17, 19 

Mid-Channel, 70 

Modjeska, Helena, 60, 65 

Molnar, Ferenc, 116 

Much Ado About Nothing, 46, 

Mummy and the Hvmrrmg Bird, 

My Dear Children, 72 

New W*y to Pay Old Debts, A, 


New York Hat, The, 69 
Nice People, 126 
No Time for Comedy, 128 

O Mistress Mine (Low m Idle- 

7tss), 113, 118 
Old Dutch, 133-134 
O'Neill, Engene, 107, 116, 117, 

Othello, 19, 52, 53 

Our American Cousin, 32 
Outvsard Bound, 1 14-1 15 
"Over There," 101, 109 

Pantaloon, 67-68 

Peck's Bad Boy, 103 

Penrod, 134 

Peter Ibbetson, 71 

Prt^r Po, 79, 93-94, 124 

Pickford, Mary (Gladys Smith), 


Pinero, Ardiur Wing, 70 

Hacide, Jane, 16 

Playboy of the Western World, 

The, 144 

Players, The, 37, 43, 53-54 
PoUyama, 134 

Prescott Proposals, The, 129 
Prisoner of Zenda, The, 80 
Prodigal Husband, The, 134 
Push-ma-ta-ha, Chief, 15, 16, 17 

Quadrille, 119 
Quality Street, 93 

Rasputin and the Empress, 72 

Rattigan, Terence, 118 

Redemption, 71 

Rehan, Ada, 92 

Reunion in Vienna, 117 

Richard 111, 14, 16, 44, 45, 47, 48, 

57. 7*. 78 
Richard Carvel, 65 
Richelieu, 48, 52 
j&p Fan Winkle, 27, 32, 33, 34- 

35, 3^ Si 

Rwofe, T^tf, 35, 36, 46, 58, 62 
Rodgers, Richard, 108-109 
Romeo and Juliet, 47, 51, 81, 83, 

84, 04, 127, 128, 147 



Rosemary, 63, 92 
Rostand, Edmond, 94-95 

Stunt Joan, 128, 146 

School for Scandal, The, 46, 58 

Second in Command, The, 66 

Second Mrs. Tanqueray, The, 73 

Secret Service, 63-64 

Seven Keys to Baldpate, 106 

Siakespeare, William, 13, 14, 81, 

82, 84, 85, 86, 117, 128 
Shaw, George Bernard, 117, 126, 

128, 120, 137, 146 
Sherwood, Robert K, 117, 118 
Silver Box, The, 70 
Sin of Madelon Claudet, The, 138 
Skin of Our Teeth, The, 140 
Smith, Winchell, 69 
Sothern, E. H., 77-80, 84-86, 91 
Stanislavski, Constantin, 144 
Strange Interlude, 117 
Sunday, 70 
Sweet Nell of Old Dntry, 116 

Taber, Robert, 83 
Taming of the Shrew, Tbe t 117 
Tarkington, Booth, 114, 135 
Taylor, Laurette, 115, 116 
Teny, Ellen, 52, 64, 115 
Theatre Guild, 107-108, 116, 124 

There Shall Be No Night, 118 
Thomas, Augustus, 71 
Three Sisters, The, 128 
Time "Remembered, 140 
To the Ladies, 136 
Tolstoy, Count Leo, 71 
Touch of the Poet, A 9 140 
Trelawny of the Wells, 72 
Twelfth Night, 81, 83, 06, 139 
Twelve-Pound Look, The, 70 

van Druten, John, 145 
Vane, Sutton, 114 
Victoria Regina, 138 
Visit, The, 119-120 

Warm Peninsula, The, 147 
Washington Square Players, 116, 

What Every Woman Knows, 04, 

When Km&tbood Was m 

Flower, 84 

Wflder, Thornton, 140 
Williams, Tennessee, 139 
Willis, N. P., 22 
Wisteria Trees, The, 139 
Woollcott, Alexander, 126 

Young and Fair, The, 144 



Husband and wife in private life, Frederick Wagner and Bar- 
bara Brady first met at a summer theatre in Massachusetts where 
he was doing publicity and Miss Brady was appearing as Jo in 
Little Women. 

Frederick Wagner describes himself as "stage-struck since the 
age of fourteen." Born in Philadelphia, where he saw his first pro- 
fessional theatrical performance, he was graduated sicmma cum 
laude from Duke University, receiving an M.A. degree for his 
thesis on Henry James and the Theatre. He then taught English 
at the University of Oklahoma and at Duke, and, after a stint 
in the army, came to New York Gty to study pkywriting at the 
American Theatre Wing. For the past several years he has been 
handling sales promotion for a prominent New York publisher. 

Barbara Brady comes from a family of distinguished actresses: 
her grandmother is Grace George; her mother is Katharine Alex- 
ander; and her aunt was the late Alice Brady. Both her grand- 
father and father, the late William A. Brady and William A. 
Brady, Jr., produced plays in which a number of the actors and 
actresses described in this book appeared. Bora in New York 
City aad educated at the Westlake School in Beverly Hills and at 
Finch College in New York, Miss Brady received a Theatre 
World Award as a "Promising Personality" for her Broadway 
debut in The Velvet Glove. Although she left the stage immedi- 
ately after the play closed, her main enthusiasm still is the theatre. 

The Wagners live in New York Gty, within walking dis- 
tance of the Broadway theatres, the "most fascinating places in 
die world" to them.