An active theater critic, comedian, and actor, Mark Smith was also a member of an exclusive subset of the Pfaff’s cadre which called itself “The Bees.” This group was composed of actors, writers, dramatists, and artists devoted to the theater who "met regularly for dinner and conversation" (T. Miller 44). The club was formed in 1856, and had rooms on the south side of East Houston Street. Their motto was "Honey Soit." John Brougham was the president, and members included Fitz-James O’Brien, Ned Wilkins, Henry Clapp, Jr., and Smith himself. O’Brien describes them as a gay, lively, and witty crowd who were feared by the theatrical world because of their clever ridicule of plays (Wolle 131-32). Smith was also a member of the Theta Delta Chi, an American college fraternity that included among its members O’Brien, John Brougham, Wilkins, and Smith along with "six others." They were initiated into the graduate chapter, known as the Lambda Graduate Association, in January of 1857. The rooms of Theta Delta Chi were located in a house on Fourth Street (Wolle 132). The club was short-lived, however, and disbanded the following summer.
William Winter, in Leaf from My Journal, explains that Smith had "extraordinary truthfulness to nature, extraordinary precision of method, large humanity, strong intellect" (qtd. in Odell 8:271). He brought these skills to his performances in what theater historian George Odell argues was Wallack’s strongest company (1867-68) (8:269), and to his work at St. James’s Theatre for Mrs. Wood (T. Miller 108). In a move that Odell characterizes as ill-timed, Smith left Wallack’s after the major flop of the White Fawn (1867-68) to act and manage the New York Theatre. He managed the theater, located at 728 Broadway, during the 1866-67 season. Despite financial problems (the government raised the issue of a non-payment of a post-war revenue tax by the theater), "the New York Theatre started on a more or less interesting winter campaign" after 1866 (Odell 8:181).
On February 3, 1869, Smith played Friar Lawrence in the opening production of Romeo and Juliet at fellow Pfaff’s associate Edwin Booth’s theater. Though referring to him as a "noble recruit" from Wallack’s Theater, George Odell states that he was "curiously cast" in the opening show (Odell 8:424). After the death of his father, Smith went west for the funeral and resigned as stage manager. Upon returning to New York, he resumed the role of Friar Lawrence, but he did not take up the job of stage manager again (Odell 8:425).
Smith was fairly well known in his day. He is mentioned as the intended leading man at Burton’s new theater during the 1855-56 season where he appeared with Clifton and Booth, and took part in one of Brougham’s benefits. At the close of the 1862-63 season, Smith was the subject of one of these benefits himself (Odell 6:473, 7:481-82).
Mentions that Smith, along with Lewis Baker, managed a small theatre on Broadway in New York and hired Eytinge to play Jeanie Deans in a production of "The Heart of Midlothian" (103). Mark Smith was the father of one of Eytinge's contemporaries in the theater, an actor also named Mark Smith.[pages:103]
Smith is listed as playing the role of Lord Ptarmigant in the play Society at Wallack's (5).[pages:5]
Figaro does not give Smith's portrayal of "Mr. Potter" in Still Waters Run Deep a favorable review, saying it "was altogether too Solon Shingly" (184-185).[pages:184-185]
Smith is listed among the cast of The Rivals at Wallack's in the role of Sir Anthony Absolute (57).[pages:57]
Along with Edward G. P. Wilkins, Fitz-James O'Brien, and John Brougham, Smith was a member "a select club for actors, writers, and artists" formed in 1856 (44). Smith was also a member of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity (44).
Smith worked at the St. James's Theatre for Mrs. Wood (108).[pages:44, 108]
Smith is a member of what Odell argues is Wallack's strongest company in the 1867-68 season (269). Odell mentions that at this point Smith has returned from his "uncertain management" of the New York Theatre (269).
Smith, as described by William Winter in Leaf from My Journal, had: "extraordinary truthfulness to nature, extraordinary precision of method, large humanity, strong intellect" (271).
Odell mentions that Smith remained briefly at Wallack's and that one "deplores his descent from the classics to The White Fawn" - a major flop at Niblo's in 1867-68 season (284). Odell mentions that Smith should not have left Wallack's at this time to manage and act at the New York Theatre (181).
Smith had managed the New York Theatre in the 1866-67 season and became a part of the company there. It seems that the management of the theater (728 Broadway) was problematic - the government raised an issue about a non-payment of a revenue tax on the theater (which was imposed on all theaters after the war). Despite these problems, Odell notes that after Sept. 5, 1866, "the New York Theatre started on a more or less interesting winter campaign" (181).
Smith was present to "assist" Saidee A. Cole, a pupil of Professor Brown, an "elocutionist" when she read at Dodworth's May 11, 1867 (227). Smith is also mentioned as singing in one of Colby's concerts; he sang "The Fine Old English Gentleman" (233).
Smith played Friar Lawrence in the opening production (Romeo and Juliet) at Booth's, Feb. 3, 1869. Odell mentions that Smith was a "noble recruit" from Wallack's but "curiously cast" in the opening show (424). The Times for March 1, 1870 notes that Smith had resigned as stage manager at Booth's and was succeeded by D.W. Waller. For two weeks prior, Waller had played Smith's role in Romeo and Juliet because Smith had gone west for the funeral of his father, Sol Smith. Smith returned and resumed role the of Friar Lawrence, but not the job of stage manager (425).[pages:4,8,17,167,181-2,227,233,269,270, 271,284,387,424, 425,426, 461]
He is mentioned as the intended the leading man at Burton's new theater during the 1855-56 season (473). Also at Burton's in the 1856-57 season.[pages:132,473,519,523,528]
Smith appears to have been relatively well-known. He is mentioned as being onstage at Burton's with Clifton. Smith also appeared with Booth and took part in one of one of Brougham's benefits. Odell mentions Smith's unemployment at the closing of Burton's. Odell also mentions, however, that Smith and his wife were employed at Buckley's in the 1858-59 season.
Odell mentions that Smith is a part of the "light and frivolous" summer season (1862-63) at Wallack's (?) with Emily Thorne. The 1862-63 season closed with a benefit to him (481-482).[pages:6,66,112,156,163,218, 219,224(ill),251,252,263,320,382,396,452,462,481-2,534,543,583,618,625]
Personne mentions Smith among the cast of Bourcicault's Vanity Fair at Laura Keene's (3).
Smith acted in cast of the evening performance of Nine Points of the Lane at the Benefit (3).[pages:3]
Personne refers to Smith as "both an artist and gentleman" and mentions that he has a benefit at Laura Keene's that evening. Still Water Runs Deep will be acted (3).[pages:3]
Personne mentions Smith in his review of Nine Points of the Law (2).[pages:2]
Smith is listed as one of the "new engagements" for Laura Keene's Theatre for the next season (3).[pages:3]
Personne notes that Smith joined Keene's company (2).[pages:2]
Personne reports that Smith was slated to play "Bottom" in Keene's revival of A Midsummer Night's Dream, but the performance was postponed due to the popularity of The Sea of Ice (3).[pages:3]
Personne mentions Smith's efforts to rouse enthusiasm from the audience while acting during the recent heat wave (2).[pages:2]
Personne reviews Smith's performance in Norma at Laura Keene's (3).[pages:3]
Personne quotes the "cricket" from the Daily News about Smith's performance as Bottom in Keene's A Midsummer Night's Drean (2).[pages:2]
Personne mentions Smith in his review of Bourcicault's Jeanie Deans at Keene's (3).[pages:3]
Quelqu'un reports that Smith is on tour with Jordan and is headed to New Orleans for the Winter (3).[pages:3]
Quelqu'un claims to have seen the General at Nixon's, watching Smith and others in the Burlesque (3).[pages:3]
Mentioned as a member of The Bees and Theta Delta Chi.[pages:131, 132]
The Vault at Pfaff's
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