Born November 13th, 1833 in Maryland, Edwin Booth had an affinity for the acting world; he was named after the actors Edwin Forrest and Thomas Flynn, and his father, Junius, was a British actor who
This multi-volume history of the New York City theater provides a wealth of information about the actors, actresses, and playwrights who were associated with Pfaff's.
Booth returned to New York at age 23 after training in California and Australia. Odell includes reviews of Booth's performances at Burton's from The Herald. Booth was the opening attraction at Burton's in 1857; Odell claims this is before Booth became a historic tragedian.
Booth suffered a minor slump in fame and reviews after Burton's end. Odell notes how Booth was one of the later greats to come forward on the New York stage during the 1856-57 and 1857-58 seasons. Odell reasserts that at that point Booth was not yet the remembered great actor. Odell aslo reprints the reviews of Booth's Hamlet in Winter 1863 from the The Herald.
Edwin Booth co-starred in his younger brother's (John Wilkes Booth) New York stage debut. Edwin Booth also appeared with his brothers John Wilkes and Junius Brutus in Julius Casear on Nov. 24, 1864, in a benefit for the fund to erect a statue to Shakespeare in Central Park. This was the New York performance of John Wilkes Booth.
Edwin Booth went into an immediate retirement when John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln on April 14, 1865 (Edwin Booth was playing Hamlet at the time).
Odell mentions he "brought out at the Bowery The Red Mask, or, the Wolf of Bohemia - verily a coincidence, if not an identity."
Brougham wrote The Miller of New Jersey, or, the Prison Hulk which played March 21, 1859. The play's big scene occurs when the miller releases the prisoners from the hulk, which explodes.
Brougham also wrote The Ruling Passion, a comedy that included an "all-star" cast. The play was written "expressly" for the opening of Wallack's 1859 season. Every character exemplified a "passion" for something that Brougham selected for them. Odell reports that it is thought that Brougham fitted the characters to the talents of the actors.
Brougham began his farewell engagement before his departure to Europe on July 2, 1860. His Playing with Fire, a comedy, opened Oct. 2, 1860, successfully and without and accompanying farce up to and including Nov. 16. Lady Audley's Secret was Brougham's adaptation of Braddon's popular novel; the play was later identified with Mrs. (Natalie) Cowell and was originially titled The Mystery of Audley Court. Odell mentions that Brougham also wrote The Birthday of Freedom, national drama, Neptune's Defeat, or, the Seizer of the Seas, and The Vision of Columbus.
(This entry also includes Odell's references to Miss or Mlle. Clare/Clara, as they could likely refer to Ada Clare.)
Odell only makes references to her stage credits. It is very likely that Ada Clare appeared onstage with Menken, Brougham, and others.
Gave a lecture as part of the lecture series at the Institute in Brooklyn in the 1857-1858 season. Curtis returned to this venue in the 1858-1859 season. His Nov. 30, 1859, lecture was entitled Democracy and Education. Curtis also lectured during 1859-1860 season.
Curtis is listed as one of the few critics who "did justice to the drama" in reviewing Augustin Daly's Deborah. Curtis' review appears in the March 7, 1863, issue of Harper's Weekly (Odell reprints the text). Odell also reprints Curtis' review of J.S. Clarke's acting.
Odell notes that 1863 is the year that the performance of Leah, the Foresaken introduced Daly to the theater. Daly is described as energetic and ambitious. In 1863 he was the dramatic critic for the Sunday Courier and occasionally other papers. Odell mentions that Daly would later be commanding and that in 1863 he yearned for the stage.
Daly was given his first stage opportunity by the Batemans. Leah, the Foresaken is Daly's adaptation of Mosenthal's Deborah, popular at the time in Germany. Odell describes the play as having an appealing dramatic value for the playwright and his producers. The play debuted in Boston and came to Niblo's in New York Jan. 19,1863.
Daly's brother, in his biography, claims that Daly had fears about letting the "fraternity" of theater critics know the authorship of the play. Daly's secret was discovered regardless, and the play was condemned for "crudity, bad writing, etc.," according to the review in the Herald. Odell includes other reveiws of Daly's play.
Daly's second play, Taming a Butterfly, was adapted from Le Papillion by Sardou. Daly was assisted by Frank Wood, who wrote a burlesque, Leah the Forsook that caught Daly's eye and led to their partnership. Odell also includes reviews of this play.
Daly adapted The Sorceress from the French La Sorciere. Odell makes mentions of Daly's 1870s theater company: Fifth Avenue Theater Company.
He is referred to "as a relic from the past" by Odell for unexplained reasons.
The was a benefit held for him March 8, 1865.
Lectured in Brooklyn Jan. 11, 1859, at the Mercantile Library on "Country Life" (197).
(Not confirmed that this is him)
He may have played the role of Rob Royland in Married for Monday at the Broadway at for the opening show of the 1857-1858 season.
He may be the W.H. Fry Odell lists. Odell includes an odd listing of opera by a Fry called Leonora. He is also credited with the composition of the overature of Evangeline performed by Kate Bateman.
Gayler's The Love of a Prince opened April 13, 1857. His "novelty" entitled Olympiana, or, a Night with Mitchell appeared at the New Olympic July 13, 1857. Odell mentions that The Love of a Prince was performed by Laura Keene's company as part of a benefit for (Joseph) Jefferson.
Gayler assumed the role of speaker/expositor of Dr. Kane's pictures of the Arctic Regions, the Aurora Borealis, etc., at the Crystal Palace in 1857. A poem was read by Laura Keene at a benefit for him on Jan 16, 1858. A rivalary began between Gayler and Kane on Jan. 6, 1858.
Gayler's Our Female American Cousin was one of first of the wave of imitiations of Keene's Our American Cousin in 1859. Gayler also wrote There's Many a Slip 'twixt the Cup and the Lip , a farce, and Romance of a (Very) Poor Young Man. Gayler arranged a sequel to Tom Taylor's play [Our American Cousin] written by Sothern called Our American Cousin at Home, or, Lord Dundreary Abroad. Gayler's Bull Run, or the Sacking of Fairfax Court House was brought out in the 1860-1861 season as part of the "war fever" theater season. His third "novelty" to play at the new Wallack's in the 1861-1862 season was the three-act comedy The Magic Marriage that concluded with a farce.
Gayler's "Very elaborate, spectacular, magical burlesque The Wizard's Tempest, or the King of the Magical Island produced by Prof. J.H Anderson, possibly performed at Wallack's, seems to have a plot or characters based on The Tempest. Son of the Night, or, Ben Liel, the Priate was performed Sept. 30, 1862, during a benefit for Harry Pearson. Gayler also wrote a piece for the Webb Sisters, Kitty, or, Out of the Streets.
Gayler is cited by Allston Brown as crediting O'Brien with the authorship of Rosedale in 1890. His Irish play The Connie Soogah, or, the Jolly Pedlar described as a "complete novelty" and played for six weeks. Gayler is also credited with Our American Cousin at Home and Ravelings.
His Petroliamania, or Oil on the Brain was a successful skit that ran for eleven weeks and was "the most pretensious of minstrel burlesques." The show's run was shortened by 10 days due to Lincoln's assassination.
Spoke as a part of the lectures given by the Hamiltonian Literary Association at the Odeon from Oct. 1859 to March 1860, at Williamsburgh (302). Greeley also appeared at a meeting on Jan. 14, 1863, of the Ridgewood Junior Temperance Union at Lee Avenue Sunday School (539).
Loyalina, or Brigadier-General Fortunio and his Seven Gifted Servants, "adapted and confrmed to Olympic wants, without leave or license from Planche" played April 11, 1864, produced by "Mrs. Wood."
Odell discusses comparisons critics made between her and Miss Cushman; Heron is called "intense, deep, and sensual."
She appeared at Wallack's on the first night of the regular 1857-1858 season (Sept 7) in Fiammina. Heron adapted the play from the French version by Mario Uchard. The show ran for 5 nights.
Heron was known for her "Camille" and played it for several engagements in the 1857-1858 season, including a benefit for herself.
According to T. Allston Brown during the June 10, 1858 performance of Mathilde at what became Laura Keene's theater "it was rumored that a fracas too place in the greenroom between the respective allies of Laura Keene, Matilda Heron, and Mrs.D.P Bowers, and that during the melee Mr. Sothern rushed forward and made the above announcement to prevent an expose." This event ended the season.
Odell claims that Heron was a "fiery" Camille. She received positive reviews for Geraldine for Mrs. Bateman, which was one of the highlights of the 1858-1859 season. Heron also starred in her own version of Lesbia that was put on the stage by Jefferson.
Heron's 1859-1860 season at Niblo's seems to have been very successful. Heron gave her most popular performance of Camille and was also seen in Medea, Bertram, Ingomar and The Stranger.
Odell calls Heron during the 1861-1862 season "emotional." She wrote The Belle of the Season and starred in it at the Winter Garden. The play ran until she resumed the role of Camille. The audience was predictably reduced to tears. Heron played in several other shows at the Winter Garden during this season.
Heron also played several roles in an unspecified-cause benefit in 1862-1863 season at Laura Keene's. With Laura Keene, Heron helped to popularize Brooklyn as a 1-2 night stand for talented and attractive actresses in the 1862-1863 seasons.
Heron's husband, Robert Stoepel, arranged "Hiawatha" to music and Heron recited the poem while other performers did the musical parts (1863-1864 season).
Odell discusses his return to the stage with Keene's company for the 1857-1858 season. Jefferson had spent several years wandering in provencial theaters. Along with Booth, Odell describes Jefferson as one of the two most famous America actors; both appeared for the first time on the New York stage in the same year.
Jefferson's biography/autobiography describes the first production of Our American Cousin with Laura Keene. Odell often relies on Jefferon's own reflections about the theater and the people and shows he was part of for his information.
Jefferson claimed to have adaped Blanche of Brandywine with J.G. Burnett and also acted in the play. Jefferson was a part of the theatrical "frivolity" that accompanied the arrival of the Japanese ambassadors (1859-1860). The benefits he participated in indicate that he knew others who frequented Pfaff's.
Jefferson starred in Rip Van Winkle, "arranged by himself." Odell cites Jefferson's own account of the play at the Winter Garden and his struggles adapting the play on his PA farm.
Odell also makes comparisons between Jefferson and other actors. Odell makes mention of Jefferson's dramatic society. Jefferson's wife's death (March 1861) may have prompted his world tour in 1861; Jefferson does not return to the New York stage until 1866.
The early management notes for Wallack's 1857-58 season prohibits her company from performing at that theater (19). Odell describes Keene's management as "one of the bright chapters in the history of our drama." Her production of The Sea of Ice is thought to be the turning point in her fortune.
Keeene read at a "panorama" for Charles Gaylor in 1858.
She had a "lucky hit" with Our American Cousin, which would become a tradmark show for the company and her lead actors. This show set new standards for New York theater and theatrical success. Odell claims Keene liked to put on "spectacular extravaganza" and did it very well. Keene served injunctions against Chanfrau for impinging on her property with a performance of Our American Cousin.
In the 1860-1861 season, Laura Keene's theater is the only one on Broadway relying on its own company for actors. At the beginning of the war it was the the only regular theater open by the summer of 1861; during this time the music halls did well.
The 1862-1863 season marked the beginning of the end of Keene's New York success. Keene seems to have distanced herself from New York after losing her theater.
Menken was annouced as coming out of New Orleans in the 1858-1859 season. She was seen by a New York audience for the first time on March 1, 1859 in The Widow Cheerly. Odell says she "has left behind her one of the most intriguing reputations known to the theater, was at the time of her debut here but an untrained girl, revealing no great possiblities for the future" (145). Odell discusses Menken's later international fame and relationships with "poets" and "gilded youths." Odell also makes mention of pictures of "the Menken" taken with the elder Dumas and A.C. Swinburne. Odell quotes an early review of Menken that discusses how she is talented but requires training.
Odell calls Menken "beautiful and erratic" (233) and discusses her first appearance at the Bowery in the 1859-60 season. At this performance, Menken announced herself Mrs. John C. Heenan, identifying herself with the "Benicia Boy" (?)(233). The Bowery performance seems to have endeared her to the crowds. Menken appeared again in this season identified in playbills as Mrs. J.C. Heenan; Odell reprints reviews and lists her roles.
Menken is listed among the readers at Hope Chapel (1859-60) when "mystery-woman, 'disintguished actress and authoress'" read from Shakespeare and modern poets (294). Menkened plays the Canterbury and the Melodeon. She was booked for six nights at the Melodean during the 1860-1 season and failed to appear; she does not seem to have appeared for any of her run. Odell states that "Menken's reputation, savoury and unsavoury, was still in the making" (360).
During the 1861-62 season Odell states that "A great night came in on the 9th of June, when the beautiful, mysterious, daring, and not altogether shrinking Menken began an engagement, performing nine characters in Three Fast Women (409). Odell lists several other credits for Menken for that season, including the title role in Lola Montes.
On June 16, 1862, she appears in Mazeppa. Odell states: "On June 16th, Menken at last appeared in New York in the part associated with her fame, Mazeppa, in which she made the ascents and descents of the perilous scaffoldings of the scenery, on the bare back of the stead, and one might say delicately, on her own bare back - 'a feat never before attempted by any woman'" (409). Odell claims that "this sensation drew the town" and Mazeppa became the closing thrill of her benefits that season (409). Odell states, "The fame of this daring enterprise has come down to our own times, and will doubtless go on" (409).
During the same season, J.C. Heenan wrotes a Nov. 1 letter to The Herald in which he denied being married to Menken. He also responded to allgations that he spent her money (she seems to have filed a suit against him or written allegations that he spent her money in The Herald)(445).
Odell describes Menken's return to the stage in 1862-63 season, her roles, the revival of Mazeppa, and the other plays she performed for benefits. Odell also discusses performances of Mazeppa that do not star Menken and occured when she was "turning the heads of literary Europe" (572).
Montes also gave a series of talks: two autobiographical lectures and two lectures on other topics. Odell also mentions that Montes lectures in 1859-60 season "considerably chastened" (293).
In 1890, Gayler attributes the authorship of Rosedale to O'Brien; Winter disputes this claim.
Wrote a burlesque Cinderealla that debuted at the Winter Garden Sept. 9, 1861. Ada Clifton was a member of the cast.
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).
Odell mentions that Sothern won much applause in the 1856-57 season for the role of "Armand." He played this role opposite Heron in 1857-58 season.
Sothern was one of the popular actors (including Booth and Jefferson) who firmly fixed their reputation in the 1856-57 and 1857-58 seasons at Wallack's. He made his first appearance at Keene's in a benefit for Jefferson in 1857-58 season. Sothern is listed as the manager of Keene's theater and is often involved in the personality conflicts that seem to have arisen there. Sothern's addition to Keene's company made it possible for Our American Cousin to be a success in the 1858-59 season (39). Keene's 1857-59 company is described as her best ever.
Odell discusses Sothern's versalitily as an actor in addition to the versatility of other members of Keene's company. Sothern seems to have been upset at his casting as Dundreary in Our American Cousin, but that role became his "stepping stone to fortune" (129). The success of Our American Cousin is described as the turning point in his and Jefferson's and Keene's careers.
Sothern was missing from Keene's company at the beginning of 1859-60 season. He later appeared in Gayler's sequel to Our American Cousin entitled Our American Cousin at Home, or, Lord Dundreary Abroad as Lord Dundreary on his travels in America and also as Dundreary's younger brother (319). This play was a mix of "fun and melodrama" and included Dundreary falling in a well, a panorama of the Hudson from NY to Albany with effects of sunset, moonlight, and sunrise, the destruction of Asa's mills, and a grand skating scene with the actors on roller skates. This play seems to have pleased the public in the early days of the Civil War (319-20).
Sothern brought out own his own play, Suspense in the 1860-1861 season.
Strakosch brought distinguished instrumentalists to New York on Feb.13, 1865 for the 1864-65 musical season at Niblo's Saloon.
Taylor gave a lecture at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute Dec. 7, 1858, entitled Moscow. He was also part of the Hamlitonian Literary Association lecture series given at the Odeon, 1959-60, in Brooklyn.
Mortimer delivered a "versified lecture" at the Cooper Institute on Nov. 9, 1959. He also appeared on Nov. 26, 1859 at the Odeon to deliver a versified lecture on "Pluck."
The theater had highly elaborate lease terms under William Stuart who contracted with J.W. Wallack. The terms of performances were very specific and Odell lists the staff salaries (19). Management of Wallack's was resumed by J.W. Wallack after a two-year break during the summer season of 1858. Stuart seems to have had a long-term connection to the theater.
Wallacks was regarded as the leading New York theater (and possiblty the leading American theater) during the 1859-60 season. Wallack's was usually family-run.
The last season at the Broome Street location was 1860-61. Wallack's moves uptown to Broadway and 13th. The theater closed early in 1861 with a series of benefits because of the war. The new theater opened in the 1861-1862 season. The new Wallack's was very large - the theater was leased in part on 10 lots owned by William B. Astor. This lease was for 20 years. "The site was so large that the theater could be built with comfort for all." The new seating capacity exceeded Broome St. by 1000+ seats. "[...]the last word of elegance was expressed in the architecture, the furnishings, the lobbies, and lounging rooms. For the twenty years of its existence Wallack's on this site was unquestionably the leading theater of the country, maintaining the best stock company conceivable, and presenting plays with an elegance and a distinction unattainable in any other American establishment." Opened Sept.25,1861 (377).
Wallack's was described as the "perfect theater" in 1862-1863 (462) and seems to have been unparalleled. The old theater reopened in the 1862-1863 season as a home for a season of German opera. Old Wallack's becomes known as the New Idea and collapses in August 1863, but reopens the next month as the New York Theater. Entertainment there seems to have been stale and derivative - ballets, pantomimes, etc. Reopened again that Nov. as the Broadway Amphitheater.
Rosedale, or, the Rifle Ball became a company/theater standard, especially for Lester Wallack.
The popularity of Wallack's seems to wane in the 1864-65 season; the crowds are less fashionable, unrefined, seats are sold to speculators right before opening night. These events are a change from sold out opening nights in the past (625).
Wallack was a well-known actor and stage manager at Wallacks (run by his family). His salary at Wallack's is noted by Odell on p.19 - Odell includes his weekly salary plus numbers for what he was to receive from benefits and how many benefits he could hold for himself. His salary at the new theater is also listed by Odell.
Wallack became famous slightly earlier than Jefferson, Booth, and Sothern. The Happy Veteran, a "melodrama of glitterning Oriental accoutrements" was credited to him; he also performed in it. This show was also one of the last performances by the elder Wallack. The play was a financial success and ran for 66 nights, unaided by farce or afterpiece (124).
Wallack was part of a benefit for the Mount Vernon Association that also starred many other Pfaff's notables. Wallack was also part of a benefit for the American Dramatic Fund that seems to have brought together several of the important players in NY at the time: Keene, Brougham, and others.
Wallack's theater becames the leading New York (and possibly American) theater in the 1859-60 season. The Romance of a Poor Young Man required Wallack to leap from a tower that caused him an injury and the use of an understudy; however, Wallack was given positive reviews for the role (206).
Wallack claimed authorship of The House with Two Doors, played in Central Park. He was also credited as the author of the stage version of Lady Lee's Widowhood, a claim that is debatable (542).
At the new Wallack's the Rosedale, or the Rifle Ball received 125 performances in the 1863-64 season. For 25 years it became the best known feature of Lester Wallack's repetoire (542).
Wallack stopped acting in the 1864-1865 season. He seems to have been affected by bad health and his father's death(629). Wallack returned to the stage May 9, 1865, after a 4 month absence.
Wallack claimed that Our American Cousin had originally been offered to his father, but there was no actor in the company suitable to play the role of Asa Trenchard, so he advised the play be sent to Keene's as "an admirable medium for exploiting the popular Jefferson" (128).
Ward lectured Dec.23,1861, on The Children in the Wood at Clinton Hall (445). "Great Snaix! Artemus Ward, the great Exhibitor of Wax Wurx and other natur'l Curiousities," showed on Dec. 18 at Lee Avenue Sabbath School Hall, "those wonderful Children known as the Babes in the Wood." Ward brought the Union Minstrels to Washington Hall for afternoon and evening performances Christmas afternoon and evening, 1861 (460).
Odell claims that Ward was probably funny Feb. 16, 1863 at the Anthenaeum in a lecture called Sixty Minutes in Africa. Ward delivered the oration An Hour With a Ghost Sept. 30,1863, at Irving Hall.
Ward is called "one of the most original American humorists" (689).
He began an engagement at Dodworth's that lasted several nights during the 1864-1865 season. Ward gave his lecture Artemus Ward among the Mormons, a "pictoral tour from Pier 3, North River, to Salt Lake City - illustrations painted by Hillard and Maeder." The 50th night of this show was Nov.28. Odell quotes the Dec. 5 Herald that states Ward "calls your attention to a mile of pictures, five square yards of jokes, sixteen cubic feet of fine moral sentiment, four rods of sad and beautiful pathos, a dooryard full of burning eloquence, a small black travelling bag full of phosphorescent quips, petroleum oil paintings by the high old masters." Ward's lectures were called "rich entertainment." He left Dodworths at the end of Dec. 1864 (689).
Ward followed this performance with another engagement at the Brooklyn Academy with performances of Life Among the Mormons, January 28, 1864 (704).
His play, The Siam Light Guard, was performed Sept. 28, 1857, at Keene's. Wilkins also adapted Henriette. The adaptation of the play was originally billed as "translated from the French, and adapted to the American stage by a gentleman of this city" (308).
Odell also mentions that Wilkins was the dramatic critic for the Herald.
He disputed Gayler's claim that O'Brien wrote Rosedale.
Augustin Daly's assistant for Taming a Butterfly. Wood is described as a young newspaper man; his "clever burlesque" Leah the Forsook attracted Daly's attention and began their collaboration (550). Leah the Forsook seems to have been more successful than his play with Daly. Wood also wrote the burletta The Marble Maiden, or the Ghost of Cologne, played by Keene's company on Sept. 25, 1863.
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015