BIJOU HERON: BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN STAGE ACTRESS

This Cabinet Card presents the image of American stage actress Bijou Heron (1863-1937). She was the daughter of composer Robert August Stoepel and actress Matilda Heron. She began her career as a child. She married Broadway producer, writer, actor, and director, Henry Miller (1858-1926). Her son, Gilbert Miller became a very successful Broadway producer. The photograph was published for the Union Square Theatre Company. The photographic studio was Bradley & Rulofson in San Francisco, California. The reverse of the card indicates that the studio has the only “Elevator Photography” in the world. Perhaps a visitor to this site can explain the meaning of “Elevator Photography”. Research reveals that in 1872 the partners installed what they claimed to be the first hydraulic elevator ever to be associated with a photographic studio. The elevator cost them four thousand dollars. Henry William Bradley (1813-1891) and his partner William Rulofson (1826-1876) were partners in a photographic studio that photographed many notable Californians. Bradley was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. He opened his San Francisco studio in 1850 and took in his partner in 1860. When he retired in 1878 his studio was considered the best on the west coast and won first prize at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876. Mr Rulofson had quite a controversial and interesting life and associated with many famous people including Ambrose Bierce.  Rulofson died in a fall from the roof of his studio and was heard to say during the descent, “I am killed”. You can view a second cabinet card of an actress by these photographers by clicking on the category “Photographer: Bradley & Rulofson”. Ms. Heron is dressed in costume for this portrait. It is likely that she was appearing in San Francisco with a touring company from the  Union Square Theatre. The costume that she is wearing is one that she wore in the play “The Two Orphans” in which she appeared with actress Maud Harrison circa 1880. This cabinet card indicates that Bijou Heron was a strikingly beautiful woman.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I believe that “Electric Photography” had nothing to do with the type of photography, but rather the mode of transportation to the studio.

    They had advertising cards printed that said “and has the only elevator connected with a Photographic Gallery in the world.”

    Photographers of this era were “chasing the sun.” Their studios were on the top floors of buildings and covered with skylights. Patrons had to walk the three or four flights of stairs to have their photograph taken.

    They were the happening photographers in San Francisco and as such employed every new method and convenience. I believe the imprint referred to the convenience of getting to the studio.

    -fM


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