LILLIAN RUSSELL: CELEBRATED AMERICAN ACTRESS AND SINGER

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Lillian Russell (1860-1922) is pictured in the top Cabinet Card photograph by famed New York celebrity photographer, Falk. Lillian Russell is captured in costume as she appeared in “Pepita” (1886). Russell was a very famous American actress and singer who was known for her beauty, style, voice and stage presence. Her theater career began with roles in comic operas including the work of Gilbert and Sullivan. She married composer Edward Solomon in 1884 and two years later, he was arrested for bigamy.  She performed in New York and elsewhere in starring roles in comic opera and musical theatre. In 1904 she switched to dramatic roles due to voice problems. She later also appeared in vaudeville. She retired from the stage in 1919. She later wrote newspaper columns, advocated for women suffrage, and was a popular lecturer.  She married four times and her longest marriage was to Diamond Jim Brady who supported her extravagant lifestyle for four decades. It is interesting to note that the New York Times (4/2/1886) reported that during the performance of “Pepita”, an opera by her husband, Edward Solomon; there were obvious signs of marital discord observed on stage. The newspaper blamed issues revolving around Russell’s interfering mother, as well as, issues pertaining to Russell’s sudden prosperity. The newspaper article correctly predicted that there would soon be a divorce. The second cabinet card, is also photographed by Falk. This photograph provides a close-up image of Lillian Russell and is a testimonial to her beauty. The third cabinet card was published by Newsboy and used by the tobacco company as a premium (#340). The photographer was Falk and the image was copyrighted in 1893. To view a collection cabinet cards by Falk; click on the category “Photographer: Falk”. The fourth cabinet card is another image produced by B. J. Falk. Miss Russell is in costume and is posed provocatively partially behind sheer lace. The fifth cabinet card, also by Falk, provides a terrific profile portrait of the beautiful Miss Russell.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve heard about her voice and general diva-esque presence, but within all that I never realized how lovely she was. I love the costume in the first photo – one can only imagine what the colors were. I can’t believe they would be anything less than fabulous.

  2. She had a romance with the camera, each pose an ever-varying nuance of her personality. With all of Lillian Russell’s well-earned claims to fame, less heralded are honors related to her untimely death and burial. (She died of complications resulting from a shipboard accident.) Her tireless efforts in behalf of wounded veterans of the Great War were such that they insisted she be buried with full military honors. President Harding sent a large floral display to top the coffin. Huge crowds lined the route in Pittsburgh (then her home). Quite a final bow.


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