This cabinet card portrait features pretty stage actress Nesta Neilson. Preliminary research yielded little information about Miss Neilson. She is cited a number of times as appearing in theatrical newspaper articles but access to these periodicals could not be gained. Perhaps a cabinet card visitor can fill the rest of us in concerning Miss Neilson’s personal and theatrical life. This cabinet card photo was produced by the Natori studio in New York City. Natori photographed a numberof theatrical stars of his era.

Published in: on December 28, 2014 at 12:31 pm  Comments (6)  
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  1. Can you imagine this lovely lady being a accepted by today’s standards of beauty? Look at her legs especially. – No anorexia. No ironed hair. – Probably had talent too. (And how about the fact that her body is covered and modest?) – What standards of femininity we have lost!

    • Their standards were certainly different. I find it funny you say she is being modest, in those days showing that much leg was most risque! And skinny actresses actually had to pad their tights to get the plump dimpled legs which were popular. So, yeah, things change, but maybe not so much…

  2. July 18, 1908 – New York Dramatic Mirror, p. 8 – Nesta Neilson, known in private life as Mrs. Edward Axtell, died on July 1, in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital at No. 415 West Fifty-First St. Her body was removed to the Salem Cemetery, where it was buried beside that of her father. She is survived by her husband; her mother, Mrs. Emily Presby; her sister and a son, Cecil Wasson, by her first husband, who was George Wasson, of Springfield, Mass. Shortly after her separation from her first husband, she became an actress, appearing for the first time as Annie Grey in Hoyt’s A Midnight Bell, under the management of Lestor Lennon . . . She later appeared with success in London, and also with William Gillette in Ninety Days at the Broadway Theatre. She made her home in New York City at the Manor apartment house in West Thirty-Sixth Street.

  3. Once again, the cabinet card gallery’s research department, comprised solely of the gallery’s visitors, has pulled through. Thank you for providing the informative and interesting information about actress Nesta Neilson’s life. The visitors to the cabinet card gallery truly enhance the site and I sincerely appreciate their effort.

  4. Nesta Neilson appeared only briefly in London in The Swiss Express, a farcical pantomime, which opened at the Princess’s Theatre, Oxford Street, on 26 December 1891. She was understudy to Phyllis Broughton, a celebrated English actress/dancer of the period, in the part of the bride, Virginia Squeeze. The piece ran for 19 matinee performances. A report in The Times (28 December 1891) reads: ‘Under the head of the variety entertainment may be classed the series of matinees being given at the Princess’s of the well-known acrobatic piece, The Swiss Express. This is a version of La Voyage en Suisse, popularized some years ago by the Hanlon-Lees troupe. It is a bustling pantomime representing the trip of a newly-married couple to Switzerland, in which the maddest freaks are played by the Renad Brothers in the guise of servants. The first entrance of these performers is on the top of an omnibus, which upsets with all its passengers, and they afterwards carry on their pranks on a similar scale of daring and extravagance in railway trains and hotels. In the dramatic portion of the piece, Mr. Wilfred Shine and Miss Phyllis Broughton appear.’

    Another report in The Era (2 January 1892) suggests that Miss Neilson may have played the part of Virginia Squeeze only once, on Tuesday, 29 December 1891: ‘Miss Phyllis Broughton at short notice undertook the part of Virginia Squeeze, and, except on Tuesday, when an engagement took her to Brighton, has during the week delighted the visitors with her dainty dancing.’ In fact, only one advertisement for The Swiss Express, published in the London daily papers of Tuesday, 29 December 1891, mentions Nesta Neilson in connection with this production.

    According to the ship’s manifest of the SS Servia, which arrived from Liverpool at the port of New York on 16 February 1892, Nesta Neilson was then 19 years of age.

  5. I have long admired this picture. Nice to see it has a good home. Nesta displays a discreet voluptuous appeal, I believe. They used to say the good die young. I had a number of ‘Natari’ issues and was never clear whether it was a true studio or an issuer of prints actually taken by (on order?) various photographers. Cursory searches were befuddled by more recent users of that name. Average print quality was usually better (and more uniform) than Newsboy (e.g.) but not quite up to the more celebrated studios … at least for the ones I’ve seen. Still not sure.

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