PORTRAIT OF AMERICAN STAGE ACTRESS MAUDE WHITE OR POSSIBLY A PORTRAIT OF AMERICAN STAGE ACTRESS MAUD WHITE

 

maude white 1

This is an unusual cabinet card portrait for two reasons. First, the pretty young woman who is the subject of this photograph is a New York city actress and certainly does not look the part. She is well dressed, but she is wearing conservative and “boring” attire. Overall, she looks more like the “woman next door” than a Broadway actress. She exudes a sweet and innocent disposition and she has a twinkle in her eyes. She doesn’t  give the appearance of a professional actress of that time. Where’s the histrionic flamboyance? Where’s the drama? Secondly, what’s wrong with the photographer, Napoleon Sarony. The fantastic celebrity photographer was not showing his usual bombastic flair when he posed and shot this photograph. Unlike many of his theatrical portraits, there is no fancy clothing or abundance of props in this portrait. The young lady in this image is named Maude White. Her name is written on the reverse of the photograph. However, there is a caveat worth mentioning. I encountered a problem while I was researching Maude White. I discovered that there was also an actress named Maud White who was performing during the same era. This became an issue because, despite the inscription on the back of the cabinet card, I could not be sure if the woman photographed was Maude White or Maud White. I attempted to find other photographs of both actresses but met no success. Due to the fogginess of the identification issue, I decided to research both Maude and Maud. The Internet Broadway Data Base reveals that Maude White appeared in one Broadway production, “The Ruling Power” (1904). However, Maud White made three appearances on Broadway (“Lost-24 Hours”(1895), “A Stranger in a Strange Land” (1899), and “There and Back” (1903). First, I will present some information gleaned from researching Maude. The New York Times (NYT) (1888) published an article about a soon to open play entitled “A Parisian Romance”. The star of the show was Mr Richard Mansfield and the supporting cast included Miss Maude White. The NYT (1888) later reviewed the play and made special mention of Maude. The review described her as “the danceuse (female ballet dancer) of the Opera” and reported that she played her role in a charming, pert, and clever manner. The NYT (1898) announced the soon to open comedy, “A Stranger in a Strange Land”, and that it would include both Mansfield and Maude. An article in the NYT (1900) stated that Maude would appear in Stuart Robson’s company that year. The NYT (1903) heralded the opening of a farcical comedy called “There and Back” and added that Maude would be a principal in the cast. An interesting story about Maude appeared in the NYT in 1905. The issue at hand was plagiarism. Maude had written a playlet called “Locked Out At Three AM” and she complained to the United States circuit court that the author of another play used some of her material. Maude had asked for an injunction and sued for damages. The NYT (1906) stated that Maude would be starring in the play “Nobody’s Fault”.  Now lets focus on Maud, rather than Maude.  In 1890, Maud was involved in some controversy and it was reported in the NYT. The title of the article was “Fritz Emmet Sobering Up”. Emmet was an established comedian who had a relationship with “John Barleycorn” that had produced many newspaper articles focussing on his drunken behavior. The article stated that there was  “a stormy sea” on the stage of the Hammerstein’s Harlem Opera House. Emmet had been drinking heavily for two weeks and creating much drama. His professional and personal life had become badly damaged. In his previous engagement in Philadelphia, Emmet had reached the point that he could no longer perform. The theater had to close the show, and fortunately for the theater, Emmet compensated them for their losses. Next stop was Harlem, but Emmet kept drinking excessively until the dramatic incident occurred on stage. At a Saturday night performance he “murdered his play”. While onstage he made many “Bacchanalian references” and exhibited other inappropriate words and actions.. Emmet’s adult son decided to put an end to his father’s out-of-control behavior. Just as the curtain went down on the last act of the play, Fritz’s son went on the stage where his father and Maud were standing. The son informed Maud that she would have to leave the theater company. Maud objected in a “vigorous manner” spurring the young Mr. Emmet to have her forcibly removed from the theater. Worse yet, he had her confined to a little storm house over the stage door. Basically, she was temporarily kidnapped. Maud cried and screamed “various better words” and even though Fritz tried to intervene, she was imprisoned until the police arrived. The police were called by the younger Mr Emmet and they promptly took Fritz to Manhattan Hospital where he was confined overnight. Maud was released and put in a carriage to go wherever she wanted to go. The story got worse for Fritz. Directly after this incident, his wife of 27 years, sued him for divorce on grounds of infidelity. They ultimately divorced and the settlement was costly for Fritz. Maud continued to perform and the NYT (1891) announced that Maud would be appearing in a play directed by Charles Frohman called “Mr. Wilkinson’s Widows”. That same year, she appeared in a Frohman production entitled “The Solicitor”. The NYT (1892) has an article reporting that Maud appeared in another Frohman production (“The Lost Paradise”). An 1895 NYT article states that maud was appearing with the Robert Hilliard Company in “Lost- 24 Hours” at the Hoyt Theater. The NYT (1897) has an article reporting her appearance in “The Wrong Mr Wright”. Maud received a complimentary review from the  NYT (1903) concerning her performance in the role of the “seductive Marie Antoinette” in the play “There and Back”.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. such an interesting photo and story

  2. Very interesting story. Thank you for the research.


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