A pretty young actress with sad and haunting eyes and a polka dot dress poses for her portrait. She exudes a dramatic air and its likely no coincidence that this photograph was found in a collection of theatrical cabinet cards. The photographer of this image was the Murillo studio of St. Louis, Missouri. One source reports that the Murillo studio was operated by Jesse J Ferguson and existed at least between 1910 and 1919. To view other photographs by Murillo, click on the category “Photographer: Murillo”.

Published in: on October 20, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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A beautiful young actress poses for her portrait at The Sparks studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is wearing a horseshoe broach which probably was supposed to bring her good luck. This actress’s name was Marion Elmore. She was born in 1860 in a tent in Sandhurst, Australia. Her parent were English and they were in Australia because they were hoping to hit it big in the Gold Rush. Elmore began her acting career at age three. She played in Rip Van Winkle with touring American actor, Joseph Jefferson. In the 1870’s she was a member of Lydia Thompson’s famous burlesque troupe. “The Blondes” performed a risque mix of songs, dance and comedy. They also were very well known for showing a great deal of leg in their revealing costumes. She came to the United States in 1878 with the troupe but soon went off on her own as an actress and vaudeville performer. Her first starring role was in Chispa (1883). This play was poorly reviewed. The “Virtual Dime Museum” quotes the journal “Music and Drama” which wrote that the play “was dramatic rubbish, and that it does not fit Marion Elmore any better than her straw hat, which was continually falling off”. The New York Times (1882)  also lambasted the play. The critic had mixed feelings about Miss Elmore, but stressed her negatives. He blamed actress Maggie Miller for perpetuating a type of actress that he found abhorrent. These actresses were seen as stock actresses who rose to “money making dignity” by performing in troupes like Lydia Thompson’s Blondes. He described Elmore as a “vivacious exponent of the high art of leg burlesque”. The critic asserts that the craze surrounding Lydia Thompson, and other similar troupes, was one of the worst stupidities of the stage” and that he was pleased that the popularity of this type of entertainment had become “extinct”. On the positive side, the critic enjoyed Elmore’s sense of humor and her “brightness”.  One fortuitous outcome of her acting in Chispa was that she fell in love with, and in 1884, married her co star, Frank Losee. Another actress in Chispa was Lina Merville. Her portrait can be found in the Cabinet Card Gallery via the search box. As Elmore’s career continued, she acted in many plays in the New York area. She was active through the 1890’s and the early twentieth century. She died at age ninety in 1950. To view other photographs of actresses by Sparks, click on the category “Photographer: Sparks Photo Publishing Co.”.


This cabinet card features a pretty young actress wearing, what appears to be, a rain slicker hat. The photograph is a bit risque for its time. The actress’s  neckline may not be plunging, but it leaves a lot uncovered. She was photographed at the studio of celebrity photographer, D. H. Anderson, in New York City.

Published in: on December 10, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (3)  
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An unidentified actress poses for her photograph at the studio of Bradley & Rulofson, 429 Montgomery Street, in San Francisco, California. The actress is quite beautiful.Bradley & Rulofson was a well known photographic gallery. The reverse of the card advertises the fact that the studio had won local, national and international photography competitions, including a medal from Vienna, Austria (1873). To learn more about this photographic studio, click on the category “Photographer: Bradley & Rulofson”.

Published in: on November 16, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (6)  
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This cabinet card features an alluring woman lying on a divan in a very provocative pose. Note the leopard skin on the divan. This woman is likely an actress. She appears to be dressed like she is part of a harem. Rather than an actress, she may be a member of a circus act. The photographer is the famous celebrity photographer, Jose Mora. This image is risque for the time that it was made. To view other photographs by Mora, click on the category “Photographer: Mora”.       ADDENDUM: An informed visitor to the cabinet card gallery has identified the subject of this cabinet card as being actress  Jeffreys-Lewis. See the comment below to learn the interesting details.

Published in: on August 15, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (4)  
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This cabinet card is a photograph of a young dancer/actress photographed by the famous celebrity photographer, Sarony of New York. She seems to be in a dancers pose and costume. The reverse of the card has a handwritten identification of the subject. The name listed is Sara Belle; and preliminary research has revealed nothing about her. In fact, the existence of an actress/dancer by that name has not yet been confirmed. Interestingly, Napoleon Sarony’s daughter was named Belle. In regard to the date of this photograph, Sarony opened his Broadway studio in 1866 and moved to 37 Union Square in New York City in 1871.  Therefore this photograph was taken between 1866 and 1871. Perhaps a visitor to this site can shed some light on the identity of the woman in this photograph. Additional images by Sarony can be seen by clicking on the Cabinet Card Gallery’s category of “Photographer: Sarony”.

Published in: on March 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm  Comments (1)  
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Marion Manola (1865-1914) is the subject of this cabinet card photograph by celebrity photographer, Benjamin Falk. Manola was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She was a popular comic opera star during the late 1880’s and 1890’s. The New York Times (1894) featured a headline stating “A Brilliant Future Sacrificed for a Life of Excitement” referring to Ms. Manola. The newspaper reported that the theatrical community was upset by the actress’s “insanity”. She was described as one of the more popular singer/actresses on American stage. She was known to be a bit eccentric but she was “heartily liked by everybody”. She was described as light hearted, having a joyous nature, and as vivacious. She was discovered by Colonel John A. McCaull, who cast her in a comic opera company. She aggressively pursued her career and had “late suppers”, “early rehearsals”, and worked hard. The stress of her theatrical life caused her to become irritable, fretful and difficult to manage. When her theatre company dissolved, she joined De Wolff Hopper’s company where she became the prima donna. After about a year she lost her job because of difficulty with a manager. She then went to Europe where she played the role of Maid Marion in “Robin Hood”. While in Europe she met her soon to be second husband, John Mason. Mason had his own personal problems including a great deal of debt. They joined a comic opera company in Boston but they quickly lost their jobs due to problems getting along with management. They organized their own company but it went bust. Manola’s mind began to fail and it became known that she had a opium habit. The press had a field day covering Ms. Manola’s psychiatric and substance abuse difficulties, as well as her entry into a rehab facility. Does any of this sound familiar? Think about the press coverage of Lindsay Lohan or a number of other celebrities of today who experience emotional or addiction problems.  Manola also made her mark in the courts. In fact, Judge Louis Brandeis, one of America’s great Justices,  was involved in an interesting and important case Manola brought to the legal system. The actress brought suit against a theatre manager and a photographer because she was photographed on the stage, without permission, while wearing an outfit (tights) she felt were too immodest to be photographed in. After being photographed, she ran off the stage in distress. The court supported Ms Manola’s suit and forbid the photographs from being distributed. The court took the position of there being a need for morality in the press. Some skeptics felt that the actresses real issue with the photographs had more to do with her not getting financially compensated for the photographs, rather than her claims that her privacy was violated. To view other photographs by Benjamin Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.



These two Cabinet cards present quite a mystery. The dramatically dressed and attractive young woman in the top cabinet card is simply identified as “Etta”. She appears to be an actress and my research reveals a large number of actresses named Etta who were stage performers around the turn of the century. I have been unable to determine this actresses identity, but a leading candidate might be Etta Butler (1879-1903). Etta Butler was a well-known actress and impersonator. She began her career at age 19 with the Tivoli Chorus in San Francisco. A year later she became a member of the “Around New York in Eighty Minutes” company. She was later featured in Frohman  comedies. She was last seen in “The Liberty Belles” at the Madison Square. Because of her popularity and promise, she was retained by David Belasco in a long term contract. She died of Typhoid fever in Roosevelt Hospital, in New York City at age 24. This mystery lady was photographed by Bradley and Bulofson of San Francisco, California. The bottom cabinet card has an inscription on the reverse signed by “Etta”. Are these two cabinet cards, taken by the same photographer, portraits of the same woman? One can see enough resemblance between the two images to hypothesize  that they are likely the same “Etta”. Take a look at another cabinet card by these photographers by clicking on the category “Photographer: Bradley & Rulofson”. That very same click will provide the reader with additional information about the photographers of this image.

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 12:01 am  Comments (9)  
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Mary Mannering (1875-1953), stage star,  is featured in this cabinet card photograph by Schloss of New York City, New York.  Mary Mannering was born in London, England. She had her theatrical debut in Manchester in 1892. Daniel Frohman, theatrical producer and manager, convinced her to come to New York in 1896. She was quite successful in America. She played leading roles in romantic comedies and dramas for more than a decade. After appearing in 19 Broadway plays, she retired at the peak of her popularity, after playing in the “Garden of Allah” (1911). The  photographer,  Schloss was a well known New York City photographer who was famous for his portraits of theatrical stars.

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Caroline Miskel (1873-1898) was born in Kentucky. Her father was a newspaper editor and state legislator. She began her acting debut season with John Augustin Daly’s theatre company. She played in comedies and classic revivals. In 1894 she married Charles Hoyt, a popular playwright of the “gay nineties”. She starred in his production of “A Temperance Town”. In 1895 she was named America’s most popular actress and was awarded with “a nickel plated bicycle with a solid silver searchlight lantern”. Miskel was considered one of the most beautiful of all American stage actresses. One writer described her as a beauty with “light auburn hair, creamy complexion, bright sapphire eyes, and noble form and features”. The writer added that she was “as intellectual as she was beautiful”. Miskel’s life was cut short when she tragically died at age 25 after giving birth to a son.  This cabinet card was published by Newsboy as part of a series of premium cards to be given away with the purchase of Newsboy tobacco products.