ADELE PURVIS ONRI: BURLESQUE PERFORMER (NEWSBOY ACTRESS SERIES)

onri_0006Newsboy published this cabinet card portrait of stage performer Adele Purvis Onri. The photograph was produced to be utilized as a premium with the sale of tobacco products. It was number 110 in a series. This somewhat risque portrait captures Miss Onri in action, but what kind of action? Research reveals that she was a burlesque performer.  Her name appears in a number of sources but generally articles containing her name provide little information about her. Apparently she was not a major theater personality. The New York Times (1893) announced her appearance as part of the cast of “Lovely Meteor” at the Eden Musee. Onri makes another appearance in the N Y Times (1897) and in this article the reporter describes her appearance at Koster & Bials Theater. The writer asserts that “one of the most attractive features of the long and interesting bill was the performance of a graceful young woman called Adele Purvis-Onri who did some difficult posing on the slack wire, and intricate juggling and serpentine dancing or a revolving  globe”.  Reading between the lines, it is clear that Onri was performing burlesque acts of a risque nature. The New York Times (1902) notes that she appeared in vaudeville at the Twenty-third Street Theater and was a “sensational dancer”.  The reverse of this cabinet card is stamped indicating it was owned by “Culver Pictures” of New York City. The Culver company charged newspapers and magazines for the use of photographs owned by Culver. To view more photographs by Newsboy, click on the category “Photographer: Newsboy”. To view more images of stage actresses, click on the category “Actresses”.

RISQUE PORTRAIT OF BURLESQUE ACTRESS KATE EVERLEIGH BY WARREN’S PORTRAITS IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

EVERLEIGH

This cabinet card captures the beauty of actress Kate Everleigh. The image is risque for the cabinet card era. Preliminary research reveals no personal details of the life of Miss Everleigh. However, there are many articles citing her theatrical appearances.  In fact, her portrait appears on the front page of  “The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News” in both 1885 and 1886 editions. She is also referenced in the book “A History of the New York Stage” (1903) for appearing in Reese and Farnie’s burlesque production of  “Oxygen” and Lydia Thompson’s Company’s production of “Bluebird”. Everleigh also appeared in the original London cast of  “Erminie” (1885). The magazine “The Theatre” (1885) cites her appearances in “Nemesis” and “Family Ties”. Miss Everleigh also performed in the United States. She is mentioned as a performer in a burlesque show in San Francisco called “The Mother, The Maiden, and The Musicianer” (1880). This is a high quality photograph and not surprisingly, comes from a well respected studio in Boston, Massachusetts. The studio is Warren’s Portraits and it was located at 465 Washington Street. The photographer was George K. Warren. Warren’s Studios photographed many celebrities and notable people in Boston. To view other photographs by Warren, click on the category “Photographer: Warren”.

ADA RICHMOND: EARLY BURLESQUE ACTRESS AND IMPRESARIO

This cabinet card features a portrait of burlesque actress and impresario,  Ada Richmond.  Richmond was from Chicago and when her businessman father died she was sent to Boston to study music. She was encouraged by a theater manager to try the burlesque stage and she became very successful in that genre of theater. The Milwaukee Daily Journal (1885) has an article in it’s theater section about the opening of Ada Richmond’s American Burlesque Company’s version of “The Sleeping Beauty”. She headed the company and performed in it. She was known as the “handsomest woman” on the burlesque stage. The article also points out that Ada Richmond was the widow of Billy Bost, a well known New York politician and “sporting character” who was shot and killed three years earlier in a political dispute. This cabinet card was photographed by celebrity photographer, Gurney. Ada Richmond looks quite angelic in this portrait and is wearing exquisite matching jewelry. The photographer’s logo on the reverse of the photograph has a symbol with the following words “I have chained the sun to serve me”. This likely is an advertisement for the studio’s electric lights which would improve the quality of customer’s photographs. A stamp on the reverse of the cabinet card notes that it was part of the “Harold Seton” collection. Harold Seton was a journalist, author and collector of theatrical photographs. He wrote a column for Theatre Magazine. To learn more about Seton and to see other photographs that were part  of the collection, click on the category “Harold Seton Collection”.

RADIANT ACTRESS: CISSY FITZ GERALD (ONE OF THE GAIETY GIRLS)

B. J. Falk, the celebrity photographer from New York City, produced this cabinet card portrait of Cissy Fitz Gerald (1873-1941). Fitz Gerald was an English American vaudeville and film actress, dancer, and singer. She appeared in both silent and sound films. Her first movie was made in 1896 by Thomas Edison. In 1914 she signed with the Vitagraph company. The IMDb lists a filmography of seventy films spanning from 1914-1932. Her movies included a film series entitled “Cissy”. Her nickname was “girl with the wink”. She is described by the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, England) as one of the original “Gaiety Girls” of the 1890’s. These actresses tended to appear in the choruses of productions. The web based museum exhibit describes the “Gaiety Girls”  as “fashionable elegant young ladies and not at all like the corseted actresses from the burlesques”. The exhibit also declares that the “Gaiety Girls” were polite, beautifully dressed and well behaved young women, who were much sought after by the ‘stage door Johnnies’ of the 1890’s”. As apparent in the photograph; Ms Fitz Gerald was quite a beautiful woman and had a beautiful smile. She was, simply put, a radiant woman. This photograph was formerly owned by Culver Service, a company that commercially provided celebrity photos  to different modes of media. The photographs reverse has a stamp indicating ownership by the Culver company. To view other photographs by B. J. Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

PAULINE MARKHAM: TURN OF THE CENTURY BURLESQUE ACTRESS

This risque (lots of cleavage shown for this era) cabinet card is a portrait of Pauline Markham (1847-1919), a singer and burlesque dancer during the civil war period in the United States. She was born in England where she made her stage debut as a child. She came to New York and appeared in “Black Crook” and “Pinafore”. She was a member of the Lydia Thompson troupe (British Blondes). After the civil war, she had relations with Northern Generals and Reconstructionists In the 1870’s she formed her own stage company and in 1879 she took her company on a tour of the West during which they performed Gilbert and Sullivan. A member of that troupe was Josephine Marcus, who later married lawman, Wyatt Earp. She retired from the stage in 1889 after breaking her leg. She must have taken the old show business saying of “break a leg” literally. This cabinet card was photographed by Fredricks, of Brooklyn, New York. It is possible that the photographer is Charles DeForest Fredricks (1823-1894) who was an innovative American photographer. Fredricks learned the art of daguerreotypes from the great photographer , Jeremiah Gurney (see category “Photographer: Gurney”). Fredricks worked in South America through the early 1850’s and then he operated out of Charleston, South Carolina; and Paris, France. He was the first photographer to make life-size portraits, which he then hired artists to color them using pastel. He then returned to New York City and rejoined Gurney. In 1854 he developed a new enlarging process and in 1855 he ended his association with Gurney. In the late 1850’s Fredricks ran his studio in Havana, Cuba, and in the 1860’s he opened a studio on Broadway, in New York City. He retired in 1889. Research has not confirmed that Fredricks ever had a studio in Brooklyn, so it is quite uncertain whether the Fredricks who photographed Markham is actually Charles D. Fredricks.

MABEL EATON: STAGE ACTRESS AT THE HAYMARKET THEATRE IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

This Cabinet Card is an image of stage actress Mabel Eaton. Eaton’s appearances on Broadway in New York City included the productions of “Diplomacy” (1892) and “Woman and Wine” (1900). She appeared in many stage productions in Chicago and New York City. She appeared in Shakespeare productions. She was married to prominent stage and film star, William Farnum (1876-1953). An 1893 edition of the New York Times reported that her hotel room (Ashland House) was robbed while she was appearing in “Diplomacy” at the Fifth Avenue Theater. Eaton also appeared in a short silent film (1914).  In 1916, Eaton died in Chicago, Illinois. The photographer of this Cabinet Card is celebrity photographer Morrison, located in the Haymarket Theatre. The Haymarket Theatre opened in 1887 as a legitimate playhouse with seating for an audience of 2,475. By 1896, it became a vaudeville house and between 1916 and 1932 the theatre was one of Chicago’s best known burlesque houses. Between 1932 and 1948, the Haymarket became a second-run movie theater and it was condemned in 1949.  William Morrison began his photography business in 1889 at the Haymarket. He was born in Detroit in 1857 and educated in Chicago’s public schools and at the Metropolitan Business College. The New York Times reported in 1892 that there was a fire at the Haymarket that badly damaged offices, saloons and stores in the building. The article states that Morrison’s business had the worst damage of all the businesses, while the theatre itself only suffered water damage. Morrison’s studio lost 37,000 negatives.  In 1899 he moved his business to the Champlain Building.

HOPE BOOTH: “FETCHING BUT HOPELESS THEATRE ACTRESS”

HPOEBOOTH_0002This Cabinet Card is a portrait of theatre actress, Hope Booth. This actress seems to have had a propensity for trouble. The New York Times (1896) reported that at age 23, after appearing at the “Casino Roof Gardens” in a sketch entitled “Ten Minutes in the Latin Quartier; or A Study in the Nude”, she was arrested along with the manager of the theatre. She was charged with violating public decency because of her scant costume and daring poses. Five years later, her husband, actor, James E. B. Earll was arrested after his opening appearance in a vaudeville act at Koster and Bials. Before her arrest, she appeared in George Bernard Shaw’s first play, “Widowers Houses” in 1892. A review described her as a “fetching but hopeless” actress. Shaw had seen her in an earlier show and had described her as a “young lady who can not sing, dance, or speak, but whose appearance suggests that she might profitably spend 3 or 4 years in learning the arts which are useful on stage”. Other news stories and books report that she was born in Canada, was once married to a Canadian member of Parliament, she was a distant relative of the theatrical Booth family, and that she went bankrupt bringing a play to England. She clearly led an interesting life. The Cabinet Card is part of the Newsboy Series and was used as a premium for the sale of Newsboy Plug Tobacco.

Lina Merville: Burlesque Queen

lina-merville

This Cabinet card photograph presents Lina Merville, a burlesque star. More research is required to learn more of her biographical details, so at least for now, a picture has to be worth a thousand words. The photographer is Emil Scholl of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Published in: on December 17, 2008 at 10:43 pm  Comments (4)  
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