EDWARD SOTHERN: DISTINGUISHED STAGE ACTOR APPEARING IN “DAVID GARRICK”

This cabinet card features celebrated English actor Edward Askew Sothern (1826-1881). Sothern was known for his comic roles in Great Britain and America. He is often associated with his role in “Our American Cousin (1858 ). Sothern complained to his friend, actor Joseph Jefferson, about the smallness of his part in that play. Joseph Jefferson responded with the classic line “There are no small roles, only small actors”.  Incidentally, “Our American Cousin” was the play that President Abraham Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated. He began acting as an amateur in 1848. He made his debut in America in 1852. In 1854 he joined the company at Wallack’s Theater and in 1856 he became a member of Laura Keene’s company. He gained fame starring in “Camille (1856) at Wallack’s theater. In 1864 he created the title role in Tom Robertson’s “David Garrick” (1864) at the Haymarket Theater.This comic play was about eighteenth century actor and theater manager, David Garrick.  This cabinet card photograph captures him in this role in which he had much success. This image was produced by Napoleon Sarony, famed celebrity photographer. To view other images by Sarony, click on the category “Photographer: Sarony”.

PRETTY ACTRESS TRYING TO GET LUCKY IN PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

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.”.

FRANCIS WILSON: EARLY AMERICAN THEATRE STAR, PLAYWRIGHT, AND AUTHOR

Francis Wilson (1854-1935) was an American actor born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He began his career in minstrel shows but by the time he was 24 year-old he was playing in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Theatre. He worked several years in regular comedy and later took up opera, most successfully in “Eminie” (1886). He later starred in “The Oolah” (1889), The Lion Tamer (1891), The Little Corporal (1898), and then in a play that he authored, “The Bachelor’s Baby (1909). Wilson authored additional plays as well as books. He wrote  books about fellow actors Joseph Jefferson and John Wilkes Booth. He also penned an autobiography. The photographer of this cabinet card portrait of the handsome Wilson, is Falk, a photographer known for his celebrity portraits. To view other images by Falk, click on this site’s category “Photographer: Falk”. To see other cabinet card images of actors, click on the category “Actors”.