MISS VIOLET CAMERON: SCANDALOUS STAGE ACTRESS

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CAMERON FRONT

Violet Cameron (1862-1919), was an English stage star. She was the niece of burlesque legend Lydia Thompson. Cameron  began her stage career as a child in 1871. She played several child roles at the Drury Lane Pantomime theatre. As an adult, she played many prominent roles in the most important English theatres. In 1886 she came to America and played in “The Commodore” and “Kenilworth”. In 1893 she had great success in the stage play “Morocco Bound”. She was involved in several scandalous love affairs during her stage career.  The top cabinet card was a product of Elliot & Fry, a prominent London photography studio. The second cabinet card was produced at the studio of W & D Downey in London, England. The third portrait of Violet Cameron is also by Downey. She looks lovely in her ruffly dress and her plunging neckline (relative to the cabinet card era) highlights her necklace. The reverse of the cabinet card has the stamp of Charles Ritzmann of New York City indicating that it was once owned by the esteemed purveyor of theatrical photographs. The fourth photograph of Miss Cameron once again comes from the Downey studio. She appears to be wearing a wedding dress in this cabinet card portrait. To view other photographs by these two studios, click on the category Photographer: Elliot & Fry or Photographer: Downey.

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FANNY DAVENPORT: AMERICAN STAGE ACTRESS (1880)


                                                                          PHOTO 1

                                                                            PHOTO 2   (SOLD)

The top Cabinet Card is an image of American stage actress, Fanny Davenport. The photograph is dated February 28, 1880. Miss Davenport (1850-1898) was thirty years of age when she sat for this photograph by Emil Scholl, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He photographed many celebrities and this site has a category that includes a number of his images.  To view these images, click on the category “Photographer: Scholl”. Davenport was born in London, England and educated in public schools in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1862 she appeared in ” Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady” in New York. In 1869 she became a member of the Augustin Daly Theater Company. She later formed her own company. She had great success in “Fedora” (1883) and “Cleopatra” (1890). Fellow actor, Otis Skinner, in a backhanded compliment stated that “Miss Davenport was a handsome woman, her business sense keen and her industry untiring. To these qualities rather than her acting, she owed the late success in which she accumulated a fortune in her productions.” The second photograph features a portrait of Davenport by Thomas Houseworth, whose studio was located in San Francisco, California. This image was part of the “Houseworth Celebrities” series. The series included three thousand titles for different categories, including entertainment and government. Note the carving below the chairs armrest in this photograph. Also take notice of Miss Davenport’s interesting hat. Thomas Houseworth (1828-1915) was an optician, photographer, and photographic publisher. Houseworth and George S. Lawrence came to San Francisco in 1849, during the Gold Rush. They caught gold fever and worked as miners in Calavera and Trinity counties. After two years of mining, they admitted defeat, and returned to San Francisco. In 1855, they partnered in a store that sold optical supplies and other miscellaneous items; but the partners became most well known for their stereographs. In 1859 they sold stereographs from an English company, but they soon contracted with local photographers to acquire and publish a diverse collection of stereos featuring various aspects and scenery of northern California and western Nevada. Later, they began to publish and market stereographs under their own name and by the early 1860’s had built the largest collection of stereographs for sale on the west coast. Lawrence retired in 1868 and the firm became known as Thomas Houseworth and Company. Houseworth hired the most talented photographers he could find.  His photographers included Thomas Hart (Transcontinental Railroad Construction), Carleton Watkins (The Sierras’), and Eadweard Muybridge (Yosemite). By the 1870’s Houseworth’s business was failing due to increased competition. He left the field of photography in the 1880’s and went to work as an accountant and an optometrist.