EVA McGINLEY: CHARACTER CHANGE ARTIST

mcginley_0004This composite cabinet card features Eva McGinley and is subtitled indicating that she was  a “character change artist”. The central portrait on the card shows a prim and proper lady but the image is surrounded by other images displaying Miss McGinley’s versatility and talent to play disparate character roles. Eva McGinley was not a major actress which is apparent by the dearth of information readily available in my preliminary research. However, two newspaper articles were found pertaining to Miss McGinley.  The New York Dramatic Mirror (1900) reported that “Eva McGinley’s voice failed her at Greenfield, Iowa last week” and she and her husband Bob went to Omaha to recuperate. A second article appeared in the New York National Police Gazette (1900) which proclaimed that Miss McGinley and her husband were enjoying themselves in Lakeview, Iowa and that she had shot and killed the largest pelican ever killed on Wall Lake. Imagining Miss Mcginley hunting pelicans with a rifle is distasteful to me but it certainly indicates that she really was quite a “character”. The photographer of this image is unidentified.

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  1. Character change artists like Eva were a popular style of vaudeville entertainer who told jokes and stories in the dialects of immigrants and rubes (both rural and urban) from other parts of the country, Some artists seem to have used elaborate “quick change” costumes which was also a novelty. I’ve seen several similar cards of men and women character performers. Eva disguises reminds me of Carol Burnett’s comic skits.


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