JENNIE CALEF: PORTRAIT OF A BEAUTIFUL THEATER ACTRESS

CALEF F

 

This cabinet card portrait features stage actress Jennie Calef. Variety (1917) offers a brief obituary for the actress. She was described as a noted soubrette who became a melodrama star in her later years. There are many articles about Jennie Calef in the newspaper archives. Most are brief and are concerned with announcing her appearances and providing reviews. Many of the articles mention Calef’s beauty. The Cornell Daily Sun (1883) hawks her appearance in M’liss at the Wilgus Opera House in Ithaca, New York. The newspaper quotes a review from the Richmond Sentinel, “Jennie Calef secures the enthusiasm of her audience from her first appearance, and retains it to the end. She is a charming actress”.  A negative review can be found in The Daily Gazette- Fort Wayne Indiana (1885). The newspaper reports that “Jennie Calef, the actress who afflicted the people here in a bad play called Little Muffets is (now) devastating the Ohio towns.” It further reports that finances were becoming a problem for the theater company and that one of the “ham fat” actors of the company had taken legal action, attaching the shows baggage for his salary due. Another story concerning the actress is reported by Ohio’s Newark Daily Advocate (1886). The newspaper states that Jennie hurt one of her “beautiful limbs” while rushing onto a Sandusky, Ohio stage. The injury appears to have been to her knee. The article also asserts that she was confined to a Dayton, Ohio hotel room for two months in order to recover. She and a lawyer spoke to a judge about filing suit but the judge advised her not to pursue a law suit against the theater. An unconfirmed story was that the accident occurred when she slipped on some flowers that were given to her by her manager. Further articles indicate that she eventually did file a ten thousand dollar suit against the theater. The Sporting Life (1890) reports Calef’s marriage to Andrew Waldron who was her manager and an actor. Preliminary research failed to uncover details about the latter years of  Jennie Calef’s life. This cabinet card portrait was produced by the studio of Gilbert & Bacon. To read more about the Philadelphia studio and it’s history, click on the category “Photographer: Gilbert & Bacon”.

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  1. Jennie Calef, a noted soubrette years ago and who was a star in melodrama in later years, died suddenly of heart trouble in Chicago at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19. She had just returned home from a visit with theatrical friends at the Hotel Clarendon when the attack came. A husband, Andrew Waldron, survives, Waldron being a well-known actor and manager. — From Variety, December 19, 1916, p. 24


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