THE “MURRAY SISTERS” BEING ADORABLE IN YORK, PENNSYLVANIA

MURRAY SISTERSThe “Murray Sisters” assume an adorable pose at the Shadle & Busser studio in York, Pennsylvania. The girls appear to be entertainers, likely singers, dancers, or a combination of both. The sisters were probably teenagers at the time of this portrait. Research yielded no identifying information about these photogenic girls. A casual review of theater periodicals (1908-1913) uncovered  an act called the “Murray Sisters” but it is not certain that they are one and the same as the girls in this image. This act toured the country and the sisters were described as operatic singers. The oldest sister was named Marion and the youngest was named Vic or Victoria. To learn about the Shadle & Busser studio and to view other photographs from their studio, click on the category “Photographer: Shadle & Busser”.

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Published in: on January 23, 2014 at 7:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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STAGE ACTRESS CHRISTINE BLESSING IN COSTUME PLAYING A RISQUE CUPID

CHRISTINE BLESSING_0004This cabinet card features a portrait of actress Christine Blessing. The cabinet card was produced by Newsboy (#124 of a series) as a tobacco product premium. For some unknown reason, a previous owner of the photograph apparently attempted to erase the Newsboy logo from the photograph. Miss Blessing is captured in this image playing the role of cupid. She is holding a bow and arrow. This cabinet card is risque for its era. The actress is wearing a dress so short that it looks like the dressmaker ran out of material just after beginning her work.  Miss Blessing is known for her theater work but also for her role in an early film titled “Dope” (1914). Her theatrical performances are the subject of a number of New York Times articles. These productions include “The Merry World” (1895), “The Maid in the Moon” (1899), “The County Chairman” (1904), and “The Bachelor” (1909), The New York Times (1893) was critical of her performance at Koster & Bials Music Hall. The newspaper stated that she had performed ballads and that Christine Blessing was “undoubtedly a blessing in disguise”. She was clearly part of a vaudeville performance that night as one of the other acts was a boxing kangaroo. The reviewer bemoaned that vaudeville performances had adverse effects on legitimate theater.

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Published in: on January 14, 2014 at 11:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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PRETTY ACTRESS WITH POOR POSTURE IN LONDON, ENGLAND (LILIAN CARLYLE)

LILLIAN CARLYLE_0004A pretty actress exhibits poor posture as she poses in London, England, at the studio of Ellis & Wallery. The performers name is Miss Lilian Carlyle, and she appears to be pushing her chest out, possibly to amplify her ample bust. Is there a chiropractor in the house? Printing on the reverse of the photograph states that the studio was established in 1884.  The backdrop employed in this portrait is not particularly realistic but at least it doesn’t detract from the portrait and allows Miss Carlyle to be the major focus. Alfred Ellis (1854-1930) was an active photographer between 1884 and 1899. He operated a studio on Upper Baker Street in London. He was an original member and served in a number of offices for the Professional Photographers Association. He specialized in theatrical photography and sometimes photographed whole scenes inside his studio. He later went to theaters to photograph performers and play scenes. Ellis was very involved in working for copyright protection in the high courts. Between 1890 and 1900 Stanislaw Julian Ignacy, Count Ostrorog (1863-1935) joined Ellis in a studio partnership. Ostrorog had followed in the footsteps of his father Stanislaw Ostrorog (1830-1890). He also kept his father’s “photographer name”. The senior Ostorog had changed his name to “Stanislaw Walery” for professional purposes. The last name of “Walery” was derived from his wife’s name, “Waleria”. The elder Walery had set up his London studio in 1883.

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CORINNE: FAMOUS CHILD ACTRESS AND SUBJECT OF A SENSATIONAL CHILD ABUSE CASE

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The actress pictured in these cabinet cards is Corrine.  Corrine, like Elvis or Selena, was a performer that received national recognition and was known by just her first name. In the top portrait by celebrity photographer B. J. Falk, Corrine looks to be teenager or young adult. She is dressed in theatrical costume. Corinne was the daughter of actress Jennie Kimball. Kimball acted in the theater between 1865 and 1873. The year of her retirement, she became the mother of Corinne, who the New York Times (1896) labelled “the most famous of all the child actresses of this country”. It is not clear how Kimball and her husband came to raise Corinne, but is was speculated that she was adopted as an orphan. Kimball trained her young daughter for the stage. Corrine debuted in the theater at age two and a half.  At five years of age she played the part of  “Little Buttercup” in the Boston production of “Pinafore”. She played the role more than one hundred times. At fifteen years of age she was traveling as head of her own theater company. Jennie Kimball doubled as Corinne’s mother and manager. The New York Times (1896) reported that Corinne “was a goldmine” during her early days for Mrs. Kimball and remained a major money producer through the time the article was written. At the time the article appeared, Corinne was twenty-two years old.  Jennie Kimball’s successful management of her daughter’s career wasn’t appreciated by all observers. The New York Times (1881) asserted that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children objected to the way Corinne was being raised and successfully pursued custody of the child. During the custody hearing, eight year-old Corinne was put on the stand and interrogated by the society’s lawyer. He asked her how many times she was photographed and she didn’t know but said “she was never photographed in tights nor with her limbs and breast exposed”. The lawyer’s questioning revealed that the child had never attended school. However, Jennie Kimball did give her “lessons” each morning. The lawyer then gave Corinne an impromptu writing/spelling test during her testimony. The attorney also prompted the child to say she had never attended sunday school and didn’t know what a bible was nor had she ever been taught anything about Jesus Christ. The society lawyer was initially able to convince the judge to remove the child from the custody of Mrs Kimball because she was “unlawfully exhibited and employed” in dancing, singing and acting on the theatrical stage. Mrs. Kimball was allowed to take her daughter for a brief period to change her clothing but was assigned an escort to insure that the child would be brought to the society. Mrs Kimball was advised by George Hackett, the manager of a Providence opera house that if she took her daughter from New York to Jersey City, New Jersey; the girl would be out of the courts jurisdiction and she could keep her daughter. Mrs. Kimball followed his suggestion, and allowed a man to spirit the child out of state. As a result, Mrs. Kimball was charged with abduction and she ended up back in court. After a short time, the judge considered all the testimony that he heard and decided to return Corinne to her parents (he called them guardians). He believed that they were loving toward the child and responsible enough to continue raising her. Interestingly, he had something to say about the religious angle pursued by the society lawyer. The judge wrote that the the US constitution protected Corinne’s parents from being punished for not providing religious education to their daughter.  Corinne continued her acting career and eventually became involved in burlesque theater. The New York Times (1894) wrote “Corinne has grown up and proves a lively and entertaining performer. The article adds that “she has no large share of original talent, musical or dramatic, but she can sing and dance “well enough”. The second cabinet card picturing Miss Corinne was published by Newsboy (#20 of a series). She is wearing jewelry galore and flowers in her hair. What is that contraption that she is wearing around her waist? Is it a pouch? If so, what is it meant to carry? Hopefully some cabinet card gallery visitors with fashion expertise can explain her unusual dress.

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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”.

PORTRAIT OF THEATER ACTRESS MAY GALLAGHER ON A BAD HAIR DAY

MAY GALLAGHER_0001This cabinet card portrait features stage actress May Gallagher. The photograph was taken by New York City celebrity photographer D. H. Anderson. To view more photographs by the Anderson studio, click on the category “Photographer: Anderson (New York)”. Miss Gallagher’s hair appears to need a little work. Her curls are quite flat. In fact her hair looks glued down to her head. She is wearing a fancy lace dress. May Gallagher was not a major actress but she received some attention in the theatrical news of her time. Music and Drama (1882) refers to her as “the charming May Gallagher” in their reference to her appearing as Esmeralda at the Madison Square Theater in New York City. The New York Times (1884) mentions Miss Gallagher in their story about the traveling company of the play “Private Secretary”.

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THEATER ACTRESS: MABEL POTTER PHOTOGRAPHED BY SCHLOSS IN NEW YORK CITY

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Celebrity photographer Jacob Schloss captures actress Mabel Potter in this cabinet card portrait. For the time period, Miss Potter is assuming a rather risque position. Schloss operated his studio in New York City. This cabinet card holds a copyright from 1894. To view other photographs by Schloss, click on the category “Photographer: Schloss”. The New York Times (1892) has a brief article with the theatrical news that Miss Potter was about to appear in “The Vice Admiral” which was a “nautical comedy” scheduled to run at the Casino Theater. A photograph of Potter, very similar to the one above (likely taken at the same sitting), appears in Munsey’s Magazine (1895). Schloss is given credit as the photographer. It is announced that she was appearing in “Little Christopher Columbus” as one of Captain Slammer’s daughters. The article adds that she first appeared on the stage four years earlier with the McCaull Company in “Boccaccio” at Palmer’s Theater.

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MRS JAMES BROWN POTTER (SOCIALITE AND THEATRE ACTRESS)

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In writing about Mrs James Brown Potter, an author stated “She was singularly beautiful with her pale delicate chiseled face, long dark eyes, and hair like burnished bronze with copper lights”. Mrs Brown Potter (1859-1936) was born Mary Cora Urquhart,  the daughter of a wealthy  New Orleans Colonel. She was one of the first American society women to join the stage. In 1877 she married a very wealth New York socialite, James Brown Potter. That same year she made her stage debut at Theatre Royal in Brighton, England. Soon thereafter, she partnered with actor Kyrle Bellew and they frequently performed together over a ten year period. She performed in the United States and in Europe. She retired from the stage in 1912. She was active in raising money for war charities during the Second Boer War. Mrs Brown Potter was considered a competent actress, but not an outstanding performer. In this photograph, Mrs. Potter looks very beautiful as she peers through a curtained doorway. Her gown was likely made by the best dress makers of the time and was assuredly very expensive. Falk, the photographer of this cabinet card, was a famous celebrity photographer in New York City. To see other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

The second photograph of Cora Potter was photographed by Kuebler of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She appears to be in costume and is clearly a beautiful woman with fetching eyes. To view other photographs by and to learn more about Kuebler, click on the category “Photographer: Kuebler”.

The third photograph of Mrs Potter was produced by Jose Maria Mora, a celebrity photographer based in New York City. The image was part of a series (#7). To view other photographs by this photographer, click on the category “Photographer: Mora”. Mrs Potter looks quite elegant in this cabinet card portrait. Her hat can best be described as “floral”. The photograph is stamped on the reverse with the name of the gallery that originally sold it (“John Hoch Art Store, 118 Court Street, Boston”). Hoch’s obituary appears in the Bulletin of Photography and the article reports that he was the first among Boston’s photographers to sell photographs of celebrities. He had been engaged in the photography and picture frame business in Boston for more than fifty years. The obituary mentions that he was of German heritage and was 84 years old at the time of his death. His cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage.

JOSIE DITT: MINOR STAGE ACTRESS PHOTOGRAPHED IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

josie ditt_0001The subject of this cabinet card portrait is stage actress Josie Ditt. Research indicates that she was a minor actress with a number of small role appearances in a number of major theater shows. The New York Dramatic Mirror (1892) announced her appearance in a “10,000 dollar production”, adding “No more, No less, No Bluff”. Will Wilson’s play, “The Man About Town” was playing at the Lyceum Theater. The show was a “Comedy, Vaudeville, Farce”. The New York Times (1894) advertised her appearance in the cast of “Little Christopher Columbus”. The Cornell Daily Sun reports her appearance in “Circus Girl”. This cabinet card was produced by the Conly studio in Boston, Massachusetts. To view other photographs by Charles F. Conly, click on the category “Photographer: Conly”. This particular photograph was once owned by Culver Pictures, a business that supplied celebrity images to the mass media for a fee. A stamp on the reverse of the photograph attests to Culver’s ownership.

LILLIAN RUSSELL: CELEBRATED AMERICAN ACTRESS AND SINGER

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Lillian Russell (1860-1922) is pictured in the top Cabinet Card photograph by famed New York celebrity photographer, Falk. Lillian Russell is captured in costume as she appeared in “Pepita” (1886). Russell was a very famous American actress and singer who was known for her beauty, style, voice and stage presence. Her theater career began with roles in comic operas including the work of Gilbert and Sullivan. She married composer Edward Solomon in 1884 and two years later, he was arrested for bigamy.  She performed in New York and elsewhere in starring roles in comic opera and musical theatre. In 1904 she switched to dramatic roles due to voice problems. She later also appeared in vaudeville. She retired from the stage in 1919. She later wrote newspaper columns, advocated for women suffrage, and was a popular lecturer.  She married four times and her longest marriage was to Diamond Jim Brady who supported her extravagant lifestyle for four decades. It is interesting to note that the New York Times (4/2/1886) reported that during the performance of “Pepita”, an opera by her husband, Edward Solomon; there were obvious signs of marital discord observed on stage. The newspaper blamed issues revolving around Russell’s interfering mother, as well as, issues pertaining to Russell’s sudden prosperity. The newspaper article correctly predicted that there would soon be a divorce. The second cabinet card, is also photographed by Falk. This photograph provides a close-up image of Lillian Russell and is a testimonial to her beauty. The third cabinet card was published by Newsboy and used by the tobacco company as a premium (#340). The photographer was Falk and the image was copyrighted in 1893. To view a collection cabinet cards by Falk; click on the category “Photographer: Falk”. The fourth cabinet card is another image produced by B. J. Falk. Miss Russell is in costume and is posed provocatively partially behind sheer lace. The fifth cabinet card, also by Falk, provides a terrific profile portrait of the beautiful Miss Russell.


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