MARIA VANONI: STAGE ACTRESS AND SOMEBODY’S “TRUE FRIEND”

VANONI_0021New York City celebrity photographer, Benjamin Falk, produced this photographic portrait of stage actress Maria Vanoni. The reverse of the cabinet card is inscribed by the actress who wrote “Your true friend, Maria Vanoni”. Miss Vanoni received mention in Folio (1884) when she appeared in “Orpheus and Eurydice” as a member of the Miles & Bartons Opera Bouffe Company. She was described as “a graceful sprightly actress of the French school”. “Opera Bouffe”was a genre of late 19th century French operetta. This genre was known for its components of comedy, satire, parody, and farse.

PRETTY YOUNG WOMAN WINS THE LOTTERY IN NEW YORK CITY

MORENOA pretty young woman sits on a faux rock as she poses at the Moreno studio in New York City. She is holding what appears to be an envelope in her hand but at first glance looks like bank check. This fashionable subject is very thin waisted and present herself in what the photographs previous owner called “a fetching pose”.  Antonio E. Moreno was a Cuban painter and graphic artist who became a photographer after seeing the success of his New York based countryman, Jose Maria Mora (see category “Photographer: Mora”). In 1881, Moreno took over a failing New York City photographic studio. The business end of the studio was run by his co-director, Jose Lopez. Moreno developed the business into a great success due to his great talent as a photographer, developer and innovator. He became noted in photographic circles and received much acclaim from his participation in photographic expositions. He surrounded himself with talented co-workers. Much of his staff came from Mexico. Spanish cameraman Antonio Urda was considered to be excellent at his craft but was a fiery man who eventually committed suicide by drinking development fluid after failing to murder printer Domingo Costello. After this incident, Moreno preferred to hire English speaking Europeans to work at his studio. One of his hires was printer Nahum Lubosh whom he snared from celebrated photographer B. J. Falk (see category “Photographer: Falk”).  Another employee, cameraman A. L. Simpson pioneered the use of slides utilized in theater sing-alongs. In 1890 Moreno partnered with the Taber Art Company in publishing photographs of beautiful female models in what has been described as “genre scenes and allegories”. The photographs were well posed, precisely lit and very tasteful. Moreno’s gallery was in business for a quarter of a century and was a center for performing arts portraiture. One wonders if the subject of this cabinet card portrait was in fact a theater actress. To view other photographs by Moreno, click on the category “Photographer: Moreno”.

STAGE ACTRESS MARIE JANSEN IN FOUR IMAGES (1887,1888, AND 1892 PHOTOGRAPHS BY FALK)

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Marie Jansen (1857-1914) was an American actress and vocalist. She was a well known star of comic operas. She was born in Boston and her birth name was Hattie Johnson. Jansen made her theatrical debut in Boston at the Park Theatre in 1881. Her first major success occurred in 1883 with her appearance in “The Beggar Student”. In 1884 she was engaged by Charles Wyndham to create the title role in “Featherbrain” which ran in London, England. She then appeared  in the United States for several years as the leading woman in Francis Wilson’s comic opera company. In 1901, Jansen formed her own company that she took on tour. The top  image was photographed by famed celebrity photographer Falk of New York City. This image shows Jansen in costume for the play, “The Oolah”. “The Oolah” was a comic opera produced by the Francis Wilson Company in 1887. The music was written by Charles Le Cocq and the libretto was written by Sydney Rosenfeld.  The second image of Jansen was also photographed by Falk. This cabinet card is dated 1888 and is a bit risque for that time in history. The third image of Jansen also captures her in a bit risque costume. It was photographed by  Falk in 1892 and the cabinet card was used as a premium for Newsboy tobacco products. The fourth image of Jansen features her in costume and sitting on a wicker chair. She is holding a cane and wearing gloves. This undated photograph is also by Falk. To view other photographs by Falk, click on the Cabinet Card Gallery category “Photographer: Falk”.

FRANCES EVERETT: THEATER ACTRESS PORTRAIT (NEWSBOY SERIES: 1891)

everett_0003This Newsboy cabinet card features a portrait of actress, Frances Everett. The photograph is number 329 of a series of images published by Newsboy to distribute as a premium with their tobacco products. The photograph was taken by B. J. Falk and has a copyright of 1891. The cabinet card has a stamp from the Theatral (Theatrical?) Photo. Company of New York City. Miss Everett holds a string instrument (mandolin?) and is dressed in a rather risque costume for her era. She is also wearing a great smile. Preliminary research found no biographical information about Miss Everett or the Theatral Photo Company.

NOTED STAGE ACTOR: J. FORBES ROBERTSON

ROBERTSONJohnston Forbes-Robertson (1853-1937) was a celebrated English actor and theater manager. He was considered to be one of the finest actors of his time. He was particularly noted for his portrayal of Hamlet. He did not profess a passion for his acting profession. He was born in London. His father was a journalist and theater critic. He had ten siblings and four of them pursued acting. His original interest was to become an artist, but to support himself financially he entered acting. He worked with Sir Henry Irving for some time as a second lead actor. He then became a lead actor. His starring roles included Dan’l Druce, Blacksmith and The Parvenu (1882). George Bernard Shaw wrote the part of Caesar for him in Caesar and Cleopatra. Forbes Robertson acted in a number of Shakespeare plays and also appeared a number of times with actress Mary Anderson in the 1880’s. In 1900 he married the American actress, Gertrude Elliott (1874-1950). In 1930, Forbes Robertson was knighted. This cabinet card portrait was produced by photographer Benjamin Falk who’s studio was located in New York City. Forbes Robertson is captured in costume in this image. The reverse of the photo is stamped “J. M. Russell 126 Tremont Street, Boston”.

LULU GLASER: ROCKET ASCENT FROM UNDERSTUDY TO STAGE STAR

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These cabinet cards features Lulu Glaser (1874-1958), a Pennsylvania born actress and singer. She came to Broadway with no previous professional experience when she was hired to play in the chorus of  “The Lion Tamer (1891)”. She was also given the role of understudy to the Prima Donna. After the star fell ill, Lulu Glaser took over the role and began a meteoric rise to stardom.  For the next twenty plus years, Glaser played many roles in such productions as “The Merry Monarch” (1892), “Erminie” (1893), “The Little Corporal” (1898), and “Miss Dolly Dollars” (1895). She achieved her greatest success in “Dolly Varden” (1902). Lulu Glaser was a beautiful woman and this portrait confirms that assessment.

In the top photograph she is holding a fan and her expression could be described as coy.  She is adorned with a great deal of  jewelry including multiple rings, a hair pin and a pin on the midsection of her dress. The photographer of this image, as well as the next four images,  is Morrison, of Chicago, Illinois. The photographs have a copyright date of 1894. Morrison was a well known celebrity photographer and his studio was housed in the Haymarket Theatre. To view other photographs by Morrison, click on this site’s category “Photographer: Morrison”.

The sixth photograph of Glaser is by celebrity photographer, Falk, of New York City, New York. This photograph is copyrighted 1893. The seventh photograph, also by Falk, captures Glaser in costume for an unknown titled play. She is holding a whip and not looking particularly friendly. The image looks like it would be appropriate accompanying an ad on one of the controversial sections of Craig’s List. The photograph is dated 1892. To see other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

Photograph number eight captures Lu Lu Glaser in the same costume she is wearing in photograph number five. The eighth photo was published by Newsboy as a premium used to accompany the sale of their tobacco products. The image is number 118 of a series of celebrity photographs. To view other Newsboy photographs, click on the cabinet card gallery category “Photographer: Newsboy”.

CARLOTTA BRIANZA: CELEBRATED ITALIAN BALLERINA (PORTRAIT BY FALK)

This cabinet card portrait features pretty celebrated Italian ballerina, Carlotta Brianza (1867-c.1933). Note that the jewelry that is hanging from her necklace is shaped like a horse. It is also worth mention that this photograph is somewhat risque for the era. Brianza was born in Milan, Italy and was the prima ballerina at La Scala before going to Russia. She created a sensation in Luigi Manzotti’s ballet “Excelsior” as the Spirit of Light. She went to Russia in 1887 after completing a US tour. She was acclaimed for her work in “Sleeping Beauty” and “Esmerelda”. She returned to the west in 1891 when she became the prima ballerina for the Vienna Opera. She died in Paris under suspicious circumstances that suggest she committed suicide. This portrait was produced by celebrity photographer Benjamin J. Falk of New York City. To view other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

FFOLLIOTT PAGET

Benjamin J. Falk, New York City theatrical photographer, produced this cabinet card portrait of English actress FFolliott Paget. She is dressed to look her best; wearing pearls and a fur coat. Ms Paget appeared in fourteen Broadway plays including “What Every Woman Knows” ((1908-1909) and “The Rivals” (1912).

Published in: on May 23, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  
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JENNIE JOYCE: TROUBLED STAGE STAR PHOTOGRAPHED BY FALK FOR NEWSBOY

This photograph, by celebrity photographer B. J. Falk, features stage star Jennie Joyce. She was photographed for the Newsboy tobacco company and the image was used as a premium to reward purchasers for buying Newsboy products. The image has a copyright date of 1891 and is number 307 in the Newsboy series. This photograph is risque for its era. Miss Joyce is showing much of her nearly bare legs and is exhibiting a sexually provocative pose. The New York Times (1892) published an article reporting that Jennie Joyce was sued by her husband for divorce. John E. Stanley’s request for a divorce was uncontested. The newspaper described Jennie Joyce as a variety actress and singer. An 1899 article in the same newspaper reported a story about problems in the marriage of Joyce and sportsman Phil Daly Jr..  Daly had told Joyce that he would be out all night but according to plan, returned home at two in the morning only to find his wife with another man (Phillip Wood). Daly fired a number of shots at Wood but missed. Daly’s parting shot was to file for divorce and end his five year marriage. The bad publicity caused by Joyce’s marital problems cause her to speculate in another 1899 Times article that she planned to leave the United States to perform pantomime in London until the fallout from her divorce had diminished. An additional conflict was in the news when the New York Times (1901) printed a story about Joyce successfully suing theatre manager, Alexander Hashim for unpaid salary. Jennie Joyce was clearly  a gossip magnet for the press and she provided  them with a lot of material.

KATHARINE GREY (1873-1950): THEATRE ACTRESS

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Katherine Grey (1873-1950) was an American theatre actress who appeared in more than 25 Broadway shows between 1895 and 1940. In the top cabinet card, she is photographed by Sarony, of New York City, the famed theatrical portrait photographer. Note the daisies on her hat.In the bottom cabinet card, Grey is photographed by celebrity photographer B. J. Falk, also of New York City. In this image she is holding the bottom of her dress in her right hand. The photograph is dated 1893.

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