Johnston 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”.
Dame Ellen Terry (1847-1928) was an English stage actress. The top cabinet card is from the studio of Campbell, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Ellen Terry was the leading Shakespearian actress in Great Britain. She was born into a family that was immersed in the theatre; and future generations continued theatrical pursuits; including grand nephew, John Gielgud (actor, director, producer). Ellen Terry began playing Shakespeare roles as a child and continued to do so. In 1878 she joined Henry Irving’s company. She toured Britain and the United States with great success. In 1903 she took over management of London’s Imperial Theatre and her focus included the plays of George Bernard Shaw and Henrik Ibsen. In 1916 she began acting in films and in 1925 she was made a “Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire”. Terry’s romantic life, including marriages and love affairs, make interesting reading. Research about the photographer of this cabinet card discovered his obituary in the New York Times (1912). The Times reports that Alfred S. Campbell (1839-1912) was a pioneer in the development of art photography. Among his accomplishments was the publication of an edition of the bible that was illustrated with photographs he took in the Holy Land. He emigrated to the United States on the invitation of famed photographer, Napoleon Sarony in 1866. Among his “intimate friends” were Henry Longfellow, Thomas Nast, and William Cullen Bryant . Visitors to the Cabinet Card Gallery can see photographs by Sarony under the category of “Photographer: Sarony” and can see a portrait of William Cullen Bryant under the category of “Journalist”. To view other photographs by Campbell, click on the category “Photographer: Campbell”.
The second cabinet card features Ellen Terry in the role of “Beatrice” in William Shakespeare’s play, “Much Ado About Nothing”. The Window & Grove studio of London,England, published this photograph. The studio operated in London from the 1870′s to at least 1908.
This Cabinet Card is a portrait of theatre actress, Hope Booth. This actress seems to have had a propensity for trouble. The New York Times (1896) reported that at age 23, after appearing at the “Casino Roof Gardens” in a sketch entitled “Ten Minutes in the Latin Quartier; or A Study in the Nude”, she was arrested along with the manager of the theatre. She was charged with violating public decency because of her scant costume and daring poses. Five years later, her husband, actor, James E. B. Earll was arrested after his opening appearance in a vaudeville act at Koster and Bials. Before her arrest, she appeared in George Bernard Shaw’s first play, “Widowers Houses” in 1892. A review described her as a “fetching but hopeless” actress. Shaw had seen her in an earlier show and had described her as a “young lady who can not sing, dance, or speak, but whose appearance suggests that she might profitably spend 3 or 4 years in learning the arts which are useful on stage”. Other news stories and books report that she was born in Canada, was once married to a Canadian member of Parliament, she was a distant relative of the theatrical Booth family, and that she went bankrupt bringing a play to England. She clearly led an interesting life. The Cabinet Card is part of the Newsboy Series and was used as a premium for the sale of Newsboy Plug Tobacco.