PRETTY YOUNG STAGE ACTRESS GLADYS WALLIS (PHOTOGRAPH BY B J FALK)

gladys wallis_0003Gladys Wallis, theater star, is the subject of this portrait by celebrity photographer B. J. Falk. Miss Wallis appears to be very young when she posed for this cabinet card photograph. The image is numbered 16 in a series and has a copyright date of 1893. In fact, she was just eighteen years old when she sat for this portrait. Glady Wallis (1875-1953) lived an interesting life. The Florence Times (1932) tells some of her story in an article that is predominately about her husband Samuel Insull (1858-1938). The article was quite disparaging of  Insull and in the lead of the story the reporter writes “The keen brain of Samuel Insull built a 4,000,000,000 public utilities empire but he failed when he attempted to bring about his wife’s come-back as an actress after her 26 year absence from the stage”. The attempt cost him 200,00 dollars. Gladys Wallis’s was originally named Mary Bird. She was of Irish descent and upon becoming an actress was determined to be viewed as a respectable woman. She was anti alcohol and reportedly, anti sex. Insull had originally seen her as a “starry eyed and raven-haired young ingenue in an 1898 theater production in Chicago. She was just a teenager and he was 36 years-old starstruck admirer. They later met at a dinner party and two years later, they married. Gladys quickly retired from the stage and became a society lady. She had a number of estates and servants, was active in fund raising for charities, went to high society affairs and functions, and wore expensive clothing and jewelry. It is reported that she wasn’t an easy person to get along with and was not very well liked among the ladies of society. She and Insull reportedly had a tempestuous relationship and among their issues was her disinterest in sex. Insull supported her temperance beliefs. The couple had a son who eventually attended Yale University. In 1925,Wallis revealed her desire to return to the stage because of her desire for “self expression”. Her husband funded the theatrical endeavor and its proceeds were to be directed toward charity. Society turned out in mass for the opening night of what was to be a two week engagement where Mrs. Insull played the “coquettish role”of Lady Teazle. Attendees included Marshall Fields, the Armours, the Drakes, and the Pullmans. The success of this limited engagement spurred Wallis to return to Broadway. Wallis may have felt ready for Broadway but apparently Brodway wasn’t ready for Wallis and she returned to Chicago in 1927. She was not yet done with acting so she took a five year lease on a Chicago theater and established a performing company. This project failed and before long he company was operating at a loss of more than a thousand dollars a day. Things also did not go well for Mr. Insull. The depression severely impacted his business and eventually there were even charges filed against him. He fled to Europe with his wife where they entered “voluntary exile”. He was eventually deported from Europe but was well defended in a Chicago trial and found innocent of all charges. However, the Insulls had lost their fortune and at the time of his death, his estate was quite meager. There are a number of books available about Mr. Insull and they probably make quite interesting reading. This photograph was taken by B. J. Falk, New York City celebrity photographer. To learn more about this photographer and to see more of his images, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

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YOUNG WOMAN IN A STUDY IN CHICAGO

A young woman poses for her portrait in a staged study at the Schneider studio in Chicago, Illinois. She is surrounded by standard studio props including a desk, fur, plant, and curtain. The desk has a dragon design. Schneider’s studio was located at 2135 Archer Avenue. The Lakeside Directory of Chicago (1876) lists a photographer named George Schneider who was located at 219 & 221 North Avenue. It is unknown if he is the same photographer that operated on Archer Avenue and produced this photograph.

Published in: on May 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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HANDSOME MAN WITH EXCEPTIONAL MUSTACHE IN ELMIRA, NEW YORK

A well dressed handsome man poses for his portrait at the Whitley studio in Elmira, New York. He has a well groomed attractive beard and an exceptional mustache. A pocket watch chain is evident under his jacket and he appears to also be sporting a tie pin. To view other images of fantastic mustaches, click on the category “Mustaches (Only the Best). The photographer of this image is John H. Whitley. He was born in Candor, New York in 1831. He was a photographer in Oswego, New York, from 1858 through 1861. His next position was working with photographer C. C.Doty in Elmira, New York. After a short time he left his employ to work for the Erie Railroad car shop in Elmira. When the shop was destroyed by fire, he returned to photography and worked with Elmira photographer A. P. Hart. By 1864, Whitley had opened his own photography gallery in Elmira. To view more photographs by Whitley, click on the category “Photographer: Whitley”.

Published in: on May 28, 2014 at 5:59 pm  Comments (1)  
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SWEET GIRL LEANING ON A CHAIR AND CLASHING FABRICS IN HUDSON, NEW YORK

SWEET GIRL_0001A sweet young girl with her arms crossed leans against a chair at the V. Whitbeck studio in Hudson, New York. One wonders if Whitbeck ever noticed the major pattern clash between the fabrics of the girl’s clothing and the chair.  The reverse of the photograph has advertising that indicates that Whitbeck was successor to a photographer named Forshew. Frank Forshew (1827-1895) established his photography business in 1850 in Hudson, a small city on the banks of the Hudson River in upstate New York. He began as a daguerrian and progressed through the stages of photography, eventually producing cdv’s, cabinet cards, and stereoviews. He sold his business to Volkert Whitbeck (1843-?) in the early 1890’s. Whitbeck had joined the business after his discharge from the Union army in 1863. Whitbeck had enlisted into the 14th NY Infantry (Co K) as a corporal. Before his mustering out on 5/23/1863, he had reached the rank of sergeant. Records indicate that he remained in the reserves and continued to rise in rank reaching Captain. Whitbeck appears in the 1880 US census and at that point in time he worked as a photographer and shared his name and residence with his father. His father was a physician. Whitbeck’s photography business is listed in many Hudson city directories. The latest one appears to be 1913.

TWO GANGSTERS AND THEIR MOLLS ENJOY DINNER ON THE BEACH IN HAVANA, CUBA

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This photograph features a couple of gangsters and their molls enjoying their dinner on the beach in Havana, Cuba. In reality, these gangsters are probably just law abiding tourists, but I like the gangster story better. This is a souvenir photograph from “La Playa de Marianao” (The Beach of Marianao).  Marianao is one of 15 municipalities in the city of Havana. It is the home of the famous Tropicana Club which opened in 1939 and still operates today. However, it can be safely said that this photograph was not taken at the Tropicana. An inscription on the reverse of the photo asserts that the picture was taken in 1937 and one of the subjects is named Dagmar. Dagmar is generally a feminine name and originates from Scandanavia or Germany. This photograph has a number of interesting features. The image captures two couples eating a restaurant meal on the beach. If you magnify the photograph you can see their meal quite clearly. In fact, seeing the bread on the table made me hungry. Other diners and servers can be seen in the background. The appearance of the four individuals at the table spark speculation. The very pretty blonde woman is wearing shades and sitting in a manner in which she can show off her shapely legs (did I just say “shapely legs”?…..sort of creepy!). Her companion is informally dressed with an open shirt and jacket compared to the other man who is wearing a suit. The woman with the sun glasses and the informally dressed man are a cool looking couple. Maybe she’s Dagmar. The second woman is seated at the table with her handbag secured behind her on the chair she is sitting on. On the ground, under the table, is a large straw bag which likely contained beach supplies or the days haul from a day of shopping. To view other Cuban photographs, click on the category “Cuba”.

 

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Published in: on May 24, 2014 at 11:40 am  Comments (3)  
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JULIA MARLOWE: ESTEEMED AMERICAN STAGE ACTRESS

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Julia Marlowe (1865-1950) was born in England and as a young child moved to the United States with her family. In her early teens she began her theatrical career with a juvenile opera company. She began playing Shakespeare in her home town of Cincinnati, Ohio. She made her Broadway debut in 1895 and by the end of her career, had appeared in more than 70 Broadway productions. Her first husband was actor, Robert Tabor. Their marriage lasted six years. In 1904 she appeared in “When Knighthood was in Flower”. Great success in this play brought her financial independence. Earlier, in 1903, she appeared in ‘The Cavalier” and “Ingomar”. The New York Sun wrote about her performance in “Ingomar”; “There is not a woman player in America or in England that is – attractively considered- fit to unlace her shoe”. In 1904 she began a partnership with actor E. H. Sothern. They toured the United States performing various plays of Shakespeare. They were managed by Charles Frohman and later, the Shubert brothers. They were considered to be among the major Shakespearian actors of the day. In 1906, Marlowe played in “Jeanne d’Arc” and also as Salome in “John the Baptist”. Later, Sothern and Marlowe played in London but were not terrific box office successes there. In 1911 Marlowe and Sothern married each other. In 1920 and 1921, they made eleven phonograph recordings for the Victor Company. The top Cabinet Card was produced by Newsboy as a premium for their tobacco products. The photographer was Falk and the image is from 1892.

The second portrait of Julia Marlowe has a notation on the reverse of the card stating “Julia Marlowe Tabor”. Therefore, this photograph was likely taken during the time of her marriage to Tabor (1894-1900). The photographic studio that produced this portrait is  Klein & Guttenstein of 164 Wisconsin Street, in Milwaukee,  Wisconsin.  Klein and Guttenstein were leading photographers of their time. Wilson’s Photographic Magazine (1902) reveals that the two men  were very active in the Photographers Association of Wisconsin and other photography organizations. The photographers were considered part of a network of photographers skilled at producing publicity images of theatrical and vaudeville stars to be used in national magazines and other publications. The New York Public Library has a collection of portraits of actress Blanche Bates; produced by Klein & Guttenstein. The University of Pennsylvania Library has one of Klein & Guttenstein’s portraits of Julia Marlowe.

The third portrait of Julia Marlowe in the cabinet card gallery collection is photographed by Sarony, the famed celebrity photographer located in New York City.  This cabinet card is signed by the actress and dated 1890. Additonal photographs by Sarony can be viewed by clicking on the category “Photographers: Sarony”.

The fourth portrait of Miss Marlow features her in role in the production of “Countess Veleska”. The play was adapted for a German work, “The Tall Prussian”, by Rudolph Stratz. The play opened in New York in 1898 at the Knickerbocker Theatre. The review in the New York Times (1898) stated that the “drama was made wholly interesting by the personal charm and sincerity of Miss Marlowe”. In a sarcastic tone, the reviewer comments about Marlowe’s co star, Bassett Roe. The reviewer states that Roe has only two qualities of the man he was playing, “height and good looks”. The reviewer continues his scathing description of Roe; “The only time he actually warmed up was when he accidentally set his hair on fire. Even then he would have let it burn if Miss Marlowe had not gone to his rescue.” The photographic studio that produced the “Countess Veleska” cabinet card was Pach Brothers of New York City. Pach Brothers were photographers known for their photographs of celebrities of their era. To see additional photographs by the Pach Brothers, click on this site’s category of “Photographers: Pach Brothers”.

The fifth portrait of Julia Marlowe appears to be a photograph of the actress in costume for an unknown stage production. The image was photographed by Ye Rose Studio of Providence, Rhode Island. The reverse of the card indicated that the studio was opened in 1886. The studio was located in the Conrad building in downtown Providence. The building still exists. Other photographs by the Ye Rose Studio can be viewed by clicking on the category “Photographer: Ye Rose”.

Portrait number six is an excellent example of the beauty of Julia Marlowe. This image, from 1888, captures Ms. Marlowe at the young age of twenty-three. The photographer of this portrait was B. J. Falk, a celebrity photographer located in New York City, New York. To view other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

The seventh portrait is another example of a B. J. Falk image. The photograph features a costumed Julia Marlowe in the production of “Cymbeline“. Cymbeline is a play by William Shakespeare that was based on legends about the early Celtic British King,  Cunobelinus. The play deals with themes that include innocence and jealousy. Ms. Marlowe plays Imogen, the King’s daughter. Her expression in the photograph shows fear and concern as she looks at someone or something in the distance. Her left hand shades her eyes while her right hand clutches her belted dagger. A stamp on the reverse of  this cabinet card reveals that it was formerly owned by Culver Pictures of New York City, New York. Culver Pictures has been collecting photographs and illustrations from the 19th and first half of the 20th century, since 1926. These pictures are used in books, films, and other forms of media. At the time that this cabinet card was stamped by the company, Culver Pictures was located in New York City.

Portrait number eight is a close-up photograph of Miss Marlowe. The photographer of this cabinet card is the studio of Rose & Sands whose gallery was located in Providence, Rhode Island. Note that photograph number five also came from the Rose studio, but at that time, the gallery was called, the Ye Rose studio. The Wilson’s Photographic Magazine (1899) reports that Rose and Sands were the proprietors of Ye Rose. A humorous headline in a photography magazine stated “Providence Provides for All, And Rose Provides for Providence”.  Print on the reverse of this cabinet card reveals that the Rose & Sands studio was opened in 1886 and that it specialized in “High Class Portraits from Cabinet to Life Size”. Also of interest, like photograph number seven, there is a stamp on the reverse of the photograph with the name “Culver Pictures Inc”.

Photograph number nine features the beautiful Miss Marlowe displaying a mischievous smile. Note her engaging large eyes. She is wearing a somewhat revealing dress (for the cabinet card era) and has a wonderful hat atop her head. This cabinet card photograph was published in 1888 by Benjamin Falk of New York City.  The image is marked with the number sixty-nine.

Portrait number ten is a closeup of Julia Marlowe with her head covered, but with her pretty face very visible. She is likely in costume for this photograph. The photograph is taken by B. J. Falk of New York City and has a copyright date of 1888. The cabinet card is marked number “86”.

The eleventh photograph captures Miss Marlowe staring hypnotically at a flower. Someone, has written below her name that the image features her in the role of Parthenia in the production of “Ingomar”.  The New York Times (1904) reviews the play and Miss Marlowe’s performance on opening night at the Empire Theater in New York City. The newspaper reports that Frederick Halm’s play was “impossibly romantic and deliciously sentimental piece of old-fashioned theatrics. Tyrone Power played Ingomar and he was described as “vigourous and picturesque” but the article added that his voice was “not at its best”. The review pointed out that Marlowe’s appearance in this play was to be her last appearance as an independent star before joining E. H. Sothern’s Shakespearean repertory. In regard to Marlowe’s acting in this play, it was written that she played a “dear little prig – adorably dear” (prig can be defined as smug or arrogant) and she presented “a masterpiece of harmonious, modulated, and sustained acting”. The 1904 performance of Julia Marlowe in “Ingomar” marked a return performance for this accomplished actress. The New York Times (1888) wrote a very positive review of the opening night performance in Washington D.C.. The appreciative audience included three Supreme Court Justices and a number of members of the Chinese Embassy. This cabinet card was produced by the previously mentioned Ye Rose Studio of Providence, Rhode Island and it likely dates back to her 1888 performance in the role.

The twelfth cabinet card was produced by Benjamin Falk of New York City. He posed Miss Marlowe next to a spinning wheel. Her low cut dress makes this image a bit risque for the cabinet card era. If Falk or Miss Marlowe thought that looking up at the camera would create a “fetching appearance”, I would contend that their efforts failed. Rather than “fetching”, she appears dazed. The actress was a beautiful woman and provocativeness was not necessary to enhance her image. This photograph was produced in 1888 and was part of a series (#23).

Cabinet Card number thirteen is part of a series that includes Cabinet Card number ten. Both cards were photographed by B. J. Falk and have a copyright date of 1888. Both portraits are close-ups but this one is captures Marlowe looking at the camera while number ten offers a profile view. Falk really captured the actresses eyes. Her eyes are beautiful and they are haunting at the same time. This photograph is marked number number 83 of the series.

AN ADORABLE LITTLE BOY IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

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A very cute little boy with ringlet curls is the subject of this portrait by the Tonkin studio in San Francisco, California. He is wearing an interesting dark sailor suit  and a collar pin. He seems comfortable on his perch atop a piece of furniture. A magnified close up image of this unidentified adorable child can be found below. Herbert Tonkin is the photographer who produced this image and to learn more about him and to view other photographs from his studio, click on the category “Photographer: Tonkin”. 

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Published in: on May 22, 2014 at 11:45 am  Comments (1)  

YOUNG MOTHER AND HER TWO CHILDREN IN PULLMAN, ILLINOIS (PORTRAIT BY PULLMAN COMPANY PHOTOGRAPHER)

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A young mother and her two children pose for their portrait at the Johnson studio in Pullman, Illinois. It is interesting that the children are not in closer proximity to their mother. The distance may be due to the photographer’s direction or perhaps a more intimate pose was not part of this family’s makeup. Mom seems disconnected from her kids. The child furthest back in the image does have his hand lightly resting on his mom’s shoulder. Mom is wearing a pretty patterned dress and a wonderful hat. She is looking at the camera in an untrusting manner. One must also consider the possibility that the woman in this picture is actually the children’s older sister and not their mother. There is no information available to clarify this family’s constellation. The photographer of  this cabinet card, Thomas S. Johnson,  has an interesting biography which is very much connected to the history of the town of Pullman. Johnson was born in Chicago in 1850.He was raised on a farm in Thornton, Illinois. At the age of fifteen he attended Chicago University. He studied there until 1867. He then studied painting for a short time but in 1869 became a photographer. He married E. I. A. Fortier in 1874. She died in 1877 and he returned to farming. In 1879, while in Thornton, he reentered the field of photography. In 1880 he moved his business to Crete, Illinois and by 1882 established his business in Pullman. In 1881 he married Mary C. Whalen of Indiana. In Pullman, Johnson worked for George Pullman and he was tasked with using his photography skills to document Pullman’s factory, town and workers. Thomas Johnson was the first known photographer hired by Pullman to photograph his town and railcars. A number of photographers besides Johnson worked in the same capacity on a part time basis. Johnson published a book about Pullman; “Picturesque Pullman”. Obviously, Pullman, Illinois was named after George Pullman. The community was located in the south side of Chicago. It was built in the 1880’s by Pullman to provide housing for the employees of his company, “The Pullman Royal Palace Car Company”. The business manufactured railcars. Pullman created behavioral standards that residents of his houses had to meet in order to live in the houses that he rented to them.

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PROFILE PORTRAIT OF A PRETTY WOMAN IN DERBY, CONNECTICUT

DERBY LADY_0006A lovely young woman poses for her profile portrait in Derby, Connecticut. It is clear from the image that the subject took some pains to prepare her hair for her day at the photography studio. The photograph has been trimmed so the photographer’s name is not identifiable.

Published in: on May 20, 2014 at 7:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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SERIOUS LOOKING BOY AND HIS INDIAN CLUBS

JUGGLING_0003A young boy, looking quite unhappy, poses for his portrait at the William Meyer studio in Chicago, Illinois. His arms are folded across his chest but it looks as if they won’t stay there long because standing in front of him are a pair of Indian Juggling Clubs. It is as if the boy is preparing to give a juggling exhibition or to exercise. Juggling these pins was a good workout as they were quite heavy.  some exercise. Clubs like these were very popular during the health mania of the late Victorian period. A picture of a pair of Indian clubs from the late nineteenth century can be seen below (Source: Wikipedia). William Meyer is listed in a number of the Chicago business directories including 1880,1885, and 1892. His address in 1892 was Clybourn Avenue which indicates that this image was produced before that date.

                                                                                                                  

 

 

Published in: on May 19, 2014 at 10:33 pm  Comments (1)  
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