MARGARET HALSTON: BEAUTIFUL SHAKESPEARIAN ACTRESS AND FILM STAR

Margaret Halston, in her role as Desdemona in Othello, is the subject of this real photo postcard published by Percy Guttenberg of Manchester, England. The postcard is part of the “Revival Series” (no.122). Margaret Halston (1879-1967) was an English actress born in London, England as Clara Maud Hertz. A number of references mention that she was of Jewish descent. She was known for both theater, film, and television performances. Among her popular performances was in “Tell Your Children” (1922), “The Holly and the Ivy” 1952, and “Touch and Go” (1955). She began her acting career in amateur theatre and she made her professional stage debut at the Haymarket Theater in 1895. Her roles became larger over time until she became a leading actress appearing in plays such as  ‘Hamlet   ‘ (1896), “Antony and Cleopatra” (1897), and “The Taming of the Shrew” (1897). At the turn of the century she became part of Frank Benson’s theatre group and took numerous roles in Shakespearian theatre. It is reported that she acted in almost all of Shakespeare’s plays. She later worked in George Alexander and Herbert Beerbohm-Tree’s theater groups. She became involved in film in 1916 when she made her debut with “A Bunch of Violets”. Over the next few years she appeared in a small number of silent movies. She adapted well to sound films and appeared in a number of them. IMDB credits her with appearing in sixteen films between 1917 and 1956. The site also lists three television credits between 1938 and 1955. Miss Halstan was certainly an entertainment star. It is interesting to note that she twice played in the role of “Queen of Transylvania” in the theatrical production of “My Fair Lady” (1957-1958, 1961-1963). There are three portraits of her in the National Portrait Gallery.

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A remarkable lady indeed. Imagine, to earn three portraits in the National Portrait Gallery! She played Shakespeare in the years when people isolated from society, – for instance, farmers in the Mid-West, or prospectors and such in the most isolated claims in the West…nearly everyone not only knew their Shakespeare, but his great collections of plays and the Sonnets were perhaps the only other book people possessed except for the Bible. – If you were an actor in performance, whether in a theatre hall or seated on a cratethe lift of a hill under the lights of fire flares in the woods at night, if an actor flubbed a line of Shakespeare, the commonest rube would protest loudly.

    What a divine beauty she was. I can imagine that this Cabinet Card image was gently nailed to rough walls in the country’s farthest outposts, where men worshiped loveliness instead of “beach ready” bodies. Thanks again CC. You’ve given me another subject for research.

    • Thanks for your insightful comment. If you are going to research Miss Halstan, you might try to determine the nature of her husband’s occupation. She was married to John Hartman Morgan. It turns out that there was a John Hartman Morgan (1876-1955)-who was a well know British general and constitutional lawyer. I don’t know if this was the man that she was married to and preliminary research does not seem to support or deny the notion. Please let us know if you are able to solve this mystery, Thanks again.

  2. Sorry…”seated on a crate on the lift of a hill…” I can’t muster error-free Shakespeare either….

  3. Margaret Halstan was born on December 25, 1879 in London, England as Clara Maud Hertz. She was an actress, known for Touch and Go (1955), The Holly and the Ivy (1952) and Tell Your Children (1922). She was married to John Hartman Morgan. She died on January 8, 1967 in Hornchurch, England.
    Spouse (1)
    John Hartman Morgan (4 July 1905 – 8 April 1955) (his death)


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