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This portrait features stage actress May Kohnle. She is wearing a loose fitting bulky dress and a look of impatience. The Washington Times (1904) mentions that Miss Kohnle was part of the cast of “The Show Girl” which was appearing at the Lafayette Opera House. The show was described as “a jolly bit of tomfoolery” and the cast included “30 singing and dancing girls”. May Kohnle was a performer with the Wilbur Opera Company. The company began operating in 1870 and was founded by A. C. Wilbur. Wilbur was considered a fantastic businessman because he provided comic opera at popular prices and managed to be very successful financially. This photograph was taken by Elmer Chickering, a celebrated photographer who operated in Boston, Massachusetts. To learn more about Mr. Chickering and to view other photographs by this photographer, click on the category “Photographer: Chickering”.




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New York photographer, Otto Sarony, son of Napoleon Sarony, photographed this pretty caped lady wearing a short tight dress. She is exhibiting quite a seductive pose. Her body language makes this image relatively risque for Sarony’s era. In retrospect, perhaps it is more provocative than risque. Otto Sarony photographed many actresses and the subject of this photograph is, despite being unidentified, most likely a theatrical player. To view other images by Otto Sarony, click on the category “Photographer: Sarony (Otto)”.

Published in: on January 3, 2015 at 12:27 pm  Comments (1)  



This cabinet card portrait features pretty stage actress Nesta Neilson. Preliminary research yielded little information about Miss Neilson. She is cited a number of times as appearing in theatrical newspaper articles but access to these periodicals could not be gained. Perhaps a cabinet card visitor can fill the rest of us in concerning Miss Neilson’s personal and theatrical life. This cabinet card photo was produced by the Natori studio in New York City. Natori photographed a numberof theatrical stars of his era.

Published in: on December 28, 2014 at 12:31 pm  Comments (6)  
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Pretty theater actress Marguerite Fish is the subject of this portrait cabinet card by Naegeli whose studio was located in New York City. Miss Fish began her stage career with her mother. They performed as a song and dance team known as Jenny Benson and Baby Benson. Later, she became known as Marguerite Fish and was a comic opera and musical actress. She has a number of mentions in the New York Times for her stage performances. These citations include appearances in “Our Wedding Day” (1887) and “The Crystal Slipper” (1888). Albert Naegeli, the photographer of this image, was a well known New York City photographer during the cabinet card era. To learn more about him and to view more of his photographs, click on the category “Photographer: Naegeli”.



The pretty subject of this cabinet card was photographed by celebrity photographer Napoleon Sarony at his New York City Studio. She is dressed in an unusual fashion and is likely in costume. The woman is probably an actress. Penciled on the reverse of the photograph is the name “Robel”. Preliminary research proved to be unsuccessful in identifying an actress with that name.

Published in: on December 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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This cabinet card portrait features pretty theater actress Nettie Lyford doing her produce shopping at the Whole Foods grocery store in New York City. She was such a fan of the store that she appeared in their advertising for free. Actually, this photograph is a celebrity portrait that was probably taken by famed celebrity photographer Benjamin Falk. The image was likely produced at Falk’s studio in New York City. Miss Lyford is wearing a costume that she probably wore in a stage production. In fact, this very same image appears in Epoch (1892) as part of an article by Morris Bacheller entitled “Favorite Figures of the Stage”. The article reports that the young Miss Lyford “has established herself as one of the comic opera favorites of the Metropolis”. She had made her debut in Charles Hoyt’s farce comedy company in “Rag Baby”. While she was appearing in another Hoyt production, “Lunch Counter Girl” she was seen by Francis Wilson (1854-1935)  who hired her to appear in “Oolah” which was a comic opera appearing in New York City in 1887. This cabinet card image was taken during her tenure with Wilson’s opera company. To learn more about Francis Wilson and the play “Oolah”, search for the image of Marie Jansen which appears in the Cabinet Card Gallery. To view more celebrity photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.




This cabinet card portrait features American stage actress Clara Morris (1849-1925). This photograph reveals that she was pretty and busty and appears to have enjoyed wearing gaudy jewelry. Note her earrings and collar pin. Clara Morris was born in Toronto, Canada and her real name was Morrison. She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. She traveled to New York in 1870 as a member of Daly’s company. She was a sensation in L’Article 47 (1872) and acted in many other plays.  After 1885, she focused mostly on literary work. Her works included “A Silent Singer” (1899), “The LIfe of a Star” (1906), and “Dressing Room Receptions” (1911). In her book “Life on the Stage: My Personal Experiences and Recollections” (1911) she describes her meeting with John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln. This cabinet card was photographed by George Rockwood (1882-191) whose studio was located in New York City. Rockwood was born in Troy, New York and graduated from college with a PhD, reportedly either from the University of Chicago, or Columbia University. At 21 years of age, he was a newspaper reporter for the Troy Daily Times and at age 23, he was managing editor of the Troy Daily Post. He began working as a photographer in St. Louis and in 1857 opened a studio with his brother Elihu in New York City. He has been credited with bringing CDV’s to America. His obituary in the Washington Post reports that Rockwood photographed  more than 350,000 people. To view more photographs by Rockwood, click on the category “Photographer: Rockwood”.

Published in: on October 26, 2014 at 8:22 am  Comments (2)  
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Isabel Irving: American Stage Actress




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Isabel Irving (1871-1944) was an American actress born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Her stage career began in 1886. She performed in many performances of Shakespeare. She was also in more than 30 Broadway plays between 1894 and 1936.  These plays included “Merry Wives of Windsor” (1917) and “Uncle Vanya” (1930). The first cabinet photo was done at the studio of Napoleon Sarony in New York.  Sarony was a very famous photographer of his time and known for his photos of theatrical performers and other celebrities. The second photograph comes from the studio of William McKenzie Morrison who was located in the Haymarket Theatre building in Chicago, Illinois. The third cabinet card portrait features Miss Irving photographed by celebrated New York photographer Benjamin Falk. The fourth cabinet card was produced by Pach Brothers studio in New York City. To view a photograph of Isabel Irving’s sister, write “Evangeline Irving” in the search box and press search. To view other photographs by any of the four cited photographers, click on the category “Photographer: Falk, Photographer: Sarony, Photographer: Morrison, or Photographer: Pach Brothers.





The top Cabinet card, by Jose Mora of New York, features actress Mlle. Rhea (1843-1899). Mlle Rhea was her stage name. She was actually Mlle Hortense-Berbe Loret and was born in Belgium to French parents. She began studying acting at age 20 upon the suggestion of an actor that she had met at a party. Her decision was also prompted by the death of her mother and financial reversals experienced by her father. She studied acting in Paris and in 1876 spent five years playing roles in Continental Europe. In 1881 she vacationed in England and  decided to appear in British theater. She quickly learned English and in one months time, performed in Much Ado About Nothing in London. Shortly after, she travelled to America where she spent the majority of her remaining life. Her obituary in the New York Times indicates that her english was “somewhat incomplete” and he always performed with a pronounced french accent. She appeared frequently on the New York stage but was a fan favorite in the “provinces”. This very popular actress died in Montmorency, France in 1899. The second cabinet card is a portrait of Mlle. Rhea that was probably taken some years after the first cabinet card. The actress appears somewhat older than in the first image. The second cabinet card was also produced by Mora.

Published in: on July 10, 2014 at 11:35 am  Comments (3)  
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This cabinet card features pretty actress/singer, Lillian Grubb. The New York Times (1884) reported that the young Baltimore actress had applied to a local court to have her marriage annulled from George Steitmatter, alias, George Deberhard. She wanted her marriage declared null and void due to her husband’s misrepresentation about his marital and financial status. He claimed to be single and wealthy. While still Grubb’s fiance, Mr. Steitmatter claimed that the couple needed to marry quickly because he was about to embark on a trip to Germany. When Ms. Grubb agreed to tie the knot (sometime in 1883) , Steitmatter supposedly left for Germany. In reality, he had gone to New York, the home of his lawful wife. When Ms. Grubb learned that her new husband was already married and was actually in New York; she took the reported legal action. The top cabinet card was published by Newsboy as part of a series of actress photographs (#87). These photographs were used by the company as premiums for their tobacco products. The second cabinet card is a portrait produced by celebrity photographer Jose Mora. She is quite beautiful and appears very coy in this somewhat provocative photograph. Below is an example of one of the many cigarette cards that featured Miss Grubb. This premium was produced by Duke (#N140) as part of their “Yacht Club Colors Series” and was published in 1890.


Published in: on July 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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