CORINNE: FAMOUS CHILD ACTRESS AND SUBJECT OF A SENSATIONAL CHILD ABUSE CASE

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The actress pictured in these cabinet cards is Corrine.  Corrine, like Elvis or Selena, was a performer that received national recognition and was known by just her first name. In the top portrait by celebrity photographer B. J. Falk, Corrine looks to be teenager or young adult. She is dressed in theatrical costume. Corinne was the daughter of actress Jennie Kimball. Kimball acted in the theater between 1865 and 1873. The year of her retirement, she became the mother of Corinne, who the New York Times (1896) labelled “the most famous of all the child actresses of this country”. It is not clear how Kimball and her husband came to raise Corinne, but is was speculated that she was adopted as an orphan. Kimball trained her young daughter for the stage. Corrine debuted in the theater at age two and a half.  At five years of age she played the part of  “Little Buttercup” in the Boston production of “Pinafore”. She played the role more than one hundred times. At fifteen years of age she was traveling as head of her own theater company. Jennie Kimball doubled as Corinne’s mother and manager. The New York Times (1896) reported that Corinne “was a goldmine” during her early days for Mrs. Kimball and remained a major money producer through the time the article was written. At the time the article appeared, Corinne was twenty-two years old.  Jennie Kimball’s successful management of her daughter’s career wasn’t appreciated by all observers. The New York Times (1881) asserted that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children objected to the way Corinne was being raised and successfully pursued custody of the child. During the custody hearing, eight year-old Corinne was put on the stand and interrogated by the society’s lawyer. He asked her how many times she was photographed and she didn’t know but said “she was never photographed in tights nor with her limbs and breast exposed”. The lawyer’s questioning revealed that the child had never attended school. However, Jennie Kimball did give her “lessons” each morning. The lawyer then gave Corinne an impromptu writing/spelling test during her testimony. The attorney also prompted the child to say she had never attended sunday school and didn’t know what a bible was nor had she ever been taught anything about Jesus Christ. The society lawyer was initially able to convince the judge to remove the child from the custody of Mrs Kimball because she was “unlawfully exhibited and employed” in dancing, singing and acting on the theatrical stage. Mrs. Kimball was allowed to take her daughter for a brief period to change her clothing but was assigned an escort to insure that the child would be brought to the society. Mrs Kimball was advised by George Hackett, the manager of a Providence opera house that if she took her daughter from New York to Jersey City, New Jersey; the girl would be out of the courts jurisdiction and she could keep her daughter. Mrs. Kimball followed his suggestion, and allowed a man to spirit the child out of state. As a result, Mrs. Kimball was charged with abduction and she ended up back in court. After a short time, the judge considered all the testimony that he heard and decided to return Corinne to her parents (he called them guardians). He believed that they were loving toward the child and responsible enough to continue raising her. Interestingly, he had something to say about the religious angle pursued by the society lawyer. The judge wrote that the the US constitution protected Corinne’s parents from being punished for not providing religious education to their daughter.  Corinne continued her acting career and eventually became involved in burlesque theater. The New York Times (1894) wrote “Corinne has grown up and proves a lively and entertaining performer. The article adds that “she has no large share of original talent, musical or dramatic, but she can sing and dance “well enough”. The second cabinet card picturing Miss Corinne was published by Newsboy (#20 of a series). She is wearing jewelry galore and flowers in her hair. What is that contraption that she is wearing around her waist? Is it a pouch? If so, what is it meant to carry? Hopefully some cabinet card gallery visitors with fashion expertise can explain her unusual dress.

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MRS JAMES BROWN POTTER (SOCIALITE AND THEATRE ACTRESS)

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In writing about Mrs James Brown Potter, an author stated “She was singularly beautiful with her pale delicate chiseled face, long dark eyes, and hair like burnished bronze with copper lights”. Mrs Brown Potter (1859-1936) was born Mary Cora Urquhart,  the daughter of a wealthy  New Orleans Colonel. She was one of the first American society women to join the stage. In 1877 she married a very wealth New York socialite, James Brown Potter. That same year she made her stage debut at Theatre Royal in Brighton, England. Soon thereafter, she partnered with actor Kyrle Bellew and they frequently performed together over a ten year period. She performed in the United States and in Europe. She retired from the stage in 1912. She was active in raising money for war charities during the Second Boer War. Mrs Brown Potter was considered a competent actress, but not an outstanding performer. In this photograph, Mrs. Potter looks very beautiful as she peers through a curtained doorway. Her gown was likely made by the best dress makers of the time and was assuredly very expensive. Falk, the photographer of this cabinet card, was a famous celebrity photographer in New York City. To see other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

The second photograph of Cora Potter was photographed by Kuebler of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She appears to be in costume and is clearly a beautiful woman with fetching eyes. To view other photographs by and to learn more about Kuebler, click on the category “Photographer: Kuebler”.

The third photograph of Mrs Potter was produced by Jose Maria Mora, a celebrity photographer based in New York City. The image was part of a series (#7). To view other photographs by this photographer, click on the category “Photographer: Mora”. Mrs Potter looks quite elegant in this cabinet card portrait. Her hat can best be described as “floral”. The photograph is stamped on the reverse with the name of the gallery that originally sold it (“John Hoch Art Store, 118 Court Street, Boston”). Hoch’s obituary appears in the Bulletin of Photography and the article reports that he was the first among Boston’s photographers to sell photographs of celebrities. He had been engaged in the photography and picture frame business in Boston for more than fifty years. The obituary mentions that he was of German heritage and was 84 years old at the time of his death. His cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage.

LILLIAN RUSSELL: CELEBRATED AMERICAN ACTRESS AND SINGER

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Lillian Russell (1860-1922) is pictured in the top Cabinet Card photograph by famed New York celebrity photographer, Falk. Lillian Russell is captured in costume as she appeared in “Pepita” (1886). Russell was a very famous American actress and singer who was known for her beauty, style, voice and stage presence. Her theater career began with roles in comic operas including the work of Gilbert and Sullivan. She married composer Edward Solomon in 1884 and two years later, he was arrested for bigamy.  She performed in New York and elsewhere in starring roles in comic opera and musical theatre. In 1904 she switched to dramatic roles due to voice problems. She later also appeared in vaudeville. She retired from the stage in 1919. She later wrote newspaper columns, advocated for women suffrage, and was a popular lecturer.  She married four times and her longest marriage was to Diamond Jim Brady who supported her extravagant lifestyle for four decades. It is interesting to note that the New York Times (4/2/1886) reported that during the performance of “Pepita”, an opera by her husband, Edward Solomon; there were obvious signs of marital discord observed on stage. The newspaper blamed issues revolving around Russell’s interfering mother, as well as, issues pertaining to Russell’s sudden prosperity. The newspaper article correctly predicted that there would soon be a divorce. The second cabinet card, is also photographed by Falk. This photograph provides a close-up image of Lillian Russell and is a testimonial to her beauty. The third cabinet card was published by Newsboy and used by the tobacco company as a premium (#340). The photographer was Falk and the image was copyrighted in 1893. To view a collection cabinet cards by Falk; click on the category “Photographer: Falk”. The fourth cabinet card is another image produced by B. J. Falk. Miss Russell is in costume and is posed provocatively partially behind sheer lace. The fifth cabinet card, also by Falk, provides a terrific profile portrait of the beautiful Miss Russell.


ANNIE SOMERVILLE: STAGE ACTRESS PHOTOGRAPHED BY BENJAMIN FALK

SOMMERVILLE_0001Stage star, Annie Somerville is featured in this cabinet card portrait by celebrity photographer Benjamin Falk in New York City. The curly haired actress is pretty and thin waisted. She is wearing a velvet type costume and has a sword at her side. Research yielded little information about Miss Somerville. She appeared in a number of actress series issued by tobacco companies. Her named is listed as part of the cast of Evangeline when the play appeared at the Fourteenth Street Theater in New York City. The reverse of the photograph has the stamp of photographer J. M. Russell, 126 Tremont Street, in Boston, Massachusetts. Russell was a well known music publisher in Boston and it is possible that he also was involved in the sale of celebrity cabinet  cards.  To view other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

Published in: on September 1, 2013 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  

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”.