A beautiful young actress poses for her portrait at The Sparks studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is wearing a horseshoe broach which probably was supposed to bring her good luck. This actress’s name was Marion Elmore. She was born in 1860 in a tent in Sandhurst, Australia. Her parent were English and they were in Australia because they were hoping to hit it big in the Gold Rush. Elmore began her acting career at age three. She played in Rip Van Winkle with touring American actor, Joseph Jefferson. In the 1870’s she was a member of Lydia Thompson’s famous burlesque troupe. “The Blondes” performed a risque mix of songs, dance and comedy. They also were very well known for showing a great deal of leg in their revealing costumes. She came to the United States in 1878 with the troupe but soon went off on her own as an actress and vaudeville performer. Her first starring role was in Chispa (1883). This play was poorly reviewed. The “Virtual Dime Museum” quotes the journal “Music and Drama” which wrote that the play “was dramatic rubbish, and that it does not fit Marion Elmore any better than her straw hat, which was continually falling off”. The New York Times (1882) also lambasted the play. The critic had mixed feelings about Miss Elmore, but stressed her negatives. He blamed actress Maggie Miller for perpetuating a type of actress that he found abhorrent. These actresses were seen as stock actresses who rose to “money making dignity” by performing in troupes like Lydia Thompson’s Blondes. He described Elmore as a “vivacious exponent of the high art of leg burlesque”. The critic asserts that the craze surrounding Lydia Thompson, and other similar troupes, was one of the worst stupidities of the stage” and that he was pleased that the popularity of this type of entertainment had become “extinct”. On the positive side, the critic enjoyed Elmore’s sense of humor and her “brightness”. One fortuitous outcome of her acting in Chispa was that she fell in love with, and in 1884, married her co star, Frank Losee. Another actress in Chispa was Lina Merville. Her portrait can be found in the Cabinet Card Gallery via the search box. As Elmore’s career continued, she acted in many plays in the New York area. She was active through the 1890’s and the early twentieth century. She died at age ninety in 1950. To view other photographs of actresses by Sparks, click on the category “Photographer: Sparks Photo Publishing Co.”.
These cabinet cards feature American stage actress, Mary Anderson (1859-1940). Interestingly, Anderson’s father was an Oxford educated New Yorker who after Mary was born, moved his family to Kentucky. He then joined the Confederate army and was killed in action when Mary was just three years old. Mary was not much of a student but loved to read Shakespeare. Her step father sent her to New York at age 14 to take ten professional acting lessons. In 1875, at age 16, Mary Anderson began her stage acting career in a Kentucky production of Romeo and Juliet. She continued acting in Kentucky and then appeared in a number of other cities, including New York. Her critical reviews tended to be mixed but she was well loved by the public. She then worked the New York and touring company stages for twelve years until she spent the next six years on the English stage (appearing in a lot of Shakespeare productions). She then returned to the United States, and at age 30, collapsed on stage with a case of nervous exhaustion. This experience, likely coupled with less than favorable reviews, caused her to retire from acting. The top cabinet card features Anderson in the role of Galatea. A review of Mary Anderson’s performance in this role appeared in the New York Times in a September 1884 edition. She was appearing opposite British actor William Terriss, in the play “Pygmalion and Galatea”, at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Many notables were in attendance, including Oscar Wilde. The review states ” Miss Anderson surpassed herself and that the performance was throughly artistic and finished”. The cabinet card was photographed by The Vanderweyde Light of London, England (182 Regent Street W.). Henry Van Der Weyde (1838-1924) was an artist and photographer. In 1877, he became the first photographer to install and take photographs by electric light. The second cabinet card was photographed by celebrity photographer, Sarony. The image reflects Mary Anderson’s great beauty. To view other photographs by Sarony, click on Cabinet Card Gallery’s category “Photographer: Sarony”. The third cabinet card was photographed by “The Sparks Studio”. The studio was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the artist/manager was Elliott Houseworth. This cabinet card offers a profile portrait of the attractive Ms. Anderson. The 1880 census lists Elliott A. Houseworth as being born in 1855, residing in San Francisco, California, and working as a photographer. Houseworth also appears in the 1900 census as living in Norwood, Pennsylvania and working as a manager. These demographics fit the photographer of this image, since Houseworth managed Sparks Photography Studio and Norwood is only about eleven miles from Philadelphia. To view other photographs of actresses by Sparks, click on the category “Photographer: Sparks Photo Publishing Co.”. The fourth cabinet card features a smartly dressed Mary Anderson and was photographed by George Rockwood, of New York City. To learn more about Rockwood and to view more of his photographs, click on the category “Photographer: Rockwood”. A sticker on the reverse of the photograph indicates that the image was once part of the Kean Archives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Kean Archives was a company that served as a source of illustrations and photographs for various modes of media. They eventually were purchased by Getty Images.
Ella Campbell is a pretty woman. This cabinet card, photographed by The Sparks Photo-Publishing Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; is quite risque for its era. The short outfit that Ms Campbell is wearing, exposes a lot more of her legs than one would expect. Perhaps there was a shortage of material available for her dress. That is not a likely explanation. More likely, the Sparks Company knew that a sexy photograph would increase sales of this image of a lesser known actress. Wait a second! Is this woman really an actress named Ella Campbell? The only evidence available is the writing on the reverse of the card which states “Ella Campbell”. Research yields no information about an actress with this name. Further investigation is required. To view other photographs of actresses by Sparks, click on the category “Photographer: Sparks Photo Publishing Co.”.