ETHEL BARRYMORE: STAGE BEAUTY

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Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959) was an outstanding American actress and a member of the famous theatrical Barrymore family. She was born Ethel Mae Blythe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her parents were actors and she was the sister of John and Lionel Barrymore.  She was the great aunt of modern day actress Drew Barrymore.

Ethel Barrymore was considered by many to be the greatest actress of her generation. She was a major Broadway performer and first appeared there in 1895. She had roles in A Dolls House by Ibsen (1905).  She was a strong supporter of the Actors’ Equity Association and played a major role in the 1919 strike. She played in Somerset Maugham’s comedy, The Constant Wife (1926). She also starred in motion pictures beginning her film career in 1914.  Notable films included None but the Lonely Heart (1944) and The Spiral Staircase (1946). Around 1900, Winston Churchill proposed marriage to Barrymore but she refused. She later married Russell Griswold Colt in 1909 and had three children. She died of cardiovascular disease in 1959 at her home in California. The Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City is named in her honor.

The top cabinet card portrait of Ethel Barrymore was photographed by Phillips Photographers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To view other photographs by Phillips, click on the category “Photographer: Phillips”. The second cabinet card image of the actress was produced by Sarony, the famous celebrity photographer who’s studio was located in New York City. To see other Sarony photographs, click on the category “Photographer: Sarony”.

The third portrait of Miss Barrymore appears on a postcard published by the Rotograph Company who operated in  New York City and Germany. This postcard portrait was taken by famed Chicago photographer William Morrison. He is well known for his excellent portraits of theatrical stars. He produced both real photo postcards and cabinet cards. This postcard is number HB/1422 of the “Rotograph Series”. The image on this postcard is color tinted. This postcard has been mailed and postmarked (1907). The reverse of this postcard can be seen below.To view other photographs by Morrison, click on the category “Photographer: Morrison”.

The fourth portrait of Ethel Barrymore is an uncommon one. The image provides a lovely profile view of this legendary actress. If you search for this exact postcard online, you likely won’t find it. This postcard was published by E. Frey & Company who operated in  New York City . Research reveals that postcards displaying the printed name of  “E. Frey” were actually published by the Souvenir Post Card Company which existed between 1905 and 1914. It was located at 268 Canal Street in New York City. The company was purchased by Valentine & Sons and the combined company became Valentine – Souvenir. This postcard was printed in Germany and is in good condition (see scan).

The fifth photograph of Miss Barrymore was published by the Rotograph Company. This postcard portrait was taken by famed Chicago celebrity photographer William Morrison.This postcard is number B 662 of the “Rotograph Series”. The image has excellent clarity.

The sixth image is a vintage real photo postcard portrait of Ethel Barrymore. The postcard was published by Albert Hahn who was based in New York City (200 Broadway) and Hamburg. Hahn operated his company between 1901 and 1919. The postcard was produced in Germany sometime in the decade of 1900-1910. The postcard is part of a series (no. 5271),

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                                            REVERSE OF THIRD IMAGE (ROTOGRAPH POSTCARD)

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                                             REVERSE OF FIFTH IMAGE (ROTOGRAPH POSTCARD)

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                              REVERSE OF THE SIXTH IMAGE (POSTCARD BY ALBERT HAHN)

FLORENCE COLLINGBOURNE: STAGE ACTRESS

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The beautiful woman pictured in this Cabinet card is stage actress, Florence Collingbourne. Obtaining significant biographical information about her has been difficult and further research will be done and provided in an addition to this blog. However, information from readers about this stage beauty will be appreciated.  The Cabinet card was produced by the Rotary Photographic Company which also produced many postcards with images of theatrical stars. This Cabinet card was published  in London, England. The second image displayed is a vintage real photo postcard also featuring the beautiful Miss Collingbourne (1880-?). The postcard was published by the Rotary Photo Company. The reverse of the postcard has evidence that it once occupied a photo album.

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Published in: on August 20, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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PORTRAIT OF A PRETTY WOMAN IN VIENNA, AUSTRIA BY PROMINENT PHOTOGRAPHER JOSEF LOWY

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This cabinet card photograph features a well dressed and pretty woman displaying a beautiful smile. She also has beautiful eyes. The woman is photographed by J.Lowy who operated a studio in Vienna, Austria. A notation on the reverse of the cabinet card (see image below) indicates that the photograph was taken in 1904. The former owner of this vintage image contends that the woman in the photograph was an actress. I can not confirm that she was a stage performer but it certainly would not be surprising. The photographer of this wonderful portrait was Josef Lowy (1834-1902). Lowy was a very prominent and talented Vienna photographer who was active in the city between the 1870’s and early 1900’s. A book of Lowy’s photographs (published in 1897) can be found on “Abe Books” at a price over three thousand dollars. Lowy was an Austrian. He was trained as a lithographer and received an artistic education at the Vienna Academy. He entered the field of photography in 1861 and was a regular exhibitor in photographic salons beginning in 1864. He won medals in the 1873 Vienna World Exhibition and became an official photographer to the Austrian Court. Lowy had varied interests in photography. He did royal portraits and also photographed industrial sites. He photographed many theatre and opera stars. Upon Lowy’s death, his wife (Mathilde) took over operation of the studio until 1908. Mathilde Lowy (1854-1908) had married Josef in 1875. She was succeeded in business by Lowy’s nephew, Gustav Lowy who renamed the studio “Art Institute J. Lowy”. By now you may realize that I reported that Josef Lowy took this photograph in 1904 but died in 1902. This fact makes this particular photograph even more special. Actually, my hypotheses is that this cabinet card portrait was taken by a photographer employed by Lowy’s widow, or perhaps Mrs. Lowy herself.

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Published in: on July 10, 2015 at 8:16 pm  Comments (1)  
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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.

MLLE. RHEA: INTERNATIONAL STAGE ACTRESS

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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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A PRETTY WASP WAISTED ACTRESS NAMED HATTIE IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (HATTIE HARVEY: A MYSTERY AND A STORY OF INFATUATION)

 

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A pretty corseted actress poses for this cabinet card portrait by theatrical photographer, J. B. Scholl, in Chicago, Illinois. The wasp waisted actress is posed a bit provocatively by the photographer. She has her hands on her hips and her head is slightly tilted. She is also exhibiting a mischievous grin.The reverse of the image is inscribed and dated. The cabinet card is signed “For ever yours, Hattie”. There is a possibility that her name is “Nattie” because the first letter of the name is not very legible. The back of the card is dated 1892. In addition to the State Street address, during his career, Scholl also had studios at two locations on South Halsted in Chicago. Perhaps a visitor to the cabinet card gallery can identify this actress. It is my opinion that this actress is Miss Hattie Harvey. The opinion is formulated by viewing other images of Miss Harvey and by her connection to Chicago. An article about Hattie Harvey appeared in the New York Times (1892). The article was entitled “Hattie Harvey’s Infatuation”. It seems the young Chicago actress had developed an infatuation for an Englishman in her company named Brooks (now we know why she has such a mischievous grin in this photograph). Her parents were not pleased and when the company’s production closed, her father promised to arrange more engagements for the company if his daughter would give up Mr Brooks. She refused his manipulative offer and there were some “exciting scenes” that occurred in the Grand Hotel concerning this family conflict. In addition, Hattie’s mother had two fainting spells “over the affair”. The newspaper article described Harvey as a “very pretty girl of nineteen” and reported that she declared she would marry the fifty year-old Brooks. However, public speculation was that Brooks, who was recently divorced, still had another wife back in England. Hattie Harvey’s parents threatened to “cast her off” if she continued the relationship with the”adventurer”.

The second photograph produced by Newsboy (#379) as part of a series of tobacco premiums, is a portrait of  “Miss Infatuation”, Hattie Harvey. Compare the photograph with the one above and decide whether the two women are one and the same. It is my view that the portraits both feature Miss Harvey. Please leave a comment if you have an opinion about this matter. In the second photograph, Miss Harvey appears to be in wardrobe for one of her stage appearances. She certainly was an attractive woman.

MAUDE BRANSCOMBE: CELEBRATED BEAUTY AND ACTRESS

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Maude Branscombe was a very popular stage beauty and light opera singer. She was reported to be the most photographed woman of her day. Biographical information about her is sparse and more will be added at a later date. Her first appearance on the New York stage was in 1876 as Cupid in a revival of Ixion at the Eagle Theatre. The portrait at the top was photographed by renowned W & D Downey of London, England.

The second portrait  was cropped so the photographer is unknown.

The third portrait (Branscombe is wearing a necklace) is by L. Levin & Son of San Francisco, California.

The fourth cabinet card image was photographed by Sarony. Sarony was a well known celebrity photographer and more of his portraits can be viewed by clicking on the category of “Photographer: Sarony”. Sarony does an excellent job of capturing Branscombe’s beauty and her alluring eyes.

The fifth and sixth, and seventh cabinet card were photographed by another celebrity photographer, Jose Mora, of New York City. Interestingly, the fifth and seventh cabinet card captures Branscombe in the same costume as the second cabinet card. It is likely that the photographer of cabinet card number two, is also Jose Mora. To view other photographs by Mora, click on the category of “Photographer: Mora”.

The eighth cabinet card portrait of Branscombe was photographed by Howell, another New York City photographer with a studio on Broadway. Howell’s close-up photograph captures the actress’s beauty and her wonderful eyes. She is wide eyed and her hair is a bit mussed. These qualities add to the allure of Miss Branscombe.William Roe Howell was born in 1846 in Goshen, New York. He had a passion for drawing and painting and he directed his creative interest into the field of photography as a young adult. He opened a photographic studio in Goshen. In 1863 he moved to New York City where he joined Robert and Henry Johnston at Johnston Brothers Studio at 867 Broadway. In 1866 the firm became Johnston & Howell. In 1867, he became the sole proprietor of the gallery. By 1870, he was gaining much recognition in the field of photography. His great location in New York City gave him access to many fashionable upper class men and women as well as many celebrities. Among his photographic subjects were P. T. Barnum, Buffalo Bill, and Robert E. Lee. He opened a branch studio in Brooklyn. In 1873 he came one of five Americans to be awarded a special grand prized at the Vienna World Fair. He frequently received mention in the photographic journals. He published a book of cabinet cards that received much praise. He became a photographer for West Point, Princeton, and other notable institutions. He won many medals at photography exhibitions. In 1878 he moved his business from 867 to 889 Broadway and opened another studio with a partner (Meyer) at 26 West 14th Street. In 1880 he retired from photography due to health reasons.  In 1886 he moved with his family to Washington D.C. intent on opening a photography business there. He then disappeared. He vanished just two weeks before the grand opening of his new studio. He left his wife of 16 years (Fannie Scott) and his five children penniless. His wife stated that Howell was an eccentric man and that he must have got tired of business and family problems “and cut loose from us”.  He apparently returned home after a short duration of absence and his business appeared in the 1888 Washington D. C. business directory but not in the 1889 directory. He died of tuberculosis in New York City in 1890. He had been residing at the home of a colleague who ran a photography studio in Harlem. It is believed by some biographers that he had divorced his wife and returned to New York without his family.

The ninth cabinet card is another portrait photographed by Jose Mora. The actress’s costuming detracts from the overall appeal of the photograph. She seems lost in the swirl of her head covering. However, the photographer does an excellent job of highlighting Miss Branscombe’s seductive eyes. The phrase  “Maude Branscombe eyes” certainly rivals the phrase “Bette Davis eyes”.

Cabinet card number ten also comes from the studio of Jose Mora. She is well dressed in this portrait. It is not clear if she is dressed for a stage role or if she is attired for a jaunt around town.

ESTELLE CLAYTON: STAGE ACTRESS

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Estelle Clayton (1867-1917) is seen in the first and second Cabinet cards. She was a prominent actress as well as a librettist in the late 1800’s. In one of her roles, she starred in “Fayette” with E H Sothern. Clayton was the sister of actress Isabelle Evesson. In 1908, the two sister actresses filed suit against New York City for allegedly diverting land away from earlier generations of their family. In 1917 she died in New York City of heart failure. The photographer of both of these Cabinet cards is Sarony of New York City. The third cabinet card portrait of Clayton was produced by Newsboy as a premium for tobacco products. It is number 47 of a series. The barefoot Miss Clayton is in quite the risque pose in this image.

PORTRAIT OF A PRETTY UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS IN NEW YORK CITY

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This portrait features an attractive unidentified actress. This woman seems to love texture. Note the fabrics she is wearing. She has a wonderful feathered hat and a  shaggy stole. At least I think its a stole but I am uncertain and welcome intervention from a cabinet card gallery visitor knowledgeable about woman’s fashion. The woman looks quite handsome in her high collar dress and lovely accessories. The photograph was taken at Fredricks Knickerbocker Family Portrait Gallery in New York City (770 Broadway). To learn more about Mr. Fredricks and to view more of his images, click on the category “Photographer: Fredricks”.

 

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  
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YOUNG ACTRESS WITH SAD HAUNTING EYES

A pretty young actress with sad and haunting eyes and a polka dot dress poses for her portrait. She exudes a dramatic air and its likely no coincidence that this photograph was found in a collection of theatrical cabinet cards. The photographer of this image was the Murillo studio of St. Louis, Missouri. One source reports that the Murillo studio was operated by Jesse J Ferguson and existed at least between 1910 and 1919. To view other photographs by Murillo, click on the category “Photographer: Murillo”.

Published in: on October 20, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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