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)

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MEET THE VOKES FAMILY: JESSIE, VICTORIA, AND ROSINA VOKES WERE TALENTED SISTERS OF THE BRITISH STAGE

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The top photograph in this grouping features stage actress Rosina Vokes (1854-1894). She was the daughter of a London costumer. She came to America with her two older siblings and Fawdon Vokes to make a career in the theatre. Interestingly, Fawdon Vokes was not a member of the Vokes family. His name was actually Walter Fawdon, but the name change was necessary for him to join the family troupe. The group made their New York debut in 1872 in “The Belles of the Kitchen“. They played in a number of shows over time and from the beginning, Rosina was considered “infinitely the cleverest, the most bewitching” of the group. When she reappeared in America in 1885 with her own company, she was warmly welcomed. One paper wrote “she is still young, agile, slender and graceful; the piquant prettiness of her face and the droll charm of her manner still exert a strong influence on the susceptible spectator”. She toured with made-to-order productions, until shortly before her early death, at about, forty years of age. The New York Times (1893) published an article entitled “Rosina Voke’s Serious Illness: It Deprives the Anglo-American Stage of One of its Brightest Ornaments”. The article favorably compares her to her other acting family members and reveals that Vokes had embarked on a voyage from America to England whose purpose was to allow her to die in her home country. The young actress was terminally ill with consumption (pulmonary disease). Judging by the content of the many obituaries that appeared in American newspapers after Rosina Vokes succumbed to her illness, the actress was a well respected and loved performer of the American stage. It is important to note that the Vokes theatrical family included a brother named Fred Vokes (1846-1888). He was an actor and a dancer. This cabinet card comes from the studio of famed celebrity photographer, Napoleon Sarony. To view other photographs by Sarony, click on Cabinet Card Gallery’s category, “Photographer: Sarony”.

The second photograph captures Rosina and her two sisters posing for an unidentified photographer. The sisters have been identified as Jessie (1851=1884) and Victoria (1853-1894). The reverse of the photograph indicates that the image was formerly part of the “Harold Seton Collection”. Who is Harold Seton? Research reveals that Harold Seton was best known for his work as a journalist, author and collector. He wrote about theatre and society in his column, Theatre Thoughts”, which appeared in Theatre Magazine. He accumulated over ten thousand theatrical photographs of actors and actresses who performed between 1870 and 1900. He donated some of his collection to the New York Historical Society and some are  located at the Wake Forest University library, as well as a number of other institutions. A Harold Seton was a theatre actor who performed in eight plays between 1919 and 1935. Although I doubt that the two Harold Setons’ are the same men; no evidence could be found to determine if they were one and the same man.

The third image in this group is a carte de visite portrait of Victoria Vokes. The photograph was taken at the Broadway studio of Napoleon Sarony. Victoria was born in London and began her career at the Royal Surrey Theatre at just two years of age. Over time she played a variety of children’s roles in London theatres. In 1861 she appeared with her brothers and sisters at the Operetta House in Edinburgh as one of the “Vokes Children” (later changed to “The Vokes Family”. Victoria earned her early popularity with her voice but soon she was gathering acclaim via her acting. Her performance in “Amy Robsart” (1871) at Drury Lane Theatre is an example of one of her excellent exhibitions on stage. “The Cornell Daily Sun” (1890) wrote about an appearance by Victoria Vokes and her Company. The reviewer asserted that “Few actresses have appeared in Montreal whose genius is so versatile as that of Miss Yokes. She sings with a fine contralto of great power, dances like zephyr and acts in comedy — well, like one of the Yokes”.

MARIE WAINWRIGHT: PORTRAIT OF A THEATRE ACTRESS (PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARONY)

 

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These cabinet cards feature Marie Wainwright (1853-1923), an American stage actress and singer. She also appeared in three silent films between 1918  and 1920. Most of her fame came from the Victorian stage. She was born in Philadelphia and as educated in Paris, France. She received her acting training in Paris. Her first stage appearance was in New York in “Romeo and Juliette (1877)”. Her career flourished afterward. She spent many years in the Boston Museum company and later on, operated her own theatre company. During her career, she was the leading lady for Edwin Booth, Lawrence Barrett, and other well known actors. She appeared primarily in classics and high dramas until the turn of the century. She then appeared in more contemporary productions. Her resume includes roles in “H. M. S. Pinafore” and “Diplomacy”. When asked why she entered the acting profession, in a New York Times interview (1878), she stated that she did it for her children’s sake. Wainwright claimed that she was married before the age of fifteen, and had three kids before she turned twenty-one years of age. She stated that her husband was not supporting her and the children, and she needed to work for financial reasons. It appears that the breakup of Wainwright’s marriage was a hot news item. The marital conflict was quite dramatic and there were some questions about Ms. Wainwright’s character. The top  photographic portrait is by Sarony’s New York City  studio. Sarony was a famous celebrity photographer and other examples of his work can be seen by clicking on the category labelled “Photographer: Sarony”. This image shows Wainwright wearing a white gown and bonnet. She is holding a book and rosary beads.

The second cabinet card was also photographed by Sarony. Miss Wainwright certainly was a pretty woman. The reverse of the cabinet card has an inscription describing some aspects of her career. There is also a stamp from a photographic supply dealer on the photo’s reverse. The dealer is C. E. Hopkins whose business was located in Brooklyn, New York. Mr Hopkins was an excellent self promoter as illustrated by mention of his name and business in several photographic journals of his time. For example, “Photographic Times” (1890) recounts that one of Mr Hopkins’s amateur customers produced a series of photographs pertaining to a duel, that Mr Hopkins had shared with the publication. It is likely that this cabinet card portrait of Miss Wainwright once could be found “for sale” in C. E. Hopkins’s shop.

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AMELIA GLOVER: FAMOUS SKIRT DANCER (CABINET CARD PORTRAIT BY SARONY)

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This cabinet card portrait features celebrated skirt dancer Amelia Glover. The photograph was taken by the well known New York theatrical photographer, Napoleon Sarony. The term “skirt dancer” is not a term we read or hear about today so an explanation is likely in order. Skirt dancing earned its name due to the voluminous skirts worn by the dancers. These skirts were often made of sheer and flimsy material. The skirts were utilized as part of the dancers act. Famous skirt dancers include Glover, Loie Fuller, Papinta, and Anna Held. Amelia Glover was not just any skirt dancer. The Illustrated American (1892) published an article called “The Skirt and the Dance”. In the article the author bemoans the trend that resulted in French and English dancer’s skirts getting shorter and shorter. Most dancers prior to the trend wore long skirts (below the knee). Kate Vaughn is credited with the reintroduction of long skirts and the”skirt dance”. Letty Lind and Sylvia Grey are asserted to be responsible for importing the dance from England to the United States. The pair are said to have created a “rage” with the skirt dance. The author complains that the dance “has mostly degenerated into a lot of high kicking and can can impropriety”. He continues with the contention that the original dance has become “vulgarized”at the hands of “ordinary women” of the variety stage.The author goes on to state that there is one American skirt dancer who has “remarkable natural gifts”. He identifies that dancer as Amelia Glover, also known as “Little Fawn”. The cabinet card image below gives a view of  Glover dancing while wearing a long skirt. Besides being an incredible dance talent, Glover has another claim to fame. Theatre Magazine (1922) reports that Miss Glover started the fad of wearing bobbed hair. Her hairstyle was imitated by other women of the stage as well as by women of society.

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JENNIE WINSTON: INTERCONTINENTAL COMIC OPERA ACTRESS

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The top cabinet card features early theatre actress, Jennie Winston. Unfortunately, biographical information concerning Ms. Winston appears to be sparse, and further research is necessary. An 1881 publication reveals that Jennie Winston was a native of Scotland and moved to Australia to join W. S. Lyster’s Italian Opera company. Her tenure with this company was seven years. She next went ot America under engagement to “Mr Maguire”, for whom she worked for one season’s duration. She then formed her own traveling opera company which journeyed to the western United States and British Columbia. The “Dramatic News” described Winston as “unsurpassed as a comic-opera artist by anyone in this country”. The photographer of this portrait was the studio belonging to Gilbert & Bacon. This studio was well known for their quality work as well as their work with local and visiting celebrities. To view other photographs by this studio, click on the category of “Photographer: Gilbert & Bacon”.

The second photograph, also by Gilbert & Bacon, captures a costumed Jennie Winston playing the mandolin. Note the backdrop  used in this photograph. The backdrop was an excellent choice for the photograph as it is compatible with Ms. Winston’s costume. It was also a good choice technically; the actress does realistically appear to be standing on a winding stone road.

The third photographic portrait features a sultry looking Jennie Winston, and is by celebrated photographer, Marc Gambier (1838-1900). The fourth cabinet card portrait was also photographed by Gambier. Miss Winston is in costume for an unnamed theatrical performance. She is acting in the portrait. Note her provocative and coy appearance. Gambier was born and educated in Paris, France. At the age of 19, he came to America for a very short stint of time. He returned to France and became a student of the great painter, Le Creton. Subsequently, he became a student of another great painter, Camino. He then returned to America and for five years, studied and worked under esteemed photographer, Sarony (view Sarony’s photographs by clicking on the category “Photographer: Sarony”). He then launched his own photography business in New York City. He divided his time between his first love, painting, and his business of taking and selling photographs. Gambier was known as a great historical painter. He was a veteran of the French Army and while in the service, he sketched and painted several important battles. Research reveals that Gambier was listed in the 1880 US census. He was forty-one years old and living in New York City with his family. He is listed as living with his wife Emilie (age 28), daughters Louise (age 10) and Emilie (age 7), and son M. L. (age 2). Also in the residence was a young woman (age 25) who worked as a servant. Gambier was known for the many theatrical photographs he produced as well as for selling postage stamp sized portrait photographs, that people attached to their letters and postcards.

CUTE LITTLE GIRL IN CINCINATI, OHIO (PHOTOGRAPH BY MARCEAU)

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A little girl dressed in big girl clothing looks adorable as she posed in the Marceau & Bellsmith studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. The child is wearing an elaborate hat and a large collar pin. She is also wearing a very cute expression which includes a half smile. Colonel Theodore C. Marceau (1859-1922) operated a studio at 285 Fifth Avenue in New York City. The studio was known for producing many celebrity portraits. Marceau was also known for pioneering the creation of national chains of photographic studios in the 1880’s. He became nationally known at the ripe young age of twenty-two when he served as a US government phot0grapher in Santiago, Chile. He was part of an 1882 expedition that recorded the movement of Venus. Later, he served on the staff of Governor Foraker of Ohio, then Governor Markham of California. After leaving public service he lived in Cincinnati (1885-1886) and executed a business strategy that he repeated several times over the years. He would capitalize and build photographic studios, take on a talented local photographers as a partner, build the business, and then sell it to his partner. His first venture took place in Cincinnati and his partner was Randolph “Ralph” P. Bellsmith. The pair produced the photograph seen above. Marceau eventually had branches in Indianapolis, San Francisco, and Boston. His partner in San Francisco was Frederick Bushnell who later built his own chain of studios on the west coast. In 1891 Marceau married a widow named Amanda Fiske and their marriage had a deleterious effect on Marceau’s finances and emotional well being. The marriage was of short duration and Marceau took on his wife’s debts and was rewarded by her habitual infidelity. Marceau took custody of his son and became embroiled in publicity generating divorce proceedings that lasted four years. In 1900 Marceau made New York City his primary operation. For about ten years he ran the Otto Sarony and the Marceau Studios out of New York. Using the Sarony name caused Marceau to fight Jonathan Burrow (purchaser of the Napoleon Sarony Studio) in court. Marceau was described as a skilled raconteur and he became very active in the photography world in New York. In 1905 he cofounded the Professional Photographers Society of New York with Pirie McDonald. Marceau, MacDonald, and B. J. Falk organized the Copyright League to give photographers stronger rights protection of their work. Marceau was quite successful financially. He employed profits from his studios to buy a large amount of New York City real estate. His name appeared in New York’s “Blue Book”. His estate was worth millions of dollars upon his death. His son, a Yale trained lawyer, took over the operation of his father’s studio after his father died but he sold it in 1922. To view the work of Marceau’s Cincinnati partner and to learn more about him, click on the category “Photographer: Bellsmith”.

 

ISABEL EVERSON: THEATRE ACTRESS WITH LITTLE BACKGROUND

 

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Pencilled on the reverse of this cabinet card, is the name Isabel Everson. Preliminary research reveals little information about this actress other than an existence of a tobacco card premium published by Sweet Caporal which has her portrait. In addition, some newspaper articles were found that announce her appearance in various theater production.  Further research is required. This cabinet card is by Sarony, famed celebrity photographer located in New York City. To see other examples of Sarony’s photographs; click on the Photographer: Sarony category on this site. The second photograph of Miss Everson is by an unknown photographer. Unfortunately, the bottom of the cabinet card has been trimmed to fit into a frame or album, making it difficult but not impossible to identify the photographer. I attempted to identify the photographer by matching the script on the bottom of the photo with other photographer logos in the cabinet card collection. Unfortunately, I had no luck. Perhaps a cabinet card gallery visitor will be able to accomplish the detective work necessary to make the identification. Note the images found below that identifies Miss Everson as well as the image of the Russell Brothers stamp. Both the inscription and the stamp were located on the reverse of the cabinet card. Miss Everson is wearing a very interesting costume in this cabinet card photograph. It is probably something that she was wearing in a play in which she was appearing. I wonder what the object is that she is holding in her right hand. Does the object relate to her costume? I seem to have more questions than answers about this portrait of Isabel Everson.

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Published in: on April 2, 2015 at 12:01 pm  Comments (6)  
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KATE SHIPPEN ROOSEVELT: PORTRAIT OF A PRETTY HIGH SOCIETY WOMAN BY CELEBRATED PHOTOGRAPHER NAPOLEON SARONY

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It is not infrequent that a cabinet card presents an interesting mystery. This cabinet card, by celebrity photographer Napoleon Sarony of New York City, conjures  up some fascinating questions. Is the woman in this photograph a member of one of America’s most famous political families? It is likely that the pretty woman with the dreamy gaze seen in this photo is a Roosevelt. Let me tell you a little about Kate Shippen Roosevelt (1855-1925). In 1883, Kate Shippen Roosevelt (1855-1925) was married to Hilborne Roosevelt who was a world famous organ maker. He had factories in New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. His company made some of the finest and largest pipe organs in the world. He designed the first electric organ and he was a first cousin to President Theodore Roosevelt. Kate was the daughter of William W. Shippen who was the president of the Hoboken Land and Improvement Company and Hoboken Ferry Company. It is not a surprise that their wedding was called by the New York Times (1883) the event of the season. An article in Town Topic Journal of  Society (1883) announces that Kate Shippen Roosevelt would be performing a monologue and that she was one of the “best amateurs” engaged in such performances. Kate was also a well known women’s suffrage critic. She called suffragettes “soapbox militants”. Hillborne Roosevelt died in 1886 at age 37. He left his widow and three year-old daughter quite wealthy and they continued to be part of high society in New York City.  I believe that that the woman in this image is Kate Shippen Roosevelt because  1) the inscription on the reverse of the image is supportive (see below), 2) Mrs. Roosevelt was a member of society and Sarony was a society photographer, and 3) My research was unsuccessful to find another celebrity sharing the name “Kate Shippen”.  Unfortunately, I could not find a photo to confirm or disconfirm that the subject of this cabinet card portrait was Mrs. Roosevelt. The bottom image is the gravestone of Kate Shippen Roosevelt which is located at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

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PORTRAIT OF AN ACTRESS NAMED ROBEL IN AN UNUSUAL DRESS

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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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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.