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.

ISABELLE URQUHART: COMIC OPERA AND MUSICAL COMEDY STAR (PHOTOGRAPH BY NEWSBOY)

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This cabinet card features actress Isabelle Urquhart (1865-1907). She was an American stage actress and contralto who appeared in mostly comic operas and musical comedies. Urquhart was born in New York City and claimed to have been educated in a convent. She made her first stage appearance in 1881. She performed as a chorus girl at the Standard Theatre in New York City. She than appeared in a number of small roles. From 1882 through 1883 she joined Augustin Daly’s company and acted in productions including “The Passing Regiment” and “The Squire”. In the latter production she was only seventeen years of age but played a ninety-seven year old woman. She returned to light opera because of it’s better compensation although she stated she preferred legitimate drama to comic opera. She had much success in major roles in light operas including in the hit operetta  “Erminine” which ran from 1886 through 1888 at the Casino Theatre. She also had success in other productions by luminaries such as Gilbert and Sullivan. In her leading lady role in “Erminine”, she started a fashion trend by not wearing petticoats in order “to accentuate her gorgeous figure”. Urquhart later appeared in vaudeville. Blue Vaudeville (2004) states that in a sketch at the Union Square Theatre, she “did little more than display her form in a handsome gown to the utmost advantage”. Urquhart also performed in several Broadway plays including “The Diplomat” (1902), “Arms and the Man” (1906), and “How He Lied to Her Husband”. This cabinet card was published by Newsboy and was number one i a series of photographs that were distributed as a premium accompanying tobacco sales.