Brown, Gilmor (16 June 1886–10 January 1960), actor, director, and theater manager, was born George Gilmor Brown on a ranch and farm twelve miles outside New Salem, North Dakota, the son of Orville A. Brown and Emma Louise Gilmor. The seeds of Brown’s very active and fertile imagination seem to have been rooted in the loneliness and rural isolation of his early childhood. When he was six, however, the family moved to Denver, Colorado, where Brown began formal schooling and finally could socialize. There he became interested in theater. His father, who had wanted to become an actor but was not permitted to by his family, sometimes took him to vaudeville shows. When Brown was about eight, his mother encouraged and assisted him in forming his own theatrical company of neighborhood children dubbed the Tuxedo Stock Company. They performed their own plays, mostly tragedies and melodramas written by Brown. Brown worked with the troupe into his early teenage years. Despite his youth and lack of any theatrical training, his dedication and skill as a director impressed many, including Denver journalists. His efforts also attracted the attention of the pastor of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, who encouraged his interest in drama and invited Brown to participate in a summer camp in the Colorado Rockies. Brown founded a theater at the camp, staging Greek tragedies and classical drama outdoors in a magnificent alpine setting. Brown and others continued to mount such alfresco productions in the years that followed....
Monica J. Burdex
Coburn, Charles Douville (19 June 1877–30 August 1961), theatrical actor, manager, and director and film character actor, was born in Macon, Georgia, the son of Moses Douville Coburn and Emma Louise Sprigman. The family moved to Savannah, Georgia, when Charles was nine months old. An avid playgoer at the age of fourteen, Coburn was mistaken by the manager for a program boy as he stood in front of the Savannah Theatre, and he was ordered back to work inside; by the time he was seventeen he was managing the theater. Two years later he moved to New York City to pursue an acting career, surviving by wrapping bundles, ushering, and once by working as a six-day bicycle racer. His first acting job, in the 1898–1899 season, was with a Chicago company of ...
Davenport, Benjamin Butler (1871?–07 April 1958), playwright, actor, and theater manager, was born in New York City, the son of John L. Davenport, a water commissioner, and (probably) Delia Post. He may have been called John at birth. Butler later claimed to have been dedicated to his art from age six, when his mother gave him a toy theater, or from age eight, when he “caught a glimpse” of ...
Mayer, Arthur Loeb (28 May 1886–14 April 1981), motion picture exhibitor, art film importer, and cinema historian, was born in Demopolis, Alabama, the son of Simon M. Mayer, a small-businessman, and Rachel Bernheim. Although born into an affluent German Jewish family in the South, Mayer spent most of his youth in New York City where his mother moved after his father’s death. Mayer attended private secondary schools and graduated with honors from Harvard College in 1907. An uncle introduced him to aspiring movie mogul Sam Goldfish, who hired Mayer as an assistant and trained him in motion picture publicity and ballyhoo. By the time Goldfish took the name ...
Maker: Arnold Genthe
Skinner, Otis (28 June 1858–04 January 1942), actor-manager, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Augustus Skinner, a Universalist minister, and Cornelia Bartholomew. His adolescent years were spent in Hartford, Connecticut, where he did poorly in school and left at age sixteen to become a warehouse clerk and editor of a free weekly paper. The defining event in his early life was a visit to a New York City theater to see ...