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Aarons, Alexander A. (15 May 1890–14 March 1943), theatrical producer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Alfred E. Aarons, a theatrical composer and producer, and Josephine Hall. He was educated in New York schools. Aarons, whose producing career lasted only thirteen years, did not immediately take up his father’s profession, but after hearing ...

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Aarons, Alfred E. (16 November 1865–16 November 1936), theatrical manager and producer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Aaron Aarons, a clothier, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Educated in Philadelphia public schools, at age fifteen he began working in the box office of the Central Theater. After several other theatrical jobs, Aarons established a dramatic and vaudeville agency in Philadelphia; he opened an office in New York City after moving there in 1890. There in the same year he married Josephine Hall, an actress. They had three children....

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Abbey, Henry Eugene (27 June 1846–17 October 1896), theatrical and operatic manager and impresario, was born in Akron, Ohio, the son of Henry Stephen Abbey, a clockmaker and partner in a jewelry business, and Elizabeth Smith. After graduating with honors from Akron High School, where he showed a keen interest in music, Abbey worked in his father’s jewelry store until he launched his artistic management career in 1869 at the Sumner Opera House in Akron. In 1871 he became manager of the newly opened Akron Academy of Music, where he stayed for one season before moving to work first at John Ellsler’s Euclid Avenue Opera House in Cleveland and then as treasurer of the Ellsler Opera House in Pittsburgh. While still in Akron, Abbey and Ellsler managed the tours of the singing and dancing Worrell Sisters, ...

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Abbott, George (25 June 1889–31 January 1995), theatrical director and producer, was born George Francis Abbott in Forestville, New York, the son of George Burwell Abbott, a tailor, town mayor, and government land agent, and May McLaury. Abbott received his early education and worked as a telegraph boy and a cowboy while moving from Wyoming to Nebraska to New York, where he earned a B.A. from the University of Rochester in 1911. Between 1911 and 1912 Abbott, who said he wanted to be a poet or journalist, was enrolled in ...

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Adams, Edwin (03 February 1834–28 October 1877), actor, was born in Medford, Massachusetts. Little is known about his parents or childhood. He made his professional debut in 1853 in Boston, where he appeared at the National Theatre as Stephen in Sheridan Knowles’s The Hunchback...

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Adler, Jacob Pavlovich (12 February 1855–31 March 1926), actor, was born in Odessa, South Russia, the son of Feivel (Pavel) Abramovitch Adler and Hessye Halperin, both of the orthodox Jewish faith. He was educated in Hebrew school, but because of his father’s failure in business he was sent to work at any early age in a textile factory. His youth was dominated by a desire for pleasure that led him into bad company, but a new and all-absorbing interest in the Russian theater saved him from what he called the “grave moral danger” of this period. His enthusiasm for a leading Odessa actress came to her attention, and at her request the sixteen-year-old Adler became the leader of her clacque. In this post, which he held for several years, he saw the plays of Shakespeare, Schiller, and Ostrovsky, and the realistic acting of the Russian theater remained his ideal throughout his later life....

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Adler, Luther (04 May 1903–08 December 1984), stage, film, and television actor, was born in New York City, the son of Jacob Pavlovich Adler, founder of the American Yiddish theater movement, and Sara Levitzkaya Adler, an actress. While all of the children acted professionally, only Luther and his sister ...

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Aiken, George L. (19 December 1830–27 April 1876), actor and playwright, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Lemuel G. Aiken, an actor, and Susan A. Wyatt. His “first remembrance [was] of a theater,” and it was not long before his services were enlisted in children’s roles at Boston’s Tremont Theatre. Douglas Jerrold’s ...

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Albee, E. F. (08 October 1857–11 March 1930), vaudeville manager, was born Edward Franklin Albee in Machias, Maine, the son of Nathan S. Albee, a shipbuilder, and Amanda Crocker. When Albee was four years old, he moved with his family to Boston. As a child he sold newspapers, and he left school at an early age to become a cash boy at a Boston store. After seeing a performance of ...

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Albert, Eddie (22 April 1906–26 May 2005), actor and environmental activist, was born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island, Illinois, the son of Frank Daniel Heimberger, a realtor, and Julia Jones. At the age of one his family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he attended parochial school before graduating from Central High School in 1924. He then entered the University of Minnesota where he majored in business and worked his way up to manager at the local theater. Young Eddie left school without graduating and worked a series of odd jobs before joining a singing trio that appeared on the local radio station. Tired of hearing his name mangled as “hamburger” he changed it to Eddie Albert, and after successfully auditioning at NBC he moved to New York with partner Grace Bradt to star in ...

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Aldrich, Louis (01 October 1843–17 June 1901), actor and theatrical manager, was born Louis Lyon. Aldrich led a difficult early life, though precise details about his childhood or parentage are scant. He is variously said to have been born in Germany, on a ship in passage to the United States, or in a small town in Ohio. After his father’s death and his mother’s subsequent remarriage, he was adopted by a Cincinnati, Ohio, family, which then moved to Cleveland. In an 1894 interview Aldrich commented that he had been on his own since childhood, touring with a manager as a child prodigy. In 1855, at age eleven, he made his stage debut performing the title role in ...

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Aldrich, Richard (17 August 1902–31 March 1986), theatrical producer, manager, and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Irving Aldrich, a rubber company executive, and Mary Pickering Joy. Both parents were members of wealthy, prominent New England families. Aldrich in childhood formed a lifelong love of the theater, which he fostered in school productions and summer student performances. He did further stage work while he attended Harvard College, both with a touring student group called the Jitney Players during summers and with the Harvard Dramatic Club, which he served as president. Though tall and well-featured, Aldrich consistently preferred to work behind the scenes as producer and business manager rather than to perform on stage. He completed his education at Harvard in 1925....

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Melissa Vickery-Bareford

Aldridge, Ira Frederick (24 July 1807–10 August 1867), actor, was the son of Daniel Aldridge, a minister, and Lurona (maiden name unknown). Though certain historical accounts record that he was born in Senegal, Africa, the grandson of the Fulah tribal chieftain, modern biographical scholarship proves that Aldridge was born in New York City and that while Fulah ancestry is possible, his lineal descent from tribal royalty is unconfirmed. Extant evidence concerning Aldridge’s life is largely sketchy, conflicting, or exaggerated, possibly due in part to the aggrandizements of theatrical publicity....

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Alexander, John White (07 October 1856–31 May 1915), artist, was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, the son of John Alexander and Fanny Smith. Alexander’s father died soon after his birth, and his mother died when he was five years old. Sent to live with his maternal grandparents, Alexander left school at the age of twelve to work as a messenger for the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company in Pittsburgh. Colonel Edward Jay Allen, an official of the firm, was impressed by a sketch done by Alexander. Allen eventually adopted Alexander....

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Ames, Winthrop (25 November 1870–03 November 1937), theatrical producer and theater owner, was born in North Easton, Massachusetts, the son of Oakes Angier Ames, a manufacturer, and Catherine Hobart. The Ames family was wealthy and socially prominent. Ames concluded his education at Harvard with a postgraduate year of dramatic studies. He had long been interested in the theater but, because of family opposition to a career in that field, he joined a Boston publishing firm, for which he founded two monthly magazines, ...

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Anders, Glenn (01 September 1889–26 October 1981), actor, was born Charles Glenn Anders in Los Angeles, California, the son of Charles Gustave, a contr and Etta Arvilla Slade. His father was born in Sweden, and his mother, whose ancestors were Scotch-Irish, was born in Vermont. Both parents were strict Methodists and initially opposed his intention to become an actor. After Anders graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1908, his mother persuaded his father to let him attend the local Wallace Dramatic School. His first professional stage appearance came in a bit part in the Los Angeles Stock Company’s production of ...

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Aronson, Boris ( October 1900–16 November 1980), scene and costume designer, was born in Kiev, Russia, the son of Solomon Aronson, the chief rabbi of Kiev, and Deborah Turfsky. By the age of eight he was exhibiting astonishing artistic talent and went on to study art in Kiev, Moscow, and Paris....

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Aronson, Rudolph (08 April 1856–04 February 1919), theatrical impresario and composer, was born in New York City to German immigrant parents (names and occupations unknown). When he was six, his music-loving parents arranged for him to have instruction on the piano. Recognizing in Aronson a definite musical precocity, his teacher, Leopold Meyer, persuaded Aronson’s parents to allow the child to be trained for a musical career and introduced Aronson to the violin and the theory of music. At age fourteen Aronson attended a concert featuring musical stars under the direction of ...

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Atkinson, Brooks (28 November 1894–13 January 1984), drama critic, was born Justin Brooks Atkinson in Melrose, Massachusetts, the son of Jonathan Henry Atkinson and Garafelia Taylor. His father was a Boston newspaperman, and when he was in primary school young Brooks decided that he would also be a journalist. At the age of eight he “printed” with rubber type a home newspaper called ...

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Ayers, Lemuel Delos (22 January 1915–14 August 1955), theatrical designer and producer, was born in New York City, the son of Lemuel Delos Ayers, a physician, and Hazel Carleton Bisland. As a student at Princeton University, he was a member of the Theatre Intime and gained early recognition for his productions of ...