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Eltinge, Julian (14 May 1883–07 March 1941), female impersonator, was born William Julian Dalton in Newtonville, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Dalton, a mining engineer, and Julia Edna Baker. His father’s profession took him to the West, where Julian went to schools in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Butte, Montana, as well as in Boston on his family’s return there. He was working as a clerk in a dry goods store at $3.50 a week when he auditioned for the First Corps Cadets of Boston, an all-male amateur theatrical troupe noted for the plausibility of its female impersonations. He played the small role of Mignonette in Robert A. Barnet’s burlesque ...

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Hart, Tony (25 July 1855–04 November 1891), actor and singer, was born Anthony Cannon in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Anthony Cannon and Mary Sweeney, both of whom had emigrated from Ireland. He put on amateur performances as a child, but a pattern of delinquency began with disruptions at school and culminated in the near murder of a rival during a performance; his parents placed him in the Lyman School (a state reformatory at Westborough, outside Worcester) in 1865. He escaped several months later and traveled to Boston, where he supported himself as a singer, a bootblack, and a newsboy, and then to Providence, where he sang and danced in saloons and was dubbed Master Antonio by a saloon keeper. He joined a touring circus, and then Billy Arlington’s Minstrels; in 1870, at age fifteen, he joined Madame Rentz’s Female Minstrels. Dressed as a little girl, he evoked tears with a sentimental song, “Put Me in My Little Bed.”...