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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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Maude Adams. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-101788).

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Adams, Maude (11 November 1872–17 July 1953), actress, was born Maude Ewing Kiskadden in Salt Lake City, Utah, the daughter of James Henry Kiskadden, a banker, and Asenath Ann Adams, an actress. Adams’s mother was raised a Mormon but married outside the church. Adams, the only surviving child, was introduced to an audience at nine months and took her first speaking role at the age of five. She used her mother’s maiden name from the outset of her career. She appeared frequently in stock companies with her mother, first in Salt Lake City, then in 1874 in Virginia City, Nevada, in 1875 in San Francisco, and on tours throughout the West. Reports on Adams’s schooling vary, the longest estimate being that she studied from the age of six to sixteen. According to Phyllis Robbins’s biography (informed by Adams’s mother and various other family members and corrected in manuscript by Adams), she had only intermittent schooling before spending her tenth and eleventh years at the Salt Lake City Collegiate Institute under her maternal grandmother’s protection; formal tutoring ended when her father died and Adams was summoned to San Francisco to join her mother. They toured together until 1888, when Adams received her first engagement in a resident New York company. Several years of stock with E. H. Sothern followed before Adams made a success in 1892 in ...

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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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Adler, Sara (1860?–28 April 1953), actress, was born in Odessa, Ukraine, the daughter of Ellye Levitzky and Pessye (maiden name unknown), merchants. She attended a Russian school, where she made her dramatic debut at age eight in the role of Emilia in Schiller’s ...

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Adler, Stella (10 February 1901–21 December 1992), actress and acting teacher, was born in New York City, the daughter of Jacob Adler, an actor, and Sara Levitzky Adler, an actress and producer. As part of the first family of the American Yiddish theater, Adler was acting from the age of five. Like her parents and five siblings, she was in constant demand as her parents’ Independent Yiddish Art Company played its ever-expanding repertory to packed houses on the city’s Lower East Side. The child-actor’s schedule allowed little time for formal education beyond reading and theatergoing....

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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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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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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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Mary C. Kalfatovic

Allen, Viola (27 October 1867–09 May 1948), actress, was born Viola Emily Allen in Huntsville, Alabama, the daughter of Charles Leslie Allen, a well-known character actor (who was on tour in the South, hence his daughter’s Alabama birthplace), and Sarah Jane Lyon, an actress. She attended schools in Boston, Toronto, and New York before commencing an acting career at age fourteen. Remarkably, Allen’s professional stage debut came in the form of a starring role in a Broadway production when in 1882 she replaced ...

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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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Elizabeth R. Nelson

Anderson, Mary (28 July 1859–29 May 1940), actress, was born Marie Antoinette Henry in Sacramento, California, the daughter of Charles Henry, an English gentleman, and Antonia Leugers, a Philadelphian of German descent. While Anderson was an infant, she moved with her family to Louisville, Kentucky, where her uncle, Father Anthony Müller, a Franciscan, lived. Her father enlisted as an officer in the Confederate army and rose to the rank of general before he was killed near Mobile, Alabama, in 1863. Four years later her mother married Dr. Hamilton Griffin....

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Margaret Anglin. In costume, c. 1910-1925. Photograph by Arnold Genthe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-1303).

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Elizabeth R. Nelson

Anglin, Margaret (03 April 1876–07 January 1958), actress, was born Mary Margaret Anglin in Ottawa, Canada, the daughter of Timothy Warren Anglin, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Ellen A. McTavish. Born a Roman Catholic, she was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Montreal until she left school at fifteen to pursue a career as a concert reader. Despite her father’s disapproval, her mother supported her choice and enabled Margaret to go to New York to study elocution when she was seventeen....

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Melissa Vickery-Bareford

Arthur, Julia (03 May 1869–29 March 1950), actress, was born Ida Lewis in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Thomas J. Lewis, a cigar manufacturer, and Hannah Arthur. One of sixteen children, she took after her mother, an accomplished Shakespearean reader, spending her young years learning and reciting the best of Shakespeare’s heroines. At the age of eleven she performed the role of Zamora in ...

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Backus, Charles (20 October 1831–21 June 1883), actor and minstrel troupe founder, was born in Rochester, New York, the son of a prominent physician. His parents’ names are unknown. Backus’s grandfather Azel Backus was the first president of Hamilton College and a deeply religious man. Despite the Backus family plans of a literary or professional career for Charley, the young boy’s affinity for comedic imitation was apparent from his earliest school days. After completing his public school education, Backus made his acting debut in 1851 in the role of Jerry Clip in ...

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Bacon, Frank (16 January 1864–19 November 1922), actor and author, was born in Marysville, California, the son of Lyddell Bacon, a rancher, and Lehella Jane McGrew. A few years after Frank’s birth, the family moved to San Jose, California. Bacon received little formal education and by the age of fourteen had left school to work in a photography studio. Until his early twenties, Bacon was intermittently employed as a photographer, a newspaper advertising solicitor, and a journalist. He started newspapers in Mountain View and Mayfield, California, and was for a time co-owner of the Napa ...

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Daniel J. Watermeier

Bangs, Frank C. (12 October 1833–12 June 1908), actor, was born in Alexandria, Virginia, the son of David Barnwell Bangs and Margaret Cannon. As a teenager, he worked on a Washington, D.C., newspaper as a typesetter and writer; then, urged by his mother, he studied briefly for the ministry. But from the age of thirteen, he was determined to be an reportedly after seeing ...