You are looking at  1-20 of 20 articles  for:

  • Media and performing arts x
  • film actor or actress x
Clear All

Image

George M. Cohan Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1933. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 236 P&P).

Article

Cohan, George M. (3 or 4 July 1878–05 November 1942), performer, writer of songs, musicals, and plays, and producer, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Jeremiah “Jerry” John Cohan and Helen “Nellie” Frances Costigan. (Cohan’s middle initial stands for Michael.) At the age of seven, Cohan was sent to the E Street School in Providence. His formal schooling lasted six weeks, after which the school sent him to rejoin his parents and sister, Josie, in their theatrical travels. He took violin lessons and played the instrument both in the theater orchestra and in a trick violin act he devised. The Cohans went on their first road show as a family in 1889; when the show failed they went back to ...

Article

Coward, Noël (16 December 1899–26 March 1973), playwright, songwriter, and performer, was born Noël Peirce Coward in Teddington, England, the son of Arthur Sabin Coward, a generally unsuccessful traveling piano salesman, and Violet Agnes Veitch. Coward’s American connections began at age sixteen as an extra in a ...

Image

Jane Cowl Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0155-B-007).

Article

Cowl, Jane (14 December 1884–22 June 1950), actor, producer, and writer, was born Grace Bailey in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Charles A. Bailey, a provision dealer and clerk, and Grace Avery, a singer and voice teacher. Around 1887 the family moved to Brooklyn, where Jane published verses in ...

Article

Craven, Frank (24 August 1880?–01 September 1945), actor and playwright, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John T. Craven and Ella Mayer. Craven’s parents, both repertory theater actors, were members of the Boston Theatre Company at the time of his birth. It was in that company’s production of Henry Arthur Jones’s ...

Article

Da Silva, Howard (04 May 1909–16 February 1986), actor, director, and playwright, was born Howard Silverblatt in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Benjamin Silverblatt, a dress cutter, and Bertha Sohon. The family later moved to New York City and then to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Da Silva completed his education with a year at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (1927–1928), supporting himself by working in the city’s steel mills. He then hitchhiked to New York and became an apprentice in the Civic Repertory Company for a year’s study. His debut as an actor in the company’s 1929 production of ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Patricia Flanagan Behrendt

Gordon, Ruth (30 October 1896–29 August 1985), actress and playwright, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, the daughter of Clinton Jones, a factory foreman, and Annie Ziegler, a secretary.

Upon graduating from high school in 1914, Ruth Gordon Jones, an aspiring actress from the age of twelve, was accepted by the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Months later, after the academy’s president concluded that she was unsuited to the stage and dismissed her from the program, she began her seventy-year career as a stage and screen actress, playwright, and screenwriter. Her first marriage, in 1918, to Gregory Kelly, a young actor with whom she briefly owned a minor stock company in Indianapolis, ended with his early death in 1927. Gordon’s only child, Jones Harris, the son of the legendary producer ...

Article

Gordone, Charles (12 October 1925–16 November 1995), playwright and actor-director, was born Charles Edward Fleming in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Charles Fleming and Camille Morgan Fleming. His stepfather was William Gordon. The boy never knew his biological father and often referred to himself as “part Indian, part Irish, part French, and part Nigger.” With the birth of Charles, the family moved to the mother's hometown, Elkhart, Indiana, where young Charles went to school. Shirley Gordon Jackson, the older of his two sisters, recalled that the family then moved out of the “colored” part of town and crossed the railroad tracks to the white side of Elkhart's “Mason-Dixon line.” All of Charles's school friends were white. He was a straight-A student, “doing everything right,” winning honors in dramatics, music, writing, and debate. He also received sixteen letters in sports and set a school record in the high jump....

Article

Melissa Vickery-Bareford

Hull, Henry (03 October 1890–08 March 1977), actor and playwright, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of William M. Hull, a drama critic for the Louisville Courier-Journal, and Elinor Bond Vaughn. Hull attended Louisville public schools as a young boy, and in 1904 he enrolled in the College of the City of New York. After two years Hull transferred to the Cooper Union Institute in New York City, remaining there two years before completing his engineering education at Columbia University in 1909. Hull had been working as a mining engineer when his brother Shelley, an actor, secured a small part for him with Guy Bates Post’s company; Hull made his stage debut in 1909 in ...

Article

Lindsay, Howard (29 March 1889–11 February 1968), playwright, actor, and director, was born Herman Nelke in Waterford, New York, the son of Herman Siegmund Nelke, a salesman, natural healer, masseur, and newspaperman, and Susan Hall. When Herman Nelke’s job hopping and stories of fantastic exploits exhausted the patience of his no-nonsense wife, she divorced him. Taking her four children and her mother, she moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where she worked as a typesetter on her brother’s newspaper. Young Howard exhibited his father’s dramatic flair and his mother’s industry by selling newspapers and giving recitations on the boardwalk. His uncle passed on free tickets from theatrical advance men, and after seeing a melodrama when he was ten, Lindsay announced his ambition to be an actor....

Article

Logan, Joshua (05 October 1908–12 July 1988), director, producer, playwright, lyricist, and actor, was born Joshua Lockwood Logan in Texarkana, Texas. His lumberman father, Joshua Lockwood Logan, Sr., died when Logan was only three years old. He was raised in Louisiana by his mother, Susan Nabors, and stepfather, Howard F. Noble, an officer on the staff of the Culver Military Academy, where Logan attended school. Logan began his theatrical career in 1928 as a student at Princeton University, where he was a founder of the University Players, a summer stock group that performed on Cape Cod and that also included ...

Article

Ludlam, Charles (12 April 1943–28 May 1987), playwright, director, actor, and artistic director, was born in Floral Park, New York, the son of Joseph William Ludlam, a plasterer, and Marjorie Braun. Although Ludlams had been among the earliest settlers of Long Island, Charles’s family lived modestly in a working-class neighborhood, across the street from a movie theater. There Charles and his mother saw two feature films each week. These, the puppet show that he wandered into at the Mineola fair, and television’s “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” all influenced six-year-old Ludlam to create his own puppet shows and to enlist neighborhood children to stage his first scripts. After appearing in plays at school and apprenticing to the Red Barn Theater in 1958, a trip to Manhattan to see productions by the Living Theatre prompted him to found, with Christopher Scott, the Students Repertory Theatre in Northport, an enterprise that he had to close when he enrolled at Hofstra University in 1961. He studied acting, directing, playwriting, and dramatic literature—but specialized, even then, in hyperbole—and in 1965 took his B.A. and his mastery of theater history and its craft to Manhattan, where he finally enjoyed an opportunity to fully explore without impediment his homosexuality....

Article

Mayo, Margaret (19 November 1882–25 February 1951), actress and playwright, was born Lillian Slatten on a farm near Brownsville, Illinois, the daughter of Warren Slatten and Elizabeth Cavender. When her parents separated she accompanied her mother to Portland, Oregon. She was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Salem, Oregon, and at a girls’ school in Fox Lake, Wisconsin. In her early teens, in order to escape the attentions of an elderly suitor, Margaret left her mother’s home in Portland and, with her mother’s consent, went to New York to look for work. Although she had no particular intention of going into the theater, she won a walk-on role in ...

Article

Mitchell, Thomas (11 July 1892–17 December 1962), playwright and actor, was born Thomas Gregory Mitchell in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the son of James Mitchell, a merchant, mortician, and newspaperman, and Mary Donnelly. Mitchell was one of seven children of Irish immigrants who came to America in 1868. Like both his older brother, John, and his father, Mitchell spent time in the newspaper business. He started out as a cub reporter on the ...

Article

Muse, Clarence E. (07 October 1889–13 October 1979), actor, producer, and writer of plays and films, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Alexander Muse and Mary Sales. He was educated at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he became interested in music and participated in choral groups; although he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international law in 1911, he immediately embarked on a musical and theatrical career. In 1907 he married Frieda Belle Moore; the marriage was apparently dissolved soon after the birth of their son in 1910....

Article

Nugent, Elliott (20 September 1897?–09 August 1980), actor, director, and playwright, was born in Dover, Ohio, the son of John Charles “J. C.” Nugent, an actor and playwright, and Grace Fertig, an actress. Some sources indicate he was born in 1899. Nugent’s early childhood was spent primarily at the home of his maternal grandfather in Dover, but he often accompanied his parents on vaudeville tours, occasionally performing as “Master Elliott, the Boy Monologist,” and later, in an act with his sister, as “Master Elliott and Baby Ruth.” When Nugent was thirteen years old his mother retired from show business and returned with her children to Dover. After graduating from Dover High School in 1915, Nugent, an excellent student and athlete, attended Ohio State University, where he began a lifelong friendship with classmate ...

Image

Cornelia Otis Skinner Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1913. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-0395-B).

Article

Skinner, Cornelia Otis (30 May 1901–09 July 1979), author and actress, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Otis Skinner, a matinee idol, and Maud Durbin, an actress. After Skinner’s mother retired from acting in 1906, the family moved to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where Otis Skinner resided when he was not performing. In 1920 Skinner left Bryn Mawr College during her sophomore year to study in Paris. She attended the Sorbonne and studied acting at the Comédie Francaise and the Jacques Copeau School. Returning to the United States, Skinner landed her first dramatic role in the stage adaptation of Blasco-Ibanez’s ...