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Deeter, Jasper (31 July 1893–31 May 1972), theater actor, director, producer, and teacher, was born in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, the son of Jasper Newton Deeter, a successful businessman, and Sarah Mather, a singer and voice teacher. As a boy Deeter participated in amateur dramatics at the local Episcopal church. At Conway Hall prep school in Carlisle (Penn.), he performed in two school productions before graduating in 1911. Deeter withdrew from Lafayette College during his first term upon discovering that freshmen were denied participation in dramatics. In 1913, while working as a reporter and copyreader for the Harrisburg ...

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Denham, Reginald (10 January 1894–04 February 1983), director, playwright, and actor, was born in London, England, the son of Harry Barton Denham, a government civil servant, and Emily Constance Chapman, a music teacher. He attended the City of London School from 1904 until 1911 and then studied music and singing with Cairns James at the Guildhall School of Music in 1913. He made his stage debut in 1913 as a walk-on in ...

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Digges, Dudley (09 June 1880–24 October 1947), actor and director, was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of James Dudley Digges and Catherine Forsythe. He received his education at the Christian Brothers’ School from 1886 to 1890 and at St. Mary’s College, Dublin, from 1890 to 1893. Digges embarked on his career on stage as an actor with the Abbey Players in Dublin at the turn of the century. Describing Digges’s performance in 1902 in ...

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Dowling, Eddie (09 December 1894–18 February 1976), actor, director, and producer, was born Joseph Nelson Goucher in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, the son of Charles Goucher and Bridget Mary Dowling. The fourteenth of seventeen children, Dowling attended parochial schools, but by age ten he had run away to Boston and started his performing career by singing Irish ballads in music shops and outside barrooms. At eleven, having taken his mother’s maiden name, Dowling became a cabin boy on the Fall River Line....

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Ferrer, José (08 January 1912–26 January 1992), actor and director, was born José Vicente Ferrer Otero y Cintrón in Santurce, Puerto Rico, the son of Rafael Ferrer, an attorney, and Maria Providencia Cintrón. At age six, Ferrer moved to New York City with his Spanish-born parents (who were naturalized American citizens). An excellent student at public and private schools in New York and at a boarding school in Switzerland, Ferrer entered Princeton University at age sixteen in 1928. At college Ferrer played piano for a dance band called “José Ferrer and His Pied Pipers” and acted in Triangle Club productions. He graduated in 1933 with a degree in architecture but was interested in a theatrical career. He made his professional acting debut in the summer of 1934 at a Long Island “showboat” theater. To please his parents, who did not support his acting ambitions, Ferrer studied Romance languages at Columbia University for a year (1934–1935) with a teaching career in mind....

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George, Grace (27 December 1874–19 May 1961), actress, director, and translator/adapter, was born Grace Doughtery in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of George Doughtery and Ellen Kinney (occupations unknown). She changed her name to Grace George in 1892 for professional reasons. George attended a convent school in Fort Lee, New Jersey. In 1893 she enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She made her professional debut in 1894 as a schoolgirl in ...

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Hards, Ira (24 June 1872–02 May 1938), stage actor, director, and producer, was born in Geneva, Illinois, the son of parents whose names are unknown. Hards excelled in elocution, oration, and impersonation in Geneva public schools, graduating from high school in 1887. At the University of California, Berkeley, from 1892 to 1894, the “rising star” took every course offered in the English department, “winning from one of his professors the assertion that he was the most brilliant student of English the university had ever known” ( ...

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Huntington, Catharine Sargent (29 December 1887–03 March 1987), actress and director, was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, the daughter of George Putnam Huntington, a clergyman, and Lilly St. Agnan Barrett. Huntington graduated from Miss Haskell’s School in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1906 and then attended Radcliffe College, where she graduated cum laude with her A.B. in 1911. After graduation Huntington began teaching at the Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut, and remained there until 1917. Huntington’s parents instilled in her a strong sense of civic responsibility, which influenced her entire life. When World War I broke out, Huntington left her teaching job to entertain the troops in France, serving as the Radcliffe representative with the Wellesley unit of the Young Men’s Christian Association, and in 1919 she served as an aide for Réconstruction Aisne Devastée and the Union des Femmes de France. She returned to the United States in 1920 but continued in the local war recovery efforts....

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MacKaye, Steele (06 June 1842–25 February 1894), playwright, actor, and director, was born James Morrison Steele McKay in Buffalo, New York, the son of James Morrison McKay, a lawyer and president of Western Union, and Emily Steele. It is not known when he changed his name from McKay to MacKaye. In his youth MacKaye’s life was one of privilege, ease, and opportunity. At the age of sixteen he was sent to study in Paris at the École des Beaux Arts to develop his talent and interest in painting. He returned to the United States in 1859. At the outbreak of the Civil War MacKaye enlisted in the Union Army, and while his regiment was stationed in Baltimore he and fellow soldiers produced several amateur theatrical events. MacKaye seems to have been the star, playing Othello, Shylock, and Hamlet, among other roles, and playing them so impressively that he was offered but declined a professional engagement by ...

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Henry Miller Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1919. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G401-T01-2810-003).

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Miller, Henry (01 February 1859–09 April 1926), actor, manager, and director, was born John Henry Miller in London, England, the son of John Miller, a railroad contractor, and Sophia Newton. In 1873 the family relocated to Toronto, Canada, where Miller spent his adolescent years. Infected from an early age with the theatrical virus, the young Henry studied elocution in Toronto with the American actor ...

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Perry, Antoinette (27 June 1888–28 June 1946), actress and director for whom the Tony Awards were named, was born in Denver, Colorado, the daughter of William Russell Perry, a city clerk, and Minnie Betsy Hall, an artist and Christian Science healer. Perry’s father, who was Catholic, and his wife separated over religious differences two weeks after their marriage and divorced shortly following their child’s birth. Her mother married twice again. Perry, nicknamed Tony, wrote in a 1930s article that even in grade school she had felt an urge to be an actress, in part because of the encouragement of her uncle, actor George Wessells. “My uncle trained me as a child—in Shakespearean men’s parts—and stimulated my desire,” she recalled. “When I was six, I didn’t say I’d become an actress. I felt I was one. No one could have convinced me I wasn’t.”...

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Seymour, William (19 December 1855–02 October 1933), actor, stage manager, and director, was born William Gorman Seymour in New York City, the son of James Seymour (originally Cunningham), a popular Irish actor, and Lydia Eliza Griffith, a successful actress; both parents were members of the Broadway Theatre company. In 1857 his parents joined the Varieties Theatre company in New Orleans. There Seymour made appearances as an infant, being carried onstage by his mother in ...

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Webster, Margaret (15 March 1905–13 November 1972), director and actress, was born in New York City, the daughter of Benjamin Webster and Dame May Whitty, noted British actors. Webster’s early years were divided between New York and London, often living with relatives while her parents toured. After attending private boarding schools, her formal theater education began in 1924, when she enrolled in the Etlinger Dramatic School in London. Her career as an actress had begun much earlier, however, when at the age of eight she recited the prologue to the ...