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Fox, Della May (13 October 1870–15 June 1913), comic opera star, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Andrew J. Fox, a leading St. Louis photographer, and Harriett Swett. Della made her first appearance on stage as the Midshipmite in a St. Louis production of ...

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MacDonald, Jeanette (18 June 1903–14 January 1965), movie actress and lyric soprano, was born Jeannette Anna McDonald in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Daniel McDonald, a salesman for a woodworking factory, and Anna May Wright. (The revised spelling of MacDonald’s name for professional purposes occurred as early as 1909 but did not hold until the mid–1920s.) The youngest and most driven of three talented daughters, MacDonald’s earliest musical training came from her sisters, Elsie and Blossom. By age four she was being hired to sing at neighborhood church and lodge functions and was locally dubbed “Baby Jenny Lind.” Her earliest documented performance was in a children’s opera, ...

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Moore, Grace (05 December 1898–26 January 1947), opera singer and motion-picture personality, was born Mary Willie Grace Moore in Slabtown (now Nough), Tennessee, the daughter of Richard L. Moore, a retail merchant, and Tessie Jane Stokley. Educated in the elementary schools of Jellico, Tennessee, where her family resided, Moore later enrolled in the Ward-Belmont School in Nashville, but her penchant for defying curfews and other school rules soon ended her association with the academy....

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Walker, Edyth (27 March 1867–19 February 1950), opera singer and teacher, was born in Hopewell (Ontario County), New York, the daughter of Marquis de Lafayette Walker, a carpenter and landscape gardener, and Mary Purdy. Christened Minnie Edith, she changed her name to Mary Edyth and eventually dropped the Mary. When Edyth was an infant, the family moved to Geneva, New York. When she was about twelve, they relocated to Rome, New York, where she attended school and was graduated from the Rome Free Academy in 1884. Her natural talent enabled her to perform as a contralto soloist in nearby churches, without formal vocal training, from the age of fourteen....

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Ward, Geneviève (27 March 1838–18 August 1922), singer and actress, was born Lucy Geneviève Teresa Ward in New York City, the daughter of Samuel Ward, a planter, businessman, and sometime diplomat, and Lucy Lee (or Leigh). Taken abroad for her education, Ward traveled extensively throughout Europe as a young girl. When Ward was between the ages of thirteen and fifteen, composer Gioacchino Rossini heard her sing and sent her to study with the director of the opera in Florence, Italy....

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Whiffen, Blanche Galton (12 March 1844–25 November 1936), actress and singer, was born in London, England, the daughter of Joseph West Galton, a secretary of the London General Post Office, and Mary Ann Pyne, an opera singer. After the death of her father in 1851, Whiffen and her sister attended a boarding school in Gravesend, Kent, until 1857. They later studied at Mrs. Chapman’s School in London and spent eighteen months at a school in St. Omer, France. Whiffen made her stage debut in November 1865 at London’s Royalty Theater as Rosatinta the Fairy in the light opera ...