This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Theatre History Studies January 1, 2005 | Watermeier, Daniel J. In July of 1852, in the company of his father Junius Brutus Booth, eighteen-year-old Edwin Booth arrived in San Francisco. The story of Edwin's years in California, interrupted by a voyage to Australia, has been sketched by all of Booth's earlier biographers, but not as fully, nor in as much detail, particularly about his performances and their critical reception, as the account that follows. (1) It is an interesting, important episode in the life of a great American actor and merits revisiting. In many respects, these were Booth's formative years, his "college" where he had the opportunity and the freedom to play numerous, diverse roles under various performance conditions. It was the kind of performance experience that he was not likely to get in an eastern stock company in the early 1850s. In California, Booth also experienced various professional and personal ups and downs. One should not discount their value in the emotional growth and development of an aspiring actor. When Booth went to California he was a callow, fledgling actor; when he left, he was a much more mature, even worldly-wise, rising young star. Booth's story also paints a concrete, vivid picture of theatrical life in Gold Rush California. From the discovery of gold in 1848 to 1852, the population of San Francisco swelled from a few hundred inhabitants to probably about 30,000 residents, predominately young men from the United States, South America, Europe, Australia, and China, all eager to strike it rich one way or another. Tens of thousands of transients passed through the city on their way to the mining camps in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Many came to make a fortune mining gold; others to prosper by providing services, including all sorts of theatrical entertainment, to the gold seekers. Theatres were initially makeshift affairs, but soon became more substantial establishments with corps of actors and bills of fare modeled after eastern stock companies. By the early 1850s San
Francisco had become the center of a dynamic theatrical circuit that included Sacramento, Stockton, and various mining towns, such as Marysville, Downieville, and Grass Valley. Actors were drawn to California by the promise of earnings that might be two to three times what could be earned in Boston, New York, or Charleston, although expenses in California were significantly higher than in the Eastern states. If one was a second-tier touring star or a workaday stock actor, however, the relative lack of competition and the pay scale were particularly attractive. The elder Booth had been enticed to California by his oldest child Junius, Jr. The year before Junius Jr., or June, as he was called, had traveled to San Francisco and quickly established himself as a leading actor and stage manager at the pioneering theatrical manager Tom McGuire's new Jenny Lind Theatre. (It was McGuire's third and most substantial theatre of this name, the other two having been destroyed in fires.) (2) McGuire was a leading, but not the only, theatrical manager in the city. His chief rival was D.G. "Doc" Robinson, a druggist turned comic actor and manager, who had opened his own new theatre--called the American--just two months after the opening of the Jenny Lind. Like rival managers at other times and places, McGuire and Robinson competed by frequently changing bills and promoting novelty acts and "stars" imported from the east coast. (3) Throughout the winter of 1851-52, McGuire and Robinson battled for audiences and it was in the midst of this battle, that June traveled back to Maryland to offer his father a starring engagement at the Jenny Lind. According to Asia Booth Clarke, the elder Booth was not particularly enthusiastic about going, but eventually agreed "more for the novelty of the trip than a desire to perform there." (4) For both the elder and the younger Booth, it would prove to be a fateful decision. The Booth party--Booth the elder, Edwin, Junius, Jr., and his actress-wife Harriet Mace, and another actor named George Spear--chose the shorter, at least in time, but still arduous route to California over the Isthmus of Panama. On 21 June departing from New York, they steamed to Chagres, a port city on the Caribbean side of Panama. Then they made their way across the Isthmus by canoe up the jungly Chagres River to a settlement called Gorgona. From there by horse or mule-back, they trekked to Panama
City on the Pacific, whence a steamer transported them to San Francisco. During the overland passage through the jungle, anxious about bandits and the trustworthiness of the native guides, the men kept their pistols at ready. Edwin later told his sister Asia about his own sleepless nights, fearfully watching the natives honing their machetes. But the trip went smoothly, without incident. (5) When the Booth party finally arrived in San Francisco, the theatrical scene was in disarray. Eager to drive his rival Robinson out of business, McGuire had been heedless of the bottom line, profligately spending more than he was taking in at the box office and still owing thousands of dollars for the construction of the Jenny Lind. Besieged by creditors in desperation he offered his theatre as a city hall to San Francisco's board of aldermen, who bought it for $200,000. However, before the interior of the theatre was gutted and converted into city hall, Junius Brutus Booth, the most distinguished tragedian yet to appear in San Francisco, opened a two-week engagement on 30 July 1852 with a performance as Sir Edward Mortimer in The Iron Chest. He followed this with his usual repertoire, including performances as Sir Giles Overreach, Hamlet, Othello, Shylock, Richard III, Pescara, Lear, Iago, and Macbeth. Edwin appeared as he had in the previous several years when he toured with his father in a number of supporting roles, among which were Laertes, Cassio, Gratiano, and Richmond. (See Figure 1) The critics lauded the elder Booth's performances. Edwin--and for that matter Junius Jr. and other members of the company--went for the most part unnoticed, although the Daily Alta (31 July) commented following the opening performance: "Mr. E. Booth is a very judicious actor and we shall take occasions to notice him more at length here after. He was applauded throughout." But the Alta did not "take occasion" to notice Edwin during the remainder of his performances with his father. (6) [FIGURE 1 OMITTED] Following this engagement, Junius, Jr. arranged for his father to appear at the American Theatre in Sacramento for a fortnight. There, Edwin took a benefit on 2 September as Jaffier in support of his father's Pierre in Venice Preserved As Asia relates (The Elder
and the Younger Booth, 131), when Edwin appeared before his father in Jaffier's black costume, the elder Booth remarked, "You look like Hamlet; why did you not act Hamlet for your benefit?" Edwin replied, "If I ever have another, I will." The opportunity would come perhaps sooner than Edwin anticipated. The Booths then returned by steamer to San Francisco, where the elder Booth played for four more nights at the Adelphi Theatre, but extent playbills in the Hampden-Booth Theatre Collection at The Players do not list Edwin as a member of any of the casts. On 10 October Junius Brutus left San Francisco for the long journey back to Baltimore. Reportedly he urged his eighteenyear-old son to pursue his fledgling career in California and left him in the care of his brother June and David Anderson.' Anderson was twenty years older than Booth. In the 1830s and 1840s he was a member of the Bowery and Park Theatre companies and noted for his portrayals of old man roles such as Sir Peter Teazle or Polonius. He had come to California as early as 1851 and established himself as a reliable stock actor in his line. A widower, his first wife having died in 1840, and apparently childless, he seems to have taken a kindly, protective interest in teenaged Edwin. Booth and Anderson would remain close friends for the next thirty years. Indeed, after he was an established star, Booth regularly employed Anderson for his various companies. There is no record of Edwin's activities immediately following the departure of his father. Sometime that fall, however, Daniel Wilmarth Waller and his wife Emma, both secondtier touring stars in the east, arrived in California and hired Edwin for a company they were forming to tour the mining towns. The Waller company included a number of experienced, talented actors drawn from San Francisco's theatres, among whom were William Barry, George Spear, D. V. Gates, David Anderson, and Sam Dennis. The tour began in Nevada City and, according to Asia, it was there that Edwin played Iago for the first time. The company then trekked on to Grass Valley where Edwin reprised Iago in the Alta Theatre located on the second floor of a gambling saloon. From there, they went to Rough and Ready, then to Downieville, higher up in the mountains. Winter comes early in the Sierra Nevada. By the time the troupe reached Downieville, it had been snowing for several days and blizzard conditions seemed imminent. The company started back to Nevada City; but by the time they arrived in Grass Valley, they found
themselves snowed in. It was probably at Grass Valley that Edwin received news that his father had been stricken probably with some virulent bacterial infection and had died on a fiver boat returning to Maryland. As Asia tells the story, George Spear brought Edwin a letter. "What news is there," asked Edwin. "Not good news for you, my boy," said Spear. Edwin exclaimed, "Spear, is my father dead?" He was then told the "sad story." His friends "endeavored to calm his sorrow," but Edwin was "stunned by the blow and they could not understand how deep his grief was, or how he blamed himself for having allowed his father to undertake the homeward journey alone." Edwin, anxious perhaps to return to San Francisco for more information about his father's death, joined a small band of friends who intended to walk the fifty miles to Marysville. Two days of walking through heavy snow brought them to the village. Edwin borrowed ten dollars from an acquaintance for passage to Sacramento and thence by boat down fiver to San Francisco. Letters awaiting him provided details of his father's death and burial. His mother advised him and Junius "to remain in California if they considered it best for their theatrical future." (8) On 2 February 1853, Edwin was back on stage as Fred Jerome in The American Fireman at the San Francisco Theatre, still under the management of his brother and with an excellent stock company headed up by William "Uncle Billy" and Caroline Chapman, members of the famous family that had brought theatre to the towns along the Ohio River Valley in the 1830s and 1840s. (See Figure 2) He would remain here through the spring, acting in standard comedies, popular farces, extravaganzas and burlesques--characters like Charles II in Charles II; or, The Merry Monarch, Dick Duberly in The Heir-at-Law, young Marlowe in She Stoops to Conquer, Dombey in an adaptation of Dickens's Dombey and Sons, Colonel Mannering in Guy Mannering, Dazzle in London Assurance, Joseph Surface in School for Scandal, Captain Absolute in The Rivals, Furibond in a burlesque called The Yellow Dwarf, and Lord Sparkles in a farce called Love in Livery. (9) Indeed, the San Francisco Theatre focused on such light entertainment, leaving romantic melodramas and tragedy to the rival Adelphi Theatre managed by the husband-wife team of Lewis and Alexina Baker and to the American Theatre where the minor, Canadian-born tragedian James E. Stark was often featured.
But Edwin aimed his ambitions beyond light comedy, farce, and burlesque. According to Asia, the scene painter John Fairchild, who had been brought to California from the Boston Theatre, was due a benefit performance. He exacted from Edwin a promise to act Richard III. Junius tried to dissuade his young brother, urging instead that he play "more romantic parts, suited to his age and appearance, rather than undertake so arduous a role" (The Elder and the Younger Booth, 136-137). Edwin, however, persisted and on 21 April played the title role for the first time in California--and only the second time professionally. The Daily Alta (22 April) was judicious, noting only that Booth "gave promise of an ability which in coming years will place his name foremost among the actors of his day." During the performance, however, as Asia later wrote, "a tall, dark man stood behind the scenes watching him intently" (The Elder and the Younger Booth, 136137). The "tall, dark man" was Ferdinand C. Ewer, a recent graduate from Harvard, who had followed the Gold Rush to California in September 1849. For the next decade Ewer earned a living mainly as a journalist. In 1854, he would found the Pioneer; or, California Monthly Magazine; but in 1853, he was working as drama critic for The Daily Placer Times and Transcript. In this capacity, he had been closely following Edwin's career since his appearances with his father a year earlier. He had little to say about Edwin's performances in July and August 1852 except to note his "chaste and natural elegance of action and expression" as Laertes. (Indeed, following the tendency of the time, Edwin's performances were noted in the local papers, but only rarely "reviewed.") On 26 March, however, preliminary to Edwin's reappearance as Lord Rivers in The Day After the Wedding, Ewer wrote:
Of this young gentleman's talent & promise we cannot say too much. Now and then a flash will appear which is a sure indication of what is to come when years shall bring experience around him. The line of characters, which he is taking now, is of great assistance to him in developing ease upon the stage. We predict for Mr. Booth ... a rank among our actors equal to that of Mr. Forrest at present. His school is different, but to our mind quite as good as that of Mr. Forrest. (10)
Decades after Ewer had become a prominent clergyman, he recalled in a letter to Booth the excitement surrounding his appearance as Richard III, his "first real trial." "It was a tremendously bold thing to attempt," wrote Ewer, "when the real Richard III had just left California, and the echoes of your father's voice were still sounding among the machinery of the Jenny Lind stage, I feared you couldn't do it." He remembered that the house was cold at first and applauded only patronizingly. Throughout the opening soliloquy, the performance of the elder Booth remained fixed even in Ewer's mind and the son seemed in contrast to be far off this mark. Ewer observed that Booth did not do "himself justice" in the first three acts. It was an uneven performance with some moments "rendered with a high degree of force and brilliancy" or "with exquisite naturalness and effect" while at other times "he lapsed into tameness." Ewer praised the "admirably read" opening soliloquy and the scene with Lady Anne with Booth "passing from the taunting tones in which her wrongs are recounted to wheedling flattery with a flexibility that was surprising." On balance, however, Booth seemed "too light for the part," although Ewer conceded, "the audience was on the whole well pleased." But in the fourth and fifth acts Booth "warmed up" and achieved "a triumph, most flattering to himself and gratifying to his friends." When the curtain rang down "the calls were loud and long for the young actor to appear in front." Despite his triumph, Edwin was returned to farce roles for several performances. However, Asia writes (The Eider and the Younger Booth, 137) that the success of Edwin as Richard III induced the managers of the San Francisco Theatre--i.e., June Booth, his fellow actors William Chapman and W.B. Hamilton, and the designer John Fairchild--to propose that he play Hamlet. On Monday, 25 April for his own benefit, Booth appeared for the first time in the role for which he would become most celebrated. In the past several years, he had played Laertes on at least two occasions in support of his father's Hamlet and undoubtedly had been an acute observer of the elder Booth's interpretation since he began traveling with him in 1840. Considering his age and relative lack of experience, however, it was an audacious choice both for Edwin and the theatre's managers. Asia suggests that the elder Booth's offhanded remark that Edwin play Hamlet for his benefit had become since his father's death a sacred promise
for him. At the first opportunity, he determined to fulfill this promise to his father. Now the opportunity had arisen. But still, he had only a few days to prepare and rehearse one of the longest and most challenging roles in the Shakespearean canon--the touchstone for would-be classical tragedians. In an unusually lengthy review, Ewer enthused about the performance, contrasting Edwin's interpretation in part with that of James E. Stark who, fortuitously for the management of the San Francisco Theatre, had recently departed California to tour Australia. Ewer conceded that Edwin's Hamlet did not have the finish of his father's and that there were moments in Stark's rendition that were superior to the same moments in Edwin's performance. Ewer went on to point out some of the faults in Edwin's Hamlet. His youth, for example, was a barrier to imparting the "proper weight and dignity" to the character. Edwin was at times slightly awkward in his movements and he was not "entirely letter perfect." For Ewer, however, these were only "slight errors ... before the greatness of that general conception of the character of Hamlet to which in one leap he has vaulted." Ewer then began to sketch some of the qualities of Booth's admirable conception. Flexibility, he thought, was Booth's "chief point of beauty":
For with Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, on first meeting, he was familiar & easy; with the King and Queen he was dignified and filled with sadness; all his grief found vent at "O that this too solid flesh would melt"; with Horatio he was a warm and high-minded friend; with Ophelia, in the feigned madness, he was nearly impassioned enough, while at the same time, the "sweet sadness" of love was evident notwithstanding the veil thrown over it. We would suggest one point in reference to the closet scene with his mother. While the object of Hamlet is to rend her heart by the exhibit [sic] of her deeds, he should not fail to allow a certain respect and filial love to appear through the whole. In the last part of the scene Mr. Booth succeeded in this, but in the first part, where in truth it is most difficult to display it, he failed. But we have already devoted too much space and must hasten through [to mention the supporting actors].
Such lengthy, detailed reviews were unusual for the time. In this respect, Ewer was a pioneer in the area of American drama criticism. In contrast, the review appearing in the Alta of 26 April was typically cursory. It noted that Booth's performance was "highly creditable." Damning with faint praise, it continued: "We can predict a high degree of
success for the promising young artist when he shall overcome a few disagreeable faults in intonation and delivery, and reached a profounder conception of the part." Caroline Chapman's Ophelia was praised as "excellent, as everything in which this most talented woman undertakes" and Uncle Billy Chapman's First Gravedigger was "inimitable." On 27 April, a correspondent to the Alta signing himself "Play-Goer," criticized Ewer's review as "senseless adulation and absurd enthusiasm, an insult to the senses of its readers." Moreover, "Play-Goer" reminded Ewer that he had once praised James Stark, whereas now he depreciates "his 'cold' performance as Hamlet." On 29 April Ewer responded suggesting that "Play-Goer" was really a spokesperson for a rival theatre (the Adelphi probably) jealous of Booth's success at the San Francisco Theatre. He cited the applause of "the independent pit and boxes." He, furthermore, maintained his admiration for Stark's tragic impersonations, but noted that as Hamlet, Stark "did not seem to improve at all, as he did in his other characters," "never seemed to be able to shake off a stiffness unsuited to the part" and made the character "utterly unyielding, and not the easy, undulating, flexible thing, evidently intended.., by Shakespeare. "He even recommended that Stark consider dropping the role from his repertory. Ewer then described his conception of Hamlet:
Melancholy without gloom, contemplative yet without misanthropy, philosophical yet enjoying playfulness in social converse, a man by himself yet with ardent feelings of friendship, a thorough knower of human nature, Hamlet stands the type of all that is firm, dignified, gentlemanly and to be respected in a man.
Stark failed to capture this idea, but "Edwin Booth ... with the exception of sundry faults, many of which we mentioned, ... realized our conception of Hamlet given above and hence ... in our opinion its general effect was superior to ... Stark's Hamlet." Ewer's comments were prescient, for they reflected what Edwin's mature Hamlet was to become. However, Junius was not about to let Edwin become a tragedian. According to William Winter (Life and Art, 15), Junius warned him "against the possible danger of his mistaking the exuberant force of youth for complete mastery of the art of acting." He
"had a wonderful success for a young man" but he still had "much to learn." June returned Edwin to roles in comedy, farce, and burlesque, although Edwin was allowed to repeat Richard III on 2 May. That spring the actress Catherine Sinclair, recently divorced from Edwin Forrest after a bitterly contested, widely publicized trial, arrived in California where on 9 May she was featured as a star in Love's Sacrifice at the San Francisco Theatre. Edwin would soon play Claude Melnotte to her Pauline in The Lady of Zyons, Dazzle to her Melody Gay in Zondon Assurance, Charles Surface to her Lady Teazle, Petruchio to her Katharine. Winter also reports (Life and Art, 14) that Booth appeared in blackface as Dandy Cox in a minstrel version of the farce Box and Cox and impersonated one of San Francisco's leaders, Captain John V. Plume, in a topical burlesque. Plume, according to Winter, was so satisfied with the imitation that as a sign of approval he lent Booth his own hat, coat, and gaiters to authenticate his costume. On 25 May Sinclair finished her run at the San Francisco Theatre and the leading lady parts returned to Caroline Chapman. But the San Francisco Theatre's excellent stock company was eclipsed by the arrival of the notorious Lola Montez. Montez had been creating a sensation for two years in east coast theatres with her "Spider Dance." Drawing on Fanny Ellsler's dance La Tarantula, Lola created her own tarantella, the dance of a woman attacked by poisonous tarantulas. Sometimes she attached property tarantulas made of cork, whalebone, and rubber to her costume. In the course of the dance, she would try to pluck or whirl them off. At other times, the spiders were left to the imaginations of the spectators. But the movements, which seemed to either offend or titillate spectators, involved Lola desperately trying to find a single spider crawling about her body. Eventually Lola metamorphosed into a spider herself, dancing with a frenzied, darkly sinister and erotic expressiveness that men especially found fascinating. Montez opened the American Theatre on 26 May rather tamely as Lady Teazle in Sheridan's The School for Scandal, On the following night, she appeared first in a
drama called Yelva; or The Orphan Girl of Russia in which she played, according to one reviewer, "an artless and affectionate drunk girl." After this teaser, Lola presented her Spider Dance, which resulted in "uproarious and vehement" applause and a "storm of bouquets." Over the next few weeks, Lola appeared in various dramatic vehicles created expressively for her, such as Maritana; or, The Maid of Saragossa, Charlotte Cordage; or, Jacobins and Girondists, and a quasi-autobiographical, self-dramatizing piece titled Lola Montez in Bavaria in which she played herself as danseuse, politician, countess, revolutionary, and fugitive. These dramatic performances were invariably capped off with the Spider Dance. To experience Lola, patrons paid as much as $5.00 a seat in the dress circle and $15.00 for a private box. (11) For the satirist, the Lola phenomenon was irresistible. Indeed, wherever Lola appeared there was a rash of Lola burlesques before, during, and after her engagements. On 14 June, for example, the San Francisco Theatre presented Booth in Hamlet followed by a burlesque titled Lola Montez featuring Caroline Chapman as Katherine Klopper--i.e., Lola. On 20 June, shortly after Lola's engagement closed on 15 June, and she moved on to Sacramento and then semi-retirement in Grass Valley, Doc Robinson entered the Lola burlesque industry. His Who's Got the Countess? or, The Rival Houses featured Caroline Chapman as Mlle. Mula, Countess of Bohemia, and William "Uncle Billy" Chapman as Louis Buggins--i.e., Lewis Baker, manager of the American Theatre--a "Manager with a Spy Deer Dance." Caroline's burlesque of Lola was reportedly greeted with "vociferous" applause, but it was Uncle Billy's antics as a "male danseuse" shaking off the spiders that brought the house down. The Golden Era (26 June) commended Doc for the "first successful original piece in California" but thought that Uncle Billy's Spider Dance "laid it on a leetle too thick" (Quoted in Annals, 67). Although some complained that Doc's burlesque was vulgar and coarse, it continued to be a popular attraction. It followed a benefit performance of Richard III on 24 June with Junius in the title role and Edwin playing both Tressel and Richmond. On 27 June, it shared a bill with Edwin and Caroline in Romeo and Juliet, Edwin playing Romeo for "the first time." The Alta (27 June) commented: "That he is a young actor of great
promise there is no doubt and that he may yet reach the highest round in his profession there is little question. But the road he has entered upon is a hard and rugged one. It requires ceaseless and lifelong effort to attain the highest rank and it is no honest or candid pen that tells him he has already reached it. Yet the part was rendered last evening most effectually and was the best we have ever seen from him." Nevertheless, Edwin, for the most part, continued to play farce roles for the remainder of the season-Frank Heartall in The Soldier's Daughter, or Sir Alfred Highflyer in A Roland for an Oliver, or Givemsum in Buy It Dear, 'Tis Made of Cashmere. Lola Montez was only one of a number of old and new stars to step into San Francisco's theatrical limelight in 1853-1854. At about the time, for example, that Lola was setting up a household in Grass Valley, where coincidentally she would coach the famous child star, Lotta Crabtree, James E. Murdoch, after the elder Booth the most distinguished American tragedian to yet appear in California, opened at the American Theatre in August as Hamlet. The Alta called it "the most correct and in all the details of delineation the most perfect piece of acting that we have yet seen on the California Stage" (Annals, 69). Following the usual touring practice, Murdoch followed his engagement at the American with bookings in Sacramento, Stockton, and Marysville, after which he returned to San Francisco in September. But all of the theatres this fall were drawing meager audiences, perhaps because of high ticket prices--prices had increased to $3.00 for orchestra, $2.00 for dress circle and $1.00 for balconies--and a lack of novelty (Annals, 69-71). In December, however, audiences returned, attracted by a new theatre, the Metropolitan, which was being leased and managed by Catherine Sinclair. The Metropolitan was praised for its three tiers of boxes, its wide, roomy lobby, and its sumptuous furnishings and decoration. In February it also became the first theatre in San Francisco to be lit by gas. With business bad at the San Francisco Theatre, Junius had accepted an offer from Sinclair to be the stage manager at the new Metropolitan and Edwin went with him. The opening offering on 24 December was The School for Seandal with Murdoch as Charles Surface and Sinclair as Lady Teazle. Edwin
appeared as Mr. Jones Robinson Brownsmith in the popular afterpiece Little Toddykins (Annals, 72). On the second night of the Metropolitan's first season, Edwin appeared as Richard III. The Alta's critic (26 December) was stinting in his comments noting a physical resemblance to his father "as he appeared fifteen years ago," and opining that if Edwin labored "with diligence to bring out and to improve the talent which he really possesses, he will be able to perform this arduous part almost, if not fully as well, as did his father." Thereafter for the next three weeks Edwin played in support of Murdoch and Sinclair, mainly the juvenile leads, but also in light comedy roles in various afterpieces. Among the roles he played were Laertes, Iago, De Mauprat, Stukely (The Gamester), Pizarro, and Charles II, but as usual he was not reviewed. It should be noted that this was not the first time that Edwin had played in support of Murdoch. He had played Gaspar in support of Murdoch's Claude Melnotte and probably other roles as well in March 1851 at the Holliday Street Theatre in Baltimore. Murdoch's style was more like that of Macready than that of the elder Booth, less volatile, more classical, "gentlemanly," and elocutionary. Unlike the elder Booth, who was most esteemed for his villains and a few broadly comic characters, Murdoch was noted for his portrayal of heroic, introspective characters such as Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and Charles de Moor in The Robbers, as well as light comic characters such as Charles Surface, and Rover in Wild Oats. Murdoch was fairly tall and stocky and was encouraged in the early part of his career by Edwin Forrest, but he did not follow Forrest's muscular approach to roles. Although Edwin never mentioned being influenced by Murdoch--or, indeed, any other actor--something of Murdoch's approach, albeit unconsciously, may have rubbed off on him in these his formative years. Certainly, Booth's mature style and even some of the roles or types of roles for which he would become famous veered more in the direction of Murdoch than his father. Almost simultaneous with the opening of the Metropolitan, Lewis Baker at the American Theatre presented on 26 December a new young star, Matilda Heron, to San Francisco playgoers. She appeared in a number of romantic roles, including Mrs. Haller in The Stranger, Bianca in Fazio, the Countess in Love, but it was her Juliet that struck
reviewers as especially forceful. Critics praised her expressive, but restrained naturalness, especially when taking the sleeping potion and in her death scene. When, in February the Bakers retired from managing the American to return east, Heron moved to the Metropolitan where she remained for a number of weeks with Edwin partnering her in such plays as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Wife, The Hunchback and Fazio. While critical and audience attention continued to be focused on the young actress, Edwin was occasionally noticed, although not always positively. The Alta's reviewer (14 February), for example, praised his Romeo as "decidedly a very superior piece of acting," and his Fazio (19 February) as a "fine performance"; but several days later (17 February), he complained about his performance as the Count De Saxe (Adrienne, the Actress) "that an actor ought not to undertake to perform a part unless he be willing to exert himself to do it well." This was, however, an entirely new role for Edwin and he undoubtedly only had a day to prepare it. Still, stock actors were expected to prepare roles at short notice. On 19 February, Heron took a night off and Edwin played Macduff to the Macbeth of George Ryer, a second-class, aspiring star. The Alta (20 February) commented that Edwin "fully proved his superior powers." In April another star appeared in San Francisco who would have a more direct impact on the progress of Edwin's career. Laura Keene, unlike Matilda Heron, had already made a name for herself in the east playing romantic heroine and comedienne roles with Lester Wallack in such plays as The Lady of Lyons, Boucicault's Pauline, and as Rosalind in As You Like It. She also had served a short, but generally disappointing stint as manager of the Charles Street Theatre in Baltimore. Keene was undoubtedly drawn to San Francisco for the same reasons that had drawn other actors. Her much heralded opening was at the Metropolitan on 6 April in The Love Chase with Edwin supporting her as Master Wildrake. Her California debut, however, was, as the Alta (9 April) reviewer noted, "by no means ... a failure ... [but] she has not made a hit." Edwin was not mentioned. Ewer in his The Pioneer wrote that she did not perform "as well as she is capable of performing," suggesting that in New York she benefitted from the support of the strong acting ensemble at Wallack's: "She being the lady of the troupe gained a
reputation which she is unable to sustain when acting alone." He noted also that her "pieces came onto the stage without sufficient preparation. Some of the important actors around her were not perfect in their parts. We regret to say that this remark applies with too much truth to Mr. Edwin Booth." (12) Keene's Pauline (The Lady of Lyons) on 7 April was also found lacking by the Alta (8 April), while Edwin's Claude Melnotte was judged only "passable." After only three nights, Keene quit the Metropolitan, according to the Alta to recover from some "indisposition." According to Asia (The Elder and the Younger Booth, 138), Keene attributed her failure to Edwin's bad acting. She reports that there sprung up between the two "a mutual dislike which culminated in something like hatred; but the duties of theatrical life exacted that they should appear upon the stage together." Booth's subsequent relationship with Keene, however, does not support Asia's claim of mutual dislike. The ambience of San Francisco with its concert saloons, gambling dens, and bordellos, may have been more attractive for a young man of twenty, for the first time on his own with some money in his pocket and something of a local reputation in his profession, than theatrical study and preparation. Unlike many of the established actors such as Junius, Jr., Robinson, and the Chapmans who had families and lived in comfortable houses on Telegraph Hill, Edwin and David C. Anderson shared quarters in a more bohemian section on the fringe of the city, somewhat near the present site of Seventh and Mission Streets. They sardonically referred to their small, two-room house on a plot of land about seventy-five by two hundred feet as the "Ranch" and listed themselves in the city directory as "comedians and rancheros" (The Elder and the Younger Booth, 138). After Keene's departure, Sinclair turned to operatic presentation, and Edwin was pretty much "at liberty," although on 23 April (Shakespeare's birthday) he did appear, as Richard III, but the performance was not reviewed. Again on 25 April, between operatic performances, he appeared as Macbeth, "for the first time" according to the Alta, for the benefit of a Mrs. Woodward. There followed a series of benefits for various performers. Edwin, for example, played Petruchio to Sinclair's Katharine, then Fazio and Macbeth to
Heron's Bianca and Lady Macbeth. On 6 June for his own benefit, he acted Hamlet supported by Heron as Ophelia. None of these performances was reviewed. Towards the end of June, Booth was playing in support of the Bateman sisters--Kate and Ellen--child stars who first began performing in New York in 1849 when they were six and five respectively, and subsequently made much heralded appearances in other major cities, including London in 1851. Although best known for their Shakespeare presentations, at the Metropolitan they were starring in a piece called Mother's Trust," or California in 1819. Ellen played Zeke Stubbins, "a wide-awake Yankee boy, with a song" while Ellen played Ben "the devoted son." Edwin played a character called Gilmore. The Alta described the play, written by Mrs. Bateman, as lacking "entirely in dramatic unity," "meager" in plot, and with dialogue that was "strained and unnatural." Later in their run, Edwin endured Ellen and Kate as Richard and Richmond in the fifth act of Richard III. When the Batemans departed, he played Luis, a conquistador, in support of James Murdoch's De Soto in an historical epic, whose dramatic quality was only slightly higher than A Mother's Trust, titled De Soto," or, The Hero of the Mississippi Both plays, however, were popular with San Franciscans. For Edwin they were a long step down from Hamlet. Small wonder that he may have been open to a new adventure. In 1851, gold was discovered in Australia and, as in California, gold seekers were soon making the long voyage "down under." In the early 1850s, after playing in San Francisco, Sacramento, and the mining towns, actors regularly made the voyage to Australia to bring theatre to the burgeoning populations of Sydney and Melbourne and in so doing find gold of a different kind. In March 1853, for example, the Starks sailed to Australia. They returned in June 1854, reportedly richer by one hundred thousand dollars. (13) According to Asia (The Elder and the Younger Booth, 139), Dave Anderson urged Edwin to consider a professional tour to Australia and then negotiated with Laura Keene to join them. After her brief engagement at the Metropolitan, Keene had toured to Sacramento and Stockton when she apparently had recouped her health and reputation. In late June she was back in San Francisco as the sole manager and lessee
of the newly remodeled and redecorated Union Theatre. With a company mainly of Gold Coast veterans, including Caroline Chapman, the Hamiltons, George Spear, John McCabe and others, Keene presented a series of popular comedies, farces, and extravaganzas. When a production of a burlesque called The Prize; or, $1,000 in a Horn failed, Keene abandoned management. Her interest in an Australian tour, however, may have been more personal then professional. Under circumstances that remain clouded, Keene separated from her husband Henry Wellington Taylor sometime in 1851. He may have committed a crime and been shipped to Australia or he may simply have abandoned his wife and two daughters. In any case, Keene reportedly had received information from Stark that Taylor was in Australia. Anxious to secure a legal separation, which Taylor apparently contested, Keene was willing to risk the voyage to Australia. Edwin, Anderson, and Keene departed for Australia on 30 July 1854, arriving in Sydney some seventy-two days later on 11 October. Prior to their opening on 25 October at the Victoria Theatre in The Lady of Lyons, their engagement was puffed by the Illustrated Sydney News and the People's Advocate. In addition to enthusiastic commendations of their respective acting talents, the former journal printed portrait sketches of Laura and Edwin in The Lady of Lyons, of Laura as Marie de Meranine in Phillip of France, and of Edwin as Richard III. (14) Still they were comparatively unknown, and were following a succession of English and American visiting stars. Simultaneous with their engagement, the rival Lyceum Theatre, for example, was occupied by an American company which included the Thorne family and the Wallers. The Lady of Lyons was the opening play at both theatres on 25 October. In a novelty breeches turn, an actress named Kate Denin played Claude Melnotte to Emily Thome's Pauline at the Lyceum. On the whole, however, Edwin and Laura fared well against such competition. The Empire (30 October), for example, wrote that Keene's acting "while suggestive and forcible, [was] still natural and graceful." Booth's Claude Melnotte was praised as a clever performance and "in the farewell of Melnotte to Pauline and his mother, on his proceeding to join the
armies of the Republic, Mr. Booth was particularly effective, delineating faithfully the fiery zeal and independence of the proud and patriotic Frenchman." Through 4 November Booth and Keene appeared in a repertoire of such standards as The Merchant of Fenice, The Stranger, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III and Pauline. (15) The newspapers, for the most part, only noted the various performances, including Booth's Hamlet, Richard III, and Shylock. But The Illustrated Sydney News (4 November) called Booth's Benedick "a most finished performance-courtly, cavalier, love-proof, jaunty, humorous, he trod the stage defiant of all tender influences." The Empire (30 October) noted that in The Stranger Booth's "portrayal of the misanthrope's pride, agony, and tenacity of honor" stamped him "an actor of the highest order." (Keene "indisposed," according to the review, did not as usual play Mrs. Haller; Mrs. Guerin, a member of the Victoria stock company took her place.) The Empire review thought that as Hamlet Booth "fully sustained his reputation as a good tragedian, the various speeches and restorations being rendered by him in a most effective manner--particularly the magnificent soliloquy ... commencing 'To be, or not to be.'" Booth took his benefit on 4 November playing both Connor the Rash in "a splendid historical drama" titled The Knight of Arva; or, An Irishman's Fortune and Count Horace de Beauval in Pauline. On 8 November, Booth, Keene, and Anderson took passage to Melbourne. The Melbourne Argus of 14 November welcomed them, but noted that it was not an auspicious time to arrive, since there was already other performers lately arrived from England. Indeed, since the only legitimate theatre in Melbourne, the Queen's, was presently occupied by the Irish soprano Catherine Hayes, there was really no place for them to perform. But finally on 20 November they were able to open at the Queen's with Much Ado About Nothing. The Argus (21 November) commented that Booth's Benedick "some few national peculiarities of intonation apart, was very successful." Keene's Beatrice was also rendered "in a most pleasing and attractive manner." Much Ado was followed by performances of The Lady of Zyons, (21 November) Richard III, (22 November) a repeat of Much Ado, (23 November) and on their last night (24 November)
Plot and Passion and Grist to the Mill. The Argus further noted that their performances were generally well received, and houses were described as "filled," but apparently box office receipts were poor. Melbourne in 1854, like San Francisco in 1849, was an undeveloped, colonial outpost with a boomtown population of about 30,000. The Queen's Theatre, almost a decade old, seated only 800. Interest was mainly in gold mining. The Argus, for example, reported a stream of migration towards the Omeo diggings. For entertainment, a troupe of English equilibrists at Ashley's Amphitheatre was more attractive than Shakespeare. Indeed, Keene and Booth were among the very first actors to perform Shakespeare in Melbourne. On 2 December Keene, Booth, and Anderson embarked for San Francisco on the City of Norfolk. (16) Ships plying the Pacific between the Antipodes and California often stopped in Hawaii en route. The City of Norfolk put in at Honolulu on 17 February for several days reportedly for repairs. According to Asia, Edwin, Anderson and several other performers traveling with them decided to pool their resources and rent the Royal Hawaiian Theatre. Here they would mount several productions aiming to return to San Francisco with some money in hand after their economically disappointing Australian adventure. No mention is made of Keene as a member of this group. There is some evidence to indicate that she may have quarreled with members of the company over some business during the rehearsal of their opening production, Charles II; or, The Merry Monarch, and as a result decided to return on the City of Norfolk when it departed for San Francisco. The remaining company may have only numbered a half-dozen members, but by doubling roles they reportedly presented in addition to Charles II, performances of The Lady of Lyons, Richelieu, The Iron Chest, Hamlet and Richard III. Booth later reminisced that there was "only [one] lady in our company"--probably Mrs. Hamilton--so she was assigned to the roles of both the Duchess of York and Elizabeth. Lady Anne was played by an actor named Joe Roe, whom Booth described as "a stumpy fellow with bandy legs, cross-eyed ... with all his front teeth gone ... and a strong German accent." The two English armies were made up of native Hawaiians. The play was shortened "a good deal," but all-in-all, Booth remembered the "audiences were good natured ... and seemed well pleased." King Kamehamehah IV who attended told
Booth that he had seen his father as Richard in New York and "spoke kindly of our Richard." John F. Thurm, who assisted Booth in printing and posting bills advertising the performances, many years later remembered that Richard III was performed for Edwin's farewell benefit and then reprised at the request of Honolulu's "leading citizens and whaling captains who were enthusiastic over the young tragedian's acting." On the first night of Richard III, according to Thrum, in an incident evoking some of his father's performances, "in the combat scene ... Booth was so carried away by the excitement of the moment, that the actor representing [Richmond] narrowly escaped an ugly sword wound." Booth, Anderson, and company sailed from Honolulu on 28 March. (17) By 2 May 1855, Booth was back on stage in San Francisco appearing once again at the Metropolitan Theatre as Benedick to Catherine Sinclair's Beatrice. He was "most cordially greeted" especially by "the large number of ladies" in the audience, according to the Alta (3 May). When Much Ado was reprised the next night, the Alta (4 May) called Booth's Benedick "an excellent piece of acting." On 4 May, Booth played Richard III, a role, which like his father before him, he was increasingly making his own. The Alta (5 May) commented, "in most respects his performance was excellent. It struck us, however, that he did not quite conceive the character. He appeared too young and sprightly, with not enough of the deep, subtle cunning that we ... associate with ... Richard. Yet he read the part finely, giving the intense passages with great force. He has greatly improved during the last year, and is fast ascending the ladder of fame to the round where once stood his distinguished father." In The Pioneer Magazine (June 1855), Ewer chided him for devoting "too little time to study." For another year, Booth would continue to play a wide variety of roles in both San Francisco and Sacramento. The Metropolitan closed for two weeks, reopening on 14 May for the presentation of Rousset Ballet Company for a fortnight. Then on 28 May, Jean Margaret Davenport, a popular star of the emotional school, who had been playing in San Francisco since March, began a series of highly touted farewell engagements at the Metropolitan. Edwin supported her in her usual repertoire, which included such romantic vehicles as The Hunchback, Valeria, Love, The Wife and her most celebrated vehicle Camille. Critical
attention was for the most part exclusively on Davenport, but the Alta (30 May) did note that Edwin's Armand in Camille "was worthy of him, for he well sustained this very difficult character." On 6 June, the Alta wrote of his Julian St. Pierre (The Wife), "we have rarely witnessed an impersonation by this promising young actor with greater satisfaction." Following Davenport's departure, Booth appeared on 9 June for Sinclair's benefit as Joseph Surface. He does not seem to have acted again until 10 July when he played Frank Heartall in The Soldier's Daughter for the benefit of Mrs. Woodward. Indeed, Sinclair was having significant financial difficulty, mainly because of her efforts to establish a regular program of grand opera presentations in San Francisco. Early in 1854, she had presented Anna Thillon, an English singer of international reputation, in a fairly successful series of light operas in English. Then in the early and latter part of the 1854-55 season, she attempted to mount a series of grand operas, combining the talents of Anna Rivere Bishop, another English soprano, and a small Italian troupe led by soprano Clothilda Barili-Thorn. Sinclair's sister Margaret Sinclair Voorhees also was a member of this company. Opera performances were alternated with ballets, pantomimes, comic skits, and regular legitimate plays. While some of the opera productions--particularly premiers--played to good houses, most performances did not draw. At the end of the season, Sinclair reported that her efforts to establish a regular opera series had resulted in a loss of almost $15,000 forcing her to resign from the management of the Metropolitan. (18) Shortly after Laura Keene returned from Australia in the spring 1855, she had secured the lease of the American Theatre. Here she presented through the spring and summer a range of plays, including scenically splendid productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. On 30 July Edwin appeared at the American in the extravaganza Tom and Jerry as "Corithian Tom" for the benefit of two members of Keene's company (Annals, 89). Keene had decided to quit California and obtain management of a theatre in New York. According to Asia (The Elder and the Younger
Booth, 147), she offered Edwin a position as leading man in her company, but he decided "he should hold his place as a 'star'. " He then traveled to Sacramento where Sinclair had leased the Sacramento Theatre for a "short season" as a playbill noted)9 Throughout August and most of September, Booth appeared in a range of roles, including single performances as Richard III, Macbeth, Hamlet, Malvolio, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Antipholous of Syracuse in The Twin Dromios, an adaptation of The Comedy of Errors. (20) But most often, he played light comic roles such as Jack Spriggs in Look Before You Leap," or, Wooings and Weddings, Master Wildrake in The Love Chase, Antony Latour, "a Creole," in a romantic drama titled Love's Fetters, and Mr. Oakley in Coleman's The Jealous Wife. Often he played in support of the Gougenheim sisters, Adelaide and Josephine (Joey) who were very popular stars on the California stage. He also occasionally appeared in afterpiece farces, most often as Captain Murphey Maguire in A Serious Family. On 22 September, the engagement at the Sacramento Theatre ended and Edwin returned to San Francisco and the Metropolitan Theatre, now being managed by Keene. When Keene left San Francisco to return east on 5 October, Booth moved to the American Theatre, playing once again in support of the Gougenheim sisters in their comic vehicles--including The Love Chase, The Honeymoon, The Court and Stage, and Love's Fetters. Meanwhile at the Union Theatre, James Stark and McKean Buchanan, a minor tragedian in the "heroic," Forrest style, were appearing in such plays as Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet, A New Way to Pay Old Debts, and The Iron Chest. At the Metropolitan, Junius was playing Iachimo in a rare production of Cymbeline. Perhaps Edwin was irked by having to play such lightweight parts, while actors with less talent starred in the more substantial roles that were his birthright. The critic of the Alta alluded on 10 October to a certain cavalierness in his performances, chiding him to study his parts more thoroughly: "Something is necessary besides genius, and Mr. Booth must know that no man ever attained the highest rank in the profession, without careful and patient study. We say this in kindness towards Mr. Booth, for we believe that he
possesses qualifications to make him second to no actor in the country." Finally towards the end of the month, Edwin got his opportunity to play Sir Edward Mortimer, Hamlet, and Richard III (the fifth act only.) But the Alta reviewed none of his performances. That October, a new theatre named after Edwin Forrest opened in Sacramento. The managers, Charles A. King and George Ryer, advertised their company as the "Great Star Company of California." Most of the leading actors of San Francisco's American Theatre were recruited for this new company, including Edwin, Caroline Chapman and George Spear. Edwin opened the new theatre on 6 November as Benedick to Caroline Chapman's Beatrice. He followed this with performances of Charles Surface and Young Marlowe, but then he may have been summarily dismissed from the company for being drunk on stage. (21) Catherine Sinclair, however, had once again assumed management of the Sacramento Theatre and hired Edwin to be her leading man. As he had in the past, he played Benedick to her Beatrice, Petruchio to her Kate, Claude Melnotte to her Pauline, but he also played Richard III and the Stranger. The most notable event of this engagement, however, was the American premier of the romantic melodrama The Marble Heart written by English actor-playwright Charles Selby. The Marble Heart; or, the Sculptors Dream." A Romance of Real Life had its premier at the Royal Adelphi Theatre in May 1854. The theme of the play is introduced in the first act which is set in the studio of the ancient Greek sculptor Phidias who, Pygmalion-like, has become so enamored with three women figures he has carved that he refuses to sell them to Gorgias who commissioned them. The philosopher Diogenes, a friend of Phidias, is asked to settle the question of ownership. He decides that Phidias and Gorgias should plead their cause to the statues who will then somehow show their preference. Phidias admits that he is poor but that he loves the statues; Gorgias, on the other hand, offers them extravagant wealth and fame. The statues--posed according to a note in the script like Canova's "Three Graces"--come to life turning their heads and smiling at Gorgias. Phidias is devastated by their ingratitude. Diogenes emotes:
Oh, marble hearts, marble hearts! False ones of the past, false ones of the future; woe to the man who loves you, thy gold bought
smiles have ever been and ever will be ministers of ruin, misery, and death!
The remaining four acts move forward in time to contemporary 1850s France. Raphael Duchatlet, a young sculptor, is smitten with Mademoiselle Marco, a notorious femme fatale. Despite warnings from his best friend and his worried, aged mother, Raphael, neglects his work and the care of his mother and squanders his money and time on Mlle. Marco. Marco is in love with Raphael, but having clawed her way out of poverty, by her own admission her heart has become marble to everything but gold. Her love for Raphael is in conflict with her need to secure a wealthy marriage, and she eventually spurns the sculptor. Heartbroken, Raphael returns to work, but the news of his mother's sudden death is a severe blow to his already weakened heart and he expires in the arms of his best friend. Marco rushes in to seek Raphael's forgiveness and love, but she is too late. The curtain tings down on a view of the statues of Act I along with a reprise of Diogenes's lines. The Marble Heart is a typical romantic melodrama of its time, but the characters of Raphael and Marco are well developed and offer opportunities to project a range of conflicting emotions. The major supporting characters are also well drawn. With its mixture of suspense, sentiment, sensationalism, and scenic spectacle and music and song to reinforce the drama, The Marble Heart had all the requisites for popularity. Furthermore, the theme may well have resonated with a Sacramento audience comprised mostly of young men, far from home, and vulnerable to having their hearts broken by heartless coquettes with gold bought smiles. With Edwin as Phidias and Raphael, Sinclair as Mlle. Marco, and Henry Sedley, a young actor from Boston newly arrived in California, as Diogenes and Volage, Raphael's adviser and friend, The Marble Heart opened on 10 December. The Sacramento Daily Union (11 December) reviewer observed that the play was "one of merit, beautifully written, abounding in variety of incident, and like all French dramatic productions, appealing strongly to the passions." Sinclair's representation of Mlle. Marco was commended for its "good taste, correct conception ... and general effectiveness in
reading and acting." Henry Sedley also was singled out for exhibiting "a versatility of talent which in his previous personations we have been unable to accredit [sic] him with." The reviewer, however, thought Booth "deficient in the text, and moreover he acted the part of the sculptor too tamely, although in the scene of the parting with Marco [in Act 4] he was exceedingly effective. Without derogating to ourselves assumptive criticism ... [if Booth] was to study his text more, and act less, the effect of his personation of Raphael would redound to his own credit, and to the greater satisfaction of his auditors." The Sacramento Daily Union continued to print daily notices about performances of The Marble Heart noting that it was nightly drawing full houses. By 13 December, the reviewer commented that all the actors, including Booth presumably, appeared to be "perfectly versed in their parts and act naturally, which, after all, is the true source of dramatic inspiration." On 17 December the Sacramento Daily Union reported that the run was extended and that, furthermore, the performances were now complemented by new scenery, novel machinery, another tableau, and a so-called "classical apotheosis of wonderful effect and beauty"--probably a version of the "Three Graces" tableau called for in the script. Undoubtedly the new scenic effects were in response to the competition offered at the rival Forrest Theatre by the popular Gougenheim sisters. (Surely Sinclair must have been somewhat annoyed also by the fact that the competing theatre was named after her former husband.) Eventually, The Marble Heart would be presented for fourteen consecutive performances--from 10 through 25 December--an unprecedented run in California for the time. It was reprised on 28 and 29 December and 4, 7, and 11 January. A production of The Corsican Brothers was prepared for New Year's Eve with Edwin doubling as the twins Fabien and Louis dei Franchi. The Democratic State Journal of 3 January observed, however, that Booth "struggled through [the performance] dragging everything down to the depths of disgust. Speaking mildly, he was intoxicated." Edwin was then publicly taken to task: "He who is cast to sustain a prominent position in an honorable and polished profession and has so little regard for himself, or regard for an audience as to voluntarily become incapacitated by drink, is undeserving the countenance of any community. The audience was indeed small, but a few more such
nights will cause it to be even smaller." But the next evening, Booth acted in The Lady of Lyons and Katherine and Petruchio, according to the State Journal (2 January) "with great perfection." However, the State Journal (7 January) noted that Booth's performance of Richard III on 5 January went fairly well for the first two acts, "but when Gloster became King he took too much toddy, and the consequence was he fell ignobly." The critic of the Sacramento Daily Union (7 January) was kinder noting only that "we looked in vain for that portraiture of passion and character so intellectually and happily embodied on some of his previous representations of the deformed monarch." When this engagement closed on 11 January, Booth and Sinclair toured The Marble Heart to Marysville and Stockton and then to the Metropolitan Theatre in San Francisco. The critic of the Alta (16 January) observed that it was "a very remarkable production and one of the most interesting plays ever produced here." Sinclair, he thought, "never played better and pictures the heartless Parisian coquette to the life." Several days later (19 January) he commented that Booth's Raphael was "a very fine performance" and then on 21 January after the last night of The Marble Heart, he summarized that "in the personation of the Sculptor" Booth showed "much of the genius of his great father." Later in his career Booth occasionally revived The Marble Heart and no doubt he could have made his mark as a grand romantic actor, but his ambitions drove him in another direction. On 18 February, Booth and Sinclair were back in Sacramento--ironically for Sinclair--at the Forrest Theatre for what was advertised as the forty-third performance of The Marble Heart in California. It played through 20 February, but as the State Journal (20 February) noted it was not drawing "as formerly." (22) Intending a tour to Australia, Catherine Sinclair commenced a two-week "farewell engagement in Sacramento." Booth supported her as usual in her most popular vehicles, such as The Lady of Lyons, Madelaine; or, the Foundling of Paris and Katharine and Petruchio. The State Journal (21 February) commented that Claude Melnotte was "perhaps Booth's greatest character; at any rate we think he plays it better than any other we have seen him assume, and better indeed than any actor on the California boards."
After Sinclair departed, Booth remained at the Forrest now leased by Benjamin A. Baker, an experienced stage manager and the author of d Glance at New York (1848) that introduced Frank Chanfrau as the popular character, Mose the Bowery B'hoy. Booth played in support of a popular Sacramento actress, Estelle Potter, mainly in a range of comedic and romantic roles such as Armand in Anna Cora Mowatt's Armand; or, the Peer and the Peasant, Gennaro, a young soldier of fortune, in Lucretia Borgia; or, The Poisoner, Sir Thomas Clifford in Knowles's The Hunchback, Dazzle in London Assurance, and two roles in a popular, moralistic potboiler of the era titled The Six Degrees of Crime: Wine, Women, Gambling, Theft, Murder, and Scaffold (The playbill for this latter production solemnly announced, "Be warned ye youths, for Justice must be satisfied.") The State Journal (13 March) praised his Armand as "an excellent impersonation; vigorous and manly," noting that he was "an actor of very superior merit ... destined to make a figure in the world." But the State Journal (30 March) found Six Degrees of Crime "too dull and bloody even for the theatrical habitues of Sacramento" and it was withdrawn after a single performance. Booth also appeared in a number of farcical afterpieces both during Mrs. Potter's engagement and towards the middle of April when the chief attraction at the Forrest was Mr. Lenton the "antipodean" who created an illusion of being able to walk on the ceiling for a length of twenty-eight feet. Booth even played the Ghost in a production of Hamlet featuring one C. C. Clapp, a retired local dancing master. The State Journal (15 and 16 April) reported that Clapp's performance was "greeted by laughter from the audience" but he nonetheless reprised it the next night when he was bombarded with radishes, turnips, onion and cabbages. But "antipodeans" and dancing master Hamlets were not unusual fare in Gold Coast theatres. In late March, spectators at the Forrest Theatre, who had suffered through Alexandre Dumas pere's melodrama La Tour de Nesle; or, The Chamber of Death, were rewarded with the fifth act of Richard III in which Richard and Richmond dueled to the death mounted on jackasses! On 19 April, a "grand testimonial" benefit was arranged for Booth by members of the state legislature and the citizens of Sacramento. Booth appeared as Sir Edward Mortimer, as Hamlet in Act II only, and as Mr. Jones Robinson Brownsmith in Little
Toddykins. It proved so popular a program that at the request of certain legislators and citizens, Booth reprised it on 22 April. The State Journal (21 April) reported that Booth's Hamlet "will compare favorably with Murdoch and Stark, and we have heard connoisseurs declare that since Macready, they have seen no Hamlet equal to Booth's. We are not prepared to go that far, but certainly his representation of this great and difficult character was such that himself [sic] and friends may well feel proud of it. With close study, such as Mr. Booth is now devoting to his profession, he will soon rank among the first representatives of dramatic character." On 26 April Booth transferred to the Sacramento Theatre, where still under the management of Ben Baker, he was given star billing as "the young American tragedian." With the exception of an occasional appearance as Mr. Jones Robinson Brownsmith, Booth, perhaps encouraged by the press and audiences, and his own ambition and confidence, began to appear solely in the roles that were standard fare for mid-nineteenth century tragedians. For a week at the Sacramento Theatre, he played Othello, Payne's Brutus, Sir Giles Overreach, and Richard III. The State Journal was cautious, noting only that his Othello was "well sustained" (29 April) and that while his Brutus (2 May) was "full of fire, and in effect [Booth] looked and spoke the character admirably, ... with a few exceptions [it] was not ably sustained." His Hamlet on 29 April, however, prompted the State Journal (30 April) to write that with this performance Booth "added a head and shoulders to his professional height. We doubt much whether there is living any better representative of this greater and master character." Following his performance of Sir Giles Overreach on Saturday 3 May, Booth seems to have traveled down to San Francisco to appear for a fortnight at the Union Theatre then under the management of Junius. He opened on 5 May as Hamlet and then offered performances of what was becoming his standard repertoire of tragic heroes and villains. (23) The San Francisco theatrical scene in May 1856 was very much affected by a series of violent events that culminated in the formation of a so-called Vigilante Committee--a group of citizens determined to restore order to the city. Taking the law into their own hands, the committee lynched two jailed men who had been arrested for shooting two
prominent San Francisco citizens; then they rounded-up and summarily deported many of the city's worse criminals. The city, divided between pro- and anti-Vigilante elements, was tense and even dangerous. It was not an ambience to attract San Franciscans to the theatre and attendance slumped. Edwin left San Francisco and returned to the Forrest Theatre in Sacramento where beginning on 15 May he appeared as Pescara, Sir Giles, Romeo, Sir Edward Mortimer, and "for the first time" Cardinal Richelieu on 24 May. Perhaps with the worst of the Vigilante crisis over, Edwin then returned to San Francisco, performing for a series of benefits at the Union and the Metropolitan Theatres. At the latter theatre on 27 May, he performed Richelieu for the first time in San Francisco. The Alta (28 May) commented that he "read the text ... in a very superior manner," but that it was "impossible ... to accept the illusion that he was a very old man." Still his "fine elocution" was some compensation for his inappropriate age and "ten years hence, with proper care and study [he] may be the greatest Richelieu living." Then to close the season, he was back once again at the Forrest Theatre on 5 June for three performances as Pescara, Richelieu, and Julian St. Pierre in The Wife; or, A Tale of Mantua for the benefit of Baker. Probably at this juncture, Edwin embarked on a tour of the mining towns with a small company managed by one Ben Moulton. He probably knew Moulton through Harriet Carpenter, Mrs. Moulton, a prominent actress with whom he had acted at the Forrest Theatre. Sierra County can be notoriously dry in the summer months and many of the mountain towns experienced devastating fires in the summer of 1856. The State Journal (13 June), for example, reported that the water level of the Sacramento River was so low that drinking water was scarce. Numerous fires were reported in the region throughout July and August. Shortly after the arrival of the Moulton company in Nevada City, a fire started in Frisbie's Theatre. The conflagration not only destroyed the theatre, but all of the company's costumes and properties. Although touring the mining towns was usually a profitable enterprise, this tour seemed an exception. When the company moved on to Downieville, Moulton reportedly abandoned the company. The driver of the Moulton company's wagon then seized Edwin's own horse as security for the money
owed him by the manager. With the company and tour in disarray, Booth made his way back to Sacramento, arriving there "penniless." (24) On 6 August the State Journal reported that the Sacramento Joint Stock Dramatic Association was engaged at the Forrest Theatre where they were "striving to recover from the losses sustained ... in the recent fires ... in the mountain towns." Harriet Moulton, Sophie Edwin, and John S. Potter, who were probably members of the ill-fated Moulton tour, were listed as principals in this new company, but not Edwin. However, according to the State Journal (7 August), he did play Romeo to the Juliet of Harriet Moulton for her benefit on 8 August. On 16 August the State Journal noted that another new rival company would soon open at the Forrest Theatre. Touted as the "best company in the state," its members included Junius and Harriet Mace, Dave Anderson, William Barry, the Woodwards, and Edwin who would appear "in a round of his favorite characters, being positively his last engagement prior to his departure for the Atlantic States." Edwin opened on 19 August as Hamlet and followed with Brutus, Richard III, Macbeth, and Richelieu. The State Journal (20 August) commented that "a fashionable audience" greeted Edwin's Hamlet and that his conception and delineation of the character was "excellent." The theatre continued to be crowded through the week and the State Journal commended Edwin's "rising genius." His performance as Richelieu on 23 August was billed as a "grand, complimentary farewell testimonial." A Sacramento architect, M. P. Butler, may have arranged this benefit. According to Asia (The Elder and the Younger Booth, 143-144), Butler had urged Edwin to quit California and return east. He told Edwin that an obscure actor named Boothroyd Fairclough "was attempting to take the position that should be his; that now while his father's memory was clear to the American heart, he alone should assume the vacant place." Fairclough was touring as a would-be star in 1855-56 in a repertoire of the same roles long identified with the elder Booth. Although Fairclough's career as a star seems to have fizzled out rather quickly after this season, perhaps Edwin did believe that he was a potential threat. The State Journal (25 August) reported that the audience for Booth's benefit was the "most fashionable ... ever ... gathered in Sacramento" and included "a
large number of ladies" undoubtedly attracted by Edwin's matinee idol handsomeness. Indeed after his curtain call, the "Ladies of Sacramento" presented him with "a valuable diamond ring." (25) Edwin seems to have taken a week off after this gala performance, but on 1 September he was feted with a second complimentary benefit arranged, according to the State Journal (1 September), by the "citizens of Sacramento" to "give him a 'bumper' previous to his departure for the Atlantic States and Europe." (Europe would be several years into the future, however.) For this benefit, Edwin played Iago to the Othello of Charles Pope, a leading California actor. The Sacramento Daily Union (2 September) thought Booth "never appeared to better advantage." The next day, he was accompanied to the San Francisco boat by "a number of citizens." As the boat departed, the band from the Forrest Theatre "struck up a parting tune" and the crowd gave "three hearty cheers." It was a rousing, encouraging send-off. Booth then traveled to San Francisco where a number of the city's prominent citizens arranged two complimentary benefit performances for him. On 3 September, he performed Lear with Junius supporting him as Edgar, as Edwin had once supported their father. The Wide West (7 September) called his performance "a complete success," although "his youthful appearance ... operated against him and prevented the illusion from being perfectly kept up; but in many portions of the play his acting surpassed any of his efforts in other characters." (26) The Daily Alta (8 September) was even more laudatory calling Lear "a triumph of art":
The readings of Mr. Booth are very beautiful and his style of acting pleasing and impressive and with care and study we are satisfied he will yet become as great an actor as his father. In the "curse scene" and the "mad scene" he was particularly great, and throughout the whole performance exhibited more enlarged powers as an actor than we have ever given him credit for. (27)
On 4 September Edwin appeared as Richard III, the next day, he and Ben Baker departed for the eastern states on the steamer Golden Age.
Looking back on Booth's California years, one is struck by several points. Even at a very early age his suitability for and adeptness at playing some of the roles for which he became famous--Hamlet, Richard III, Iago, for example--were recognized by a number of California critics and theatregoers. Booth also seems early on to have set his sights on playing the mostly Shakespearean tragic heroes and villains that were the repertoire of the classical tragedian of his time. He aspired to inherit and perhaps pay homage to the mantle of his father. However, excepting his final few months, over the course of his years in California, he appeared in such classical roles infrequently. More often than not, undoubtedly because they were the opportunities presented to him, he played light comedy or farce roles and "lover" characters in the popular melodramatic, romantic dramas of the day. With a few notable exceptions, Petruchio and Benedick, for example, Booth would generally eschew such roles in the future, especially romantic lovers, but he was clearly facile at playing them. In his mature years, even though his repertoire of roles increasingly narrowed, he had a range and versatility and a certain lightness of touch or approach beyond that of other classical tragedians of the era. He may have chafed at playing farce and even roles such as Claude Melnotte or Charles Surface, but this experience provided the foundation for his mature, inimitable style and his professional superiority. His brother June was right in steering him towards comedy and away from tragedy. From working with Caroline Chapman, Laura Keene, Matilda Heron, Catherine Sinclair, Jean Davenport, and James E. Murdoch--all talented performers--perhaps he learned various "tricks of the trade," some acting techniques, and the value of such on-stage partnerships. In later years, to elevate his own performances and the art of the theatre, Booth eagerly shared the stage with actors reputedly as skillful and talented as he was, although few, if any, ever were. In California, Booth also became a professional and he shared in the vicissitudes and fortunes and the artistic highs and lows of the profession. He never forgot these lessons; when it became possible for him to do so, he worked diligently to elevate the profession both on-and off stage. It is regrettable that there is not more evidence of Booth's personal, private life in California--no string of letters, no journal or diary, no accounts, for example, of romantic liaisons, or exotic South Seas adventures. But his
life must have been rich with a panoply of human experiences and various relationships; on the long voyage to Australia and back, he had time to reflect, to take stock and plan, to chart a course for his career. At the very least, California gave Booth a certain breadth and depth of life experience, perhaps beyond that of a typical twenty-year-old actor, that he must then have sublimated into the roles he played. The decades ahead would build on these life experiences in rewarding and unsettling, tragic ways. Some of his demons, such as John Barleycorn, would continue to pursue him off and on for another half-dozen years. Still, on balance, in ways that he probably did not fully realize, California was "golden" for him. He would return to San Francisco in the mid-1870s and then again in the late 1880s and early 1890s, and he would always look back nostalgically, ruefully on his youth in the Golden West, his "salad days" as he called them quoting Antony and Cleopatra (I.v. 73) when he was "green in judgment." [FIGURE 3 OMITTED] Notes (1.) See Stanley Kimmel, The Mad Booths of Maryland, Second Revised Edition, (New York: Dover Publications, 1969), 84-131; Richard Lockridge, Darling of Misfortune: Edwin Booth, 1833-1803. (New York: The Century Co., 1932) 49-53; Eleanor Ruggles, Prince of Players, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1953), 53-77; and William Winter, Life and Art of Edwin Booth (New York: Macmillan and Co., 1893), 7-19. (2.) For Junius Brutus Booth, Jr.'s career in California see Susan Carol Holmes's thesis "Junius Brutus Booth, Jr.: A Pioneer Actor-Manager of the California Stage" (San Jose State College, 1971). See Misha Berson, The San Francisco Stage: From Gold Rush to Golden Spike, 1849-1869. (San Francisco: Performing Arts Library and Museum, 1989) for a brief, but excellent overview. (3.) Lois M. Foster recounts the rivalry between McGuire and Robinson--"the battle of the managers," she calls it--in Part 1 of Annals of the San Francisco Stage, 18501880, a
Federal Theatre Research project published in San Francisco in 1937. Hereafter cited as Annals. (4.) Booth Memorials: Passages, Incidents, and Anecdotes in the Life of Junius Brutus Booth by His Daughter (New York: Carleton, 1866), 48. See also Stephen M. Archer, Junius Brutus Booth: Theatrical Prometheus (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 15. (5.) One of the most vivid accounts of this journey is Bayard Taylor's Eldorado; or, Adventures in the Path of Empire (1850). Edwin's reaction is described in unpublished material attached to a University of Illinois Library copy of Asia Booth Clarke's The Elder and the Younger Booth (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1881). (6.) For the elder Booth's California engagements, see Archer, 215-18, 278. (7.) According to J [ames] J. McCloskey (1825-1913) "The Drama in California" New York Dramatic Mirror (25 December 1894). McCloskey's early career was spent as an actor and manager at the Park Theatre in Brooklyn. He went to California at least as early as 1851 where he played small supporting roles in various stock and touring companies. Later he returned to New York becoming a successful playwright, member of the American Dramatists Guild, and for many years also Clerk of the City Court of New York. In addition to the article cited above, McClosky wrote several articles or reminisced to reporters about his years in California and his memories of Booth in the New York Advertiser, 3 June 1894; the New York Dramatic Mirror, 15 August 1896, 25 December 1904, 22 December 1906; the New York Sun, 4 March 1906; and The Greenbook Album June, 1911. No doubt he and Booth were acquainted, but he was not among Booth's group of friends and correspondents. When McCloskey wrote or was quoted in these articles, he was past 70 and his memory of events fifty years old was perhaps not altogether accurate. He tends to repeat many of the same anecdotes, although from one telling to the next details are sometimes at odds. In one article, for example, he is quoted as having traveled to Australia with Booth; but in another he writes that he went there with another company. His dates for certain events are also
sometimes incorrect. McCloskey's anecdotes, furthermore, are not verified by other sources. Still Kimmel, Lockridge, and Ruggles drew largely on McCloskey's reminiscences for their sections on Booth's experiences in California. (8.) The most reliable account of Booth's tour through the mining camps in the fall and early winter of 1852-53 is undoubtedly Asia's record in The Elder and the Younger Booth, 133-36. William Winter's Life and Art of Edwin Booth seems to draw mainly on Asia's account. McCloskey also adds details about this tour. See also Constance Rourke, Troupers of the Gold Coast; or the Rise of Lotta Crabtree, (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc. 1928), 47-48. (9.) In an article in the New York Tribune, Illustrated Supplement, 24 August 1902, 12, William Winter listed most of Booth's appearances at the San Francisco Theatre drawing on a letter to Edwin from Ferdinand Ewer. See note #10 below. I also relied on listings in the Daily Alta. The Alta reviewed none of Edwin's performances in comedy, however. He was after all only a supporting player. When actors were noticed at all, it was usually only leading actors and even then notices were terse. (10.) Ewer's reviews are taken from Charles H. Shattuck, "Edwin Booth's First Critic" Theatre Survey 8 (May 1966) 1-14. His personal comments are from an 1877 letter to Booth preserved at the Folger Library, T.b.5. (11.) Lola's San Francisco engagement is described in detail in George R. McMinn's The Theatre of the Golden Era in California, (Caldwell, ID: The Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1941), 309-365. She appeared one last time in San Francisco in August 1856, but at thirty-eight her allure and her energy were fading. That fall she left for the east coast never to return to California. She gave lectures and published a popular guide called The Arts of Beauty; or, Secrets of a Lady's Toilet, with Hints to Gentlemen on the Art of Fascinating, but she died in comparative obscurity in 1861 in Brooklyn where she was buried under her given name of Eliza Gilbert. See Bruce Seymour, Lola Montez: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.)
(12.) Quoted in Ben Graf Henneke, Laura Keene: Actress, Innovator, Impresario, (Tulsa: Council Oak Books, 1990), 31. I have drawn on Henneke for Keene's activities in California and Australia. (13.) The amount of their profit was probably exaggerated. Kimmel (109) without identifying a source says it was $60,000. (14.) This account, except when otherwise noted, draws on Eric Irvin "Laura Keene and Edwin Booth in Australia." Theatre Notebook 23 (Spring 1969) 95-100. I also had access to reviews from Sydney and Melbourne newspapers. See also Henneke, 34. (15.) The engagement was as follows: 23 and 26 October, The Lady of Lyons; 24 October, The Merchant of Venice; 25 October, The Stranger; 27 October, Hamlet; 28 October and 1 November Much Ado About Nothing; 30-31 October, Philip of France; 2 and 4 November, Pauline; 3 November, Richard III; 4 November, The Knight of Arva; or, An Irishman's Fortune. Various afterpieces followed the main piece, but neither Keene nor Booth appeared in these; rather Dave Anderson was featured. (16.) Kimmel (116), citing a story in the New York Dramatic Mirror 15 January 1887 titled "The Romance of Laura Keene," notes that between the closing in Melbourne and embarkation two weeks later, Keene "jumped about the country playing engagements under her own name, which she lavishly reported to the San Francisco press at a later date. After discovering that the father of her two daughters was in prison for life, [she] rejoined the company ... and sailed with them." I find no evidence, however, supporting additional performances. The passenger list of the City of Norfolk does list all three. For this latter information my thanks to C. A. McCallum, Chief Librarian of the Public Library of Victoria, and Elaine Morrell of Summer, Washington. Kimmel writes (115) that in a letter to his mother, Booth reported that in Melbourne he had his photograph taken and got drunk on his twenty-first birthday--November 13th. It does seem unlikely, however, that Booth would tell his mother that he got drunk. Booth also reported that he "barely escaped having his skull cracked by a large coconut that fell from a tree under which he was resting." Booth was born with a caul that he believed, in accordance with certain
folk superstitions of the time, destined him for a charmed life. That the coconut missed him, he credited to his caul. According to Kimmel, Booth enclosed a copy of the photograph with his letter. Kimmel, however, does not cite a source for this letter and I have not found such a letter or photograph in the usual collections of Boothiana. (17.) Winter (Life and Art, 12, 16) writes that the group stopped in the Samoan Islands and Tahiti, where performances were given, but the only evidence of performance is in Hawaii. Information about Booth's experiences in Honolulu is scant and its reliability is sometimes questionable. Asia (The Elder and the Younger Booth, 141) recounts the performance of Richard III. Booth's own reminiscences were reported in a story first printed in the Philadelphia Evening Telegram 14 October 1889 and then repeated in Daniel Frohman's Memories of a Manager (1911), 18-22. An article in the Alto (27 June 1881) mentions performances of Charles II, Hamlet, and Lady of Lyons and alludes to Keene's quarrel. John F. Thrum's reminiscence appears in the Hawaiian Almanac and Annual (1906), 94-95. Thrum also belies the story reported in Lockridge (57-58) that Booth hired some natives to post bills, but that they ate the poi which was used as a paste for the purpose, so that Booth was forced to post the bills himself. Lockridge (58) also alludes to a playbill of 10 March 1855 advertising Booth as Sir Edward Mortimer and as Master Dobbs in the afterpiece farce The Omnibus. Where Lockridge saw this bill is unknown. I have not found it among the major collections of Boothiana. (18.) For more on opera in San Francisco, see George Martin, Verdi at the Golden Gate: Opera in San Francisco in the Gold Rush Years, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); Edmond M. Gagey, The San Francisco Stage: A History, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1970), 61-63, summarizes Sinclair's 1854-55 Metropolitan season. (19.) Preserved in the Hampden-Booth Theatre Collection at The Players is a fairly complete run of playbills documenting Booth's performances at the Sacramento Theatre and the Forrest Theatre. I also relied on listings in the Sacramento Democratic State Journal and the Sacramento Daffy Union.
(20.) The playbill for A Midsummer Night's Dream describes this as a "great master production with new scenery, machinery, dresses, music, properties, etc." The playbill also briefly describes the many different scenic attractions--e.g., "Moonlight Wood Near Athens," "Last scene: Fairy Land and Fairy Bower," etc. The descriptions suggest that this production may very well have been the same one presented by Laura Keene in San Francisco in the spring. The production was presented for five performances at the Sacramento Theatre, 20-25 August. Keene mounted a similar production in New York in 1858. (21.) See Kimmel (119-120). He does not cite a specific source except to suggest that his information is drawn from reviews in the Sacramento Democratic State Journal, although I found no references to Booth's drunkenness during these performances in this source. The actor Frederick Warde in his memoir Fifty Years of Make Believe (1920), 263-265, reports that on one occasion Booth in a drunken stupor collapsed on the bank of the Sacramento River. He remained there half-submerged, in some danger of drowning, until a fellow-actor, one Joseph Murphy, by chance discovered him. Murphy dragged him up the bank and carried him to a nearby saloon where he was revived and then taken to a hotel to recover. Booth would continue to have drinking problems through the remainder of 1855. (22.) Annals (96) reports the production of The Marble Heart in San Francisco. Kimmel (122) reports the tour of Marysville and "a few mountain towns." He does not reference a source for this information, but notes in the Kimmel Collection at the University of Tampa indicate that he relied on a number of books about California gold camps such as Fremont Rider's Rider's California: A Guide Book for Travellers (New York: Macmillan, 1925.) The Democratic State Journal, (9 January) also noted the move to Marysville for "three, maybe six nights" with the intention of going on to Stockton and then San Francisco. A playbill in the Hampden-Booth Theatre Collection at The Players advertises the performance at the Forrest Theatre on 18 February. (23.) Holmes (70) citing the Evening Bulletin, 5 May 1856
(24.) Asia in The Eider and the Younger Booth (143-144) first reported this tour through the mining towns. Winter added some details in Life and Art (17-18), including identifying Ben Moulton and the fires, which dogged each engagement by the company. Indeed, according to Winter, so regularly did the fires occur that Booth became known as "The Fiery Star," a parodic title since the many child stars that toured the mining towns were known collectively as Fairy Stars. This anecdote was repeated by Frank Mayo (as quoted by one Rufus R. Wilson in an article in the New York Advertiser 3 June 1894), by the author of the San Francisco Theatre Research Monograph, The Booths (109-111), by Lockridge (60-61), and by Ruggles (75-76). Kimmel (125-129, 344) adds further details to the story that he says he gleaned from newspaper reports and "California historical records." He does, however, discredit Winter's story about the Fiery Star noting that the "historical records do not substantiate [his] assertion that 'each town took fire as soon as Moulton's cavalcade had left it.'" He does not identify these records, however, nor could they be found in his research notes. (25.) Asia in The Elder and the Younger Booth (144) incorrectly reports that it was a gold stickpin. The author of The Booths, 113-114, then reiterated the story. (26.) As quoted in The Booths, 115. (27.) As quoted in The Booths, 115. Daniel J. Watermeier is Associate Dean for the Arts and Humanities and Professor of Theatre at the University of Toledo. He has authored a number of books and articles on Edwin Booth. With Felicia Londre he is co-author of The History of Theatre in North America (1999). A Fellow of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre, he is currently engaged in writing a book-length biography of Edwin Booth scheduled for completion in 2006. COPYRIGHT 2008 Mid-America Theatre Association
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?