January 13, 2013

music sheet cover for Louis Maurice’s ‘The Fortune Hunter’ waltzes,
published by Leo Feist, New York, 1910,
‘as played in Cohan and Harris’ production of Winchell Smith’s successful
play of the same name.’ The photograph is a scene from The Fortune Hunter,
which opened at the Gaiety Theatre, New York, on 4 September 1909,
with John Barrymore (1882-1942) and Mary Ryan (1885-1948)
in the leading roles of Nathaniel Duncan and Betty Graham.
(photo: unknown, New York, 1909)

The pre-New York run of The Fortune Hunter began in Atlantic City on 15 March 1909, with Thomas W. Ross and Mary Ryan in the leading roles.

The Fortune Hunter.
‘Hardly a new story or a new treatment of it is the theme of The Fortune Hunter, which had its first performance here at the Gaiety Theatre last night. Winchell Smith’s latest piece of stage literature, despite its title, took the first night audience away from Wall Street and problems of more or less complex finance and brought them back to an old setting, but one ever popular with American audiences.
‘The play took the young college graduate, Nathaniel Duncan, born above the need of making a pretence at work, away from work to which he had been forced by a not unusual but no less provoking habit that parents have of losing their money, to a country town with the prospect of getting money by the only way suitable to his temperament – annexing it in large quantity with a wife. Of course he does not, though the opportunity is cast at him.
‘He learns to work and also to love – another, the poor girl of the village. Not a startlingly original story, but it gives the author an opportunity to show his talent at depicting those types of country persons whom the American audience loves and laughs at and sympathizes with as presented on the stage.
‘The city bred young man, as played in the characteristic way of John Barrymore, and his urban clothes and manners, thrown into the inevitable contrast with the country persons with whom he cast his lot and found his salvation – in work, opens the way for the playwright to introduce situations embellished with touches of humor and tender sentiments that make a good entertainment.
‘The trials of Mr. Barrymore, as Duncan, were of course the centre of main interest. The theatre housed many of his friends, who were pleasantly surprised at the happy tailoring of the part cut out for him. Forrest Robinson, as Sam Graham, one of those lovable old inventors who go on inventing and gaining sweetness of character as they lose their money, played the part in an even key and with a workman’s knowledge of his craft. Mary Ryan, as the young daughter of the inventor, who cannot help an outbreak of bitterness at her lack of clothes and creature comforts, gave a capable performance, while smaller bits of the familiar local color of other such plays were well painted by Edgar Nelson and Josie Lockwood.

Nathaniel Duncan … John Barrymore
Henry Kellogg … Hale Hamilton
George Burnham … Walter Horton
James Long … John Charles Brownell
Lawrence Miller … George Loane Tucker
Willie Bartlett … James Montgomery
Robbins … John Sutherland
Newsboy … David Rosenthal
Sam Graham … Forrest Robinson
Mr. Lockwood … Charles Fisher
Roland Barnett … Sydney Ainsworth
Tracey Tanner … Edgar Nelson
Pete Willing … Edward Ellis
Charles Sperry … Charles H. Crosby
”Hi” … George Loane Tucker
”Watty” … John Charles Brownell
Herman … George Spelvin
Betty Graham … Mary Ryan
Josie Lockwood … Edna [i.e. Eda] Bruna
Angie Tucker … Kathryn Marshall

(New-York Daily Tribune, Sunday, 5 September 1909, p. 7e)


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