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Eliza Weathersby

June 30, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Eliza Weathersby (1849?-1887), English burlesque actress and one of the original ‘British Blondes’ introduced to American audiences by Lydia Thompson
(photo: Mora, New York, circa 1880)

‘Eliza Weathersby Dead.
‘THE WIFE OF NAT C. GOODWIN EXPIRES AFTER A PAINFUL ILLNESS.
‘Eliza Weathersby (Mrs. Nat Goodwin) died in New York last night [24 March 1887], after long suffering, from a tumor in the womb. She was 38 years of age. There was no performance last evening at the Bijou Theatre, where Nat Goodwin is now engaged.
‘Miss Weathersby was born in London in 1849, and she made her first appearance in 1865, at the Alexandria Theater [sic, i.e. the Royal Alexandra Theatre], Bradford. Her American debut was made at the Chestnut Street Theater, Philadelphia, on April 12, 1869, in the burlesque of Lucrezia Borgia. She afterwards became the original Gabriel in Edward E. Rice’s Evangeline, a burlesque which was successful all over the country, and thus Eliza Weathersby, originally one of the ”English blondes” brought over by Lydia Thompson, gained a national popularity. When she was singing the chief boy’s part, ”Gabriel,” in Evangeline, the Boston school boy, destined to become famous as Nat Goodwin, was playing ”Captain Dietrick” in the same caste, and Henry E. Dixey, the ”Adonis” of to-day, was acting as the hind legs of the heifer, who executes a solemn dance in one act of Evangeline. On June 24, 1877, Miss Weathersby was married to Nat C. Goodman [sic], and she afterward shared all his successes on the stage. Her last appearance was made in Hobbies.’
(The Evening Star, Washington, D.C., Friday, 25 March 1887, p. 4c)

‘PHYSICIAN VS. ACTOR.
‘A Sensational Episode Growing Out of Eliza Weathersby’s Death.
‘NEW YORK, April 24 [1887]. – [Special Telegram to the BEE.] – The death of Eliza Weathersby-Goodwin, the actress, promises to have a sequel. Dr. Merion Sims has presented his bill for professional services to her husband, Nat C. Goodwin, and Mr. Goodwin has refused to pay, on the ground that it is exorbitant. But this difference of opinion does not make the sensational episode. There are other things back of the matter that, if brought out, as it seems likely they will be in the courts, will prove extraordinary. Mrs. Goodwin had been ill for a considerable period. The trouble was a disorder that resisted all attempts to check it. Eventually the family physician, Dr. T.S. Robertson, deemed it advisable to have experts summoned to consult on the case. Dr. Sims was not among those who came at first. The doctors were in grave doubt as to the precise nature of the malady, but some were inclined to the opinion that it was a tumor in the fallopian tubes. If such were the case the only possible remedy would like in an operation for the removal of the tumor – a very dangerous matter at the best, and one that would be liable to cause death, even if successfully performed. When Mrs. Goodwin was informed of the possible nature of her trouble she expressed a desire that an operation be made, but Dr. Robertson promptly refused to perform it. He was not confident that a tumor existed, and was wholly unwilling to assumer the terrible responsibility for the result if none should be found. The other experts agreed with the family physician. Mrs. Goodwin, however, was anxious that whatever might be done for her should be resorted to, and Dr. Sims was called. He made an examination, and his opinion agreed in its general features with that of his colleagues. The truth of the matter simply was that Mrs. Goodwin must die if the disorder were to be left alone; that a surgical operation might possibly save her, but the chances were so strongly against her that it would hasten the end. This was made clear to the patient, and she unhesitatingly asked Dr. Sims to make the operation. He consented, and Dr. Robertson and one other were present when it was performed. The result showed that no tumor existed. The disorder was inflammation of the fallopian tubes, and soon after the conclusion of the operation Mrs. Goodwin died. Dr. Sims is a physician of the highest professional standing, has an extended practice and comes high. The actor, who disputes the bill, purposes to show, when the doctor sues him for the amount, that the death of his wife was nothing less than scientific murder. He will endeavor to produce the experts to swear that the operation was uncalled for, dangerous and inexcusable. On the other hand it is said that Dr. Sims can easily justify his course. It is pretty sure to be a disagreeably interesting case, unless the actor yields and pays the bills, for the physician is determined to collect, even if it should prove necessary to invoke the aid of the law.’
(The Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Monday, 25 April 1887, p. 1c)

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