Mrs Leslie Carter as La Du Barry, 1901

October 4, 2013

Mrs Leslie Carter (1857-1937), American actress, as she appeared in the title role of David Belasco‘s play, Du Barry, which was first produced on 12 December 1901 at the New National Theatre, Washington, D.C., before transferring to the Criterion Theatre, New York, on 25 December 1901.
(photo: Sarony, New York, 1901)

The New National Theatre, Washington, D.C., Thursday, 12 December 1901.
‘The Du Barry play, after many postponements, was brought out on Thursday night. The performance started before 8 o’clock and ran until after midnight, and yet it was difficult for the observer from the front to point out what material might wisely be sacrificed, for the play is interesting from beginning to end. It is unfortunately that the people who conquer in the battles of every-day life, who triumph obscurely over the adverse conditions of existence, cannot be made successful heroes or heroines. The Trilbys, the Zazas and the Saphos has been exploited until the public might be expected to grow weary of the so-called ”outcasts of society.” But Du Barry is the greatest triumph of recent times. The play is a deliberate falsification of truth so far as the character of the heroine is concerned, but it is cleverly done… .
‘Mrs. Carter is credited with a ready wit which saved the scene in which she strikes her wounded lover and renders him unconscious, so that she can conceal him from the king, who is demanding admittance. It is the scene which represents the lavishly furnished apartment of Du Barry, a scene which must have cut a very considerable figure in the enormous sum total given as the cost of the production. Instead of falling on the ten-thousand-dollar bed, where Du Barry was to conceal him by throwing a twenty-five-hundred-dollar coverlet over him, the lover fell with a crash to one side, smashing $1,158.64 worth of furniture in his descent. But Mr. Belasco, who was standing in the wings, did not care for the furniture. The speech prepared for this scene was rendered inappropriate by the accident.
‘The eminent stage manager groaned.
‘The company turned white.
‘The supernumeraries shuddered.
‘But Mrs. Carter never paused. She made up some talk of her own, which answered every purpose and the act proceeded to a conclusion which brought forth an ovation from the audience.’
(The Evening Star, Washington, DC, 14 December 1901, p. 22a)


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