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Lizzie Webster, American burlesque actress and singer

October 10, 2013

Lizzie Webster (1858-1937), American burlesque actress and singer, whose short career flourished between about 1877 and 1879 under the management of Edward E. Rice.
(photo: Mora, New York, 1877/79)

Lizzie (Elizabeth) Webster, who is said to have begun her career at McVicker’s Theatre, Chicago, retired from the stage upon her marriage in June 1879 to Jacob Nunnemacher (1853-1928), a Milwaukee businessman who built the Nunnemacher’s Grand Opera House at Milwaukee and who in 1880 was connected with Edward E. Rice in a theatrical venture. Nunnemacher was born in Milwaukee, one of the children of Jacob Nunnemacher (senior) and his wife, Catherine, who were natives respectively of Switzerland and Prussia.

‘Rice’s Evangeline Combination.
‘Rice’s Evangeline Combination begins an engagement at the Memphis Theater Monday night. In speaking of this grand spectacular extravaganza, the Louisville Courier-Journal says: ”Evangeline comes to us with a new brightness and freshness. Several substitutions have been made, notably Miss Lizzie Webster for Miss Eliza Wethersby in the character of ‘Gabriel,’ Miss Venie Clancy for Miss Flora Fisher, as ‘Evangeline,’ and Mr. Richard Golden for Mr. N.C. Goodwin as ‘Le Blanc.’ The loss and gain are so evenly balanced that it is hardly worth while discussing, and, besides, the new-comers give to the extravaganza an air of newness quite refreshing. Many points have been added in the way of hits and in the business of the different characters, and there is such a variety of matter than the extravaganza will bear seeing many times and other seasons yet. Miss Lizzie Webster and Miss Eliza Wethersby differ in qualities rather than quality. The present ‘Gabriel’ has not quite the assertive dash of the former one; is not quite the actress or quite the singer, but is quite as charming in appearance, and has an air of sweet disposition, freshness, gentle archness and purity, with that degree of sprightliness which win the good-will and affection of the audience. Thus there is no loss in the change.”’
(The Memphis daily Appeal, Friday, Memphis, Tennessee, 30 November 1877, p. 4c)

Lizzie Webster appeared as Ralph Rackshaw in an ‘unofficial’ production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore when it was produced at the Lyceum Theatre, New York, under the management of Edward E. Rice on 23 January 1879.

‘It is published in the leading New York papers that Lizzie Webster has had a house in that city make a pair of tights for her which cost one hundred dollars – and she fills the bill plumply.’
(Sedalia Weekly Bazoo, Sedalia, Missouri, Tuesday, 18 March 1879, p. 2a)

‘Ned Rice’s Evangeline Revival and the Memories That it Awakes …
‘… Of Gabriels there have been many, but none more sweetly picturesque than Venie Clancy, a delicate and pretty little girl, whom consumption carried away all too soon; there was a roguish Gabriel in Lizzie Webster, a brunette whom to see was to worship, and whom Jacob Nunnemacher, the Milwaukee manager, now esteems as his wife… .’
(The News Herald, Hillsboro, Ohio, Thursday, 5 May 1887, p. 5b)

* * * * *

‘In 1871, German-born [sic] businessman and theater enthusiast Jacob Nunnemacher was able to fulfill his aspirations of providing Milwaukee with its first opera house… . this, the Nunnemacher Grand Opera House was constructed at the northwest corner of Wells and Water Streets in the center of Milwaukee’s civic activity.’
(Megan E. Daniels, Milwaukee’s Early Architecture, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, &c., 2010, p. 34)

‘Messrs. E.E. Rice and J. Nunnemacher have leased the Fifth Avenue Theater, N.Y., for an indefinite period, commencing Monday, March 29, (Easter Monday,) and on that day will produced Mr. James A. Herne’s Hearts of Oak
(The Evening Star, Washington, D.C., Saturday, 20 March 1880, p. 2d)

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