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George Cooke as Barney O’Larrigan in a revival of the farce, An Object of Interest, Royal Olympic Theatre, London, 3 January 1859

April 12, 2014

George Cooke (1807-1863), English actor, as Barney O’Larrigan in a revival of J.H. Stocqueler‘s popular farce, An Object of Interest, at the Royal Olympic Theatre, London, on 3 January 1859. An Object of Interest was first performed at the Lyceum Theatre, London, on 14 July 1845, and Cooke himself had already appeared in it on tour under James Rogers’s management in 1856.
(carte de visite photo: Camille Silvy, London, probably 1859)

George Boughey Cooke was born in Manchester on 7 March 1807. According to the Theatrical Times, he was ‘in every sense of the word, a consummate artist. Free from buffoonery or stage conventionality, his reading and manner is rich, racy, and humorous … [and] his voice is peculiarly pleasing.’ (London, Saturday, 23 September 1848, pp. 376-377). He was married in 1840 to Elizabeth Strutt (1803/04-1877), a music teacher and sister of the well-known tragedian Mr Stuart (Thomas Strutt, 1802/03-1878), who retired in 1855. Cooke died by his own hand on 5 March 1863 at his house, 51 Cambridge Street, Pimlico, London.

* * * * *

‘SHREWSBURY. – Theatre Royal… . The season closed here on Friday last [19 December 1856] … The entertainments concluded with the farce of – An Object of Interest, in which Miss Burdett, as Fanny Gribbles, introducing mock tragedy, kept the audience in continual roars of laughter. Mr. Cooke, as Barney O’Larrigan, was also very successful. Mr. James Rogers, who was honoured with a crowded and fashionable attendance, addressed his patrons in a brief and eloquent manner, and was warmly received, all parties leaving the theatre well pleased with this gentleman’s respectable and honourable management.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 28 December 1856, p. 13b)

‘SUICIDE OF MR. GEORGE COOKE, THE COMEDIAN. – We regret to have to state that this much respected member of the theatrical profession died by his own hand, on Thursday morning. He had been suffering for some time from a drospical disease, the pain of which probably caused a fit of temporary insanity, and he cut his throat. He had long been an actor of old men at the Olympic theatre, which his genial natural acting made him a great favourite with the public. His impersonation of the old sailor in the drama of the Lighthouse, and many similar sketches of character will long be remembered by playgoers.’ (The Daily News, London, Saturday, 7 March 1863, p. 7d)

‘SUICIDE OF MR. GEORGE COOKE, THE COMEDIAN. – We regret to have to state that this much respected member of the theatrical profession died by his own hand on Thursday morning. He had been suffering for some time form dropsical disease, the pain of which probably caused a fit of temporary insanity, and he cut his throat. He had long been an actor of old men at the Olympic Theatre, where his genial natural acting made him a great favourite with the public.’
(The Standard, London, Saturday, 7 March 1863, p. 6d)

‘Death of Mr. George Cooke.
‘A painful sensation on Thursday morning was created in theatrical circles by the intelligence that Mr. George Cooke, the favourite comedian of the Olympic Theatre, had destroyed himself under the pressure of a fit of insanity, arising, as it is believed, from long-continued illness of a serious nature. As a genial actor Mr. George Cook had for the last fifteen years occupied a high position at the Strand and Olympic Theatres, and his death under the above deplorable circumstances will be deeply regretted both by the public and his professional brethren.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 8 March 1863, p. 11b)

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