Posts Tagged ‘Edward E. Rice’


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)


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.
‘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)

‘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)


Ruth Stetson

May 19, 2013

Ruth Stetson (fl. 1880s), American burlesque actress
(photo: Conly, Boston, circa 1888)

‘Memories of old times were revived at the Fourteenth-Street Theatre last evening when Lydia Thompson reappeared before a Metropolitan audience as Prince Fritz in Oxygen. Those who expect to find any traces of time on Miss Thompson’s countenance will be to some extent surprised. She has preserved her appearance wonderfully. As to her voice, there is little of it left. But she has lost nothing in vivacity and grace, nor in that winsomeness of manner that made her a favorite years ago. The old burlesque burnished up with new local allusions and topical songs is just as absurdly funny as ever. It is the sheerest nonsense, so ridiculously bad that it makes people ashamed of themselves to laugh at it; but they do laugh, and that right heartily. The company supporting Miss Thompson is full of industry if not overburdened with skill. A more active and energetic set of buffoons it would be hard to find anywhere. Among them Miss Addie Cora Reed, Lillie Alliston, Ruth Stetson, and Leila Farrel, and Messrs. R.F. Carroll, Alexander Clark, and Louis de Lange especially distinguished themselves last night. The whole company joined in making the old burlesque move with the life of a too much galvanize corpse, and the audience was kept in a state of uproarious laughter from the beginning of the performance to the end.’
(The New York Times, Wednesday, 18 May 1886, p.4)

THE CORSAIR. Spectacular operatic burlesque, in three acts, music by Mr Edward E. Rice and Mr John J. Braham, libretto by Mr J. Cheever Goodwin, produced at the Bijou Opera House [NewYork], Tuesday, Oct. 18th, 1887.
‘In The Corsair all the essentials of the regular Rice burlesque are present, with the exception of clever comedians. Mr Frank David, who made some success as the comedian in The Pyramid, has been put in the principal role here, and falls flat. The other male members of the cast have few opportunities, although Mr [George A.] Schiller was occasionally humorous. Sig. [J.C.] Brocolini is the possessor of a fine voice, and used it to advantage as Seyd Pacha. Miss Annie Summerville was pleasing as Conrad, until she attempted to sing. Miss [Louise] Montague looked pretty and acted well as Medora. The remainder of the ladies [including Ruth Stetson as Fetnab] had nothing whatever to do. Mr Rice has composed a number of bright, catchy airs for the piece, and these were duly appreciated. The scenery calls for special mention, almost all of the sets being marvels of gorgeousness, especially the last one, which represented the Palace of Pearl. In another scene, that of the harem, it is stated in the programme that the curtains, which fill up the stage, alone cost $1,800.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 5 November 1887, p. 15c)

Ruth Stetson also played the small part of Tip-Top, Chief of the Pages in The Crystal Slipper; or, Prince Prettiwitz and Little Cinderella, a burlesque produced by David Henderson which first opened at the Chicago Opera House on 11 June 1888 before heading off on tour. Although there were various changes in cast, others who appeared in the show induced Topsy Venn, May Yohe, Edwin (Eddy) Foy, Marguerite Fish, Ida Mulle and Little Tich. (For further information, see Armond Fields, Eddie Foy: A Biography of the Early Popular State Comedian, Jefferson, North Carolina, 1999, ch. 6)

‘Ruth Stetson, the well-known burlesque actress, is soon to wed Mr. George Brewster, an elderly and wealthy gentleman residing in New York.’
(Duluth Evening Herald, Duluth, Minnesota, Wednesday, 5 June 1889, p. c)


Louise Montague

March 2, 2013

a carte de visit photograph of Louise Montague (1859-1910),
American actress and singer
(photo: Sarony, New York, circa 1883)

‘Miss Louise Montague, a member of the variety-theatre profession born in New York, aged 21, has been selected by Mr. Forepaugh as the winner of his prize of $10,000 for the handsomest woman in the country. In complexion she is a semi-brunette. Her lips are cherry, teeth regular and pearly, and visible at every smile through a large but not disproportionate mouth; has large expressive brown eyes, a symmetrical nose and an intelligent cast of countenance. In conversation – and she is possessed of a fund of sparkling talk – every feature if animated, and her flashing eyes and health-tinted cheeks, coupled with a vivacious manner, lend an additional charm to her demeanor. She is of medium height and figure and has a little foot.’
(The Lancaster Daily Intelligencer, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Monday, 4 April 1881, p. 2b/c)

New York, 29 April 1887.
‘Capt. Alfred Thompson and Joseph Brooks, composing the Imperial Burlesque Company, have been sued for [$]8500 by Miss Louise Montague, whom they had engaged for four weeks, commencing May 29th, and whom they discharged because she would not sing for them, so that they might judge of her vocal powers.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 14 May 1887, p. 15e)

‘Louise Montague, the $10,000 beauty, is making the hit of The Gondoliers in the company that is touring through the West [United States], and she makes it by high kicking. It was reported a year ago that she was studying for opera and it is evident that the report was true.’
(The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sunday, 20 April 1890, p, 18g)

Don Juan [to be produced on 28 October 1893] at the Gaiety [London], is to have the services of Mr. Arthur Roberts, Mr. Robert Pateman, Mr. Arthur Playfair, Mr. Edmund Payne, Miss Millie Hylton, Miss Sylvia Grey, Miss Katie Seymour, Miss Cissie Loftus, and Miss Louise Montague, a young singer from America.’
(The Birmingham Daily Post, Birmingham, England, Monday, 18 September 1893, p. 6h)

‘Was Famous ”Ten Thousand Dollar Beauty” of Forepaugh’s Circus.
‘Louise M. Montague, once heralded over the country as the ”Ten Thousand Dollar Beauty,” died on Tuesday at her home, 164 Manhattan Avenue. Louise Montague was an actress with Edward E. Rice’s company in The Corsair, and later became a star of David Henderson’s Sinbad the Sailor.
‘Adam Forepaugh, the circus proprietor, determined to make her beauty the feature of his circus, and in 1878 he engaged her to travel with his circus. She was advertise as the ”Ten Thousand Dollar Beauty,” and rode in the parades in a gorgeous chariot especially constructed for her.’
(The New York Times, Thursday, 17 March 1910)

‘Louise Montague, Who Captured the Big Beauty Prize Money, Dies.
‘NEW YORK March 16 [1910]. – ”Montague, Louise M., died on Tuesday at her residence, 184 Manhattan avenue.”
‘This simple death notice appeared in the New York papers today. It was written in the main by Louise Montague herself a week before her death, the day on which death would come being left blank, to be filled in by the undertaker.
‘Few who read this notice know that the Louise Montague, whose death was so simply chronicled, was the woman who was once heralded far and wide over the country as the ”Ten Thousand Dollar Beauty.”
‘After the first rage over her had subsided she sought the quiet of private life, but a few years afterwards went on the stage because it was discovered that she had talents equal to her beauty.
‘Then Forepaugh with a showman’s acumen, offered a $10,000 prize for the most beautiful woman in America and had the judges select Louise Montague. Riding on a gorgeous chariot she was a feature of his circus parades.
‘But just before she died she asked that all the old pictures of herself in the days of her fleeting glory be brought to her, and tonight they stood on the mantel and on chairs in the room where Louise Montague lay in her coffin. Pinned on the wall was a glaring, many-colored poster – ”Forepaugh’s prize beauty” – and over the mantel was a faded photograph, life size of Louise Montague as ”Sindbad the Sailor.”’
(Evening Bulletin, Honolulu, Friday, 1 April 1910, p. 10c/d)