Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lotta's story

Copyright 2007, John Phillips, Kathleen, GA

NO QUESTION, LOTTA LINTHICUM was one of the busiest leading ladies Broadway ever had. She had one hit after another–the top plays of her era: Camille, Monte Cristo, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Three Musketeers, Trilby, Quo Vadis, Sapho, The Two Orphans, Frou-Frou, Under Two Flags, Rip Van Winkle, West Lynne . You name it, she did it. A week without a success? There weren’t many.

Her first lead on Broadway was Camille in 1900. That was Sarah Bernhardt’s specialty, and Lotta dared do it right after Bernhardt had come through town. The Divine Sarah be damned, Lotta had begun at the top, pleasing the critics in her first Broadway lead.

But the praise was usually faint. She was, you see, a "stock lead." She was like the house wine–or perhaps the champagne--in your corner eatery. She had to work harder than most other leading ladies, often doing two performances a day. And often she alternated with trained monkeys, jugglers and acrobats.

Old newspapers, Broadway records, plus the Bankson family scrapbook, give us a good look into her long career, stretching from the Gay Nineties into the Depression Era, when she settled for character roles in popular new plays. She progressed from glamor girl to matronly mother-in-law roles.

Lotta Lynn Linthicum was nicknamed "Lotte" and "Lottie." (Perhaps "Lotta" was even short for "Charlotte.") She was born just a stone’s throw from Broadway--on Fifth Avenue near 23rd Street in New York City. Like all actresses, and most women, she was vague on dates. She usually gave her year of birth as about 1877. Actually, she was born nearer 1875 or even ’70. As a rule of thumb, let’s say she was born in 1872, give or take two years.

Her mother was Julia Bogardus from upstate New York. Dad was William Oliver Linthicum, a prosperous tailor and merchant, son of a Maryland family.

William Linthicum made the New York Times news pages four times in the mid-1870s. The first was when the family’s French nurse, Marie Bruce, went "mysteriously missing." This happened in January 1876 when the family was living at 174 Fifth Avenue. Then on Jan. 27, 1876, the Times reported that Marie had turned up in a French hotel in NYC. She said she’d gotten lost while looking for a friend.
About the same time, William had business troubles. When three of his tailors struck, he had them arrested. On March 4, 1876, they posted bail of $10 each, guaranteeing their good behavior. The Times noted that W.O. Linthicum had "formerly employed them."

Perhaps his rough treatment of his employees helped him indulge his family. On July 27, 1877, the Times report that "Mrs. J. Linthicum and child" were spending the summer at the beach. They were staying at the Stockton Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey.
William died when Lotta was still an infant, leaving her most everything she could have wanted. Her private education included a swank school in the Parisian suburban of Neuilly even before she turned 12; in keeping with her station she became adept as a painter, pianist and composer.

The Times’ computerized index shows 67 references to Lotta. The first reports that on the evening of Feb. 1, 1883, she was a bridesmaid for two American theatrical stars, Bijou Heron and Henry Miller. The marriage was at St. Agnes’s Church on 43rd Street near Lexington Avenue in NYC. The Times gave Lotta’s age as eight. The newlyweds used their real names, Helene Bijou Heron Stoepel and Henry John Miller, and the bride’s father, actor Robert Stoepel, gave her away. Among the crowd were high-profile producers A.M. Palmer and Daniel Frohman. Miss Heron and Miller had fallen in love the previous season while appearing in Odette at Daly’s Theatre.

As a child of privilege, Lotta crossed the Atlantic frequently. One old passenger-ship record shows that she was aboard the Fulda out of Southampton, England, in 1891. The ship docked in NYC on July 21. She was listed as Miss Lotta Linthicum, 20, of New York, which places her year of birth further back than she cared to admit. Others in her party: Mrs. J.C. Linthicum, 45; Miss Olive Linthicum, 18; and Miss Sarah Linthicum, 16. They’d been in London. A Miss Kate Kidder, 29, was perhaps in the party, too.

On June 7, 1893, a New York City publication called Once a Week: An Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, ran a long story about female composers. It discussed Lotta briefly and ran a picture of her. The paper noted: "Miss Lotta Linthicum, of Fifty-sixth street, extemporizes cleverly and has a thorough Parisian training in harmony. She is now fully entered on her career as a composer. In face, she is really beautiful, as her portrait from the recent Parisian photograph will show."

Newspapers couldn’t yet reproduce photos; instead, they used line engravings, artful copies of photos. The engraving, and a later photo in the New York Times show that her waist was astonishingly tiny, certainly a boon to her stage career in that age of hourglass figures. (But by her early twenties she’d, well, filled out.)

While in France, she frequented the salons of the old nobility. On June 28, 1894, the Times reported: "The Countess de Kessler, who is prominent as a hostess with the smart sets of this city and Paris, gave one of the most brilliant entertainments of the season on June 11 at her handsome hotel on the Boulevard Montmorency, Paris. The Countess and her daughter Wilma, who are vocalists of unusual talent, were among the most prominent entertainers. Features of the musicale were songs by Mme. Albert Lefevre . . . and recitations by Miss Lotta Linthicum. . . ."

Not coincidentally, the date of her stage debut is as fuzzy as her age. She likely cited diverse "debuts," making chronology as vague as her age. She’s known to have spent two years doing minor or supporting roles in Augustin Daly’s famous company in NYC. Then, moving to Rose Coghlan’s company, she appeared as Dora in Diplomacy. This would logically have been in Miss Coghlan’s revival of that old warhorse in October 1892 at her Star Theatre in NYC. Miss Coghlan and brother Charles then took the production on the road in 1893, playing Chicago, Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., and probably many other cities. Whether Lotta was in the NYC cast, the road cast, or both, is speculative.

An 1897 edition of Gallery of Plays and Players discusses her in some detail. We learn that she became leading lady of the Girard Avenue Theatre in Philadelphia in 1893 or ’94; there, "a weekly change of bill provided her with a remarkable opportunity of playing a varied round of characters, which afforded almost unequaled facilities for experience to an ambitious young artist."

On October 1, 1894, she appeared on stage in New York City in Irish Artist starring Chauncey Olcott. Billed as "Lotta Lynn," she played Kate Mahone in the production at the Fourteenth Street Theatre. Some references call it her debut.
Years later, though, her obituary stated that she debuted on stage in London in the early or mid-1890s. There’s some indication that she might have acted in Canada about that time, too. She was slightly Canadian. She lived there a while, one husband died there, one husband was Canadian, and, certainly, theatre-goers in Montreal loved her. The Baltimore News once called her "a vivacious blonde Canadian."
Alfred Stieglitz took a photo of her that’s posted on the web. According to the information, Stieglitz called the photo "Outward Bound" and noted that it was Lotte Linthicum aboard the Burgogne in 1894. She’s leaning against the rail of a ship with the water in the background. (The Borgogne did sail from NYC to France on May 2, 1894, and perhaps on other dates that year.)

About 1895 or ’96 she earned acclaim as Annie Sylvester in Man and Wife, apparently at the Girard Avenue Theatre.

She was in London in the summer of 1896 to play Dacia in Wilson Barrett’s tremendously successful The Sign of the Cross at the Lyric Theatre. The New York Times of Nov. 10, 1896 summarized the plot nicely: "The theme is the conversion of a Roman libertine, Marcus Superbus, by a girl martyr named Mercia, and his sacrifice of life for her sake. The salient and effective episodes are the rescue of an aged but talkative Christian from a mob by Mercia, and her rescue, in turn, by Marcus; the torture of a youthful Christian by noble Romans desirous of learning the names and addresses of his associates; the temptation of Mercia by Marcus while a Bacchanalian orgy is in progress in one part of his house and the imprisoned Christians are singing hymns in another; and his repulse by the aid of a flash of lightning, and the sign of the cross; and, finally, the departure of the martyrs from their dungeon to the arena . . ."

American entrepreneurs Charles Frohman and Frank Sanger imported the whole London cast to perform at the Knickerbocker Theatre in NYC. Lotta, as Dacia, was in the opening performance that Nov. 9.

After playing the Knickerbocker, the company toured with The Sign of the Cross, a hit everywhere it went. The drama offered a variation on the Cinderella-Prince Charming plot: virginal Mercia, a Christian, falls for pagan Marcus Superbus, the handsome prefect of Nero’s Rome.

Lotta gained some notice; Peterson’s magazine ran her photo in February 1897. Then came a big chance: she joined the company of superstar Minnie Maddern Fiske, the first lady of the stage, for at least one Broadway play.

In her next major career step she joined Charles Coghlan’s company for the 1897-98 theatrical season. Way back in 1836 the elder Alexander Dumas (1802-70) had written Kean, a drama about English actor Edmund Kean, a notorious scalawag who lived 1787-1833. In the 1890s Coghlan, rejiggered, transformed, adapted, reworked and pirated Kean, all in the manner of the times, and he christened the result The Royal Box. It was his play, his meal ticket. Instead of long-dead actors and nobles, The Royal Box centered on a fictitious modern actor named Clarence at the Theatre Royal at Drury Lane. Although reckless and drunken, Clarence was eminently likable. The same could have been said of Coghlan.

A secondary male character was the Prince of Wales, who’s with us to this day, in one incarnation or another. One of the main female characters was Countess Helen, slightly sexy wife of the Swedish ambassador.
Coghlan’s handiwork debuted at the Columbia Theatre in Washington, D.C. in November 1897; it then went to NYC, opening Dec. 21, 1897 at the Fifth Avenue Theatre at Broadway and 28th Street. (Fires caused the theatre to be moved somewhat over the years.) It was the hit of the season--Coghlan’s greatest success. In seven weeks on Broadway, receipts surpassed $49,000.

It was customary in those days to revive successful plays quickly, even from one season to the next. This is where Lotta came in. On Sept. 10, 1898, the Liebler Company revived The Royal Box in the Fifth Avenue Theatre. The new production merited royal treatment: its more elaborate trimmings included new scenery and special effects, and an even-better cast to support leading man Coghlan. Lotta was brought in to play Countess Helen. An up-and-coming young actor named James W. Bankson, 20, was hired to double as Montmorency and Mercutio.

Bankson had been born in Louisville, the only son of two veteran character actors from the midwest, John and Mary Bankson. Although hardly prosperous, he was a handsome six-footer primed for marquee status.

The young people couldn’t have had better opportunities. Coghlan, a dashing Irish-American, was perhaps America’s top leading men. Not only did his romantic play provide steady work; it gave youngsters such as Lotta and Bankson solid status in their profession.

After a successful month-long run in NYC, the show went on the road. First stop was Washington, D.C. After that, Toronto apparently was one of many stops.
After The Royal Box closed its road season in spring 1899, Lotta supported Fiske again, this time in Love Finds the Way back at the Fifth Avenue Theatre. No doubt about it: she was in the big time. Jimmie Bankson, after a quick stint in a comedy in Pittsburgh, opened with Coghlan’s Citizen Pierre. Unlike its predecessor, it opened and closed almost simultaneously. This dud left its huge cast with nothing but spare time. Bankson tried some vaudeville at Proctor’s Theatre in New York City.

His main project, though, was courting Miss Linthicum. No sooner had he returned to New York than she’d left. In mid-April 1899 she went to Baltimore to replace Jennie Kennark as the Lyceum Stock Company’s leading lady. This was for the "supplementary" season, that short interval between the formal winter season and summer stock. People there remembered her favorably for The Sign of the Cross.

On Sunday May 14, 1899, Bankson slipped off to Baltimore. After Lotta rehearsed the morning of May 15, she and Jimmie caught a north-bound trolley for nearby Towson. While she sat in the shade of the maple trees in Courthouse Square, he went into the clerk’s office for a marriage license. When Bankson said he wanted to be married immediately, the clerk directed the couple to the Rev. W.E. Robertson of the nearby Calvary Baptist Church. No luck. The preacher was at a conference in Louisville. Next they tried the Rev.W.H.H. Powers of the Trinity Protestant Episcopalian Church. But he’d gone off to Baltimore on business.

Finally they found the Rev. W.H. Wright of the Epsom Methodist Church. He married them, then and there. They caught the next electric car back to Baltimore as husband and wife. Somehow, the newspapers found out; as celebrities, Mr. and Mrs. Bankson were big news.

Lotta was late for rehearsal Tuesday morning. When a reporter confronted her, she denied the stories, saying she and "Mr. Bankson" had gone to Sparrows Point on Monday, not to Towson. She was warmly received at the Lyceum the night of May 16 when the curtain went up on Two Can Play at That. By then the public had discounted her denials.

On May 18 Jimmie was back at Proctor’s in NYC. Lotta was to join him May 27, after finishing in Baltimore. They’d planned their summer but had put off any engagements for fall, saying they merely wanted to be together.

The groom was to perform at McCullum’s Summer Theatre, hub of an actors colony on Cape Elizabeth near Portland, Maine. Lotta was to rest there amid the wonderful real-life scenery. According to a clipping in the Bankson family scrapbook: "The colony is located on an extremely picturesque part of the cape. There is a fine beach and good fishing, bathing and boating, all of which are taken advantage of daily." It sounds perfect for honeymooners. (Among other such theatrical havens were Bar Harbor, considerably northeast of Portland in Maine; Petoskey, on Lake Michigan on the northwest coast of the lower peninsula of Michigan); and, as we’ll find out later, Sciasconset.)

Bankson played D’Artagnan in The King’s Musketeers at McCullum’s in July. Contrary to plans, Lotta filled the secondary female role, that of the French queen. McCullum’s probably put on other plays that summer, but the scrapbook doesn’t mention any. Others summering there included thespians Lisle Leigh, Minnie Halsey, Beatrice Ingram, Stephen Wright, Lynn Pratt, A.H. Stuart, Thomas Reynolds, Robert Gaillard, J.H. Armstrong, James Horne, George Montserrat and Robert Wayne.
On Sept. 19, 1899, Jimmie signed with Charles Coghlan at $40 a week for another tour with The Royal Box. Soon the newlyweds were in Newark, New Jersey, the first stop. Lotta again played flirtatious Countess Helen, and Jimmie was back as Montmorency. J.A. Reed managed the tour.

By the time the company arrived in Galveston, Texas, on Oct. 30, 1899, Coghlan was ill with gastritis. Andrew Robson took over the lead immediately and did well as the company fulfilled its engagements in small-town Texas.
Coghlan remained in Galveston, his wife Lizzie caring for him. Weeks passed as he worked away on his dramatization of Vanity Fair, but he got no better. Doctors couldn’t help, and on Nov. 27, 1899, he died. The newspapers said he was 56. Younger sister Rose Coghlan, starring in The White Heather in Montreal, collapsed upon hearing the news. A doctor was summoned to attend her.

Meanwhile, the touring company had to eat, so it continued to tour. The Los Angeles Times, quoting a dispatch from Memphis, said simply that the "understudy played the lead throughout Texas, apparently to satisfaction."

The Washington Post went considerably further: "The company was booked for a series of one- and two-night stands through Texas. Robson, a young actor who had been with Coghlan as his understudy, was put on to play Coghlan’s part without announcement.
". . . For almost a month he was billed as Charles Coghlan and even had to register at hotels under that name. Meanwhile, Charles Coghlan, attended by his wife, was in Galveston ill, few people knowing his identity. It is asserted also that after more than a week after Coghlan died The Royal Box continued through Kansas with Mr.

Robson billed on the programs and hotel registers as Coghlan."
The Post assured its readers that this was true, adding: "These statements were made by people who traveled with the company."
Andrew Robson had originally signed to play the Prince of Wales, the second male lead, so when he moved up, Jimmie Bankson took the No. 2 male role.
The show looped into the midwest. It’s known to have played Marion, Indiana, where Bankson had relatives. When The Royal Box opened in nearby Indianapolis the night of Jan. 5, 1900, the reviewer missed Lotta; she’d had a "minor accident." The company likely played St. Paul, too, because Jimmie and Lotta were photographed there.
Jimmie played the Prince of Wales at the Hyperion in New Haven. A reviewer there remembered that Coghlan had done the lead a year earlier, with Bankson further down the credits, apparently as Montmorency. The reviewer in Hartford didn’t mention Lotta.

Coghlan's death must have altered the newlyweds’ plans; they soon joined the Baldwin-Melville Stock Company for at least two productions in New Orleans: Quo Vadis and The Prodigal Daughter. Lotta likely was leading lady with William Farnum, 24, as her opposite. Jimmie and Lotta also did a new comedy, A Lively Legacy, that spring, playing Albany, Washington, Baltimore and perhaps other cities.

Lotta and Jimmie went to Montreal with Baldwin-Melville for a frantic summer at la Theatre de sa Majeste--at least 16 plays in 13 weeks. (All apparently were in English.) Walter S. Baldwin headed the company. Farnum was to be its leading man in early summer. Lotta was to be leading lady. Bankson was to draw the second male lead–often the "heavy" or villain.
Here’s the summer schedule, pieced together from newspaper announcements in the scrapbook. It gives a good idea of the astonishing amount of work thespians of that era had to do:

Week 1: May 28-June 2 The Prodigal Daughter
Week 2: June 4-9 Sapho
Week 3: June 11-16 Rosedale
Week 4: June 18-23 Quo Vadis
Week 5: June 25-30 The Two Orphans
Week 6: July 2-7 Cyrano de Bergerac
Week 7: July 9-14 The Black Flag
Week 8: July 16-21 The Three Musketeers
Week 9: July 23-28 East Lynne on 23-25, Rip Van Winkle on 26-28
Week 10: July 30-Aug. 4 unknown (perhaps Madame Sans Gene)
Week 11: Aug. 6-11 Probably Monte Cristo
Week 12: Aug. 13-18 The Charity Ball
Week 13: Aug. 20-25 Camille on 20th. Ten Nights in a Barroom 21st. Little Lord Fauntleroy apparently 22-25 with Friday matinee of East Lynne on 24th.

The company opened in Montreal with Bankson playing villain Maurice Deepwater in The Prodigal Daughter. After that safe start, the second week introduced local playgoers to Sapho. It had scandalized New York that spring, causing authorities to shut it down and arrest the leading lady. Only after her acquittal at a sensational trial was the show allowed to resume.

Montreal took things in stride; Lotta wasn’t hauled off to the Bastille for playing French courtesan Fannie LeGrand. One reviewer merely noted that the play was too talky and that the comedy was weak.

Interestingly, one paper observed: "The celebrated staircase episode was no more exciting than it would have been had Mr. Farnum carried up a bale of wool. Indeed, it was principally as a feat of strength that it attracted the attention of the audience. For the staircase is a long one, and Miss Linthicum is a healthy young lady. One can quite pardon Mr. Farnum for pausing in the middle of the ascent to get his second wind."

During the third week, Lotta won praise as Rosa Leigh in Rosedale. Jimmie played Myles McKenna, again outperforming leading man Farnum--according to one review, anyway. It was a comfortably picturesque play compared to Sapho. Coincidentally, though, a rival company performed Sapho June 11-16 at the Royal. The previous week’s run had whetted the public appetite; crowds swarmed the Royal, although a reviewer warned: "Of real, hair-raising immorality, there was none . . . " He approved Julia Glover’s portrayal of Fannie LeGrand but rated the rest of the cast inferior to Baldwin-Melville’s.

Lotta was Lygia, and Jimmie appeared as Petronius in Quo Vadis. A reviewer praised both but suggested that Miss MacGregor (Poppaea) tone down her shrillness. Jimmie played Jacques in the next play, an old tear-jerker called The Two Orphans.
Farnum, of course, did the title role in the much-awaited Cyrano de Bergerac. James played the Count de Guiche, and Lotta topped the female cast as Roxane. "Business was exceptionally large," one paper reported. But Jimmie and Lotta were a tad too sedate for the reviewer, who liked histrionics.

After that, Farnum left the company to do Ben Hur elsewhere. (His five-year tour with it made him famous.) Lotta and her husband then did The Black Flag, a venerable English comedy drama. Bankson played John Glyndon. Lotta was heiress Naomi Blandford. The reviewer wasn’t overly impressed.

Lawrence Hanley was brought in to replace Farmum as leading man. Hanley was about 35, although no one was sure. He was considered extremely handsome, and he’d made a fine professional reputation while touring with Edwin Booth. He was, however, addicted to booze and morphine, and everybody knew it.

When it came time to do The Three Musketeers, one of the many dramatizations of the Dumas novel, Bankson didn't play D'Artagnan, as he'd done a year earlier in The King’s Musketeers version. He was relegated to playing arch-villain Richelieu, undoubtedly in a white wig with heavy makeup to make him appear older.
Hanley received cool notices. He was nervous, one reviewer detected, and tended "to overemphasize some of the points." Bankson fared well as Richelieu.

On the night of July 19, Hanley was "indisposed." One newspaper said he’d "broken down." Bankson took the lead that night, and he ran with it. The reviewers loved him. After all, he'd played D'Artagnan before.

L.O. Hart covered by doing both his role of Boniface and stepping in as Richelieu. It’s unclear if this arrangement lasted more than one night; we do know that almost immediately Bankson fell ill with typhoid. Lotta was playing Lady Isabel in East Lynne July 23-25 when the company juggled assignments to cover for Jimmie.
Lotta spent her days with her husband, except when she had a matinee performance. She maintained her nightly schedule at Her Majesty’s Theatre. She and Lawrence Hanley did Monte Cristo without much success. Dramatic News called it "a very poor performance."

One newspaper reported that Bankson had rallied, that he would recover. It was wrong. With his condition grave, Lotta’s mother arrived from New York on Tuesday Aug. 14. Lotta performed that night but on Wednesday Aug. 15 she was told that her husband was dying; she left the theatre to be with him to the end. Ella MacGregor, 17, read Lotta’s part of Anne Cruger in The Charity Ball. Jimmie died that night.
The funeral was Friday Aug. 17 at the Church of the Advent in Montreal. Pallbearers were members of the company. Certainly L.O. Hart, Albert Brown, Harold Mordaunt and Giunio Socola were cast members. The other pallbearers--E.F. Maxwell, Arthur Elliot and T.B. Findlay--likely were somehow connected to the company. (Arthur Elliot might have been the person of that name who co-wrote a Broadway hit of 1918, The Better Ole.)

The burial was in Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal. Cemetery records show the casket is in section D 123-A. The couple’s most recent address was noted as 214 Wood Avenue. That’s in Westmount, south of downtown Montreal and near today’s Forum.
Newspapers noted that Jimmie had been engaged to play the lead in The Adventures of Francois, apparently for the fall-winter season. One paper observed: "It has been an open secret in Montreal that a famous New York manager had been watching Mr. Bankson with the confessed expectation of starring him in the near future. His talents and perseverance would without doubt have won him a position among the few great actors of the American stage."

On Aug. 19 Lotta’s mother took her to Nantucket. One of the Baldwin Company’s stalwarts, Laura Alberta, was whisked in from NYC to replace Lotta.

As the century turned, Broadway north of 42nd Street still remained a no-man’s land of sin. Prostitution flourished. Times, though, were changing. Oscar Hammerstein had bought up land on the east side of Broadway between 43rd and 45th and had become the first to put a theatre up there. His Olympia opened in 1895, complete with roof garden, bowling alley, restaurants and other amenities. The Olympia failed, but by 1910 there were 34 theatres near 42nd Street, most to the north.
Other theatrical changes would affect Lotta greatly. In the mid-1890s a manager/actor named Henry V. Donnelly had taken over the scruffy little Murray Hill Theatre on Lexington Avenue near 42nd Street in NYC. One newspaper called it a "tomb of entertainment" across from a warehouse in a dark and depressing neighborhood. Trying to buck theatre’s combination system, Donnelly hired a company of actors and revived a popular old play each week. It was a tough sell. Misfortune and public indifference hurt at first, but he persevered. By the turn of the century, the Murray Hill became such a goldmine that other managers wanted to cut themselves in.
Henry Greenwall was one. After making a barrel of money with road shows, he controlled many theatres in large cities across the South. He was based in New Orleans, where he ran the Grand Opera House.

In spring 1901 he made a deal expanding his operation into NYC. He contracted to take over the American Theatre that fall, after an opera company moved out. The American, at 260 West 42nd Street, at Eighth Avenue, had been built in 1893. (It was sometimes called the American Music Hall before it was demolished in 1932.) It was much larger and plusher than Donnelly’s humble house.

Greenwall leased the American for about $25,000 a year. He opened in September 1901 with a weekly string of revivals "at popular prices." First came The Great Ruby with its four-in-hand, its balloon scene and its cricket match, all made possible by the use of copious extras. Next came a string of old favorites: The Three Musketeers, The Charity Ball, The Lost Paradise, Michael Strogoff, The Two Orphans, In Mizzouri, Faust, Quo Vadis, A Celebrated Case, Held by the Enemy, etc., usually one week at a time. It was theatre for the masses.

Greenwall had planned to move leading man William Farnum from New Orleans to New York, but that fell through (apparently because Farnum opted for Ben Hur). Greenwall settled on Ralph Stuart. Doubling as stage director and leading man, Stuart proved capable and popular. Not so the female leads. Mary Hampton’s reviews were spotty. Isabelle Evesson wasn’t ready for top billing.

Albert Weis, general manager of the Greenwall circuit, revamped the plan somewhat. He booked a new play, The Master of Arms, giving it special treatment, then signed Jennie Kennark to do Monte Cristo. After that, he brought in Miss Margaret May to do a new war play, Winchester.

Finally in April 1901, the Greenwall Stock Company hired a new full-time leading lady: Lotta Linthicum. She was just out of mourning for her husband. Her first assignment: Camille. It was a daunting project. Since the play’s debut on Broadway in 1853 it had been the measuring stick for the world’s best actresses. Some ducked the role. Some dreaded it. Bernhard, who reveled in it, had just been through town in December; her Camille at the upscale Garden Theatre had wowed critics.

On April 29, 1901 Lotta did Camille at the American. She earned fine reviews. The only complaints were familiar: the leading lady looked too healthy for the role of a dying courtesan.

The Mail and Express noted that an "actress new to New York appeared in a classic role. . . and with more than ordinary success . . . . Despite the fact that in playing Camille Miss Linthicum laid herself open to comparisons with many great actresses, she acquitted herself excellently, and should have nothing to regret over her New York debut. The entire performance was unusually good for a company that must produce a new play each week."

The New York Sun called her "astonishingly good" for a young actress. The Times commented that she was a valuable addition to "the hardworking forces at the American . . . a theatre of weekly changes of plays." (More complete reviews appear below.)

The hint of equivocation was there. One reviewer underscored that Lotta was working for the cut-rate Greenwall Stock Company. (The Broadway Date Base overlooks her performance.)

Critics knocked the revival of the company concept, saying management was catering to the masses by presenting old favorites in crude productions at cheap prices. A review in the Times of May 28, 1901 panned Kit Carson, the critic observed: "The American Theatre, though approaching the end of its season, is still prolific in the production of new plays. With only a week to run and very little time for rehearsal, these new plays are not offered with the same elaborate care . . . as one is accustomed to see at the Broadway houses, but they are fairly well put upon the stage and acted tolerably. It is to be hoped, however, that the house will not become a receptacle for dramas rejected by the other theatres, but there has on one or two occasions recently been reason to suspect that it was tending in that direction. . . ."

After a flurry of plays--Rip Van Winkle. Kit Carson, Rosedale and Peaceful Valley--Lotta returned to Montreal in June 1901. Again, she was leading lady for Baldwin-Melville. She replaced Maude Odell, who quit to do King Dodo in Chicago. (Lotta Linthicum does appear on Canadian immigration records. Further, she said she was 22 when counted in the 1901 census of Canada. Records say she’d moved there in 1900 and lived in St. Antoine Ward of Montreal. )

Lotta’s mother owned a home in the seaside village of Siasconset, or as some people call it, "Sconset." It’s on the south shore of Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. The first theatrical personage to explore it for his artsy crowd was said to be illustrious Mme. Modjeska’s manager, Fred Stinson. That was in 1882, and thus began its popularity among actors.
The Boston Globe reported July 27, 1902, that the "theatrical folk" summering in Siasconset were planning "a dramatic entertainment in the Casino next Thursday." The paper ventured that the array of talent "would do credit to the best stage in New York or Boston." The newspaper mentioned "Digby Bell, Henry Woodruff, Walter Hale, Arthur Shaw, Miss Ina Hammer, Miss Mary Shaw, Miss Henrietta Crossman, Miss Eloise McCreery, Mrs. Walter Hale and Miss Lotta Linthicum."

The September 1902 edition of Cosmopolitan magazine carried a long story entitled "An Actor’s Summer Colony." Presumably it told of events of early summer that year. Among those summering at the small cottages were Henrietta Crosman and manager/husband Maurice Campbell, William Harcourt and wife Alice Fischer, Frank Burbeck and wife Nanette Comstock (along with their baby), Mr. and Mrs. Digby Bell, Harry Woodruff, Mary Shaw, Walter Hale, Frederick Perry, W.H. "Billy" Thompson and wife Isabel Irving, Robert McKay, Evelyn Greenleaf Sutherland, Minnie Dupree, Mr. and Mrs. George Fawcett (she was better known as Percy Haswell), and Lotta with her tiny dog Choo-chee. (Unlike the crowd earlier at Cape Elizabeth, the array of theatrical talent at Siasconset was indeed major.)

The magazine described Lotta as "lately leading woman of the Montreal stock company, and before that a favorite in New Orleans." The publication reported that the dog "was taken from the body of a Chinese soldier by a well-known war correspondent after the massacre of Port Arthur." (Japanese troops stormed the fortress in Port Arthur, Manchuria, in November 1894 during the First Sino-Japanese War of ’94-95.
The Japanese and Chinese were fighting over control of Korea.)

Another magazine from 1901 or ’92 noted that "Mrs. Linthicum’s hospitable home, ‘The Moorings,’ is a kind of social headquarters at Sconset, mainly because of the many-sided attractiveness of of the cultured lady of the house and her daughter, Miss Lotta Linthicum, and, incidentally, because the house itself is spacious, to say nothing of having an annex, which is Miss Lotta’s study and ‘den.’ The home of the Linthicums is full of unique souvenirs of professional friendships, European travel and associations."

Lotta maintained contact with her former in-laws, John and Mary Bankson. She telegraphed them best wishes for Christmas 1902 when they were playing in Marietta, Ohio. As late as 1913 she sent Mary an inscribed photograph.
Sometime about 1901 or ’02, Lotta was in New Orleans for a short season as leading lady at the Grand Opera House. The Bankson scrapbook reveals only that she was in Under Two Flags. Then, in December 1903 she began another long run as a headliner in NYC. This one was at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue Theatre at 28th Street. It offered continuous entertainment beginning early in the afternoons, much of it vaudeville. That meant she had to do two-a-days as stock lead in revivals of popular shows.
These shows included: Alabama, Trilby, Love in Harness, Champagne and Oysters, Rip Van Winkle, Ships That Pass in the Night, The Lost Paradise, Love on Crutches, Needles and Pins, On Change and Who Is Brown? And she did all of these before August 1904.

While Lotta was working so hard, an interesting change took place in the theatre area. It happened April 9, 1904, when the triangle of land where the Times Tower is cited officially became "Times Square."
After that flurry at Proctor’s, she announced her retirement from the stage. That was in December 1904; meanwhile out west, former father-in-law John Bankson died in retirement in Portland, Oregon, at Christmastime.
Obviously the main reason for Lotta’s retirement was her pending marriage. On February 1, 1905, the New York Times printed the following:

Mrs. Lotta Linthicum Bankson, who retired from the stage last December, was married yesterday at her residence, 55 East 93rd Street, to Captain William Cantwell Strachan of B Squadron of the Duke of Connaught’s Royal Canadian Hussars. The Rev. Herbert Wells of Wilmington, Delaware, officiated. The bride wore a gown of pompadour silk, with pink roses and white ground trimmed with lace. After the honeymoon, their home will be in Montreal.
Alcohol and morphine finally killed Lawrence Hanley on Aug. 28, 1905 in Los Angeles. The actors fund paid for his burial.

Despite the limited comeback of the company system, the combos still flourished. In September 1905, for example, 311 troupes left NYC to go on the road. Another 100 or 200 shows operated out of Chicago. There were more than 3,000 American theatres out there--more than 1,000 of them adequate for top-rate productions. Even little one-night towns could offer as many as 228 different plays a season.
Cahn’s Guide of 1905 shows that 931 U.S. theatres functioned entirely on electricity; another 543 had gas and electricity. Only 103 still operated with gas alone. About 75 more had oil, gasoline, acetyl or other means.

"Musical reviews" were gaining popularity. A standard recipe for these was perhaps 20 pretty girls, three changes of costume, two young lovers, a popular leading lady who could sing, a straight man, some dancers and maybe a dozen musicians in a pit. The flimsy plot was strictly of the boy-gets-girl variety. By 1907 Florenz Ziegfeld had enlarged on this, perfecting the routine; his first "Follies" opened that July 9 at the Liberty. Not until 1911 did he introduce the title Ziegfeld Follies.

Ziegfield, incidentally, considered his pal Diamond Jim Brady the world’s best non-writing critic. Brady figured he’d seen 2,500 opening nights. As Ziegfeld phrased it: "If Diamond Jim went to sleep before the first act was over manager knew it was a sure bet that the show would be a failure. If he stayed awake for two acts they knew the chances were the show would have a fair run. And if he stayed awake for all three acts, they knew that there was nothing to do but go out front and hang up the ‘Seats Reserved for Six Weeks in Advance’ sign."

Lotta’s marriage couldn’t have gone well. Certainly, she wasn’t in Montreal long. A Directory of Club Women in NYC in 1906-07 listed the following: Miss Lotta Linthicum, 1004 Madison Avenue, a member of the Twelfth Night, and Mrs. Julia Linthicum, 55 East 93rd Street, a member of the Professional Woman's and the Woman's Press clubs.

Lotta returned to the Broadway stage in 1910. She appeared in The Deserters, a melodrama at the Hudson. She was pushing 40 and likely couldn’t command her early salaries. Unfortunately, we have no indication of what she earned at any point of her career. Nora Bayes earned $15 weekly in Chicago early in the century, then about 1907 Ziegfeld abruptly raised her to $75, the average wage of his Ziegfeld girls.
Early in 1913 Lotta joined the Poli Players’ stock company in Washington, D.C., which kept her busy through most of the summer. There was a new revival each week–her specialty--but this time there was a big difference: she was no longer a leading lady. (Sylvester Z. Poli ran the Poli Players. He began in New England and became a major force in theatre in the east. He specialized in vaudeville and had his own circuit.)

As the Nation’s Capital prepared to celebrate the Fourth of July, city fathers recruited Lotta. She played "Liberty" in "Uncle Sam’s Birthday Party" on the Monument grounds. What the Washington Post called "an immense throng" turned out to see the bugle corps, marching children, athletic contests and George T. Odell as Uncle Sam–and to hear plenty of "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Local officials, pleading lack of funds, eliminated the customary fireworks. (There were two pageants, though. One was just for fun and the other was to foster patriotism in children.)
The New York Times reported on July 4, 1922:

Canadian Theatrical Man Commits
Suicide, as He Said He Would.
MONTREAL, July 3–William S. [sic] Strachan, prominent Canadian theatrical man, was found dead in his room today with a tube attached to an open gas stove in his mouth.
A note was found addressed to "Maude," which read: "You doubted my word this afternoon when I told I was doing the jumping off act, and laughed. Tell them to cremate me and not bury me in the family plot. Scatter the ashes."
There was also a newspaper clipping which referred to divorce proceedings started by his wife, Lotta Linthicum, a well-known Canadian actress of the early ’90s.

By then, she’d married Armor W. Barbour. This had happened about 1915, if census records are to be believed. He was about 26 then, she at least 38. A civil engineer, he lived on West 44th and West 50th Streets in Manhattan at various times. He’d been born April 23, 1889 in Chicago, according to his draft card of 1917, which has found its way onto the Internet. The card lists him as married but doesn’t give his wife’s name. It also said he was in management with a bridge company.
Lotta and Armor Barbour were counted in the 1920 census of Manhattan. He gave his occupation as engineer, she as "actress."

Eventually the couple moved to sumptuous-sounding "Plandome Manor" on Long Island. Although bridges seem to have been Barbour’s interest, Mary Bankson referred to him as a "banker." He likely did finance some Broadway shows. He was somehow connected with the American Theatre, although many years after Lotta had first played there
Someone identified as "Barbour," or "A. Barbour," co-produced Excess Baggage at the Ritz and It Is To Laugh at the Iltinge, both of which opened Dec. 26, 1927; and The Clutching Claw, a haunted-house tale, at the Forrest in 1928. Lotta didn’t play in those Broadway productions. (Excess Baggage is worth noting. It was one of a record 11 plays that opened on Broadway that night. It was the only one that did well. With Miriam Hopkins portraying a small-time vaudevillian trying to make the big time, it ran 216 performances.)

By this time films and radio were changing American entertainment. Theatre historians like to say the time between 1850 and 1920 was when the theatre was democratized. Instead of playing only to the aristocracy, it began catering to the common man. Most plays of that era were melodramas; there were few classics that lasted into the modern repertory. The advent of movies and radio began to change things back about 1920.

On Feb. 16, 1922, Lotta’s Pomeranian was among the best at the Newark Kennel Club in New Jersey. On Feb. 5, 1925 her entry won the five-pounds-and-under bracket at the American Pomeranian Club show at the Plaza Hotel in NYC. She also was a member of a rose-growing society. In 1929 Plandome Manor was on the garden-club tours in Long Island.

By then, Lotta was likely stout. She apparently was taller than most, and, certainly, she was formidable enough for bossy-mother-in-law roles in farces. She’d developed a knack for comedy, and as time passed she also showed a wonderful knack for picking good parts. While slipping down in the billings, she played in some notable Broadway hits and probably came out ahead financially. One, A Tailor-Made Man, opened in 1917 and ran 398 performances at George M. Cohan’s theatre.
It was in the late twenties that newsman Mark Hellinger described Broadway so wonderfully. He noted that its "oversized signs blinked their come-ons so brightly that daylight, by comparison, seemed dim." Broadway, he said, "was glutted with cabarets and theatres and honky-tonks and dime-a-dance joints and checkered tablecloth speakeasies and chop suey restaurants and offices for fight managers, theatrical booking agents, Broadway lawyers, gangsters, private eyes, theatrical boarding houses on the side streets, lush apartments for kept women, beer drops and wind-free corners for pathetic panhandlers. Minsky’s burlesque, the Palace Theatre, Spinrad’s barber shop , the El Fey, beautiful girls who had not yet felt the urge to go west. It was an expensive circus, nothing more, nothing less."

The 1930 census tells us that Lotta was born in New York, her father in Virginia and her mother in New York. She listed her occupation as "none." Barbour said his parents were born in Illinois. (Mary Bankson died in late summer 1934 in Oregon.)
Lotta’s later years might not have been too comfortable. The New York Times mentioned on Nov. 13, 1938 that some of her hooked rugs, porcelains and firearms were being auctioned. Her name was given as Lotta Linthicum and her address as Plandome Manor, L.I. The agent’s name was American Art Association-Anderson Galleries, Inc.

On Nov. 20, 1938 the Times reported that the gallery sold $9,387 worth of Remington bronzes, furniture and decoration for Lotta Linthicum and two other parties, who might or might not have been connected with her. The gallery’s address was given as 30 East 57th Street.

Many of Lotta’s associates went into films. If she ever tried to, she left scant record of it. Presumably, she remained loyal to the stage. Variety carried her obituary in its April 26, 1952 issue (page 63, column 2):

Lotta Linthicum
Lotta Linthicum (Mrs. Armor Barbour), retired legit actress, died in Port Chester, N.Y., March 19.
Miss Linthicum made her stage debut in London in 1899. On Broadway she appeared as leading lady to John Drew, Grant Mitchell and Aubrey Boucicault. She appeared with Victor Moore in the musicomedy Some Day.
Port Chester is across Long Island Sound from Long Island. It’s northeast of Manhattan, nearly on the Connecticut line and just outside Greenwich. She would have been between 75 and 81. As her performance in NYC in 1896 is well-documented, she probably had fibbed about her age, leading to Variety’s erroneous date of her debut.
The Broadway Data Base, a wonderful work in progress, doesn’t verify her performances with Drew, Mitchell and Boucicault. Some Day isn’t listed, either (but there must be life off Broadway and outside NYC!) She must have played with most every Broadway actor at one time or another. Surely, she did appear with Victor Moore (and William Frawley of future I Love Lucy fame) in She Lived Next to the Firehouse at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway. William Gargan also was in that cast.

Lotta's Credits

This chronological list includes the plays noted in Mary Bankson’s scrapbook (in the author’s possession), those on the Broadway Data Base, and those that the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Washington Post mentioned that Lotta was in. Incidentally, I’ve found only one instance that she did any singing (in Madame Sherry in 1913).
(Tentative details: Opened October 24, 1892 at the Star Theatre in NYC)
It’s unclear, but this might have been the production that Lotta appeared in as Dora. Rose Coghlan was reviving this famous play to open her own theatre, the Star, by playing her famous role of Countess Zicka. Brother Charles played Henry Beauclerc.
The Coghlans then took the production on the road, playing Chicago, Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., among other places.
Victorien Sardu wrote Diplomacy. It opened in Paris in 1877, and at Wallack’s in NYC on April 1, 1878.
Irish Artist
October 1, 1894 at the Fourteenth Street Theatre
This has been billed as her debut. She played Kate Mahone in this production, which apparently introduced Chauncey Olcott to New York audiences. Miss Linthicum was billed as "Lotta Lynn." Augustus Pitou was the producer, and the play apparently ran until November 12. Olcott went on to become the most famous "Irishman" American ever had. He wrote "My Wild Irish Rose and the lyrics for "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." He made so much money he retired to a villa in Monte Carlo, where he died in 1932. Warner Bros. did a bio-pic entitled My Wild Irish Rose that starred Dennis Morgan.
The Amazons
Probably in 1895 or ‘96 at the Girard Avenue Theatre in Philadelphia
She was leading lady in this comedy, which appeared in NYC as early as 1894. Charles Frohman produced the NYC show, a huge success.
An Unequal Match
Probably in 1895 or ‘96 at the Girard Avenue Theatre in Philadelphia
She was leading lady in this comedy. It was in this play that Lily Langtry first appeared in America (as Rosalind in 1882).
Probably in 1895 or ‘96 at the Girard Avenue Theatre in Philadelphia
She was leading lady in this comedy.
Our Friends
Probably in 1895 or ‘96 at the Girard Avenue Theatre in Philadelphia
She was leading lady in this comedy.
Man and Wife
Probably in 1895 or ‘96 at the Girard Avenue Theatre in Philadelphia
She earned acclaim as Annie Sylvester in this drama often associated with Clara Morris.
Le Passant
Details unknown
An 1897 publication pictured Lotta in the role of Zanetta in this play.
The Belle’s Strategem
Details unknown
An 1897 publication pictured Lotta in the role of Miss Ogle in this old play. The famous English team of Henry Irving and Ellen Terry had done it in America in 1883.
The Sign of the Cross
Summer 1896 at Lyric Theatre in London
Englishman Wilson Barrett wrote and produced this four-act (and 3 1/2-hour) drama set in Rome during Nero’s persecution of Christians. Lotta played Dacia in this immensely successful play.
The Sign of the Cross
Fall 1896 at the Knickerbocker in NYC
American producers brought in this English production along with its cast. It did well in America, especially on the road, where it drew tens of thousands of churchgoers who’d abhorred theatres. Lotta first attracted widespread notice in this play. As far as is known, she always played Dacia, the patrician, in these productions. After the performances in NYC, the play toured Baltimore, Philadelphia, Montreal and many other places.
The Sign of the Cross
Opened Nov. 30, 1896 at Chestnut Street Opera House in Philadelphia
This was a two-week engagement.
The Sign of the Cross
Probably late 1896 or early ‘97 in Baltimore
Details are lacking. Baltimore newspapers merely reported in 1899 that she’d performed there earlier in this play.
The Sign of the Cross
Opening Feb. 1, 1897 at Hooley’s Theatre in Chicago
This was to play four weeks in this old theatre that dated to 1872. It became Powers’ Theatre in 1899.
The Royal Box
Sept. 10-Oct. 8, 1898 at the Fifth Avenue Theatre at Broadway and 28th in NYC
Lotta was one of the new cast members added when Charles Coghlan revived his meal ticket. Production standards were upgraded, too. After a month in NYC the show toured Washington, D.C., probably Toronto, and many other cities. Coghlan, of course, was leading man.
(Name Unknown)
Spring 1898 at Fifth Avenue Theatre in NYC
Lotta was scheduled to support Mrs. Fiske in this play, but details are lacking. As the Boston Globe announced April 10, 1898: "Mrs. Fiske spent last week in New York, preparing for her spring engagement at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, and rehearsing new plays, two of which will be produced during that engagement. In one of these, A Bit of Chelsea, by Mrs. Oscar Beringer, a one-act drama that has run for over a year in London, it is believed that Mrs. Fiske will have a character giving full scope to her genius. Another play to be produced by her is by Marguerite Morington, and the chief part of this, too, is said to be admirably fitted to Mrs. Fiske. For this drama Mrs. Fiske has added Verner Clarges, Alberta Gallatin and Lotta Linthicum to her company."
The Royal Box
Oct. 10-15, 1898 in National Theatre in Washington, D.C.
James Bankson played in this romantic Georgian Era show, and Lotta Linthicum was Countess Helen.
The Royal Box
Probably late 1898 in Atlanta
The Atlanta Constitution reported Oct. 9, 1898 that The Royal Box was coming to town "soon" with its Broadway cast, not the "usual inferior" road cast. The paper identified Andrew Robson, Alexander Kearney, Palmer Collins, Charles Stanley, Claude Brooke, James W. Bankson, Harry Hamlin, R.C. Chamberlin, Taylor Granville, Mortimer Weldon, Edgar George, Lotta Linthicum, Gertrude Coghlin, Josephine Adams and Katherine Grey.
Love Finds the Way
Mid-March 1899 at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in NYC
Mrs. Minnie Maddern Fiske, the First Lady of the Theatre, did a series of roles to demonstrate her range and versatility. This play, adapted from the German, was in that series. Judging from clippings, Lotta and Mrs. Fiske were in other plays together. Mrs. Fiske was known for moving and speaking very quickly.
Two Can Play at That
Spring 1899 at the Lyceum in Baltimore
Lotta did a performance May 16, the day after she married James Bankson.
The Royal Box
About 1899, New Haven, Conn.
James Bankson played a secondary role, probably that of Montmorency. Presumably, Lotta was in the cast.
The Royal Box
Date unknown, apparently at Grand Theatre in Toronto before fall 1899
A clipping that seems to be from the Toronto Globe tells of Charles Coghlan and Company playing at the Grand, so we know this was before Coghlan died in November 1899. Lotta was Countess Helen. The reviewer noted that Lotta had supported Mrs. Fiske there "a few seasons ago." (This opens up the possibility of other, earlier tours.) James Bankson played Montmorency ("with grotesque dignity," a review said), so this likely was late in 1898 or early in 1899. The reviewer savored Coghlan’s "dignified and manly exposure of Lord Basset in the encounter in the Cat and Fiddle Inn and his denunciation of the Prince of Wales at the play."
The Royal Box
After Nov. 27, 1899, place unknown
Lotta continued to tour, and James Bankson took over the role of the Prince of Wales as the cast adjusted for Charles Coghlan’s death. A review was headlined "Metropolitan Criticism."
The Royal Box
Time uncertain, in Hartford, Conn.
James Bankson was in the cast. Presumably, Lotta was still on the tour.
The Royal Box
About 1900, New Haven, Conn.
With Charles Coghlan dead, James Bankson played the Prince of Wales. The review doesn’t mention Lotta, who likely played her usual role. It does mention "Miss Coghlan" (Charles’ daughter Gertrude), who played Celia Price.
The Royal Box
About 1900, Marion, Indiana
A later news story in the Marion newspaper said Mary and John Bankson (Lotta’s in-laws) were visiting relatives there. It stated further: "James Bankson, lately deceased, will be remembered by Marion theatre-goers as the Prince of Wales in . . . The Royal Box." Lotta was on that tour, too, so she must have played in Marion.
The Royal Box
Early January 1900, English’s in Indianapolis
James Bankson appeared as the Prince of Wales, but Lotta Linthicum, cast as Countess Helen, had a minor accident and missed at least the performance of Jan. 5. That was the one that was reviewed. Indianapolis probably wasn’t a one-night town, though..
1900 in Indianapolis
Lotta had the lead as Fannie LeGrand. Greta Garbo starred in the film version, called Inspiration, in 1931.
A Lively Legacy
April 19-21, 1900 at the Empire Theatre in Albany, N.Y.
Lotta and James were in this new comedy’s debut. The main gimmick was that a young couple’s wedding ceremony was continually interrupted, up until the end, anyway. The audience approved, especially liking the elaborate mechanical effects. The advertisement/playbill specified days of the week and month but not the year of the production; nor does it reveal the producer or company. A universal calendar helped establish the year, then the Washington Post’s weekly theatrical review revealed that the play was, indeed, in Albany that week. See item below.
A Lively Legacy
Opening April 23, 1900, Columbia Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Lotta and James played in this farce, set in Florida, which the Hanlon brothers produced. A clipping in the scrapbook summarizes nicely: after a sea captain dies, a practical joker substitutes a bogus will for the real one. This tricks the widow and daughter into absurd situations; the daughter, for example, must be married on the Atlantic Ocean in January. Hurricanes and railway wrecks complicate matters. (The date was obtained, not from the scrapbook, but from old issues of the Washington Post.)
A Lively Legacy
April 30, 1900 at Ford’s Opera House in Baltimore and elsewhere
The newlyweds revisited Baltimore, then continued elsewhere.
The Prodigal Daughter
About May 1900, Grand Opera House in New Orleans
"J.W. Bankson" and Lotta Linthicum appeared in this production, which probably starred William Farnum. Walter S. Baldwin was the producer. "J.W." was undoubtedly James Bankson, not his father, John. James played evil Maurice Deepwater in this play, which had debuted on Broadway in 1893 at the then-new American Theatre.
The Prodigal Daughter
About May 1900, Grand Opera House in New Orleans
Lotta and "J.W. Bankson" appeared in this play, which probably starred William Farnum. Walter S. Baldwin was the producer. "J.W." was Jimmie, who played Maurice Deepwater.
Quo Vadis
About May 1900, Grand Opera House in New Orleans
Audiences liked the Baldwin-Melville Stock Company’s presentation, which probably starred William Farnum. Lotta played Lygia, and her husband was Petronius. This play and others, plus the famous 1951 film, were dramatizations of Henryk Sienkiewicz’s novel. Two different dramatizations of the novel opened on Broadway April 9, 1900. One version ran 96 performances, the other 36. It’s unclear what version played New Orleans, or Montreal (see below). At the time, most references to this play’s title were written without a hyphen or question mark. ("Quo Vadis?" is Latin for "Where goest thou?")
The Prodigal Daughter
May 28-June 2, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
Lotta and James Bankson (Maurice Deepwater) appeared in this play starring William Farnum. Walter S. Baldwin was the producer. William Farnum’s brother Marshall played Miserable Jim. Anna MacGregor was Mme. Delmard. (Baldwin-Melville Stock Company)
June 4-9, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
Lotta Linthicum and her husband helped introduce this notorious play to Montrealers. She played the lead (Fannie LeGrand), and William Farnum played the male lead (Jean Gaussin). But it was James Bankson who got the best reviews for this Baldwin-Melville Stock Co. production. Clyde Fitch wrote Sapho, a dramatization of Alphonse Daudet’s novel about a French courtesan. The American public didn’t consider the subject matter proper; one Montreal reviewer merely called the play "talky" and the comedy "weak." Another reviewer noted that the play "ends with Sapho sneaking off to marry a former lover–a returned convict–and leaving her latest victim, a young country lad . . . whose life she has wrecked, lying presumably dead or dying on her sofa."
Sapho had debuted Feb. 5, 1900 at Wallack’s on Broadway. There was great public outcry after that night’s performance. William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal called for police to shut it down. They did, on March 5 after 29 performances, hauling off Olga Nethersole, who doubled as leading lady and producer. The police closed Wallack’s that night–it was NYC’s best theatre then--but it was allowed to open the next night with a substitute play, The Second Mrs. Tanquery, also starring Miss Nethersole. On April 2 she went to trial. This created a sensation, of course. After she was acquitted, the play reopened April 7 amid great excitement, outrage and profit. Although not a very good play, it ran another 55 performances. Longtime Hollywood character actor Taylor Holmes was in the original cast. The title of the play was spelled with only one P.
Quo Vadis
June 18-23, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
Lotta and Jimmie repeated their roles from New Orleans. Leading man William Farnum played Marcus Vinicius. A reviewer praised them all but complained about the shrillness of Miss MacGregor (Poppaea), suggesting she tone it down. The Baldwin-Melville Stock Company had three MacGregors, Ella, Anna and Helen, if the playbills were accurate. It’s unclear which offended the reviewer.
Rosedale, or the Rifle Ball
June 11-16, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
Lotta and William Farnum had the leads, and James Bankson played Myles McKenna. One reviewer found the show pleasantly devoid of risque lines and social issues. Lester Wallack’s play apparently debuted in 1863.
The Two Orphans
June 28-30, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
Lotta’s role is uncertain but it was one of the leads. Jimmie played Jacques in Ralph E. Cummings & Co.’s production of this melodramatic warhorse. Two French playwrights, d’Ennery and Cormon, had concocted it for Parisian audiences; it was so successful that it was adapted for the Union Square Theatre in NYC in 1874. A sensation, it ran 180 nights. Kate Claxton, who played blind Louise in that production, bought the rights and toured with it for two decades. This was Adolphe Philippe d’Ennery’s most successful play. He was born in Paris in 1811 and died there in 1899. He used only his surname in later years. He also did the librettos for Gounod’s Faust and Massenet’s El Cid. Hollywood got great mileage out of The Two Orphans, first filming it in 1915. The Gish sisters transformed it into Orphans of the Storm, a silent film in 1922. Sound versions came out in 1933 and ‘55.
Cyrano de Bergerac
July 2-7, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
Lotta played Roxane, and her husband was villainous Count de Guiche in Edmond Rostand's masterpiece of 1897. William Farnum had the title role in this well-received show. (Baldwin-Melville Stock Company)
The Black Flag
July 9-14, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
Lotta Linthicum (as heiress Naomi Blandford) and James Bankson (as John Glyndon) appeared in this venerable English comedy drama that probably concerned pirates. The play dated at least to the 1880s. (Baldwin-Melville Stock Company)
The Three Musketeers
July 16-21, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
Lawrence Hanley, replacing William Farnum as the Baldwin-Melville Stock Company’s leading man, played D’Artagnan three nights before becoming "indisposed" July 19; thereupon, James Bankson moved up from his role of Richelieu. L.O. Hart had to double up on his roles. He was playing Boniface and also took over Bankson’s role of Richelieu. Bankson won excellent reviews. Presumably, Lotta played Roxane.
East Lynne
August 1900 in Montreal
Lotta was in this old tear-jerker while James Bankson was ill.
Monte Cristo
August 1900 in Montreal and other places
This was one of the melodramas Lotta often did. A rousing adventure devoid of controversy, it was also a cash cow. Mary Bankson kept an undated photo, taken in Indianapolis, showing Lotta looking very young in her costume for this play. She also was doing Monte Cristo in Montreal while her husband was dying. She and drunken co-star Lawrence Hanley earned terrible reviews. This play, more formally known as The Count of Monte Cristo, became the stock in trade of James O’Neill (father of playwright Eugene); he played Edmond Dantes 5,000 times.
The Charity Ball
August 1900 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
Lotta was doing the role of Anne Cruger in this popular play when her husband died. It had debuted in 1889. David Belasco and Henry C. DeMille wrote it.
Opened April 29, 1901 at the American Theater on Broadway
This was Lotta’s debut as a leading lady on Broadway. Her reviews, all favorable, appear below at some length. Leading man Ralph Stuart fared well, too, in this Greenwall Company production. The Times called him "an excellent Armand." The Mail and Express called his Armand "a credible piece of work." The American Theatre apparently was doing two performances a day when this play was presented. For some reason, the Times review didn’t come up under Lotta’s name on the ProQuest indexing. Film versions featured Clara Kimball Young in 1915, Theda Bara in 1917, Nazimova (and Valentino) in 1921, Greta Garbo in 1936 and Greta Scacchi in 1984.
Rip Van Winkle
May 1901 at the American Theatre on Broadway in NYC
Herman Sheldon was in the title role that Joseph Jefferson was so famous for. Lotta was leading lady. (Greenwall Company)
Kit Carson
Late May 1901 at the American on Broadway
Lotta, as leading lady, "was a brave girl of the trail in a rainy-day skirt," according to the New York Times critic. And critic he was, lauding the cast only for trying to make something out of the mess that playwright Franklin Fyles had provided. Fyles had done a hit earlier called The Girl I Left Behind Me.
Opened June 4, 1901 at the American on Broadway
Lotta portrayed Rose Leigh, and Ralph Stuart was Col. Elliott Grey. The Times noted that "a large and enthusiastic audience" enjoyed Lester Wallack’s old play. Lotta had done it at Montreal in 1900.
Peaceful Valley
June 10-15, 1901 at the American Theatre on Broadway
This play closed the season. The Times noted that Sol Smith Russell and Ralph Stuart played in it, but mentioned no one else. Presumably, Lotta was in it, too. Russell, a headliner, likely was engaged especially for this rustic play. (One of the Montreal clippings in the scrapbook says Lotta did Frou-Frou during this sequence at the American, but I didn’t come across it in old newspapers. It was in 1901, incidentally, that public relations man O.J. Gude coined the phrase "The Great White Way.")
Madame Sans Gene (or Mme. Sans-Gene)
Probably summers of 1901 and ‘02 at the Francais in Montreal
Victorien Sardou’s play of 1893 has a woman taming Napoleon during the French Revolution. (One paper called it a "racing melodrama.") This play had been a Broadway hit in 1895. Gloria Swanson did the film version in 1925. The title could be translated "Mrs. Devil-May-Care."
Apparently at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal in 1901
This was one of Lotta’s specialties, although there’s some confusion about her schedule in Montreal. Baldwin-Melville had engaged her again that summer, replacing Maude Odell, who left for Chicago to do King Dodo. One newspaper clipping mentions the John A. Grose "regime." He apparently managed the theatre. The scrapbook has an undated clipping, praising Lotta’s playing of Gilberte in "this strange mixture of comedy and tragedy."
Under Two Flags
Probably 1901 or ‘02 at the Grand Opera House in New Orleans
The timing of this melodrama is uncertain. Lotta was leading lady in New Orleans, apparently during the 1901-02 season. An undated review in the scrapbook shows that she played the lead, "Cigarette," in this Baldwin-Melville production, earning a nice review from the Times-Picayune. Edward Elsner’s dramatization of Ouida’s novel debuted on Broadway in 1901 with Blanche Bates in the lead. It ran 135 performances. Ronald Colman and Claudette Colbert were in the 1936 film.
Skipper & Co., Wall Street
Debuted May 4, 1903 at the Garrick on Broadway
This was a serious new play about business, although comedian Macklyn Arbuckle (who looked somewhat like Jackie Gleason) had a major role. Lotta was leading lady. Elsewhere in town, Isabel Irving played Virginia Carvel in Winston Churchill’s The Crisis at the West End Theatre. (But the playwright was not the future British prime minister.) At the Majestic, The Wizard of Oz continued to please, thanks considerably, the Times said, to "Montgomery and Stone, two comedians of quaint and original methods."
Lady Rose’s Daughter
Opened Nov. 16, 1903 at the Garrick Theatre on Broadway
Playwright George Fleming’s piece ran 16 performances. William Courtleigh, a well-known actor, was in the cast.
Opened Dec. 20, 1903 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue in NYC
Lotta headed the cast in what was advertised as "Augustus Thomas’ charming drama of the South." Thus began another string of stock leads in revivals of popular favorites. (Maurice Barrymore had done this play on Broadway in 1891.) Proctor’s, at 28th and Broadway, was basically a vaudeville house with continuous entertainment beginning in the early afternoon. The Broadway Data Base hasn’t listed Proctor’s shows. Also on the bill with Lotta were some animal acts, some scenes on the "kalatechnoscope," etc.
Christmastime 1903 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue Theatre in NYC
Lotta had the title role, although the Svengali character is better remembered. Wormwood’s Animals were on the vaudeville bill, entertainment beginning at 1 p.m. and lasting till 10:30. Mary Bankson kept an undated photo of Lotta in costume as Trilby. Among Lotta’s competition that week: boxer James J. Corbett at the Metropolis (apparently "Gentleman Jim" wasn’t doing much more than a stage walk-on), and a variety show at the Orpheum in Brooklyn that included Blind Tom, the Vassar Girls, and Macard’s Dogs and Monkeys, all supposedly in celebration of the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge. (Blind Tom, a phenomenon of the age, is said to have been the most successful performer of his day, if you counted ticket sales. A blind former slave, he toured the world, amazing everyone with his piano playing, much of it ragtime.)
Love in Harness
Early February 1904 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue in NYC
Malcolm Williams and Lotta Linthicum headed an otherwise-vaudeville program. (Williams rates three photos in Blum’s American Theatre.) Also on the bill: George H. Primrose, the Foley Twins, Spencer Kelley, Lores Grimm, Johnny Hoey, Dalto the Barrel Jumper, the Lynns and Marsky & Moran. Proctor’s had three other theatres then: the Twenty-Third Street, the Fifty-Eighth Street and the Harlem. Acts included Max Ritter the "coon shouter," Princess Chinquilla (genuine royalty from backwoods Maine and singing "Indian music"), Rosa Nayton and her exotic birds, and plenty of jugglers, magicians and comedians. But competition around town was stiff: Mme. Emma Calve was doing Carmen at the Met and the Jeffries-Fitzsimmons fight was on the kinetograph at the Comedy Theatre at 65th and Broadway.
Champagne and Oysters
Mid-February 1904 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue Theatre in NYC
Malcolm Williams and Lotta Linthicum starred in this popular comedy that Joseph W. Shannon had written more than 20 years earlier. T. Nelson Downs headed the vaudeville bill.
Rip Van Winkle
Late February 1904 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue in NYC
Joseph Jefferson had made this play famous, but he didn’t perform at Proctor’s.
Ships That Pass in the Night
Opened Feb. 29, 1904 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue in NYC
As always, there was supplemental vaudeville.
The Lost Paradise
Probably March 21-26, 1904 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue in NYC
Malcolm Williams also was in Henry C. DeMille’s "powerful drama," according to the weekly ad of March 20, 1904 in the Times. Actually DeMille had adapted Ludwig Fulda’s original. This was a "society play" that also appealed to the masses.
Love on Crutches
Opened May 2, 1904 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue in NYC
Malcolm Williams was leading man in this revival. This play was in NYC in 1884 with a cast that included Augustin Daly’s "big four" of John Drew, Ada Rehan, Mrs. Gilbert and James Lewis.
Needles and Pins
Probably May 30-June 4, 1904 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue in NYC
According to the ad of May 29, 1904, entertainment started at 1 p.m. and went on continuously until 10:30 p.m., with plenty of vaudeville included.
On Change
Probably June 20-25, 1904 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue in NYC
Wallace Erskine was leading man in what a Times ad of June 19, 1904 called Augustin Daly’s farce.
In its "Stage Chat" section, the Pictorial Revue of August 1904 spotlighted Lotta in discussing Proctor’s plans. It even ran her photo, captioned "Leading lady at one of Proctor’s stock companies." The publication noted: "Miss Lotta Linthicum is the leading lady of Proctor’s Fifth Avenue Theatre for the summer season. This season, following the policy adopted last summer, there will be an elaborate system of revivals of the old standard comedy successes, as well as the presentation of some of the new pieces which have recently been reverted to stock company use, and in these Miss Linthicum is expected to take the leading role. During the regular season it was found that the more varied bill is more acceptable to the audiences, but during the [summers] comedy and comedy alone is demanded by the regular patrons, and catering to this demand Mr. Proctor has arranged for an elaborate series of revivals, which will be presented by a thoroughly competent company, to which several changes in the present personnel of the stock company will be made to secure more satisfactory results in the comedy line. All the productions will be made with full scenic and costume equipment of the original wherever practicable and wherever such are not obtainable the new production will be equally elaborate with the old."
Proctor’s Fifty-Eighth Street Theatre was sticking to comic operas.
Who Is Brown?
Probably July 18-23, 1904 at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue Theatre in NYC
This was another farce with Malcolm Williams; its ad ran July 19, 1904 in the Times.
Weatherbeaten Benson
Opened Sept. 1, 1904 at Young’s Pier Theatre in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Leaving Proctor’s, Lotta hit the road. This was the first performance for Ezra Kendall’s comedy starring Joseph Slaytor, Thurlow Bergen and Lotta; it sold out.
Weatherbeaten Benson
Opened Oct. 8, 1904 at Augusta Opera House in Augusta, Maine
The Daily Kennebec Journal reviewed the play favorable, calling Ezra Kendall a famous comedian. Lotta played Mrs. Ormsby, a wealthy widow.
Weatherbeaten Benson
Opened Oct. 30, 1904 at Grand Opera House in Chicago
This comedy was scheduled to run two weeks. It was about an entrepreneur trying to establish a plant in the Indian Territory just after the land rush of 1893.
The Deserters
Opened Sept. 20, 1910 in the Hudson Theatre on Broadway
This play, by Anna Alice Chapin and Robert Carter, was a complicated melodrama somewhat common in its day. The star, Helen Ware, played Madge Summers, daughter of a career army officer. Her great regret was that women couldn’t join the army. She compensated by becoming a detective for the army. She tracked down deserters, but not to punish them; she showed them the way to redemption; she taught them their duty and gave them another chance. The hero was Lt. James Craig (Orme Caldara), who got himself in a terrible pickle by discovering a fellow officer in a compromising position with Blanche Marston (Lotta), wife of yet another officer. Our hero, of course, knocked the bounder senseless, then departed the scene. Next, Lt. Marston, the woman’s husband, showed up and shot the cad. Learning of the villain’s death, Craig assumed he was responsible, and he deserted. Thus, it was up to our heroine to track him down. Madge zigzagged from Washington to Kansas and, finally, to San Francisco. There, she located Craig in a waterfront dive, which she infiltrated by posing as a music hall singer. Besides giving her a chance to sing a few numbers during Act II, this enabled the playwrights to inject some truly sinful atmosphere into their uplifting handiwork. Ultimately, Madge fell in love with her quarry, leading to still more dubious complications. Still, this implausible show lasted 63 performances. Helen Ware, who’d never before sung on Broadway, rates 10 mentions in Blum’s American Theatre.
The Deserters
Opened Dec. 26, 1910 in the Columbia Theatre in Washington, D.C.
According to the publicity, this road show had the Broadway cast. Leading lady Helen Ware was billed as a "young, emotional star." The Washington Post reviewer liked the show, and said that the audience liked it, but he objected to the scene in the San Francisco saloon: " . . . to bring before an audience the spectacle of drunken men and besotted women from the lowest dregs of the underworld, among whom a pure young woman plies the trade of detective, is in questionable taste . . ." He thought the scene could have been presented in a way that didn’t "grate so harshly upon feelings." Henry E. Harris produced this.
Opened March 16, 1912 at Hudson Theatre in NYC
Mme. Simon, a famous French actress touring America, played the lead, and Lotta portrayed the Baroness. Lotta noted these facts on a photo sent to Mary Bankson (now retired in Oregon) in 1913. Frou-Frou, by Meilhac and Halevy, had debuted on Broadway in 1870 at Daly’s Fifth Avenue Theatre. William A. Brady had revived it in 1902 at the Garrick, starring wife Grace George. The show that Lotta was in was Broadway’s second revival of this famous play.
Cheer Up
Opened Dec. 30, 1912 at Harris Theatre on Broadway
Mary Roberts Rinehart’s new comedy was set in a ritzy hilltop sanatorium during a blizzard. The plot had a young actress suing a director for breach of promise, which sent him into hiding. Then the leader of a stranded theatrical troupe took over the sanatorium. Cecil B. DeMille, 31, directed this. (A year later, he and Samuel Goldfish/Goldwyn organized a movie studio.) Cast, in order of billing: Walter Hampden, Frances Norstrom, Effingham Pinto and Lotta Linthicum.
The Man From Home
Opened Feb. 3, 1913 in Washington, D.C.
Lotta had a new job as the Poli Players opened their stock season at the "avenue playhouse." Robert M. Middlemas played a grand duke, and Lotta was a French countess. Izetta Jewel, Poli’s leading lady, was tied up in California until after rehearsals started, so Maud Gilbert played the lead. Booth Tarkington and Harry Leon Wilson wrote this bit of Americana, giving it the Cohan-like oomph that made it a Broadway hit of 1908. Poli’s new players were, according to the Washington Post: Frank Shannon, Helen Tracy, Thomas Williams, Dudley Hawley, Cecil Bowden and Lotta Linthicum. Sylvester Z. Poli, who ran this operation in the nation’s capital, owned more theatrical enterprises than any other man in the county, the Washington Post said.
The Heir to the Hurrah
Opened March 11, 1913 in Washington, D.C.
This production had the usual Poli Players, with A.H. Van Buren as Joe Lacy, owner of the Hurrah mine, who marries a snooty easterner (Izetta Jewel). Helen Tracy (whose role in The Volunteer Mary Bankson had taken over in 1892 in Chicago) was the hero’s troublesome mother-in-law. Lotta and Gertrude Bondhill provided the comedy. Paul Armstrong’s play had debuted on Broadway in 1905. See pages 159 and 171 of Blum’s American Theatre for more on Van Buren.
Harriet Hilliard (of Ozzie and Harriet TV fame) made her stage debut when she was 6 weeks old in a production of this play in Des Moines, Iowa about 1909; parents Roy E. and Hazel Hillard carried her on stage.
The College Widow
Opened late March 1913 in Washington, D.C.
Poli brought in popular comedian and playwright George Ade for this revival of his farce about college life. A Hoosier and Purdue graduate known for his slang-talk, he augmented the Poli cast: A.H. Van Buren, Izetta Jewel. Frank Shannon, Helen Tracy and Lotta. The show had been a smash hit when it debuted in 1905, running 278 performances on Broadway. Poli labeled the production "a pictorial comedy."
Old Heidelberg
Opened April 1913 in Washington, D.C.
The Washington Post called this "a charming romantic comedy." It was Thurlow Bergen’s debut as Poli’s leading man.
The Greyhound
Opened May 12, 1913 in Washington, D.C.
Lotta played Deep-Sea Kitty, a blackmailing baroness, as the Poli Players had fun misbehaving in this tale of the underworld. Mark Kent played McSherry, reformed criminal-turned-detective. His quarry was Fellman, the "Greyhound," the suave and likable ringleader of a gang of thieves trying to fleece the passengers aboard a luxury liner. A further complication: the detective’s girlfriend Claire (Izetta Jewel) had married the "Greyhound," and was trying to reform him–just as she’d reformed McSherry. The suspense built to an unexpected ending. The cast included "Marie Drofnah." "Drofnah" is "Hanford" spelled backward. Actor Charles B. Hanford’s wife Marie had toured as "Drofnah" in 1901, so apparently she was at it again in 1913. Paul Armstrong and Wilson Mizner wrote this play.
Merely Mary Ann
Opened May 26, 1913 in Washington, D.C.
Izetta Jewel played the title role in this revival of Israel Zangwill’s popular success of 1903. (Zangwill churned out much heavier stuff, but audiences liked this fluffy one best.) Although set in a dreary London lodging house, it’s a pleasant comedy about a struggling composer. The usual Poli Players were on hand; Gertrude Bondhill and Helen Tracy provided some of the comedy, and Lotta Linthicum was an impoverished peeress.
It was Zangwill, a Jew from England, who popularized the term "melting pot." His four-act melodrama The Melting Pot opened at the Capitol Theatre in Washington, D.C. in October 1908. President Teddy Roosevelt, an opening-nighter, hailed it as "a great play." Zangwill’s hero, a Jewish refugee from czarist Russia named David Quixano, exalts at the end: "German and Frenchman, Irishman and Englishman, Jews and Russians–into the crucible with you all! God is making the American. . . . He will be the fusion of all races, the coming superman!" Opening-night critics weren’t impressed, but Roosevelt’s enthusiasm helped popularize the play.
The Call of the North
Opened June 21, 1913 at Poli’s in Washington, D.C.
Edward Mackay earned favorable reviews by playing a courageous but foolhardy adventurer, and Lotta did well as steadfast Mrs. Brockton. Otherwise, though, the Poli Players didn’t mesh well with the casting requirements. Izetta Jewel was an unlikely backwoods girl, and Mark Kent was likewise miscast as a tyrannical factor working for the Hudson Bay Company. The plot included vendettas, a "journey of death" for company opponents and, of course, the required love story. Mrs. Brockton was the only character with nerve enough to stand up to the villainous factor. This play was based on Stewart Edward White’s thrilling tale of the Canadian woods entitled The Conjurer’s House. George Broadhurst dramatized it under its new title. President Woodrow Wilson’s vice president, Tom Marshall, was in the opening-night crowd. (The only thing he’s remembered for was saying: "What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar.")
The Talker
Opened July 1, 1913 at Poli’s in Washington, D.C.
Judging from reviews, Marion Fairfax wrote a virulent anti-feminist play that today would raise furious controversy. So would the reviews themselves. The Washington Post observed that the play demonstrated that the feminist rhetoric lures–and ruins--many otherwise well-meaning women. The Post mentioned "false Ibsen-like philosophy," "narrow, suburban middle-class life," "half-truths" and "the shallowness of the silly wife"--anything guaranteed to stir the pot today. Lotta played a "wholesome neighbor" to the misguided wife. Leading man Edward Mackay portrayed Harry Lenox.
Madame Sherry
Opened July 21, 1913 at Poli’s in Washington, D.C.
Sylvester Poli brought in some accomplished musical comedy people to augment his usual Players, and the Washington Post liked the result. In fact the reviewer liked the summer-stock revival of the old play better than another company’s presentation the previous winter season. Comedian Fred Frear played Uncle Theophilus, and Gertrude Bondhill was Yvonne, a French convent girl. Miss Bondhill sang in two distinctively different voices, which perplexed the reviewer. (If one voice is so much better than the other, why not stick with the better?) Helen Tracy played one of the choice roles, that of Catherine, but had no singing numbers. Harry Stephens had a pleasant tenor voice. The reviewer noted that the play’s big song, "Every Little Moment," fell to Lotta Linthicum and that she did it "full justice." Surprisingly, this is the only reference I’ve ever seen to Lotta singing. It’s a wonder the director didn’t give the song to one of the singing imports. Lotta, incidentally, was playing the role of the dancing teacher. One other cast member was interesting: Evita Sanchez played Pepita, a "volcanic" Venezuelan adventuress in backless dresses. Miss Sanchez was said to be the only Puerto Rican woman on the American stage. Madame Sherry had debuted on Broadway in 1910. A hit from the outset, it’s about playboy Edward Sherry. He’s able to move to Paris because rich uncle Theophilus pays the bills. To increase his allowance, Edward invents, first, a wife, then two children. The reckoning comes when Uncle Theophilus decides to visit his new relatives. Edward frantically seeks plausible stand-ins.
Opened July 27, 1913 at Poli’s in Washington, D.C.
Lotta played the errant wife of an army colonel in Augustus Thomas’ popular play that had debuted on Broadway in 1899. Mark Kent was Canby the ranch man, and the Poli Players’ new leading man, Robert Cain, debuted as Lt. Denton, who resigns his commission to protect the good names of his best friend and the colonel’s wife. Lotta ultimately confesses. As one writer noted, the play examined honor and ethics against a backdrop of soldiers, cowboys and Mexicans. The Post called Thomas the "dean of American playwrights." Poli’s next play was Salomy Jane, but the review doesn’t mention Lotta.
The White Sister
Opened Sept. 1, 1913 at Keith’s Harlem Opera House in NYC
This Labor Day performance opened the season for Lotta and J. Malcolm Dunn, the two leads. Lotta was then at least 36. The White Sister had been a Broadway hit in 1909 with Viola Allen, James O’Neill and William Farnum.
The Warrens of Virginia
Late September 1913 at the Harlem Opera House in NYC
Lotta and Malcolm Dunn had the leads in this play that brothers Cecil B. and William C. DeMille wrote. This had been a hit on Broadway in 1907.
The Price
Fall 1913 at Keith’s Harlem Opera House in NYC
This revival, good for 77 performances, starred Lotta and Ramsey Wallace. Helen Ware had headlined the original production in fall 1910 (and Warner Oland/"Charlie Chan" had been in it). Lotta didn’t even make the Times for being in this play, which is not to be confused with Arthur Miller’s The Price of 1968.
The Crinoline Girl
Opened March 16, 1914 at Knickerbocker Theatre on Broadway
Julian Eltinge (1883-1941) did the lyrics and starred in this production, which ran 88 performances, but it’s unclear if he was leading lady or man. A female impersonator, he was such a popular money-maker that Al Woods built a theatre and named it after him.
(On April 2, 1914, Lotta had her photo made. The photographer, Arnold Genthe, had a studio at 226 West 50th Street in NYC. Genthe lived 1869-1942, and upon his death the glass plate upon which the photo was made passed to the Library of Congress.)
A Tailor-Make Man
Opened March 12, 1917 in Boston
Bostonians loved this one. The Globe of May 29 reported the show was in its 12th week there and likely to last into the "hot weather." Apparently the show began at the Hollis Street Theatre then moved to the Tremont.
At Night All Cats Are Gray
Wednesday March 30, 1917 at Tremont in Boston
Most of the actors in the city took an afternoon off from their regular plays to appear in the yearly benefit for the Actors’ Fund. The Theatre Managers of Boston sponsored it, presenting a series of one-act plays. The performance, which drew a large and enthusiastic crowd, began at 1:30 and lasted four hours. Lotta and Grant Mitchell, from the cast of A Tailor-Made Man, starred in At Night All Cats Are Gray, a comedy about jewel thieves. Lotta and Bernard A. Reinold were the thieves, who mistake a Scotland Yard sleuth for their prey. Among other performers during the afternoon were Wilton Lackaye, Robert Ober and Adele Ritchie. Gertrude Hoffmann did her famous impersonations of Anna Held, Eddie Foy and Bert Williams.
A Tailor-Made Man
Opened Aug. 27, 1917 at Cohan and Harris Theatre on Broadway
This apparently was the biggest hit Lotta ever was in: 398 performances. Harry James Smith wrote it, George M. Cohan produced it. It was a comedy about a humble assistant tailor named John Paul Bart who proves that clothes make the man. He borrows an elegant suit that a client forgot to pick up, plus $100, then sets out to conquer society. Grant Mitchell played the tailor with Helen MacKellar as leading lady. Lotta had a comedy role as the mother of a debutante. This play isn’t to be confused with Love Me Tonight, a classic musical film about a tailor (Maurice Chevalier). The New York Times apparently didn’t mention Lotta during this run, or even these years. (The indexing system isn’t perfect.)
The the Boston Globe had reported Feb. 25, 1917 that Smith, the playwright, said he got the idea for the play from Gabriele Dregely’s The Well-fitting Dress-Coat. Dregely was an Hungarian playwright.
The Little Whopper
Opened Oct. 13, 1919 at Casino Theatre on Broadway
Lotta wasn’t playing leads anymore–again the Times failed to mention her--but she knew how to pick good plays; this one ran 224 performances. One of the reasons was Rudolf Friml’s musical score. (The great Equity strike had ended Sept. 6, 1919 with theatre management agreeing to treat actors better. Certainly there was money to be had for all concerned. Flo Ziegfeld opened his Follies of 1919 at the New Amsterdam on June 16; his payroll was $20,000. Costumes alone cost $17,000. The Follies’ hit song that year, incidentally, was Irving Berlin’s "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody.")
Blue Eyes
Opened Feb. 24, 1921 at Casino Theatre on Broadway
After switching to the Shubert Theatre in mid-run, this comedy finally closed April 10, 1921, totaling 56 performances. Lew Fields and Mollie King starred. Fields (1867-1941) was famous as the big-beaked and smaller half of the Weber and Fields comedy team (and Weber had just retired). Blum refers to Fields 17 times in American Theatre.
Opened Dec. 10, 1923 at Harris Theatre on Broadway
Besides running 145 to 170 performances (records differ), this play won the Pulitzer Prize. Lotta played Emma Jordan but didn’t earn a mention in the Times review. Owen Davis, a Harvard-educated playwright, had really applied himself in writing this one. A notorious hack, he was alleged to have churned out two or three melodramas a week before trying to make amends in later years. The play was set on a bleak New England farm. Incidentally, Edna May Oliver was in it. She also did the film version in 1924 and went on to a long career playing Hollywood’s sassiest and homeliest spinsters. Her most famous scene is her fight with Blanche Yurka in the 1935 film Tale of Two Citees.
The Shelf
Opened Sept. 27, 1926 at the Morosco Theatre on Broadway
Lotta wasn’t among the headliners, and the New York Times never mentioned her name during the 32 performances. Thelma Ritter debuted in this production, and another future Hollywood regular, Donald Meek, appeared. Movie-goers might not recognize Meek’s name but all have seen him do his "odd-little-man shtick" in The Merry Widow, The Informer, Captain Blood, Stagecoach, Tortilla Flat, State Fair or some of W.C. Fields’ classics.
Piggy (I Told You So)
Opened Jan. 11, 1927 at Royale Theatre on Broadway
This musical comedy ran 63 or 79 performances, depending on whose figures you believe. The confusion apparently resulted from two factors: the title was changed midway through the run, and the production was moved to the 46th Street Theatre (see below). The star, Sam Bernard, rated 22 references in Blum’s American Theatre.
I Told You So (Piggy)
Closed March 19, 1927 at 46th Street Theatre on Broadway
Sam Bernard, Harry McNaughton, Lotta, Paul Frawley and Helene Chappy starred in this musical. Alfred Jackson and Daniel Kusell wrote it. Cliff Friend did the music, Lew Brown the lyrics.

The Wild Man of Borneo
Opened Sept. 13, 1927 at Bijou on Broadway
Lotta was far down the billings in this play, which Marc Connelly and Herman J. Mankiewicz wrote. It ran 15 performances. Josephine Hull, also in the cast, went on to fame as a homicidal spinster in Arsenic and Old Lace in 1941; in 1944 she did the famous film version with Cary Grant. In 1950 she did the film Harvey with Jimmy Stewart. As for The Wild Man of Borneo, a film of that name fared only so-so in 1941.
Six Feet Under
Jan. 15-21, 1928 at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Henry Delf’s new play debuted in Washington, then stopped in Mount Vernon, New York Jan. 23-28. It lacked sex, profanity and degradation, which might or might not have helped it. Lotta, by then in her fifties, was in the supporting cast.
Six Feet Under
Opened Jan. 31, 1928 at the Mansfield Theatre in NYC
Playwright Henry Delf, a vaudevillian, sought to provide enough suspense to keep audiences guessing. His handiwork went to Broadway after its tour, but the data base doesn’t list it.
Atlas and Eva
Opened Feb. 6, 1928 at the Mansfield Theatre on Broadway
Henry ("Harry") Delf wrote this, produced it and starred in it for its 24 performances. George Marion and "Lottie" Linthicum were further down the billings. The Times never mentioned Lotta during her third straight Delf play on Broadway. (The Depression would soon force the Shubert brothers, who owned 43 theatres, into bankruptcy.)
Opened Jan. 12, 1929 at the Lyceum on Broadway
Although the Times called Mark Reed’s comedy "amiable," it lasted 11 only performances. Leading man Humphrey Bogart married leading lady Mary Philips–for real. That didn’t play long, either. (Not till ‘45 did he marry Lauren Bacall, wife No. 4.) Lotta was Mrs. Bemis in this play, which applied new twists to a hackneyed plot. Bogart’s character, after using chutzpah to make a fortune, risked his marriage for a fling with an actress. Everything ended pleasantly, though, when he changed his ways and won back his wife.
Nice Women
Opened June 10, 1929 at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway
Sylvia Sidney was the leading lady in what the Times called a "futile" and "guileless" work. The critic said playwright William A. Grew’s middle-class heroes were merely "selling" a sister to the highest bidder (a wealthy bachelor). Lotta played Martha Girard, "a more than irritating mother."
Nancy’s Private Affair
Opened Dec. 23, 1929 at the Windsor in the Bronx
Lotta had a supporting role in this play, which Myron C. Fagan wrote, produced and directed. It had tried out in Greenwich, Conn., a few months earlier, then played in early December 1929 at Werba’s Flatbush Theatre in Brooklyn.
The Gay ‘90s
Opened Jan. 26, 1931 in Newark, New Jersey
After this run in Newark, the show went to Brandt’s Boulevard Theatre in Jackson Heights in Queens, where it opened Feb. 2. Earlier, this play had been called She Lived Next to the Firehouse, and it would revert to that title when it went to Broadway.
She Lived Next to the Firehouse
Opened Feb. 10, 1931 at the Longacre Theatre in NYC
William A. Grew and Harry Delf wrote this, and L. Lawrence Weber produced it. Supporting actors included William Frawley and, as she was often billed in later years, "Lottie" Linthicum. This show lasted 24 performances on Broadway.
Opened Dec. 29, 1931 at Vanderbilt Theatre on 48th Street east of Broadway
This opening-night performance was Papavert’s "premiere in English." It had a cast of 50, and tickets ranged from $1 to $4.50. Papavert was Charles K. Gordon’s dramatization/adaption of George Froeschel’s German novel. This "comedy satire" had an odd beginning: it was already playing in French at Joe Zelli’s club in Montmartre when he decided to spin off an English version; he brought it to NYC himself. It satirized capitalism and communism alike, and apparently lots of other things, too; its odd-ball ingredients included labor martyrs, etc. The Times reviewer loathed it, calling the script "inept" and lamenting the cast’s "buffoonry." Leading man Edgar Stehli "overacted," and the other players failed "in their efforts, if indeed they tried at all." The reviewer signed himself "J.B." The lead review was bylined "J. Brooks Atkinson," who was the Times’ famous critic, so apparently it was he who helped kill this play. Obviously, there was trouble with it from the get-go. On Jan. 5, 1932, the Times reported that a "revised" Papavert would open the next week at the Vanderbilt. Zelli was quoted as saying that Gordon was on his way back to Paris and would have no further connection with the play. (And, apparently, good riddance!) Further, two cast changes were made: Matilda Baring replaced Lotta, and Henry Sherwood replaced Jules Epailly. There was no elaboration: Lotta could have been sacked or she could have been fleeing disaster. After about 35 years in big-time theatre, this appears to have been her Broadway swan song. Papavert closed after its 13th performance.
The New York Press: "When a young and really handsome actress new to this city comes to town and on her opening night not only assays such a role as Camille, but succeeds in it, it is a genuine pleasure to record the fact. Lotta Linthicum appeared with the American stock company last Monday and carried the audience with her. She gave an excellent performance of the Dumas heroine, but she was too healthy looking for the part. Still, it is a common failing among actresses who play the role. Helen Odilon, in the Irving Place, for instance, doesn’t look as if consumption ever could carry her off. Miss Linthicum’s success as leading woman of the stock company seems certain, and she looks as if she would stand the strain of two performances daily without breaking down–an important consideration." (The Irving Place Theatre was on the southwest corner of Irving Place and 15th Street in NYC.)
The New York Times: "The stock company was seen in a revival of Camille. The occasion was unusually interesting because it was the first appearance of Lotta Linthicum, the new leading actress of the company. She acted in the title role to entire satisfaction. Ralph Stuart was an excellent Armand."
The New York Sun noted that it took nerve for an unknown actress to debut in NYC in that role. Miss Bernhardt’s Camille had been very recent: that previous December, and in the more upscale Garden Theatre. The Sun called the newcomer "a young and very handsome woman, lovely enough to have entranced men as Camille did, but too healthy to have died her death of a consumptive. An actress better endowed by nature to head the feminine contingent of a cut-rate stock company has not come into New York. It was brave to rashness in Miss Linthicum to introduce herself in a role associated with the fame of great actresses, and so familiar that the audience was bound to measure her talent . . . to her sure detriment. But she did not fail under the testing ordeal. On the contrary she succeeded in demonstrating that she possessed excellent ability. Her performance was not one to make excuses for, or to be lenient about. It was not great, but it was good–astonishingly good for a player with no more years of experience. The Camilles of Bernhardt, Duse and Modjeska have had plenty of time to mature their merits. Miss Linthicum’s is relatively admirable, and it seems to show her value as a member of the hard-working forces at the American. The whole representation of Camille was commendable for a Monday night at a theatre of weekly changes of plays. The Armand by Ralph Stuart was fervidly emotional within safe bounds, attractive as to personality and responsive to all the demands of precedent. Mr. Stuart is a prime favorite at this house, and the gallery, accustomed to see him in melodramatic characters, was manifestly slow to comprehend his different aspect as Camille’s refined type of lover, but the parquet was with him from the start, and the entire audience was his after the turbulent scene of denunciation at the ball. The cast was at no point less than competent. Only a few rough spots marred the general smoothness."
The Mail and Express noted that an "actress new to New York appeared in a classic role. . . and with more than ordinary success . . . . Despite the fact that in playing Camille Miss Linthicum laid herself open to comparisons with many great actresses, she acquitted herself excellently, and should have nothing to regret over her New York debut. The entire performance was unusually good for a company that must produce a new play each week."
Humphrey Bogart was born in NYC in 1899 and went on stage in 1920. He earned an infamous review in 1922 for his acting in the play Swiftly; his work was referred to "mercifully . . . as inadequate."
He was leading man in Skyrocket in 1929, a Broadway play in which Lotta Linchicum had a supporting role. He went to Hollywood the next year. He won the Academy Award as best actor for the 1951 film The African Queen. He was a legend when he died of cancer in 1957.
Charles Francis Coghlan, an Irishman, was born in Paris in 1841. After coming to America in 1876, he quickly became a famous leading man. Besides being handsome, he had a fine speaking voice. He was best-known for romantic dramas--not tragedies--and was considered very smooth and authoritative.
He was touring with The Royal Box in Galveston, Texas, when taken ill. He died Nov. 27, 1899 and was buried in Galveston. The notorious hurricane the next year washed many caskets out to sea. Coghlan and his casket turned up in 1908 in the St. Lawrence Seaway. He was re-buried on Prince Edward Island, Canada, where he had a summer home. Some folk tales say his casket found its way home.
The alleged deception after he died is recounted above. In its story, the Washington Post continued: "It discloses a state of affairs that hasn’t been equaled since P.T. Barnum tried to palm off a painted elephant as a real white one. ‘Obtaining money under false pretenses’ might properly be charged against some theatrical managers, but owing to the peregrinations of companies playing one-night stands such substitutions are never detected until too late to apply the law. Fly-by-night companies have sometimes pretended to have celebrities with them, but this is about the most flagrant case of imposition on the public that has been heard of recently. That Coghlan, while he lay ill at Galveston, knew nothing of the deception may be taken for granted. Coghlan had his failings, but he was honest and outspoken in all things–too much so at times. If he had known to keep his temper, then more than one of the failures he scored would have been successes."
There was another interesting story about him. For 20 years he introduced a woman named Louisa as his wife. No one doubted her authenticity until 1893. While in Indianapolis on Oct. 24 of that year he married a sculptress named Kuehne Beveridge. She’d had a small part in Diplomacy, a popular play starring Charles and sister Rose Coghlan. Most everyone who knew him was stunned. Apparently Louisa was too. She contended that she really was his wife, although newspapers gave her name as Louisa Thorn. The crisis passed quickly. Kuehne Coghlan sued her new husband for divorce. It became official in September 1894. Charles and Louisa were soon reunited. Gertrude was the only child to survive Charles. (See my biog about Coghlan, which has been published separately.)
William Farnum was born July 4, 1876 in Boston. After going on stage at age 12, he did both vaudeville and legitimate stage. He was leading man at the Grand Opera House in New Orleans in the late 1890s, and Henry Greenwall, who ran that theatre and many others, planned to star him in NYC in 1900. Meantime, he did summer stock with the Baldwin-Melville Stock Company, sharing top billing with Lotta Linthicum in Montreal. Jimmie Bankson was the No. 2 man. But Farnum left the company July 8 to do Ben Hur elsewhere. It opened on Broadway Sept. 3, 1900. Counting the tour, Farnum did Ben Hur for five years, which made him nationally known. When he tried films in 1914, he immediately became a star. As one of Hollywood’s top attractions, he earned as much as $10,000 a week. After his days as a star waned, he did character roles. He was in films as late as 1952 and died in Hollywood in ‘53. Brother Dustin, who played The Virginian on film, was two years older. Another brother, Marshall, was in The Prodigal Daughter with Jimmie and Lotta in Montreal in 1900.
Charles Frohman was the most important man in show business in his era. His theatres had 10,000 employees and an annual payroll of $35 million. He’d been born in 1860, and he went down with the Lusitania in 1915.
Lew Fields was born in 1867 in NYC. A comedian in vaudeville and burlesque, he was best known on stage as half of the Fields and Weber comedy team. He and made a few films, both in the silent and talky eras, and he also appeared without Weber in a few films, most notably The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle in 1939. He died in 1941.
William Frawley (1887-1966) was a native of Burlington, Iowa, who was in vaudeville in the 1910-25 era,. He appeared with Lotta Linthicum on Broadway in She Lived Next to the Firehouse in1931. He was a supporting actor in more than 150 films but is best remembered as Fred Mertz in I Love Lucy. (Network officials at first vetoed him for the role because he was known as a drinker. But Gale Gordon, who’d done the role on radio, was unavailable.) Frawley also was Uncle Bub in TV’s My Three Sons. He collapsed and died on Hollywood Boulevard after seeing a movie.
William Gargan (1905-79) was born in Brooklyn and went on stage in 1924. He appeared with Lotta Linthicum in She Lived Next to the Firehouse in 1931. A veteran of dozens of films, he was nominated for an Oscar in They Knew What They Wanted in 1940. He played Ellery Queen in B films of the 1940s, then in 1949 became Martin Kane, Private Eye, a hit in the early days of TV. Throat cancer ended his career in 1960. His autobiography Why Me? warned of the dangers of smoking.
Lawrence Hanley appeared with Lotta Linthicum and James Bankson in Montreal in 1900. He’d begun acting professionally at age 18, and he’d toured with Edwin Booth during that famed actor’s farewell tour. (Most actors claimed to have toured with Booth, but Hanley really did.) His association with Booth, Lawrence Barrett, Stuart Robson and Nat Goodwin at such an early age gave his career great impetus. He was at his best in Shakespearean tragedy although some theatre people insisted he was the nation’s best romantic hero.
While in his early twenties he married Edith Lemmert. She left him about 1895 because of his alcohol and drug habits. In the late 1890s a street railway car struck and killed one of their children at the corner of Vermont and Thirtieth in Los Angeles. This tragedy nearly brought a reconciliation of the grieving parents.
On Sept. 17, 1901, he was to appear as Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the Los Angeles Theatre. Just at curtail time, he staggered into the theatre drunk. With no understudy available, management called off the play and refunded 500 admissions.
At times, he’d sober up and fare reasonably well. Old friends tried keeping him at their home in Los Angeles. He began wandering aimlessly about the country. On Oct. 19, 1904, LA police removed him from a cigar store on Spring Street for disturbing the peace. He ranted so incoherently that police sent him to a hospital. There he continued his ravings, accusing a doctor of stealing a vest. He also displayed his love letters for anyone to read.
Early in 1905 he turned up in the Los Angeles County Hospital. On Aug. 28, 1905, his wife was summoned to his deathbed in the insane ward there. She spent several minutes with him, assuring him she still loved him. After she left, he began calling for her in vain and quickly died. Despite that news, Miss Lemmert performed that night in Richelieu at the Belasco Theatre.
The local actor’s society buried Hanley. He was survived by Edith and their a child, Lendith, of 2824 Menlo Avenue in Los Angeles.
Josephine Hull was born in Newton, Mass., in 1884 and became famous on stage. She appeared in only five films, two of them classics. She was Cary Grant’s homicidal aunt in Arsenic and Old Lace in 1944 (recreating her stage role) and James Stewart’s dithering sister in Harvey in 1950. She died in 1957.
George Marion, a longtime stage actor, went into films as a character actor. He played Greta Garbo’s father in Anna Christie in 1930. This was the film in which Garbo first spoke.
Donald Meek, born in 1880 in Glasgow, was in The Shelf with Lotta at the Morosco on Broadway in 1936. A future Hollywood regular, he perhaps appeared in more classic movies than anyone else. He did his "odd-little-man shtick" in The Merry Widow, The Informer, Top Hat, Captain Blood, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Toast of New York, You Can’t take It With You, Stagecoach, Tortilla Flat, State Fair and some of W.C. Fields’ classics. He died in 1946.
Grant Mitchell was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1874, son of a general. After graduating from Yale law school, he went on stage, sometimes playing lead roles. He became a longtime Hollywood character actor. He’s best remembered as the unwilling host to Monty Woolley in The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941). He was in other classics: Dinner at Eight (1933), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Tobacco Road (1941) and Laura (1944).
Victor Moore (1876-1962) was a popular comedian of vaudeville, legitimate stage and films. He appeared on stage with Lotta Linthicum in Some Day and She Lives Next to the Firehouse. It’s been said that his on-stage persona was a combination of Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig. His first lead on Broadway was in 1906 in George M. Cohan’s Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway. He later played the Vice President Throttlebottom in the Gershwin brothers’ Of Thee I Sing. His last film, in 1955, was The Seven-Year Itch with Marilyn Monroe.
Edna May Oliver was born in Malden, Mass., in 1883. She and Lotta Linthicum played in Icebound in 1923 on Broadway. She appeared in many roles, both on stage and in film, as homely spinsters. Among her films: Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935) and A Tale of Two Cities (1935.) She was nominated for an Oscar for her supporting role in Drums Along the Mohawk in 1939. She died in 1942.
A.M. Palmer was among the era’s most successful theatre managers. Basically he was a money-man and business manager who got into the theatrical profession somewhat by accident. His full name was Albert Marshman Palmer and he lived 1838-1905.
Thelma Ritter, who was born in 1905 in Brooklyn, was in The Shelf with Lotta at the Morosco on Broadway in 1936. After many unsatisfying years on stage, she broke into films with Miracle on 34th Street in 1947. She got so many other good character roles that she was nominated for six Oscars in 12 years. She’s best remembered as Jimmy Stewart’s wisecracking nurse in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. She died in 1969.
Andrew Robson was born in 1868 in Hamilton, Ontario. The Internet Broadway Data Base lists three credits: The Capitol (opened Sept. 9, 1895), The Magdalene (Nov. 15-16, 1897) and The Royal Box (opened Oct. 3, 1898). Upon Charles Coghlan’s death late in 1899, Robson took over the lead in The Royal Box while touring. It was the big break of his career. He toured for 25 years in such plays as The Royal Box and Richard Carvel. In 1914 he became a character actor in silent films, oten appearing with Beatriz Michelena, an opera diva whom the San Francisco-based California Motion Picture Co. turned into a movie idol. The Internet Movie Data Base lists 36 film credits, beginning in 1914 and including Branding Broadway, Broadway Scandal and That Devil, Bateese in 1918; Light of Victory in 1919; Alarm Clock Andy and Stop Thief in 1920; Black Roses, All’s Fair in Love, One a Minute and Mother O’Mine in 1921 Among actors he worked with were Richard Dix, Lon Chaney and Sessui Hawakawa. He usually played distinguished gentlemen. He died of heart trouble April 6, 1921, in Los Angeles.
Sylvia Sidney was born in the Bronx in 1910. At 19 she had a Broadway lead in Nice Women, with support from Lotta Linthicum. She went to Hollywood in 1931, becoming a major star at Paramount. She then bounced back and forth between the stage, marriage, retirement and films, often making wrong choices. Her films are not memorable. Her last one, in 1996, was called Mars Attacks! She died of cancer in 1999.
Ralph Stuart often appeared opposite Lotte. The Interned Movie Data Base lists a Ralph Ramsey Stuart, who was in four films in 1904-17. He was born about 1890 and died in NYC on Nov. 4, 1952. The Broadway Data Base, which gives those same vital dates, has him appearing in various plays in 1900-39, but there’s obviously some confusion. It has him writing one in 1900, when he was supposedly about 10 years old.
Helen Tracy, while with the Poli Players in Washington, D.C., appeared in several plays with Lotta Linthicum: The Heir to the Hurrah, College Widow, Merely Mary Ann and Madame Sherry. Also among her credits was the role of Nathalie in Zaza, when it opened in NYC Jan. 9, 1899 at the Garrick with Mrs. Carter. Back in 1892, Mary Bankson replaced Miss Tracy in The Volunteer in Chicago.
Malcolm Williams often appeared opposite Lotta. The Broadway Data Base says he was born about 1870 and died June 10, 1937. It lists many credits from 1896 into 1931. The Internet Movie Data Base gives the same days and adds that he was from Spring Valley, Minnesota, and that he died of a heart attack. He made five films in 1914-28.
This had something for everybody, and it was all perfectly proper, because this was, after all, a religious drama. It coaxed countless thousands of churchgoers into theatres. The show required a large cast, including many extras and a chorus.
The Boston Globe of Dec. 27, 1896 summarized the plot in somewhat more detail than the summary quoted above. According to the Globe: "Rome, during the reign of Nero, is the scene of the play. Marcus Superbus, prefect of Rome, has received an order from the emperor to exterminate all professing the Christian belief. While executing this edict, Marcus is constrained to protect a beautiful Christian maiden, Mercia. He rescues her from the violence of a howling mob and sends her home under the escort of one of his soldiers. He follows her, disguised as a Tiber fisherman, but Mercia penetrates the disguise. Finding himself discovered, he declares his love for her and his determination to possess her. A meeting place of the Christian brethren is at this time betrayed by a captive Christian under the pain of rack torture. During the slaughter of the Christians, Marcus again rescues Mercia and conveys her for safety to his own palace.
"The second scene is the home of a wealthy Roman lady, Berenia, who is in love with the prefect. She sends for Marcus and unwittingly discloses her passion for him and her hatred for the Christian maiden.. There are other love rivals who consider themselves discarded by the prefect and they petition the empress to influence Nero against the Christian girl. The empress, being profoundly attached to the martial prefect, consents. Marcus pleads earnestly for the pardon of his beautiful protegee, and Nero, moved it would seem by the fervor of his eloquence, consents, under the condition that Mercia renounces her faith. This the steadfast girl refuses to do.
"She admits that the generous love of Marcus has awakened a responsive feeling in her own breast but she would rather die than abjure her faith. Marcus is so deeply impressed with her constancy and courage that he decides to adopt the teaching of the Cross, and die the death he had so often pronounced against all Christians. Thus the curtain goes down on Marcus and Mercia going hand in hand to the amphitheater, where savage and hungry beasts await to devour them."
Even preachers who thought theatre sinful had to approve this message. Wilson Barrett, an icon of English theatre, wrote the play in his spare time while on an American tour in the mid-1890s. There’s some evidence that the show actually debuted in the U.S. and that Lotta Linthicum performed in it before it scored such a success in London.
Cecil B. DeMille’s film version came out in 1932. Fredric March played Marcus Superbus, and Elissa Landi was Mercia. Claudette Colbert was memorable as Nero’s wife Poppaea. Charles Laughton was Nero. This two-hour film is slow-going.
(The Boston Globe reported in 1896 that The Sign of the Cross originated in the United States, then the cast took it to London. This appears to contradict other information.)
Despite introducing Svengali into our culture, the novel and subsequent play are nearly forgotten. George du Maurier wrote the novel, which Paul M. Potter dramatized. It tells how Svengali mesmerizes a young girl, Trilby, and transforms her into a singing star. It also presents Svengali as king of the mountebanks, seducer of young ladies, etc.
The play debuted April 15, 1895 at the Garden on Broadway. Virginia Harned created the title role. The Broadway Data Base has no record of how long it ran.
Lotta was the leading lady in this play in 1903 at Proctor’s Theatre at 28th Street and Broadway. Apparently, Proctor’s, which had some vaudeville, wasn’t considered quite a legitimate Broadway stage, which might be why this production doesn’t appear in the Broadway Data Base.
The first official Broadway revival opened May 6, 1905 at the New Amsterdam. It ran 24 performances.
The second Broadway revival opened April 3, 1915 at the Shubert Theatre. It ran 73 performances. Taylor Holmes, a future Hollywood character actor, was in this presentation.
The third Broadway revival opened Dec. 23, 1921 at the National; the Broadway Data Base gives no indication how long it ran, but it lists the entire cast.
Wilton Lackaye played Svengali in all four runs on Broadway and it made him famous. He didn’t appear with Lotta at Proctor’s.
This show spawned fads and knock-offs galore, but no major movie entitled "Trilby" was ever made. Hollywood’s version was called Svengali. John Barrymore played the title role in this 1931 film, a quickie at 82 minutes. It gets good reviews overall with special mention made of its bizarre sets and interesting special affects. Donald Crisp also appeared.
A British remake had little impact in 1955. In 1983 Peter O’Toole did a passable TV version that updates the plot by casting Jodie Foster as a rock singer. O’Toole’s over-the-top performance is interesting.
The managers had everything their way. A cast would rehearse 10, maybe 12 weeks, then the show would fold the first week; actors would be paid for only that week. Or maybe the show was a hit. Managers would squeeze in as many matinees as possible without paying the cast an extra cent.
By 1919 the sides were set: the Actors’ Equity Association vs. the Producing Managers Association. The union struck Aug. 6, 1919..The public and even the police supported the actors during the ensuing bitterness. When George M. Cohan opposed the union, the Friars and Lambs Clubs snubbed him; he resigned, swearing he’d quit the theatre if the union won. He’d get a job running an elevator, he declared. Eddie Cantor retorted that he’d have to join a union to do that.
When stage hands, electricians and musicians joined the strike, the managers gave in. It took a month. Management recognized the union as a bargaining agent.
A Pictorial History of the American Theatre 1860-1980; fifth edition, Daniel Blum, enlarged by John Willis, Crown 1981; 464 pages counting index; 6,000 photos, but beware of earlier editions. Not all have the 1860-1900 material. Lotta Linthicum is in a photo with Grant Mitchell and others on page 166.
A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen, Blum, Putnam's, 1953, etc.; thousands of photos!
Trouping, by Philip C. Lewis, Harper & Row, 1973; if you want to know what touring was like about 1905, try this wonderful little book. Don’t let the awkward start fool you; the book quickly gets better.)
(For further information about Lotta Linthicum’s Bankson in-laws, see my booklet Starring Mary Bankson.)
Remember that Mrs. J.C. Linthicum, the older woman aboard the Fulda, was born about 1846. The following data is included in the hope that it might help researchers.
Saugerties, Ulster Co., NY, on west bank of Hudson halfway between NYC and Albany; July 30
Hobart Bogardus, 34, clerk store, $-- $400 NY
Sarah Bogardus, 32, born CT
Howard Bogardus, 12, born NY
Elsie Bogardus, 7, born NY
(The potential significance of this family will become apparent below.)
Saugerties, Ulster Co., NY
Hobart Bogardus, 44, born NY, bookkeeper, total estate $3,000; personal estate $1,000
Sarah C. Bogardus, 41, born CT
Howard C. Bogardus, 22, asst. bookkeeper, born NY State
Elsie B. Bogardus, 18, without occupation, NY State (born c. 1852)
Florence Bogardus, 9, attending school, NY State
Annie Smith, 22, domestic servant
(Elsie obviously married a Mr. Linthicum in the 1870s and had daughters Olive and Sarah.)
New York City, ward 10, district 10, June 22, no relationships given in this census, but this likely was Lotta’s family.
William Linthicum, 40, tailor MD
Julia Linthicum, 21, MD (born about 1849) (question mark for occupation)
Harry Linthicum, 16, MD bookkeeper
Wm. Linthicum, 10, MD at school
Ellen Linthicum, 21, VA (question mark for occupation)
Kathleen Lyons, 21, Ireland, servant
Kathleen Manlas(?), 30, Ireland, servant
Another family was in the same house:
Mary Folder (?), 43, (question mark for occupation), NY
Fanny (?) Folder (?), 21, (question mark for occupation), NY
Note: On Dec. 22, 1874, the president sent to the Senate for approval the nomination of J.L. Linthicum as appraiser of merchandise in Baltimore.
Saugerties, Ulster County, NY
Hobart Bogardus, 52, stone dealer, NY NY CT
Howard Bogardus, 32, bookkeeper, son, NY NY CT
Florence Bogardus, 19, daughter NY NY CT
Elsie Linthicum, 26, daughter, housekeeper, NY NY CT (born about 1854)
Olive Linthicum, 5, grandchild NY, MD, NY
Sarah Linthicum, 3, NY MD NY
(I didn’t find Lotta Linthicum in the census. . . . Olive and Sarah were in England with Mrs. J.C. Linthicum, 45, and Lotta Linthicum, 20, in 1891. Was the older woman Lotta’s mother, and did she take two nieces to England with her?)
Manhattan, 22nd ward, taken April 30
Julia T. Linthicum, 60 (born about 1849), NY, "own income" shown for occupation, NY NY NY, widow. She said she was the mother of one child, still living. She was a guest at a hotel on 7th Avenue; an actress was adjacent. (The woman on the Fulda with the three girls, "Mrs. J.C. Linthicum," was born about 1846.)
Baltimore, Maryland, 11th ward
Elsie B. Linthicum, 54 (born about 1856), servant, NY NY CT; she was keeping house for Hobert S. Hastings, a priest from NYC. (Note the 1870 NY census)
Armour W. Barbour (with two U’s), 30, was counted in the Manhattan census on Jan. 17. He gave his occupation as engineer. Wife Lotta L. said she was 40 and was an actress. There seems to have been only one other person in the household when this poorly done census was taken. Her name was Elizabeth Pittman, or some such thing, and she was 36 and a servant. Her place of birth is illegible.
This census tells us that Lotta was born in New York, her father in Virginia, mother in New York. Also, Armor W. Barbour, 40, said he and both parents were born in Illinois. He said he was an engineer. Lotta claimed she was 50, despite being nearer 60. She listed her occupation as "none," and said she was born in New York–like her mother–but that her father was from Virginia. This census of North Hampstead, Nassau County, New York, indicates Armor and Lotta were married about 1915. The dwelling was valued at $30,000. The only other person in the house was a servant.
Note that the spelling of Barbour’s first name varies.
Armour W. Barbour’s World War I draft card shows he was born April 23, 1889 in Chicago and that he lived in Manhattan. He said he was in management with a bridge company in 1917. He was married but I don’t know his wife’s name. He lived on West 50th.
Information has circulated among some genealogists that the New York Times carried a story about Lotta and future president Teddy Roosevelt attending a society wedding in 1884. This apparently erroneous tale arose because the newspaper clumsily stacked two wedding stories together. The type began with the society wedding of Kate Shippen and Hilborne L. Roosevelt at Seabright, N.J., then dovetailed into the Heron-Miller nuptials that involved Lotta Linthicum. The Roosevelt wedding, which attracted the future president, was a colossal affair involving a special train. Everyone should have been ashamed of themselves.
Lotta Linthicum likely was related to actress Sallie Linthicum Stember.
Mrs. J.T. Linthicum or "Mrs. Linthicum" was mentioned frequently in society columns in the 1880s. She attended opera benefits, summered at various beaches, and stayed on Union Avenue during the Saratoga season of 1887.
Genealogy of the Linthicum and Allied Families, by Matilda Badgers, is accessible on the Internet via Heritage Quest. It states that Lotta’s father was William Oliver Linthicum. He had a brother John Thomas Linthicum. Someone identified as C.F.L. was quoted as saying Lotte "was one of the most beautiful women I have ever met."
Ann Watson of St. Michaels, Md., has a photo of Lotta (shown herein). It's been in the family for years, although no one knew what her relationship was. Ann's great grandfather was Oliver Reck Linthicum (born 1868). He had five siblings. Oliver was a machinist who worked for inventor Thomas Edison.
Oliver's father was the John Thomas Linthicum mentioned above. Ann has no more information on John except that he was born in Maryland or Virginia, and that his father was Thomas Fletchall Linthicum.
Ann says the family was in Maryland early and that the men were railroaders and machinists. She notes that, with the finding of the Internet info mentioned above, it’s obvious that Lotte and Oliver Reck Linthicum were first cousins. Ann speculates that Lotte gave Oliver the photo during one of her visits to Baltimore. Ann wonders, though, about the signature on it. It doesn’t match those in the Bankson collection.

(NOTE THIS STORY IS COPYRIGHT 2006, john phillips)