Monday May 25, probably 1903 at Newark Theatre in New Jersey
Mary played Maria in this production by the Corse Payton Brooklyn Stock Company. Also in the cast were Broadway stars Claude Brooke and Arthur Hoops. Resurrection was based on Tolstoy’s novel; Henri Bataille and Michael Morton did the dramatization.
The Rev. Griffith Davenport
Opened Jan 16, 1899, Lafayette Square Theatre in Washington, D.C.
John Bankson, always adept in dialect roles, played a black servant named John. Moreover, the name “J.W. Bankson” is handwritten-in twice under the Act V program in Mary’s scrapbook; he was to appear as Pvt. Bates and Mr. Monroe, replacing two other actors on the printed program. James A. Herne played the title role in this three-hour dissection of slavery. Some critics called it a new Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Herne adapted his play from Helen M. Gardener’s novel An Unofficial Patriot. Scenes, set in Stony Mead, Va., and Washington,.D.C., involved elaborate cycloramas. Thomas Ince, future titan in Hollywood, played Bill Harper, and Sidney Booth had another of the 40 parts. Counting extras, about 100 people were involved. Originally, Herne gave the title as The Rev. Griffith Davenport, Circuit Rider, which the New York Times called “clumsy and unimaginative.” Although the Times man liked the play, he admitted it “rambles a little and has its share of slow scenes.”
Herne plays a Methodist preacher in Virginia who inherits slaves. Although abhorring slavery, he violates his vow never to deal in slaves by buying one to keep a slave family together. Eventually, when Davenport tries to free all his slaves, his son objects. Moreover, the slaves prefer to live under amiable Davenport than take their chances with freedom. After Davenport does free his slaves, he moves to Washington, D.C. to escape the wrath of neighbors. There he’s recruited to spy for the North, which eventually leads to his capture–by his son. Other improbable indignities follow. Like so many overly ambitious projects in life, the play wasn’t profitable.
The Rev. Griffith Davenport
Jan. 31-Feb. 25, 1899 in Herald Square Theatre in New York
John Bankson played a black servant.
Rosedale, or the Rifle Ball
June 11-16, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
James Bankson (as Myles McKenna) supported leading man William Farnum and leading lady Lotta Linthicum. One reviewer found this oft-produced sentimental melodrama pleasantly devoid of risque lines and social issues. Lester Wallack wrote it, and it debuted in 1863. It’s based on an English novel, Lady Lee’s Widowhood.
The Royal Box
Sept. 10-Oct. 8, 1898 in Fifth Avenue Theatre at Broadway and 28th in NYC
James Bankson and Lotta Linthicum played in the Liebler Company’s successful month-long revival of Charles Coghlan’s five-act romance. Coghlan, perhaps America’s best leading man, topped the cast. Jimmie had two roles: Montmorency and Mercutio. Lotta Linthicum was Countess Helen. The Washington Post identified other cast members as Andrew Robson, Alexander Kearney, Palmer Collins, Charles Stanley, Claude Brooke, Harry Hanlon, R.C. Chamberlain, Taylor Granville, Mortimer Weldon, Lawrence James, Gertrude Bennett, Gertrude Coghlan, Alice Melville, and Katharine Grey as stage-struck Celia Pryse. (The scrapbook contains a confusing playbill; it means that the last week in NYC opened Oct. 3.)
The Royal Box
Oct. 10-15, 1898 in National Theatre in Washington, D.C.
James Bankson played in this romantic Georgian show, and Lotta Linthicum was Countess Helen. The troupe likely made a stop or two before reaching Atlanta.
The Royal Box
Oct. 26-27, 1898 at Grand Theatre in Atlanta
The Atlanta Constitution reported in an advance story that The Royal Box would have 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. The producers also promised the New York scenery and costumes.
The Royal Box
Dec. 1, 1898, location unknown
James Bankson doubled as Montmorency and Mercutio, but the scrapbook clipping reveals nothing more. Oddly, the program lists only the men, so Lotta Linthicum isn’t mentioned. The headline spelled the leading man’s surname as “Conghlan.”
The Royal Box
Fall 1899, Newark, New Jersey
James Bankson, earning $40 a week, played Montmorency in Charles Coghlan’s production.
The Royal Box
Date unknown, apparently at Grand Theatre in Toronto before fall 1899
A scrapbook clipping, probably 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. Jimmie played Montmorency (“with grotesque dignity,” a review said), so this likely was late in 1898 or early in 1899. Lotta was Countess Helen. The reviewer noted that Lotta had supported Mrs. Fiske there “a few seasons ago.” 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.” Andrew Robson received special attention because he was from Hamilton, Ontario. Lord Basset, incidentally, was a “sporting nobleman.” Another character, Wiggin, was simply labeled a “mountebank.”
The Royal Box
After Nov. 27, 1899, place unknown
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.
The Royal Box
About 1899, New Haven, Conn.
James Bankson played a secondary role, probably that of Montmorency.
The Royal Box
About 1900, New Haven, Conn.
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
Jan. 5, 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 one performance. One reviewer, who'd seen Charles Coghlan as Clarence, observed: “Much interest was manifested in the appearance of a comparatively unknown actor in the part created for himself by Charles Coghlan. In many respects, Mr. Robson filled the part better than his distinguished predecessor. He is a younger man, of finer physique and lustier voice than was Mr. Coghlan, and in the scenes requiring rigor of action he reached heights that were unattainable by Mr. Coghlan. But in the quiet scenes, that in the first act and that in the second, where he advises Miss Price to avoid the dangers of the stage, one missed, perhaps, those little delicate touches; that finish and polish that was so marked a part of Charles Coghlan'[s individuality on the stage.”.
The Royal Box
About 1900, Marion, Indiana (probably at Grand Theatre)
The news story that said Mary and John were visiting Marion stated further: “James Bankson, lately deceased, will be remembered by Marion theatre-goers as the Prince of Wales in . . . The Royal Box.”
The Royal Box
May 1904 but place unknown
Mary Bankson, probably thinking back to happier days, portrayed Lady Roberts in the show her late son had played so often. Arthur Hoops was the Prince of Wales this time, and Thomas C. McDonough played Montmorency. Harry Glazier was the headliner, playing Clarence. Mary’s friend Hazel Harroun played Juliet in this show. Mary and Hazel were photographed together, fixing the time as May 1904. But the site is uncertain. The scrapbook has the playbill, and unlike most things in the scrapbook it’s not pasted fully. Peeking on the back, we can see an ad for Kobacker’s department store at 324 & 326 Summit Street.
Kobacker’s web site says they had as many as 13 stores in northwest Ohio and in New York. Columbus, Ohio, has a busy street named Summit. Today, though, that city has no 324 Summit. Downtown Toledo, Ohio has a 324 Summit near the Maumee River. Kobacker’s bought Tiedtke’s Department Store in Toledo in 1925 and made it their flagship. It’s unclear, though, if they operated a store called Kobacker’s there earlier. Kobacker’s had a store on North Market in Canton, Ohio, a town that lacks a Summit. There’s also a Summit in Kansas City, Missouri, but apparently that was out of Kobacker’s territory. Toledo seems the best bet. (Glazier Stock Co.)
The Runaway Wife
Fall 1897 at Lyceum in Chicago
The Bankson scrapbook has nothing about this play, but the Chicago Tribune reported Sept. 5, 1897: “The Runaway Wife, McKee Rankin’s strong and successful drama, has been selected for the opening of the Lyceum Theatre. The stock company includes Eda Clayton, Mary Bankson, Virginia Richmond, Horace Vinton, Walter Greene, Fleming Norton and George S. Spencer.” The company was called Grenier & Vinton. Its leading lady, Eda Clayton, had done The Runaway Wife for several years. Vinton had been in NYC, where he’d played Clifford Armytage in The Lights o’ London.
Running for Office
Opened April 27, 1899 at Proctor’s in New York City
The Four Cohans, absent from Proctor’s for several seasons, returned with George M.’s loosely structured vaudeville farcette. James Bankson and Gertrude Coghlan did a gig in it, drawing a fine review for their vignette from The Royal Box. Among other acts, the critic knocked only Adelina Roattino, who sang “Stars and Stripes Forever” and several old songs. The critic sniped that she should learn how to pronounce “Kentucky” before again attempting “My Old Kentucky Home.”
George M. Cohan took the show to the 14th Street Theatre on Broadway on April 27, 1903. Jimmie had died by then, of course, and his scene wasn’t an integral part of the show anyway. George M., sister Josie and Mom and Dad packed the house for this hit, which ran 48 performances on the legitimate stage, proving that the Four Cohans were more than vaudeville stars.
June 4-9, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
James Bankson and Lotta Linthicum helped introduce this notorious play to Montreal. Lotta played the lead (Fannie LeGrand), and William Farnum played the male lead (Jean Gaussin). But it was Jimmie who got the raves 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 that proper subject matter; one Montreal reviewer merely noted that it was too talky and that the comedy was weak. Another reviewer said 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 but allowed it to reopen the next night with a substitute play: Pinero’s The Second Mrs. Tanquery (starring irrepressible Olga, out on bail). On April 3, she went to trial. This created a sensation, of course. After she was acquitted, the play reopened April 7 amid great public excitement and outrage. Although not a very good play, it did run another 55 performances. Taylor Holmes was in the cast. (The “Sapho” spelling was used in lieu of the more common “Sappho.”)
The Secret Enemy
December 1897, Grand Opera House in NYC
James Bankson, playing a “light and airy” count, earned better reviews than leading lady Eva Mountford or leading man Elmer Grandin. The fact that Mountford and Grandin wrote this romantic drama set in Paris--and were also husband and wife -- gave the New York Journal’s critic plenty of ammo. The play’s dialogue celebrated the beauty of the leading lady/co-author, who, according to the critic, was “a rather thick-set person” in “autumnal maturity.” The critic, writing under the name “Alan Dale,” notes that Miss Mountford had “a delightful habit of uttering gallery speeches . . . and waiting for applause.” Later, he comments: “Between acts, the orchestra played All Coons Look Alike to Me. I thought that was rather impudent and uncalled for.” Actually, the review is more entertaining than the play sounds. The theatre crowd must have cringed when they saw Alan Dale coming. The Grand Opera House was on 23rd Street at 8th Avenue from 1868 to 1960. At one time or another it was called Pike’s Opera House. The Journal’s undated review is in the scrapbook. The date for the above performances was found by checking the New York Times theatre listings of Dec. 19, 1897. Those listings gave James’ name as “J.W. Bankson.”
Probably May 1892, McVicker’s Theatre in Chicago
James A. Herne is best remembered for this classic, which he wrote in 1891. Mary Bankson probably played the first production of it, in May 1892 in Chicago. Herne was leading man, playing the role of Nathan Berry, and George Fawcett played brother Martin Berry. Reviews were tepid. Unshaken in his confidence in the play, Herne took it to Boston, then to NYC’s Fifth Avenue Theatre. Only a four-week contract kept it from closing after its lackluster first week in NYC. After two weeks, though, it blossomed. It did well for years on tour and in stock. (Herne and “the entire New York company” were in the production Feb. 18-19, 1904 at the Grand in Atlanta. Ads said it was “the first time in Atlanta and the only time in the South.” We don’t know, however, if Mary was in the New York cast.).
It was a homely melodrama with a contrived plot; its characters made it fly, and it restored Herne’s fortunes. “Shore Acres” is the name of a Maine farm that brothers Martin and Nathan own. Martin transforms his portion into a summer resort. Nathan won’t go along, saying “Mother’s buried there.” When Martin’s resort goes bust, Nathan gives up his pension to keep Martin and daughter Helen from poverty. There’s a romance, of course, involving Helen and a local blacksmith. When the play opened in late May 1892, some papers called it Shore Acres Subdivision. But the ads still called it by its original title, Uncle Nat.
A Social Highwayman
Probably May 15, 1901, Morosco’s Burbank Theatre in Burbank, California
Mary Bankson played Mrs. Deane, a medium, in this play, originally scheduled as a matinee May 8, 1901.
The Sunshine of Paradise Alley
March 23, 1903, Corse Payton Lee Avenue Theatre Stock Company in Brooklyn
Mary Bankson was billed as “Mrs. John Bankson” in this revival of the musical Denman Thompson and George W. Ryer wrote. It featured football players, kids, sailors and a popular title song. The original show played NYC in the mid-1890s.
A Temperance Town
Feb. 17, 1902, Grand Opera House in San Francisco
Mary Bankson played in this popular comedy by Charles H. Hoyt. George Ober was brought in to supplement the Opera House Company. Hoyt wrote a string of successful musical comedies about city life. His best, A Trip to Chinatown, opened in 1890 and set a record in NYC with 650 performances. Hoyt reworked his plays so frequently that they tended to “evolve.”
Opened Oct. 31, 1898 at Grand Opera House in NYC
Manifee Johnstone was leading man in this “dramatic story of land and sea” that Walter Sanford wrote, or perhaps pirated. “J.W. Bankson” had a supporting role, one that called for an older man who could do dialect. Thus, it was John--not Jimmie--who played Martin Preston, the fisherman with the marriageable daughter.
Although billed as a new play, this sounds like a variation of The Fisherman’s Daughter. In this case, the young heir secretly marries a fisherman’s daughter. Trouble is, he can’t inherit a cent unless he marries a cousin. That’s what his benefactor’s will demands. Kidnapping, shipwreck and other mayhem ensue. The Times critic called all of this “the type of melodrama that appeals to the gallery.” He especially liked the many well-painted backdrops and the way the story was told.. The production earned a nice review for the scrapbook.
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 into this run. He became “indisposed” the fourth night–Thursday July 19. James Bankson covered for Hanley, moving up from his role of Richelieu. That meant that L.O. Hart had to double up: besides playing Boniface, he did Richelieu. Jimmie won excellent reviews, but it’s unclear who played the lead on the night of Friday July 20. Jimmie was dead within a month.
Toll Gate Inn
Sometime between fall 1901 and spring ‘02 at Empire Theatre in Glens Falls, New York
John Bankson toured with this play, which cast leading man William Beach as a half-breed named Poatchie who saved hapless pale faces from disaster. John played the inn’s crusty landlord, Hiram Pennington. There was a good battle scene between American patriots and King George III’s exquisitely attired redcoats. The scrapbook’s illustrated playbill; although interesting, mis-headlines the play as “Toll Gate In.”
Toll Gate Inn
Sept. 17, 1901, Opera House in Newport, Rhode Island
John Bankson toured extensively with this romantic Revolutionary War drama.
Toll Gate Inn
Date unknown, Watertown, New York
This was another stop for the troupe John Bankson was in. (William L. Malley Company).
Toll Gate Inn
Dec. 2, 1901, Bijou in Milwaukee
John Bankson was on tour with this play as late as May 3, 1902 although we don’t know just where he was then.
The Two Orphans
June 28-30, 1900, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Montreal
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, bought the rights and toured with it for two decades. Incidentally, 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 turned it into Orphans of the Storm in their 1922 silent film. Sound versions came out in 1933 and ‘55.
The Two Orphans
May 12-18, 1901, Morosco’s Burbank Theatre in Burbank, California
Mary Bankson played la Frochard in this old standby. Edith Lemmert, wife of Lawrence Hanley, was in it, too. (Ralph E. Cummings & Co.)
Uncle Nat (see Shore Acres)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
About 1874 at McCauley’s Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky
Edna “Birdie” Bankson played Little Eva in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s historic melodrama about slavery and the Civil War. The Banksons were known for playing this many times and places, but the scrapbook gives few details. Between 400 and 500 companies were touring with “Tom Shows” in the 1890s.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Fall 1879 at Aquarium Theatre, 35th and Broadway in NYC
Jimmie Bankson is said to have played “the baby” in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous play. The Aquarium was just that: besides having a large, popular auditorium, it had fish tanks. Theatre patrons could study the fish between acts. There were even two hippos in residence in the fall of 1879, when a revival of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was booked. The cast included many from Jarrett & Palmer’s London production. The Times reviewer liked what he saw but mentioned only “Miss Isabella Miles, a colored singer of note.” He liked the sets, noting that the Aquarium stage had some shortcomings. In mid-December 1879, not long after the production opened, Jennie Yeamans was brought in to play Topsy. Note that times were changing; even preachers who railed regularly against the theatre could hardly condemn an anti-slavery epic showing in–of all places--a real aquarium.
Opened July 17, 1892, McVicker’s Theatre in Chicago
Mary Bankson replaced Helen Tracy in this unusual show but didn’t have to ride in the simulated balloon ascension. The 30-person cast included producer James A. Herne and the playwright, George T. Ulmer. The Chicago Tribune called the play a “scenic military drama.” After closing at McVicker’s, it graced Chicago’s Haymarket. I don’t know if it was the same company or not, but the Tribune reported Aug. 21, 1892 that Herne “is hard at work in reconstructing the new military drama The Volunteer now being presented at the Haymarket.” Incidentally, Ulmer began his stage endeavors while in an army hospital in Norfolk, Virginia during the Civil War. While convalescing, he acted locally with a touring stock company.
Wife for Wife
Christmas 1898, location unknown but probably in NYC area
Laurie Reilly has a photo of Mary Bankson inscribed “Mary Bankson as Euphremia in Wife for Wife, Christmas 1898.” A new play of this name debuted Nov. 4, 1889 at the Howard Atheneum in Boston. :”A. Appleton” was listed as the author of this comedy-drama, a lift from Shakespeare’s Othello. In this version, cent3ered on New Orleans, a rich young southern gentleman marries a woman of some experience. Upon returning from a trip to Mexico, the husband finds that an old friend (the dastardly villain) wants the new wife back. Perfidious servants and a silly aunt complicate matters.
A Wife’s Peril
Winter 1901-02, Grand Opera House in San Francisco
Mary Bankson played Mrs. Crossley Beck in this English verion of Victorien Sardou’s Nos Intimes. Minnie Seligman (as Lady Ormond) was leading lady. This play was hardly new; Charles Coghlan did it in NYC in 1884. (Grand Opera House Stock Company)
Woman Against Woman
May 19, 1901, Morosco’s Burbank Theatre in Burbank, California
Mary played old Mrs. Barton in this melodramatic tear-jerker. The set looked real. A reviewer noted “a real beefsteak is cooked upon a real stove,” but the baby was stuffed. One character, Miriam, palms off her bastard on her married older sister so that she can marry a baronet. The reviewer wrote quite a lively and thorough piece that likely was as entertaining as the play. The reviewer noted that Harry Hynes’ makeup was “overdone, a fault that is not uncommon in this company.” One critic chastised Charles Giblyn for overacting.
Young Mrs. Winthrop
April 24, 1901, Morosco’s Burbank Theatre in Burbank, California
Mary Bankson played Mrs. Ruth Winthrop in a one-afternoon performance of a three-hanky play starring Laura Nelson Hall. There’s a clipping in the scrapbook but no review. The Los Angeles Times, though, did carry the only bad review I’ve ever seen Mary get. It noted on April 25, 1901 that “Mary Bankson made a gentle and dignified Mr. Ruth Winthrop, but seemed uncertain of her lines.” Some of the other actors fared lots worse (but not Miss Hall). The reviewer thought the cast should have wrung the script for every last tear. Actually, this was known as a comedy when it debuted at the Madison Square in 1882. It was one of Bronson Howard’s better plays, although surely old-fashioned by today’s standards; it was replete with asides and soliloquies. One more recent writer described it as “a kindly sermon on the dangers and blessings of matrimony.” (Ralph E. Cummings & Co.)
One or more of the four Banksons played on stage with the following notables. It’s hard to believe that we still see some of them in classic movies on TV.
Sydney Barton Booth was a nephew of John Wilkes Booth. A Sidney Booth was in Rev. Griffith Davenport with John Bankson (and Thomas Ince). An Elmer Booth was in A Lady of Quality with Mary in Burbank. I don't know his genealogy.
Edmund Breese, a popular and versatile actor, was in The Musketeers with John Bankson in Trenton, N.J. in 1899. His big plays included Monte Cristo in 1893, The Lion and the Mouse (a major hit of 1905), The Third Degree of 1909 and The Master Mind of 1913. (See Blum’s theatrical history, pages 44, 88, 109, 139, 163, 198.)
Claude Brooke was in The Royal Box with James Bankson and Lotta Linthicum in 1898, and in Resurrection with Mary Bankson about 1903. He later scored big in Seven Keys to Baldpate, George M. Cohan's mystery farce. It had the second-longest run of any play opening on Broadway in 1913. Incidentally, Cohan based his play on a story written by Earl Derr Biggers, creator of Charlie Chan.
Edythe Chapman and husband James Neill played in Barbara Frietchie with Mary at the California Theatre in San Francisco in 1901.
Edythe was born in Rochester, N.Y. in 1863 and died in 1948. She’s best-remembered for playing in Cecil B. DeMille's original The Ten Commandments, a famous silent film of 1923.
Una Abell Brinker lived from 1895 until 1952. A native of Wayne, Michigan, she went east to become the “First Lady of the Newark Theatre” in New Jersey. He performed approximately 1,000 roles there. She left eight linear feet of scrapbooks and memorabilia to the New York Public Library.
Charles Francis Coghlan, an Irishman, was born in Paris in 1841. He came to America in 1876 as an already-famous leading man. Besides being handsome, he had a fine speaking voice. He was considered very smooth and cosmopolitan. He was at his best in romantic drama.
He was touring with The Royal Box in Galveston, Texas, when taken ill. He was working on a dramatization of the novel Vanity Fair even while abed. He died Nov. 27, 1899 and was buried in Galveston. According to folklore, the notorious hurricane the next year washed many caskets out to sea. Coghlan and his casket supposedly turned up in 1908 in the St. Lawrence Seaway. He was supposedly reburied 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 was recounted earlier. 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 when Kuehne Coghlan sued for divorce. It became official in September 1894. Charles and Louisa were soon reunited. Gertrude, an adopted daughter, survived Charles. (Your author also has published a short biog on Coghlan.)
George M. Cohan was a playwright, composer, producer, actor and legendary song-and-dance man who lived 1878-1942. Born into a stage family, he never went to school. Young George, with sister Josephine and their parents, Jerry and Helen, reigned as “The Four Cohans,” one of the most popular of all vaudeville acts.
His vaudeville show Running for Office included James Bankson while it played at Proctor’s, a vaudeville house, in New York City in 1899. But Cohan yearned to go “legit” on Broadway. In February 1901 he tried one of his vaudeville shows, The Governor’s Son, on Broadway with indifferent results. It played 32 performances, but did well on the road.
In 1903 he took Running for Office to Broadway. It opened April 27, 1903 and starred The Four Cohans. Its 48 performances were fewer than George M. had hoped, but, again, it did well on the road. Still, he said that major success on Broadway was “the only bell I wanted to ring.”
His third try was Little Johnny Jones in 1904. With two of his classic songs, “I’m a Yankee-Doodle Dandy” and “Give My Regards to Broadway,” it played 3 1/2 months on Broadway. Cohan soon was “Mr. Broadway,” although the family act had ended.
His World War I material included such songs as “Over There” and “It’s a Grand Old Flag.”
Incidentally, Cohan didn’t simply sit down and write his plays. He gathered his cast on stage and they worked out his ideas.
Although a performer as well as a manager and producer, he vigorously fought Actors Equity during the strike of 1919. When the union won recognition, he swore he’d never join it. Actors Equity, however, let him continue to perform. In the ‘20s and ‘30s, he was the only professional actor with no Equity card.
His unflinching anti-unionism diminished his immense popularity. He’d always had enemies. Many people disapproved of his swagger. Life magazine observed in 1905 that Cohan played a character by making “him a vulgar, cheap, blatant, ill-mannered, flashily dressed, insolent, smart aleck, who for some reason . . . appeals to the imagination and apparent approval of large American audiences. . . . If he can bring himself to coin the American flag and national heroes into box office receipts, it is not his blame, but our shame.”
He also could be vindictive. Once a hometown paper knocked one of his shows. He wouldn’t play there for years. He despised Florenz Ziegfeld and refused to let music from any Ziegfeld show be played in any theatre in which he was appearing.
In 1932 he went to Hollywood to film Rodgers and Hart’s The Phantom President with Claudette Colbert, Jimmy Durante and Sidney Toler. Cohan’s time had passed; Hollywood producers and directors even told him how to do his songs and dances. The film was not a success.
In 1968, Joel Grey portrayed Cohan in a hit Broadway production called George M. It had logged 433 performances at the Palace Theatre by the time it closed in 1969.
Little Johnny Jones was revived on Broadway in 1982 with Donny Osmond in the title role. That seems to have been Cohan’s last fling.
Hollywood actor James Cagney impersonated Cohan so effectively in the film Yankee Doodle Dandy that many people today envision Cagney as Cohan. That underscores the ascendancy of the film media over the stage. Millions more people have seen the film than ever saw Cohan.
There’s a statue of him at 46th and Broadway, but most Americans have never seen his photo. They picture him as Cagney.
William Courtleigh appeared with Jimmie Bankson in My Colleen in Chicago in 1892. He’d been born in Guelph, Ontario in 1867. He starred on Broadway well into the 1920s. Blum’s theatrical book has many references, some with photos. (There’s a good one on 238.) He died in Rye, New York in 1930. He was often confused with another leading man, William Courtenay, who married Virginia Harned.
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 male star. But Farnum left the company July 8, 1900 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. He was seriously injured filming A Man Who Fights Alone in 1925 and did only minor roles through the remainder of the silent era. (Ramon Novarro played the lead in the silent version of Ben-Hur in 1926.) As the years passed, he did character roles in talkies, playing Sam Houston, for example, in Men of Texas in 1942. Even-later films included The Mummy’s Curse in 1944, Captain Kidd (with Charles Laughton and Randolph Scott) in 1945, and Samson and Delilah in 1949. By the time he played Captain Rawson, a minor character in Captain Kidd, he was a roly-poly little old man.
He died in Hollywood in ’53, a year after his last film. His funeral was truly a Hollywood extravaganza.
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.
George Fawcett was born in 1860 in Alexandria, Va. and graduated from the University of Virginia. He and his wife (she appeared on stage as Percy Haswell) summered on Nantucket in the early 1900s, as did Lotta Linthicum. Fawcett played Martin Berry in the first-ever production of Shore Acres, which probably also had Mary Bankson in its cast. After many years on stage, he began in films in 1914. Key roles in D.W. Griffith’s movies launched him on a long career as one of Hollywood’s best character actors during the silent era. He was in many majors films, usually as authoritarian figures such as fathers, judges or public officials. He died in 1939. (See Blum’s books for many references.)
Laura Nelson Hall and Mary acted together often. Here are some credits from Morosco's Burbank Theatre in spring 1901:
● Woman Against Woman; Miss Hall played Bessie Barton. Mary was Bessie's mother.
● Lady Windermere’s Fan in 1901 at Morosco’s. Mary was the Duchess of Burwick; Laura was Lady Windermere.
● The Adventures of Lady Ursula at Morosco’s in 1901. Mary was Mrs. Fenton; Laura was Lady Ursula Barrington.
● Pudd’n-Head Wilson; Mary was Patsy Wilson; Laura was Rowy.
Here are some from the Grand Opera House in San Francisco:
● Diplomacy in December 1901. Mary played the Marquise de Lio Zares; Miss Hall was Dora.
● Cavalleria Rusticana on January 6, 1902. Miss Hall played Lola; Mary played Nunzia, who was Turridu's mother.
● Claire and The Forge Master also in January 1902. Mary was the Marquise de Beaulieu and Miss Hall was Claire de Beaulieu.
● Don Caesar de Bazan; Mary played the Marchioness de la Rotunda; Miss Hall was street singer Maritana.
Miss Hall was a daughter of a longtime Philadelphia journalist In 1911, Miss Hall was getting top billing in Everywoman, a hit morality play on Broadway. See pages 108 and 126 of the Blum theatrical pictorial.
Miss Hall was born July 11, 1876 in Philadelphia and died July 11, 1936, according to the movie data base. One of those dates likely is wrong. She appeared in two silent movies: Dope in 1914 (as Mrs. Binkley) and The Stubbornness of Geraldine in 1915, and she was married twice. One husband, actor Ned Howard Fowler, shot himself in January 1904 in Columbus, Ohio.
A photo shows her as very attractive and regal. Wikipedia has a more extensive writeup about her.
Lawrence Hanley appeared with James Bankson in Montreal in 1900 and he might have appeared later with Mary Bankson at the Burbank Theatre.
Hanley had begun acting professionally at age 18. He toured with Edwin Booth during that famed actor’s farewell tour. 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 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 killed one of their children at the corner of Vermont and Thirtieth in Los Angeles. This tragedy nearly brought a reconciliation of the parents.
On Sept. 17, 1901, he was to appear as Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the Los Angeles Theatre. Just at curtain time, he staggered into the theatre drunk. With no understudy available, management called off the play and refunded 500 admissions.
He began wandering aimlessly about the country until old friends tried keeping him at their home in Los Angeles. At times, he’d sober up and fare reasonably well. 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 war. She spent several minutes with him, assuring him she still loved him. After she left, he called for her in vain and 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 one child, Lendith, of 2824 Menlo Avenue in Los Angeles.
James A. Herne was born Feb. 1, 1839 in Cohoes or West Troy, which are side by side on the Hudson in New York State. He became an actor in Boston in the 1860s although looking more like a toad than a matinee idol. He became famous--and wealthy--as a character actor, playwright and producer. Hearts of Oak (originally Chums) and Shore Acres were his two best-known plays. He provided considerable work for John, Mary and Jimmie Bankson, but about 1899 his health began to deteriorate. He performed in his last new work, Sag Harbor, at the Grand Opera House in Chicago in April 1901. Two daughters and Lionel Barrymore also were in the cast. When Herne became ill, doctors diagnosed grippe and advised that he go home immediately. He did, leaving his company and taking a train to his home at 70 Convent Avenue in NYC. He took to his bed with, by then, pneumonia and bronchitis, and never left it. He died June 2, 1901.
Taylor Holmes was born in 1872 in Newark, N.J. He played in Dangerous Women! with John Bankson at the Star Theatre in NYC in 1900.
Holmes was the husband and father in another family of actors who knew tragedy. His story reminds us that the Bankson family was hardly unique in the theatrical business.
Holmes played the Keith vaudeville circuit as well as music halls on Broadway and in London. On the legitimate stage he played De Potter in the original cast of the notorious Sapho when it opened on Broadway Feb. 5, 1900; records say he resumed his role when the play was allowed to reopen.
Becoming a leading man, he rose even to matinee-idol status on Broadway. In 1910 he starred in The Commuters as a well-meaning but intrusive bachelor who upsets a community of happily married couples. This farce logged 160 performances at the Criterion. He then played in The Million, a hit of 1911, then apparently had the lead in The Third Party. In 1915 he was in Trilby, in which Wilton Lackaye played Svengali. (Rose Coghlan was in it, too.)
In 1916 he starred in His Majesty Bunker Bean, a farce in which he imagines he’s a reincarnation of Napoleon and an ancient Egyptian ruler. It played 72 performances. After starring in The Hotel Mouse in 1922, he played a would-be movie magnate who woos wealthy matrons in The Great Necker (1928). Some sources say he did 100 plays on Broadway; the data base (a work in progress) shows 33 in 1900-1946. Even while becoming a regular in Hollywood, he maintained a presence as a supporting actor on Broadway. Years later, for instance, he played in Marinka in 1945 and Woman Bites Dog in 1946.
He made his first film, a silent in 1917, evolving into a Hollywood character actor. His film credits include Father of the Bride (as “Warner,” with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (with Marilyn Monroe) and Kiss of Death (in which Richard Widmark pushes an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of steps). Holmes also was the voice of King Stefan in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959).
His many TV jobs included A Christmas Carol (as Scrooge) and crime programs such as Dragnet and Lineup.
Most of all, though, he specialized in playing shyster lawyers and befuddled professors. He could do the disbarred-lawyer routine even better than a real one could. Blum’s theatrical history has 13 references to Holmes. The Silent Screen book has three.
He married actress Edna Phillips, a Canadian who also switched from Broadway to Hollywood. He had two sons, both actors: Phillips Holmes died in the crash of a Royal Canadian Air Force plane in 1942. Ralph Holmes, apparently despondent about the failure of his marriage with torch singer Libby Holman, committed suicide in 1945.
Arthur Hoops was in Resurrection with Mary Bankson about 1903. His big successes were in Alice of Old Vincennes, a hit of 1901, and The Prisoner of Zenda in 1908. See photos on pages 61 and 106 of Blum’s theatrical history. Hoops also appeared in silent films such as Gretna Green (with Marguerite Clark in 1915). Blum’s Pictorial Theatre book has a mug shot on page 91.
Thomas Harper Ince (1882-1924) played with John Bankson in Rev. Griffith Davenport in 1899. He's best-known for his final exit: he was shot aboard William Randolph Hearst’s yacht. Or was he?
Ince went on stage at six, working on Broadway when he could. He switched to films full time in 1910 and soon was directing Mary Pickford. He often filmed in Cuba with equipment that U.S. patents restricted. Ultimately he became a titan of the film industry.
He died aboard the yacht the night of Nov. 19, 1924. The coroner blamed indigestion and heart failure. Soon Hollywood was joking that bullets surely are hard to digest. The rumor was that Ince was carrying on with Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies. There, too, were rumors that gossip columnist Louella Parsons enjoyed total job security at Hearst's newspapers because she’d witnessed the “indigestion.”
Henry C. Jarrett was known derisively as “the railroad manager.” Actor Joe Jefferson explained on page 151 of his autobiography that Jarrett earned the nickname “from a habit he had contracted of getting up excursions between Washington and Baltimore. These flying trips [via fast train] were both startling and inconvenient for nervous actors, as he would frequently arrange for one of his stars to play a short piece for the opening performance in Baltimore, and then hasten him on a mile-a-minute train trip to Washington, in a special train, terminating the entertainment in the latter city with the same attraction.”
Clara Morris was born Clara Proctor in Toronto March 17, 1848. In 1852 her father was exposed as a bigamist. Her mother, taking Clara, fled the scandal by moving to Cleveland and using her mother’s surname: Morrison. Clara shortened it to Morris early in her acting career. She was a legendary star by the time she appeared in Article 47 and The Countess of Somerive with John Bankson in 1880. On stage, she was extremely emotional, a vogue that faded in the 1890s. She died in New Canaan, Connecticut Nov. 20, 1925.
James Neill headed the James Neill Company in San Francisco when Mary was in it. Neill (1861-1931) and wife Edythe Chapman were great favorites out west, making a fortune there. They were in The Red Knight, a hit of 1902. (See page 71 of the Blum Theatre book for their photo.) Mary’s scrapbook contains a clipping in which she discusses Neill’s popularity in Cincinnati.
He evolved into a character actor in films. There’s a photo of him, looking ancient, on page 126 of Blum's Silent Screen book. He’s shown with Sessue Hayakawa in The Bottle Imp.
James O’Neill (1847-1920) was the father of playwright Eugene O’Neill. With almost no education, he began his acting career in Cincinnati. Although one of the best actors of his era, he became type-cast by playing Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo 5,000 times. He’s said to have made $50,000 a season. He also did The White Sister in 1909, and two biblical plays, Joseph and His Brethren in 1913 and The Wanderer in 1917. (See Blum’s theatrical history: pages 21 , 44, 46, 55, 59, 79, 110, 139 and 163.) O’Neill played in the film Monte Cristo in 1913. (Blum’s Silent Screen has info on pages 35 and 37.)
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.
May Robson and Mary were in the same company in NYC. Miss Robson, an Australian who lived 1859-1942, stumbled into acting only because her husband died in 1884, leaving her with three children to support. After success on Broadway, she was in many films. Watch for her in Dinner at Eight (1933), as Apple Annie in Lady for a Day (1933), with Greta Garbo in Anna Karenina (1935), as Aunt Polly in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1938, with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby in 1938 (that's the film with the leopard), and many others.
Rose Stahl played in Oliver Twist with Mary Bankson, apparently in the 1890s. She was one of the stage icons who chose not to go into films. Others included Maude Adams, David Warfield, Julia Marlowe, John Drew, Mary Mannering, Henry Miller and Eleanor Robson. Miss Stahl's agent went down with the Titanic.
Lotta Linthicum’s career lasted much later than the Banksons’; hence, she appeared with many later notables, such as Humphrey Bogart. See my booklet on her life for further information.
FRIENDS OF THE BANKSONS
Fanchon Campbell was born about 1871. Mary Bankson kept two photos of her. One, taken in New Orleans, shows Fanchon and Edna Bankson as 10-year-olds. The other, a theatrical shot, shows Fanchon in her twenties. The photographer had offices in San Francisco and Oakland.
Fanchon and Edna shared a child’s role in The Banker’s Daughter, probably in New Orleans. The Chicago Tribune noted that the two would appear in the play at Hooley’s there in November 1880 but didn’t mention sharing a role.
The scrapbook programs, incidentally, don’t show anyone else named Campbell, nor does the list of cast members in the Chicago Tribune, so we don’t have any idea who Fanchon’s parents were. Her first name likely came from a popular play, Fanchon, the Cricket, which debuted in the U.S. in 1860. The Banksons were with a troupe in 1879 that included the play in its repertoire.
Miss Campbell became well-known. The Washington Post mentioned her when she appeared in Lend Me Your Wife, a comedy at Albaugh’s in Washington, D.C. in November 1893. The New York Times of March 26, 1897 billed her as leading lady in one of three competing presentations of The Prisoner of Zenda planned for summer and fall. She later went on the road with Daniel Frohman’s version. (Howard Gould was leading man.) Among other places, it appeared at the Taylor Opera House in Trenton in early February 1898 and at the Grand in Atlanta Feb. 14-15, 1898. The show was well-received and ran at least two weeks. It was a patriotic play set in New England of the 1850s. Frank Mordaunt and George Ober also appeared.
In February 1899 she had the female lead in The Village Postmaster at the Park Theatre in Boston.
In October 1900 she was back at the Taylor in Trenton in The Greatest Thing in the World, which starred Sarah Cowell Le Moyne. Then in December 1900 the show played the Grand in Atlanta. The Atlanta Constitution called Fanchon “a well-known player.”
She apparently did another tour with The Prisoner of Zenda, this time as Princess Flavia opposite James K. Hackett. Then, again at the Grand in Atlanta, she portrayed Celia in Shakespeare’s As You Like It in October 1903.
The Broadway data base credits her with four other shows: Clyde Fitch’s Girls in 1908 (with Laura Nelson Hall), a revival of Girls in 1909, The Return of Eve, also in 1909, and Lulu’s Husbands in 1910. The last show also had Sophie Tucker. Four Broadway shows in three years--a nice flurry.
She apparently toured with the Shuberts’ productions of Girls; it opened at the Taylor Opera House in Trenton March 7, 1908. The cast there included Miss Hall.
She was staying alone at the Hotel Gerard on West 44th Street in Manhattan when the census taker came in 1910. Shaving a decade from her age, she said she was 30. She’d been married eight years and had had no children. She’d been born in New York State, as was her father, but her mother was from Pennsylvania. She wasn’t working (but the careless census taker didn’t date his handiwork, so we can’t reconcile that information with her 1910 stage credit). Among several other actors at the hotel was Victor Moore.
In fall 1910 she began touring with leading man John Mason in The Witching Hour, in which he’d scored a hit on Broadway. The tour was scheduled for six months and also included Sophie Tucker.
In mid-October 1912, she opened a short run of George M. Cohan’s touring comedy Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford at the Majestic in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. She was back in Ft. Wayne in mid-September 1917, playing in Pollyanna, a Klaw and Erlanger production. It had been touring extensively in the east; it must have done well in the Midwest, too, because it played at the Faurot Theatre in Lima, Ohio in December 1918.
Old news stories also noted she’d supported Viola Allen in The Christian, a major hit.
Charlotte Wade Daniel was born about 1858 in Michigan. She sent Mary her photo in 1907; it says she was with Corse Payton’s Lee Avenue Stock Company. I’ve found only three other records of Miss Daniel. First, the New York Times reported on May 20, 1913 that the Corse Payton Stock Company opened its presentation of The Butterfly on the Wheel the previous night at the Park Theatre. Charlotte Wade Daniel was mentioned seventh in the cast.
Secondly, Charlotte Daniel, 52, appears in the 1910 census of the 19th ward of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. She was a widow, had been born in Michigan, and she gave her occupation as “actress.” She’d had two children, both now dead. Her parents were from England. She’d been working steadily.
She lived in Queens when the ‘30 census was taken. She was 72 and listed no occupation. In all, there were seven people in the home of Edward O’Connor, several of them vaudevillians. Ages ranged from 16 to 80, so it must have been a lively place. Charlotte affirmed that her parents were from England, and she owned a new-fangled radio.
Some people had speculated that the photo shows Lotta Linthicum under an earlier, or later, name. The nose and mouth are much the same. But the overall look isn’t. Also the ear lobes and the handwriting differ. This was simply another, older Lottie. The Lee Avenue Stock Company was in Brooklyn; hence she doesn’t appear in the Broadway data base.
Hazel Harroun and Mary were photographed together; it's marked “A Royal Box, May 1904.” Hazel played Juliet, and Mary was Lady Roberts. They also played together in My Friend From India April 18, 1904. Mary played Mrs. Arabella Beekman-Streete; Hazel played Gertie Underholt.
Hazel had the female lead in Dion O’Dare, an Irish musical comedy that opened at the Academy Theatre in Washington, D.C. in mid-January 1913. Then she played in Inner Shrine, a comedy opening Nov. 15, 1913 at the Trent Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey.
She was in at least one Broadway show: The Main Line in 1924 at the Klaw Theatre. Sam Jaffe (born 1891) was in it. Later, in Hollywood, he played the high lama in Lost Horizon (1937), the title role in Gunga Din (1939) and the criminal mastermind in Asphalt Jungle (1950)--a remarkable trifecta, indeed.
SOME OTHER CONTEMPORARIES
Minnie Maddern Fiske was born Mary Augusta Davey in New Orleans in 1865. Using the stage name of Minnie Maddern, she became a popular actress. After a temporary retirement and marriage, she returned as Mrs. Fiske, becoming one of the foremost serious actresses of her day. It was said that she could have starred in a dramatization of a phone book. She helped popularize Henrik Ibsen’s plays in the United States before her death in 1932. She appeared with Lotta Linthicum in Love Finds The Way in 1899.
Lotta Hollywood performed with Mary Bankson in The Black Crook. A review in Mary’s scrapbook observed: “Miss Lotta Hollywood is the soubrette. She is a sprightly little woman, who, although she has not a very strong voice, sings sweetly and knows how to capture her audience.” Another: “Miss Hollywood, as Carline, showed herself vivacious, clever, and the possessor of a fairly good voice.”
The name Lotta Hollywood sounds quaintly amusing until we remember that Lotta predated the film capital. Hollywood, California, was laid out in the late 1880s, incorporated in 1903 and merged with Los Angeles in 1910. The first movie studio arrived about 1911.
Lotta likely was born between 1860 and ’70. She sang in a Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta, The Mikado, in Atchison, Kansas, in 1886. That city’s newspaper reported that the show was of note only because children were the performers. Four were mentioned by name: Lotta, Clara, Lizzie and Dick Hollywood. The review did not say, though, that the children were local. Here’s the story from the Atchison Daily Globe of March 9, 1886:
The Mikado was presented to a small audience last night, by a large company of juveniles. Musically the performance was lame but the fact that many performers were children made it interesting. The “Yum-Yum” (Clara Hollywood) was only seven or eight years old, and although she cannot sing, she is pretty and cunning, and pleased the audience. The “Ko-Ko” (Dick Hollywood) was a little older, and was also amusing, although he had the harsh voice common to all children who sing in a large theatre. “Nanki-Poo” was sung by Lizzie Hollywood, who is almost a young lady, and although she is very pretty, and a clever actress, she cannot sing. The best singer was “Katlsha,” an adult, and the young men who appeared as “The Mikado” and “Pooh-Bah” also sang well. To our mind the star of her company was Lotta Hollywood, who sang “Pitl[?]-Sing.” The chorus was large and well-trained, composed of girls and boys nearly grown. The costumes and scenes were the best ever brought to Atchison by a Mikado company.
A directory of the city of Indianapolis shows Lotta Hollywood, an actress, living on the north side of the national road east of the Belt Rail Road in 1889. In 1890 the address of Lotta B. Hollywood was 1005 North Mississippi in Indianapolis. No profession was given in that year’s directory. See “Census Records” in the addenda, which suggest she was born nearer 1860 than ‘70..
The Police Gazette advertised its inventory of cabinet cards depicting actresses. Lists in 1894-96 contained 300 names of which Lotta Hollywood was number 142. The photo showed her “in costume” and, like all the others, sold for 10 cents.
Lizzie Hudson was in many shows with Mary Bankson. Miss Hudson played the title role in The Banker's Daughter and Edna Bankson played her little daughter. In real life Lizzie married and became Lizzie Hudson Collier. Collier, of course, was the name of one of the companies. Apparently Walter Collier was its boss. Lizzie played Bess Marks in an 1883 version of The Lights o’ London at the Grand Opera House in NYC.
The MacGregor Sisters: Ella, 16, read Lotta Linthicum’s part that last night of James’ life in Montreal. Newspapers noted that Ella and Anna MacGregor were sisters. Anna was part of the regular cast. Helen MacGregor appears in some playbills.
Helen Tracy: Mary replaced her in The Volunteer in Chicago in 1892. Later she joined the Poli Players in Washington, D.C., appearing 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.
ABOUT THE SCRAPBOOK Someone turned a ledger into the Bankson scrapbook. Maybe Mary did. Maybe someone else did. Mary probably at least gathered the clippings. Some handwriting does indicate that Jimmie Bankson was involved. He wrote “my sister” on some of Edna's clips. Some of the clips have been pasted up more than once. The cover is marked “Mrs. Bankson,” suggesting that a younger person, other than Jimmie, was involved.
Let’s back up a bit and review some genealogy. Mary lived in later years with sister Emma in Oregon. Emma Taylor had married Dennis Bell. Their daughter Ruth Bell, a stenographer, married cousin LaVerne Phillips in Portland, Oregon in October 1911. They had a daughter Marjorie about 1919. Family stories say that, after LaVerne and Ruth separated, he moved to the Los Angeles area.
But the scrapbook proves that Marjorie Phillips moved south, too. She’d lived in Newberg, Oregon, before moving to Los Angeles as a girl. Maybe she went with her father or maybe her mother moved south, too. Marjorie was in theatricals at Franklin High, apparently graduating in June 1936. Franklin High is at 820 North Avenue 54 in the Highland Park area. Occidental College is nearby, roughly halfway between Pasadena and Glendale. The area is 5 1/2 miles southwest of Pasadena, which is about 15 minutes’ drive.
Marjorie pasted some personal items into the scrapbook. Whether she pasted in Mary’s clips is anybody’s guess. Perhaps her mother had done that. Perhaps Mary had.
Marjorie liked to sing, and she did it well enough to sing on radio shows. Starting in January 1936 she did three weeks on KFVD. It was at this station where folk singer Woody Guthrie worked in 1937-40. He’s best-known for writing This Land Is Your Land.
After that, Marjorie moved to KFAC where, at last report, she’d appeared 12 weeks on “Youth on Parade.” She married a man named Burt Aydelotte and had three children. When Marjorie died in 1971, the scrapbook passed to daughter Julie. When Julie was living in Palm Springs, California, in the 1980s, the scrapbook was among many valuables stolen from her home. It then surfaced about 2002 in a flea market there.
Julia and sister Laurie have some of Mary’s loose photos–those not in the scrapbook. It’s unclear if Mary left a bible, a diary or any other keepsakes.
Let’s back up again briefly. Mary Bankson’s aunt Emeline Courtney married John T. Phillips. Their sons included George Addison and John Almond. (It was George Addison Phillips’ family that Mary Bankson visited in Marion, Indiana.) John Almond Phillips’ son LaVerne married cousin Ruth Bell.
So Archie Coatney/Courtney was Marjorie's ancestor through both her mother and father:
●1) Archie; 2) Lucinda; 3) Emma Taylor; 4) Ruth Bell; 5) Marjorie Phillips.
●1) Archie; 2) Emeline; 3) John A. Phillips; 4) LaVerne Phillips; 5) Marjorie Phillips.
Incidentally, we have to wonder what other relatives the Banksons visited while touring and if Mary left a bible.
Mary’s sister Emma married John Dennis Bell, who’d been born in Illinois about 1844. He served in Company D of the 10th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. While living in Oregon, he applied for an invalid’s pension in 1890 (application 946645). He died by 1895, when Emma claimed a widow’s pension (applications 620572 and 467065).
THE VAN BLARICOMS
It would seem logical that Mrs. Van Blaricom was Emma’s daughter. But this might not have been so. By Googling the name Van Blaricom, I turned up three in the Newberg area–oddly all dead and all buried in the Friends cemetery. Joseph Lawrence Van Blaricom lived from 1863 until Jan. 12, 1938. Mary Van Blaricom lived 1872-1916. Ida May (Wood) Van Blaricom lived from 1876 to Feb. 24, 1958. Using the Mormon on-line records, I learned Joseph L. Van Blaricom married Mary E. Foster on April 5, 1891 in Clatsop County, Oregon. That’s on the state’s far northwest tip, not far northwest of Portland.
The 1910 census shows J.L. Van Blaricom, 45, on Meridian Street in Newberg, Oregon (page 264). He was from Minnesota. Wife Mary E., 37, was a native of Oregon and her parents were from Illinois. Van Blaricom managed a grocery store and his wife clerked there. There was a third person in the home, son Elgin L., 18. (The census was taken while Mary Bankson was still boarding at the Boyer home.)
Subsequent censuses show that Joseph Lawrence Van Blaricom married Mary Foster first, then Ida Wood. Emma Bell did have a daughter Mary within a few years of Mary Foster’s age. But she was Mary Bell, not Mary Foster. Was Mary Bell also a teenaged widow (like Mary King/Bankson)? Or did Thomas Taylor have yet another daughter before wife Lucinda died? That daughter could have married a Foster. That seems a likely scenario.
CHRONOLOGY OF SUMMER IN 1900 IN MONTREAL
Week 1: May 28-June 2 The Prodigal Daughter (Jimmie played Maurice Deepwater)
Week 2: June 4-9 Sapho
Week 3: June 11-16 Rosedale (Jimmie played Myles McKenna)
Week 4: June 18-23 Quo Vadis (Jimmie played Petronius)
Week 5: June 25-30 The Two Orphans (Jimmie played Jacques)
Week 6: July 2-7 Cyrano de Bergerac (Farnum left on 7th)
Week 7: July 9-14 The Black Flag (Jimmie played John Glyndon)
Week 8: July 16-21 The Three Musketeers (Jimmie moved up on the 19th)
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 (Jimmie died on the 15th)
Aug. 20 Camille on 20th (Laura Alberta in lead)
Aug. 21 Ten Nights in a Barroom
Aug. 22-25 Little Lord Faultleroy
Aug. 24 (matinee) East Lynne
Note: Apparently Cyrano was set back from June 25-30. There remains some question about that week’s schedule.
MORE ABOUT UNCLE TOM’S CABIN
Harriet Beecher Stowe didn’t authorize dramatizations of her historic book; in those days, theatre people simply pirated any popular novel. George L. Aitken did the first of the famous “Tom” dramatizations. It took him a week. He undertook the task for his cousins the Howards, who were in the acting business and wanted a vehicle for their four-year-old, Cordelia. And on Sept. 27, 1852 she became the first Little Eva when the Howards premiered the play in Troy, New York. After 100 nights there, it moved to NYC, where it became an instant hit.
One historian claimed that the play was performed somewhere in America every night for the next 90 years. There were countless versions. One man claimed to have seen 25 different ones. And there were countless troupes, called “Tommers,” touring with one or more versions. Often a troupe would alter the show to suit the venue.
How old should the actress playing Little Eva be?
Aitken wrote the role for Cordelia Howard, 4. She was the original Little Eva.
“Tom Shows” came complete with parades--music, cake-walkers and prancing horses pulling gilded chariots. The Ed Davis company of the 1890s had a parade four blocks long. But the Al W. Martin show was longer; it advertised “a Lady Zouave Drum and Bugle Corps, 18 Real Georgia Plantation Shouters, Mlle. Minerva’s New Orleans Creole Girls’ Fife and Drum Corps, the Original Whangdoodle Pickaninny Band, Eva’s $1,500 gold chariot, a log cabin, floats, phaetons, carts, ornate banners, dazzling harnesses and uniforms, three full concert bands the drum major an eight-foot colored boy, 10 Cuban and Russian ferocious man-eating hounds, 25 ponies, donkeys, oxen, mules, horses and burros, all trained as entertaining tricksters.”
Shows vied for the biggest hounds. Tip, a famous hound of 1889, packed 246 pounds in his 7 feet 4 inches, as measured from tip to tip.
The play begins at the idyllic Shelby plantation in Kentucky. All, including the well-treated slaves, are happy. Then a slave trader forces Mr. Shelby to sell some blacks to pay a debt. When aslave named Eliza Harris learns her young son is to be sold, she runs away with him. With the bloodhounds close on her trail, she flees across the frozen Ohio River into freedom. There she’s reunited with husband George. After fighting off slave-catchers, the family takes refuge in Canada. Another slave, Uncle Tom, knows he’ll be sold, too, but feels he must submit. When Tom, who’s quite religious, is taken into the deep South to be sold, he encounters saintly child called Little Eva. She persuades her father to buy Uncle Tom. At the St. Clair plantation Little Eva is taken ill. She dies theatrically amid sobs and wailing, even in the audience. After Tom is sold to Simon Legree, there’s more trouble. Legree a notorious villain, orders Tom to whip other slaves. When Tom refuses, Legree beats him, leading to another mournful death scene.
MORE ABOUT THE LIGHTS O’ LONDON
The playwright, George Robert Sims, was born about Sept. 2, 1840 and died in England Sept. 4, 1922. He did about 70 plays. He also wrote the lyrics for a song called “The Lights o’ London Town” in 1880. I presume that’s the song incorporated into some versions of the play. Louis Diehl wrote the melody. Sims, besides being a playwright and balladeer, was a journalist, poet, writer of fiction and, obviously, a social critic.
Several theatres rejected The Lights o’ London before Wilson Barrett of the Princess’s Theatre took a chance on it. The Princess’s, in London’s West End, specialized in Victorian melodrama. The play ran 228 performances at the Princess’s, transforming Sims from debtor into celebrity. His income increased about 10 fold. The American rights sold within a fortnight, and soon two touring companies were setting records throughout England. Translations facilitated performances in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and doubtless other counties. The play was still going strong into the mid-1910s.
The Lights o’ London was a sensation in England. The New York Times reported on Sept. 28, 1881 that it “has been secured for Union Square Theatre.” It debuted Dec. 5, 1881 in NYC. The Times reported the next day: “This play, which has seen remarkable success in England, was produced at the Union Square Theatre last night, and was greeted with many bursts of applause. The beautiful scenery in which it was exhibited received still heartier applause. But the play, if not entirely worthy of the scenery, is a good melodrama of a higher than average quality, and occasionally of sound interest. It has a certain bold honesty, a broad picturesqueness and some fine touches of reality.”
Here are descriptions of the sets:
1) Armytage Hall and its grounds. (Inside, a fire blazed cheerfully in an old-fashioned fireplace. A backdrop showed a village church far across snowy fields dotted with hay mows.)
2) Chatham Road. (Moonlight glistened on the snowy road to London. Some productions even had a live horse pulling the Jarvises’ wagon.)
3) A police station.
4) The villain’s lavish (and ill-gotten) home in St. John’s Wood.
5) Marleybone workhouse.
6) The slips and Regent’s Park in the moonlight. (This elaborate set included gaslights, an arched bridge and a canal.)
7) Saturday night in the bustling Borough market of Southwark in the New Cut adjacent to Waterloo Road. Eight costermongers’ barrows, heaped with fruit, vegetables, fish, etc., were just a small part of the exquisite detail in this overwhelmingly realistic set. This was a highlight of the show, surpassing even the preceding set.
The show was revived on Broadway in 1911 with a glitzy cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Holbrook Blinn, Doris Keane, Marguerite Clark, William Courtenay, Tom Wise, Charles Richmond, Leonore Harris, Jeffreys Lewis, Lawrence D’Orsay and Thomas Q. Seabrooke. This revival opened May 1, 1911 at the Lyric. Yet another revival opened June 23, 1936 at the Palm Garden Theatre in NYC.
The Lights o' London and Other Victorian Plays, Oxford, 1995, is available in paperback in the World's Classic Series. It's $11.95 new but I bought a fine used copy for 50 cents through Amazon.com. This has the script, which had been lost for years. The University of Manchester in England claims the rights.
The Rare books Collection at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, has a Lights o’ London poster advertising a performance of the troupe the Banksons were in. The website is www.lib.rochester.edu/rbk.
MORE ABOUT THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
This had something for everybody, and it was all perfectly proper, because this was, after all, a religious drama. 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 Marcia, 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 . . .”
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.
MORE ABOUT EAST LYNNE
Focusing on sweet Isabel, the play wrings out every available tear. Her philandering husband, Archibald Carlyle, unjustly accuses her of infidelity. This helps drive her into the arms of dastardly Francis Levison. After much angst, she abandons husband and infant son Willie, running off with Francis. This, of course, is the greatest of sins of her era. She’s shirked her duty as a wife and mother, and she must be punished. Naturally her lover is a cad; he abandons her. Realizing her sins, she disguises herself and visits ailing Willie’s bedside. When she reveals her true identity to him, he gasps “Mama, Mama,” and dies. Heartbroken, Isabel falls mortally ill, too. Her husband magnanimously forgives her. This thoroughly pleases the sobbing ladies of the audience.
Edwin Forrest once tried a new ending. He had hubby castigate Isabel instead of forgive her. Audiences hissed and booed so loudly that Forrest quickly reverted to Tayleure’s time-honored script.
MORE ABOUT TRILBY
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. On a more sensational level, 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 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 was in this presentation.
The third Broadway revival opened Dec. 23, 1921 at the National; the data base gives no indication how long it ran, but the entire cast is listed.
Wilton Lackaye played Svengali in all four runs on Broadway and it made him famous.
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 with special mention made of its unusual sets and 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.
MORE ABOUT THE BLACK CROOK
On Aug. 20, 1893, the Boston Globe observed: “For the past 25 years the spectacular drama The Black Crook has been the leading attraction of the American stage. It has delighted more people and drawn more money than any [other] work ever presented in this country and it remains as potent and enjoyable today as at any time . . . . Mr. Thompkins owns the exclusive rights to the presentation and last year it ran a full season at the New York Academy of Music and for nearly four months it has led all the attractions in the world’s fair city [Chicago].
MORE ABOUT CHARLEY ROSS
The play was based on the first underworld kidnapping in the United States. Two men encountered Charley Ross, 4, and Walter Ross, 6, outside their Philadelphia home on July 1, 1874. The men told the boys they’d take them to buy Fourth of July fireworks. They gave Walter 25 cents and sent him into a store. When he returned, the men were gone, and so was Charlie. The crime and the ensuing protracted negotiations drew great national attention. A shootout that December in New York resulted in the death of one of the kidnappers before he could disclose Charley’s whereabouts. The boy was never found.
SOME NOTABLE THEATRES
California Theatre: This historic theatre, and all the other theatres in San Francisco were destroyed in the earthquake of 1906. There’s a plaque on the present structure at 444 Bush Street, noting that the theatre was built there in 1869. The Pacific Telephone & Telegraph built the present six-story building there in the 1920s. SBC, a telemarketing group, occupies the building now. One web site identifies SBC as an aggressive and “despised” local company. Incidentally, some records say the theatre was on California Street in 1906. Apparently it relocated after the quake..
McVicker’s Theatre: The respected Chicago theatre wasn’t part of the NYC near-monopoly and suffered because of it. In 1903 it was advertised as “The safest theatre in the world–30 exits.”
St. Charles Theatre: It was a glorious European-style theatre in New Orleans, quite famous until burning in 1899. It reopened as the Orpheum in 1902.
Casino Theatre: It was at 39th and Broadway near Longacre Square back, which later became Times Square. Lillian Russell began starring there in the late 1880s.
THE SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE
Billboard reported in its issue of April 26, 1908 that the great earthquake had destroyed all theatres in San Francisco. Two performers were reported dead and several companies lost their scenery.
Billboard said the city had two theatre districts. It defined the one as on Market Street, between 6th and 9th, and included the Lyceum, Central, the new Belle, Empire and Majestic, and the nearby Alhambra. These all burned.
Billboard was less precise in talking about the second district, but named the following other theatres:
The Tivoli was on Mason and Eddy, the California was on California Street, the Novelty on Powell
Columbia Theatre, Powell and Market: Babes in Toyland Company was performing. This was probably the first to go.
Around the corner from the Columbia were three other theatres on O'Farrell Street that soon burned. They were the Orpheum, Fisher's and Alcazar. The first two were vaudeville theatres, and the Alcazar was the home of a well-known stock company.
Grand Opera House, Mission Street: The Conried Gramd Opera Company was two days into a two-week engagement. The theatre was destroyed.
The scrapbook shows that The Royal Box played at English's in Indianapolis. The city also had a Hotel English, which perhaps housed the theatre or was adjacent. (Danny Shay, manager of the Milwaukee baseball team, shot and killed a waiter there in 1917.) Vaudeville played at the Grand, located at Pennsylvania and Wabash streets (according to the city directories of 1910 and '12). Later this became Keith's Theatre. Walter B. Hendrickson in The Indiana Years 1903-41 (Indiana Historical Society, 1983), discussed the B.F. Keith Company, saying its "shows were very high class and appealed to the family trade. My boyhood memories are of acrobats and singers, comedians and dancers, but I was most impressed with the orchestra of a dozen men which played in the pit in front of the stage."
THE COMPANY SYSTEM VS. THE COMBINATIONS
In the beginning, cities and towns across America had stock companies. Actors, owning stock in those companies, shared in any success. They performed where they lived and could have normal home lives.
But some stars began touring in the 1870s. They went from town to town augmenting the local companies. When these stars began arriving as part of touring companies, or “combinations,” everything changed. As the local stock companies folded, actors had to tour if they wanted to work. No longer could they have normal home lives. J.H. McVicker was among the last important managers outside NYC to abandon the old stock system. This happened before the 1870s ended, giving the combo system free rein.
Occasionally someone would try to revive the stock system. Col. Wood did in the mid-1880s, taking over Chicago’s Olympic Theatre opposite the Sherman House on Clarke Street. McVicker did when he hired Mary Bankson and others. By 1895 other theatres followed suit.
(Wood’s method was to establish “museums,” or collections of curiosities, in conjunction with his theatres. The great fire of 1871 wiped out his first enterprise, one of the most successful attractions in Chicago. When he rebuilt, he stocked his theatre with what one paper called “a very bad company and insisted on playing old and threadbare pieces.” It went broke. His comeback in the mid-‘80s was his third try in Chicago.)
THE RISE OF VAUDEVILLE
The Banksons apparently didn’t do vaudeville. Jimmy did appear in Cohan’s Running for Office, but not really as a vaudevillian.
Variety shows replaced minstrelsy as America’s preferred entertainment in the 1890s. Such shows had a long history of tackiness, so the image was cleaned up. The term “vaudeville” was applied, and promoters such as Benjamin F. Keith and Tony Pastor literally cleaned up the acts so women and families could attend.
By 1896, NYC had seven vaudeville theatres; 14 years later it had 31. In 1896 Chicago had six theatres with variety or burlesque fares; by 1910 it had 22 offering vaudeville. Philadelphia went from 12 to 30 in the same years.
The world capital of show business, the Palace Theatre in NYC, opened in 1913 at Broadway and 47th Street. It offered vaudeville until the era ended in 1932, when the Palace converted to movies.
In the late 1880s, Lillian Russell earned $20,000 a season at the Casino Theatre at 39th and Broadway. That was one extreme.
Wages generally were static in 1890-1914. Union workers in the USA had averaged $17.57 for a 54.4-hour work week in 1890. Nonunion workers had averaged $8.82 for a 62.2-hour work week. By 1915 the union workers were averaging $23.98 for 48.9 hours. For nonunion it was $11.52 for 55.6 hours. Railroad engineers earned $957 annually in 1890; conductors got $575, brakemen $212.
Another set of figures shows highly skilled union members in the Pittsburgh area averaging between $36 and $70 a week. But that was before Andrew Carnegie busted their union and fired them in 1892.
Wages had dipped along with earnings during the Panic of 1893. Lots of people earned less than $70 a week well into the 1960s.
Just after the Civil War, organized labor began its quest for a 40-hour work week.
THE PANIC OF 1893
This was an unprecedented depression. Among the failures: 642 banks and 16,000 businesses. Three million workers of the labor force of 15 million were out of work.
THE STOP IN ATLANTA IN 1879
Besides the review quoted in the above narrative, the Atlanta Constitution newspaper carried several other stories about the Jackson combination’s visit. The first, on page one of the edition of Thursday Oct. 2, 1879:
Through some misunderstanding between the agent and the Jackson combination, the company did not reach this city yesterday as expected. It appears that the agent billed the city one day in advance of the date specified on the route-book of the company, consequently it was impossible for the company to appear yesterday.
This evening at DeGive’s opera house, the Jackson dramatic combination will present Fanchon, in which Miss Anne Boyle, said to be the only rival of Maggie Mitchell, plays the leading role. The press have spoken in very complementary terms of the company, and it is anticipated that the play will be well rendered. Miss Boyle is said to be supported by a fine company . . . The company will occupy DeGive’s opera house three nights, during which time will be presented Fanchon the Cricket, Pearl of Savoy and Charlie Ross or The Stolen Heir. The plays are acknowledged as among the most popular . . .
Miss Nettie Davenport, who is in the company, is said to be very fine in the several characters she represents. Last evening, Mr. Jackson, who reached this city, received a telegram stating that Mr. Schneider, who is one of the leading members of this troupe, has been called home suddenly on providential causes. Mr. Jackson will take Mr. Schneider’s place in the company and present all the characters represented by Mr. Schneider . . .
Here’s the one that appeared on page 1 on Friday Oct. 3, 1879:
Last night Miss Anne Boyle appeared as Fanchon to a very good audience. She established her reputation in Atlanta as a vivacious, true and really delightful actress, giving to every scene in the pretty play an attractiveness rarely seen. As compared with Maggie Mitchell she has several points of superiority, and in the shadow dance we have never seen any actress who equals her. This was true last night, and yet she also appeared under circumstances exceedingly embarrassing. The support was very weak but we shall make no further criticism of it as the manager, Mr. Jackson, explained that his leading man was sick. Tonight Charley Ross or The Stolen Heir. In this play little Birdie Bankson, a child only five years old, will take the character of the missing Charlie. A matinee tomorrow afternoon and a performance tomorrow night are also advertised.
There also were several ads inside. They detailed the schedule of Jackson’s Dramatic Combination at the Opera House: Wednesday Oct. 1, Thursday Oct. 2, Friday Oct. 3 and Saturday Oct. 4, with a matinee on the Saturday. The headliner was Miss Annie Boyle, “The Rival of Maggie Mitchell,” in three plays: Pearl of Savoy, Fanchon, the Cricket and Charlie Ross or the Stolen Heir. Prices were 50 cents and $1.
Margaret Julia “Maggie” Mitchell lived 1832-1918. While still playing children, she made her first hit in Oliver Twist. She never did grow much, remaining tiny and vivacious. She was at her best in piquant comedy. Although she traveled widely, she was especially popular in the South. In 1860 she appeared in Fanchon, the Cricket in New Orleans, an adaptation done especially for her; it became her signature play until her retirement in the 1880s. As for Annie Boyle, she left scant record behind.
Here’s the Atlanta Daily Constitution story (via the internet) of Saturday Oct. 4, 1879:
Charley Ross was played at DeGive’s last night by the Jackson combination to a very good audience. It was the first production of this play in Atlanta. The plot is clear and many of the situations thrilling. Miss Anna Boyle, the star, played Pearl Ross with a power and pathos rarely equaled and never surpassed on the Atlanta boards. Her conception of the character was intense–the portrayal of the highest degree natural and affecting. In grace and beauty she is the superior of Kate Putnam; in refinement she is beyond Lotta, and in genius she is the peer of Maggie Mitchell. The tender mother–the grief-stricken mother–the distracted mother, were painted by her as only the highest emotional genius can paint them. In a word, “She holds the mirror up to nature;” and “o’er-steps not its modesty.”
The acting of little Birdie Bankson was wonderful. She was born for the part of Charley Ross.
The Mick Miller of Mr. Duffy was fine. The Judiah Merritt and Mrs. Merritt of Mr. and Mrs. Bankson were splendidly sustained throughout, stamping them as first-class players.
Of the remainder of the support it can only be said that they were passable.
It is proper to state that the leading man of the troupe was summoned from Nashville to Cincinnati to the bedside of his dying son. Hence the disadvantage under which Miss Boyle has labored during her engagement here, yet she has triumphed. Those who fail to see the superb actress in Fanchon at the matinee this afternoon will miss the second Maggie Mitchell.
(“Lotta” was Charlotte Crabtree, a sensational child singer/dancer/entertainer who lived 1847-1924.)
A separate story offered an odd appraisal of William Jackson’s acting. The writer began by saying that Jackson had been in the “safe” business in Atlanta. Further, the reviewer had known Jackson earlier and was inclined to praise his acting abilities even before seeing him play Christian Ross in Charley Ross. Jackson, however, had insisted on an honest opinion, so the reviewer then unloaded on his friend/victim. The reviewer said Jackson had claimed that the role provided “his first appearance on any stage. Yes, and it ought to be his last appearance on any stage. . . . He should return at once to the safe business.”
The supposed confusion about the opening date apparently prevented the staging of Pearl of Savoy and led to well-publicized bickering. Here’s a display ad that ran in the Constitution of Oct. 7:
A Card to the Public
Colonel T.C. Tryon a Fraud
THE PUBLIC IS HEREBY NOTIFIED THAT one T.C. Tryon, who is now representing himself as the advance agent of Jackson’s Combination, has no authority to represent this Company in any capacity whatsoever and no contracts which he may have made or hereafter make will be recognized or settled by the Company. He has never had any authority to represent the Company, but on the contrary has been positively ordered not to do so.
Capt. Wm. Jackson
On Oct. 9, 1879 Tryon responded via the Constitution’s news section:
T.C. Tryon, who was published as a fraud, a few days since, by Wm. Jackson, of the Jackson theatrical combination, was in town, yesterday, looking up Mr. Jackson. He had a large, suspicious looking stick in his hand, and seemed to handle it with a kind of restless twitch. It appears from letters which he had in his possession, addressed to “Colonel T. C. Tryon, advance man of Jackson’s Combination,” and signed “Captain Wm. Jackson,” proprietor of the company, that Tryon was engaged as an advance agent by Jackson some time ago, and has been acting in that capacity ever since. Jackson, a few days ago, published a card in which he called Tryon a fraud, and said he was not the agent of the company, and not authorized to act as such. Jackson stated that the object in publishing Tryon was because he had telegraphed him to discontinue his work as he was not giving satisfaction. Tryon exhibited to the reporter a number of business letters written to him by Jackson, all of which were of a friendly character and nothing was in them that would lead one to believe other than Tryon was doing all he could be expected of him. . . . One of the letters is dated two days after the publication of the card and not a word of dissatisfaction is mentioned therein. What is one of the funniest points in the controversy is this, that the route laid out by Tryon is being gone over by the company, which is accompanied by Jackson, and that all engagements are being filled according to the dates arranged by Tryon. The company is now on the line of the Atlanta and West Point railroad, and Mr. Tryon left yesterday afternoon for West Point, where he will come up with the company and demand an explanation from Mr. Jackson.
(Just 15 years earlier, Gen. William T. Sherman and his federal armies had traversed those same railroad lines.)
Along with Mary’s scrapbook was a collection of loose black and white photos. Most are “cabinet cards,” so called because they can be propped up for display in cabinets, bookshelves, etc. They’re very thin photos mounted on ornate and embossed cardboard. But the best photo of Mary, a small one that she autographed on the back, is a “carde de visite.”
Jimmie and Lotta wrote artistically although somewhat similarly. Mary’s writing was less fluid. I wasn’t able to identify John’s. There was one other handwriting--possibly two--which was clumsy. Obviously, Marjorie Phillips, her mother or grandmother could have written on the photos.
Measurements given below are the overall sizes in inches of the cardboards, not the actual image sizes.
Mary Bankson: carde de visite, 3 x 4 1/8; she appears to be in her forties. The embossing reads: “Harnish & Marquart, Marion, Ind.” (This appears on the cover of this book.) On the back she wrote: “Sincerely, Mary Bankson.”
Mary Bankson and Hazel Harroun: glossy photo mounted in cardboard sleeve that is just short of 5 x 5. A tiny hole shows that this photo was tacked up. There’s no embossing or printing visible on the front of the sleeve although a design might have worn off at the lower right. Unidentified handwriting on the back says: “Mrs. Mary Bankson, Hazel Harroun in ‘A Royal Box.’ May 1904.” Mary and Hazel are in costume. Hazel appears to be in her mid-teens to mid-twenties. Mary appears to be fifty-ish, although she probably always did.
Edna Bankson: cabinet card, 2 1/2 x 4 1/8 with very small borders; this is the only cabinet card pasted into the scrapbook. Mary has written on the front: “Edna Anna Bankson.” There is no embossing and the photo hasn’t been removed from the scrapbook to examine the back side. Edna appears about 6 in the slightly faded image.
Edna Bankson with Fanchon Campbell: 4 3/8 x 6 3/8; no embossing but printing says: “DeArmas, 39 Hospital Street, New Orleans.” That same information is printed on the back, along with a further location: “corner Chartres.” A corner of the cardboard is broken off, eliminating some of the handwriting on the back; what remains reads: “ . . . Bankson . . . s of age, 1881. Fanchon Campbell, 10 years of age. 1881.”
James Bankson: cabinet card, 4 3/16 x 6 3/8; not embossed, but printing states: “McMichael, 246 Main St., Buffalo, N.Y.” Jimmie appears to be 8 to 10 but his writing on the reverse is very mature: “To Aunt Emma. J.W. Bankson, Jr.” Studio decor has potted palm, fancy rugs, etc.
James Bankson: cabinet card, 4 1/4 x 6 1/2; embossed: “Morrison, Haymarket Theatre, 161 West Madison St., Chicago.” This shows Jimmie at the gawky age. On back Mary wrote: “James W. Bankson, Age 15, 10th of May 1893. Six feet-tall.” (The Haymarket was a vaudeville theatre.)
James Bankson: cabinet card, 4 1/8 x 6 1/2; no embossing, but printing on both sides; on front: “Bloch, Brooklyn.” An ornate design on the bank includes the following: “453 Fulton St., B. Bloch, photo-artist, Brooklyn.” Mary wrote: “Jimmie Bankson 14 yrs old First mans Part.” The photo shows Jimmie in blackface and in a somewhat comic stance.
James Bankson: cabinet card, 4 1/8 x 6 1/2; embossed: “Hanson,12 Monument Sqr., Portland, Me.” He’s wearing a suit and tie in this, the best photo of him as an adult. On the back he wrote: “To Mother. Just her plain son. Jim Bankson.”
James Bankson: cabinet card, size and embossing same as above, but this shows him in costume and looking to the right. On the back he wrote: “As D’Artagnan, The Musketeers, June 99.”
James Bankson: cabinet card, size, embossing and costume same as above, but he’s looking to the left. On the back he wrote: “With lots of love. Jimmie.”
James Bankson and wife Lotta: cabinet card, 5 3/8 x 7 1/2; cardboard is textured but lacks embossing. There are two different handwritings on the back. Lotta appears to have written: “Taken in St. Paul.” Someone else has written: “Jimmie & Lottie Bankson.”
James Bankson: cabinet card, 4 1/2 x 6 1/2; no embossing, but printing on front says: “Fadner Studio, Berlin, Wis., extra-finish.” This photo is somewhat troublesome. It appears to show a middle-aged man, John W. Bankson. At first glance the handwriting on the back appears to be: “Clergyman in Our Strategist, - Jimmy Bankson. Picture made May 12, 91.” Obviously, Jimmie would have been about 13 years old in 1891. After repeated examinations, I think the handwriting is Jimmie’s--he was a reliable source, certainly--and I think the date is likely 1897. Jimmie would have been about 20 then. With makeup, he could have played the preacher. There’s a pencil-written number, 4974, at the top, likely the photographer’s notation.
Lotta Linthicum: cabinet card, 4 3/16 x 6 1/2 with a tack hole; her name is mechanically printed on the front. There’s also a raised emblem and raised type on the front, the latter reading: “Wm Notman & Son, 14 Phillips Square, Montreal.” The back is blank. Lotta is shown in a white dress with a garland in her hair.
Lotta Linthicum: cabinet card; 4 1/3 x 6 1/2; there is no embossing but printed on the front is “Lotta Linthicum. Schloss--467 & 469 Fifth Ave. Between 40 & 41. St. N.Y.” The photographer’s name and address also appear on the back. Also on the back, in a good hand, is: “To Mr. Bankson -- Affectionately Lotta.” This helps establish Lotta’s handwriting for comparisons. Lotta is shown in a frilly dress but the photo is not theatrical.
Lotta Linthicum: cabinet card, 5 1/8 x 7 1/8; this is embossed: “Swan Photo Co.” but no city is given. The handwriting on the back says: “To Mama Bankson, Affectionately Lotta.” Again, the distinctive handwriting helps identify the writing on other photos. And, again, this is a pleasant, personal photo, not at all theatrical.
“Lotta Linthicum Bankson”: cabinet card, 8 x 10 3/4, with red string at top; although the largest of the mounts, this is not one of the more interesting or attractive photos. The image area is roughly 5 x 7. There is engraving on the front: “Marceau 258 Fifth Avenue New York.” There’s no handwriting on the back, but the photographer’s printing informs us that he was located between 28th and 29th Streets and that duplicate copies may be had, etc. Lotta’s costume includes a fan, but the pose makes her appear hefty. “Lotta Linthicum Bankson” is handwritten on the front.
Lotta Linthicum: photo with no backing; 5 13/16 x 7 3/4, with tack hole at top; the logo, “Mishkin, N.Y.,” appears in the image on the front. Lotta wrote on the back: “As the Baroness in ‘Frou-Frou’ with Mme. Simone last season.” A chunk of one corner of this theatrical photo is missing.
Lotta Linthicum: cabinet card, 5 13/16 x 7 7/8; mechanically printed on the front is: “Stewart M. Pouder, 229 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis.” Lotta wrote on the back: “Monte Cristo.” The clumsy writing mentioned above then says: “Lotta Linthicum.” The photo obviously shows Lotta in costume with a wig that likely was white.
Apparently Lotta Linthicum: cabinet card, 5 9/16 x 7 5/8; no photographer is identified; the only notation on this item is the handwritten word: “Trilby.” (See the play of that name discussed above.) We can only assume this is Lotta made up, complete with shaggy wig. The handwriting on the back seems to be hers.
Charlotte Wade Daniel: post card, 3 1/4 x 5 7/16; this is addressed to: “Mary Bankson, Touchet, Washington, R.F.D.” The only message is written on the bottom of the photo side and appears to be “I send a [tribute?] with this hope you are well. Lotte.” Those words are superimposed on a mechanically printed identification: “Charlotte Wade Daniel, Corse Payton’s Lee Ave. Stock Co.” One postmark appears to read; “1 a.m., May 7 [year illegible] Brooklyn, N.Y.” The other appears to read: 6 a.m. May 4, 1907, Walla Walla, Wash.” On the message side is the name of the manufacturer: “The Rotograph Co., N.Y. City.” There’s a canceled one-cent stamp affixed to this photo, which is typical of cards that actors and ballplayers send to fans.
Fanchon Campbell: cabinet card, 4 3/8 x 6 1/2; “Bushnell, San Francisco and Oakland” is embossed twice on the photo side, once as a small logo in the image area and once below, in red. The name “Fanchon Campbell” is mechanically printed below the photo. The handwriting on the back reads: “To Mary dear old Friend with heart’s best love, Fanchon.” The photo shows Fanchon to be in her early twenties to early thirties.
Oddly, there are no photos of John. (Could a sister have claimed them when he died?)
Several good newspaper clippings contain photos:
1) Page 108 of the scrapbook has a 2 1/2 x 3 3/4 halftone photo of Mary and John. It’s not optimum, but it’s not bad. This is the only photo we have of John. This was printed in 1904.
2) Page 108 also has a nice halftone of Mary wearing a hat. The headline called her a “Lagoon Favorite.” This is a one-column photo more than 4 inches long and is reasonably good quality.
3) page 110 of the scrapbook has a vignetted, full-length halftone photo of Mary. It’s more than 4 inches long and reasonably good.
3) Lotta Linthicum: a circular halftone 5 1/4 inches in diameter; the caption says she was performing in Skipper & Co., Wall Street.
4) There’s a halftone, highly doctored, that shows swordsmen on stage. The show likely was Cyrano de Bergerac or one of the versions of The Three Musketeers.
5) Pasted beside the doctored halftone is what appears to be a tiny scissors-snipping of a photo of Jimmie. It’s extremely sharp and an excellent portrait photo.
The scrapbook also has some line drawings clipped from newspapers. These are listed below in the order they appear in the scrapbook.
1) Lotta Linthicum, a profile in a Montreal paper.
2) Lotta Linthicum; a full-face drawing, on May 16, 1899, apparently in a Baltimore paper.
3) James Bankson; a three-quarter facial, clipped from a Montreal paper announcing his death.
4) James Bankson, an especially nice three-quarter facial from one of Montreal’s French newspapers announcing his death; this was the only foreign-language clipping in the scrapbook.
The scrapbook includes miscellaneous items such as playbills depicting Charles B. Hanford, etc.
The scrapbook has six of John’s death notices or obits. The longest, which has been very helpful in tracing his career, is from an unidentified newspaper. This obit never mentions “New York” so it’s almost certainly from a New York paper. (It apparently wasn’t the Times.) Either the obit writer had a wonderful memory or his paper had a fine morgue; the obit seems accurate in all regards, except perhaps ibn identifying his final play.
The obit’s text, shown below, is of interest in itself, but it also serves as a basis for a worksheet. It provided much of the information for the narrative above and will facilitate the factoring in of any new information.
Besides sifting through the information in the obit, I used ProQuest to search the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. The obit:
John W. Bankson, an actor identified with the stage for many years as a faithful interpreter of dialect and old-man parts, died at Portland, Oregon, on Dec. 26 from a complication of heart and kidney troubles. He had been in failing health and unable to act for two or three years past, and went West a few months ago in the hope that his health might be benefitted. His wife, Mary Bankson, is playing in a Portland stock company, and the interment was made there. The funeral expenses were sent by the Actors’ Fund. Mr. Bankson was the father of James W. Bankson,, who died suddenly in Montreal in 1900 and who was the husband of Lotta Linthicum. He had appeared in the support of a number of well-known stars during the past 25 years. In 1880 he was a member of the stock company at the Standard Theatre, supporting Joseph W. Shannon in A Golden Game. In the same year he played with Clara Morris as Joseph in The Countess of Somerive and Paul in L’Article 47. He was Major Samprey in Lester Wallack’s Production of Ours at the Grand Opera House in 1881. He appeared in the cast of Michael Strogoff at the Academy of Music in 1881, and in 1884 he played Squire Armytage in Lights o’ London at the New Park Theatre. He was a member of W.A. Allen’s Main Line Company at the Windsor Theatre in 1888, and during the same season was stage-manager for Chapman & Sellers My Partner company, on tour. In 1899 he was in the support of James A. Herne as John in Rev. Griffith Davenport at the Herald Square Theatre. He also played the parts of Martin Preston in Tempest Tossed in 1898 and appeared at the Star Theatre in 1900 as Father Raymond in Dangerous Women. In 1901 he supported Charles B. Hanford in Private John Allen, and shortly afterward made his final stage appearance with Hilda Thomas in The Fisher Maid.
NOTES CONCERNING THE OBIT
A Golden Game: The obit mentions no city. There were Standard Theatres in Kansas City, San Francisco, Philadelphia and probably dozens of other towns, but Times ads show the play was at NYC’s Standard on the date given above in the narrative. The Standard was at 102 West 33rd in 1875-97.
The Countess of Somerive and Article 47. The scrapbook has no clippings about these. But, if we assume the obit lists A Golden Game, The Countess of Somerive and Article 47 chronologically, we’d find–ideally--that Miss Morris did the two plays at the Standard, where John worked. Instead, we find a muddle. She did them at the Park. Backtracking, she apparently was ill that year until July, when she played in Boston. She was rehearsing at the Park in NYC in the fall. She was in Philadelphia in mid-September. On the 20th she was in Brooklyn. She played Article 47 in Boston (coincidentally at a theatre called the Park) at the end of September. (But John was accused of forgery in Washington on Sept. 26.) She soon rearranged her schedule. Apparently she did this because NYC’s Park Theatre had a turkey called A Baffled Beauty. Even after the play was rewritten and recast it did poorly. The Park got Miss Morris to move up her scheduled appearance there by one month. On Tuesday Oct. 26 the Times reported that the Park had closed A Baffled Beauty. The paper added: “This evening Miss Clara Morris will begin her noteworthy engagement there–at least a month in advance of the date set down by her originally–as Alixe in The Countess of Somerive.” On Saturday Oct. 30, 1880, the Times noted that her engagement “at the Park Theatre is all that the Times hoped it might be–a brilliant and popular incident of the theatrical season. The audiences are very large and very hearty in their approval. Unfortunately, this successful engagement cannot be extended beyond the close of next week [Nov. 6]. Miss Morris will make her last appearance in The Countess of Somerive tonight, and on Monday evening [Nov. 1] will be seen in her great impersonation of Cora in Article 47.” (A new French play, The Legion of Honor, had been booked for Nov. 8.) Or maybe John and Miss Morris did the two plays together in July in Boston.
Ours: Old newspapers show this played at the Grand Opera House in NYC for two weeks beginning Jan. 24, 1881. It starred Lester Wallack. His company included H.M. Pitt, J.W. Shannon, Mr. W. Eyre, Miss Kate Bartlett and Miss Marion Booth. The Times reported that the second week began Jan. 31.
Michael Strogoff: Old newspapers verify that John appeared in the production at the Academy of Music in NYC in 1881.
Dangerous Women!: The scrapbook contains a program that shows the cast, date and theatre. The obit gives the date and theatre. What about the town? The IBDB investigated and confirmed that this production did indeed play the Star in NYC in 1900.
The Main Line: It’s a difficult title to search for electronically. I saw images 1, 9, 20 and 30 on a list for Windsor Theatre for 1888. Hazel Harroun played in a revival of The Main Line at the Klaw in 1924.
The Fisher Maid: This obviously was The Fisherman’s Daughter.
THE BANKSON FAMILY
Joan Bankson (Ernajoan@juno.com) has researched this family. She went in through FamilySearch.org, and into the International Generalogical Index, where she found: William Bankson m. Mary Ann Halpin on Aug.; 14, 1839 in Ross, Ohio.
We do know that John’s father D.W. Bankson married a woman named Mary Ann. She’d been born June 15, 1820 in County Claire, Ireland.
D.W. and Mary had five children:
1) George W., about 1843 in Ohio. He’d left home by 1870.
2) John Wesley Bankson was born Jan. 16, 1847 near Little Rock, Arkansas
3) J. Ritner or Radnor, about 1848 in Illinois.
4) David William, on Aug. 21, 1852 in Havana, Ill. He married Paulina Peterson and raised a family. Paulina was from Norway and died Dec. 2, 1910..
5) James P., was born about 1855 in Missouri or Ohio
But supposedly there was an E.J. who married a Hawkes.
The father, D.W., died in 1854 in Warsaw, Illinois. The mother, Mary, died Sept. 30, 1900 in Keokuk.
Unfortunately the 1850 census has not yet been checked. Need to look for D.W. Bankson, who presumably is David William Bankson, but that isn’t certain.
D.W. married Paulina Peterson, who was born in Norway. She died Dec. 2, 1910.
D.W. and Paulina had
1) Annabelle Bankson, who m. a Gillhausen.
2) Nellie Mary Bankson, born Oct. 5, 1891 in Chicago. She married Edwin Margerum Banghart. He was born Dec. 26, 1884 and died Aug. 28, 1961.
3) Ruth Bankson, who married a Bankson born 1900.
4 ) George Bankson
D.W. had died by the time John played in Keokuk in early 1901.
She paased along info from Eileen that was dated Sept. 4, 2002.
If this info is correct, David W. bankson died a month before his mother and not long after Jimmy Bankson died.
MARY’S WHEREABOUTS1850: Jefferson County, Indiana.
1860: unknown, but she could have been the Mary in Edgar Co. Illinois with Mason family.
1867: Hamilton, Illinois. (husband died there then).
1870: Hamilton, Illinois. (as Mary King).
1872: St. Louis.
1878: Louisville (Jimmie born there).
1880s-early ‘90s: probably NYC much of the time.
1897: Chicago with Grenier & Vinton company.
1898: NYC, at 245 East 13th St.
1900-02: California (while John toured).
1902-03 season: NYC area and on tour.
1903: Cincinnati area in summer.
1904-05: Portland, Oregon (living with sister Emma).
1907: Touchet, Washington.
1910: Eagle Creek, Oregon, in Clackamas County (boarding with the Boyers; Emma, widowed, was living with her daughter).
1910: Newberg, Oregon with Van Blaricoms.
(1916: Mary Van Blaricom died; Lawrence eventually married Ida Wood.)
1920: Corvallis, Washington in Benton County, living with sister Emma, who’d married C.H. Christanssen.
1930: Newberg, Oregon (living alone on South School Street).
1935: Newberg, Oregon (died).
RAY PHILLIPS’ MEMORIES
Ray Phillips was born September 29, 1893 and died Dec. 6, 1986. His information, shown below, instigated the search for information about the Banksons.
"My dad had a distant cousin Mary. . . We called her Aunt Mary Bankson (always used both names.) . . . She must have been about my Dad's age. He was born in 1852. . . . She was probably about 40 to 50 when I last saw her about 1903-05. . . She and Dad corresponded. [Mr. and Mrs. Bankson] died in Walla Walla, Washington, after retirement from stage. Do not know where she called home prior. Sometime between 1902-12 I remember Dad saying she was dead. More likely about 1910. [Ray must have been thinking about the death of Mary’s husband.]
[She gave me] an alphabetic picture book in which is written: 'To Raymond from Mary Bankson, Christmas 1899.'
"Jimmie loved booze and broke a light with his cane in Palace Restaurant. [Ray perhaps confused John and young Jimmie Bankson. Ray's father, Addison Phillips, ran the Palace Restaurant in Marion, Indiana. Addison, his wife and son Ray were teetotalers. And Addison and Mary were first cousins.]
"Marion had five movie houses; admission five cents . . . One large theatre with best of [live] musical comedies at $1.50, such as Chocolate Soldier, Merry Widow . . . Once I saved money and bought tickets for Mother and [my sister] Birdie to see Ben Hur. Then there was the Grand Theatre that had stage shows, prices 10, 20, 30 cents; changed shows twice weekly. Marion was known as a good show town . . . It was in the Grand that the Banksons played."
Ray wondered if Mary died in a retired actors home in Walla Walla. There are such homes in Englewood, New Jersey, and Los Angeles. One might still be functioning on Staten Island. In 1916 one was founded six miles east of Portland, Oregon on Base Line Road, which is now Stark Street. The proprietor, Mrs. Bob Fitzsimmons, said it was for down-and-out actors. A former actress, she put up some of the money to get the farm-like home going. The Pacific Resource and Protective Society helped. It’s unknown what happened to the home. Although not far from where Mary lived, it was a long way from Walla Walla.
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY
Perhaps the Coatneys have a bent for entertaining. Besides the Banksons, several other Coatney cousins at least dabbled in show business.
Mary Bankson's uncle George Washington Courtney was one. (He was Lucinda's brother and was born in 1830 in Jefferson County, Indiana.) He traveled through Indiana and Kentucky lecturing on phrenology. A partner, John E. Whitman, did a magic-lantern and sleight-of-hand show.
George’s sons Thomas Jefferson and Charles Edward had a road show. They toured with bears named Lucy and Cuffy, all performing together as “The Coatney Brothers Trained Bear Show.”
Later, there was James “Welly” Phillips. He was Addison Phillips' son and Ray Phillips' oldest brother. Welly apparently was on stage in the 1900-10 era. He played in some of the same vaudeville shows as legendary comedian Ed Wynn. (Both were in the Al G. Field Minstrel Show at one time or another.) Welly played two five-string banjos simultaneously, and he told jokes for most of 90 years. Ed Wynn, incidentally, appeared in many movies, including The Diary of Anne Frank, and was the father of movie actor Keenan Wynn.
Welly claimed to have played the wedding march on his banjo at Mae West’s wedding when she was 14. That would have been about 1906. Miss West denied the marriage, but Welly probably told the story more times than she denied it: “It was in the pool room at the Parkview Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at 2 o’clock in the morning. There haven’t been many ceremonies to match that one.”
And, as noted above, Marjorie Phillips sang on radio.
THE PHILLIPS HOUSES
In the course of their travels, the Banksons probably visited many relatives. But we know only that they visited George Addison Phillips and his family. An undated clipping from a newspaper in Marion, Indiana:
THEATRICAL PEOPLE ON VISIT
Mr. and Mrs. John W. Bankson, actor and actress of New York City, are the guests of G.A. Phillips and family of West Sixth Street. They will leave in a few days for the East, where they have an excellent engagement awaiting them for the coming season. Their son, James Bankson, lately deceased, will be remembered by Marion theatre-goers as the Prince of Wales in Andrew Robson's A Royal Box.
The Banksons visited their Phillips relatives at two locations in Marion. As Ray Phillips remembered: " . . . we lived . . . in a rented, black painted house at 915 South McClure Street . . we had both kerosene lamps and open gas jets. . . . We moved . . . in the fall of 1902 to a new 10-room house at 715 West Sixth Street . . . I remember Dad saying the house cost $1,300 to build -- labor and lumber. Ten rooms! [Also] a fireplace in living room, cook stove in kitchen; no heat upstairs. No water inside; pump outside. . . all rooms were plastered with thick cow hair mix plaster (included in the $1,300). We had only a fireplace in the living room and kitchen range for heat. It was rough for first few winters. . . . The privy was about 75 feet south of home near alley, and the barn and garden were across the alley . . . a little extra ground for garden and chickens, rabbits and pigeons . . . For the first time we had electric lights . . . We had . . . one electric light in each room . . . we had to heat water on the cookstove to thaw out the water hydrant behind the house in the wintertime, each morning.”
Ray called the family’s visitor “Aunt Mary Bankson” to distinguish her from other Marys in the family. Ray’s mother was “Tall Mary.” His father’s sister was “Little Mary.” Then there was Aunt Mary Green, daughter of Ellen Coatney, yet another sister of Emeline and Lucinda. And Emeline and Lucinda had had a sister Polly, whose real name likely was Mary. Thus, Mary Bankson also had at least one Aunt Mary. However, this Mary/Polly, whose married name was Wilson, had died in childbirth in 1852. There likely were more.
THE BATTLE AT PILOT KNOB, MISSOURI
Although John was stationed at Pilot Knob, it’s questionable whether he was there when General Sterling Price and his Confederates attacked.Sept. 27, 1864
Pilot Knob, the railroad terminal for the iron smelters and coal mines in the area, was named for a volcanic cone–60 percent pure iron soaring 600 feet above one side of the federal installation there, called Fort Davidsont. On the other side was Shepherd’s Mountain.
Colonel Thomas Ewing, brother-in-law of General William Tecumseh Sherman, commanded the fort and its 1,000 men, who constituted the federal garrison for the whole area. The fort was a heptagonal earthwork nine feet high and 10 feet thick. A deep moat, its sides cut vertically, surrounded the fort. Seven cannon provided considerable defense, and the ammo magazine, set in the fort’s center, had four-foot walls around it.
Troops under Price (a 300-pounder) attacked in seemingly overwhelming numbers. The bluecoats repulsed numerous charges, inflicted perhaps 1,000 casualties and won the day. Ewing reported losing 100 men. But realizing his men couldn’t hold out indefinitely, he had the blown up as the federals retreated. Price was just beginning his raid on Missouri.
MISCELLANEOUS NOTES Pension records say John Bankson enlisted in a Missouri regiment in Warsaw, Illinois. This seems incongruous, but that’s what the record says. Another record says he was mustered in at “Hudson City.” There is, in fact, a Warsaw in central Missouri, but that state lacks a present-day “Hudson.” Hudson, Illinois is just above Bloomington, Illinois. . .
The newspaper interview preserved in the scrapbook quotes Mary as saying her father was Thomas P. Taylor. The 1850 census calls him Thomas G. Taylor, and so do the Jefferson County marriage records. Mary’s death certificate says T.G. Taylor. . . . Little Eva was the saintly child best remembered for the emotional deathbed scene in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The full name of the character was Evangeline St. Clare. . . . Brooklyn became part of NYC in 1898.
The writing in the century-old newspapers used good grammar and spelling. But a modern website yielded this wonderful bit of dubious writing: “At the age of 71, one of Sarah Bernhardt’s legs was amputated.” . . . Some of the writing in the scrapbook’s clips was appallingly dull. Some was lively and interesting. An example: The women of the cast “smoked their cigarettes in a way that indicated lack of familiarity with the five-cent fool-killers.”
A newspaper noted that James Bankson was to play in The Adventures of Francois. I Googled it and checked it on the IBDB; I found no record of the play. I did find the following novel: The Adventures of Francois, Foundling, Juggler and Fencing Master During the French Revolution. S. Weir Mitchell (1829-1914) wrote this in 1898. Besides being an author, he was an eminent neurologist, best-known for treating nervous diseases. . . . The Washington Post reported Aug. 19, 1900: “Liebler & Co. have engaged Marian Lea as leading lady with Henry E. Dixey to create the principal feminine role as Rene [Renee?] in The Adventures of Francois. . . Miss Lea is the wife of Langdon Mitchell, who made the dramatization of his father’s popular novel for Mr. Dixey.” . . . . Playwright Victorien Sardou lived 1834-1908. . . . On June 9, 1893, during the Chicago fair, the roof of Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. collapsed; 22 government workers died. (The government had been using the building, site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.)
The Internet Broadway Data base is set up extraordinarily well and functions beautifully. The only drawback is that records of older shows haven't been fully entered. Use www.ibdb.com. The Hollywood data base, www.imdb.com, is almost as good. . . . There’s a home page for Kansas City theatre: www.kcstage.com. . . .The Actors’ Fund of America dates to 1882. Booth, Barrett, Jefferson, Daly, Wallack and Palmer founded it. An early purpose was to provide decent burials for members of the profession (not just actors). It still does.
The Lucinda Coatney-Thomas Taylor marriage is said to have taken place in “Bowling Green.” That’s the name of towns in Kentucky and Ohio, but that might have been the name of a settlement in Indiana, too. The 1847 marriage is recorded in Jefferson County, Indiana. John Gasaway, “preacher of the gospel,” performed the ceremony. In 1842 he'd done the same thing for Emeline Courtney and John T. Phillips, the parents of Addison Phillips. . . . The Banksons likely knew newspaper columnist/poet Eugene Field in Chicago. A frustrated actor, he befriended many of the theatrical people who came through town. He’s best remembered for two famous poems: Little Boy Blue and A Dutch Lullaby (or Wynken, Blynken and Nod).
On March 31, 1880, Wabash, Indiana became first town in the world to be illuminated by electrical lighting.
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.
A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen, 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 is a gem.
A History of the American Theatre, by Glenn Hughes, 1951, Samuel French publisher; it’s a laundry list in places, but overall it’s much better than most of the dreadfully glossy coffee-table books about theatre.
On With the Show: the First Century of Show Business in America, by Robert C. Toll 1976, Oxford University Press; this offers an excellent overall view with good illustrations. Chapters on circuses, burlesque, etc. are included.
CENSUS RECORDS, ETC.
1850 Jefferson Co. Ind., Graham twp.
Thomas G. Taylor, 24, farmer, Ky. (adjacent to Archibald Courtney/Coatney)
Lucinda, 21, Ind.
Mary E., 1, Ind.
Mary, Emma and Thomas Taylor have not been found.
1860 Hancock Co. Illinois, Microfilm roll M-653; City of Warsaw, 3rd District, p 932 Line 16, dwelling 4816; family 4696
Mary Bankson, 40, washerwoman, Ind. (This presumably was John’s mother.)
George W., 17, painter, Ohio
John W., 15, painter (as it reads), Ark.
Ritner, 12, male, Ill., school
David W., 7, Ill., school
James P., 5, Mo.
Note: I read Mary’s place of birth as Indiana; others have read it as Ireland.
It looks as if John Bankson was counted twice.
1870 census of Hamilton in Hancock Co. Ill., p 146
John D. Bell, 25, laborer, Ill.
Emma Bell, 19, keeping house, Ind.
Francis L.Bell, female, 1 year old, Ill.
Mary King, 20 u (unrelated?) Ind. (This is the future Mary Bankson)
1870 census of Keokuk, Iowa, Ward 2, p 241, June 27
Mary Bankson, 60, Indiana, keeping house (she’s 20 years older than in 1860)
John Bankson, 25, Arkansas, printer (Civil War records do show he’d been a printer.)
Radnor Bankson, 22, laborer, Ill. (or Ridner)
Wm Bankson, 17, laborer, Ill.
James Bankson, 15, no occupation, Ohio (he wraps onto next page and is easy to miss)
(Note that Mary listed her father and mother of foreign birth. But her children show only their mother of foreign birth.)
1870 census of St. Louis, Mo. Ward 6, Aug. 19
J.W. Bankson, 24, theatre actor, born Iowa (He was living with a group of other young men. The only other one who was an actor was James Vickell, 22, from Canada.)
John Bankson and family haven’t been found, mainly because of indexing problems. This is the only census Edna would be in. Perhaps the Mormons have it on line.
1880 census of Pleasant Hill in Clackamas County southeast of Portland
John B. Bell, 36, farmer, Ill., Ohio, Pa.
Emma Bell, 28, wife, keeping house, Ind., Ind., Ind.
Louisa Bell, 11, dau, Ill., Ill., Ill.
Flora Bell, 9, dau. Ill., Ill., Ill.
Mary Bell, 6, dau. Ill., Ill., Ill. (Could she be the future Mrs. Van Blaricom?)
Robert S. Bell, 3, Ill., Ill., Ill.
(Emma and her family moved to Oregon about 1878 or ‘79 and John Dennis Bell died in 1895.)
1880 census data concerning Lotta Hollywood: Indianapolis, Indiana (on South Mississippi St., west side):
Hanna Morley, 45, mother, at home, Ireland, Ireland, Ireland
John Morley, 23, son laborer (all children show Indiana places of birth)
Bridget Hollywood, 20, dau., at home
May Morley, 19, dau, domestic
Hanna Morley, 18, dau, clerk
Maggie Morley, 17, seamstress
Lizzie Morley, 7, school
Tomas ?, son 12, at home
(I suspect the above Bridget was Lotta B. Hollwood. See the 1900 and ’10 census.)
The 1880 census of St. Louis showed a Lottie Hollywood, 9, in the household of her mother Fanny Hollywood. Lotta was in school.
San Francisco 1900, Octavia Street boarding house. “Balance of family not enumerated on first visit.” This is confusing but it looks like Joseph Alexander was the landlord. There were nine boarders listed.
Mary E. Bankson, boarder, born Nov. 1848, 51 years old, 28 years married, had three kids, one living, born Ind, Ky., Ind., actress, unemployed 10 months, (Assembly Dist., June 8, 1900)
(The census on Octavia indicates it was taken about the same time as on Buchanan and Geary streets. Octavia and Buchanan are parallel and are both perpendicular to Geary. Octavia. begins at Bay Street, then runs uphill south through Lafayette Park and ends at Sutter Street. Geary is two blocks farther south, running east and west.l Buchanan is two blocks west of Octavia. So, generally Mary was living near St. Mary’s Cathedral.
1900 Cook Co. Chicago.
This hotel or huge boarding house on West Madison has dozens of male boarders including:
John W. Bankson, 54, born Jan. ‘46, 26 years wed, Ky., Ark, Ind. (obviously scrambled), actor, unemployed 3 months, apparently (it was written over). Notations: Yes, yes, yes (census taken June 9.)
(He was only actor on his page; others included a plumber, druggist, printer, artist, iron molder, cigarmaker, electrotyper, etc.)
Indianapolis 1900, ward 13, South Noble St.
Richard Hollywood, b. July 1864, Ohio, Ohio Ill., salesman (age 35 or 36)
Carrie, wf, b. June ‘68 Ind., Ind., Ind., married 3 years, no children
1910 Eagle Creek, Clackamas Co., Oregon (April 16)
Mary Bankson, 61, IN, KY, IN, no occupation, three children, none living, English, reads, writes.
Emma Bell applied for a widow’s Civil War pension in 1895. We don’t find her again in the census until the 1910 census of Oregon, Newberg, Yamhill, p 142/144
Oriel (or Orvil) Hollingsworth, 29, Kansas, Ind., Iowa, Biller (?) in lumber mill
Vesta Hollingsworth, 21, Ore., Ill, Ind.
Elaine (?) Hollingsworth, 1/12 (one month), dau,
Emma Bell, 59, mother-in-law, born Indiana, Ky, Ind.
(This was hard to read but it appears the Hollingsworths had been married two years and that they'd had two children, one living. It appeared Emma had had eight children, four living. She was a widow.
The 1910 census of Indianapolis shows a Richard Hollywood. This fellow was living in a household on North Alabama Street headed by Frank Reynolds, 50, an Indiana-born publisher of a fiction magazine. Reynolds’ wife appeared to be named “Maring,” or something of the sort. She was 45. There were three Reynolds children, then brother-in-law Richard Hollywood, 37, a publisher’s agent.)
1920 census of 3rd Ward of Corvallis, Benton Co. Oregon (9th and 10th precinct), page not noted
C.H. Christansen (?), head, R, 59, Denmark
Emma, wife, 68, Ind., Ky,, Ind.
Mary E. Bankson, sister-in-law, 71, Ind., Ky., Ind.
1930 census of Newberg, Oregon. Page 14 or 5A
Blanche Van Blaricom, 25, Oregon, living alone.
1930 census of Newberg, Oregon
Lawrence Van Blaricom, 64, Minnesota (We know that his first wife had died in 1916.)
Ida, wife, 58.
Katherine, his mother, 86, Pa., Germany, Germany
1930, page 21 or 1A, Ward 3 on April 10.
Mary E. Bankson, 81, was living alone on South School Street, Ind., Ky., Ind.
$10 apparently was her rent. This was not a farm.
Future generations could considerably further the sum of our knowledge of the Bankdsons. Here are some thoughts:
Contact with this branch of the family could also clarify who the Van Blaricoms were, provide insight into Emma’s life, and maybe turn up more info on Mary herself:
Further infromation about Thomas Taylor and his family would be interesting. I suspect this could come only from genealogical researchers.
Further delving into Asa King’s military records is high priority.
During the last year, my net indexer has added the Chicago Tribune and the Atlanta paper to the data base. We must keep checking, because it would seem logical that these data bases will soon be adding papers from Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and St. Louis.
Before too long, secondary cities would be included: Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, etc.
PLAYBILLS IN SCRAPBOOK
The Royal Box, Oct. 3, 1898, Fifth Avenue Theatre
Banker’s Daughter, no date, Union Square Theatre, but this may be a touring company. There are two of these.
Oliver Twist, no date, no theatre; this is a questionable playbill.
Mention the Gotham at Broadway and Fulton, My Old New Hampshire Home, but this likely in Brooklyn.
I shud set clip type same size thruout.
maybe rearrange the bottom, moving up the atlanta reviews, lowering lotta’s credits.
Break mis notes into more grafs, move some of into into narrative.
i think leon errol was making $1,400 a week early in century
R.M. Gulick and Co. managed the star on Broadway.