Louis Aldrich


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(1843–1901), actor. Born in a village called Ohio State Line, he made his first appearance, as a child prodigy, in 1855 at the Cleveland Academy of Music playing the title role in Richard III. Using such stage names as Master Moses and the Ohio Roscius, he toured the Midwest playing Macbeth, Shylock, and similar parts, later touring Australia and New Zealand with the Marsh Juvenile Troupe. As an adult Aldrich acted with a stock company at the Boston Theatre, then in 1873 accepted Mrs. John Drew's offer to be leading man at her celebrated Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia. Later in New York he performed with the company at Wood's Museum, and his role as the Parson in The Danites (1877) brought him widespread fame, playing it nearly six hundred times in the following two seasons. Another brilliant success followed when he produced and starred in My Partner (1879), which he toured in for six years. Aldrich enhanced his popularity when he produced and starred as Shoulders, the boozy, vengeful swamp rat, in The Kaffir Diamond (1888) and as Col. Hawkins, the rugged Arizona newspaperman on a visit to New York, in The Editor (1890), although neither play was especially profitable. While appearing in Syracuse in the latter play, he sustained serious injuries in the Leland Hotel fire, injuries that for a while seemingly affected his mental stability. His acting was erratic thereafter. However, his personal problems did not prevent him from serving from 1897 until his death as president of the Actors' Fund. He is generally credited with establishing that organization's home for aging actors. A heavyset man, often gruff and blustering onstage, in private he was quiet, dependable, and much admired.

From The Oxford Companion to American Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.

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