Oliver Doud Byron


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(1842–1920), actor. Born in Frederick, Maryland, he made his first appearance at the Holliday Street Theatre in Baltimore in 1856, playing with Joseph Jefferson in Nicholas Nickleby, using the name Oliver B. Doud. In 1856 he joined the Richmond (Virginia) Theatre, playing alongside John Wilkes Booth, then acted with companies in Washington, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans, before becoming a member of Wallack's celebrated New York ensemble. At one time Byron alternated with Edwin Booth in the roles of Othello and Iago. Although he claimed to have originated the part of Richard Harre in East Lynne, his principal claim to fame was his Joe Ferris in Across the Continent (1871), a role he played several thousand times over thirty years. Some critics ridiculed Byron's characterization as being unrealistically virtuous, but Odell remembered it as “a manly, wholesome, resourceful characterisation that pleased women and men alike.” He retired from the stage in 1912 after costly and losing battles with the Theatrical Syndicate or Trust, to whom he refused to bow. His wife, Kate, and his son, Arthur Byron, were both popular performers.

From The Oxford Companion to American Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.

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