Josephine Clifton


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(1814?–47), actress. Controversy surrounds the early years of this brawny amazon of a performer. Most historians suggest she was born in New York, although there is some reason to believe she came from Philadelphia and that her real surname may have been Miller. She made her debut at the Bowery Theatre in 1831, then later that season she appeared as Elvira in Pizarro and as Lady Macbeth, then was seen at the Park Theatre as Bianca in Fazio. Clifton was the first American actress of any importance to play major roles in England, where she appeared at Drury Lane in 1835. Returning to America she played opposite the elder J. W. Wallack in several new plays before embarking on her most celebrated role, the title part in the original Bianca Visconti (1837). Much of her career was spent in Philadelphia where she often appeared opposite Edwin Forrest. Long after her death it was revealed that their relationship was more than professional, and Clifton's name figured prominently in the Forrests' notorious divorce case.

From The Oxford Companion to American Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.

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