Jeanne Eagels


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(1894–1929), actress. For a brief time one of the most exciting and promising actresses of the American theatre, the slender, intense blonde beauty had her career cut down at its height by her erratic personal behavior and a reputed drug addiction. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, she made her debut at the age of seven as Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Eagels first appeared in New York in 1911 when she took a small part in the musical Jumping Jupiter. Minor roles followed in The Mind-the-Paint Girl (1912) and Outcast (1916) before she first garnered critical attention playing opposite George Arliss in Paganini, The Professor's Love Story, Disraeli, and Hamilton. In his autobiography, Arliss echoed the praises of contemporary critics, extolling her as an “amazingly clever” performer “with unerring judgment and artistry.” She later scored as war orphan Ruth Atkins in Daddies (1918), store mannequin Mary Furlong in A Young Man's Fancy (1919), and seductress Sadie Thompson in Rain (1922), a role with which she was identified thereafter. The Times's John Corbin described her as acting “with an emotional power as fiery and unbridled in effect as it is artistically restrained.” Eagels played the part for over four years before essaying the role of Simone, a rich lady who falls in love with a man she had hired to masquerade as her paramour, in Her Cardboard Lover (1927). Biography: The Rain Girl, Edward Doherty, 1930.

From The Oxford Companion to American Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.

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