Elsie Ferguson


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Belle of New York

Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1853—1917) actor and theatre manager


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(1885–1961), actress. An exquisite beauty, the native New Yorker made her debut in the chorus of The Belle of New York (1901), then graduated to small parts in both musicals and straight plays before calling prominent attention to herself as the unlucky Jen Galbraith in Pierre of the Plains (1908) and as the tenement waif Jenny in The Battle (1908). Ferguson became a star as Anna Victoria in Such a Little Queen (1909), followed by such successful assignments as Caste (1910), Dolly Madison (1911), and Rosedale (1913). She next portrayed Inez de Pierrefond in The Strange Woman (1913), girl of the streets Miriam in Outcast (1914), the spy Margaret Schiller (1916), and Portia to Sir Herbert Tree's Shylock (1916). Turning to light comedy, she pleased audiences as the unfettered patrician suffragette Shirley Kaye (1916). For the next several seasons Ferguson devoted herself to films, returning in 1920 to play Carlotta Peel in Sacred and Profane Love and the old grand dame Madam Leland in The Varying Shore (1921). Critics had long extolled her gorgeous looks and charm but felt her acting abilities were limited, so when The Moonflower (1924), The Grand Duchess and the Waiter (1925), The House of Women (1927), and Scarlet Pages (1929) all failed, she retired from the stage, returning only for a last appearance in 1943 as the mysterious Crystal Grainger in Outrageous Fortune.

From The Oxford Companion to American Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.

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