Saturday 3 April 2021

1366) Mary Anderson

Mary Anderson (later Mary Anderson de Navarro; 1859 –1940). American theatre actress.

In 1877, she began an extensive US tour, culminating with a six-week engagement in Edward Bulwer Lytton's The Lady of Lyons. From this point she enjoyed a twelve-year career of unbroken success, with regular New York performances and US tours.

In 1883, after starring in an American production of W. S. Gilbert's Pygmalion and Galatea, she went on the London stage at the Lyceum Theatre, remaining in England for six years to perform to much acclaim including at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon. In 1887 in London she appeared in The Winter's Tale in the double role of Perdita and Hermione (the first actress to include this innovation). This production ran to 160 performances, and was taken back to the United States.

In 1889, however, she collapsed on stage due to severe nervous exhaustion during a performance at Albaugh's Theatre in Washington. Disbanding her company, she announced her retirement at the age of 30.

She has been cited as a model for characters in the Mapp and Lucia novels of E F Benson (either the operatic soprano Olga Bracely or Lucia herself), as well as the prototype for the heroine of William Black's novel The Strange Adventures of a House-Boat.

- "... and crowning all a wealth of auburn hair, from which peeps, as she turns, a pink, shell-like ear..." 

- "She was famous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for her red haired beauty, superb voice, and intelligent interpretations." 

- "The most highly esteemed native-born actress of the period was the beautiful, red-haired Mary Anderson."



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