Vol 20 no.2, Fall/ Automne 1999

CANADA'S DAUGHTERS, AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS: THE CAREERS OF CANADIAN 'FOOTLIGHT FAVORITES' IN THE UNITED STATES

PAULA SPERDAKOS

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, before Canada had developed its own indigenous theatrical tradition, a substantial number of Canadian-born or -raised performers enriched the theatres of the United States and England: most of these were women. This article focuses on those female performers born during the 19 th century who pursued successful careers in the United States. One purpose of the article is simply to call the roll of names that have never been gathered together before. Among its other aims is a consideration of these expatriate performers' attitudes toward Canada, and Canada's toward them.

Durant le 19ième siècles et le début du 20ième siecles, avant que le Canada ait développé sa tradition indigène théâtrale, un nombre important d'artistes Canadiens - nés ou élevés - avaient enrichie les théâtres des Etats Unis et ceux de l'Angleterre: la plupart des ces artistes étaient des femmes. Cet article est concentré sur ces femmes artistes nées durant le 19ième siècle qui ont poursuivie avec succès des carrières théâtrales aux Etats Unis. Un but de cet article est tout simplement de faire l'appel des noms qui auparavant ne furent jamais assemblés. Entre autre, le but de cet article est de bien considérer l'attitude de ces artistes expatriées envers le Canada, et celle du Canada envers elles.

The narrative of Canadian theatre history commonly recognises the twenty-five years following World War II as representing the beginning of the indigenous professional theatre in this country. The increase in theatrical opportunities that occurred in those years had a particularly profound effect on Canadian performers. For more than a century before this, staying home had not been an option for actors who wished to make a living in the theatre, unless, like the popular Marks Brothers, they were willing to commit themselves to gruelling non-stop tours of small towns. Since the first European settlements had been established in Canada, virtually all the professional theatre available was imported from elsewhere. During the eighteenth century, short-lived resident professional companies from Britain or the United States had provided the entertainment in towns like Halifax, Saint John, Montreal, and Quebec (this was also the case in Toronto in the 1920s.) During the nineteenth century, Canada became a lucrative destination for practically every major British, European, or American "star" with his or her own touring company. Neither situation permitted the development of an indigenous theatre tradition: "Canadian" theatre was theatre performed for Canadian audiences, but not usually performed by Canadians. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, and well into the twentieth, those Canadians who aspired to careers as performers generally had two options: to migrate either to England, or to the United States.

While the more successful or tenacious sometimes maintained tentative contact with Canadian audiences either as visiting artists from abroad or as images on the silver screen, most elected to go south of the border, seldom or never to return.

During the critical post-war period, however, radio, television, and stock and summer theatre work, for the first time made it a practical possibility for aspiring actors to consider staying in Canada. It even began to seem conceivable, in theory at least, for Canadian actors to have international careers, that is: to continue to live in Canada, and to work not only here, but also in the US and Britain.

In 1952, Toronto Globe and Mail theatre critic Herbert Whittaker wrote an article for his "Showbusiness" column that was partly hopeful, yet partly anxious, about the state of the Canadian theatre and its future (Whittaker 1952). He began the article by quoting another Globe writer, Cyrus Macmillan:

Canada's need today is not so much dramatic interpreters as a Canadian drama, depicting our own struggles and defeats and victories, our own peculiar conditions. [...] There are times when some among us talk ridiculously of the [...] necessity to import from the Old World mediocre stock companies to show us benighted Canadians what good acting really is. Such pleading is pathetic. It proves that we are unmindful - or perhaps ignorant - that we possess better actors and actresses of our own than can be found in any stock company we may procure.

Then Whittaker sprang a small surprise on his readers: "The Canadian-born actors whose cause the writer is championing," he announced, "are not, as one might think at first reading, the latest crop":

He did not have in mind the names of [Bernard] Braden, [Raymond] Massey, Alexander Knox, Barbara Kelly, John Colicos, Michael Ney, etc., whom we may think of immediately as Canadians who have had to leave home to find their way in their profession. No, the writer was referring to players even more illustrious - in their day. Among them Viola Allen, Clara Morris, Margaret Anglin, Julia Arthur, Henry Miller, Marie Dressler, Rose Stahl and Donald Brian. [...] Cyrus Macmillan was expressing himself in the Globe [...] nearly a half century ago. The names change, the cry remains the same. We have the talent but we must have a Canadian drama for them.

At this point in the article, Whittaker delivered some relatively good news. Although "the distinctly Canadian drama is still in the future [...] it does seem to be getting a little closer." Furthermore, it seemed that although some Canadian actors still had to leave the country to work, others were finding the cultural climate a great deal more welcoming. A hopeful sign of both trends was Jupiter Theatre's production of Ted Allan's play The Moneymakers, which had recently concluded a two-week run at the Museum Theatre, as well as being televised. The cast of The Moneymakers confirmed both Macmillan's and Whittaker's confidence in the strength of Canadian acting talent, featuring as it did John Drainie, Lorne Greene, David Gardner, and Kate Reid. Expressing his hope that "we're getting there," Whittaker ended his article with the request, "Give us another 50 years, Mr. Macmillan."

Almost fifty more years have passed since Whittaker wrote his article, and although it can be argued that Canada now has a "distinctly Canadian drama," and enough opportunities to allow many performers to stay at home if they so choose, one thing has not changed: we may still "have the talent," but we still lose some of that talent to the more glamorous, if not always greener, pastures of the United States and Britain. Furthermore, we tend to react to the departure of our performers in the same ambivalent way that we did almost a century ago, when Macmillan made his remarks. On the one hand, we applaud their success, and bask in reflected glory when they identify themselves as Canadians. But on the other hand, we feel the familiar anxiety that stems from the Canadian inferiority complex. One way this anxiety manifests itself is in a need to revisit certain compelling questions about the nature of Canadian theatrical identity: to contemplate why we lost and continue to lose our performers to other theatre centres, to wonder how they speak of Canada, if they do, and to examine the issue of whether we have any claim, however vicarious, on their accomplishments elsewhere.

In this piece, I propose to consider these questions from the perspective of the earlier group of Canadian performers referred to by Cyrus Macmillan in Whittaker's 1952 article. In fact, though, there were substantially more Canadian-born or -raised performers who enriched the theatres of the United States and England during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries than those named by Macmillan. Most of them were women, and it is on these that I will focus: specifically on women performers born in the 19 th century. These women were part of the first generation of Canadian-born or -raised performers to confront the challenge of building a theatrical career, and having to leave Canada in order to do so, and of course they encountered a particular set of circumstances because they were women.

One of the purposes of this article, therefore, is simply to call the roll of names that have not been gathered together before. Although a few of these names are little known, surprisingly many are familiar, and it is the nature of their connection to Canada that has not necessarily been recognized or established.

Another aim is to describe briefly a few of their shared theatrical experiences and dilemmas, including their attitudes toward Canada. I also propose to consider Canada's opinion of them, particularly as it was reflected by Maclean's and Saturday Night, which were two of the main publications regularly to report on and to feature articles about the accomplishments of Canadian performers during the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries.[1]

As will be seen, Canada retained an interest in the activities of its own artistic issue, but it was the resigned interest of a parent who knows that his or her offspring have no choice but to leave home to seek their fortune. Some cultural critics accepted the drain on Canadian talent as inevitable: "a natural condition" (Middleton 654).[2] Others kept track of their accomplishments, and made a point of identifying Canadian-born or -raised performers at every opportunity. This strategy fulfilled two objectives: to stake a claim of sorts on their success in the competitive arena of American theatre, and by doing so, encourage fickle Canadian audiences to offer their loyalty and support to their countrymen and women.

For its part, the US easily absorbed these Canadian performers into its own theatrical fabric, and since they were not obviously identifiable as foreign, laid claim to their accomplishments as quintessentially American.

Among those Canadian-born women performers who, beginning in the 1850s, pursued successful careers in the US were "America's most famous emotional actress," Clara Morris (1847-1925) (Holcomb 823); "the greatest farce actress in America," May Irwin (1862-1938) (Leslie 564); "the unchallenged first practitioner of anguish" on the American stage, Margaret Anglin (1876-1958) (New York Times 1958); "the funniest woman on the American stage," Marie Dressler (1869-1934) (Charlesworth 7); and "America's Idol," Eva Tanguay (1878-1947) (See Barnes 856). Also Canadian-born were "one of the most distinguished American actresses in [the United States] and abroad," Julia Arthur (1869-1950) (New York Times 1950); "one of the most extraordinary comediennes in the theatre," Lucile Watson (1879-1962) (Gibbs 1950); and "the funniest woman in the world," Beatrice Lillie (1894-1989) (Richard Watts, quoted in Laffey 154). Other Canadian actresses who were considered "Great Stars of the American Stage" were Rose Stahl (1870-1955) (Blum 53) and Christie MacDonald (1878-1962) (Blum 42).[3] Annie Russell (1864-1936), "the Duse of the English-speaking stage," (Strang 82) and Dora Mavor Moore (1888-1979)[4], were actresses who, although born elsewhere, were brought up in Canada, as were Viola Allen (1867-1948) and Lena Ashwell (1872-1957).[5] English-born Ida Van Cortland (1854-1924) maintained a connection with Canada from 1877, when she made her professional debut in Toronto, with another important female figure in Canadian theatre, Charlotte Morrison (1832-1910). Still more examples of Canadian-born actresses with notable careers in the United States are Elizabeth Jane Phillips (1830-1904),[6] Mae Edwards (1878-1947),[7] Margaret Mather (1859-1898), Louise Beaudet (1861-1948), Roselle Knott (1870-1948), Maude Eburne (1875-1960),[8] Catherine Proctor (1879-1967), Maud Allan (1883-1956),[9] Alice Yorke (1886-1938), Nella Jefferis (d. 1944),[10] and Margaret Bannerman (1896-1976).[11] Four more actresses who had brief careers on Broadway and then disappeared from the record, were Blanche Crozier, of Brantford, Hope Latham, of Montreal, Kathleen MacDonnell, of Barrie, and Dorothy Fraleigh of Toronto.[12]

The heyday of most of these expatriate performers coincided to a greater or lesser degree with the "golden age" of the American theatre, the period between 1880 and 1920. During that time, North American audiences seemed to have a voracious appetite for new faces-new "stars"-and consequently the career opportunities for performers were unusually plentiful. This was the case not only on Broadway, which had become the nucleus of the American theatre by 1880, but even more conspicuously in the hundreds of theatrical companies that left New York to tour the United States and Canada every year.

The "star" phenomenon had begun to exert its effect on the theatre earlier in the 19 th century, as leading actors, rather than plays, had become the main attraction for audiences. This trend in the theatre had reflected the general societal changes in the US and Canada, as successive waves of immigrants arrived in search of greater opportunities for themselves and their children and began to populate hitherto unsettled areas in both countries. These newcomers required entertainment, and it was the charismatic personalities of individual actors that appealed more directly to them than the dramatic vehicles in which they appeared, or, after the novelty had worn off, even than the most spectacular scenic effects of which the theatre was capable. At first these stars travelled from town to town on their own, usually appearing in well-known plays supported by local stock company players. However, when both countries acquired railway networks that allowed for cross-country travel-the US in 1869 and Canada in 1886-actor-managers became able to tour with their own self-contained troupes.

In fact, the few Canadian performers who did make occasional return visits home were usually those well-established enough to include a few of the larger Canadian centres in the North American tours of their own companies. (Quite a few of the women performers who are the subject of this study were at one time or another the intrepid actor-managers of such companies.) A small number of other returning Canadian players briefly joined one of the (frequently transient) stock companies, mostly to be found in Toronto, which was then, as it is now, the centre of English-speaking theatre in Canada.

Theatre stars fascinated the public during the "golden age." Unencumbered by the later competition of movies, television, or even organized sports, theatre was "the only game in town," ensuring that theatre people were given the full attention of the public, and endlessly scrutinised and speculated about. Thus the "cult of personality" respecting entertainment celebrities which we have seen take on epic proportions during this century began to form during this earlier time. Audiences followed the activities of their favourite performers by means of newspaper reviews of their work and through articles in periodicals that reported about both their work and about their unorthodox and therefore infinitely intriguing way of life.

The public was particularly intrigued by the lives and careers of actresses: indeed, by the very idea of the actress. During the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, the stage still generally offered women more opportunities to excel professionally in public-and in some (though by no means all) instances, higher wages-than did the very few other professions or "white collar" occupations that were actually open to women, such as teaching and office work. Of course, this was particularly true of leading players, or at least of those players whose careers consisted of steady work. Virtually all of the women mentioned above fall into this category. Early in the 19 th century, most actresses came from theatrical families, but increasingly, after mid-century, women without theatrical connections began to enter the profession, drawn by these opportunities. In 1922, Canadian actress Catherine Proctor observed that "to girls of real talent, the stage offers a splendid career. It is almost the only work in which women have better chances of success than men [...] women outshine men in the dramatic field, and [there are] many more prominent actresses [than] leading actors. The average leading actress draws a larger salary than the average leading man" (Proctor, quoted in Pringle 64). Proctor's observation that by the 1920s women could make not only a reasonable living in the theatre, but in some instances a better one than their male counterparts is intriguing. However, as far as the public was concerned, the unusual conditions under which they worked-independently and side-by-side with men-made most actresses seem not quite respectable, but titillatingly so.


Miss C. Proctor. From The Stage

As mentioned earlier, the US was quick to welcome "Canada's daughters" into its own theatrical family structure, and to claim them as American. The most spectacular example of this phenomenon was, of course, "America's Sweetheart," Mary Pickford (1892-1979), who, as most Canadians know, was born in Toronto. As Herbert Whittaker once said, Pickford was "Toronto's most famous daughter" (Whittaker 1983). It was Pickford's remarkable career in the movies which caused the assertion to be made that she was "The best known woman who has ever lived, the woman who was known to more people and loved by more people than any other woman [...] in all history" (Adela Rogers St. Johns, qtd. Whitfield 131). However, before she began working with D.W. Griffith at the Biograph film company in New York in 1909, Pickford, or Gladys (Louise) Smith as she was known until David Belasco chose a more distinctive name for her, was a theatre actress for more than ten years.[13]

Considering how closely her career is identified with the US, it is interesting to note that Pickford was one of the few of these women whose professional theatrical career actually began in Canada. Of course, it was limited by the dearth of professional opportunities available at the turn of the century. However, there was enough going on in Toronto in the way of imported stock activity to give Mary a start, at the age of seven, as her family's breadwinner, which she soon became. For a period of just under two years, she worked with two (briefly) resident professional repertory companies from the United States, the Cummings Stock Company and the Valentine Stock Company, both of which presented Torontonians with popular fare from the American and English theatre.[14]

At about the same time that it began to seem likely to Mary's mother, Charlotte, that theatre work might be the solution to her family's financial worries, it also became clear that there was not enough happening in the theatre in Toronto to allow them to stay at home.[15]

In November 1901, Mary and her mother, sister, and brother began five years of touring, which was one aspect of the show business life that most of these performers had in common. As Pickford's biographer, Eileen Whitfield, says, "[T]hey joined a treadmill of demoralized actors, lugged by train across the continent, underfed and underpaid. Tours were planned in New York and Chicago with a single purpose: to crisscross the United States and sometimes Canada, sparing no economic shortcuts, wringing out actors like a sponge. [...] Broadway was theater's genteel flagship. Tours were something else: the trenches" (Whitfield 36). Eventually, though, Mary Pickford did make it to Broadway, then Hollywood, and after that her direct connection with Canada was effectively ended. Through the extraordinary power of motion pictures to create popular icons, she was transformed into "the greatest American, the greatest world citizen" (St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 4 June 1920, qtd. in Whitfield 180).

Both the trajectory of Mary Pickford's career and the degree of her fame were outstanding, making her story an atypical one. However, all of these women, to a greater or lesser degree, had unusual, diverse, and remarkably successful careers. In fact, they exemplified the whole range of performers available to American and Canadian audiences during this time: tragedians, comedians, "emotional" actresses, musical comedy and revue performers, vaudevillians, farceurs, burlesque queens, dancer-actors, and so on.

The courses of the individual careers of these performers may have varied widely, but the conditions of the theatre they worked in were similar, as were the conditions of society as a whole. Few began with the kind of theatrical connections that are so helpful to a performer in establishing a career. Since there was no professional performing tradition in Canada, there were no theatre families, and no network of performers to encourage, counsel and support newcomers to the profession. The only one of the women under discussion who came from a professional theatre background was Viola Allen-her father, C. Leslie Allen, was a comic actor-and although she was educated in Canada, she had been born in the US and her entire theatrical career was conducted there. These performers had to make their own way, for the most part, but along the way, they encountered a relatively small but powerful group of producers, directors, and actor-managers, who often trained them and gave them their start in the profession.

For example, Phillips and Morris both worked in the repertory company of A.M. Palmer, the manager of the Union Square Theatre in New York, which was known as "The Home of Refined Melodrama." Morris and Irwin got their start with Augustin Daly, Proctor and Pickford with David Belasco, and Beaudet, Arthur and Stahl with Daniel Bandmann. Irwin collaborated with Tony Pastor, "the father of American vaudeville," and Phillips, Irwin, Arthur, Anglin, Watson and Proctor all worked with the great "star-maker," Charles Frohman.

These important connections were usually made in New York, where most of these performers gravitated at the outset of their careers. Whether they achieved some measure of success in New York quickly, whether it took them years to "pay their dues" there, or whether they acquired experience in other cities before heading for New York, what most of these performers shared was an intimate understanding of the benefits and rigours of life "on the Road." Touring provided beginners with a breadth of performing experience, and seasoned professionals with steady work. It also allowed those performers who had received negative notices in New York, like Margaret Mather, to continue to make a living in the theatre, or those like Margaret Anglin, to finance their more artistic or innovative work.

Then, as now, there was no set course for stage success. Some-Morris, Russell, Anglin, Tanguay, Lillie-had stellar careers; others, like Louise Beaudet and Rose Stahl[16] were successful for a while but unable to sustain the momentum of a star career. Beaudet's obituary pointed out that she had "appeared in plays and musical productions for more than fifty years," but it is clear that, except in the beginning, she was destined to be a utility player for the most part (New York Times 1948).

Besides Mary Pickford, several of the performers under discussion made the transition from the theatre to the movies: for example Maude Eburne, Lucile Watson (who also performed in over fifty plays on Broadway),[17] and most spectacularly, Marie Dressler.[18] In fact, it is a fascinating historical curiosity that Canadian-born actresses won the first three Best Actress Academy Awards in a row-Pickford for Coquette in 1929, Norma Shearer[19] for The Divorcée in 1930, and Marie Dressler for Min and Bill in 1931.

Furthermore, it was May Irwin, farce actress and variety and vaudeville entertainer, who was the first of the stage stars to appear in film. She made screen history in 1896 when Thomas Edison filmed her and the actor John C. Rich in the first celluloid close-up of a kiss. Actually, this prolonged kiss, which takes up fifty feet of film, was originally seen in one of Irwin's comic vehicles on Broadway, The Widow Jones (1895). On stage, the kiss was deemed hilarious; on the screen it was considered shockingly torrid lovemaking. It was denounced by the clergy, and produced demands for "censorship of those new-fangled, soul-destroying living pictures" (Martin and Segrave 45).

Some of these performers were forced to take a hiatus at the height of their success: Russell and Knott for five years each because of ill health, for example, and Arthur for fifteen years at the urging of her new husband. But several had long careers, lasting thirty years or more. In spite of the rigours of the performing life, the members of the group were remarkably long-lived, on the whole. However, Yorke, Edwards (and Judith Evelyn) were only in their fifties when they died, and the ill-fated tragedian Margaret Mather was thirty-nine when she collapsed on stage during her production of Cymbeline and died a few hours later.


Scene from Miss May Irwin's new comedy Mrs. Wilson-Andrews. From The Stage

Clara Morris, who wrote voluminously about the theatre, said in 1900 that "she knew of only three certain avenues to the stage: a fortune, influence, or superlative beauty" (Morris 1900, qtd. in McArthur 35). Indeed, the profession-and audiences-demanded a high level of personal attractiveness, particularly from women. Actresses were also required to have well-modulated voices, considerable stamina, and, very importantly, fine wardrobes. After about 1870 photographic portraits of actresses became a means for the public to experience vicariously some of the glamour attached to these superbly dressed patterns of beauty. A female performer had to be prepared to invest a great deal of money in gowns, hats, jewellery, and accessories in order that her public and theatrical personas should match. However, the fact that performers such as Marie Dressler, May Irwin, and Eva Tanguay, who represented the antithesis of traditional notions of feminine beauty and behaviour, should become as celebrated as they did points to another aspect of the theatrical picture of the time: the appeal of a charismatic personality over mere physical beauty.

Not only did few of these performers begin their careers with any particular influence, but also few were the possessors of fortunes. Nevertheless, several managed to acquire one or the other, and occasionally both, through marriage, although the effect on their careers was not always a positive one.[20] Most of them were married, quite a few more than once. Furthermore, by the end of the 19 th century, if actors were not yet viewed as entirely respectable, at least they were no longer considered "rogues and vagabonds." Some began to be invited to the homes of the wealthy and socially well placed not just to entertain, but to stay for dinner. Consequently, several of the performers in this group made socially advantageous marriages, none more spectacularly than Beatrice Lillie, who became Lady Peel when her husband, Robert, inherited the Peel baronetcy. Unfortunately, the marriage was not a happy one.

As was mentioned earlier, it is my intention in this article to consider the attitude of some of these expatriate performers to Canada, and Canada's to them. In terms of their actual connection to Canada, these actresses fall into two basic categories: those who lived in this country long enough to develop professional ambitions and who gravitated to the US because of the lack of theatrical opportunities in Canada, and those who left this country in childhood when their parents moved for a variety of reasons.[21] Some of those in the first category continued to identify themselves with Canada, even if they could only rarely perform at home. Most, though, transferred their allegiance to the country that gave them the chance to work in their chosen profession. It might be argued that those in the second category, such as Clara Morris, Margaret Mather,[22] Louise Beaudet and Eva Tanguay,[23] are not to be considered products of Canada in any real sense. However, I believe that their inclusion in the roll call is warranted by their original connections to Canada, however limited they may be.

In fact, several of these performers demonstrated considerable ambivalence toward Canada. (As Herbert Whittaker put it, "Some of our great talents have been careless about their birth places" (Whittaker 1993, 86)).[24] Some did their best to muddle or even erase altogether the record of their connection with Canada in order to be considered American. Although Clara Morris established in her autobiography that she had been born in Toronto on St. Patrick's Day (as a riot raged between the Orange and Green factions), and that she had been taken from Canada at the age of six months (Morris 1901, 1),[25] she nevertheless frequently claimed Cleveland, Ohio, as her birthplace. May Irwin said, "I am American to the bone, even though I was born of Scotch parentage in the forests of the North." (Actually, she was born in Whitby, Ontario.) (Irwin, qtd. in Young 566). Margaret Mather never acknowledged that she was Canadian-born, naming Detroit as her place of birth. In a variation, when Alan Dale interviewed Louise Beaudet in 1880 for his book Familiar Chats with Queens of the Stage, she told him that she had been born in Tours, France, and had come to America with her parents when she was "a little bit of a child." Dale said he "could hardly believe it, as her English is perfect, with no foreign accent whatever" (Dale 235). Actually, Beaudet was born in the evidently far less glamorous St. Emilie, Québec. Her place of birth was not her only prevarication in that interview, either; Beaudet neatly subtracted four years from her age as well.

Marie Dressler did not deny being Canadian-born, but she may even have invented a husband-or at least a marriage-in order to claim American citizenship. In 1934, the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization instituted a measure requiring foreign performers to apply for permission to enter the United States. When Dressler's citizenship was questioned, she declared that she had married an American, George Hoeppert, in 1899. "My marriage made me an American citizen," she said. "I'm sick and tired of all these little digs at my citizenship. It has been one of my life's ambitions to be a good American citizen, and I believe I have accomplished it." However, Dressler's biographer, Betty Lee, suggests that no one who knew Dressler in later years ever recalled meeting George Hoeppert, and that apparently Dressler once said that she never married anyone (Lee 32, 64, 280-281).


Miss Margaret Anglin. From The Stage

Perhaps because she was a daughter of the British Empire, Beatrice Lillie's Canadian origins were alluded to often in her early days as a performer. In her debut professional appearance, at the Camberwell Palace music hall in London, England, Lillie was introduced as "Canada's own sweetheart of song." Furthermore, as one of the most popular male impersonators of the time, Lillie often appeared as a Canadian "Tommy," singing of home and mother in André Charlot's World War I revues. American audiences thought of her as English, though, and British audiences weren't sure. As Lillie herself put it, "I was variously described as an Englishwoman from Canada or a Canadian woman from England" (Lillie 181-182).

In an article about Julia Arthur, Denis Salter points out that when she worked in England, Arthur "presented herself in the following rather complex way: as American by theatrical experience and training, as Canadian by birth, and as British by virtue of Canada's status as a monarchy." Indeed, the British valued her both for what she had, and had not, acquired from the US: a solid grounding in the craft of the theatre in the first instance and an American accent in the second. Salter also suggests a reason why Arthur and by extension others of these performers might have wished to dissociate themselves from Canada. He points out that at the beginning of her career, Julia Arthur "felt ill-at-ease in being from a mere colonial culture such as Canada with its limited sense of self-worth and artistic promise." However, many years later when she gave the "finest performance of [her] career" in the title role of Shaw's Saint Joan on tour, she said, "I may make my residence in other cities, but down in my heart Canadians are my people and Hamilton is my home" (Salter 15, 5, 31). Of course, she made this remark at a reception held in her honour by the Hamilton Rotary Club, IODE, and Women's Canadian Club in 1925, when she was glorying in the huge success of her tour to ten other Canadian cities besides Hamilton.

Julia Arthur was not the only one in the group to return to Canada to perform, although few toured the country as extensively as she did in 1925. Canadian audiences were notoriously fickle, however, and could not always be depended upon to support their own performers as they did Arthur on that occasion. Some cultural critics went so far as to allege that Canadians tended to disparage their own artists simply because they were Canadian, or at least to regard their return visits with indifference. This of course is the essence of a charge that has been reiterated by both performers and critics ever since: it reveals the Canadian inferiority complex in full flight. In 1929, for example, S. Morgan-Powell, theatre critic for the Montreal Star from 1907-1942, made a blistering attack on Canadian audiences for their neglect of Margaret Anglin. He wrote:

Miss Anglin for many years has been certain of a hearty welcome and intelligent appreciation of her work and art anywhere on the North American continent outside of this Dominion. Yet she is a native of Canada, and has always held her own country in affection. [...] If Margaret Anglin [has] attained a position of great distinction on the stage, she has Canada to thank for absolutely nothing. This country never gave her the slightest encouragement; it has never even given her the satisfaction of a general recognition of her success. She triumphed in spite of all that. The fact is one that may well give Canadians who claim to be devoted to the advancement of art cause for serious thought. (Morgan-Powell 77-78)[26]

In fact, Anglin had received a considerable amount of attention, if not always from Canadian audiences, then at least from two Toronto periodicals that had not only recognized her success but had also made much of the fact that she was Canadian. The kind of coverage received by performers in Saturday Night (from the 1890s on), and Maclean's (particularly after 1914), is a telling index of whether or not they were regarded as products of Canada, and, if so, of the degree of pride Canada took in their accomplishments. It is important to note, however, that although Saturday Night did occasionally report on the theatrical activities of Canadian performers in other countries, for the most part the interest was in performers who played in Canada, however infrequently. Maclean's devoted space to the careers of several players, some with quite distant connections to Canada, but neither of these periodicals reported on the careers of Mather,[27] Beaudet, Tanguay, or Watson. Nor did either publication lament the loss of any of these performers to other countries. Again, the Canadian condition seemed to involve acceptance of what was seen to be an entrenched situation.

In 1911, Hector Charlesworth told his Saturday Night readers:

A great deal of interest naturally appertains to the coming to this city of the most distinguished Canadian actress of the present day, Miss Margaret Anglin. Only two other Canadian women have acquired equal fame on the stage--Clara Morris and Julia Arthur. Clara Morris came of very obscure parentage and it was not until she wrote her autobiography that most of us were made aware that she was a native of Toronto and had lived here until she was 12 years of age [sic]. Julia Arthur sacrificed a brilliant career as a star by marrying and leaving the stage at the height of her fame.

Charlesworth then proceeded to scold Anglin; she had made so few appearances in Toronto that, "though she has been praised in every corner not only of the US but of Australia, the people of Toronto know less of her artistic achievements than those of any other city of equal size on this continent" (22 April 1911, 6). After this time, Charlesworth continued to follow Anglin's activities with great interest.


Miss Christie MacDonald and Tom Wise in Miss Hook of Holland. From The Stage

Saturday Night made only occasional mention of Irwin, Dressler, MacDonald, Yorke, Knott, Lillie, and Stahl, but whenever their activities were reported, whether taking place in Toronto or elsewhere, their Canadian connections were inevitably remarked upon. When May Irwin played Toronto's Princess Theatre in Mrs. Black is Back, she was described as "the bright, buxom Canadian actress with the infectious laugh and clever tongue" (8 April 1905, 8). When Marie Dressler brought her great hit Tillie's Nightmare to the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1911, Hector Charlesworth admonished her, as he had Margaret Anglin, for having taken so long to share her talent with the country of her birth. "Though she is a Canadian, this country has seen comparatively little of her," he wrote (21 January 1911, 7). In 1915, when reporting Christie MacDonald's great success as the ingenue lead in Victor Herbert's Sweethearts (she was nearly 40 at the time), Saturday Night referred to her as "the Canadian singing comedienne," even though her link with Canada did not include her ever performing in the country of her birth (8 May 1915, 7). In 1906, Saturday Night rhapsodised that "Miss Roselle Knott [...] in addition to being a remarkably clever actress, is also a Canadian. Miss Knott is recognized throughout the United States as the representative Canadian actress [...] Canadians are very proud to call Miss Knott their countrywoman" (7 April 1906, 9). References to Alice Yorke's work usually linked her to her hometown of Toronto ("this dainty little Toronto girl"(4 February 1905, 8)), but it was Beatrice Lillie who had the distinction of being "Toronto's own favorite daughter" (7 May 1927, 14). Saturday Night seemed a bit confused about Rose Stahl's origins, when reporting on her three Toronto stints in her hit production Maggie Pepper. During her 1911 visit, it was pointed out that "the famous character actress [...] is a native of Montreal" (4 February 1911, 7). When she returned in 1912, she was called "the clever American character comedienne" (10 February 1912, 6). Finally, by her Farewell Appearance in 1914 ("Positively Last Time Here"), she had become simply "Toronto's Favorite" (17 January 1914, 10).

In 1896, it had been reported with great excitement by Saturday Night that Julia Arthur, "that bright Canadian girl," was going to be playing the part of Lady Anne in Henry Irving's Lyceum production of Richard III, instead of Irving's leading lady, Ellen Terry. From that point on, until Arthur's retirement from the stage in 1899, and then after she came out of retirement in 1916, the magazine followed her activities very closely, always with considerable pride in the fact that she was Canadian.

In April 1914, in response to a growing spirit of nationalism in the country, Maclean's began a series of articles with the general title of "What Canada has Done for the Stage," authored by Margaret Bell. An editor's note pointed out that "Canada has contributed her share of stars to the mimic world. Many of the most illustrious names on the American stage today belong to sons and daughters of the Dominion." The object of the series was going to be "to sketch the careers of the best known of Canadian theatrical stars," and the "logical and inevitable" choice for the first article was Margaret Anglin.[28]

The series continued without a break for the next six months, while the editor's notes and the articles emphasized both the Canadian birth and affiliations of the subjects-Christie MacDonald ("her holidays are always spent in this country"), Newfoundlander Donald Brian,[29] May Irwin, Rose Stahl ("there are comparatively few who know that the Canadian constellation of foot-light stars contains this bright luminary"), James K. Hackett, and Marie Dressler-and their success and popularity in the United States. After a hiatus of three months, the series resumed with two articles about performers who were not in fact Canadian-born, but who had been brought up in Canada-Viola Allen and Lena Ashwell ("Canadian Star"). (It is intriguing that these two performers, who never worked in theatre in Canada, should be profiled instead of, for example, Annie Russell, who actually made her stage debut in Montreal in 1872.). In April 1915, the series continued with "The Queen of the Movies: Something About Mary Pickford, the Best Known of Canadian Girls." After another hiatus of several months, the final article of the series, on Matheson Lang, who though born in Montreal had been taken to Scotland at the age of four,[30] came out in October 1915. Margaret Bell would seem to have run out of likely subjects on whom to lavish her peculiar brand of coy adulation.


Misses Rose Stahl and Eva Dennison in The Chorus Lady. From The Stage

Bell's articles make for interesting reading not only for what they did say (and how they said it) about Canadian "foot-light favorites"[31]-particularly the women-but also for what they did not say. Certainly they celebrated the professional success these performers had achieved, as well as the possessions, houses, country retreats, and so on that they had amassed and any philanthropy they had exercised as a result of that success. They also alluded to the inevitable shock waves that had occurred in each case when the folks back in Canada realized that respectable girls such as Margaret Anglin and Christie Macdonald had gone on the stage, and to the way their success had helped to win over even the most disapproving in the community. It is tempting to speculate about the degree to which not only the example set by these women, but also such articles, helped to legitimise the profession of acting in Canada, making it seem less suspect and dangerous, and more like a potentially respectable vocation for women.

However, these articles did not in any way interrogate the conditions that had made it necessary for these performers to leave Canada in order to work in their chosen profession. That they should do so was taken for granted.

In 1916, a single Maclean's article continued the theme of Canadian celebrities on the American stage, as Geraldine Steinmetz proclaimed, "Julia Arthur Comes Back." Unlike the Margaret Bell articles, this one actually included a brief interview with the subject. At the height of her fame, in 1899, Julia Arthur had retired from the stage after marrying a wealthy Bostonian, Benjamin Pierce Cheney, Jr., the year before. At the time of her marriage, in fact, Saturday Night had pondered the question of whether or not Arthur would "vanish finally from the stage just now when she has captured the favour and applause of the continent."[32] Indeed, it turned out that Cheney had told Arthur that she would have to give up the stage entirely if she wanted to marry him: "He had no intention of traipsing after her whenever she went on the road."[33] When Steinmetz spoke to Arthur for the Maclean's article in 1916, it was during a break in rehearsals for The Eternal Magdalene. Arthur explained that she had found the play by Robert McLaughlin "so big, so powerful" that it was worth appealing to her husband to change his mind about permitting her to act again. The impression she gave Steinmetz was that Cheney had allowed himself to be persuaded by his wife's serious artistic aspirations, but in fact Arthur had no choice but to go back to work. As it turned out, Cheney had lost his fortune in a series of disastrous business ventures, and, ironically, it was Arthur's theatre work over the next ten years that was to go a long way to repair these losses.

In 1918, Maclean's ran three extensive articles by Arthur Stringer about "Our Mary" Pickford, whom Stringer had interviewed in Los Angeles. Each one featured a quotation from Pickford about her feelings for Canada. In the first she said, "Canada's my mother, you see, and we've always kept in touch" (Stringer, September 1918, 22). It was her response to the question of what Canada had given her that expresses most intriguingly the paradoxical situation in which she, and by extension the other Canadian expatriate performers, found themselves:

There's one big thing Canada gave me. [...] It's what I suppose you'd call the zest for life. It may seem a sort of paradox, but it made me rich by what it denied me. [... I]t taught me the lessons which the sterner laws of the North always seem to teach its sons and daughters, that you must look ahead and not think only of the passing moment, that bigness should belong to your own life as well as to the map of your own country, and that if you come from the land of the beaver you should always be happy in working like a beaver! (Stringer, Oct. 1918, 19).

For Pickford, as for other performers, emotional ties to Canada may have remained, but for all of them the artistic dilemma prevailed.

In many ways, it is the long career of Catherine Proctor that best illustrates the issues under discussion in this article. Proctor is one of the many Canadian theatrical figures whose work has not yet received the attention it deserves, even though hers was in fact an international career. In her day, both Saturday Night and Maclean's showed considerable interest in her work.

In 1967, when Proctor died, Herbert Whittaker wrote an article about her career that expressed the same concerns as his 1952 article, with which this study began: "The [death] in Toronto of Catherine Proctor removes into legend one of this country's most successful performers. [Her] credits add up to a history of 70 years of theatre. The fact that [she] had to go to New York to achieve recognition is very much a part of that history" (Whittaker 1967). A brief description of her career, a certain amount of which was actually pursued in Canada, will serve to bring this article full circle from the mixture of hope and anxiety expressed by Whittaker in 1952 and Macmillan fifty years earlier.

Shortly after her birth in Ottawa in 1879, Catherine Proctor's family moved to Toronto, where her father died when she was still a small child. By the time she was six, her mother, convinced of her talent, began to encourage her to train "for the concert platform" (as an elocutionist and reader). When she later won a scholarship to the summer drama course at the Toronto College of Music, however, her first teacher told Catherine's mother that he believed Catherine should go on the stage instead. After training with the Canadian actor Harold Nelson Shaw, the principal of the School of Elocution at the College of Music, Proctor had an inspirational experience: "Mrs. [Minnie Maddern] Fiske and Julia Arthur came to Toronto in succession, and after seeing them act I knew I had to be an actress" (Proctor, qtd. in Pringle 65). This meant, of course, that she had to leave Canada.

In the summer of 1900, Proctor went to New York, and was fortunate enough to be engaged by the producer Charles Frohman to play small roles with Maude Adams' company. Her several seasons of work with Adams led to an opportunity to appear as Hermia in Annie Russell's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1906-07, which played at the Princess Theatre in Toronto in February of 1907. Four seasons with David Belasco followed ("Belasco said she could play anything" (Whittaker 1967), as did stints with several stock organizations, both in Canada and the US. In 1914, she joined the Bonstelle Players stock company at the Royal Alex in Toronto to play a role that Margaret Anglin had originated on Broadway in 1906: Ruth Jordan in William Vaughan Moody's The Great Divide. By 1916, she was the leading woman of the Price Players, a stock organization in Richmond, Virginia, where the local Times Despatch reported, "She is the best leading woman who has ever played here in stock" (Saturday Night, 3 June 1916, 7).

Proctor always felt that her early appreciation of character roles was partly responsible for the longevity of her career. "Right from the first [...] I decided I must do character parts," she said in 1957 (qtd. in Ness 1957). Indeed, during the 1920s, her ingenue days well behind her, Proctor was sought after as a character actress of great skill and distinction. She appeared in a series of Broadway shows, such as Maugham's East of Suez and Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, and made several guest appearances with Vaughan Glaser's stock company in Toronto, as one of the few Canadians employed by the American actor-manager. During the 1934-5 season, she was back in Toronto with the New York Theatre Guild's touring production of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness!, playing opposite George M. Cohan, again at the Royal Alex.

In the late 1930s, Proctor was a regular player with the Actors' Colony summer theatre in Bala, Ontario, with members of a new generation of Canadian actors, such as William Needles and Mavor Moore. Through the 1940s and 1950s she performed on radio and television in both the US and Canada, showing again and again that degree of versatility that came to be known as a trademark of Canadian performers. She was a well-known figure in such American summer stock organizations as the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine, the Green Mountain Playhouse in Burlington, Vermont, and the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts.

While maintaining her home in New York City, where she had lived for over half a century, Proctor continued to visit and work in Canada when she could. As the post-war Canadian theatre began to develop she joined such organizations as the Peterborough Summer Theatre and the Niagara Falls Summer Theatre. In 1954 she played Gram in the New Play Society's production of Mazo de la Roche's The Mistress of Jalna, in a Toronto that was at long last trying to create an indigenous theatre tradition. She performed several times on CBC Television, and toward the end of her career, she toured one last time as Abby Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace. She had played this part-her favourite-off and on for thirty years in Canada, the US, and Bermuda.

The theatrical term that best sums up Catherine Proctor's career is also a badge of honour among theatre people: she was a trouper.

Whittaker's closing remarks in his 1967 article can serve as a summary statement regarding all the performers who are the subjects of this study: "The death of Catherine Proctor reminds us of the many rare talents this country has produced. It also reminds us that most of them still have to go away to achieve success."

 

Notes

1.Saturday Night began in 1887 as Toronto Saturday Night, a weekly. (It went on sale at 6 PM Saturday.) Maclean's received its present name in 1911, the magazine having possessed a number of titles in the years after its inception in 1896, including Business, The Business Magazine, The Busy Man's Magazine and Busy Man's.
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2.Specifically, Middleton here was referring to Canada's complete indebtedness to the US for both its theatre and its drama.
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3.Another "Great Star of the American Stage" who was American-born but who grew up and began her career in Canada was Judith Evelyn (1913-1967). Her impressive career in the theatre, on radio and television, and in films has not received the critical attention it deserves. As she was born in the 20th century, Evelyn falls outside of the parameters of this study.
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4.Most, but not all, of these women chose to spend the greater part of their working lives in the United States. Dora Mavor Moore was the only one who ultimately rejected the possibility of an international acting career, and instead dedicated herself to helping create a theatre for Canada. Of course, given the theatrical situation in post-World War I Canada, to which she returned after appearing on Broadway, touring the Northeastern US, and performing with the Old Vic in London, this meant that her days as a professional actress were over. See Paula Sperdakos, Dora Mavor Moore: Pioneer of the Canadian Theatre (Toronto: ECW Press, 1995).
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5.Ashwell, whose family name was Pocock, was born in England but grew up in Canada, mostly in Toronto. She was planning to attend the University of Toronto to prepare for a teaching career when her mother's sudden death caused her father, a retired naval officer, to move the family back to England. Lena Ashwell, actor, director and social activist, is the only one of the women in this study whose career was sustained entirely in Britain. See Lena Ashwell, Myself a Player (London: Michael Joseph, 1936).
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6.Elizabeth Jane Phillips, the senior member of the group, was born in Chatham, Upper Canada. Her early acting experience was gained in Toronto and Hamilton, and on tours of Canadian cities. A degree of scandal was attached to her name, at least in Canada, as a result of her liaison with the married actor John Nickinson, father of Charlotte Morrison. Most of her long career was spent in the US. As her 1904 New York Times obituary pointed out, "In her forty-five years of stage life she was associated with nearly every prominent actor and actress of her time. [...] During her three years with Lawrence Barrett she played nearly all the important Shakespearean roles. [...] She had all the grande dame roles in Mr. Palmer's and afterward in Charles Frohman's stock companies. [...] Toward the end of her career every time she came on the stage she was greeted with a storm of applause" (New York Times 1904).
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7.Mae Edwards preferred the familiarity of the small-town circuits to the lure of mainstream success, as did Ida Van Cortland. Both performers divided their time between the US and Canada, touring as the leading ladies of their own companies, the Mae Edwards Players and the Tavernier Company, which they managed with their husbands and stage partners, Charlie T. Smith and Albert Tavernier.
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8.In 1916 (27 February), the Toronto World called Maude Eburne "the greatest character comedienne of the century." In fact, Eburne enjoyed a brief career on Broadway before relocating to Hollywood, where she appeared in over one hundred movies.
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9.For information about the dancer-actress Maud Allan, see Later Stages: Essays in Ontario Theatre from the First World War to the 1970s, eds. Ann Saddlemyer and Richard Plant (Toronto: U of TP, 1997), 153-154.
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10.For information about the actress-producer Nella Jefferis, see Later Stages, 23 and the Nella Jefferis file in Special Collections, Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, Theatre Section.
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11.For information about Margaret Bannerman, see Later Stages, 64, 160, and Saturday Night, vol. 40, 13 December 1924, 6, and vol. 43, 24 March, 1928, 10.
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12.See the Bibliography of Theatre History in Canada: The Beginnings Through 1984, John Ball and Richard Plant, eds, (Toronto: ECW Press, 1993) for a listing of some articles about MacDonnell and Fraleigh. For information about Latham and Crozier, see Johnson Briscoe, The Actors' Birthday Book (New York: Moffat, Yard, 1908), 236 and 292.
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13.Actually, Belasco chose the name Pickford out of a list of her family names, and Mary because she told him her middle (baptismal) name was Marie.
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14.Unlike itinerant stock companies, resident organizations (however short the duration of their residence may have been) occasionally gave work to local actors. Certainly it would have been worth their while to "pick up" bit players, especially children, locally rather than to bring them from their city of origin. In January 1900, Pickford appeared with the Cummings Stock Company in a short-lived production of Henry Arthur Jones' popular melodrama The Silver King. In April of the same year she played the title role (a bit part) in a playlet called The Littlest Girl, at Shea's, a vaudeville house, and then in November appeared with the Valentine Stock Company in their production of The Silver King, becoming the Valentines' official child actress. Four more engagements with the Valentine Stock Company followed in 1901. She appeared in the British comedy Bootle's Baby, the melodramas At the Little Red Schoolhouse and East Lynne, and the theatrical phenomenon Uncle Tom's Cabin, in which, as Little Eva, she had the opportunity to play one of the most famous death scenes in the theatre.
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15.Apart from Mary Pickford, several of these performers, such as Clara Morris, May Irwin (and her sister, Flo), Eva Tanguay, and Annie Russell, began their professional careers as children. For them, the theatre was a means to escape the poverty that threatened them and their mothers and siblings after the death or defection of their fathers. Indeed, many of these, and the others, would not have succeeded as performers without the support and the dedication of their mothers.
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16.Rose Stahl experienced a meteoric rise through the ranks, from stock troupe performer to minor player on Broadway to tremendous success in two hit vehicles. The first was Canadian-born playwright James Forbes' 1906 "slangy, sharp-tongued look at backstage life," The Chorus Lady. The critics raved about the play and Stahl, its star, and one comment about the original aspects of the leading role read, "Probably no other American actress could so cleverly personify this individual type." After a season with the play on Broadway, Stahl toured The Chorus Lady for four years. Then, in 1911, she starred in Maggie Pepper, "a heart-tugging comedy" by Charles Klein, which ran for five months in New York and three full seasons on tour across the United States and Canada. After this, however, Stahl was unable to find another ideal vehicle for herself, and in 1918 she retired (Bordman 586, 691-692).
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17.Watson's most acclaimed role, which she performed both on Broadway in 1941 and in the film version two years later, was Mrs. Fanny Farrelly in Lillian Hellman's exposé of fascism, Watch on the Rhine. Watson delivered the play's most mordant line: "Well, we've finally been shaken out of the magnolias!" In fact, it was in this same role that Margaret Anglin played Toronto for the last time in her career, when in 1943 she replaced Lucile Watson, her fellow native Ottawan, in the touring production of the play.
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18.By 1914, when Dressler made her first movie, Tillie's Punctured Romance, with Charlie Chaplin, directed by Mack Sennett, she was the top headliner of both vaudeville and Broadway. In the thirty years since she had begun her professional career, at the age of 14, she had acquired experience as everything from an eight-dollar-a-week chorus girl in touring stock and light opera companies to a star of Broadway musical comedies, vaudeville, and burlesque. But during the 1920s, Dressler found herself out of work in the theatre more often than not, until she was seriously contemplating retirement. Then, just a few years later, after a breathtaking comeback that itself seemed the stuff of movie legend, she had become the biggest box-office draw in film, winning the 1931 Best Actress Academy Award for Min and Bill (she and Wallace Beery were referred to as "America's New Sweethearts"). When she died, just three years after that, she was being billed as "The World's Greatest Actress."
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19.Montreal-born Norma Shearer (1900-1983), called "The First Lady of the Screen," was not a product of the theatre. She began her career in New York-based films in 1920 and in 1923 her future husband, the producer Irving Thalberg, brought her to MGM and Hollywood.
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20.The romantic melodrama actress Roselle Knott, and the comic opera performer, Alice Yorke, who played one of the romantic leads in the popular phenomenon The Chocolate Soldier from 1911-1913, were two women who married into show business. Knott married Ernest Shipman, a Canadian-born producer-director (although, intriguingly, she is not listed as one of Shipman's wives in his New York Times obituary, nor is he mentioned in hers.) Shortly after the marriage, her career seems to have come to an end. The producer who owned the rights to The Chocolate Soldier was Fred C. Whitney, and it is likely that Alice Yorke's marriage to his brother, Bertram C. Whitney, also a New York producer, was the reason for Yorke's retirement from the stage.
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21.In fact, of course, the US-quintessentially the "land of opportunity"-was always an attractive power to those seeking their fortune. During the period under discussion here, tens of thousands of Canadians immigrated to the US each decade.
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22.Indeed, the ill-fated Margaret Mather, who was born in poverty in Tilbury, Quebec, seems to have left Canada for Detroit when she was a small child. Very little is known about her early years, however, including whether she went to Detroit with her parents and many siblings, or, like Clara Morris, with her mother alone, in order to escape an abusive family situation. Her story is a fascinating and ultimately tragic one.
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23.The "I Don't Care" girl, Eva Tanguay, was born in Marbleton, Quebec. Before she was six, she and her family moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts. Her father died soon after. She made her professional debut at the age of eight. By 1898, at the age of 20, she had become a star. The "cyclonic" Eva was a popular phenomenon, famous for her outrageous costumes, her publicity stunts, her uninhibited, aggressive sexuality, and her series of risqué songs, with titles such as "Go As Far As You Like," "I Can't Help It," and "Its All Been Done Before But Never the Way I Do It." At the height of her career, she was the most imitated and the highest paid star of the day, and she inspired and influenced a new breed of women comedians. See Martin and Segrave, 68-75.
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24.This quotation continues, "Not so Margaret Anglin. Indisputably Canadian."
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25."Of the Days of St. Patrick that followed, not one found me in the city of my birth-indeed, six months completed my period of existence in the Dominion, and I have known it no more" (Morris 1901 3).
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26.In 1934, Catherine Proctor made a comment indicating that it was not just Canadian performers who experienced the indifference of audiences in Canada. Referring specifically to George Tyler's production of Macbeth, which had recently played to poor houses, she told Leonora McNeilly, "The attendance at plays in Toronto is a crime. [...] If Toronto doesn't do better, theatrical companies will be obliged to sidestep it, because they can't afford to play to big losses" ("Canada on Broadway." Saturday Night (28 April 1934): 7).
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27.Hector Charlesworth, who wrote about the arts for many years in Saturday Night-he was also the editor from 1926-32-kept careful track of any performers who were Canadian-born. He must not have known about Mather, though, or surely he would have mentioned the fact in his columns, or in his book Candid Chronicles, 366-367, when he talked about seeing her perform in 1888 or 1889, in Romeo and Juliet, "the first Shakespearian performance I ever saw."
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28.Bell, Margaret. "What Canada has Done for the Stage": "Number 1 - Margaret Anglin" (April 1914, 33-35); "The Little Princess of the Stage: The Rise of Christie MacDonald, Winsome Portrayer of Madcap Royalty" (May 1914, 33-35, 97); "A Waltz to Fortune: How Donald Brian, Dancing Adonis, Became a Stage Star" (June 1914, 33-34, 111-112); "May Irwin - Peeress of Stage Widows" (July 1914, 97-100); "Rose Stahl--Versatile Mirth Maker" (August 1914, 31-32, 123-124); "How Hackett Won a Fortune: and How Another Came to Him" (September 1914, 37-38, 45); "Marie Dressler, the Inimitable" (October 1914, 42-43, 102); "Viola Allen's Greatest Achievement" (February 1915, 47-48, 72); "Lena Ashwell, Canadian Star" (March 1915, 47-48); "The Queen of the Movies: Something About Mary Pickford, the best Known of Canadian Girls" (April 1915, 50-51); "A Canadian Adonis of the Stage" (October 1915, 29-30, 95).
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29.Newfoundland was, of course, not yet a province of Canada, but the Editor's Note explained the claim to Brian this way: "Donald Brian is a Newfoundlander by birth, so that his spectacular success is viewed with pride on this side of the line." Like Bea Lillie, Brian was a British subject by birth.
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30.See Gardner, David. "Matheson Lang." The Oxford Companion to Canadian Theatre (Toronto: Oxford UP, 1989). 290.
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31.This term was used in the Editor's Note to the Margaret Bell article about Marie Dressler, Maclean's, October 1914.
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32.Saturday Night, 16 April 1898, 6.
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33.See Donald Jones, "Historical Toronto." Toronto Star 4 (August 1993): M4.
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