Frohman, Daniel, 1851-1940

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1851-08-22
Death 1940-12-26

Biographical notes:

American theatrical producer and early film producer.

From the description of Daniel Frohman letters and autograph, [manuscript], [1893], undated. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 648015588

American theatrical manager.

From the description of Autograph letters signed (7) : New York, 11 February [1910?, and n.d.], to [Harry Harkness] Flagler, [1910?] Feb. 11 and n.d. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270577558

From the description of Autograph note in the third person signed, dated : New York, 28 October [n.y.], to an unidentified recipient, [n.y.] Oct. 28. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270577561

Daniel Frohman, a producer and theater manager, was born in Sandusky, Ohio, the son of Henry Frohman, an itinerant peddler, and Barbara Straus. His father, an immigrant from Darmstead, Germany, and a cigar maker, sold his wares by traveling from town to town with his horse and buggy. An amateur actor, Henry Frohman joined the Little German Theatrical Company in Sandusky, exposing Daniel and his brothers Gustave and Charles Frohman to the theater and dramatic literature. When he was ten, Daniel was sent to New York to live with friends of his parents to further his education. (His family followed in 1864.) When he was thirteen, Daniel began work as personal errand boy for Albert D. Richardson, chief Civil War correspondent for the New York Tribune. Richardson subsequently procured a job for Frohman with the Tribune, where he sold papers over the counter, deciphered editor Horace Greeley's illegible handwriting, and did other odd jobs. He left the Tribune in 1870 to work in the business offices of the New York Standard and, later, the New York Graphic. In 1874, on the basis of his business experience, Frohman followed his brother Gustave into the theater world and for four years traveled throughout the country as an advance agent for Callender's Georgia Minstrels, one of the leading all-black performing groups. All three Frohman brothers received invaluable training in the theater business by working as advance men. Arriving in towns in advance of the performers, the Frohmans provided local newspapers with information and pictures, posted bills, distributed free tickets in exchange for favors and services given, checked on box office procedures, made arrangements for the company's accommodations, and acted as general troubleshooters. The first of the Frohmans to enter the business was Gustave, who had begun his career hawking souvenir programs in front of theaters and later posting placards for performers. When an advance man was needed for the 1872 southern tour of the Callender Minstrels, Gustave was chosen for the job. Two years later Daniel took his place as advance agent for the minstrel show and remained with the group for four years. Having demonstrated his business acumen, Frohman was hired in 1879 by Steele MacKaye as business manager of the Madison Square Theatre on Twenty-fourth Street, near Broadway. The company included David Belasco as stage manager and, for a brief period, Frohman's brothers Gustave and Charles as advance agents for touring companies of MacKaye's productions. In 1881 Frohman managed the Fifth Avenue Theatre Company. He returned to the Madison Square in 1882, after MacKaye had left to form the Lyceum Theatre Company in a theater that he equipped with an innovative mechanized stage for efficient play production. Frohman joined MacKaye in the management of the Lyceum in 1885, and he took over as sole producer-manager in 1887, when the mercurial MacKaye departed after a dispute with the owners. From then until 1902, Frohman developed a stock company of young and talented performers, including Georgia Cayvan, Henry Miller, Maude Adams, E. H. Sothern, and Annie Russell, many of whom later achieved stardom under different producers. In 1903 Frohman married actress Margaret Illington. They had no children and were divorced six years later. American National Biography Online. http://www.anb.org/articles/18/18-00424.html?a=1&g=m&n=frohman&ia=-at&ib=-bib&d=10&ss=1&q=2 Retrieved 6/4/2009.

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, a playwright, was born on 24 May 1855 at 21 Dalby Terrace, Islington, London, the second of the three children of John Daniel Pinero (1798-1871), a London solicitor, and his wife, Lucy Daines (1836-1905). His parents were English, but his father's ancestors were Portuguese Jews (named Pinheiro), who had emigrated to London in the early eighteenth century. His first effort was 200 a Year, a one-act dashed off in an afternoon for F. H. Macklin's benefit performance (Globe, 6 October 1877). Although the play was unremarkable, Macklin rewarded Pinero with a set of gold studs and cuff links. More, rather undistinguished, plays followed quickly, but all exhibited Pinero's concern for the relationships between men and women of the English middle and upper classes, the realm of most of his nearly sixty plays. His first full-length work was La cométe (1878), followed by Two can Play at that Game (1878), a curtain-raiser for Irving at the Lyceum. The next year Pinero devised Daisy's Escape, in which he acted opposite his future wife, Myra Holme (1851/2-1919). Born Myra Emily Moore, she was the daughter of Beaufoy Alfred Moore, a publican; when she met Pinero, she was married to an ailing captain, John Angus Hamilton. After his death and a protracted courtship Pinero and Myra were married on 19 April 1883. Their marriage was happy but childless; however, Myra brought to the marriage her two children, Myra (b. 1875?), and Angus (1876?-1913), later a war correspondent. The marriage lasted until 1919, when Myra Pinero died, aged sixty-seven. Pinero's first success, measured by its 308 performances, was Hester's Mystery (1880), written for J. L. Toole at the Folly. Bygones and The Money Spinner, also produced in 1880, were succeeded by Imprudence (1881), which launched Pinero's career as a director. (Over the years his directing became increasingly autocratic: actors were instructed about the slightest inflection and were not allowed to stray from the text, which Pinero could recite from memory.) In 1881 The Squire created a furore when Pinero was accused of plagiarizing Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd. The next four years (1881-5) saw nine mostly forgettable plays: of these The Iron-Master (1884) and Mayfair (1885) are noteworthy as Pinero's rare attempts at adapting French plays, the common lot of many nineteenth-century dramatists. However, in 1885 Pinero's career really took off with The Magistrate, the first of his famous 'Court' farces, named for the theatre where most of them were staged. In that play, as well as in The Schoolmistress (1886) and Dandy Dick (1887), Pinero attacked facets of Victorian society by creating credible though blinkered characters, trying to preserve their respectability while trapped in a relentless whirlpool of catastrophically illogical events. These farces, which totalled over 900 performances initially, remain among Pinero's best, wittiest work. The Hobby-Horse (1886), The Cabinet Minister (1890), and The Amazons (1893) failed to capitalize on that success because, though they were similar, their tone was more serious. However, the sentimentality of Sweet Lavender in 1888 touched audiences: it gave Edward Terry his best role, and racked up 684 performances, an achievement unmatched by the similar The Weaker Sex (1888) and Lady Bountiful (1891). Although writing and directing occupied most of Pinero's energies, he had other public-spirited interests. He frequently chaired committees, such as that which arranged the Ellen Terry jubilee celebrations in 1906. From 1893 to 1904 he was an honorary examiner in elocution for Birkbeck, and vice-president of its council from 1899 to 1921. He also served on the council of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1906 to 1926. Honours also came his way. He was made a member of the Garrick Club (outside which he had stood as an awestruck boy), was awarded a knighthood in 1909 (for which Shaw mischievously claimed credit), and became a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1910. inero's appearance was striking: he was virtually bald, had bushy ebony eyebrows and sharp features, and almost invariably wore gloves. His contribution to the English theatre was equally conspicuous, and, after an inevitable critical lull, still commands attention. He was a skilled craftsman, who realized what was acceptable to the fashionable audiences who flocked to see his work. Pinero's ideas lacked high intellectuality, although he remained a step ahead of his audiences, shocking them within acceptable bounds. His best farces, comedies of manners, and serious plays still hold the stage, and his accomplishments, while not radical, are undeniable. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/35530 Retrieved 6/4/2009.

Dion Boucicault was a dramatist, actor, and a man of the theater. Born Dionysius Lardner Boursicault in Dublin, Ireland, he was possibly the illegitimate son of the Reverend Dr. Dionysius Lardner and Anna "Anne" Maria Darley, the wife of Samuel Smith Boursiquot, a wine merchant. After desultory schooling, supported by Lardner, at age fifteen he wrote his first play. He began work as a peripatetic actor in 1838 under the pseudonym of Lee Moreton, alternately adulated and attacked by critics, his strong Irish brogue by turns an asset and a liability. By 1839 his first play for the professional stage, Lodgings to Let, had appeared on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Bristol, with "Moreton" himself as Tim Donoghue, "an Irish Emigrant, and a Genius of the first rate" (playbill), but the play later failed in London. In 1840, encouraged by Charles Mathews, manager of Covent Garden Theatre, to write "a good five-act comedy of modern life," Boucicault wrote London Assurance, which, opening on 4 March 1841, established his reputation. Relying on his fluent French, Boucicault began adapting French plays for the English stage. The practice may account for his claim, later in life, to have written some 250 plays in all; other estimates put the figure closer to 150. Increasingly aware of the tastes of a popular audience, Boucicault clung for a while to an idealized self-image as a serious writer of comedy, as in the instance of Old Heads and Young Hearts (1844). In 1845 he married Anne Guiot, a French widow some years older than himself. Little is known about their relationship, and by 1848 she had died. Having quickly spent whatever he had inherited from his wife, and still deeply in debt, Boucicault declared bankruptcy late in 1848. In 1850 he joined forces with Charles Kean as house dramatist at the Princess's Theatre. A series of plays by Boucicault produced by Kean included an original work, Love in a Maze, and one of his most successful adaptations, The Corsican Brothers (1852), based on an Alexandre Dumas story, which mesmerized audiences for half a century. Queen Victoria, who saw it five times the first season, found the duel scene "beautifully grouped and quite touching." To answer the needs of the dramatic action Boucicault invented a special trap door, thereafter called a "Corsican Trap," which allowed an apparition of the hero's murdered brother to glide eerily up out of the floor and along the stage. During his time at the Princess's, Boucicault fell in love with a young actress, Agnes Robertson, Kean's ward. Kean's discovery of the relationship caused a permanent rift with Boucicault. Having secured an engagement for Robertson in New York, in September 1853 Boucicault set off for the United States, where he and Robertson began a difficult life, plagued by financial anxiety but punctuated by periods of success and great prosperity. They performed a marriage by mutual agreement, avoiding a church wedding so that Robertson could go on being billed under her own name. They had six children. Penniless once again, Boucicault tried to resuscitate himself while Robertson supported them both with earnings from triumphant successes in Montreal and New York. Rewriting his own plays under new titles, adapting others' work, and even attempting public lectures, Boucicault was continually busy, yet not making money. For two years he and Robertson toured the East and the South, during which time Boucicault took a lease on a New Orleans theater, renaming it the Gaiety, but failed after three months. Adding to both their reputations as actors and to Boucicault's as dramatist, but not achieving the financial stability they craved, they attempted to settle in New York. There, Boucicault's fortunes changed for the better. He adapted a French play under the title The Poor of New York, an extremely successful melodrama marked by a sensation scene, a spectacular fire in which an apartment house collapses and a real fire engine is driven on stage. By September 1872 Boucicault and Robertson were back in New York. Early in 1873 they became American citizens, but their marriage was breaking down, increasingly strained by Boucicault's habitual philandering. Robertson returned to London alone, leaving him involved in an affair with Katherine Rogers, whom he took with him on a profitable tour of California. Although he earned vast sums during his lifetime, Boucicault was more often deep in debt. Extravagant by nature and generous to fellow performers, he was constantly in want of money. In yet another attempt to recoup his derelict fortunes, he formed a company including the young actress Louise Thorndyke, departed for San Francisco in April 1885 for a month's performances of his plays, and then sailed for Australia in June. There, on 9 September, Boucicault married Thorndyke in a registry ceremony and, after a highly profitable tour performing his Irish plays and other reliable pieces, returned with her to New York. Robertson filed for divorce in May 1886, and after the final decree on 15 January 1889 Boucicault and Thorndyke remarried. His insistence that he and Robertson had never been properly married threatened his children with the stigma of illegitimacy and damaged his professional reputation. Now nearing seventy, Boucicault continued to sleep little and write much, not only plays but articles on drama and an autobiography. But he was reduced to teaching acting for a living and never completed a play commissioned by American producer Daniel Frohman intended for the fiftieth anniversary of London Assurance. The failure of his last original play, A Tale of a Coat, in September 1890 was decisive. Shortly after the play closed, Boucicault fell ill with pneumonia and died in New York City. American National Biography Online. http://www.anb.org/articles/16/16-02683.html?a=1&g=m&n=Boucicault&ia=-at&ib=-bib&d=10&ss=0&q=1 Retrieved 6/4/2004.

From the description of Daniel Frohman letter. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 373873918

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Subjects:

  • Dramatists, English
  • Theatrical managers--Correspondence
  • Dramatists, Irish

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