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Olga Isabel Nethersole 

Camille   Frou Frou   Gay Parisians   Transgressor

Charles Frohman's first foreign star, who paved the way for so many, was Olga Nethersole. His management of her came about in a curious way. A difference had arisen between Augustin Daly and Ada Rehan. Miss Rehan had decided to withdraw from the company, and in casting about quickly for a successor had decided upon Olga Nethersole, then one of the most prominent of the younger English actresses.  While the deal was being consummated Daly and Miss Rehan adjusted their differences, and the arrangements for Miss Nethersole's appearance in American were abrogated.  Miss Nethersole was left without an American manager. Daniel Frohman, then manager of the Lyceum Theater, stepped in and became her American sponsor, forming a partnership with his brother Charles to handle her interests. Jointly they now conducted an elaborate tour for her covering two years, in which she appeared in "Denise," "Frou-Frou," "Camille," and "Carmen.": Charles Frohman 1916

Lewis Strang writes in Famous Actresses that she made he American debut at Palmer's Theatre, New York , on October 15th [1894] and subsequently making a most successful tour of the country. She played besides "The Transgressor" Marguerite Gauthier in "Camille", Gilberte in "Frou-Frou" and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet." ... "The Transgressor" by AW Gattie, in which Miss Nethersole made her first appearance in this country, was a somewhat crude play of the "problem" order, and in it the actress's opportunities to show her emotional power were somewhat limited... .   Miss Nethersole made her greatest success that first season in "Camille".' It was an intensely realistic impersonation, deeply emotional and ardently passionate, an impersonation that moved on by its great dramatic vigour rather than by subtilty of conception of finish in acting...  Miss Nethersole's Juliet was not highly esteemed.  While she had moments of genuine power, her acting as a whole was uneven, besides being hurt by undue force and intensity."   I should be pleased to omit any reference to "Carmen" but the notoriety of the Nethersole kiss will hardly permit that. The adaption of the novel that Miss Nethersole used, made a filthy play in which lust and animal passion were shown with disgusting frankness.  Even if one ignored the vileness, he found but a cheap melodrama, poorly constructed at that, and abounding in mock heroics, false platitudes, and cheap sentiment... Miss Nethersole's acting was a study in lasciviousness, marvelously vivid and marvelously true to life".

A 1901 Cosmopolitan article "Through bad business arrangements and misunderstandings, three managers claimed her on her arrival, Frohman, Daly and Marcus Meyer. As none of these was sure of possession the new star was not properly advertised."

Olga Nethersole as Paula in The Second Mrs. Tanqueray, Strang's Famous Actresses, 1900

Philadelphia, Sept. 18, 1894 I am trying through Marcus Mayer to get with the new English star, Miss Olga Nethersole  -- who plays legitimate roles -- and is to a certain extent under the management of [Augustin] Daly.  The lady is expected to arrive next week, when matters will be settled and engagements made.  And I hope to be one of the fortunate ones.  No engagements have yet been made, except that she brings her "leading" man with her. 

Pittsburgh, Pa  Novr 27th 1894  Opened last night to a fair house in Camille.  I think the audience was pleased with Nethersole & hope business will increase. 

We begin rehearsing Frou-Frou this Morning, but when it is to be played I do not know.  I was in high hopes we had done with rehearsals for a time, but this very ambitious young Nethersole is determined to keep us at work.  I did not have time to think since we commenced in New York until Friday last, when for the first day we had no rehearsal.  It has been something dreadful but to my own astonishment I have pulled through. We are playing at the "Alvin" Theatre, almost adjoining this hotel.  Next week Washington, the following week Baltimore.  That is as far as I know at present. 

Pittsburg, Pa  Novr 28th 1894  Yesterday I was called to rehearsal and did not rehearse, and today no rehearsal for the first time in over five weeks.  Here I am living next door to theatre, which is also a great rest to me, and I am beginning to feel quite like myself. 

We played Camille the past two nights, and the curtain did not fall on last act until 10 minutes of 12 each night.  I being so near theatre got into my room at "14 of 12" but in New York and Philadelphia it used to be half past 12 before I got home, and it was very tiring to me. 

I used to get to 3219 Clifford Street [Philadelphia] at from half past 12 to one AM every night.  Get up at 10, take a breakfast and down to rehearsal, which would often not allow one time to go home to dinner, but I would get dinner at restaurant and go back to theatre to dress for performance.  One Morning of the night we produced Romeo & Juliet, it was 5 in the Morning when I got home, we having a rehearsal after the performance of the Transgressor which began at 1 AM and lasted for me until 1/2 past 4.  Then Hattie & I got into a cab and arrived home at 5 AM.  

EJ Phillips played the Nurse to Olga Nethersole's Juliet.

The New York Times review [Oct. 15, 1894 5:5] is headlined A Large Audience Patiently Sits Through "The Transgressor" at Palmer's Theatre -- A Great Deal of Very Loud Applause Bestowed upon a Generally Competent, but by No Means Brilliant, Performance of a Very Bad Play. The reviews notes that preparation had begun in March in London. "She came in like a small cyclone" and compares the plot to "Miss Bronte's story of Jane Eyre and Rochester, deprived the man of all manly attributes, tried to transform Jane into a type of the modern "Emancipated" woman and failed. In the critic's opinion Olga Nethersole's' personality will doubtless be very attractive after one has grown used to it. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F60710F83A5515738DDDAF0994D8415B8485F0D3

Washington, D.C. Decr 4th 1894
Reviews of Camille, Romeo & Juliet and Olga Nethersole's performance and career

Toronto Canada Dec 24th 1894  We open with Camille to-night and play it at Matinee to-morrow and Thursday night -- and Saturday night -- Wed night Romeo & Juliet.  Friday night and Sat night Frou-Frou in which I do not appear.

Montreal  Jany 1st 1895 Last night Miss Nethersole & [Marcus] Mayer gave a little supper to the Company at the Windsor Hotel, and I went, and it was nearly 2 AM when I got back to this hotel.  A nice way for an old lady to begin the New Year.

Chicago Feb. 1895 I am glad you and your friends enjoyed Camille but am sorry you will not be able to see Romeo & Juliet - for we do not return to New York to play at  [Stanford White's] Garden Theatre or any other theatre with Miss Olga [Nethersole] at present.  

Boston April 7, 1895 Last night we closed our Season with Camille and after the curtain fell Miss [Olga] Nethersole gave us a champagne & sandwich farewell. 

Gay Parisians New York, Aug. 30, 1895

51 East 21st St NY, 9-11 -95  Today it was rumoured, and I heard it was announced in some of yesterday's papers - that we open on the 19th in Buffalo, NY for three nights and Saturday matinee, and return to open on the 23rd at Hoyt's [Madison Square] Theatre for a run.  Mr. Chas Frohman is attending rehearsals, is very pleasant and seems to be well pleased with the work of the company.  

Photographs  
Ann Everall Callis, Olga Nethersole and the Sapho Scandal MA Thesis, Ohio State University 1974 http://etd.ohiolink.edu/view.cgi/Callis%20Ann%20Everal.pdf?osu1141931398
Cosmopolitan "Olga Nethersole" Lavinia Hart 1901 http://books.google.com/books?id=6InNAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA23&dq=transgressor+gattie&hl=en&ei=_XJgTZrwMcSclget6f2QDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=nethersole&f=false
Olga Nethersole, Annenberg Rare Book and Ms Library, Univ. of Pennsylvania  http://www.library.upenn.edu/collections/rbm/photos/theater/nethersole.html
Picture History  http://www.picturehistory.com/find/p/18687/mcms.html
Olga Nethersole, Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olga_Nethersole Established the People's League of Health

Olga Nethersole was arrested for "violating public decency" 1900 - a great marketing tool  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/1900/peopleevents/pande30.html

Last updated Feb 19, 2011

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