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John Nickinson & EJ Phillips
Playbill, Roll of the Drum, Royal
Lyceum, Toronto, Jan. 12, 1855 Playbill, Octoroon, May 8, 1861, Metropolitan Theatre,
Hamilton, Ontario CANADA
Nickinson in Canada
First marriage & family
Nickinsons in Cincinnati John Nickinson obituary Nickinson family tree
Nickinson (June 1, 1808, London, England - Feb. 9, 1864, Cincinnati, Ohio)
the son of a Chelsea Pensioner, enlisted in the British Army at 15 
as a drummer boy, in the 24th Regiment, and was posted to Canada. He had
been promoted to Sergeant at 17. Made his first dramatic appearance (as an
amateur) in Quebec and his success in Garrison theatricals led to a civilian
stage career. He liked acting so much that he bought his discharge from
the army "when opportunity offered itself" and came to the United States. History
of the American Stage
Carte de 'visite CD Fredericks & Co. http://www.picturehistory.com/product/id/25060
New York Clipper 1853 Aug 13 Nickinson will shortly open a theatre , to be called the Metropolitan , at Hamilton , Canada West.
Playbills Uncle Tom's Cabin Octoroon more JN photos
John Nickinson was 22 years older than EJ Phillips. Their relationship obviously dated from about the time EJ Phillips joined his stage company in 1852, for his letter of October 3, 1859 refers to "our seven years of past love". The date of their marriage is less clear. (John Nickinson, son of his first marriage, wrote to the New York Clipper after his father's death that his parents had never been divorced.)
Mary Shortt, in a January 1980 letter about her thesis on Toronto theatre notes that "I was unable to explain Nickinson's strange behavior in 1858, when he disappeared for an extended period from the Royal Lyceum. The loss of Charlotte, who married and left the stage in the spring of '58 was obviously a blow, but I was unaware of the great stress created by E.J.'s pregnancy (in strait- laced Toronto, where Nickinson had been considered a pillar of respectability!").
John Nickinson often refers to himself as EJ Phillips' husband in his letters. EJ Phillips occasionally calls herself Nickinson, though she uses Phillips much more often, and in her letters does not directly call him her husband. The fullest obituary of EJ Phillips (New York Dramatic Mirror, August 20, 1904) makes no reference to John or Albert Nickinson, but lists Hattie and the three grandchildren. The New York Times obituary mentions only Hattie.
John Nickinson and EJ Phillips had three children -- Charles Alderman (b. Toronto, Apr. 30, 1858 - died Pittsburgh, Sept. 1859), "Hattie " Christine Harriet Melanie (b. Toronto, Aug. 24, 1860 - d. Philadelphia Oct. 9, 1946) and Albert Edward (b. Cincinnati July 8, 1863 - d. Pensacola, Florida June 3, 1948) Nickinson Family
Hard times came to Canada in 1858 and by Feb 19, 1859, the New York Clipper reported "Blue times in Toronto. Both theatres closed. hope Brother Nickinson is not a loser. Cheer up Villikins'! We know you deserve success even if you have not obtained it." (Nickinson returned to Toronto primarily as a booking agent for a few months in the spring and summer of 1860.) [Shortt]
The 1859-60 Toronto City Directory does not list a Nickinson [except John Nickinson as a member of the Toronto 3rd Rifle Co], but has Miss Elizabeth Phillips, actress at 146 Richmond St West. http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-146894&R=DC-146894
One source says John Nickinson's last appearance in New York was in May 1862 at Laura Keene's Ireland's History of the New York Stage says he appeared for the first time in ten years as Havresack with Isabella Nickinson playing Melanie, and he played Spurrit in The Post Boy in June. Charles Peters and Owen and Virginia Nickinson Marlowe were in Laura Keene's company that season. But I have a playbill (a gift from Effingham Dolman) in which he was playing in Harlem Aug. 20 1862 in The Soldier's Return;' Or an Unwarrantable Intrusion as Old Potter, with Owen Marlowe, singing St. Patrick's Birth--day and concluding with the farce of Box, Cox, and Knox; or The Printer and the Hatter as Box with Marlowe as Cox. Marlowe and Isabella Nickinson were also in the Household Fairy! as Julian De Clifford and Katharine.
David Beasley's McKee Rankin and the Heyday of the American Theater says that John Nickinson became stage manager at Pike's Opera House March 11, 1863.
When John Nickinson died in 1864 EJ Phillips was leading woman in Pike's Stock Company in Cincinnati, playing in the Shakespearean and "standard drama". Single parenthood
Mary Shortt notes that she seemed to have no settled home in the 1860's and 1870's as her career led her to many different cities, as documented in issues of the New York Clipper (founded in 1853 as a sporting and theatrical journal, and absorbed by Variety in 1924).
Mary Shortt also writes (Sept. 30, 1980) "various references indicate that [John Nickinson] was quite a martinet, which supports the family tradition that he was not very kind to EJ." Perhaps widowhood had its liberating aspects. A newspaper clipping I read at the Harvard Theatre Collection substantiated John Nickinson's reputation for a nasty temper in general.
I found at the Harvard Theatre Collection a scrapbook that Augustin Daly made of Ireland’s Records of the New York Stage from 1750-1860 and related materials, where Victor Parton was quoted as saying of John Nickinson
"The great comedian had some unfortunate and disagreeable peculiarities as a manager. He was not only absolute and tyrannous but often willfully neglectful of the people employed by him.”
Victor Parton had been recommended to John Nickinson for an engagement, and JN said to him “Well sir, I will try you for a week, and if at the end of that time, you like me and I like you, the engagement may be continued”. Parton was hoping for something less uncertain, but “Mr. Nickinson would not recede an inch” Towards the end of this week of probation I found my name in the “Cast case” [a glass box found in green rooms with a list of who would play different roles] in several new casts for the ensuing week, and as the casts were made out in Mr. Nickinson’s handwriting, I knew he was solely responsible for them. … I said to Mr. Wm. Griffiths, the stage manager or prompter “I see my name in the cast case for next week, I don’t think I shall be here.”
“You’d better speak to Mr. Nickinson about it then.”
“I don’t know that I shall. I am engaged for one week, and am under no obligation to remain.” “But don’t you want an engagement?” “Yes, I do want an engagement, but”
On Monday I went to the theatre for my salary, and met Mr. Nickinson in the box office.
“What does this mean sir? They tell me you are not going to stay” he roared.
:And I am not” I answered. “But you must, you are bound to, what was our agreement?” “Our agreement, Mr. .Nickinson, was this, that I was to play a week, and if, at the end of that time you liked me and I liked you, I was to continue.”
“Well sir,” blustered the old gentleman” I like you very much”.
“I don’t know about that Mr. Nickinson, but I don’t like you.
Nickinson's First Marriage and Children
Mary Anne Talbot seems to have married John Nickinson while he was in the British Army in Canada. After leaving the army in 1835 John Nickinson acted at the Theatre Royal, Montreal, and the following season 1836-1837 joined a stock company in Albany, New York. Charlotte Cushman played Romeo at the Albany theatre and after the performance, John Nickinson led her on stage and placed a wreath on her head.
While the Nickinsons
were in New York City they spent winters there and summers on tour in Canada.
After Albany (1836-37) the family came to New York at the Franklin and Park
Theatres, then to William
Mitchell's Olympic from 1841-1850, until it closed abruptly. Mitchell's Olympic.
Nickinson John comedian 42 Hamersley The New York City Directory ..., Volume 2 (Google eBook) C.R. Rode, late Doggett & Rode., 1843 - New York (N.Y.) Hammersley – West Houston St http://forgotten-ny.com/1999/09/greenwich-village-necrology/
Longworth's American Almanac, New York Register, and City Directory ... (Google eBook) T. Longworth & Son., 1841 - Almanacs, American also lists JN as 42 Hamersley
Nickinson and daughter Charlotte then toured and eventually much of the family ended up in Toronto during the 1850s. John Nickinson's career in Canada
Nickinson ever meet Edgar Allan Poe?
A reminiscent article of peculiar interest, written by one who knew Poe intimately in his latter
John Nickinson and his first wife Mary Anne Talbot legally separated in March 1855 because "unhappy differences have arisen and do still subsist". He agreed to pay her an annuity of seventy-eight pounds yearly, or one pound and ten shillings weekly. They were already living apart by this time. John Nickinson agreed "that he will not at any time hereafter by any cause or any pretence whatever, sue or prosecute any person or persons for receiving, harbouring or protecting the said Mary Anne." Mary Anne agreed that she would not "molest or disturb the said John Nickinson or his children living with him, by her presence, or her act or deed in any way whatever nor continue to live in the same city, town, or part of the country in which he or they may be living..."
John and Mary Anne Nickinson had five children, four daughters and one son.
Charlotte Nickinson(1832-1910) was born
John Nickinson as Havresack and Charlotte as Melanie http://www.library.illinois.edu/contentdm/cdm4/results.php?CISOOP1=all&CISOBOX1=Havresac&CISOFIELD1=role&CISOROOT=%2Factors
585 NICKINSON, JOHN Born in London, Eng., in 1808; at an early age he enlisted in the 24th Regiment, receiving his discharge with the rank of color-sergeant in 1835. He thereupon entered the theatrical profession, his first engagement being at Albany, N.Y. He then went to New York City, where he remained for several years, coming to Canada in 1852. From 1853-8 he managed the Royal Lyceum, King street west, Toronto. Mr. Nickinson possessed histrionic ability of a high character, and displayed wonderful versatility. He died in 1864 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His only son, John, an American Custom House official, died in New York in 1916. His eldest daughter, Charlotte, married Daniel Morrison, and his two granddaughters, Miss Charlotte Morrison and Miss Agnes Morrison, married Mr. E. B. Brown, son of the late Gordon Brown, and the late Mr. Raynald Gamble, of the Dominion Bank, respectively. Photograph, colored. Size 4x5. Head and shoulders. See 1121. 1121— NICKINSON, JOHN— In "The Old Guard"— Mr. Nickinson was the pioneer in theatrical management in Toronto, and was the manager of the Royal Lyceum, Toronto, from 1853-8. He was an actor of high reputation. The picture shows him as "Havresack" in the play of "The Old Guard." Mr. Nickinson acted the part in 1848-52 in the Olympic Theatre, New York, and at various times between 1853-8, when manager of the Lyceum, Toronto. Miss Charlotte Nickinson (Mrs. Daniel Morrison), his eldest daughter, an accomplished actress, acted the part of "Melanie" in the piece. Mr. Nickinson's death took place in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1864. "The Old Guard" was produced at the Princess', London, in 1844, and was first performed in America at the Chatham Theatre, 1845. Water color by John Fraser, presented to J. Ross Robertson by Mr. Nickinson's granddaughter, Mrs.-Raynald Gamble, Toronto. Size 11 x 14. Full length, sitting. http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/toronto-public-libraries/landmarks-of-canada-what-art-has-done-for-canadian-history-a-guide-to-the-j-r-hci/page-32-landmarks-of-canada-what-art-has-done-for-canadian-history-a-guide-to-the-j-r-hci.shtml Charlotte and Daniel Morrison and family, photo from Mary Shortt
John Nickinson's greatest role was Havresack in Dion Boucicault's Napoleon's Old Guard. He and Charlotte (playing Melanie to his Havresack) toured in this for three years. Described in Joseph Norton Ireland's Records of the New York Stage from 1750-1860 (vol. II June 24 1846) Niblo's Garden -- The first time the interesting and exciting drama entitled Napoleon's Old Guard ... It was triumphantly successful and continued being played nightly ... The Vauxhall Garden Saloon was opened on the first of June 1846 with Mr. BA Baker as stage manager and Henry Chapman, Nickinson, Miss [Charlotte] Nickinson [and others] as performers...The youthful and pretty Miss Nickinson made her first appearance as Rose in "Cousin Lambkin" and Clarissa in "Bothered Between 'Em". She was exceedingly neat and clever in juvenile walking ladies and a year or two later was warmly applauded as the representative of Florence Dombey at Burton's Theatre.
After the Olympic closed abruptly in New York in 1850, John Nickinson formed his own company and with daughter Charlotte toured in Providence RI, Montreal, and Rochester. he played short engagements in Toronto in 1851 and 1852. The Utica (New York) Theater he managed failed in 1852.
New York Clipper 1853 Aug 13 Theatrical
shortly open a theatre , to be called the Metropolitan , at Hamilton , Canada
1862 May 24 John Nickinson and daughter are to perform for Mr. . Peters benefit at Laura Keenes , on the 21 st inst .
Robertson's Landmarks of Toronto 1894 http://books.google.com/books?id=gVkRAQAAMAAJ&vq=nickinson&dq=robertson's+landmarks+of+toronto&source=gbs_navlinks_s says that John Nickinson first came to Toronto in 1852, and that Charlotte's godmother was Charlotte Cushman. Drawing of the 1849 Royal Lyceum Theatre.
"Charlotte, then 21, was the company's leading lady, playing Shakespearean roles as Ophelia, Desdemona, and Portia, though possibly Lady Teazle in The School for Scandal was her favorite. She had been born in Quebec City in 1832 and died in 1910. She made her debut at Mitchell's Olympic Theatre in New York.
She married the editor of the Toronto Leader and forthright theatre critic Daniel Morrison Apr. 22 1858 in Toronto and left the stage for a time. She had toured extensively with her father, and her loss must have been a blow to him.. The Morrisons moved to Quebec City, London, New York, and finally back to Toronto.
Before Morrison "honest theatre criticism was virtually unknown in Toronto...the fulsome praise of a press agent, was almost universal in the United States, and performers coming here [Toronto] assumed - usually correctly - that Canadian editors were as venal as their American counterparts. Daniel Morrison, the Scottish-born editor of the Leader, declared war on this system at the beginning of 1854 ... When a doubtless resentful Nickinson ceased to advertise in the Leader, the rival Patriot charged that the Leader's censure of performances was in reprisal for this loss of revenue. ...Morrison showed himself in fact to be a most fair minded critic, and Nickinson eventually resumed his Leader advertisements. If any bias can be detected in Morrison's reviews, it is in favor of Charlotte Nickinson, whose charm and talents he eloquently praised right up to April, 1858, when he married her and removed her from the stage she had adorned.
Daniel Morrison died in 1870, leaving Charlotte a widow with four children. Charlotte returned to acting and producing at Toronto's Royal Lyceum in 1871 and 1872. She became a director of the Toronto Opera House Company in 1873, and was the first manager of the Grand Opera House, until it was sold to a new owner who replaced her two years later in 1878. It was fortunate for Charlotte that she was no longer in charge of the theatre when it burned down on the night of Nov. 29-30, 1879. Charlotte remained active in many charitable causes, and to the end was the best known and best loved woman in Ontario. The benefit performance given for her at the end of her last season as manager of the Grand Theatre was under the patronage of the Prime Ministers, the Governor- General, the Premier of Ontario, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Mayor of Toronto, etc. Mary Shortt
MORRISON, MR. AND MRS. DANIEL Mr. Morrison, one of the most brilliant editorial writers on the Canadian press from about 1853-69, was born in Inverness, Scotland, 1827, the son of the Rev. Mr. Morrison. In the early fifties he emigrated to Canada, engaging in farming for a time, and later editing the Dundas (Ont.) Warder in conjunction with S. T. Jones. In 1854 he assumed the editorship of the Toronto Leader; three years later became editor of the Toronto Daily Colonist, and in 1859 was appointed by the Government as a Provincial Arbitrator in connection with the Public Works Department, resigning the following year to become editor of the Quebec Morning Chronicle. In 1861 he edited the London Prototype, and then joined the staff of the New York Times. Returned to Toronto in 1868 and became editor of the Toronto Daily Telegraph, remaining with that paper until his death in 1870. In 1858 he married Miss Charlotte Nickinson, the celebrated and accomplished actress and daughter of the well-known actor, John Nickinson. Water color from a daguerreotype in possession of their daughter, Mrs. Edward B. Brown, Toronto. Size 5x6. Half length, sitting. LANDMARKS OF CANADA WHAT ART HAS DONE FOR CANADIAN HISTORY A GUIDE TO THE J. ROSS ROBERTSON HISTORICAL COLLECTION IN THE PUBLIC REFERENCE LIBRARY TORONTO, CANADA PRESENTED TO THE TRUSTEES OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY BY J. ROSS ROBERTSON TORONTO, DECEMBER, 1917 http://www.archive.org/stream/landmarksofcanad01torouoft/landmarksofcanad01torouoft_djvu.txt
The manageress of the Grand Opera House, Toronto, was a Mrs. Morrison, who had been a Miss Nickerson, daughter of an old and respected actor. She was in great favour with the very popular Governor-General of that day, Lord Dufferin. She was a most admirable business woman as well as a very capable actress and a kind, considerate friend to many people, including myself. She persuaded me that I had created sufficient interest in Toronto to warrant my trying two weeks "starring" there on my own account in modern plays. This I did, playing The Romance of a Poor Young Man, Old Soldiers, Partners for Life, etc., with a pleasant result both artistically and financially. After this I was engaged, at Boucicault's suggestion, to play Captain Molyneux in the first Canadian production of his play The Shaughraun. This was the part created in New York by Harry Montague. The play made a huge success in Toronto. .. After Mrs. Rousby 's engagement closed I had a week's tour of some smaller Canadian towns, accompanied by Mrs. Morrison, and then spent a few days in Toronto saying " good-bye " to a lot of as good friends as a man could ever expect to make away from home. JH Barnes, Forty Years on the Stage London: Chapman & Hall 1914 http://www.archive.org/stream/fortyyearsonstag00barnuoft/fortyyearsonstag00barnuoft_djvu.txt JH Barnes later worked with EJ Phillips as part of Olga Nethersole's company, and was at the Union and Madison Square Companies.
Grand Opera House, Wikipedia
Establishing our boundaries: English Canadian Theatre Criticism Anton Wagner University of Toronto Press 2010 http://books.google.com/books?id=hztKHvAl51QC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
1859-60 Toronto City Directory listed Daniel Morrison at 18 Wellington Place.
North American Theater Online http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/atho/atho.detail.people.aspx?personcode=per0046864
Eliza Nickinson Peters (b.1834), married English comedian Charles Peters (1825-1870) in the fall of 1854. Peters had been hired by John Nickinson in 1852. Eliza had appeared (briefly) at William Mitchell's Olympic Theatre, and the couple moved back to New York after their marriage. Peters was run over by a Third Ave. car in New York. [Stage] But according to his New York Clipper obituary (Nov 12, 1870) he died of consumption at his home at the corner of 83rd and Third Ave., but had been incapacitated by a serious accident on the Third Ave. railroad. His last professional appearance was as the grave digger in Hamlet.
Eliza Nickinson Peters, Frederick NY July 1897 Asbury Park as the Widow McNally? Charles Peters from Lester Wallack, Memories of Fifty Years 1889
A 1905 article in Donohoe's magazine interviewed
Mrs. Peters and said she had become a Catholic under the instruction of Jesuit
Father Damen, while living in Yorkville New York. She went back to acting after
the death of her husband and played a new England widow and Irishwoman in the
1870s and played similar roles in Boucicault's Shaughraun, various roles
in the Irish village at the St, Louis World's Fair and the part of the Widow
McNally in the Sunshine of Paradise Alley was written for her. [We have a letter
from her on Sunshine of Paradise Alley stationery.] this article says her
mother Mary Ann Talbot was born in Limerick. the article says only 3
children were still living.
NY Times opening Sunshine of Paradise Alley May 10 1896 http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F10D15FE3E5F1B738DDDA90994DD405B8685F0D3 by Denman Thompson and George Ryer and included an "electrical snowstorm" Mrs. Peters toured in it into the early 20th century. But I haven't been able to find when she died.
We have a mysterious April 12 1900 letter on Sunshine of Paradise Alley letterhead, which had been attached to one from Mrs. Peters to her brother reading "Mrs. Peters who plays the widow (her creation) has asked me as a special favor, she has a brother there [where?], Nickinson, and I believe they don't speak as they pass by. This is her way of showing him that she is still on earth." An April 15 1900 letter from EJ Phillips mentioning her "Saw by [Middletown newspaper] Mercury that you are to have a play at the Casino [Theater] on Tuesday next in which Mrs. Charles Peters played in here [Philadelphia] at the Park a few weeks ago. Was born 1834. Guess she is with it still for the play belongs to Denman Thompson who was a member of your father's company for several years and he still is grateful for the kindnesses he received then from the "Governor" and has frequently given employment to members of the family who requested it -- since he has been a star-manager. ... Strange how things come about. I have not seen Mrs. Peters since she was married and that was in 1854, I think, and became a widow not later than 1866 & now you will see her after so many years. She has a son Fred and a daughter, Maud, living, that is all I know of. Both were on the stage.
Charles Peters Histrionic Montreal says he was
"The original Binney in Our American Cousin" and had a son Fred and a
According to Mary Shortt, Peters was "a fat man, and made his biggest hit dressed in short skirts as Cupid in a burlesque ballet."
Virginia Nickinson Marlowe (1838-1899) was born in Albany NY and first appeared on the stage in Utica in Oct 1853 as King Charles in Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady. Made her last appearance on the stage in Who Killed Cock Robin at the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia, in 1866 [History of the American Stage ] She played Topsy in Uncle Tom's Cabin and a similar part in Dred.
She married actor Owen Marlowe in October 1857 at Niagara Falls, and left Toronto, but with a depression underway, were back by May 1858. Marlowe is described by Mary Shortt as "an attractive and charming young man (although as it proved, of weak character) and later achieved popular success in New York and San Francisco. By July 1858 John Nickinson was "billed only as lease [of the Royal Lyceum, Toronto] with his son-in-law Owen Marlowe, named as manager ... but in September Nickinson again assumed the management. But the economy was too bad [Shortt]
The 1859-60 Toronto City Directory listed Owen Marlowe as the Royal Lyceum manager and lessee, living at 144 wellington
Virginia Nickinson Marlowe, Conty, Boston June 1889
Owen Marlowe died in May 1876, of heart disease in the wings of the Globe Theatre at Boston (according to his daughter Ethel's obituary (Nov. 17, 1898). But perhaps he died of consumption, leaving a widow and several children in Toronto. He had first appeared on the stage in New York at Barnum's Museum in 1855 and been at the Arch Street Theatre, Philadelphia. New York Clipper obituary, June 6, 1876
Theater critic William Winter's Brief Chronicles 1889 http://books.google.com/books?id=agYuAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q=marlowe&f=false gives consumption as the cause of Marlowe's death in 1876 and "latterly he was unemployed and in poverty as well as sickness". He played Sir Lucius O'Trigger at the Arch St Theatre, Philadelphia under Mrs. John Drew in 1863.
Marlowe, Arch St. Philadelphia
photo 1870 http://www.picturehistoryprints.com/product/id/25576
Their daughter Ethel Marlowe died in 1898, suddenly of heart trouble, at the Knickerbocker Theatre, in the third act of The Christian. Her New York Clipper obituary (Mar. 18, 1899) reported that she had retired from the stage "at the time of her daughter's sudden death" and had since made her home with the married daughter, at whose house she died.
North American Theater online http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/atho/atho.detail.people.aspx?personcode=per0046426
Son John (c. 1844-Feb 1916) according to a brief New York Times (Feb. 15, 1916) obituary, was "for many years managing clerk at the grocery division of the Appraiser's Stores" and died suddenly at work at 72, leaving a daughter in Toronto. He had entered the Customs Service in 1881. An 1886 New York City Directory listed him as a clerk with an address at 221 East 81st. St.
Nickinson Jr. seems to have been involved with theatrical publishing.
Project Gutenberg Punchinello project notes that applications for advertising should be addressed to John Nickinson, Room No. 4, No. 83 Nassau St. N. Y. [between John and Fulton St. according to Google Maps t.]
Punchinello Vol. 1. No. 3 http://www.fullbooks.com/Punchinello-Vol-1-No-3-April-16-1870.html
Vol. 1 No. 7 http://www.fullbooks.com/Punchinello-Vol-1-No-7-May-14-1870.html
Vol. 1 No. 19 http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/1/0/0/1/10015/10015-h/10015-h.htm
Vol. 2 No. 32 http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/1/0/1/0/10104/10104-h/10104-h.htm
Isabella Nickinson Walcott (1847-1906) was born in New York on Oct 7 1847 and played Phoebe in As You Like It at eight, Maria in Twelfth Night at ten, and "a squaw, a page or a peasant as needed." Her last appearance in Toronto seems to have been on Jan. 11, 1858 at the Royal Lyceum in The Wife, playing Florabella.
Her first appeared on the stage in New York at Laura Keene's Theatre in May 1862 as Melanie to John Nickinson's Havresack. She married the actor Charles Melton Walcott Jr. (1840-1921) in 1863 in New York and played with him at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. They then joined Daniel Frohmans' company in New York and appeared at the Lyceum Theatre from 1887-1899. Until her death they almost always played together. History of the American Stage Isabella was part of Laura Keen's company in 1862 and in November appeared as Uria in Blondette or the Naughty Prince and the Pretty Peasant. In April 1863 she was Pennie Durgan in Bantry Bay or Ireland in 1798 with Charles Peters as Phadrig. in 1894 she appeared in Henry Arthur Jones' Case of the Rebellious Susan and in 1895 in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband.
Blanche Whiffen (the original Buttercup of HMS Pinafore) writes in her autobiography of being friends with Isabella Walcott. "Once, when we were rehearing [David Belasco Henry DeMille's] "The Charity Ball," Mrs. Walcott and I, thinking we had time enough, went out to seek some lunch while a scene just before outs was being rehearsed. As luck would have it, our scene was called while we were away, and when we came back, Mr. Belasco was very angry and called us down, ending up with: "And from now on you won't go out to lunch at all. You'll stay in the theatre and eat beans and drink water!" Mrs. Walcott, being a braver soul than I , spoke up pertly:" "All right, Mr. Belasco! I'll bring the beans if you bring the water!" And she did bring a pot of Boston baked beans the next morning, Mr. Belasco took the joke and helped us eat the beans, bringing us a large dipper of water. Mrs. Thomas Whiffen, Keeping off the Shelf, New York EP Dutton & Co, 1928
Players of the Present, John Bouvé Clapp, 1899 has several paragraphs on Isabella Nickinson Walcott and her career http://books.google.com/books?id=QhsPAAAAIAAJ&dq=nickinson&q=nickinson#v=snippet&q=nickinson&f=false photo Isabella Walcott
Walcott is noted (in
as a member of the
Madison Square Company in 1884-1885, where EJ Phillips had been since
1877. His father was also an actor, "an eccentric comedian and writer of
burlesques" who had been at Mitchell's Olympic Theatre with John Nickinson.. The son "sported a
moustache and always wore the jovial expression of a genial English squire."
Dictionary of American Biography
Interview New York Dramatic Mirror Apr. 18, 1896, Harvard Theatre Collection has letters
Isabella Walcott's NY Times obituary (June 4, 1906) refers to her "memorable run of 100 nights at the Old Winter Garden in Broadway, opposite Bond Street, [where] she played Ophelia to [Edwin] Booth's Hamlet" and says that she was "for forty years a familiar and loved figure on the stage." She died at her home 200 West 101st St., three months after a stroke at their country home in Rhinebeck. Her last stage engagement had been with Annie Russell.
Her NY Dramatic Mirror obituary June 9 1906 says she was born in New York City Oct 7 1847. Her "earliest recorded appearance was as Melanie in Napoleon's Old Guard, her father acting the part of Havresack. Under the able direction of Laura Keene she received a thorough old fashioned training, playing leading juvenile characters in the Keene company."
North American Theater Online http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/atho/atho.detail.people.aspx?personcode=per0048297
Mary Anne Talbot Nickinson and Isabella are thought to have gone to New York in 1858, the same year Charlotte was married. There are only brief mentions of any of the older Nickinson children in the letters, though Isabella, John, Virginia, and Eliza seem to have been in New York in the 1880's and 1890's. Did any of the half-siblings meet besides Albert and Eliza in 1900?
More on Virginia, Eliza and Isabella's roles available in A history of the Thomas Allston Brown's New York Stage Volume 2 1851-1901 http://books.google.com/books?id=mJEXAAAAYAAJ&dq=nickinson+fanchon&source=gbs_navlinks_s Ireland's Records of the New York Stage 1750-1860 has a number of references to John and Charlotte Nickinson http://books.google.com/books?id=C6INAAAAQAAJ&vq=nickinson&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Royal Lyceum, Toronto, Jan. 12, 1855
Playbill for Dion Boucicault's Octoroon, May 8, 1861 Nickinson medal
Metropolitan Theatre, Hamilton, Ontario CANADA
Dion Boucicault's "Octoroon (1860)
was notable for its condemnation of slavery ... and features a camera as a major
plot device in capturing the villain." Dion Boucicault: His Life and Times,
David W. Dwyer, 1998
Burnt Cork and Tambourines, William L. Slout, Circus Historical Society, 2005 http://www.circushistory.org/Cork/BurntCork6.htm
Dion Boucicault Theatre Programme Collection, Templeman Library, Univ. of Kent at Canterbury http://www.kent.ac.uk/library/specialcollections/theatre/boucicault/index.html
"The second most frequently performed anti-slavery play, after George Aiken's adaptation of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.... John Brown had been hanged three days before the play opened, Chapter Five: The Work of the Public Mind, Univ of California -Irvine, Octoroon included an exploding river boat scene.
An undated newspaper clipping gives the program at Pike's Opera-house [Cincinnati] Jan. 25, 1864 as Maggie Mitchell in Fanchon OR the Cricket! with Mr. Nickinson as Father Barbeaud and Miss Phillips as Old Fadet, concluded by a Grand Ballet Divertissement by the renowned Zavistowski Troupe.
John Nickinson died in Cincinnati, Feb. 9, 1864. "Spirit letter" EJ Phillips' career Ben DeBar, Lawrence Barrett and Chestnut St. Theater, Philadelphia
Beasley, David, McKee Rankin and the Heyday of the American Theater, 2002 http://books.google.com/books?id=lFz0XOblBDIC&dq=storm+beaten+%22union+square%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Benson, Eugene and LW Connolly, editors, Oxford Companion to the Canadian Theatre, Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Burton, Rebecca, “The (Forgotten) Glories of Mrs. Morrison’s Regime”, paper presented at ACTR Association for Canadian Theatre Research, May 24-27, 2000, Univ. of Alberta http://www.catr-acrt.ca/news/24-1/burton.htm
Crehan, John, Life of Laura Keene 1897 http://books.google.com/books?id=4sg_AAAAYAAJ&dq=isabella+walcott+%22laura+keene%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s mentions Isabella Walcott
Edwards, Murray D "John Nickinson" Dictionary of Canadian Biography http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=4625&&PHPSESSID=ychzfqkvzape
Graham, Franklin, Histrionic Montreal: Annals of the Montreal stage, with biographical and critical notices of the plays and players of a century , J Lovell 1902
North American Theatre Online John Nickinson http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/atho/atho.detail.people.aspx?personcode=per0046865
Shortt, Mary "The Royal Lyceum: part I 1848-1859", John Nickinson chapter, Master's Thesis on Toronto theatre 1809-1874 c1979
Forms of Variety Theater, Library of
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/vshtml/vsforms.html Vaudeville/variety, minstrel
shows, burlesque, extravaganza, spectacles, musical reviews, musical comedies
Theater playbills and programs, Library of Congress http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/vshtml/vsprge.html
Mary Short, theatre historian, highly recommends Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby and its portrayal of Vincent Crummles as the manager of a provincial touring company, "in striking verisimilitude, particularly the episode in which Nicholas joins Crummies' troupe."
Nicholas Nickleby http://www.literaturepage.com/read/nicholasnickleby-336.html
North American Theater Online http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/atho/atho.detail.people.aspx?personcode=per0046865 http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/atho/atho.detail.people.aspx?personcode=per0036393
Last updated March 16, 2015
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