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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 398

updated
Saturday, 30 April 2005

Murder at the Madison Square Roof Garden
on the first night of the music revue
Mamzelle Champagne,
New York, 25 June 1906,
with Harry Short, Arthur Stanford, Maude Earle, Ida Crispi, Sylvia Starr, et al

Madison Square Roof Garden

The auditorium of the Roof-Garden Theatre, Madison Square,
where Harry Thaw shot Stanford White on 25 June 1906

(photo: Byron, New York, 1906)

'Stanford White was sitting at one of the tables of the auditorium when Harry Thaw came up to him and shot him for alleged injury to Mrs. Thaw. White, who was the most celebrated architect in the United States, designed the Garden Theatre, the tower of which is one of the landmarks of New York. In the tower White had a studio where he used to give extremely skittish parties.'
(The Sketch, London, Wednesday, 4 July 1906, p.393)

Stanford White, Evelyn Nesbit, Harry K. Thaw


This black and white half-tone postcard was published in 1906 by John H. King of
Birmingham, United Kingdom, in the Fortune series. The portraits are those of (centre)
Mrs Harry K. Shaw (née Evelyn Nesbit), flanked by (left) the architect Stanford White, and (right) Harry K. Shaw.

(photos: unknown, USA, circa 1905)

This postcard was issued in the wake of the sensational murder in New York of White by Thaw for the former's 'violation' of his wife, Evelyn, who had been an artist's model and show girl. She subsequently appeared in eleven films between 1914 and 1922, and died at the age of 82 on 18 January 1967.

Evelyn Nesbit (Mrs Harry K. Thaw)


'Mrs. Harry K. Thaw, the American millionaire's wife, for who sake her husband shot
another millionaire, Stanford White, at the Roof-Garden Theatre, Madison Square, New York.'

(photo: George Grantham Bain, USA, circa 1904)

'Mrs. Thaw was Florence Nesbit [sic], a "Florodora" girl. After her marriage the Pittsburg "Four Hundred" would not receive her, but she and her mother-in-law carried on a vigorous campaign for social recognition. On the evening of June 25, during a performance of Mam'zelle Champagne at the Roof-Garden Theatre, Thaw went up to Stanford White, the famous American architect, who built the theatre, and, declaring that he had injured Mrs. Thaw before her marriage, fired at him three times with a revolver. At the third shot Mr. White fell dead. Mrs. Thaw was present at the time of the murder.'
(The Sketch, London, Wednesday, 4 July 1906, supplement, p.8)

* * * * * * * *

MAMZELLE CHAMPAGNE
Madison Square Roof Garden, New York, 25 June 1906

'The Madison Square Roof Garden was opened on Monday evening of last week under the management of Henry Pincus, with the first production her of Mamzelle Champagne, described on the programme as "A musical bubble in two bottles." The book and lyrics are by Edgar Allan Woolf and the music by Cassius Freeborn, who has been musical director for Edna May for some time. There was a very large audience, testing the seating capacity of the attractive roof, which is the only real roof garden in the city, having no glass covering to keep out the rain and enjoying incidentally the breezes that are supposed to be a special feature of places of this kind.
'The scene of the new offering is Maxim's restaurant in Paris, but the artist took the liberty of introducing a pretty water scene at the back. The very insignificant plot deals with the adventures in Paris of Fuller Spice, and American theatrical manager in search of a novelty. He meets all sorts of people, and they play various tricks upon him before he finally makes up his mind to go back to America. The love interest centers in an affair between two young Americans who give vent to their passion in frequent bursts of song. There are eighteen musical numbers, so the story, such as it is, have very little chance. The piece is a typical Summer entertainment, and is as light and frothy as the liquid from which it takes its name. As most of the patrons sit at tables sipping cooling drinks and chatting, it does not matter very much what is going on on the stage, so Mamzelle Champagne will probably fill the bill as well as anything else that might be put on. The music is jingly and more or less catchy, but there is scarcely a song that gives promise of setting the small boys to whistling. The principal numbers are "Somewhere," "I'm in Search of a Novelty," "Moonlight, You and I," "Could I Fascinate You?" "Land of Golden Dreams," "Lovers' Lane," "Gloriana," "Tale of the Tadpole and the Frog," "Peter Pan" and "I Could Love a Million Girls."
'The cast is mediocre, and served to introduce a lot of new people who have never made their mark in New York. Harry Short had the principal comedy part, and in his playing reminded one of Corse Payton. He came within an ace of meeting with a serious accident when he made his first entrance in a box run on wires from the gallery. The attendant gave him too much rope, and the box landed against the proscenium arch with a sharp crack that almost upset the comedian on top of the leader's head. He retained his nerve, however, climbed down and went on with his lines as though nothing had happened. Arthur Stanford, as Jack McAllister, showed a fair voice to some advantage, and Maude Earl, a sister of Virginia Earl, proved acceptable as Violet Stuyvesant. Ida Crispi as a maid, Viola De Costa in the title-role, E. Fowler as an ex-plumber, and Sylvia Starr as an authoress were quite competent to handle their roles acceptably. The chorus worked hard and the production, directed by Lionel Lawrence, ran smoothly. The opening performance was brought to a very sudden close by the tragedy which is mentioned in another column of The Mirror.
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 7 July 1906, p.9a)

STANFORD WHITE KILLED.

'Stanford White, the well-known architect, who designed Madison Square Garden, was shot and instantly killed on the roof garden of that building on Monday evening of last week during the opening performance of M'lle. Champagne. The man who did the shooting is Harry Thaw, the wealthy Pittsburger and husband of Evelyn Nesbit, who had a brief career on the stage as a chorus girl in Florodora, The Wild Rose and The Girl from Dixie. The panic that might have resulted was prevented by the heroic actions of the people of the stage and in the orchestra. Lionel Lawrence, the stage manager, urged everybody concerned to keep the performance going, and the song ["I Could Love a Million Girls"] that was in progress when the shots were fired was sung to its natural conclusion. By this time, however, the performers were completely unstrung, and Mr. Lawrence informed the audience that there had been an accident and asked the spectators to pass out as quickly as possible. The little delay brought about by the actors, actresses and chorus allowed the news of the tragedy to spread, so that the people in the audience knew that they were in no actual danger themselves, and although several women fainted, the audience, numbering more than 1,000, reached the street in safety.
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 7 July 1906, p.3b)

* * * * * * * *

Ida Crispi


Ida Crispi (fl. early 20th Century), English actress, singer and dancer

(photo: unknown, USA, circa 1905)

'This is Miss Ida Crispi, the clever, versatile and youthful singer and dancer, now being featured in the musical pot-pourri, Mam'selle Champagne, at the Madison Square Roof Garden, one of New York's best known and best patronized Summer amusement resorts. Miss Crispi is always a true artist - excelling in everything she undertakes. As a grotesque dancer, especially, she is inimitable, and stands, to-day, without a peer on the vaudeville stage.'
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 28 July 1906, p.16b)

* * * * * * * *


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