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no. 627

Saturday, 19 September 2009

images of theatre and other popular entertainment

Leona Dare

an early 1870s carte de visite of Leona Dare (1855-1922),
American gymnast and trapeze performer,
after a contemporary photograph

(photo: ? Sarony, New York, circa 1873)

'Her Former Husband Springs to Her Defence - His Tribute to Her Work.
'TO THE EDITOR OF THE SUN - Sir: In your issue of Nov. 24, 1884, I find an account of the accident that happened to Leona Dare, the American female gymnast, then performing in Spain. In printing the account of the accident you give a short personal history of Leona dare. The person who gave you the said personal history gave you one so entirely erroneous that I deem it my duty to correct the errors, and at the same time I ask you to kindly give publicity to my corrections.
'First, he says that Leona Dare originally came from the West. Leona Dare was born in the State of Alabama.
'Second - He says that Leona Dare made her first appearance in public at the old Olympic Theatre on Broadway. Leona dare made her first appearance in public at the Theatre Comique, 66 St. Charles street, New Orleans, La., in 1869. Leona Dare did appear at the Olympic Theatre in the spring of 1875. I was performing with her at the time, under my own name, Thomas s. Hall, and not under the name of John Hall, as stated in your account. We were not performing with a pantomime company, but were engaged as a ''star speciality attraction'' by Mr. John Duff, who was then the manager of the Olympic Theatre, conduction a first-class variety company. It was not, however, Leona Dare's first appearance in New York city, as she had already appeared at the old Globe Theatre (Harrigan & Hart's), then James Nixon's Circus, in the winter of 1871-72. This was her first appearance in New York city. Leona Dare and I also performed at the Metropolitan theatre, 585 and 587 Broadway, in the winter of 1873-74. The Olympic engagement was the third engagement in New York city.
'Third - He says that Leona Dare went West with a Humpty Dumpty troupe under the management of John Duffand. Leona Dare did go West with a Humpty Dumpty troupe, but she went as a partner with Nick Roberts. The company was known as Nick Roberts's Humpty Dumpty troupe and Leona Dare's speciality company.
'Fourth - He says that, while with the Humpty Dumpty troupe, Leona Dare eloped with my brother George. This statement is most untrue. Leona Dare did not elope with my brother George nor with any one else, nor did my brother George take my place in the performance with Leona. My brother George was travelling with the company as treasurer. My brothers Stewart was also with the company, performing on the horizontal bar.
'I was married to Leona Dare in New York city on July 1, 1871, by the Rev. J.J. Oakley. Our first separation took place at San Francisco, Cal., after we had finished an engagement at the California Theatre in that city. Our second separation took place at New York in 1876. Leona Dare sailed for Europe in October, 1876. I sailed for Europe shortly afterward, and I have ever since remained in Europe, following my profession as clown and pantomimist, associated with my brother Stewart. We are at the present time performing a single horizontal bar act, and we are known in all Europe as The Dare Brothers, American Gymnasts. My brother George is also here in Europe travelling as one of the two Barrettons, doing a triple horizontal bar act. He is at present at the Victoria Salon, Dresden, Germany. My brother George has never, since his arrival in Europe, had any connection, either business or personal, with Leona Dare, consequently the remark made by a well-known New York manager, as given at the conclusion of your article, that the man who Leona Dare had dropped might be my brother George is entirely at fault.
'Leona Dare is not at all a jealous woman, nor is she a woman who would meaningly hurt any person. An accident is liable to occur at any time to her or to her assistance, as her performance is most daring and dangerous.
'Leona Dare at the present moment is nothing more than a ''friend'' to me. I regret very much that she has had the misfortune to meet with an accident. I wish her better luck. We were divorced three years ago, and I have remarried, my wife being an English lady.
'By giving publicity to this letter, or as much of it as you can, you will confer a great favor upon yours respectfully,
'Of the Dare Brothers, American Gymnasts.
(The Sun, New York, New York, Thursday, 12 February 1885, p. 2g)

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