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FOOTLIGHT NOTES

images of theatre and other popular entertainment
1850s-1920s

no. 660

updated
Saturday, 8 May 2010

remembering Patrick O'Connor (1949-2010)

Eliza Weathersby


a cabinet photograph of Eliza Weathersby (1850?-1887), English burlesque actress

(photo: Mora, New York, circa 1880)

'PHYSICIAN VS. ACTOR.
'A Sensational Episode Growing Out of Eliza Weathersby's Death.
'NEW YORK, April 24 [1887]. - [Special Telegram to the BEE.] - The death of Eliza Weathersby-Goodwin, the actress, promises to have a sequel. Dr. Merion Sims has presented his bill for professional services to her husband, Nat C. Goodwin, and Mr. Goodwin has refused to pay, on the ground that it is exorbitant. But this difference of opinion does not make the sensational episode. There are other things back of the matter that, if brought out, as it seems likely they will be in the courts, will prove extraordinary. Mrs. Goodwin had been ill for a considerable period. The trouble was a disorder that resisted all attempts to check it. Eventually the family physician, Dr. T.S. Robertson, deemed it advisable to have experts summoned to consult on the case. Dr. Sims was not among those who came at first. The doctors were in grave doubt as to the precise nature of the malady, but some were inclined to the opinion that it was a tumor in the fallopian tubes. If such were the case the only possible remedy would like in an operation for the removal of the tumor a very dangerous matter at the best, and one that would be liable to cause death, even if successfully performed. When Mrs. Goodwin was informed of the possible nature of her trouble she expressed a desire that an operation be made, but Dr. Robertson promptly refused to perform it. He was not confident that a tumor existed, and was wholly unwilling to assumer the terrible responsibility for the result if none should be found. The other experts agreed with the family physician. Mrs. Goodwin, however, was anxious that whatever might be done for her should be resorted to, and Dr. Sims was called. He made an examination, and his opinion agreed in its general features with that of his colleagues. The truth of the matter simply was that Mrs. Goodwin must die if the disorder were to be left alone; that a surgical operation might possibly save her, but the chances were so strongly against her that it would hasten the end. This was made clear to the patient, and she unhesitatingly asked Dr. Sims to make the operation. He consented, and Dr. Robertson and one other were present when it was performed. The result showed that no tumor existed. The disorder was inflammation of the fallopian tubes, and soon after the conclusion of the operation Mrs. Goodwin died. Dr. Sims is a physician of the highest professional standing, has an extended practice and comes high. The actor, who disputes the bill, purposes to show, when the doctor sues him for the amount, that the death of his wife was nothing less than scientific murder. He will endeavor to produce the experts to swear that the operation was uncalled for, dangerous and inexcusable. On the other hand it is said that Dr. Sims can easily justify his course. It is pretty sure to be a disagreeably interesting case, unless the actor yields and pays the bills, for the physician is determined to collect, even if it should prove necessary to invoke the aid of the law.'
(The Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Monday, 25 April 1887, p. 1c)

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