Press Clippings for the week ending
Saturday, 21 March 2009

A random selection of clippings
from newspapers and magazines

Christie MacDonald in New York, 1895

Christie MacDonald

Christie MacDonald (1875-1962),
American musical comedy star

(photo: unknown, USA, late 1890s)

'CHRISTIE MACDONALD.
'She Is just Now Enjoying the Plaudits of New Yorkers.
'Christie MacDonald, who makes so charming a Mrs. Grigg, in Francis Wilson's production of The Chieftain, now running at Abbey's Theater, New York City, pleads guilty to having been born on Feb. 28, 1876 [sic], and thereby having narrowly escaped suffering for life from a shortage of birthdays. She was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia. Her mother was Scotch and her father English, and, though all of the family have a natural musical bent, they are thoroughly unprofessional throughout. When she was nine years old her family removed to Boston, Mass., where she attended the public schools, from which she finally graduated. During the summer succeeding her graduation she, with two school-mates, curious as to what stage life really is, joined the company of Pauline Hall, which was playing a summer engagement in Boston. Miss MacDonald was shortly after made understudy to Louise Beaudet, and says that she immediately developed a conviction that the company could by no possibility get along without her, and, therefore, she persuaded her mother to allow her to come with the company to New York, although the whole family was bitterly opposed to her going upon the stage. After a metropolitan experience of four weeks she was summoned home, and gave the customary two weeks' notice. Though she intended to quite the stage, in compliance with the wishes of her family, it was her fate to meet Francis Wilson while he was rehearsing The Lion Tamer. He, having heard her sing, offered her an engagement, which she accepted. She was made an understudy and was re-engaged for the following season, when she played the part of Marie, in Erminie, and was the understudy of Lulu Glaser. Her opportunity to play Miss Glaser's part of Javotte occurred on the night the company began their engagement in Philadelphia, Pa. She was thoroughly up in the part, and won credit by her performance. Last season Miss MacDonald played the part of Bob, the valet in The Devil's Deputy, and last summer created the part of Shafra, in The Sphinx.'
(The Logansport Journal, Logansport, Indiana, Tuesday, 19 November 1895, p. 7b)

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Buster Keaton and family
to appear at the Trent Theatre,
Trenton, New Jersey, week beginning
Monday, 8 December 1905

Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton (1878-1965),
American vaudeville performer and later film star

(photo: unknown, USA, 1900)

'The approach of the holidays has caused the Trent Theatre to furnish its patrons with an extra strong b ill for the coming week in order to offset the customary outside excitement, and seven acts of exceptional prominence will be found there this coming week. Amets, a spectacular mirror dancer, whose work is said to fully equal the famous Papinia and to be of an entirely different order, will introduce several electrical effects. Buster Keaton comes again and this statement itself is enough to assure full houses. His father and mother accompany him and his little brother, Jingles, is thrown in for good measure. Buster, of course, is the same little cute bunch of jollity that he always was. Greene & Werner, the original ''Babes in the Jungle'' will be seen in a singing act. Hayman & Franklin will present their comedy creation, ''A Matrimonial Agency.'' Herbert, the frogman present a unique performance entitled ''The Everglades of Florida.'' Malroy Bros, Brooks & Haliday, four people who present an elaborate musical act and the biograph are other pleasing features. Rochez's dogs and ponies are the big added feature and it is said to be beyond all doubt the most original and highly trained animal act of its kind in the world.'
(The Trenton Times, Trenton, New Jersey, Saturday, 16 December 1905, p. 6a)

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Nat M. Mills and 'La Belle Titcomb'
disagree over alimony payments,
New York, 1915/16

Nat M. Wills and Heloise Titcomb

Nat M. Wills and Heloise Titcomb ('La Belle Titcomb').

They were wed in 1910, he having been married twice before (both wives having died)
and she once; their divorce in 1914 was followed by his marriage to the actress
May Day and his death in 1917 from carbon monoxide poisoning.

(photo: unknown, probably USA, 1910)

'NAT WILLS FACES JAIL
'Actor Can't Pay Divorced Wife $500 a Month Alimony.
'TERM WOULD END LIABILITY
'Ex-Spouse, Known on the Stage as La Belle Titcomb, Is Far Better Off Than Himself, the Comedian Says. Has Another Wife and Baby to Support.
'Special to The Washington Post.
'NEW YORK, Jan. 23 [1916]. - If the court refuses the petition of Nat M. Wills, the comedian, to reduce the alimony of $500 a month he is now paying to the wife who divorced him, he fears that it will be better for him to go to Ludlow Street Jail for six months, and so wipe out all liability for future payments. Mr. Wills has an engagement at the Hippodrome at a salary of $400 a week. His former wife is known in vaudeville as La Belle Titcomb.
'Has Jewels and Property.
'Mrs. Wills obtained a divorce two years ago, with alimony of $200 a week. Then the court reduced the payments to the present amount to $500 a month. Mr. Wills has always paid.
'Mr. Wills' attorney said that Mrs. Wills owns property which his client gave her and that she owns also much valuable jewelry, besides a ''large magnificently staged act'' from which she enjoys an income of $250 a week.
'Wife and Baby ''Expense Item.''
'On the other hand, Mr. Wills has been compelled to deprive himself of many things that he had been used to enjoying. He has married again, and the attorney for Mrs. Wills [the actress May Day], in opposing the applications for a reduction of alimony, said:
'''Among the items of expense which Wills now brings to the attention of the court are a nurse for the baby and clothes for Mrs. Wills and the baby, as well as other items incurred by reason of his marriage to his present wife in defiance of the divorce decree prohibiting his remarriage.''
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Monday, 24 January 1916, p. 7e)

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© John Culme, 2009