Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 18 October 2008

Laura Joyce Bell (1858-1904),
American actress and singer in comic opera

Mabel Hite
a carte de viste photograph of Laura Joyce
before her marriage in 1883 to Digby Bell

(photo: Sarony, New York, circa 1878)

'Notwithstanding the decree of the New York Court, which granted a decree of divorce to Mrs. Digby Bell and prohibited the husband from marrying again, that gentleman made his appearance at a Chicago hotel on Sunday with a new wife, known to the stage as Miss Laura Joyce, who was herself divorced a short time ago from James V. Taylor, a wealthy New Yorker. Bell and Miss Joyce were married in Pennsylvania.'
(Decatur Daily Republican, Decatur, Illinois, Saturday, 17 March 1883, p. 2d)

'Haverly's Theatre, Chester, Pennsylvania, January 1885.
'Monday evening the McCaull Opera Company will present Gilbert & Sullivan's esthetic [sic] opera Patience in a brilliant manner, with new scenery, a large and thoroughly drilled chorus, and the following cast: J.H. Ryley will be Bunthorne; Digby Bell, Grosvenor; C.W. Dongan, Colonel Calverley; George Roseman, Major Murgatroyd; George R. Appleby, the Duke; Mary Beebe, Patience; Irene Perry, Lady Angela; Emma Ellsner, Lady Saphir; and that pronounced favorite, Laura Joyce bell, the massive Lady Jane.
'In this series of revival Manager McCaull has determined to produce the operas in the very best possible manner, selecting from his various companies those artists who are best adapted for the different roles. The present company could not be surpassed, all being especially fitted from their respective parts.'
(Chester Times, Chester, Pennsylvania, Monday, 12 January 1885, p. 3b)

Grand Opera House, San Antonio, Texas, 31 December 1896
'Tonight and Tomorrow Matinee and Night.
'Hoyt's greatest comedy, A Midnight Bell, which portrays more accurately than any other of its rivals, the charms, sweetness and fragrance of New England life, will be presented in this city shortly with an ideal cast of metropolitan favorites, headed by America's foremost comedian, Dibgy Bell, and the famous comedienne, Laura Joyce Bell. An entire carload of scenery has been painted by the celebrated artist, Arthur Voegtlin. New music has been specially arranged by Victor Herbert, author of Prince Ananias and The Wizard of the Nile and leader of Gilmore's famous band.'
(San Antonio Daily Light, San Antonio, Texas, Thursday, 31 December 1896, p. 5a)

'DEATH OF SINGER.
'Laura Joyce Bell Once Popular Comic Opera Star.
'Chicago, May 30 [1904]. - Announcement from new York city yesterday of the death of Mrs. Laura Joyce Bell, the comic opera singer, saddened scores of theatrical people who had known her when she was in the height of her popularity and success.
'Mrs. Bell was the wife of Digby Bell, the vaudeville star.
'Mrs. Bell had been ill for nearly a year. She suffered from fatty degeneration of the heart.
'Laura Joyce Maskell was born in England. She received her musical education at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Her first appearance in America was in Niblo's Garden in New York in 1872. In 1882 she was married to Digby Bell. Mrs. Bell was 46 years old.'
(The Daily Review, Decatur, Illinois, Monday, 30 May 1904, p. 3d)

'LAURA JOYCE BELL CUTS OFF DAUGHTER
'Because the Girl Ran Off and Got Married.
'New York, Oct. 21. - ''I give and bequeath to my daughter, Laura Seymour bell, for her sold support and separate use, $1.'' In these words Laura Joyce Bell, the actress, wife of Digby Bell, by her will, cut off her daughter from participation in her estate except as stated. The will was drawn may 3, 1904. Only a short time before that Miss Bell eloped from the normal college on the eve of her graduation and was married, her name now being Wilson.'
(The Daily Review, Decatur, Illinois, Friday, 21 October 1904, p. 1c)

For further photographs of Laura Joyce Bell, see NYPLDigitalGallery and University of Louisville, Digital Collections.

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© John Culme, 2007