1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lekain

LEKAIN, the stage name of Henri Louis Cain (1728–1778), French actor, who was born in Paris on the 14th of April 1728, the son of a silversmith. He was educated at the Collège Mazarin, and joined an amateur company of players against which the Comédie Française obtained an injunction. Voltaire supported him for a time and enabled him to act in his private theatre and also before the duchess of Maine. Owing to the hostility of the actors it was only after a struggle of seventeen months that, by the command of Louis XV., he was received at the Comédie Française. His success was immediate. Among his best parts were Herod in Mariamne, Nero in Britannicus and similar tragic rôles, in spite of the fact that he was short and stout, with irregular and rather common features. His name is connected with a number of important scenic reforms. It was he who had the benches removed on which privileged spectators formerly sat encumbering the stage, Count Lauragais paying for him an excessive indemnity demanded. Lekain also protested against the method of sing-song declamation prevalent, and endeavoured to correct the costuming of the plays, although unable to obtain the historic accuracy at which Talma aimed. He died in Paris on the 8th of February 1778.

His eldest son published his Mémoires (1801) with his correspondence with Voltaire, Garrick and others. They were reprinted with a preface by Talma in Mémoires sur l’art dramatique (1825).