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Short Stories/A Brief Sketch of Mr. Bellew


A Brief Sketch of Mr. Bellew

Kyrle Bellew, famed actor, manager, dramatist and traveler, who had been suffering from pneumonia, died Nov. 2nd, 1911, at 5 o'clock in the morning, in apartments in the Hotel Utah, Salt Lake City.

Frank A. Connor, the actor's dearest friend and for years his inseparable companion, was the only person with him when the end came. Mr. Bellew was stricken with a cold while playing in Denver, though he attributed his indisposition to the altitude, and was apparently much improved when he reached Salt Lake. He played in the opening performance of the local engagement of his comedy, "The Mollusc," at the Salt Lake Theatre Thursday night. When arising Friday morning he did not feel well and returned to his bed. Later in the day he decided that his ailment was la Grippe; a doctor was called. He was compelled to concel a luncheon engagement with former Gov. Heber M. Wells, who was an old friend and admirer, arranged for Friday noon. As he continued to grow worse, the balance of his local engagement was cancelled on the advice of his physician. From Friday Mr. Bellew's condition continued to grow more alarming, and it was apparent Tuesday afternoon that the end was but a few hours away. He passed away peacefully, seemingly without pain.


In the ringing down of a final curtain on Kyrle Bellew's career the English-American stage loses one of its most accomplished actors, and one of the most lovable, highly respected men in the profession. His generosity and broad-mindedness were bywords among his friends. While he called himself a rover, victim of impulse, he was none the less an artist. He was a writer of ability and won success as a dramatist. As his own manager several years ago he was successful. He was at all times, in all places a student capable of teaching the brightest, but ever eager to broaden his own intellect.

During his life there were times that the call of travel and adventure was compelling, more powerful than the lure of the footlights, and the success he was achieving in his chosen profession. At such times he would equip his yacht, Moonstone, for a long cruise, and with his friend Frank A. Connor set sail for some distant land. In this way he visited several times practically every country in the world except Russia, and he was planning with keen anticipation the treat he would give himself when this tour was completed by journeying through Russia.

From Rev. J. C. M. Bellew, well known in England and America as a Shakespearian reader, as well as a minister, Kyrle Bellew inherited his talent for the stage. Previous to the Oxford movement in 1869, which resulted in the resignation of Mr. Bellew's father from the Church of England, and in his entrance to the Roman Catholic Church, the minister had wished his son, Harold, to enter the ministry, but Harold preferred the Navy, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Admiral Kyrle, and joined H. M. S. "Conway" Training Ship at Liverpool. Leaving the navy at the urgent advice of his father, a move of which he ever afterwards spoke regretfully, Kyrle Bellew set out in 1871 for Australia, which ended in an expedition to the new gold diggings at Yugiltar Reefs. For three years he led a roving picturesque existence, sometimes in affluence and oftener in poverty, trying his hand at gold digging, wood cutting, boat building, sign painting and eventually acting. He returned to England on the death of his father in 1875.

In August of that year he made his first appearance on the English stage as Woodstock, supporting Helen Barry in Clancarty, a play which was re-written by his father's own friend, Tom Taylor. His repetition of Eglinton Roseleaf in the Park Theatre, London, on Oct. 16th, 1875, led to his engagement to play under Buckstone's management at the Haymarket, where he became leading man, and one of the most popular young actors in London. Except for a short engagement at the Prince of Wales, he remained three years at the Haymarket, supporting Adelaide Neilson in Anne Boleyn, Measure for Measure, The Lady of Lyons, and other plays, and appearing in the original cast of Gilbert's Engaged. Subsequently he joined Henry Irving at the Lyceum, in 1878, and Marie Lytton's Company at the Imperial, obtaining a wide command over a varied repertoire with such actors as Phelps, Farren, Brough, Vezin, Rider, and Mrs. Sterling. To his industrious study during these years he attributed his knowledge of theatrical technique, which gave him the rank in the first class of actors. At the Prince of Wales in 1884, he played Prince Philamir, in the Palace of Truth, Humphrey Goddard, in Breaking a Butterfly, Gilbert Vaughan in Called Back, and at the Olympic in 1885 he played Hubert Graham in In His Power, and Carlos Merle in Heartless.

Although Kyrle Bellew visited America in 1882, he did not appear on the American stage until 1885, when Lester Wallack engaged him as leading man. Besides repeating In His Power, and other plays, for which he was known in England, his repertoire during two seasons at Wallack's included The Rivals, The Busybody, Hoodman Blind, Valerie, Sophia, Harvest, The School for Scandal, Harbor Lights The Dominee's Daughter, Old Heads and Young Hearts, and the Romance of a Poor Young Man. This last play ended the career of the famous Wallack Company.

From 1887 onward Mr. Bellew played alternately in England and America, with extensive tours in Australia, India and other British Colonial possessions. After a short run at the Gayety, London, in Civil War, in 1887, Henry E. Abbey engaged him as leading man for Mrs. James Brown Potter, with whom he played in nearly all parts of the globe where English is understood. This tour is recalled as one of the unique events of the stage, for although other actors have traveled far and wide they have hardly met with such brilliant success.

After the production of his own Hero and Leander, at the Shaftsbury, London, in 1892, and his appearance in The Lights of Home at the Adelphi, he and Mrs. Potter played together again until 1898 in such dramas as Charlotte Corday and Fracillon. After The Jest, at the Criterion in 1898; Robespierre, at the Lyceum in 1899; and the Ghetto, at the Comedy; he spent another year in the Australian gold fields. He returned to the stage in America, however, in 1902, playing A Gentleman of France, Lady of Lyons, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, School for Scandal, Raffles, Sacrament of Judas, Chevalier and the Two Orphans, She Stoops to Conquer, Brigadier Gerard, The Marriage of Reason, The Thief, One Performance; with Mrs. George Gould, in the Plaza Hotel in Mrs. Van Vechten's Divorce Dance; the Builder of Bridges, The Scanday, Revival of Raffles, and the Mollusc.

In addition to his success as a romantic actor Mr. Bellew was a successful dramatist, being the author of the English version of Charlotte Corday, Hero and Leander, Yvonne, Iolande, Francillon, and others.

Mr. Bellew held a master's sailing certificate, having graduated from the New York Nautical School. He was a fellow member of the Royal Microscopal Society, the Royal Geographical Society, The Royal London Yacht Club, and a Life Member of the Actors Fund of America.

Harold Kyrle-Money Bellew was born at Prescott, England. His mausoleum is in St. Raymond's Roman Catholic Cemetery, New York.—Salt Lake City Press, Nov. 3, 1911.