Woman of the Century/Mary Anderson de Navarro

ANDERSON, Mary, Mme. Navarro, actor born in Sacramento, Cal., 28th July, 1859. Her maiden name was Mary Antoinette Anderson. Her mother was German descent, and her father was the grandson of an Englishman. In January, 1860, her parents removed from Sacramento to Louisville, Ky., where she lived until 1877 Her father joined the Confederate army at the beginning of the Civil War, and was killed at Mobile, Ala., in 1862. Her mother was married again, in 1864, to Dr. Hamilton Griffin, a practicing physician in Louisville. Mary and her brother Joseph had a pleasant home. Mary was a bright, mischievous child, whose early pranks earned her the name of "Little Mustang." Afterwards, when her exuberance was toned down and she had settled seriously to study, she was called "Little Newspaper." In school she was so careless of books and fond of mischief, that at the age of thirteen years she was permitted to study at home. There, instead of the usual studies, she spent her time on Shakespeare. Fascinated by the world that the poet opened to her she began to train her voice to recite striking passages that she committed to memory. The desire to become an actor was born with her. At the age of ten she recited passages from Shakespeare, with her room arranged to represent the stage scene. Her first visit to the theater occurred when she was twelve years old. She and her brother witnessed the performance of a fairy piece, and from that moment she had no thought for any profession but the stage. Her parents attempted to dissuade her from this choice ; but she pursued her studies with only her inborn artistic instincts as teachers. She was known to possess dramatic talent, and friends urged her parents to put her in training for the stage. In her fourteenth year she saw Edwin Booth perform as Richard III in Louisville, and the performance intensified her desire to become an actor. She repeated his performance at home, and terrified a colored servant girl into hysterics with her fierce declamation. The performance was repeated before an audience of friends in her home, and in it she achieved her first success. Her interrupted course in the Ursuline Convent school of Louisville was supplemented by a course of training in music, dancing and literature, with the idea of a dramatic career. By the advice of Charlotte Cushman she made a thorough preparation, studying for a time with the younger Vanderhoff in New York. That was her only real training—ten lessons from a dramatic teacher; all the rest she accomplished for herself. Her first appearance was in the rôle of Juliet, on 27th November, 1875. in Macauley's Theater, Louisville, in a benefit given for Milnes Levick, an English stock actor, who was in financial straits. Miss Anderson was announced on the bills simply as "Juliet, by a Louisville Young Lady." The theatre was packed, and Mary Anderson, in spite of natural crudities and faults, won a most pronounced success. In February, 1876, she played a week in the same theater, appearing as Bianca in "Fazio," as Julia in "The Hunchback," as Evadne, and again as Juliet. Her reputation spread rapidly, and on 6th March, 1876, she began a week's engagement at the opera house, in St. Louis, Mo. She next played a week in Ben de Bar's Drury Lane Theater in New Orleans, and scored a brilliant triumph. She next presented Meg Merrilies in the New Orleans Lyceum, and in that difficult rule she won a memorable success. Prominent persons overwhelmed her with attentions, and when she left New Orleans a special MARY ANDERSON.jpgMARY ANDERSON. engine and car bore her to Louisville. She now passed some time in study and next played a second successful engagement in New Orleans. Her first and only rebuff was in her native State, where she played for two weeks in San Francisco. The press and critics were cold and hostile, and it was only when she appeared as Meg Merrilies the Californians could see any genius in her. In San Francisco she met Edwin Booth, who advised her to study such parts as "Parthenia," as better suited to her powers than the more somber tragic characters Her Californian tour discouraged her, but she was keen to perceive the lesson that underlay ill success, and decided to begin at the bottom and build upward. She made a summer engagement with a company of strolling players and familiarized herself with the stage "business" in all its details. The company played mostly to empty benches, but the training was valuable to Miss Anderson. In 1876 she accepted an offer from John T. Ford, of Washington and Baltimore, to join his company as a star at three-hundred dollars a week. Accompanied by her parents, as was her invariable custom, she went on a tour with Mr Ford's company and everywhere won new triumphs. The management reaped a rich harvest. On this tour Miss Anderson was subjected to annoyance through a boycott by the other members of the company, who were jealous of the young star. She had added Lady Macbeth to her list of characters. The press criticisms that were showered upon her make interesting reading. In St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington and other cities the critics were agreed upon the fact of her genius, but not all agreed upon her manner of expressing it. Having won in the West and Southwest, she began to invade eastern territory. She appeared in Pittsburgh in 1880, and was successful. In Philadelphia she won the public and critics to her side easily. In Boston she opened as Evadne, with great apprehension of failure, but she triumphed and appeared as Juliet and Meg Merrilies, drawing large houses. While in Boston, she formed the acquaintance of Longfellow, and their friendship lasted through the later-life of the venerable poet. After Boston came New York and in the metropolis she opened with a good company in "The Lady of Lyons." Her engagement was so successful there that it was extended to six weeks. During that engagement she played as Juliet and in "The Daughter of Roland." After the New York engagement she had no more difficulties to overcome. Everywhere in the United States and Canada she was welcomed as the leading actor among American women. In 1879 she made her first trip to Europe, and while in England visited the grave of Shakespeare at Stratford-on-Avon, and in Paris met Sarah Bernhardt, Madame Ristori and other famous actors. In 1880 she received an offer from the manager of Drury Lane, London, England, to play an engagement. She was pleased by the offer, but she modestly refused it, as she thought herself hardly finished enough for such a test of her powers. In 1883 she also refused an offer to appear in the London Lyceum. In 1884-5 she was again in London, and then she accepted an offer to appear at the Lyceum in "Parthenia." Her success was pronounced and instantaneous. She drew crowded houses, and among her friends and patrons were the Prince and Princess of Wales, Lord Lytton and Tennyson. She played successfully in Manchester, Edinburgh and other British towns. During that visit she opened the Memorial Theater in Stratford-on-Avon, playing Rosamond in "As You Like It." Her portrait in that character forms one of the panels of the Shakespeare Theater. In 1885-6 she played many engagements in the United States and Great Britain. In 1889 a serious illness compelled her to retire from the stage temporarily. In 1890 she announced her permanent withdrawal from it, and soon after she was married to M. Antonio Navarro de Viano, a citizen of New York. They now live in England.