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Diva Image #8: Mrs. Leslie Carter
by David for group historicalziegfeld Jan 22, 2011

For seven years--from 1895 when she became a star with "The Heart of Maryland" to 1902 when she played "Madame DuBarry"--Mrs. Leslie Carster was considered the greatest actress of the American Stage. Born in Kentucky, raised in Ohio, she was the great belle of Dayton and married a Chicago millionaire. The marriage proved short-lived despite the birth of a child. The couple's divorce was luridly ugly--headline fodder nationwide with Mrs. Carter and her husband trading accusations of abuse and infidelity. Kyrle Bellew, the handsomest leading man of the English stage, was named as a correspondent in the case. Single motherhood forced Mrs. Carter onto the stage for support. She became a protege of David Belasco who made her a star of the brightest luster. Her imperious good looks were captured by several photographers, including the English born E. W. Histed, who was a master of the plantinum upper crust status portrait. Over the first decade of the 20th century Mrs. Carter conspicuously aged in appearance. When motion picture producers lensed two of her great vehicles in 1915 she seemed decidedly older than the characters she played, contributing to the failure of both releases. Still--the reviews of performances during her prime leave no doubt that she eclipsed every other female personality in the legitimate theater in charisma and histrionic expression. David S. Shields

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  • historicalzg - 1Reply
    ohikkoshi wrote on Jan 23, '11
    Thanks, David.

    "...in the theatrical arena it was a different story: she was the bitch unleashed, with hell to pay for anyone contesting her megalomaniacal authority..." (c)

    ziegfeldgrrl wrote on Jan 25, '11
    These are lovely, thanks David!
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