Home / Performers / Kate Castleton - The Mischievous Kate Castleton in S.F._profdash (Stage) [8]

The Mischievous Kate Castleton in S.F.
by David for group historicalziegfeld Nov 21, 2010

She was a saucy high-kicking English comedienne who exploited the liberties of theatrical life to form her own touring company and indulge in her taste for dangerous men, such as forger Little Joe Elliott. Before her death in 1891, the rougish Castleton crisscrossed the United States for nearly a decade, presenting comedies and farces. Here the first seven images present her in E. E. Rice's 1882 hit, "Surprise Party," photographed by pioneering San Francisco camera artist Thomas Houseworth (1828-1915). Optician-photographer Houseworth had come to California as a 49er and worked in the gold fields two years. In the later 1850s he formed a partnership with jeweler George Lawrence in a business that encompassed instrument making, optics, and photography. They became nationally famous in the later 1860s for stereographic scenic views of California. After Lawrence's retirement in 1868, Houseworth went it alone. Financial difficulties in the later 1870s forced him to explore genres besides landscape, hence his move into celebrity portraiture. This sitting from 1883 shows Houseworth in possession of professional painted backdrops and good furniture, but the business was failing. A comparison with a Castleton portrait by the master, Napoleon Sarony, shows that Houseworth quite didn't have the chic in posing or supplying tasteful backgrounds. David S. Shields


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