Blanche Bates: Belasco’s Butterfly


August 25, 1873 was the natal day of actress Blanche Bates, best known for her long years with David Belasco’s stock company where she created the female leads in the original productions of Madame Butterfly (1900) and The Girl of the Golden West (1905), among others. Born in Portland, Oregon, and began her professional career in San Francisco. Prior to joining Belasco, she had done a couple of shows with Augustin Daly. She only made but two films, The Border Legion (1918) and Tom’s Little Star (1919).

In 1914, she played the Palace at a time when Martin Beck was still trying to make his brand new flagship vaudeville house respectable by hiring stars from the “legit” theatre. But unlike some (e.g., Ethel Barrymore) she apparently didn’t make a habit of it. Her last Broadway credit was in 1934. She died in 1941.

For more on vaudeville historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


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