Today is the birthday of Blanche Walsh (1873-1915). The daughter of an Irish Tammany Hall politician, Walsh was a professional New York stage actress from the time she was 15. For years Walsh was a member of Charles Frohman’s stock company, acting with the likes of William Gillette and Nat Goodwin. Said to resemble the successful actress Fanny Davenport, she began to be cast in roles that normally might have gone to the latter when she sickened, then died in the late 1890s. One of most famous roles on Broadway was in the play Resurrection (1903); she later starred in a film version (her only film) in 1912. The film is now lost.
By the last years of her life she was also touring in big time vaudeville. She is recorded as having played the Palace in 1914 and 1915. Her last turn there was considered one of the most successful Palace acts of 1915, a World War One themed playlet entitled The Spoils of War. (As the U.S. was officially neutral at the time, the program contained a disclaimer about not picking sides). She died later that year, aged 42, of kidney ailments.
For much more on Blanche Walsh, and from one of her relatives, no less, check out John Bredin’s article here.
And to learn more about vaudeville and thespians who played there like Blanche Walsh, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.