Henry Montague: First Shepherd of the Lambs

This portrait of Montague's ghost hangs at the Lambs in New York
This portrait of Montague’s ghost hangs at the Lambs in New York

Just a quick shout out to honor the natal day of actor Henry James Montague (Henry John Mann, 1843-1878). Montague came to our attention through that eerie, ghostly portrait above, which hangs in the Lambs. Montague was a founding member of the original Lambs Club in London in 1868, and helped founded the New York one in 1874, becoming its first Shepherd, a post he held until his early death at age 35 in 1878. Hence the morbid imagery, which I wouldn’t change for the world. The Lambs’ downtown rival, The Players’ has morbid traditions of its own surrounding Edwin Booth and various other ghosts who may or may not inhabit its townhouse headquarters. Its part of the whole fun of it.

Montague had started as a regional actor in his native Staffordshire. He must have been very good as well as very good looking for he was already working professionally with Boucicault at Astley’s by 1863 when he was 20 years old. Over the years he would would work with the great Irish playwright/actor-manager many times, in such works as The Trial of Elfie Dean (1863), How She Loves Him (1867), After Dark (1868) and The Shaughraun (1874). His part in The Shaughraun was later taken up by Maurice Barrymore, who, like Montague was something of a matinee idol. Other interesting productions Montagu took part in were Wilkie Collins’ The Frozen Deep in 1866, and an adaption of Dickens’ Dombey and Son (1873).

Montague was something of a ladies man and a rake. At the time of his death he was fending off a breach of promise suit from his frequent co-star Rose Massey. He was on tour in San Francisco when he died of a pulmonary embolism (bleeding lungs) in 1878.

Henry Montague is buried at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. 

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