Hope Booth Fragments

Toronto-born Hope Booth (1878-1933) was the daughter of Canadian M.P. who became a well known legit stage and vaudeville star.

She was only 14 when she appeared in a production of Shaw’s Widower’s Houses and was dismissed by a critic as “fetching but hopeless”. The playwright himself suggested, more helpfully, that though she had no useful talents for the stage, she might learn some. Instead she seemed content to trade in on that “fetching” quality, and did quite well by it for a time. In 1893 she began touring the vaudeville circuits, apparently with a great deal of success, for she was featuring on trading cards and on the covers of magazines.. She traveled with units organized by Daniel Frohman, Mrs. Fiske and George M. Cohan, latterly with a sketch called “The Little Blonde Lady”, In 1896 she was arrested for performing in a sketch at Casino Roof Gardens called  “Ten Minutes in the Latin Quartier; or A Study in the Nude”. In 1901 her husband, actor J.E.B. Earll was arrested on the stage of Koster and Bial’s, presumably on a similar charge (in his case not nudity but maybe suggestive material of some sort.)

By 1903 she had divorced Earll and married theatre critic Rennold Wolf (1872-1922). The pair went to Europe in 1905 and he became Paris correspondent of the Evening Telegraph. By 1909 they had separated and she found herself stranded in an Italian sanitarium. She sued him for divorce on the grounds of abandonment the following year. Soon thereafter, he had great success as a playwright and songwriter, contributing to over a dozen Broadway shows between 1911 and 1919, included several editions of the Ziegfeld Follies. He is also credited on the scenarios of nearly a dozen silent films. By contrast, Booth spent her last quarter century as a recluse and died in obscurity.

To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.