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E.A. Sothern

 "I think the funniest small thing I ever noted at a theatrical performace was his delivery of one of Dundreary’s speech in connection with Sam’s ‘letter from America.’ The passage began, ‘Dear Bwother,’ Mr. Sothern’s reading the opening words of the epistle; then he made one of his pauses, and with a characteistic click and hitch in his voice, commented – ‘Sam always calls me his bwother – because neither of us ever had a sister." …on the words ‘because neither of us ever had a sister’ the actor’s voice became instantly saturated with mock pathos, and the sudden absurd demand for sympathy reached the amazed auditor with soul-tingling effect." critic Henry Austin Clapp on Sothern’s performance as Lord Dundreary

Sothern, E[dward] A[skew] (1826-1881) The tall, lanky American actor was born in Liverpool, England. Using the name Douglas Stewart, he began his career as an eccentric comedian on the English stages. He made his American debut in Boston in 1852 as Dr. Pangloss in The Heir-at-Law. He joined Wallack’s celebrated company in 1854, and started using his real name. However, success and fame did not come until 1858 when he joined Laura Keen’s company and reluctantly assumed the role of Lord Dundreary in Tom Taylor’s Our American Cousin. The plot entails a rich Yankee from Vermont, Asa Trenchard, visiting his money-hungry relatives in England and saving them from a corrupt lawyer who has swindled them. Meanwhile, wandering on and off the stage at odd intervals is Lord Dundreary, a likeable but chuckleheaded friend of the family, who comments on the play and anything else that comes to his mind in a lisping voice and a logic all his own. With permission from Keene, Sothern expanded the role until the character virtually dominated the play despite the fact that Dundreary doesn’t actually have much effect on the action. Sothern achieved sudden star status with his original creation of this ass of an aristocrat, in his long, full-length coat with vest, cravat, collar, monacle, droopy moustache, massive mutton-chop whiskers and hair neatly parted down the middle. The play ran uninterrupted for five months and Dundreary became its most popular character. In 1861, after 400 consecutive performances, Londoners indulged in frequent ‘Dundrearyisms’, and his distinctive whiskers, known as "Dundrearies", became popular. Although Sothern was not part of the cast at the time, it was Our American Cousin that was being performed at Ford’s Theatre with Laura Keene the night Lincoln was assassinated. Among his other notable parts were the title roles in a play about Dundreary’s relative Brother Sam (1862); and in David Garrick (1964) as well as Fitzaltamont, the failed actor, in The Crushed Tragedian (1877). Critics were divided on the merits of his acting in the last two, both more or less serious plays; but no one can doubt that Dundreary was his finest achievement. It was a part that he continued to play until 1880 a years before his death. His son, E.H. Sothern, then took up the role and played it as late as 1915.

(click on photo to enlarge)

E.A. Sothern in 1875-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (72820 bytes) E.A. Sothern in 1863-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (80224 bytes) E.A. Sothern_head sketch-B&W-Resized.jpg (52714 bytes)
1875 Portrait 1863 Portrait Sketch
EA Sothern as Lord Dundreary, 1858-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (78396 bytes) EA Sothern as Lord Dundreary in Our American Cousins-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (87864 bytes) EA Sothern as Lord Dundreary in Our American Cousins-Photo 2-B&W-Resized.jpg (67638 bytes)
as Lord Dundreary (1858) as Lord Dundreary as Lord Dundreary
EA Sothern as Lord Dundreary reading newspaper-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (97145 bytes) EA Sothern as Lord Dundreary reading Sams letter-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (92841 bytes) EA Sothern as Lord Dundreary rhaving his hair combed-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (94300 bytes)
as Lord Dundreary reading a letter from brother Sam "Oh, what an ass he is!"
EA Sothern as Lord Dundreary standing with hand in pocket-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (67679 bytes) Our American Cousin Playbill-Resized.jpg (95742 bytes) EA Sothern as Lord Dundreary sitting counting on fingers-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (72328 bytes)
as Lord Dundreary Our American Cousin Playbill as Lord Dundreary
Dundreary's Song, Act I in Our American Cousin-Resized.jpg (169959 bytes) End of Act II in Our American Cousin-Resized.jpg (164166 bytes) Dance at end of Act III in Our American Cousin-Resized.jpg (208821 bytes)
Dundreary's song
Act I
Our American Cousin
End of Act II
Our American Cousin
Dance at the end of Act III
Our American Cousin
E.A. Sothern (1872) head shot-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (83021 bytes) E.A. Sothern (1826-1881) as David Garrick-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (83170 bytes) E.A. Sothern (1826-1881) as David Garrick-Photo 2-B&W-Resized.jpg (74650 bytes)
as Lord Dundreary as David Garrick as David Garrick

E.A Sothern as the Crushed Tragedian-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (97489 bytes)

E.A. Sothern (1826-1881) cameo portrait-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (88913 bytes)

EH Sothern as Lord Dundreary-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (90465 bytes)

in The Crushed Tragedian Portrait E.H. Sothern as Lord Dundreary

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