Tuesday, April 12, 2011

There's No Business Like Show Business

As I mentioned in my previous post, written before my lovely restful Spring vacation in Florida, my grandfather marched to a different drummer than his father or brothers.  I don't know when or how he started in the theatre business, but as you could see by the letter head, he was employed by the Shubert Princess Theatre in 1924 when my mother was born.  He loved show business and went on to be a theatre manger his entire life, moving from live theatre in his early years to cinemas later in his life.  My grandmother was always with him, helping out wherever she could, usually taking the tickets. 

The back side of the photo below says this is the cast of Abie's Irish Rose, but it doesn't say the year and the theatre was listed in the corner that has broken off.  My assumption is that the actress with the flowers played the lead. and the clothing suggests late twenties or early thirties. My grandfather, Edward Kennelly, is the standing man on the far left and my grandmother, Berenice Moldt Kennelly, is seated on the floor far right.  I am sure that everyone is in the cast but them.

The cast of Abie's Irish Rose - Chicago ca. 1924-26

Peg Kennelly as a bridesmaid in Abie's Irish Rose

I have never been able to identify anyone in the cast. Really, I have tried a bit - but only a little bit.  Okay, this is what I know.  My grandfather's sister, Margaret, known as Peg, at some point was part of the cast as a bridesmaid.  The story told to me by her daughter was that the show was going to go "on the road" but when she asked her father, he wouldn't allow it saying that she was too young.   Peg, born in 1906, was probably under twenty so that helps to narrow the date somewhat.  I have analyzed and looked at this photo many times and still cannot pick out Peg so I have concluded that she is not in this photo.  Was she in an earlier or later cast??  It would be fun to have a playbill from the production and so, with my fingers crossed, I have placed a permanent search on Ebay in the hope that one will surface eventually.  I did find a postcard of the Princess Theatre . . . but is it worth $7.99 plus shipping? 

I have also discovered a couple of newspaper ads for the play and brief information about the various actresses that played the lead using the Newspaper Archive database that is available for free through my local library.  My intent was to post this last night but it infuriated annoyed me that I couldn't locate them in my well organized computer files. Then today after work I stumbled upon remembered where I filed them.

The newspaper announcement printed in the Chicago Daily Tribune on the right has the date May 25, 1924.  The leading lady on the left is Miss Lorna Carroll.  "Miss Carroll is the new occupant of the title-role in "Abies Irish Rose," which is beyond its two-hundredth Chicago performance.  She is the third young woman to have the part in the Studebaker Run . . . Biographical detail concerning her career are meagre.  Such as are provided by the press-agent it have it that she was dragged shrieking from the New York cast by the author-manager, Miss Nichols; and it doesn't matter:  the picture classifies as news."
 I have tried to match the photo of the leading lady in my photo with this one, and I think it is a pretty fair match.  But how long did she have this part at the Studebaker??   

So now I conclude . . .if my grandfather was at the Shubert Princess Theatre in October of 1924 as indicated by his letter announcing my mother's birth, then the photo had to be after that.  And if  . . . on January 22, 1928 the Chicago Daily Tribune prints the article at left announcing that Miss Patricia Quinn is appearing in Abie's Irish Rose at the Kedzie Theatre . . . then the date range for my photo is most likely 1925-27.  It also says that this production is a touring company, but doesn't mention whether this performance is at the end of their tour or the beginning.  Hmmmmmm . . .this also means my grandfather must have changed jobs from the Princess to the Studebaker Theatre.  What was his position at the Studebaker? - it must have had at least some responsibility to have his photo taken with the cast. 

Do you have information you can add to this story?
Do you have theatre people in your family?
Can you identify any of the actors in my photo?
Do you have photos of the Studebaker Theatre ca. 1925?

One of these days I will find that missing corner.  I am just sure it is someplace safe!

No comments:

Post a Comment