Julia Marlowe (August 17, 1866 – November 12, 1950) was an English-born American actress known for her interpretations of William Shakespeare.
Life and career
Born Sarah Frances Frost
, to John Frost and Sarah (Strong) Hodgson. At the age of four her family emigrated to the United States. Her father who was an avid fan of local sports "fled to America in 1870 under the erroneous impression that he had destroyed a neighbor's eye by flicking a whip at him during a race. He changed his name to Brough and after first settling in Kansas
he moved his family east to Portsmouth, Ohio
and then Cincinnati
Marlowe obtained the nickname of "Fanny" and in her early teens began her career in the chorus of a juvenile opera company. While touring with the company for nearly a year performing Gilbert and Sullivan
's H.M.S. Pinafore
, under the direction of Colonel Robert E. J. Miles (manager of the Cincinnati Opera House) she was given the part of Sir Joseph Porter. She later played in W. S. Gilbert
's Pygmalion and Galatea
Her training and initial success was due primarily to Miles's sister-in-law Ada Dow. Still in Cincinnati, Fanny played her first Shakespearean roles as Balthazar in Romeo and Juliet and as Maria in Twelfth Night she was billed as Fanny Brough. Soon after Ada Dow took Fanny to New York where for several years she received voice training by Parsons Price. Finished with the voice training she changed her name to Julia Marlowe. As an unknown, twenty-year old Marlowe was, at first, unable to get a Shakesperean role, but she was determined. Colonel Miles, the new manager of the New York Bijou Opera House, gave her the opportunity to play for two weeks on tour in New England. This gave Marlowe the repertoire she needed. On 20 October, 1887, her mother hired the Bijou for a matinee of Ingomar, in which Marlowe received acclaim which served as a stepping stone to Broadway.
She made her Broadway
debut in 1895 and went on to appear in more than seventy Broadway productions, often starring with her second husband, Edward Hugh Sothern
. Her first husband was Broadway actor Robert Taber
who died im 1904. Their marriage lasted from 1894-1900. With Sothern she performed in Shakespearean repertoire in all parts of the United States retiring in the 1920s. Sothern performed in a number of silent films while Marlowe passed on film offers. After Sothern's death in 1933, Julia Marlowe became somewhat of a recluse. White haired and still beautiful she'd occasionally visit close friends like ailing playwright Edward Sheldon
Julia Marlowe died in 1950 in New York City. She had no children.
- Barry, John D. Julia Marlowe. Boston: R. G. Badger, 1899.
- Russell, Charles Edward. Julia Marlowe, Her Life and Art. New York: D. Appleton and company, 1926.
- Marlowe, Julia, and E. H. Sothern. Julia Marlowe's Story. New York: Rinehart, 1954.