"Why not unite Sothern and Marlowe and tour the country in a series of magnificent Shakespearian productions?"
At that time Julia Marlowe had reverted to the control of Charles Dillingham, while Sothern was still under the management of Daniel Frohman. Charles now brought the stars together, offered them a guarantee of $5,000 a week for a forty weeks' engagement and for three seasons. In other words, he pledged these two stars the immense sum of $200,000 for each season, which was beyond doubt the largest guarantee of the kind ever made in the history of the American theater.
It was just about this time that Joseph Humphreys, Frohman's seasoned general stage-manager, succumbed to the terrific strain under which he had worked all these years, as both actor and producer. William Seymour stepped into his shoes, and has retained that position ever since.
Charles was constantly bringing about revolutions. Through him Francis Wilson, for example, departed from musical comedy, in which he had made a great success, and took up straight plays. He began with Clyde Fitch's French adaptation of "Cousin Billy," and thus commenced a connection under Charles Frohman that lasted many years. With him, as with all his other stars, there was never a scrap of paper.
Frohman and Wilson met at the Savoy Hotel in London one day. Frohman had often urged him to quit musical comedy, and he now said he was ready to make the plunge.
"All right," said Frohman. "I will give you so much a week and a percentage of the profits."
"It's done," said Wilson.
"Do you want a contract?" asked Frohman.
This was about all that ever happened in the way of arrangements between Frohman and his stars, to some of whom he paid fortunes.
During these years Charles had watched with growing interest the development of a young girl from Bloomington, Illinois, Margaret Illington by name. She had appeared successfully in the old Lyceum Stock Company when it was transferred by Daniel Frohman to Daly's, and had played with James K. Hackett and E. H. Sothern. Charles now cast her in Pinero's play "A Wife Without a Smile." Afterward she appeared in Augustus Thomas's piece "Mrs. Leffingwell's Boots," and made such a strong impression that Frohman made her leading woman with John Drew in Pinero's "His House in Order."
Just about this time Charles, whose interest in French plays had constantly increased through the years, singled out Henri Bernstein as the foremost of the younger French playwrights. He secured his remarkable play "The Thief" for America. He now produced this play at the Lyceum with Miss Illington and Kyrle Bellew as co-stars, and it proved to be an enormous success, continuing there for a whole season, and then duplicating its triumph on the road, where Frohman at one time had four companies playing it in various parts of the country.
THE CONQUEST OF THE LONDON STAGE
Great as were Charles Frohman's achievements in America, they were more than matched in many respects by his activities in England. He was the one American manager who made an impress on the British drama; he led the so-called "American invasion." As a matter of fact, he was the invasion. No phase of his fascinatingly crowded and adventurous career reflects so much of the genius of the man, or reveals so many of his finer qualities, as his costly attempt to corner the British stage. Here, as in no other work, he showed himself in really Napoleonic proportions.
Behind Charles's tremendous operations in London were three definite motives. First of all, he really loved England. He felt that the theater there had a dignity and a distinction far removed from theatrical production in America. There was no sneer of "commercialism" about it. To be identified with the stage in England was something to be proud of. He often said that he would rather make fifteen pounds in London than fifteen thousand dollars in America. It summed up his whole attitude toward the theater in Great Britain.
In the second place, he knew that a strong footing in England was absolutely necessary to a mastery of the situation in America. Just as important as any of his other reasons was the conviction in his own mind that to produce the best English-speaking plays in the United States he must know English playwrights and English authors on their own ground, and to produce, if possible, their own works on their home stages.
This latter desire led him to the long and brilliant series of productions that he made in London, and which amounted to what later became an almost complete monopoly on British dramatic output for the United States.
The net result was that he became a sort of Colossus of the English-speaking theater. Figuratively, he stood astride the mighty sea in which he was to meet his death, with one foot planted securely in England and the other in New York.
* * *
Charles's first visits to England were made in the most unostentatious way, largely to look over the ground and see what he could pick up for America. His first offices in Henrietta Street were very modest rooms. Unpretentious as they were, they represented a somewhat historic step, because Frohman was absolutely the first American manager to set up a business in England. Augustin Daly had taken over a company, but he allied himself in no general way with British theatrical interests.
When Frohman first engaged W. Lestocq as his English manager, as has already been recorded, he made a significant remark:
"You know I am coming into London to produce plays. But I am coming in by the back door. I shall get to the front door, however, and you shall come with me."
No sooner had he set foot in London than his productive activities were turned loose. With A. and S. Gatti he put on one of his New York successes, "The Lost Paradise," at the Adelphi Theater. In this instance he merely furnished the play. It failed, however. Far from discouraging Frohman, it only filled him with a desire to do something big.
This play marked the beginning of one of his most important English connections. The Gattis, as they were known in England, were prominent figures in the British theater. They were Swiss-Italians who had begun life in England as waiters, had established a small eating-house, and had risen to become the most important restaurateurs of the British capital. They became large realty-owners, spread out to the theater, and acquired the Adelphi and the Vaudeville.
Charles Frohman's arrangement with them was typical of all his business transactions. Some years afterward a well-known English playwright asked Stephen Gatti:
"What is your contract with Frohman?"
"We have none. When we want an agreement from Charles Frohman about a business transaction it is time to stop," was his reply.
With the production of a French farce called "A Night Out," which was done at the Vaudeville Theater in 1896, Frohman began his long and intimate association with George Edwardes. This man's name was synonymous with musical comedy throughout the amusement world. As managing director of the London Gaiety Theater, the most famous musical theater anywhere, he occupied a unique position. Charles was the principal American importer of the Gaiety shows, and through this and various other connections he had much to do with Edwardes.
Frohman and Edwardes were the joint producers of "A Night Out," and it brought to Charles his first taste of London success. This was the only play in London in which he ever sold his interest. Out of this sale grew a curious example of Frohman's disregard of money. For his share he received a check of four figures. He carried it around in his pocket for weeks. After it had become all crumpled up, Lestocq persuaded him to deposit it in the bank. Only when the check was almost reduced to shreds did he consent to open an account with it.
* * *
It remained for an American play, presenting an American star, to give Charles his first real triumph in London. With the production of "Secret Service," in 1897, at the Adelphi Theater, he became the real envoy from the New World of plays to the Old. It was an ambassadorship that gave him an infinite pride, for it brought fame and fortune to the American playwright and the American actor abroad. Frohman's envoyship was as advantageous to England as it was to the United States, because he was the instrument through which the best of the modern English plays and the most brilliant of the modern English actors found their hearing on this side of the water.
Frohman was immensely interested in the English production of "Secret Service." Gillette himself headed the company. Both he and Frohman were in a great state of expectancy. The play hung fire until the third act. When the big scene came British reserve melted and there was a great ovation. It was an immediate success and had a long run.
One feature of the play that amused the critics and theater-goers generally in London was the fact that the spy in "Secret Service," who was supposed to be the bad man of the play, received all the sympathy and the applause, while the hero was arrested and always had the worst of it, even when he was denouncing the spy. Gillette's quiet but forceful style of acting was a revelation to the Londoners.
It was during this engagement that an intimate friend said to Terriss, the great English actor who was distinguished for his impulsiveness:
"Chain yourself to a seat at the Adelphi some night and learn artistic repose from Gillette."
Concerning the first night of "Secret Service" is another one of the many Frohman stories. When a London newspaper man asked the American manager about the magnificent celebration that he was sure had been held to commemorate Gillette's triumph, Frohman said:
"There was nothing of the sort. Mr. Dillingham, my manager, and I joined Mr. Gillette in his rooms at the Savoy. We had some sandwiches and wine and then played 'hearts' for several hours."
This episode inspired Frohman to give utterance to what was the very key-note of his philosophy about an actor and his work. Talking with a friend in England shortly after the opening of "Secret Service," about the modest way in which Gillette regarded his success, he said:
"Nothing so kills the healthy growth of an actor and brings his usefulness to an end so soon, as the idea that social enjoyment is a means to public success, and that industrious labor to improve himself is no longer necessary."
Frohman always regarded the success of "Secret Service" as the corner-stone of his great achievements in England. Once, in speaking of this star's hit, he said:
"You know, what tickles me is the fact that it was left for England to discover that Gillette is a great actor. It's one on America."
* * *
A few years later, Frohman made his first Paris production with "Secret Service." The masterful little man always regarded the world as his field; hence the annexation of Paris. He had a version made by Paul de Decourcelle, and the play was put on at the Renaissance Theater. Guitry, the great French actor, played Gillette's part. A very brilliant audience saw the opening performance, but the French did not get the atmosphere of the play. They could not determine whether it was serious or comic. The character of General Nelson was almost entirely omitted in the play because the actors themselves could not tell whether it was humor or tragedy. Besides, the French actors wanted to do it their own way.
Dillingham, who had charge of the production in Paris, realizing on the opening night that it would be a failure, and knowing that he had to send Frohman some sort of telegram, cabled, with his customary humor, the following:
The tomb of Napoleon looks beautiful in the moonlight.
As was the case in England, Charles was the only American manager who made any impression upon the French drama. From his earliest producing days he had a weakness for producing adapted French plays. From France came some of his hugest successes, especially those of Bernstein. He "bulled" the French market on prices. The French playwright hailed him with joy, for he always left a small fortune behind him.
Having established a precedent with Gillette, he now presented his first American woman star in England. It was Annie Russell in Bret Harte's story "Sue." He was very fond of this play, having already produced it in the United States, and he was very proud of the impression that Miss Russell made in London.
* * *
Up to this time Frohman had made his English productions in conjunction with the Gattis or George Edwardes at the Adelphi, the Vaudeville, or the Garrick theaters. This would have satisfied most people. But Frohman, who wanted to do things in a big way, naturally desired his own English theater, where he could unfurl his own banner and do as he pleased.
Early in 1897, therefore, he took what was up to that time his biggest English step, for he leased the Duke of York's Theater for nineteen years. His name went over the doorway and from that time on this theater was the very nerve-center, if not the soul, of Charles Frohman's English operations. It was one of the best known and the most substantial of British playhouses, located in St. Martin's Lane, in the very heart of the theatrical district. He took a vast pride in his control of it. He even emblazoned the announcement of his London management on the walls of the Empire on Broadway in New York. In his affections it was in England what the Empire was to him in America. It was destined to be the background of his distinguished artistic endeavors, perhaps the most distinguished.
Charles now embarked on a sea of lavish productions. Typical of his attitude was his employment of the best-known and highest-salaried producer in London. This man was Dion Boucicault, son of the famous playwright of the same name, who was himself a very finished and versatile actor. He gave the Frohman productions a touch of genuine distinction, and his wife, the accomplished Irene Vanbrugh, added much to the attractiveness of the Frohman ventures.
The Frohman sponsorship of the Duke of York's was celebrated with a magnificent production of Anthony Hope's "The Adventure of Lady Ursula," which had been a success in New York with E. H. Sothern. It ran the entire season. The play was put on in the usual Frohman way, so much so that the British critics said that "the production, from first to last, was correct down to a coat-button."
Until the end of his life the Duke of York's Theater had a large place in his heart. At the back of private box F, which was his own box, and which was also used for royalty when it visited the play, was a comfortable retiring-room, charmingly decorated in red. Here Frohman loved to sit and entertain his friends, especially such close intimates as Sir James M. Barrie, Haddon Chambers, Sir Arthur Pinero, Henry Arthur Jones, Michael Morton, and other English playwrights.
These busy days at the Duke of York's furnished Frohman with many amusing episodes. On one occasion he was caught in the self-operating elevator of the theater and was kept a prisoner in it for over an hour. His employees were in consternation. When he was finally extricated they began to apologize most profusely.
"Nonsense!" said Frohman. "I am glad I got stuck. It's the first vacation I have had in two years."
The lobby of the Duke of York's illustrates one of Charles's distinctive ideas. Instead of ornamenting it with pictures of dead dramatic heroes like Shakespeare and Garrick, he filled it with photographs of his live American stars. The English theater-goers who went there saw huge portraits of Maude Adams, Ethel Barrymore, Marie Doro, John Drew, Otis Skinner, and William Gillette.
On one occasion he was held up at the entrance of the Duke of York's by a new doorkeeper who asked for his ticket.
"I am Frohman," said the manager.
"Can't help it, sir; you've got to have a ticket."
"You're quite right," said Frohman, who went to the box-office and bought himself a stall seat. When the house-manager, James W. Matthews, threatened to discharge the doorkeeper, Frohman said:
"Certainly not. The man was obeying orders. If he had done otherwise you should have discharged him."
Frohman so loved the Duke of York's that he would go back to it and witness the same play twenty times. During his last visit to England, when his right knee was troubling him, he telephoned down one night to have his box reserved. Matthews, to spare him any trouble, had a little platform built so that he would not have to walk up the steps. Two weeks later, Frohman again telephoned that he wanted the box held, and added:
"I am better now. Don't bother to build a theater for me."
Curiously enough, the first failure that Charles had at the Duke of York's was "The Christian," which had scored such an enormous success in America. But failure only spurred him on to further efforts. When an English friend condoled with him about his loss on this occasion he said:
"Forget it. Don't let's revive the past. Let's get busy and pulverize the future."
* * *
To the average mind the extent of Frohman's London productions is amazing. When the simple fact is stated that he made one hundred and twenty-five of these, one obtains at a glance the immense scope of the man's operations there. Many of them stand out brilliantly. Early among them was the Frohman-Belasco presentation of Mrs. Leslie Carter in two of her greatest successes at the Garrick Theater.
The first was "The Heart of Maryland." It was during this engagement that Charles bought the English rights to "Zaza," then a sensational success in Paris. It was his original intention to star Julia Marlowe in this play. When Belasco heard of the play he immediately saw it was an ideal vehicle for Mrs. Carter, and Frohman generously turned it over to him. After its great triumph in the United States, Frohman and Belasco produced "Zaza" in London.
It was a huge success and made the kind of sensation in which Frohman delighted. There was much question as to its propriety, so much so that the Lord Chamberlain himself, who supervised the censorship, came and witnessed the performance. He made no objection, however.
An amusing incident, which shows the extraordinary devotion of Charles Frohman's friends, occurred on the first night. While attending the rehearsals at the Garrick, Frohman caught cold and went to bed with a slight attack of pneumonia. On the inaugural night he lay bedridden. He was so eager for news of the play that he said to Dillingham:
"Send me all the news you can."
Dillingham organized a bicycle service, and every fifteen minutes sent encouraging and cheering bulletins to Frohman, who was so elated that he was able to emerge from bed the next morning a well man.
Now the interesting thing about this episode is that Dillingham fabricated most of the messages, because, until the end of the play and for several days thereafter, its success was very much in doubt. Indeed, it took more than a week for it to "catch on."
Charles followed up "Zaza" with a superb production of "Madame Butterfly," in which he used Belasco's beautiful equipment. This production put the artistic seal on Frohman's achievement as a London manager. Up to this time there were some who believed that, despite the lavishness of his policy, there was the germ of the commercial in him. "Madame Butterfly" removed this, but if there had been any doubt remaining, it would have been wiped out by his exquisite presentation of "The First Born." Associated with this play is a story that shows Frohman's dogged determination and resource.
Belasco had made the production of "The First Born" in America in lavish fashion. He brought to it all his love and knowledge of Chinese art.
A rival manager, W. A. Brady, wishing to emulate the success of "The First Born," got together a production of "The Cat and the Cherub," another Chinese play, and secured time in London, hoping to beat Frohman out. It now became a race between Frohman and Brady for the first presentation in London. Both managers were in America. Brady got his production off first. When Frohman heard of it he said:
"We must be in London first."
"But there are no sailings for a week," said one of his staff.
"Then we will hire a boat," was his retort.
However, there proved to be no need for this enterprise, because a regular sailing developed.
"The Cat and the Cherub" won the race across the Atlantic and was produced first. It took the edge off the novelty of "The First Born," which was a failure, but its fine quality gave Charles the premier place as an artistic producer in England, and he never regretted having made the attempt despite the loss.
Frohman became immersed in a multitude of things. In September, 1901, for example, he was interested in five English playhouses—the Aldwych, the Shaftesbury, the Vaudeville, and the Criterion, as well as the Duke of York's. He had five different plays going at the same time—"Sherlock Holmes," "Are You a Mason?" "Bluebell in Fairyland," "The Twin Sister," and "The Girl from Maxim's." This situation was typical of his English activities from that time until his death.
* * *
The picturesqueness of detail which seemed to mark the beginning of so many of Charles Frohman's personal and professional friendships attended him in England, as the case of his first experience with Edna May shows.
One hot night late in the summer season of 1900 Frohman was having supper alone on his little private balcony at the Savoy Hotel overlooking the Thames. It was before the Strand wing of the hostelry had been built. As he sat there, clad only in pajamas and smoking a large black cigar, he heard a terrific din on the street below. There was cheering, shouting, and clapping of hands. Summoning a waiter, he asked:
"What's all that noise about?"
"Oh, it's only Miss Edna May coming to supper, sir."
"Why all this fuss?" continued Frohman.
"Well, you see, sir," answered the servant, "they are bringing her back in triumph."
When Frohman made investigation he found that the doctors and nurses at the Middlesex Hospital in London, where Edna May frequently sang for the patients, had engaged the whole gallery of the Shaftesbury Theater where she was singing in "The American Beauty," and attended in a body. After the play they had surrounded her at the stage entrance, unhitched the horse from her little brougham, and hauled her through the streets to the Savoy.
This episode made a tremendous impression on Frohman. He was always drawn to the people who could create a stir. He had heard that Edna May was nearing the end of her contract with George Lederer, so he entered into negotiations with her, and that autumn she passed under his management and remained so until she retired in 1907.
In the case of Edna May there could be no star-making. The spectacular rise of this charming girl from the chorus to the most-talked-of musical comedy role in the English-speaking world—that of the Salvation Army girl in "The Belle of New York"—had given her a great reputation. Frohman now capitalized that reputation in his usual elaborate fashion. He first presented Miss May in "The Girl from Up There."
She appeared under his management in various pieces, both in New York and in London. Her company in New York included Montgomery and Stone, Dan Daly, and Virginia Earle. When he presented Miss May at the Duke of York's in "The Girl from Up There" the result was the biggest business that the theater had known up to that time. In succession followed "Kitty Gray," which ran a year in London, "Three Little Maids," and "La Poupee."
All the while there was being written for Miss May a musical piece in which she was to achieve one of her greatest successes, and which was to bring Charles into contact with another one of his future stars. It was "The School Girl," which Frohman first did in May, 1903, in London, and afterward put on with great success at Daly's in New York.
In the English production of this play was a petite, red-haired little girl named Billie Burke, who sang a song called "Put Me in My Little Canoe," which became one of the hits of the play. Frohman was immensely attracted by this girl, and afterward took her under his patronage and she became one of his best-known stars.
Edna May, under Frohman's direction, was now perhaps the best known of the musical comedy stars in England and America. He took keen delight in her success. In "The Catch of the Season," which he did at Daly's in New York in August, 1905, she practically bade farewell to the American stage. Henceforth Frohman kept her in England. In "The Belle of Mayfair" she was succeeded by Miss Burke in the leading part. Frohman's production of "Nelly Neil" at the Aldwych Theater in 1907 was one of the most superb musical comedy presentations ever made. For this Frohman imported Joseph Coyne from America to do the leading juvenile role. He became such a great favorite that he has remained in England ever since.
Just as Edna May had bidden farewell to America in "The Catch of the Season," so she now bade farewell to the English stage in "Nelly Neil." She had become engaged to Oscar Lewisohn, who insisted on an early marriage. About this time Frohman and George Edwardes secured the English rights to "The Merry Widow." They both urged Miss May to postpone her marriage and appear in it. Miss May was now compelled to decide between matrimony and what would have been perhaps her greatest success, and she chose matrimony.
Her good-by appearance on the stage, May 1, 1907, was one of the most extraordinary events in the history of the English theater. This lovely, unassuming American girl had so completely endeared herself to the hearts of the London theater-goers that she was made the center of a tumultuous farewell. The day the seat-sale opened there was a queue several blocks long. During the opening performance Charles sat in his box alone. When some friends entered he was in tears. He had a genuine personal affection for Miss May, and her retirement touched him very deeply.
In connection with "Nelly Neil" there is a little story which illustrates Charles's attitude toward his productions. He had spent a fortune on "Nelly Neil," and it was not a financial success. After giving it every chance he instructed Lestocq to put up the two weeks' notice. Lestocq remarked that it was a shame to end such a magnificent presentation. Whereupon Frohman turned around quickly and said:
"Shut up, or I'll run it another month. You know, Lestocq, if I don't keep a hand on myself sometimes my sentiment will be the ruin of me."
* * *
By this time Frohman and James M. Barrie had become close friends. The manager had produced "Quality Street" at the Vaudeville Theater with great success. He now approached a Barrie production which gave him perhaps more pleasure than anything he did in his whole stage life. The advent of "Peter Pan" was at hand. The remarkable story of how Charles got the manuscript of "Peter Pan" has already been told in this biography.
The original title that Barrie gave the play was "The Great White Father," which Frohman liked. Just as soon as Barrie suggested that it be named after its principal character, Frohman fairly overflowed with enthusiasm. In preparing for "Peter Pan" in England, Charles was like a child with a toy. Money was spent lavishly; whole scenes were made and never used. He regarded it as a great and rollicking adventure.
The first production of the Barrie masterpiece on any stage took place at the Duke of York's Theater, London, on December 27, 1904. Frohman was then in America. At his country place up at White Plains, only his close friend, Paul Potter, with him, he eagerly awaited the verdict. It was a bitterly cold night, and a snow-storm was raging. Frohman's secretary in the office in New York had arranged to telephone the news of the play's reception which Lestocq was expected to cable from London. On account of the storm the message was delayed.
Frohman was nervous. He kept on saying, "Will it never come?" His heart was bound up in the fortunes of this beloved fairy play. While he waited with Potter, Frohman acted out the whole play, getting down on all-fours to illustrate the dog and crocodile. He told it as Wendy would have told it, for Wendy was one of his favorites. Finally at midnight the telephone-bell rang. Potter took down the receiver. Frohman jumped up from his chair, saying, eagerly, "What's the verdict?" Potter listened a moment, then turned, and with beaming face repeated Lestocq's cablegram:
Peter Pan all right. Looks like a big success.
This was one of the happiest nights in Frohman's life.
The first Peter in England was Nina Boucicault, who played the part with great wistfulness and charm. She was the first of a quartet which included Cissy Loftus, Pauline Chase, and Madge Titheradge.
Charles so adored "Peter Pan" that he produced it in Paris, June 1, 1909, at the Vaudeville Theater, with an all-English cast headed by Pauline Chase. Robb Harwood was Captain Hook, and Sibyl Carlisle played Mrs. Darling. It was produced under the direction of Dion Boucicault. The first presentation was a great hit, and the play ran for five weeks. On the opening night Barrie and Frohman each had a box. Frohman was overjoyed at its success, and Barrie, naturally, could not repress his delight. What pleased them most was the spectacle of row after row of little French kiddies, who, while not understanding a word of the narrative, seemed to be having the time of their lives.
From the date of its first production until his death, "Peter Pan" became a fixed annual event in the English life of Charles Frohman. He revived it every year at holiday-time. No occasion in his calendar was more important than the annual appearance of the fascinating boy who had twined himself about the American manager's heart.
* * *
Charles was now a conspicuous and prominent figure in English theatrical life. The great were his friends and his opinion was much quoted. In addition to his sole control of the Duke of York's, he had interests in a dozen other playhouses. He liked the English way of doing business. Yet, despite what many people believed to be a strong pro-British tendency, he was always deeply and patriotically American, and he lost several fortunes in pioneering the American play and the American actor in England.
To name the American plays that he produced in London would be to give almost a complete catalogue of American drama revealed to English eyes. Curiously enough, at least two plays, "The Lion and the Mouse" and "Paid in Full," that had made enormous successes in America, failed utterly in England under his direction. He gave England such typically American dramas as "The Great Divide," "Brewster's Millions," "Alias Jimmy Valentine," "Years of Discretion," "A Woman's Way," "On the Quiet," and "The Dictator."
In addition to Gillette he presented Billie Burke in "Love Watches," William Collier in "The Dictator" and "On the Quiet," and Ethel Barrymore in "Cynthia."
With his presentation of Collier he did one of his characteristic strokes of enterprise. Marie Tempest was playing at the Comedy in London. He had always been anxious to try Collier's unctuous American humor on the British, so the American comedian swapped engagements with Miss Tempest. She came over to the Criterion in New York to do "The Freedom of Suzanne," while Collier took her time at the Comedy in "The Dictator." He scored a great success and remained nearly a year.
* * *
The time was now ripe for the most brilliant of all the Charles Frohman achievements in England. Had he done nothing else than the Repertory Theater he would have left for himself an imperishable monument of artistic endeavor. The extraordinary feature of this undertaking was that it was left for an American to finance and promote in the very cradle of the British drama the highest and finest attempt yet made to encourage that drama. The Repertory Theater would have proclaimed any manager the open-handed patron of drama for drama's sake.
The National or Repertory Theater idea, which was the antidote for the long run, the agency for the production of plays that had no sustained box-office virtue, which took the speculative feature out of production, had been preached in England for some time. Granville Barker had tried it at the Court Theater, where the Shaw plays had been produced originally. The movement lagged; it needed energy and money.
Barrie had been a disciple of the Repertory Theater from the start. He knew that there was only one man in the world who could make the attempt in the right way. One day in 1909 he said to Frohman:
"Why don't you establish a Repertory Theater?"
Then he explained in a few words what he had in mind.
Without a moment's hesitation Frohman said, briskly:
"All right, I'll do it."
With these few words he committed himself to an enterprise that cost him a fortune. But it was an enterprise that revealed, perhaps as nothing in his career had revealed, the depths of his artistic nature.
With his marvelous grasp of things, Frohman swiftly got at the heart of the Repertory proposition. When he launched the enterprise at the Duke of York's he said:
Repertory companies are usually associated in the public mind with the revival of old masterpieces, but if you want to know the character of my repertory project at the Duke of York's, I should describe it as the production of new plays by living authors. Whatever it accomplishes, it will represent the combined resources of actor and playwright working with each other, a combination that seems to me to represent the most necessary foundation of any theatrical success.
Frohman stopped at nothing in carrying out the Repertory Theater idea. He engaged Granville Barker to produce most of the plays. Barker in turn surrounded himself with a superb group of players. The most brilliant of the stage scenic artists in England, headed by Norman Wilkinson, were engaged to design the scenes. Every possible detail that money could buy was lavished on this project.
The result was a series of plays that set a new mark for English production, that put stimulus behind the so-called "unappreciated" play, and gave the English-speaking drama something to talk about—and to remember. The mere unadorned list of the plays produced is impressive. They were "Justice," by John Galsworthy; "Misalliance," by Bernard Shaw; "Old Friends" and the "The Twelve-Pound Look," by James M. Barrie; "The Sentimentalists," by George Meredith; "Madras House," by Granville Barker; "Chains," by Elizabeth Baker; "Prunella," by Lawrence Housman and Granville Barker; "Helena's Path," by Anthony Hope and Cosmo Gordon Lenox, and a revival of "Trelawney of the Wells," by Sir Arthur Pinero.
The way "The Twelve-Pound Look" came to be produced is interesting. When the repertory for the theater was being discussed one day by Barrie and Barker at the former's flat in Adelphi Terrace House, Barker said:
"Haven't you got a one-act play that we could do?"
Barrie thought a moment, scratched his head, and said:
"I think I wrote one about six months ago when I was recovering from malaria. You might find it somewhere in that desk." He pointed toward the flat-top table affair on which he had written "The Little Minister" and "Peter Pan."
Barker rummaged around through the drawers and finally found a manuscript written in Barrie's hieroglyphic hand. It was "The Twelve-Pound Look."
The production of "Justice" was generally regarded in England as the finest example of stage production that has been made within the last twenty-five years. Despite the expense, and the fact that Frohman insisted upon making each play a splendid production, the Repertory Theater prospered. It ran from February 21, 1910, until the middle of May. Its run was temporarily terminated by the death of King Edward VII., and it was impossible to revive the project successfully after the formal period of mourning closed.
* * *
Frohman's constantly widening activities in London made it necessary for him to have more spacious quarters. The story of his offices really tells the story of his work, for they increased in scope as his operations widened. When he leased the Aldwych Theater he set up his headquarters there. With the acquisition of the Globe he needed more room, and this theater became the seat of his managerial operations. In 1913, and with characteristic lavishness, he engaged what is perhaps the finest suite of theatrical offices in London. They were in a marble structure known as Trafalgar House, in Waterloo Place, one of the choicest and most expensive locations in the city.
Here he had a suite of six rooms. Like the man himself, his own personal quarters were very simple. There was a long, high-ceiled room, with a roll-top desk, which was never used, at one end, and a low morris-chair at the other. From this morris-chair and from his rooms at the Savoy Hotel he ruled his English realm.
Charles's love for his stars never lagged, and wherever it was possible for him to surround himself with their pictures he did so. As a result, the visitor to his London rooms found him surrounded by the familiar faces of Maude Adams, Ethel Barrymore, Ann Murdock, Marie Doro, Julia Sanderson, William Gillette, and John Drew. On the roll-top desk, side by side, were the pictures of his two Peter Pans, Miss Adams and Pauline Chase.
Charles's last London production, strangely enough, consisted of two plays by his closest friend, Barrie. This double bill was "The New Word," a fireside scene, which was followed by "Rosy Rapture."
By a strange coincidence his first English venture was a failure, and so was his last. Yet the long and brilliant journey between these two dates was a highway that any man might have trod with pride. The English-speaking drama received an impetus and a standard that it never would have had without his unflagging zeal and his generous purse. He left an influence upon the English stage that will last.
What endeared him perhaps more than anything else to England was the smiling serenity with which he met criticism and loss. There may have been times when the English resented his desire for monopoly, but they forgot it in tremendous admiration for his courage and his resource. He revolutionized the economics of the British stage; he invested it with life, energy, action; he established a whole new relation between author and producer. Here, as in America, he was the pioneer and the builder.
BARRIE AND THE ENGLISH FRIENDSHIPS
The fortunes of Charles Frohman's English productions ebbed and flowed; actors and actresses came and went; to him it was all part of a big and fascinating game. What really counted and became permanent were the man's friendships, often made in the theatrical world of make-believe, but always cemented in the domain of very sincere reality. In England were some of his dearest personal bonds.
They grew out of the fact that Charles had the rare genius of inspiring loyal friendship. He gave much and he got much. Yet, like Stevenson, it was a case of "a few friends, but these without capitulation."
In England he seemed to be a different human being. The inaccessibility that hedged him about in America vanished. He emerged from his unsocial shell; he gave out interviews; he relaxed and renewed his youth in jaunt and jest. His annual trip abroad, therefore, was like a joyous adventure. It mattered little if he made or lost a fortune each time.
Frohman was happy in London. He liked the soft, gray tones of the somber city. "It's so restful," he always said. Even the "bobbie" delighted him. He would watch the stolid policeman from the curb and say, admiringly: "He is wonderful; he raises his hand and all London stops." He was greatly interested in the traffic regulations.
Although he had elaborate offices, his real London headquarters were in the Savoy Hotel. Here, in the same suite that he had year after year, and where he was known to all employees from manager to page, he literally sat enthroned, for his favorite fashion was to curl up on a settee with his feet doubled under him. More than one visitor who saw him thus ensconced called him a "beaming Buddha."
From his informal eminence he ruled his world. Around him assembled the Knights of the Dramatic Round Table. Wherever Frohman sat became the unofficial capitol of a large part of the English-speaking stage. In those Savoy rooms there was made much significant theatrical history. To the little American came Barrie, Pinero, Chambers, Jones, Sutro, Maugham, Morton, with their plays; Alexander, Tree, Maude, Hicks, Barker, Bouchier, with their projects.
Like Charles Lamb, Frohman loved to ramble about London. Often he would stop in the midst of his work, hail a taxi, and go for a drive in the green parks. The Zoological Gardens always delighted him. He frequently stopped to watch the animals. The English countryside always lured him, especially the long green hedges, which held a peculiar fascination. He walked considerably in the country and in town, and he took great delight in peering in shop windows.
In London, as in New York, the theater was his life and inspiration. Almost without exception he went to a performance of some kind every evening. At most of the London theaters he was always given the royal box whenever possible. He liked the atmosphere of the British playhouse. He always said it was more like a drawing-room than a place of amusement.
* * *
To Charles, London meant J. M. Barrie, and to be with the man who wrote "Peter Pan" was one of his supreme delights. The devotion between these two men of such widely differing temperaments constitutes one of the really great friendships of modern times. Character of an unusual kind, on both sides, was essential to such a communion of interest and affection. Both possessed it to a remarkable degree.
No two people could have been more opposite. Frohman was quick, nervous, impulsive, bubbling with optimism; Barrie was the quiet, canny Scot, reserved, repressed, and elusive. Yet they had two great traits in common—shyness and humor. As Barrie says:
"Because we were the two shyest men in the world, we got on so well and understood each other so perfectly."
There was another bond between these two men in the fact that each adored his mother. In Charles's case he was the pride and the joy of the maternal heart; with Barrie the root and inspiration of all his life and work was the revered "Margaret Ogilvy." He is the only man in all the world who ever wrote a life of his mother.
There was still another and more tangible community of interest between these two remarkable men. Each detested the silk hat. Frohman had never worn one since the Haverly Minstrel days, when he had to don the tile for the daily street parade. Barrie, in all his life, has had only one silk hat. It is of the vintage of the early 'seventies. The only occasion when he wears the much-detested headgear is at the first rehearsal of the companies that do his plays. Then he attires himself in morning clothes, goes to the theater, nervously holds the hat in his hand while he is introduced to the actors and actresses. Just as Charles used to hide his silk hat as soon as the minstrel parade was over and put on a cap, so does Barrie send the objectionable headgear home as soon as these formalities are over and welcome his more comfortable bowler as an old friend.
Curiously enough, Frohman and Barrie did not drift together at once. When the little Scotchman made his first visit to America in 1896 and "discovered" Maude Adams as the inspired person to act Lady Babbie, he met the man who was to be his great friend in a casual business way only. The negotiations for "The Little Minister" from England were conducted through an agent.
But when Frohman went abroad the following year the kinship between the men started, and continued with increasing intimacy. The men became great pals. They would wander about London, Barrie smoking a short, black pipe, Frohman swinging his stick. On many of these strolls they walked for hours without saying a word to each other. Each had the great gift of silence—the rare sense of understanding.
Barrie and his pipe are inseparable, as the world knows. There is a legend in London theatrical lore that Frohman wanted to drive to Barrie's flat one night. He was in his usual merry mood, so the instruction he gave was this:
"Drive to the Strand, go down to Adelphi Terrace, and stop at the first smell of pipe smoke."
Frohman never tired of asking Barrie about "Peter Pan." It was a curious commentary on the man's tenacity of interest and purpose that, although he made nearly seven hundred productions in his life, the play of the "Boy Who Would Never Grow Up" tugged most at his heart. Nor did Barrie ever weary of telling him how the play began as a nursery tale for children; how their insistent demand to "tell us more" made it the "longest story in the world"; how, when one pirate had been killed, little Peter (the original of the character, now a soldier in the great war) excitedly said: "One man isn't enough; let's kill a lot of them."
No one will be surprised to know that in connection with "Peter Pan" is one of the most sweetly gracious acts in Frohman's life. The original of Peter was sick in bed at his home when the play was produced in London. The little lad was heartsick because he could not see it. When Frohman came to London Barrie told him about it.
"If the boy can't come to the play, we will take the play to the boy," he said.
Frohman sent his company out to the boy's home with as many "props" as could be jammed into the sick-room. While the delighted and excited child sat propped up in bed the wonders of the fairy play were unfolded before him. It is probably the only instance where a play was done before a child in his home.
As most people know, Barrie, at his own expense, erected a statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens as his gift to the children of London who so adored his play. It was done as a surprise, for the statue stood revealed one May Day morning, having been set up during the night.
When he planned this statue Barrie mentioned it casually to Frohman, and said nothing more about it. Frohman never visited the park to see it, but when the model was put on exhibition at the Academy he said to Lestocq one day:
"Where is that Peter Pan model?" When he was told he said: "I want to see it, but do I have to look at anything else in the gallery?" On being assured that he did not, he said, "All right."
Frohman went to the Academy, bolted straight for the sculpture-room, and stood for a quarter of an hour gazing intently at the graceful figure of Peter playing his pipe. Then he walked out again, without stopping to look at any of the lovely things about him. It was characteristic of Frohman to do just the thing he had in mind to do and nothing else.
Frohman and Barrie seldom wrote to each other. When they did it was a mere scrawl that no other human being in the world could read. The only cablegram that Barrie ever sent Frohman was about "What Every Woman Knows." Hilda Trevelyan played Maggie Wylie. Barrie liked her work so much that he cabled Frohman about it on the opening night. When the actress went down to breakfast the next morning to read what the newspapers said about her she found on her plate a cable from Frohman doubling her salary. It was Frohman's answer to Barrie.
Frohman's faith in Barrie was marvelous. It was often said in jest in London that if Barrie had asked Frohman to produce a dramatization of the Telephone Directory he would smile and say with enthusiasm:
"Fine! Who shall we have in the cast?"
One of the great Frohman-Barrie adventures was in Paris. It illustrates so completely the relation between these men that it is worth giving in detail.
Frohman was in Paris, and after much telegraphic insistence persuaded his friend to come over on his first visit to the French capital. Frohman was aglow with anticipation. He wanted to give Barrie the time of his life.
"What would a literary man like to do in Paris?" was the question he asked himself.
In his usual generous way he planned the first night, for Barrie was to arrive in the afternoon. He was then living at the Hotel Meurice, in the Rue Royale, so he engaged a magnificent suite for his guest. He ordered a sumptuous dinner at the Cafe de Paris, bought a box at the Theatre Francais, and engaged a smart victoria for the evening.
Barrie was dazed at the splendor of the Meurice suite, but he survived it. When Frohman spoke of the Cafe de Paris dinner he said he would rather dine quietly at the hotel, so the elaborate meal was given up.
"Now what would you like to do this evening?" asked his host.
"Are there any of those country fairs around here, where they have side shows and you can throw balls at things?" asked Barrie.
Frohman, who had box seats for the most classic of all Continental theaters in his pocket, said:
"Yes, there is one in Neuilly."
"All right," said Barrie, "let's go there."
"We'll drive out in a victoria," meekly suggested Frohman.
"No," said Barrie, "I think it would be more fun to go on a 'bus."
With the unused tickets for the Theatre Francais in his waistcoat, and the smart little victoria still waiting in front of the Meurice (for Frohman forgot to order the man home), the two friends started for the country fair, where they spent the whole evening throwing balls at what the French call "Aunt Sally." It is much like the old-fashioned side-show at an American county fair. A negro pokes his head through a hole in the canvas, and every time the thrower hits the head he gets a knife. When Frohman and Barrie returned to the Meurice that night they had fifty knives between them. The next night they repeated this performance until they had knives enough to start a hardware-store. This was the simple and childlike way that these two men, each a genius in his own way, disported themselves on a holiday.
One more incident will show the amazing accord between Frohman and Barrie. They were constantly playing jokes on each other, like two youngsters. One day they were talking in Frohman's rooms at the Savoy when a certain actress was announced.
"I would like to know what this woman really thinks of me," said Barrie. "I have never met her."
"All right," said Frohman, "you pretend to be my secretary."
The woman came up and had a long talk with Frohman, during which she gave her impressions, not very flattering, of British playwrights in general and Barrie in particular. All the while the little Scot sat solemnly at a near-by desk, sorting papers and occasionally handing one to Frohman to sign. When the woman left they nearly exploded with laughter.
One of Frohman's delights when in England was to go to Barrie's flat in London, overlooking the Victoria Embankment. He liked this place, first of all, because it was Barrie's. Then, too, he could sit curled up in the corner on a settee, smoking a fat, black cigar, and look out on the historic Thames. Here he knew he would not have to talk. It was the place of Silence and Understanding. He was in an atmosphere he loved. In the flat above lives John Galsworthy; down-stairs dwells Granville Barker; while just across the street is the domicile of Bernard Shaw, whose windows face Barrie's.
When Barrie wanted to notify Shaw that Frohman was with him, he would throw bread-crusts against Shaw's window-panes. In a few moments the sash would fly up and the familiar, grinning, bearded face would pop out. On one of the occasions Shaw yelled across:
"Are you inviting me to a feast, Barrie—are you casting bread upon the troubled waters or is it just Frohman?"
In view of Frohman's perfect adoration of Barrie—and it amounted to nothing else—it is interesting, as a final glimpse of the relation between these men, to see what the American thought of his friend's work. In analyzing Barrie's work once, Frohman said:
"Barrie's distinctive note is humanity. There is rich human blood in everything he writes. He is a satirist whose arrows are never barbed with vitriol, but with the milk of human kindness; a humanist who never surfeits our senses, but leaves much for our willing imagination; an optimist whose message is as compelling for its reasonableness as it is welcome for its gentleness."
* * *
Through Barrie and "Peter Pan" came another close and devoted friendship in Charles Frohman's life—the one with Pauline Chase. This American girl had been engaged by one of Frohman's stage-managers for a small part with Edna May in "The Girl from Up There." Frohman did not even know her in those days. After she made her great success as the Pink Pajama girl in "Liberty Belles," at the Madison Square Theater, Frohman engaged her and sent her to England, where, with the exception of one visit to the United States in "Our Mrs. Gibbs," she has remained ever since.
It was not until she played "Peter Pan" that the Frohman-Chase friendship really began. The way in which Miss Chase came to play the part is interesting. Cissie Loftus, who had been playing Peter, became ill, and Miss Chase, who had been playing one of the twins, and was her understudy, went on to do the more important part at a matinee in Liverpool. Frohman said to her:
"Barrie and I are coming down to see you act. If we like you well enough to play Peter, I will send you back a sheet of paper with a cross mark on it after the play."
At the end of the first act an usher rapped on Miss Chase's dressing-room door and handed her the much-desired slip with the cross. Frohman sent word that he could not wait until the end of the play, because he and Barrie were taking a train back to London. In this unusual way Pauline Chase secured the part which helped to endear her to the man who was her friend and sponsor.
Frohman, Barrie, and Miss Chase formed a trio who went about together a great deal and had much in common, aside from the kinship of the theater. It was for Miss Chase that Barrie wrote "Pantaloon," in which she appeared in conjunction with "Peter Pan," and which gave her a considerable reputation in England.
When Pauline Chase was confirmed in the little church in Marlow-on-the-Thames, Barrie was her godfather and Miss Ellen Terry was her godmother. Frohman attended this ceremony, and it made a tremendous impression on him. He saw the spectacular side of the ceremony, and the spiritual meaning was not lost on him.
The personal comradeship with Pauline Chase was one of the really beautiful episodes in Frohman's life. He was genuinely interested in this girl's career, and in tribute to her confidence in him she made him, in conjunction with Barrie, her father confessor. Here is an episode that is tenderly appealing, and which shows another of the many sides of his character:
Frohman and Barrie were both afraid that Miss Chase would marry without telling them about it, so a compact was made by the three that the two men should be her mentors. There were many applicants for the hand of this lovely American girl. The successful suitor eventually was Alec Drummond, member of a distinguished English family, who went to the front when the war began.
One reason for Miss Chase's devotion to Charles lay in the fact that the American manager had the body of her mother removed from its resting-place in Washington to the dreamy little churchyard at Marlow-on-the-Thames. It is near Marlow that Miss Chase lived through all the years of the Frohman-Barrie comradeship. Her little cottage at Tree Tops, Farnham Common, five miles from Marlow, was one of the places he loved to visit. On the vine-embowered porch he liked to sit and smoke. On the lawn he indulged in his only exercise, croquet, frequently with Barrie or Captain Scott, who died in the Antarctic, and Haddon Chambers, who lived near by. Often he went with his hostess to feed the chickens.
But wherever he went he carried plays. No matter how late he retired to his room, he read a manuscript before he went to bed. He probably read more plays than any other manager in the world.
Frohman went to Marlow nearly every Saturday in summer. His custom was to alight from the train at Slough, where Miss Chase would meet him in her car and drive him over to Marlow, where they lunched at The Compleat Angler, a charming inn on the river.
Miss Chase sometimes playfully performed the office of manicure for Frohman. Once when she was in Paris he sent her this telegram:
Whereupon she wired back:
I am afraid you will have to bite them.
Frohman then sent her the telegram by mail, and under it wrote:
Of all spots in England, and for that matter in all the world, Charles loved Marlow best. It is typical of the many contrasts in his crowded life that he would seek peace and sanctuary in this drowsy English town that nestled between green hills on the banks of the Thames. He always said that it framed the loveliest memories of his life.
When Miss Chase wrote Frohman that she was to be confirmed in the little church in Marlow, she got the following reply from him, which showed how dear the drowsy place was in his affection:
_Dear Pauline:—I am glad about Marlow. That little church is the only one in the world I care for—that one across the river at Marlow. Whenever I see it I want to die and stay there.
And Marlow with its long street and nobody on it is fine._
It was Haddon Chambers who first took Frohman to Marlow. It came about in a natural way, because Maidenhead, which is a very popular resort in England (much frequented by theatrical people) is only a short distance away. One day Chambers, who was with Frohman at Maidenhead, said, "There is a lovely, quiet village called Marlow not far away. Let's go over there." So they went.
On this trip occurred one of the many humorous adventures that were always happening when Frohman and Chambers were together. Chambers had the tickets and went on ahead. When he reached the train he found that Frohman was not there. On returning he found his friend held up by the gateman, who demanded a ticket. Quick as a flash Chambers said to him:
"Why do you keep His Grace waiting?"
The gateman immediately became flurried and excited and made apologies. In the mean time Frohman, who took in the situation with his usual quickness, looked solemn and dignified and then passed in like a peer of the realm.
Chambers rented a cottage at Marlow each summer, and one of the things to which Frohman looked forward most eagerly was a visit with him there. Frequent visits to Marlow made the manager known to the whole town. The simplicity of his manner and his keen interest, humor, and sympathy won him many friends. His arrival was always more or less of an event in the little township.
It is a one-street place, with many fascinating old shops. Frohman loved to prowl around, look in the shop windows, and talk to the tradesmen, who came to know and love him and look forward to his advent with the keenest interest. To them he was not the great American theatrical magnate, but a simple, kindly, interested human being who inquired about their babies and who had a big and generous nature.
Frohman once made this remark about the Marlow antique shops: "They're great. When I buy things the proprietor always tells me whether they are real or only fake stuff. That's because I'm one of his friends." It was typical of the man that he was as proud of this friendship as with that of a prince.
On the tramps through Marlow he was often accompanied by Miss Chase and Haddon Chambers. He had three particular friends in the town. One was Muriel Kilby, daughter of the keeper of The Compleat Angler. When Frohman first went to Marlow she was a slip of a child. He watched her grow up with an increasing pride. This great and busy man found time in New York to write her notes full of friendly affection. A few days before the Lusitania went down she received a note from him saying that he was soon to sail, and looked forward with eagerness to his usual stay at Marlow.
Through Miss Kilby Frohman became more intimately a part of the local life of Marlow. She was head of the Marlow Amateur Dramatic Society, which gave an amateur play every year. Frohman became a member, paid the five shillings annual dues, and whenever it was possible he went to their performances. As a matter of fact, the Marlow Dramatic Society has probably the most distinguished non-resident membership in the world, for besides Frohman (and through him) it includes Barrie, Haddon Chambers, Pauline Chase, Marie Lohr, William Gillette, and Marc Klaw. Frohman always took his close American friends to Marlow. One of the prices they paid was membership in the amateur dramatic society.
Like every really great man, Charles Frohman was tremendously simple, as his friendship with W. R. Clark, the Marlow butcher, shows. Clark is a big, ruddy, John Bull sort of man, whose shop is one of the main sights of High Street in the village. Frohman regarded his day at Marlow incomplete without a visit to Clark. One day he met Clark dressed up in his best clothes. He asked Clark where he was going.
"I am going to visit my pigs," replied the butcher. Frohman thought this a great joke, and never tired of telling it.
Once when Frohman gave out an interview about his friends in Marlow, he sent the clipping to his friend Clark, who wrote him a letter, which contained, among other things:
I can assure you I quite appreciate your kindness in sending the cutting to me. When the township of Marlow has obtained from His Majesty King George the necessary charter to become a county borough, and you offer yourself for the position of Mayor, I will give you my whole-hearted support and influence to secure your election.
Then, too, there was Jones, the Marlow barber, who shaved Frohman for a penny because he was a regular customer.
"Jones is a great man," Frohman used to say. "He never charges me more than a penny for a shave because I am one of his regular customers. Otherwise it would be twopence. I always give his boy a sixpence, however, but Jones doesn't know that."
Indeed, the people of Marlow looked upon Frohman as their very own. He always said that he wanted to be buried in the churchyard by the river. This churchyard had a curious interest for him. He used to wander around in it and struck up quite an acquaintance with the wife of the sexton. She was always depressed because times were so bad and no one was dying. Then an artist died and was buried there, and the old woman cheered up considerably. Frohman used to tell her that the only funeral that he expected to attend was his own.
"And mark you," he said, for he could never resist a jest, "you must take precious good care of my grave."
His wish to lie in Marlow was not attained, but in tribute to the love he had for it the memorial that his friends in England have raised to him—a fountain—stands to-day at the head of High Street in the little town where he loved to roam, the place in which he felt, perhaps, more at home than any other spot on earth. Had he made the choice himself he would have preferred this simple, sincere tribute, in the midst of simple, unaffected people who knew him and loved him, to stained glass in the stateliest of cathedrals.
* * *
Charles cared absolutely nothing for honors. He was content to hide behind the mask of his activities. He would never even appear before an audience. Almost unwillingly he was the recipient of the greatest compliment ever paid an American theatrical man in England. It happened in this way:
One season when Frohman had lost an unusual amount of money, Sir John Hare gathered together some of his colleagues.
"Frohman has done big things," Hare said to them. "He loses his money like a gentleman. Let us make him feel that he is not just an American, but one of us."
A dinner was planned in his honor at the Garrick Club. He is the only American theatrical manager to be elected to membership in this exclusive club. When Frohman was apprised of the dinner project he shrank from it.
"I don't like that sort of thing," he said. "Besides, I can't make a speech."
"But you won't have to make a speech," said Sir Arthur Pinero, who headed the committee.
Frohman tried in every possible way to evade this dinner. Finally he accepted on the condition that when the time came for him to respond he was merely to get up, bow his acknowledgment, and say, "Thank you." This he managed to do.
At this dinner, over which Sir John Hare presided, Frohman was presented with a massive silver cigarette-box, on which was engraved the facsimile signatures of every one present. These signatures comprise the "Who's Who" of the British theater. These princes of the drama were proud and glad to call themselves "A few of his friends," as the inscription on the box read.
The signers were, among others, Sir Arthur Pinero, Sir Charles Wyndham, Sir John Hare, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Sir James M. Barrie, Alfred Sutro, Cyril Maude, H. B. Irving, Lawrence Irving, Louis N. Parker, Anthony Hope, A. E. W. Mason, Seymour Hicks, Robert Marshall, W. Comyns Carr, Weedon Grossmith, Gerald Du Maurier, Eric Lewis, Dion Boucicault, A. E. Matthews, Arthur Bouchier, Cosmo Hamilton, Allan Aynesworth, R. C. Carton, Sam Sothern, and C. Aubrey Smith.
* * *
Nothing gave Charles more satisfaction in England perhaps than his encouragement of the British playwright. He inherited Pinero from his brother Daniel, and remained his steadfast friend and producer until his death. Pinero would not think of submitting a play to any other American manager without giving Frohman the first call. In all the years of their relations, during which Charles paid Pinero a large fortune, there was not a sign of contract between them.
Frohman practically made Somerset Maugham in America. His first association with this gifted young Englishman was typical of the man's method of doing business. Maugham had written a play called "Mrs. Dot," in which Marie Tempest was to appear. Frederick Harrison, of the Haymarket Theater, had an option on it, which had just expired. Another manager wanted the play. Frohman heard of it, and asked to be allowed to read it. Maugham then said:
"It must be decided to-night."
It was then dinner-time.
"Give me three hours," said Frohman.
At one o'clock in the morning he called up Maugham at his house and accepted the play, which was probably the quickest reading and acceptance on record in England.
Another experience with Maugham shows how Frohman really inspired plays.
He was riding on the train with the playwright when he suddenly said to him:
"I want a new play from you."
"All right," said Maugham.
Frohman thought a moment, and suddenly flashed out:
"Why not rewrite 'The Taming of the Shrew' with a new background?"
"All right," said Maugham.
The result was Maugham's play "The Land of Promise," which was really built around Frohman's idea.
Frohman produced all of Maugham's plays in America, and most of them were great successes. He also did the great majority of them in England. Maugham waxed so prosperous that he was able to buy a charming old residence in Chesterfield Street which he remodeled in elaborate fashion. On its completion his first dinner guest was Charles Frohman. When Maugham sent him the invitation it read:
Will you come and see the house that Frohman built?
In the same way he developed men like Michael Morton. He would see a French farce in the Paris theaters, and, although he could not understand a word of French, he got the spirit and the meaning through its action. He would buy the play, go to London with the manuscript, and get Morton or Paul Potter to adapt it for American consumption.
* * *
Life in London to Charles Frohman was one series of adventures. Like Harun-al-Rashid in the Arabian Nights, he delighted to wander about, often with Barrie, sometimes with Lestocq, seeking out strange and picturesque places in which to eat.
These adventures began in his earliest days in England. Here is a characteristic experience:
One day Madeline Lucette Ryley, the playwright, came to see him in his office in Henrietta Street. A battered old man was hanging around the door.
"Did you see that man outside?" asked Frohman.
"Yes," said Mrs. Ryley. "Is he the bailiff?"
"Oh no," said Frohman, "he is a Maidenhead cabby." This is the story of how he came there.
The day before Frohman had been down to Maidenhead alone for luncheon. At the station he hailed a cabby who was driving a battered old fly.
"Where to, Governor?" asked the man.
"Number 5 Henrietta Street," said Frohman.
"No such place in Maidenhead," said the driver.
"Oh, I mean the place opposite Covent Garden in London."
The old cabby wasn't a bit flustered, but he said, "I will have to get a new horse."
He changed horses and they made the long way to London, arriving there considerably after nightfall. When Frohman asked for his bill the old man said, with some hesitation:
"I'm afraid it will cost you five pounds."
"That's all right," said Frohman, and paid the bill.
To his great surprise, the cabby showed up next morning, saying: "I like London. I think I'll stay here." It was with the greatest difficulty that Frohman got rid of him. When the cabby finally started to go he said:
"Well, Governor, if you want to go back to Maidenhead I'll do it for half-price."
A short time after this incident Frohman, whose purse was none too full then, asked some people to dine with him at the Hotel Cecil. By some mistake he and his party were shown into a room that had been arranged for a very elaborate dinner. Before he realized it the waiter began to serve the meal. He soon knew that it was not the menu he had ordered, and was costing twenty times more. But he was game and stuck to it. It was midwinter, and when the fresh peaches came on he said to the woman on his right:
"This will break me, I know, but we might as well have a good time."
Frohman almost invariably took one of his American friends to England with him. It was usually Charles Dillingham, Paul Potter, or William Gillette.
On one of Gillette's many trips with him Frohman got up an elaborate supper for Mark Twain at the Savoy and invited a brilliant group of celebrities, including all three of the Irvings, Beerbohm Tree, Chauncey M. Depew, Sir Charles Wyndham, Haddon Chambers, Nat Goodwin, and Arthur Bouchier. In his inconspicuous way, however, he made it appear that Gillette was giving the supper.
Midnight arrived, and Twain had not shown up. It was before the days of taxis, so Dillingham was sent after him in a hansom. After going to the wrong address, he finally located the humorist in Chelsea. He found Mark Twain sitting in his dressing-gown, smoking a Pittsburg stogie and reading a book.
"Did you forget all about the supper?" asked Dillingham.
"No," was the drawling reply, "but I didn't know where the blamed thing was. I had a notion that some one of you would come for me."
Mark Twain and Frohman were great friends. They were often together in London. Their favorite diversion was to play "hearts."
The great humorist once drew a picture of Charles, and under it wrote:
_N. B. I cannot make a good mouth. Therefore leave it out. There is enough without it, anyway. Done with the best ink.
Underneath this inscription he wrote:
To Charles Frohman, Master of Hearts.
Few things in England pleased Frohman more than to play a joke on Gillette, for the author of "Secret Service," like his great friend, relaxed when he was on the other side. When Frohman produced "Sue" in England an amusing incident happened.
Frohman had brought over Annie Russell and Ida Conquest for his piece. The actresses were very much excited before the first night, and went without dinner. After the play they were very hungry. On going to the Savoy they encountered the English prohibition against serving women at night when unaccompanied by men. After trying at several places they went to their lodging in Langham Place almost famished.
In desperation they telephoned to Dillingham, who was playing "hearts" at the Savoy with Frohman and Gillette. He hurriedly got some food together in a basket, and with his two friends drove to where the young women were staying. The house was dark; fruitless pulls at the door-bell showed that it was broken. It was impossible to raise any one.
Dillingham knew that the actresses were occupying rooms on the second floor front. He had five large English copper pennies in his pocket, and so he started to throw them up to the window to attract their attention. He threw four, and each fell short.
"This is the last copper," he said to Frohman. "If we can't reach the girls with this they will have to go hungry."
Whereupon Frohman said: "Let Gillette throw it. He can make a penny go further than any man in the world."
* * *
Such was Charles Frohman's English life. It was joyous, almost rollicking, and pervaded with the spirit of adventure. Yet behind all the humor was something deep, searching, and significant, because in England, as in America, this man was a vital and constructive force, and where he went, whether in laughter or in seriousness, he left his impress.
A GALAXY OF STARS
The last decade of Charles Frohman's life was one of continuous star-making linked with far-flung enterprise. He now had a chain of theaters that reached from Boston by way of Chicago to Seattle; his productions at home kept on apace; his prestige abroad widened.
Frohman had watched the development of Otis Skinner with great interest. That fine and representative American actor had thrived under his own management. Early in the season of 1905 he revived his first starring vehicle, a costume play by Clyde Fitch, called "His Grace de Grammont." It failed, however, and Skinner looked about for another piece. He heard that Frohman, who had a corner on French plays for America, owned the rights to Lavedan's play "The Duel," which had scored a big success in Paris. He knew that the leading role ideally fitted his talent and temperament.
Skinner went to Frohman and asked him if he could produce "The Duel" in America.
"Why don't you do it under my management?" asked the manager.
"All right," replied the actor, "I will."
With these few remarks began the connection between Charles Frohman and Otis Skinner.
It was during the closing years of Frohman's life that his genius for singling out gifted young women for eminence found its largest expression. Typical of them was Marie Doro, a Dresden-doll type of girl who made her first stage appearance, as did Billie Burke and Elsie Ferguson, in musical comedy.
Charles Frohman saw her in a play called "The Billionaire" at Daly's Theater in New York, in which she sang and danced. He had an unerring eye for beauty and talent. With her, as with others that he transported from musical pieces to straight drama, he had an uncanny perception. He engaged her and featured her in a slender little play called "Friquette."
Miss Doro made such an impression on her first appearance that Frohman now put her in "Clarice," written by William Gillette, in which he also appeared. Her success swept her nearer to stardom, for she next appeared in a Frohman production which, curiously enough, reflected one of Frohman's sentimental moods.
For many years Mrs. G. H. Gilbert was a famous figure on the American stage. She had been one of the "Big Four" of Augustin Daly's company for many years, and remained with Daly until his death. She was the beloved first old woman of the dramatic profession. When the Daly company disbanded Mrs. Gilbert did not prepare to retire. She was hearty and active.
Frohman realized what a warm place this grand old woman had in the affection of theater-goers after all the years of faithful labor, so he said to himself:
"Here is a wonderful old woman who has never been a star. She must have this great experience before she dies."
He engaged Clyde Fitch to write a play called "Granny," in which Mrs. Gilbert was starred. It made her very happy, and she literally died in the part.
In the cast of "Granny" Miss Doro's youthful and exquisite beauty shone anew. Her success with the press and the public was little short of phenomenal. Charles now saw Miss Doro as star. He held youth, beauty, and talent to be the great assets, and he seldom made a mistake. It was no vanity that made him feel that if an artist pleased him she would likewise please the public.
Frohman now starred Miss Doro in the stage adaptation of William J. Locke's charming story, "The Morals of Marcus." She became one of his pet protegees. With her, as with the other young women, he delighted to nurse talent. He conducted their rehearsals with a view of developing all their resources, and to show every facet of their temperaments. Failure never daunted him so long as he had confidence in his ward. This was especially the case with Miss Doro, who was unfortunate in a long string of unsuccessful plays. Frohman's faith in her, however, was at last justified, when she played Dora in Sardou's great play, "Diplomacy," with brilliant success a year in London and later in New York.
* * *
With the exception of Maude Adams and Ann Murdock, no Frohman star had so swift or spectacular a rise as Billie Burke. Her story is one of the real romances of the Frohman star-making.
Billie Burke was the daughter of a humble circus clown in America. From him she probably inherited her mimetic gifts. At the beginning of her career she had obscure parts in American musical pieces.
It was in London, however, that she first came under the observation of Charles. She had graduated from the chorus to a part in Edna May's great success, "The School Girl." She had a song called "Put Me in My Little Canoe," which made a great hit. Frohman became so much interested that he thought of sending Miss Burke to America in the piece. He transferred the song to Miss May, which left Miss Burke with scarcely any opportunity. Subsequently she was put in "The Belle of Mayfair," and afterward replaced Miss May when she retired.
Louis N. Parker saw her in this piece and agreed with Frohman that the girl had possibilities as a serious actress. She was cast for her first dramatic part in "The Honorable George," the play he was then producing in London.
When Michael Morton adapted a very beguiling French play called "My Wife," Frohman saw that here was Miss Burke's opportunity for America. He secured her release from the Gattis, who controlled her English appearances, and made her John Drew's leading woman. She met his confidence by adapting herself to the role with great brilliancy and effect. Indeed, with Miss Burke, Frohman introduced a distinct and piquant reddish-blond type of beauty to the American stage. It became known as the "Billie Burke type." Realizing this, Frohman was very careful to adapt her personal appearance, humor, and temperament to her plays. He literally had plays written about her peculiar gifts.
Miss Burke's great success in "My Wife" projected her into the Frohman stellar heaven. She was launched as a star in "Love Watches," an adaptation from the French, securely established herself in the favor of theater-goers, and from that time on her appearance in a chic, smart play became one of the distinct features of the annual Frohman season. Her most distinguished success was with Pinero's play "Mind the Paint Girl," in which Frohman was greatly interested.
Few of Frohman's "discoveries" justified his confidence with lovelier success than Julia Sanderson. Her first public appearance on the stage had been in vaudeville. When Frohman sought a comedienne with a certain dainty, lady-like quality for the English musical play called "The Dairymaids," which he produced at the Criterion in 1907, his attention was called to this charming girl, then doing musical numbers in a New York vaudeville theater. Frohman went to see her, and was fascinated by her beauty and charm. He noted, most of all, a certain gentle quality in her personality, and with his peculiar genius in adapting plays to people and people to plays, she fairly bloomed under his persuasive and sympathetic sponsorship.
Frohman now obtained "The Arcadians," in which Miss Sanderson was featured. Of all the musical plays that he produced, this was perhaps his favorite. He liked it so much that he told Miss Sanderson one day during rehearsal:
"If the public does not like 'The Arcadians,' then I am finished with light opera."
"The Arcadians," however, proved to be a gratifying success, and Frohman's confidence was vindicated. Frohman was undergoing his long and almost fatal illness at the Knickerbocker Hotel when "The Arcadians" was being rehearsed. He was so fond of the music that whenever possible the rehearsals in which Miss Sanderson sang were conducted in his rooms at the hotel. He always said that he could see the whole performance in her singing. In rehearsing her he always seemed to well-nigh break her heart, but it was his way, as he afterward admitted, of provoking her emotional temperament.
He next gave her a strong part in "The Siren," and subsequently made her a co-star with Donald Brian in "The Sunshine Girl," which brought out to the fullest advantage, so far, her exquisite and alluring qualities.
* * *
The last star to twinkle into life under the Frohman wand was Ann Murdock. Here is presented an extraordinary example of the way that Charles literally "made" stars, for seldom, if ever, before has a young actress been so quickly raised from obscurity to eminence. Almost overnight he lifted her into fame.
Miss Murdock, who was born in New York, and had spent her childhood in Port Washington, Long Island, was not a stage-struck girl. She went on the stage because she made up her mind that she wanted more nice frocks than she was having. She rode over to New York one day and went to Henry B. Harris's office to get a position. As she sat waiting among a score of applicants, Harris came out. He was so much taken with her striking Titian beauty and unaffected girlish charm that he immediately asked her to come in ahead of the rest, and gave her a small part in one of "The Lion and the Mouse" road companies. When Harris saw her act he took her out of the cast and put her in a new production that he was making in New York.
At the end of the season she wanted to get under Charles Frohman's management, so she went to the Empire Theater to try her luck. There she met William Gillette, who was making one of his numerous revivals of "Secret Service." The moment he saw this fresh, appealing young girl he immediately cast her in his mind for the part of the young Southern girl. After he had talked with her, however, he said:
"I think it would be best if I wrote a part for you. I am now working on a play, and I think you had better go in that."
Miss Murdock now appeared in Gillette's new play, "Electricity," in which Marie Doro was starred. Charles Frohman saw her at the opening rehearsal for the first time.
"Electricity" was a failure. Instead of following up her connection with the Frohman office, she went to the cast of "A Pair of Sixes," in which she played for a whole season on Broadway, displaying qualities which brought her conspicuously before the public and to the notice of the man who was to do so much for her.
One night Charles stopped in to see this farce. He had never forgotten the lovely young girl who had played in "Electricity." The next day he sent for Miss Murdock, offered her an engagement, and made another of those simple arrangements, for he said to her:
"You are with me for life."
This was Frohman's way of telling an actor or actress that, without the formality of a contract, they were to look to him each season for employment and that they need not worry about engagements.
From this time on Frohman took an earnest interest in Miss Murdock's career. He saw in her, as he had seen in only a few of his women stars, an immense opportunity to create a new and distinct type.
Just about this time he became very much interested in the English adaptation of a French play which he called "The Beautiful Adventure," which was, curiously enough, one of the plays uppermost in his mind on the day he went to his death.
He now did a daring but characteristic Frohman thing. He believed implicitly in Miss Murdock's talents; he felt that the part of the ingenuous young girl in this play was ideally suited to her pleading personality, so, in conjunction with Mrs. Thomas Whiffen and Charles Cherry, he featured her in the cast. Miss Murdock's characterization amply justified Frohman's confidence, but the play failed in New York and on the road. He wrote to Miss Murdock:
I am afraid our little play is too gentle for the West. Come back. I have something else for you.
He now put Miss Murdock into Porter Emerson Browne's play "A Girl of To-day," which had its first presentation in Washington. Frohman, Miss Murdock, and her mother were riding from the station in Washington to the Shoreham Hotel. As they passed the New National Theater, where the young actress was to appear, Miss Murdock suddenly looked out of the cab and saw the following inscription in big type on the bill:
Charles Frohman presents Ann Murdock in "A Girl of To-day."
It was the first intimation that she had been made a star, and she burst into tears. In this episode Frohman had repeated what he had done in the case of Ethel Barrymore ten years before.
Frohman had predicted great things for Miss Murdock, for at the time of his death there was no doubt of the fact that she was destined, in his mind, for a very remarkable career.
* * *
But those last years of Frohman's life were not confined exclusively to the pleasant and grateful task of making lovely women stars. The men also had a chance, as the case of Donald Brian shows. Frohman had been much impressed with his success in "The Merry Widow," so he put him under his management and starred him in "The Dollar Princess," which was the first of a series of Brian successes.
Frohman saw that Brian had youth, charm, and pleasing appearance. He was an unusually good singer and an expert dancer. He was equipped to give distinction to the musical play Frohman wanted to present. He had watched the interest of his audiences, and saw that young Brian was a distinct favorite with women as well as men, and his success as star justified all these plans.
While Frohman was making new stars, older ones came under his control in swift succession, among them Madame Nazimova, William Courtnay, James K. Hackett, Kyrle Bellew, Mrs. Fiske, Charles Cherry, John Mason, Martha Hedman, Alexandra Carlisle, William Courtleigh, Nat Goodwin, Blanche Bates, Hattie Williams, Gertrude Elliott, Constance Collier, Richard Carle, and Cyril Maude.
Frohman now reached the very apex of his career. At one time he had twenty-eight stars under his management; and in addition fully as many more companies bore his name throughout the country. To be a Frohman star was the acme of stage ambition, for it not only meant professional distinction, but equitable and honorable treatment.
* * *
The year 1915 dawned with fateful significance for Charles Frohman. With its advent began a chain of happenings that, in the light of later events, seemed almost prophetic of the fatal hour which was now closing in.
Perhaps the most picturesque and significant of these events was the reconciliation with his old friend David Belasco. Twelve years before, through an apparently trivial thing, a breach had developed between these two men whose fortunes had been so intimately entwined. They had launched their careers in New York together; the old Madison Square Theater had housed their first theatrical ambition; they had kept pace on the road to fame; their joint productions had been features of the New York stage. Yet for twelve years they had not spoken.
Frohman became ill, and lay stricken at the Knickerbocker Hotel. That he had thought much of his old comrade, so long estranged, was evident. A remarkable coincidence resulted. It was like an act in any one of the many plays they had produced.
One afternoon Belasco, who had heard of the serious plight of Frohman, sat in his studio on the top floor of the Belasco Theater. There, amid his Old World curios, he pondered over the past.
"'C. F.' is lying ill at the Knickerbocker," he said to himself. "He may die. I must see him. This quarrel of ours is a great mistake."
He started to write a note to his old friend, when the telephone-bell rang. It was his business manager, Benjamin Roeder, who said:
"I have just had a telephone message from Charles Frohman. He wants to see you."
When Belasco told Roeder that he was just in the act of writing to Frohman to tell him that he wanted to see him, both men were amazed at the coincidence.
That night, when the few friends who gathered each evening at Frohman's bedside had gone, Belasco entered the sick-room at the Knickerbocker. Frohman was so weak that he could hardly raise his hand. Belasco went to him, took his right hand in both of his, and the old comrades put together again the thread of their friendship just where it had been broken twelve years before.
They talked over the old days. Frohman, whose mind was always on the theater, suddenly said:
"Let's do a play together, David."
"All right," said Belasco.
"You name the play. I will get the cast, and we will rehearse it together," added Frohman.
Out of this reconciliation came the magnificent revival of "A Celebrated Case," by D'Ennery and Cormon. The cast included Nat Goodwin, Otis Skinner, Ann Murdock, Helen Ware, Florence Reed, and Robert Warwick. On Frohman's recovery he undertook the rehearsals. Belasco came in at the end, but he had little to do.
Frohman and Belasco not only resumed their joint production of plays, but they resumed part of their old life together. Now began again their favorite diet of pumpkin and meringue pie and tea after the day's work was done. Night after night they met after the theater, just as they had done in the old Madison Square days when they went to O'Neil's, on Sixth Avenue, for their frugal repast, dreaming and planning their futures. Now each man had become a great personage. Frohman was the amusement dictator of two worlds; Belasco, the acknowledged stage wizard of his time.
After a week in Boston the all-star cast in "A Celebrated Case" opened at the Empire Theater in New York. History repeated itself. Frohman and Belasco sat in the same place in the wings where they sat twenty-two years before at the launching of "The Girl I Left Behind Me," which dedicated the Empire. Now, as then, there were tumultuous calls for the producers. Again David tried to induce Charles to go out, but he said:
"No, you go, David, and speak for me. Stand where you did twenty-two years ago."
In 1915, as in 1893, Belasco went out and spoke Frohman's thanks and his own.
The revival of "A Celebrated Case" not only brought Frohman and Belasco together, but led to an agreement between them to do a production together every year.
* * *
There was a tragic hint of the fate which was shaping Charles Frohman's end in his last production on any stage. It was a war play called "The Hyphen," by Justus Miles Forman, the novelist. The scenes were laid in Pennsylvania, and the story dealt with the various attempts to unsettle the loyalty of German-Americans through secret agencies. The whole problem of the hyphenated citizen, which had complicated the American position in the great war, was set forth.
Even in his unconscious stage farewell, Charles was the pioneer, because the acceptance of "The Hyphen" and the prompt organization of the company established a new record in play-producing. Up to a certain Saturday morning Charles Frohman had never heard of the play. That afternoon the manuscript was put into his hands and he read it. A messenger was sent off post-haste to find the author. In the mean time, Frohman engaged W. H. Thompson, Gail Kane, and a notable group of players for the cast, and gave orders for the construction of the scenery. Late that afternoon Mr. Forman called on Charles, whom he had never met. Without any further ado the manager said to the playwright-author:
"I am going to produce your play. We have nothing to discuss. A manager often discusses at great length the play that he does not intend to produce. Therefore all that I have to tell you is that your play is accepted. I have already engaged the chief actors needed, and the scenery was ordered two hours ago. I am glad to produce a play on this timely subject, but I am especially glad that it is an American who wrote it."
Charles was greatly interested in "The Hyphen." It was American to the core; it flouted treachery to the country of adoption; it appealed to his big sense of patriotism. He felt, with all the large enthusiasm of his nature, that he was doing a distinct national service in producing the piece. He personally supervised every rehearsal. He talked glowingly to his friends about it. At fifty-five he displayed the same bubbling optimism with regard to it that he had shown about his first independent venture.
Now began the last of the chain of dramatic events which ended in death. As soon as "The Hyphen" was announced, Frohman began to get threatening letters warning him that it would be a mistake to produce so sensational a play in the midst of such an acute international situation. Pro-Germans of incendiary tendency especially resented it. To all these intimations Frohman merely shrugged his shoulders and smiled. It made him all the more determined.
"The Hyphen" was produced April 19th at the Knickerbocker Theater before a hostile audience. Unpatriotic pro-Germans had packed the theater. During the progress of the play the dynamite explosions in the Broadway subway construction outside were misinterpreted for bombs, and there was suppressed excitement throughout the whole performance.
The play was a failure. Yet Frohman's confidence in it was unimpaired. He went to see it nearly every night of its short life in New York. He even sent it to Boston for a second verdict, but Boston agreed with New York. Like every production that bore the Charles Frohman stamp, he gave it every chance. Reluctantly he ordered up the notice to close.