Bonstelle, Jessie

Bonstelle, Jessie
   Laura Justine Bonesteele was born in Greece, New York, and began acting professionally at 15. She played the heroine in Bertha, the Sewing Machine Girl, then performed with Augustin Daly's company, and rose to leading lady roles at Proctor's Theatre, followed by other stock work. She was in stock in Northampton, Massachusetts, when the little theatre movement gathered steam, and thus she was encouraged to form her own company. She gained a reputation for developing actors of promise, notably Katharine Cornell and Melvyn Douglas.* Although she returned occasionally to act and direct in New York City and spend some summers in Buffalo, Bonstelle is largely associated with theatre in Detroit, Michigan, where she ran a stock company and, in 1926, opened the Bonstelle Playhouse, followed a few years later by the Detroit Civic Theatre. She was tenacious in her belief that Little Women could be successfully dramatized and it long remained central to her repertory.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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