Fiske, Minnie Maddern

Fiske, Minnie Maddern
   Born Marie Augusta Davey in New Orleans, the diminutive redhead was the only child of touring actors Thomas W. and Lizzie (Maddern) Davey. As a toddler, she sang and danced between the acts in her parents' company. At three, she made her legitimate debut when another company playing Little Rock, Arkansas, at the same time as the Daveys borrowed her for the Duke of York in Richard III. She worked steadily as a child performer with occasional bouts of education in convent schools.
   Minnie Maddern made her adult New York debut in 1882 in Fogg's Ferry, which she subsequently toured. In 1884, she opened Caprice in New York, then toured it, and revived it in New York in 1887. Already, in her teens, her uniqueness was recognized: "She has her own way of expressing the emotions, and seems to have learned the principles of dramatic art from no recognized model" (New York Times, 22 June 1887).
   With her marriage to Harrison Grey Fiske in 1890, she retired from acting and devoted herself to writing one-act plays. The success of her performance as Nora in a one-night benefit performance of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House in 1894 impelled her return to the stage as well as her championing of the new realism of Ibsen's plays. She was thereafter referred to as Mrs. Fiske. She scored particular successes in Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1897), Becky Sharp (1899), Mary of Magdala (1902), Hedda Gabler (1903), Leah Kle-schna (1904), and The New York Idea (1906), among many others.
   Claude Bragdon concurred with the general view that Minnie Maddern Fiske was "the greatest American actress of my time." Through her, "the New Woman dawned on our astonished gaze in the person of Nora" (1938, 209). Referring to dramatizations from Thomas Hardy and William Thackeray respectively, Bragdon wrote, "The mere memory of her enactment, as Tess, of the scene following the murder of her seducer causes a cold shiver to run down my back, and it was only after seeing Becky Sharp played by another actress that I realized how much of tragedy and humour which were not in the lines Mrs. Fiske had infused into that last act" (1938, 210).
   The Fiskes took a stand against the Theatrical Syndicate, leasing the Manhattan Theatre in order to avoid her playing a Syndicate house, but their struggles took a toll on the marriage and on his newspaper, the New York Dramatic Mirror. She used her celebrity to speak out against the fashion for egret feathers, which threatened to drive the bird to extinction. Among the outstanding work of her late career, one must signal Salvation Nell (1908) and Mrs. Bumpstead-Leigh (1911), both examples of the new playwriting she encouraged.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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  • Fiske, Minnie Maddern — ▪ American actress original name  Marie Augusta Davey  born Dec. 19, 1865, New Orleans, La., U.S. died Feb. 15, 1932, Hollis, N.Y.  American actress who became one of the leading exemplars of realism on the American stage, especially through her… …   Universalium

  • Minnie Maddern Fiske — Mrs. Fiske Mrs. Fiske: Love Finds the Way. Photograph by Zaida Ben Yusuf (1896) Born Marie Augusta Davey December 19, 1865(1865 12 19) N …   Wikipedia

  • Minnie Maddern Fiske — Fotografiada por Zaida Ben Yusuf en 1896 Nombre real Marie Augusta Davey Nacimiento 19 de diciembre de 1865 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Minnie Maddern Fiske — Minnie Maddern Fiske, de son vrai nom Marie Augusta Davey et plus connue sous son nom d artiste Mrs. Fiske (19 décembre 1965, Nouvelle Orléans, Louisiane 15 février 1932, New York), est une actrice américaine des plus connues… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Fiske, Harrison Grey — ▪ American playwright, theatrical manager, and journalist born July 30, 1861, Harrison, N.Y., U.S. died Sept. 3, 1942, New York City       American playwright, theatrical manager, and journalist who with his wife, Minnie Maddern Fiske (Fiske,… …   Universalium

  • Fiske — is a surname, and may refer to:* Bill Fiske (1905–1975), British politician * Billy Fiske (1911–1940), US sportsman and fighter pilot * Bradley Fiske (1854–1942), United States Naval officer * Donald W. Fiske (1916–2003). US psychologist,… …   Wikipedia

  • Fiske, Harrison Grey — (1861 1942)    Born in New York to a wealthy family, Harrison Grey Fiske worked in his teens as a drama critic for the Jersey City Argus, but quit to attend New York University. In 1880, his father bought the New York Dramatic Mirror and made him …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

  • Fiske — /fisk/, n. 1. John (Edmund Fisk Green; John Fisk), 1842 1901, U.S. philosopher and historian. 2. Minnie Maddern /mad euhrn/ (Marie Augusta Davey), 1865 1932, U.S. actress. * * * …   Universalium

  • Fiske — /fisk/, n. 1. John (Edmund Fisk Green; John Fisk), 1842 1901, U.S. philosopher and historian. 2. Minnie Maddern /mad euhrn/ (Marie Augusta Davey), 1865 1932, U.S. actress …   Useful english dictionary

  • Mrs. Fiske — Minnie Maddern Fiske (Mrs. Fiske) (December 19, 1865 – February 15, 1932), was one of the leading American actresses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. She also spearheaded the fight against the Theatrical Syndicate for the sake… …   Wikipedia

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