James, Louis

James, Louis
   This versatile, respected actor found his greatest success on the road. Born in Illinois, Louis James made his debut in 1863 at Macauley's Theatre in Louisville. He joined a succession of excellent stock companies: that of Mrs. John Drew at Philadelphia's Arch Street Theatre, Augustin Daly's in New York, McVicker's in Chicago, and Maguire's in San Francisco. For five years he toured as support to Lawrence Barrett, but a quarrel led him to form his own company and tour as a star with his second wife, Marie Wainwright. It was said that James performed in nearly every Shakespeare play, both comedies and tragedies, including such roles as Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Caliban, Bottom, Falstaff, and Benedick. He was also an inveterate practical joker; as Brutus to Barrett's Cassius in Julius Caesar, James spoke the line "Till then, my noble friend, chew upon this," and slipped a raw oyster into Cassius's hand. James died of a heart attack at the makeup table in Helena, Montana, and is buried in Kansas City, next to his third wife, actress Aphie James (née Alphia Hendricks).

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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