John E. Owens (Paperback)

Nineteenth Century American Actor and Manager

By Thomas A. Bogar

Macfarland & Co., 9780786413607, 216pp.

Publication Date: November 30, 2002

List Price: 35.00*
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John E. Owens (1823-1886), one of the wealthiest, most popular comic actors in America, refined the Yankee stage and won critical and popular acclaim for his eccentric characters and tender, evocative portrayals of garrulous old men. His most famous role was Solon Shingle in J. S. Jones The Peoples Lawyer, which he played over 2000 times, earning over $250,000 from it alone. As a manager, Owens had an eye for a hit, and he produced, directed, and performed in several of the nation's most successful productions of the 1850s. This biography chronicles his childhood and apprenticeship with William Burton, his early lead roles, his first efforts at management, and his marriage to Mary C. Stevens. It then discusses how he developed the roles of Solon Shingle and Caleb Plummer that brought him so much fame, the broadening of his audience and refining of his craft around the time of the Civil War, his performances in the West and expansion of his repertoire, his new ways of touring, and the loss and recovery of his audiences amid the rise of Joseph Jefferson. It ends with a discussion of his theatrical success, financial loss and exhaustion with acting and managing, and his illness and death.