Mary Margaret Anglin

The greatest actress of her day performed in Richmond… and later snubbed the New York stage.

Mary Margaret Anglin appeared onstage at the Murray Theatre [now Richmond Civic Theatre] on March, 22, 1919. The Evening Item called her play ‘Billeted’ a “bright story covered with shining skeins of romance and brilliant flashes of humor, which are spun out and gathered up with consummate skill by one of the most brilliant actresses of our day.”

Anglin was a Canadian-born thespian who had attended acting school in New York City. She debuted professionally on Broadway in 1898 and achieved considerable fame. In December of 1905 the “most famous actress in the history of the world,” European sensation Sarah Bernhardt, asked Anglin to join her in the play Pelleas et Melisande. The blessing of “the divine Sarah” sealed Margaret Anglin’s reputation as the great new star of the American theatre and she dominated the American stage in the early decades of the 20th Century.

On March 22, 1919 she and her troupe appeared in Richmond in a play billed as “the most welcome and distinguished engagement of the year, “a story that deals essentially with the moral aspects of World War I from a farcical standpoint rather than the dramatic.”

Despite Wayne County’s mobilization of 2,001 war recruits, 64 of whom died, the farce must have been sensitively done, as Anglin did well in Richmond and across the nation.

In 1929 after her American husband had not been cast in a Broadway production, Anglin insisted producers give him a role in her plays. When they balked she walked out and did not return until 1936, in what would be her final appearance.

Love of the stage had taken her there, and love of her husband had removed her.



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June 19, 2012