Biography of Joseph Jefferson
Celebrated Americans





JOSEPH JEFFERSON, a name as dear as it is familiar to the theater going world in America, suggests first of all a fun loving, drink loving, mellow voiced, good natured Dutchman, and the name of "Rip Van Winkle" suggests the pleasant features of Joe Jefferson, so intimately are play and player associated in the minds of those who have had the good fortune to shed tears of laughter and sympathy as a tribute to the greatness of his art. Joseph Jefferson was born in Philadelphia, February 20, 1829. His genius was an inheritance, if there be such, as his great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson, was a manager and actor in England His grandfather, Joseph Jefferson, was the most popular comedian of the New York stage in his time, and his father, Joseph Jefferson, the second, was a good actor also, but the third Joseph Jefferson outshone them all.

At the age of three years Joseph Jefferson came on the stage as the child in "Pizarro," and his training was upon the stage from childhood. Later on he lived and acted in Chicago, Mobile, and Texas. After repeated misfortunes he returned to New Orleans from Texas, and his brother in law, Charles Burke, gave him money to reach Philadelphia, where he joined the Burton theater company Here his genius soon asserted itself, and his future became promising and brilliant. His engagements throughout the United States and Australia were generally successful, and when he went to England in 1865 Mr. Boucicault consented to make some important changes in his dramatization of Irving's story of Rip Van Winkle, and Mr. Jefferson at once placed it in the front rank as a comedy. He made a fortune out of it, and played nothing else for many years. In later years, however, Mr. Jefferson acquitted himself of the charge of being a one part actor, and the parts of "Bob Acres," ''Caleb Plummer" and "Golightly" all testify to the versatility of his genius.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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