🎭 A Souvenir Fan ca. 1892 from the 1200th performance of “Men and Women” by Charles Frohman Co. performed at the Hollis Street Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts. Each wooden section of the fan carries a signature from an actor in the play and their role. One of these signatures is by Maude Adams who played Dora Prescott. The part of Dora Prescott was specially written for Maude on request of Charles Frohman to the writers David Belasco and Henry C. de Mille. Frohman was a powerful producer, and is credited with bringing Maude to stardom.
Maude Adams is connected to Utah intiially through her grandparents, who were first generation converts to the LDS faith and pioneers. Maude's grandfather was a labourer whose work cutting and hewing lumber on the Salt Lake Theatre was awarded with tickets to the theatre. Annie Adams, Maude's mother, attended the opening night of the Salt Lake Theatre in 1862, and thus began a lifelong dedication to the art of the theatre. Annie debuted on stage at the Salt Lake Theatre in 1865 and was cast in leading roles 6 months later. Annie married James Kiskadden, an Irish immigrant and Mormon “Gentile” in 1869. Maude was born 3 years later in 1871, and 9 months later she made her first appearance in a one act farce called “The Lost Child”, and so began an accomplished acting career.
Maude Adams is best known for her portrayal of Peter Pan in J. M. Barries’ play of the same name in 1905. During this time Maude was earning a whopping $20,000 a month making her the highest paid actress of the time. Maude performed in multiple plays until her retirement in 1918 after a bout with Influenza. Maude was a creative tour de force, helping design costumes and organize stage production. Even after her retirement from theatre, Maude was a pioneering force for stage production. She used her considerable wealth and stage expertise to develop improved stage lighting. Her resulting research led to the creation of the then largest incandescent lamp using tungsten filament that emitted 60,000 candlepower of illumination. Maude did not patten her work, resulting in General Electric, her collaborator on the project, to take it for themselves removing her name from the record. Maude Lamps became the standard in theatre and film production. Bassett Jones, a collaborator on the Tungsten lamps said of Maude “She completely revamped the whole art of stagecraft—setting and lighting…In my opinion, Maude Adams was the greatest production artist this country ever saw.”
Maude Adams became the head of the drama department at Stephens College in Columbia Missouri in 1937 where she taught until the age of 78. She never married, and lived with her long term partner Louise Boynton for 45 years until Boynton’s death in 1951. Maude passed away in 1953 at the age of 80. Maude and Louise share a headstone in Long Island, New York.
Any questions? Please contact the Research Center : https://history.utah.gov/library-collections/