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Ira Frederick Aldridge (1807?–1867) by Henry Perronet Briggs, c. 1830 [as Othello] National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

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Aldridge, Ira Frederick (1807?–1867), actor, was probably born on 24 July 1807 in New York city, the son of Daniel Aldridge, a lay preacher. Little is known of his mother, Lurona, who died when he was a youth. He was the first major African-American actor, although virtually all of his appearances were in ...

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Sir George Reginald Barnes (1904–1960) by Howard Coster, 1954 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Barnes, Sir George Reginald (1904–1960), radio and television director and college head, was born in Byfleet, Surrey, on 13 September 1904, the son of Sir Hugh Shakespear Barnes (1853–1940), lieutenant-governor of Burma, and his second wife, Edith Helen, sister of Sir Kenneth Barnes...

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Dion Boucicault (1820–1890) by London Stereoscopic Co., c. 1865–70 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Boucicault, Dion [real name Dionysius Lardner Boursiquot] (1820–1890), playwright and actor, was born on 27 December 1820 at 28 Middle Gardiner Street, Dublin. He was the fifth and final child of Samuel Boursiquot (1769–1853) and his wife, Anne Maria (1795–1879), the daughter of ...

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Burbage, Cuthbert (1564/5–1636), theatre investor and entrepreneur, was baptized at St Stephen, Coleman Street, close to Guildhall, London, on 15 June 1565, the elder of the two surviving sons of James Burbage (c. 1531–1597) and his wife, Ellen, née Brayne (c.1542–1613)...

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Campion, Mary Anne (c. 1687–1706), singer and dancer, was born of lowly parents, her father having possibly been a servant of William Cavendish, first duke of Devonshire. She displayed a precocious talent on the stage; aged eleven, she was a member of Christopher Rich's...

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Carton, Claude [real name Richard Claude Critchett] (1856–1928), actor and playwright, was born at 46 Finsbury Square, London, on 10 May 1856. He was the younger son of George Critchett (1817–1882), ophthalmic surgeon, and his wife, Martha Wilson, daughter of Captain Nathanael Brooker RN...

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Ada Cavendish (1839?–1895) by unknown photographer © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Joseph Knight

revised by J. Gilliland

Cavendish [married name Marshall], Ada (1839?–1895), actress, born by some accounts in 1839, by others in 1847, was a pupil of Walter Lacy, and made her first appearance in London at the New Royalty Theatre on 31 August 1863, as Selina Squeers in a burletta called ...

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Susanna Centlivre (bap. 1669?, d. 1723) by Peter Pelham, 1720 (after D. Fermin) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Centlivre [née Freeman; other married name Carroll], Susanna (bap. 1669?, d. 1723), playwright and actress, was probably the Susanna baptized on 20 November 1669 at the parish church of Whaplode, Lincolnshire, the daughter of William Freeman of Holbeach and his wife, Anne...

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Samuel Franklin Cody (1861–1913) by unknown photographer, 1912 [at the controls of his aeroplane Cathedral] Getty Images

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Cody [formerly Cowdery], Samuel Franklin (1861–1913), showman and aeronautical designer, was born on 6 March 1861 in Davenport, Iowa, USA, the fourth of five children of Samuel Franklin Cowdery (1833–1902), a former Union soldier and jobbing carpenter, and his wife, Phoebe Jane (1834–1900)...

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Cooper, Thomas Thornville (1839–1878), traveller and promoter of trade, the eighth son of John Ibbetson Cooper, coal fitter and shipowner, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Douglas, was born on 13 September 1839, at Bishopwearmouth, co. Durham. He was educated at the Grange School, Bishopwearmouth...

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Davis [Davies; married name Paisible], Mary [Moll] (c. 1651–1708), actress and royal mistress, was said to be 'a bastard of Collonell Howard, my Lord Barkeshire' (Pepys, 9.24), a phrase which is more likely to refer to Thomas Howard (...

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Thomas John Dibdin (1771–1841) by William Owen Copyright 2004 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Abbott Lawrence Fund

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Dibdin, Thomas John (1771–1841), playwright and actor, was born at 5 Peter Street (now Museum Street), Bloomsbury, London, on 21 March 1771, the second of the two illegitimate sons of Charles Dibdin (bap. 1745, d. 1814) and the actress and dancer Harriet Pitt (1748?–1814)...

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See Ritchard, Cyril Joseph