MRS. LESLIE CARTER
"the American Sarah Bernhardt"
An Overview: The Career of Leslie Carter
Mrs. Leslie Carter (née Caroline Louise Dudley) was born in 1862 in Louisville, Kentucky, and died in 1937 in Santa Monica, California. Termed the "Bernhardt of America" at the turn of the century, Mrs. Carter was an international stage star of the "emotional" school of acting. She achieved her greatest fame in a quartet of plays (The Heart of Maryland, Zaza, Du Barry,and Adrea)produced between 1895 and 1905 under the direction of Director/Playwright David Belasco. Her initial notoriety was the result of a scandalous divorce from her Chicago socialite husband, following which she turned to the stage to make a living. At an early point in her fascinating career she was referred to as "the first star of the twentieth century," but as her career declined and costly, self-financed productions failed at the box office, recurring financial travails earned her the soubrette "the queen of bankruptettes." The ultimate in demolishing criticism was the 1911 review of her performance in Two Women. Mrs. Carter, the reviewer icily commented, "has the courage to persevere in a form of acting which is now almost extinct." In her early fifties, with her career in disarray, she recreated her ingénue roles with some success "posing" (not "acting," it should be noted) for silent films. Later, she performed a vaudeville "tabloid" (thirty minute) version of Zaza,one of her greatest hits. Commenting on her decision to embark on the "two-a-day" shows, as they were referred to, Mrs. Carter laconically remarked: "I can weep twice a day just as easily as once." She appeared in supporting roles on Broadway in the 1920's and retired to California where, in the 1930's, she ended her career acting in low budget sixty minute Hollywood westerns.
This Web Page was created and is maintained by Craig D. Clinton
Reed College Theatre, Portland,Oregon 97202
Contents copyright 1999.
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