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A History of Pantomime by R. J. Broadbent

Where he produced Humpty Dumpty


In

1862 Fox was at the Bowery Theatre, and, during his occupation of the same, he did much to popularise Pantomime. Half a dozen years afterwards we find him at the Olympic Theatre, New York, where he produced "Humpty Dumpty," which ran 483 nights, and for five years, till 1873, it held its place, on and off, in the bill. Altogether it was played 943 times. Fox, from this, was known as Humpty Dumpty, and, strangely enough, also, the Americans for long enough afterwards called every Pantomime "Humpty Dumpty."

Fox was a very good mimic, imitating all the Hamlets of the day, besides being a good melodramatic actor. He died October 24th, 1877, at Cambridge, Mass., of softening of the brain.

Tony Denier, a pupil of the Ravels, and a quondam friend of Fox, next took Fox's place in the estimation of the American public. Of Denier, we are told that he arrived in Boston in 1852, with the proverbial half-crown in his pocket. He was of French extraction, and descended from one of the best French families. In 1863 he was with P.T. Barnum, and appearing as a one-legged dancer. In 1868, he went into Pantomime, toured "Humpty Dumpty," and for some twenty years afterwards kept the Pantomimic ball merrily rolling until his retirement at Chicago into private life. Denier made Harlequinade tricks a speciality.

Pantomime in America may be said to have lived about a quarter of a century; but in the

autumn of this year (1901) Pantomime, as we now know it in this country, made its first appearance at the Broadway Theatre, New York, when last year's Drury Lane annual, "The Sleeping Beauty and the Beast," was successfully presented. It is very probable that this class of entertainment will become very popular in America.

CHAPTER XXI.

Pantomimes made more attractive--The Restrictive Policy of the Patent Houses--"Mother Goose" and "George Barnwell" at Covent Garden--Lively Audiences--"Jane Shore"--"Harlequin Pat and Harlequin Bat"--"The first speaking opening"--Extravagence in Extravaganzas--The doom of the old form of Pantomime--Its revival in a new form--A piece of pure Pantomime--Present day Mimetic Art--"_L'Enfant Prodigue_"--A retrospect--The old with the new, and conclusion.

Pantomimes, as they grew, were made more and more attractive, "new scenery, decorations, and flyings" were introduced, and with new "flyings," of course, more accidents.

The restrictive policy adopted by the Patent theatres--till the repeal of their patents (1843)--towards the minor houses, which gave to the former the sole and only right of performing the "legitimate" was, by the minor theatres, infringed in many ways. The means adopted was the employment of Pantomime in the depiction of plays adapted and considered suitable for the minor theatres. These were entirely carried on by action, and when the actor could not express something that had to be explained, like the names of characters, a scroll, with the necessary details inscribed thereon, was unrolled in full view of the audience. These entertainments were very popular at the close of the eighteenth century, and they were also the means of providing some first-class Pantomimists--as, for instance, Bologna and D'Egville.


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