Buffalo: The Courier Lith. Co., 1885. 33 x 23 1/4 inches (83.75 x 59 cm). First edition. A very good copy, restored at top edge, text banner affixed to bottom (Condition B+). Item #43296
Three portraits of the young Belle Époque actress Kathryn Kidder, flanked by four full length photographs of her in costume, taken by Napoleon Sarony, the greatest photographer of the American theater.
Frank Mayo and John G. Wilson's play, based on "Vineta, the Phantom City" a translation of a novel by E. Werner, opened in 1884 in Chicago with Laura Don as Wanda, but when Don left for California, Kidder was given the role as the play moved to New York and Mayo went all out to promote her. Kathryn Kidder (1867-1839) was born In Newark or Evanston, Ill (various reports) and was privately educated until she attended the North Western Female College (where Emma Willard received her degree). Her early rise was described in 1885 at the time of this poster: "Frank Mayo meantime had heard of this promising pupil, and at once hunted her up, with a view to offering her the character of the Countess Wanda in his play of 'Nordeck.' After a careful study of the character and its possibilities, she accepted Mr. Mayo's offer, and spoke of the character to a friend in these words: 'It is a part I would have chosen if I had been consulted, and given my choice; and, whatever the future may bring, much shall be ascribed to the very fortunate opportunity afforded me in the character of the lovely Countess Wanda.' This character in 'Nordeck' is indeed lovely, as Miss Kidder says. The author has suggested a character that is quite ideal, and the young actress has clothed it with life and naturalness while portraying the romantic possibilities of the creation with all the enthusiasm of a young girl in the first flower of fulfillment. And it is not too much to say that the character of Wanda is due largely to Miss Kidder's efforts, whether unaided or otherwise; for her lines allow rather than demand the character that she portrays. Miss Kidder is tall, with a bright rather than simply beautiful face, a figure that is willowy and lithe, and motions that are at one and the same time impetuous and graceful. She realizes and feels as well as looks the young and impulsive character..." (Folio, Boston, vol. xxvii, June 1885, pp. 222-3).
"Afterwards she followed this with several Shakespeare seasons, playing Ophelia, Desdemona, Hermione and Perdita, Lady Macbeth, then Madame Sans-Gene; further Shakespeare revivals and old English comedy; School for Scandal, The Rivals, The Country Girl, then Salambo of Flaubert, and following this several modern plays, including The Embarrassment of Riches (Wallack's); The Woman of Impulse (Herald Square); and The Glass House." She had her own production company, wrote 'The Heart of her Husband, a domestic drama in three acts and two scenes', helped fund-raise for Women's Suffrage, and was married to Louis Kaufman Anspacher, an American playwright and director.
Rare. OCLC and other databases show no copies of this nor any other posters for Nordeck nor for Kidder. The Library of Congress has an archive of her scrapbooks of news clippings relating to her stage career 1883-1909 and the NYPL has a promptbook of her play.