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Published on Nov 27, 2009
US actor Joseph Jefferson (1829-1905) / Rip Meets Minnie After Twenty Years' Absence / Rip Van Winkle (Washington Irving) / Recorded: 1903 --
Joseph Jefferson via wikipedia:
Joseph Jefferson, commonly known as Joe Jefferson (February 20, 1829 - April 23, 1905), was an American actor. He was the third actor of this name in a family of actors and managers, and one of the most famous of all American comedians.
In 1859, Jefferson made a dramatic version of Washington Irving's story of "Rip Van Winkle" on the basis of older plays, and acted it with success in Washington, D.C. He arrived at Sydney in the beginning of November 1861, and played a successful season introducing to Australia Rip Van Winkle, Our American Cousin, The Octoroon and other plays. He opened in Melbourne on March 31, 1862, and had a most successful season extending over about six months. Seasons followed in the country and in Tasmania. In 1865 Jefferson with health recovered went to London and arranged with Dion Boucicault for a revised version of Rip Van Winkle. It ran 170 nights, with Jefferson in the leading part.
Jefferson would continue acting in this show for 40 years. Returning to America, Jefferson made it his stock play, making annual tours of the states with it, and occasionally reviving The Heir-at-Law in which he played Dr. Pangloss, The Cricket on the Hearth (Caleb Plummer) and The Rivals (Bob Acres). He was one of the first to establish the travelling combinations which superseded the old system of local stock companies. Jefferson also starred in a number of films as the character starting in the 1896, Awakening of Rip, which is in the U.S. National Film Registry. Jefferson's son Thomas followed in his father's footsteps and also played the character in a number of early 20th century films. With the exception of minor parts, such as the First Gravedigger in Hamlet, which he played in an all-star combination headed by Edwin Booth, Jefferson created no new character after 1865; and the success of Rip Van Winkle was so pronounced that he has often been called a one-part actor. If this was a fault, it was the public's, who never wearied of his one masterpiece.
No man in his profession was more honored for his achievements or his character. He was the friend of many of the leading men in American politics, art and literature. He was an ardent fisherman and lover of nature, and devoted to painting. It is erroneously believed that he was distantly related to British comedian Stan Laurel (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson), but UK civil registration, census and church records suggest that Jefferson was not the real name of his father. Jefferson was a founding member and the second president of the Players' Club in Manhattan.
Jefferson died from pneumonia on April 23, 1905 in Palm Beach, Florida. Jefferson's name continues to live on through the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee in Chicago which offers awards in recognition of excellence of Chicago's Equity and non-Equity theaters and their productions.