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Daisy Belmore Garstin 1874 – 1954

The following is from a newspaper story, referring to the period of time in the United States when the sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal:

“By Herbert L. Baldwin

“OCEAN PARK, Siasconset, Aug. 3. – The Lillian Russel of England is down here enjoying her first vacation in 7 years. And she’s having a whale of a time.

“DRY ERA TO ALTER STAGE

“She said “whale” herself, and said it with the vivacity of a debutante, even if she is English, and has a son 14 years old that calls her “queen,” and a 12-year-old daughter that addresses her as “Muzzie.”

“Mrs. Samual Waxman, if you please, but Daisy Belmore to theatregoers all over the world. Best loved and liked of all the score and more of women actor folks summering with “Doc” Powers here, is Daisy Belmore- the “young” woman who fooled both theatrical producers and Old Father Tim. She’s- well, never mind just how many years old, but she’s so young looking that Dave Belasco told her only last fall that she was altogether too young to play the part of a woman of 65. She’s so young that she is the life of this funny little cottage hamlet full of actors.

“Daisy believes, she said, that prohibition is going to revolutionize the stage. She said that a great deal of the present vulgarity, suggestiveness and lewdness that is spoken and portrayed behind the footlights must go. Sober theatregoers will demand it, she asserted. And she doesn’t believe the “shimmie” chorus will much longer be popular. Personally, she told the Post men, it shocks her. Daisy is no prude either.

“Mental Jag Exponent

“Incidentally she’s the original exponent of the mental jag. A jag so complete and effective that Arthur Davis or any other old-time barkeep would have trouble detecting it from the real thing.

“The American stage had only one Lillian Russell, and there is only one Daisy Belmore. And to see her about Siasconset enjoying to the very limit about 16 hours of fun in every 24 that passes is to know why. Unassuming, yet just crammed full of vivacity and “pep”- it just seems to ooze from her very presence, and her dazzling smile and thrill laugh are extremely infectious- Daisy Belmore is young. Even if she is- and again the Post man almost disclosed her age- well, she’s past 35 anyhow. But she doesn’t look it.

“Her wealth of glorious blond hair, just touched enough with shadowing gray to make it doubly wondrous, topped a smiling face this afternoon; and her trim figure, that many a younger “would-be” among  Dr. Powers’ boarders looks at with envy, was all clad in white as she greeted the Post men on the veranda of her cottage. Her cheeks the pink of a rose bloom, and it wasn’t paint nor powder either. Makeup has never spoiled Daisy’s complexion, and her face- the same that made her “the most beautiful woman on the English stage”- is yet far fresher than that of many a college girl.

“Broke In at Age of 8

“Daisy Belmore came from a family of the old-time combination circus and theatre. The very, very old-time kind. Where the first part of the performance was the circus in the ring and then the staging was dropped and ofttimes the ringmaster was the leading man in the play that followed. “Black Bess” and things like that were played. Daisy went on the stage when she was 8 years old. She’s been a star for more than 20 years, too.

“Her Dacia in “The Sign of the Cross” electrified England, Australia and went like wildfire in America, too. But all that is history. Let’s tell of the Daisy Belmore that talked to the Post men today.

““Prohibition is going to revolutionize the stage,” said Miss Belmore when the Post man asked what she believed is going to happen to the theatre. “People are going to come to the theatres more and more less ready to enjoy anything that may be handed out. It means that plays and musical comedies have got to be far better than they have been. There won’t be so much rubbish. It won’t get the laughs and it won’t get the crowded houses.

““The man and the woman who came to the theatre after half a dozen highballs or so, ready to laugh at and giggle and applaud any old thing, are not going to be in the audiences any longer. They are coming cold sober and they are going to be more critical and more exacting. The stage and musical comedy is going- has got to be much cleaner. Much of the lewdness , the suggestiveness and the vulgarity will have to go. Sober people will not stand for it, week and out came these girls clad in those things and they wiggled around and I thought ‘what are we coming to?’ One would expect them in a burlesque show, but not on Broadway. The movies are far ahead of the stage in that they have kept their cleanliness.

““When I became an actress one had to know how to sing, to dance and to fence. For nothing gives ease and grace as does fencing. But today all you need is a pretty face. The public is not getting what it should and the public is beginning to find it out. Why should people pay good money to see people that are not doing what they can. And the public will realize it more and more as prohibition goes on.

““You’re Too Young,” Said Belasco

““Take today; there is the everlasting call of type. “Type,’ ‘type,’ ‘type.’ The managers do not give you a chance to study your character. The age of the actor or actress makes no difference; it is their acting that counts.

“And right here it might be related how David Belasco himself turned Miss Belmore down last fall when he told her she was “too young” to play a part of a 65-year-old woman. Miss Belmore doesn’t tell of the incident herself, but it is fact nevertheless. “You’re too young, Miss Belmore,” said Belasco, and Daisy got mad. Even if she is athletic and captained a football and a cricket team in England  and races around ‘Sconset like a girl of 18, plays ball on Doc Powers’ greenway and all those things, Miss Belmore doesn’t like to be told she is too young for anything- yet. Angry, she left Belasco’s office. “Sorry,” he said in parting, “but I don’t want a lot of makeup; I want a woman- and old woman- who can play the part naturally.”

“A half-hour later Daisy Belmore was back made up for the part, and she got it and made a hit that Belasco hasn’t got over yet. She goes back this fall in another Belasco hit.

“The part was Mrs. Hudd, the everlasting female souse in “Out There.” Daisy Belmore’s Mrs. Hudd was inimitable. And- hist! Ye wets who thirst- Daisy actually gets drunk without booze. She admits it. Harken to how it’s done.

“How She Gets “Soused”

““It is all in the acting,” she admitted. “I sit there in the wings waiting to go on and I get drunker and drunker just thinking on it. I cry and that bleary look comes into my eyes. And before I go out on the stage I am soused- almost dead drunk- and my eyes are bleary and I just can’t keep from staggering a bit.”

““Doesn’t makeup spoil the complexion?” asked the reported.

““No, absolutely no,” said Daisy. “Not if one uses grease. The great trouble with many American actresses today is that they use dry makeup and that does spoil the skin. But grease makeup never.” And Miss Belmore’s face bears out her contentions.”

1920

  • One

1921

  • Minus Marriage, by Harry Cahane, a new producer
  • Three Live Ghosts, at the Murat

1922

  • Marjolaine, a musical comedy, at Broadhurst
  • The Faithful Heart, at Broadhurst Theatre, with her brother Herbert Belmore
  • The Romantic Age, at Comedy Theatre

Herbert Belmore was stage manager of The Romantic Age, and is said to have done a poor job of this task one evening. “After the way in which the botching of all the properties seriously imperilled the very existence of that first act, it is believed that the rest of the company without any really hearty protest from his sister took him out into the theatre alley and chocked him to death with infinite relish.”

1923, Daisy made a statement about being separated from her husband Samuel Waxman on her US naturalisation papers.

  • The Dancers, at Broadhurst Theatre, by Gerald du Maurier

1925

  • American Born, at Hudson Theatre, alongside brother-in-law Henry Cooper Cliffe (married to Alice Belmore), play by George M. Cohan

1926

  • At Mrs. Bea’s, at Guild Theatre, by C.K. Munroe
At Mrs Bea's 1926 Lynn Fountanne

Lynn Fountanne in At Mrs Bea’s, 1926

In 1927, arrived in California from Honolulu on ‘City of Honolulu’.

1928

  • The Royal Box, at Belmont Theatre, a comedy by Giles Coghan
  • Sakura, at Belmont Theatre, a drama by Atherton Brownell

1930, Daisy and her husband Samuel were living together in Queens in New York.

  • Seven Days Leave
  • Alias French Gertie

1931

  • The Apple Cart, at Fair Park Auditorium in Monessen Pennsylvania, a comedy by Bernard Shaw, alongside Daisy’s daughter Ruth Belmore

The Apple Cart

1932

  • Carrie Nation, at Biltmore Theatre, written by Frank McGrath and produced by Arthur J. Beckhard

Daisy Belmore Carry Nation Playbill

In 1893, Daisy arrived in London from New York on ‘American Trader’, and stayed as Regents Palace Hotel.  She went back to New York on ‘American Farmer’.

  • Late One Evening, at Plymouth Theatre, by Audrey and Waveney Carten
  • Spring in Autumn, at Henry Miller Theatre, play by G. Martinez Sierra
  • Champagne Supper, at Book Theatre, by Peggy Fears, adapted from the novel Peep Show

Late One Evening  Daisy Belmore Spring in Autumn

1934

  • Mahogany Hall, at Bijou Theatre, by Charles Knox Robinson
  • Love On the Island

Daisy Belmore Mahogany Hall

1935

  • A Widow in Green, at Los Angeles
  • Prisoners of War, at Ritz Theatre, by J. R. Ackerley

1936

  • Outward Bound, at Uplifter’s Club
  • Sylvia’s Secret

1937

  • Her Master’s Voice, at Santa Barbara
  • The Miles of Heaven
  • American Primitive, at Santa Barbara

1938

  • Soliloquy, at Empire Theatre, by Victor Victor

Daisy Belmore in Soliloquy

1939, Daisy was naturalised as a US Citizen in New York, witnessed by two friends.

  • The Woman Brown, at Biltmore Theatre, by Dorothy Cumming McNab

Daisy Belmore The Woman Brown

1940

  • Love for Love, at Hudson Theatre, by William Congreve

Daisy Belmore Love for Love

1941

  • Doctor Dilemma, at Shubert

1942, Daisy’s husband Samuel Waxman died this year.

  • Angel Street

1942 Elizabeth Angel Street

1944

  • Last Stop, at Barrymore Theatre, by Irving Davies

1948

  • Johnny Belinda
  • The Male Animal, at The Bronx NT Winsor Theatre

1951

  • Rose Tattoo, at the Martin Beck Theater

At the end of Rose Tattoo, where Daisy played ‘the old witch’, the company gave a party backstage at the theatre to mark her completion of seventy years in the theatre.  By this time Daisy had also played in radio and television, and acted as a dramatic coach.

Daisy Belmore in The Rose Tattoo  Daisy Belmore in Rose Tattoo 1951  Daisy Belmore in Rose Tattoo 1951 Tennesse Williams play   Daisy Belmore in Rose Tattoo 1951 Tennesse Williams play