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Davenport, Fanny


Frances Vining Davenport was born April 10, 1850, in London, where her father, Edward L. Davenport, an actor of American birth, and her mother, Frances Vining, of a famous English theatrical family, had both been acting in the company of Anna Core Mowatt. In 1854 Mr. and Mrs. Davenport came to America, and most of their other children were born here. It was a large family, including Blanche, (who went on the operatic stage,) Lily Vining, (Mrs. Frost Thorne,) May, (Mrs. William Seymour,) Edgar L., and Harry, both esteemed among the younger actors of the present generation. Fanny Davenport was associated with theatricals from her infancy. In Boston, where er father for a time managed the old Howard Athenaeum, she appeared as a child in “Metamora” and “Pizzaro.” Her first appearance in New York was at Niblo’s, in her twelfth year, when she acted King Charles VI. in J. R. Planché’s “Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady.” She had already learned much of her calling by practical experience when she joined the stock company organized by Augustin Daly for the first Fifth Avenue Theatre, in 1869.

Her talent at this time seemed to lie in the direction of high comedy. Her Lady Gay, for instance, though immature, was correct in spirit. She had the buoyancy, archness, and gayety of spirit required for fine ladies’ roles and coquettes. Her melodramatic ability was developed later. At the little Fifth Avenue Theatre she grew so rapidly in artistic stature and popularity that before the brief history of the house was abruptly closed by the fire of Jan. 1. 1873, there was no woman in the large company to dispute supremacy with her excepting Clara Morris.

New York Times 9/27/1898: 1. Print.

Davenport, New York Times, 9/27/1898, 1