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Davenport, Fanny


As a child, Fanny Davenport played many parts with her parents, E.L Davenport and Fanny Vining Davenport. She inherited a liking for the stage, and this liking was indulged more generously than it is in the case of most stage children of to-day. She made her first appearance in an oldtime burlesque called “Pocahontas.” She was one of the attendants of the princess and was at the time 6 years of age. Before she came on her father told her to “do something funny,” and this instruction continually rang in the child’s ears. A short time before her debut she had seen the elder Sothern in Lord Dundreary, and was, for a child, particularly impressed with some of that actor’s peculiarities. As she came on in the march the inspiration came to her like a flash, and with wonderful fidelity she imitated the peculiar skip and sneeze that Sothern used in his part of the English fop. The audience was quick to catch on and the hit was instantaneous. The action of the play was interrupted for a time to allow the little one to repeat her imitation. A short time after this, as Little Blue Peter in “Black Eyed Susan,” Miss Davenport delivered her first lines, “Make way for the witnesses.”

One of her early memorable performances was that of Carline, the soubrette, in the “Black Crook,” when she was but 14 years of age. Her formal debut was made in 1862, when she played Charles I. in “Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady” at Niblo’s, New York.

Miss Davenport’s career has been a long and fruitful one. While still quite young she was engaged by Augustin Daly and for a time was the reigning queen of the Daly theater. It was in this school that she acquired her large resources and established herself in the favor of New York. Here she played the Shakespearean heroines, old English comedy, modern comedy and emotional drama. Like her father, her versatility was one of the most striking characteristics, although in recent years she so closely confined herself to a certain class of drama that only the old timers remember how many certain things she could do well. It is rather incredible to recall, for example, that this woman’s Nancy Sykes was one of the most vivid and memorable impersonations ever given of a Dickens character.

Kansas City Journal 9/27/1898. Print.

Davenport, Kansas City Journal, 9/27/1898