George A. Parkhurst

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George A. Parkhurst
Born (1841-03-18)March 18, 1841
New York State
Died July 2, 1890(1890-07-02) (aged 49)
New York City
Occupation Actor, Civil Servant

George A. Parkhurst (March 18, 1841 – July 2, 1890), was an American stage actor who was one of the last surviving members of the company of actors present on the night of April 14, 1865, when John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln during their performance of Our American Cousin.[1] Late in his life Parkhurst created the role Hobbs in the 1888 American debut of Little Lord Fauntleroy.[2]

When Booth shot President Lincoln, Parkhurst was onstage playing the part of a bailiff [3] as a member of a stock company managed by the British actress Laura Keene.[1] Parkhurst had planned to stop by Booth’s dressing room at Ford's Theatre that night to borrow a costume;[1] an appointment that for different reasons both missed.[4]

Career[edit]

George A. Parkhurst was born in New York State and may have been raised in Bergen, New Jersey with his brother Benjamin .[5]Parkhurst received some training for the stage from the actor Edwin Forrest. Eventually though, as a husband and father, he chose for the time to stay with his job as a postal clerk at the Nation’s Capitol.[3] By the 1880s he apparently felt secure enough to become more active on stage and later found success playing Hobbs in the original American productions of Little Lord Fauntleroy. [1] During this time Parkhurst had toured for several seasons with actress Maggie Mitchell's company in the play Fanchon, the Cricket, an adaptation of George Sand’s La Petite Fadette by August Waldauer,[6] and received critical acclaim [1] for the role he was most proud of, Colonel Buzzy in a theatrical production of Amélie Rives' The Quick or the Dead.[1][4]

Death[edit]

Parkhurst died on July 2, 1890, at the age of forty-nine, after suffering a stroke at his New York residence.[1] He was survived by his second wife Clara (née Morell 1865-1913). Katherine "Kate" Parkhurst (1845-1881), his first wife, was the mother of his three children of which two, Benjamin and Bianca, survived to adulthood[7][1] Parkhurst was interred at Prospect Hill Cemetery, Washington, D.C.[8][9]

Lincoln's Death Bed[edit]

Some six months before his death Parkhurst made the claim in the press that on the afternoon of April 14th John Wilkes Booth visited an actor friend staying at Petersen House in Washington D. C. During his stay Booth's friend noticed that the actor seemed agitated and suggested that he lie down on his bed for a short rest, supposedly the same bed Abraham Lincoln died in just a few hours later. This revelation, that Parkhurst heard from an unnamed cast member of Our American Cousin, has never been verified.[10]

Source[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Obituary Notice. The New York Times July 4, 1890 p.5
  2. ^ Frances Hodgson Burnett, Little Lord Fauntleroy: A Drama in Three Acts, 1889/1913
  3. ^ a b The Dr. John K. Lattimer collection of Lincolniana By Heritage Auction Galleries (Dallas, Tex.)
  4. ^ a b An Actor’s Career Closed. The Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), July 03, 1890; p. 6
  5. ^ Parkhurst, George, Bergen, New Jersey, 1850 US Census records
  6. ^ Fanchon, the Cricket' Encyclopaedia Britannica accessed 6.8.13
  7. ^ Parkhurst, George, 1870-1880 Washington, D.C., US Census records
  8. ^ Prospect Hill Cemetery accessed 6.8.13
  9. ^ George A. Parkhurst Find a Grave Memorial accessed 6.12.13
  10. ^ George Parkhurst's Story. St. Paul Daily News (St. Paul, Minnesota), February 18, 1890. p. 3