for a sailing vessel under this actress's birth name, see Grace Bailey (schooner)
Jane Cowl circa 1913
December 14, 1883
|Died||June 22, 1950
Santa Monica, California
|Other names||"Crying Jane"
C. R. Avery
Cowl was born as Grace Bailey in Boston, Massachusetts. Her parents were Charles A. Bailey and Grace Avery. She attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York. And she also took some courses at Columbia University.
She made her Broadway debut in New York City in Sweet Kitty Bellairs in 1903. Her first leading role was Fanny Perry in 1909 in Leo Ditrichstein's Is Matrimony a Failure?, produced by David Belasco, and then she played stock. This was followed by The Gamblers (1910), her first great success, and by Within the Law (1912), Common Clay, and other successes (New International Encyclopedia). She was known for her interpretation of Shakespearean roles, playing Juliet, Cleopatra and Viola on Broadway. She made Broadway history by playing Juliet over 1000 consecutive performances in 1923; critic George Jean Nathan declared her "not ... the best Juliet that I have seen, but she is by all odds the most charming". Cowl's affecting performances led her to be described as having a "voice with a tear." Biographer Charles Higham admired Cowl's "marvelous bovine eyes and exquisite genteel catch in the voice ..."
In 1930 Cowl appeared with a young Katharine Hepburn in the Broadway production of Benn W. Levy's play Art and Mrs. Bottle, and in 1934 she created the role of Lael Wyngate in S. N. Behrman's Rain from Heaven opposite actor John Halliday. Noting the challenges posed by Behrman's heightened dialogue, critic Gilbert Gabriel noted approvingly that their scenes together were "models of aristocratic parlando." She also starred in Noël Coward's Easy Virtue.
Cowl was the lead in two silent films, Garden of Lies (1915) and The Spreading Dawn (1917). Then, after nearly 30 years from films, she returned for several supporting roles in the 1940s. Her final film was Payment on Demand (1951) with Bette Davis.
On June 18, 1906, at her father's apartment on Riverside Drive and 95th Street in New York City, New York, Cowl married Adolph Edward Klauber, the drama critic of The New York Times. A former actor and son of a prominent Jewish photographer in Louisville, Kentucky, Klauber left the Times in 1918 to become a theatrical producer and manager. He and Cowl separated in 1930, shortly after his health began to fail. Klauber returned to live "in strict seclusion" in Louisville, where he died in 1933. The couple had no children.
Jane Cowl's biography is Jane Cowl: Her Precious and Momentary Glory c.2004 by Richard Abe King (b.1922). As a young man King worked for and with Jane Cowl in the 1940s.
Cowl wrote several plays in collaboration with Jane Murfin, often using the pseudonym Allan Langdon Martin. Their works include:
- Lilac Time - 1917
- At Daybreak - 1917
- Information Please - 1918
- Smilin' Through - 1919
- The Jealous Moon - 1928
- The Garden of Lies (1915)
- The Spreading Dawn (1917)
- Once More, My Darling (1949)
- No Man of Her Own (1950)
- The Secret Fury (1950)
- Payment on Demand (1951)
- Slide, Anthony (1998). Eccentrics of Comedy. Lanham, Ma.: Scarecrow Press. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-8108-3534-4.
- Ben Iden Payne, A Life in a Wood O: Memoirs of the Theatre (Yale University Press, 1977), page 130.
- "Jane Russell, A Howard Hughes Find, Is 1941's Best New Star Prospect", Life, 20 January 1941, page 42
- Notable American women, 1607-1950; a biographical dictionary, Volume 2 by Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S. Boyer c. 1971
- The Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1926, page 176
- Encyclopedia Britannica facts matter
- George Jean Nathan and Henry Louis Mencken, "Ethics for Dramatic Critics", The Smart Set, Volume 70, (Ess Ess Publishing Co., 1922), page 134
- "Why Miss Cowl! Delighted!", Bell Telephone News, Volume 8, 1918, page 15
- Charles Higham, Kate: The Life of Katharine Hepburn (W. W. Norton, 2004), page 16
- Gilbert W. Gabriel, "Rain from Heaven—Theatre Guild's Yule Present in S. N. Behrman's Play". New York American: 26 December 1934.
- Klauber—Cowl, The New York Times, 19 June 1906
- "Adolph Klauber, Producer, Dies", The New York Times, 8 December 1933
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jane Cowl.|
- Jane Cowl at the Internet Movie Database
- Jane Cowl at Women in American History website
- Jane Cowl at Find a Grave
- Jane Cowl at the Internet Broadway Database
- Jane Cowl portrait gallery at NYP Library
- first of three pages of photos shot by Nickolas Muray devoted to Jane Cowl
- Jane Cowl photo gallery at Corbis
- Jane Cowl University of Washington, Sayre collection
- photo of Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin