Alice Harrison

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Alice Harrison (1852 – May 3, 1896) was an English stage actress born in London.

Popular stage actress[edit]

Harrison was highly regarded as a stage performer in California and was a member of McCullough's old California Western Stock Company. In June 1872 she appeared at the Olympic Theater in New York City in Schneider. The play concerned a young German and his misadventures. Harrison was paired with Johnny Allen in a performance which was highlighted by humorous songs and grotesque dances.

Love triangle[edit]

The actress stayed at the Coleman House when she performed in New York. In April 1879 she was there prior to leaving for Boston, Massachusetts, where she had secured an acting engagement. A woman, formerly Marion Ward, shot Harrison's friend, Washington Nathan, in the first floor parlor near her bedroom. This happened on the morning she was leaving for Boston. Harrison screamed and directed a hall boy to tell the proprietor there was a murder going on in her room. The shooter was formerly the wife of actor Irish Tim Ward. She made an attempt on Nathan's life because of jealousy. Nathan's wound was treated by a surgeon and was not serious. Days later Harrison gave her account of the shooting. She said the first bullet from Ward's pistol was fired at her and entered the wall on one side of her head. She dodged the fire and quickly exited the parlor.

A warrant was issued for Ward, alias Birdie Bell. Ward came to New York in 1872 from the western part of America. She resided in a house on West Thirty-First Street and lived there for two years. She met a judge affiliated with Boss Tweed who found her a flat on West Twenty-Fourth Street. With his assistance she started a house of her own on Broadway (Manhattan). Through an acquaintance she met Washington Nathan, who she became infatuated with. Nathan was not well off and took money from Ward until he inherited property after his mother died. Ward shot Nathan when she found he was giving proceeds from his mother's inheritance to Harrison.

Career[edit]

Harrison sailed for Europe aboard the Germanic ship of the White Star Line in May 1879. She returned to New York in 1881 for a production of B.E. Woolf's Photos. The theatrical engagement was described as a program of mirthful, musical eccentricity.

While appearing at the Comedy Theater in New York, in March 1885, Harrison stepped on a tack while descending the stairs from her dressing room. She was replaced by an understudy, Bebe Vining, for an engagement of Ixion. The tack ran through her slipper and pierced her small foot. Harrison was threatened by lockjaw but avoided the affliction through careful medical treatment and nursing.

She was in the cast of Hot Water at the Grand Theater in Chicago, Illinois in December 1885. In July 1886 Harrison performed in the comedy, The Maid of Belleville, at the Star Theater in New York. The company, which included actor Frank David, moved on to Chicago when the hot summer weather forced the theater to close abruptly.

Death[edit]

Harrison died in 1896 of Bright's Disease complicated by pneumonia. Her remains were cremated and placed in a niche with the ashes of her father.

References[edit]

  • Los Angeles Times, Alice Harrison, May 5, 1896, Page 1.
  • New York Times, Amusements, Dramatic, Olympic Theater, June 20, 1872, Page 5.
  • New York Times, Washington Nathan Shot, April 4, 1879, Page 1.
  • New York Times, Mrs. Harrison's Story, April 5, 1879, Page 1.
  • New York Times, Mrs. Barrett's Career, April 6, 1879, Page 12.
  • New York Times, Departures For Europe, May 31, 1879, Page 8.
  • New York Times, Grand Opera-House, May 10, 1881, Page 5.
  • New York Times, Bebe Vining Hysterical, Primarily Because Alice Harrison Stepped On A Tack, March 5, 1885, Page 4.
  • New York Times, Alice Harrison Better, March 7, 1885, Page 5.
  • New York Times, The Chicago Playhouses, December 7, 1885, Page 4.
  • New York Times, The Star Theater Closed, July 10, 1886, Page 5.