Charles J. Ross

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Charles J. Ross
Charles J Ross 001.jpg
ca. 1909
Born Charles Joseph Kelly
(1859-02-18)February 18, 1859
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died June 15, 1918(1918-06-15) (aged 59)
Asbury Park, New Jersey, United States
Resting place Glenwood Cemetery
Occupation Entertainer, composer and theatrical producer
Years active 1885 - 1915
Spouse Mabel Fenton (m. 1887–1918)

Charles Joseph "Charlie" Kelly (February 18, 1859 – June 15, 1918), known professionally as Charles J. Ross, was a Canadian-American entertainer, composer and theatrical producer who performed in vaudeville, burlesque, and on the stage. Ross and his wife, Mabel Fenton, became popular for their parodies of classical plays.[1]

Early life[edit]

Ross was born Charles Joseph Kelly to William and Caroline (née Brown) Kelly at Montreal, Quebec, where his father was employed as a carpenter.[1][2]

Career[edit]

Ross began as a circus entertainer with P. T. Barnum before his stage debut on the April 5, 1885 at Miner’s Bowery Theatre in Manhattan as a singer and impersonator. Next he performed with Herman’s Transatlantics in a variety act at the Atlantic Gardens Bowery Theatre.[1] Over the next few years, Ross would develop his talent as a farce comedian playing with vaudeville companies in New York and on the road.[2]

Driftwood of the Stage, 1904

Ross married actress Ada Towne (known professionally as Mabel Fenton) on June 9, 1887, during a stopover at Deadwood, South Dakota amidst a vaudeville tour of the American West. The couple soon created the act Ross and Fenton and within two years became a staple of the Weber and Fields Company in New York performing their farce productions of classic and popular plays of the day. Ross later formed his own company and continued to perform well into the early decades of the twentieth century. The couple appeared in at least two films. The first, Death of Nancy Sykes, in 1897 and How Molly Malone Made Good, in 1915.[3]

Ross-Fenton Farm, circa 1900

In the late 1890s, Ross and his wife opened Ross Fenton Farm, a resort hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey that also doubled as their primary residence. For a number of years, Ross Fenton Farm was a popular mecca for New York area artist and entertainers.[4][5] Most of the resort burned to the ground in 1950. Some of the original houses are still standing, including the main house of Charles Ross and Mable Fenton.

Death[edit]

Ross died on June 15, 1918 at Ross Fenton Farm after a long illness and failed operation.[1] Ross' wife Mabel died on April 19, 1931 in Los Angeles at the age of 66.[4] They are buried together at Glenwood Cemetery in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

Broadway credits[edit]

Poster for Ross & Fenton's Twirly Whirly (Library of Congress ca. 1890s)
Date Production Role Notes
April 6 – May 27, 1899 Helter Skelter Lord Shaggy Shetland
September 21, 1899 – May 5, 1900 Whirl-i-gig Performer
September 6, 1900 – April 20, 1901 Fiddle-dee-dee Marcus Finishus
Lieutenant Tention
February 11 – May 4, 1901 My Lady Cardinal Richelieu
November 4, 1901 – May 31, 1902 The Sleeping Beauty and the Beast Queen Spadia
September 24, 1903 – May 28, 1904 Catherine Duke de Coocoo
April 9 – September 15, 1906 The Social Whirl Julian Endicott Lyricist and songwriter
April 1 – April 14, 1907 The Social Whirl Performer
July 8 – November 10, 1907 Ziegfeld Follies of 1907 Performer
January 2 – May 16, 1908 The Merry Widow Burlesque Prince Dandilo
November 16, 1908 – January 30, 1909 The Merry Widow and The Devil Prince Dandilo
September 1, 1909 – January 1910 The Love Cure Torrelli
October 23 – October 1911 Mrs. Avery
Producer
April 11 – September 7, 1912 A Winsome Widow Rashleigh Gay
July 22 – November 16, 1912 The Passing Show of 1912 Performer

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1897 Death of Nancy Sykes Bill Sykes Short film
1914 The Great Diamond Robbery Mr. Bulford
1914 A Double Haul Short film
Alternative title: The Millionaire Detective
1914 A Strange Adventure Short film
1915 How Molly Malone Made Good Himself, Cameo Appearance
1915 The Senator
1916 Who Killed Simon Baird? John Maitland Alternative title: By Whose Hand?

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Staff. "Charles J. Ross Dead. Prominent Travesty Actor Succumbs at 59 at Ross-Fenton Farm", The New York Times, June 16, 1918. Accessed February 9, 2012. "Charles J. Ross, many years ago a member of the Weber and Fields Company and later a headliner in vaudeville in the team of Ross and Fenton, died at his home in North Asbury Park today."
  2. ^ a b The Players Blue Book, 1901 pg.128
  3. ^ Mabel Fenton at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ a b Mabel Fenton Dead Former Stage Star New York Times - Special to The New York Times.; April 20, 1931; pg. 16
  5. ^ The New Jersey Coast in Three Centuries: Volume 3, By Peter Ross, Fenwick Y. Hedley 1902 pg. 22

External links[edit]