Edith Taliaferro

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Edith Taliaferro
Edith Taliaferro Who's Who on the Screen.jpg
Born(1894-12-21)December 21, 1894
DiedMarch 2, 1958(1958-03-02) (aged 63)
Years active1896–1935
House B. Jameson (m. 1912–1958)
RelativesMabel Taliaferro (sister)
Bessie Barriscale (cousin)

Edith Taliaferro (December 21, 1894 – March 2, 1958) was an American stage and film actress of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was active on the stage until 1935 and had roles in three silent films. She is best known for portraying the role of "Rebecca" in the 1910 stage production of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Early life and family[edit]

Taliaferro was born in Richmond, Virginia, the daughter of theatre workers.[1] She was the younger sister of Mabel Taliaferro who also became a stage actress, and the cousin of actress Bessie Barriscale.[2][3] Her ancestors were originally from England, of remote Italian descent (from the 1500s). They were one of the families who settled in Virginia in the 17th century.


Early years[edit]

Taliaferro in Metropolitan Magazine, January 1899

Taliaferro made her acting debut at the age of two in the stock stage production of Shore Acres, with James A. Herne.[1] It was rumored that she obtained the part because her sister Mabel was too old to depict the character. Her New York City debut came in 1896 at Miner's Theatre on Fifth Avenue, in the same play. The Harlem Opera House presented Shore Acres in October 1897.

At the age of ten, in 1904, Taliaferro was paid $100 per week by George Tyler of Liebler & Company. She signed a contract for the following season to appear with Ezra Kendall. She was the youngest Shakesperean actress on the stage. She portrayed Puck in a Ben Greet production of A Midsummer Night's Dream before an audience at Princeton University in May 1904. She was lauded by professors there and they sent her a Princeton University flag and pin. By then she had performed in six to eight juvenile roles after her professional debut. When she returned to New York, Taliaferro appeared with Clara Bloodgood in The Girl With The Green Eyes. Early in her career she toured with such stars as Olga Nethersole and E. H. Sothern.

Edith Taliaferro (right), with her sister Mabel in 1913.

In 1907, Taliaferro played a youthful circus rider in Polly of the Circus. The play, written by Frederic Thompson, ran for more than a year at the Liberty Theater, 242 West 42nd Street. The production moved to the Wieting Theater in Syracuse, New York in November 1908. She is most noted for her 1910 performance in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. It was staged at the Republic Theater (New Victory Theater), 209 West 42nd Street. Her other successful theatrical performances include roles in Young Wisdom (1914), Tipping The Winner (1914), A Breath of Old Virginia (1915), Mother Carey's Chickens (1917), and The Bestsellers (1918).

Films, later career and retirement[edit]

Edith Taliaferro age 17

Taliaferro made her silent film debut in Young Romance in 1915. She made only two more films, The Conquest of Canaan (1916) and Who's Your Brother? (1919). She returned to Broadway in 1919 in Please Get Married followed by roles in Kissing Time (1920), A Love Scandal (1923), and as "Amanda Prynne" in the touring company production of Private Lives in 1931.[4] She performed in London, England and in Australia with the Toronto Theatre Guild. In vaudeville she appeared at the Palace Theater in New York City. Most of her later work was with summer theaters and on radio. Taliaferro retired from stage work in the late 1930s after she lost her vision.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Taliaferro's first husband was actor Earl Browne. The marriage was announced in July 1913.[6] Taliaferro's second husband was actor House B. Jameson, whom she married around 1928.[7] Jameson appeared in various stage productions and later became known for his role as Sam "Papa" Aldrich on the radio and television series The Aldrich Family.[8] The couple had no children and remained married until Taliaferro's death.[9]


On March 2, 1958, Edith Taliaferro died of an undisclosed illness at her home in Newtown, Connecticut.[9]

Stage credits[edit]

Date Production Role
1896 Shore Acres Millie Berry
March 26 – April 1900 The Sunken Bell
September 23 – November 1901 The Bonnie Brier Bush
December 25, 1902 – Closing date unknown The Girl with the Green Eyes Susie
1904 Uncle Tom's Cabin Little Eva
September 17 – October 1906 Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch Lovey Mary
September 30 – October 1907 The Evangelist Ione Nuneham
October 3, 1910 – April 1911 Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Rebecca
January 5 – March 1914 Young Wisdom Gail Claffenden
September 23 – October 1914 Tipping the Winner Dorothy Gay
1915 A Breath of Old Virginia Mary Davis
November 13, 1916 – March 1917 Captain Kidd, Jr. Mary MacTavish
September 25 – October 1917 Mother Carey's Chickens Nancy Carey
June 1918 The Best Sellers
June 10–29, 1918 Muggins
February 10, 1919 – Closing date unknown Please Get Married Muriel Ashley
October 11 – December 4, 1920 Kissing Time Clarice
July 18–28, 1924 Fashions of 1924 Neil Barton
November 17 - December 1923 A Love Scandal Bettina Tilton
1931 Private Lives Amanda Prynne
May 7 - May 1935 The Hook-up Mary Bainbridge


Year Title Role Notes
1915 Young Romance Nellie Nolan
1916 The Conquest of Canaan Ariel Tabor
1919 Who's Your Brother? Esther Field Alternative title: Keep [It] to the Right.[10]


  • "Theater Talk". Mansfield News. April 16, 1909. p. 7.
  • "Theatres". The New York Times. October 10, 1897. p. 5.
  • "Ten Years Old; $100 A Week". The New York Times. May 24, 1904. p. 9.
  • "Edith Taliaferro Of Stage, Was 64". The New York Times. March 3, 1958. p. 27.
  • "Wieting-Polly of the Circus". Syracuse Herald-Journal. November 15, 1908. p. 30.


  1. ^ a b Fisher, James; Hardison Londre, Felicia (2009). The A to Z of American Theater: Modernism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 465. ISBN 0-810-86884-9.
  2. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2003). Enter the Players: New York Stage Actors in the Twentieth Century. Scarecrow Press. p. 304. ISBN 0-810-84761-2.
  3. ^ Lowe, Denise (2014). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films: 1895-1930. Routledge. p. 1865. ISBN 1-317-71896-8.
  4. ^ Gaines, William (July 20, 1931). "Sidelights In New York". Gettysburg Times. p. 6.
  5. ^ ""Rebecca" Dies". The Spokesman-Review. March 2, 1958. p. 15.
  6. ^ "19 Jul 1913, Page 3 - The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union at Newspapers.com". Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  7. ^ Wolters, Larry (March 14, 1953). "Father Aldrich In Harem Class; Has 4 TV Wives".
  8. ^ Oliver, Wayne (January 25, 1953). "The Lone Ranger Gallops Into Third Decade This Week". The News and Courier. p. 10-D.
  9. ^ a b "Edith Taliaferro". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. March 3, 1958. p. 3.
  10. ^ See photograph at http://www.shorpy.com/node/13082 which omits "It"

External links[edit]