Eleanor Robson Belmont

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Eleanor Robson Belmont
Eleanor Robson Belmont in 1916.jpg
Belmont in 1916
Eleanor Elise Robson

(1879-12-13)13 December 1879
Died24 October 1979(1979-10-24) (aged 99)
Resting placeIsland Cemetery, Newport, Rhode Island
OccupationStage actress
August Belmont, Jr.
(m. 1910; his death 1924)
Parent(s)Charles Robson
Madge Carr Cook

Eleanor Elise Robson Belmont (13 December 1879 – 24 October 1979) was an English actress and prominent public figure in the United States.[1] George Bernard Shaw wrote Major Barbara for her, but contractual problems prevented her from playing the role. Mrs. Belmont was involved in the Metropolitan Opera Association as the first woman on the board of directors, and she founded the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

Early life[edit]

Eleanor Elise Robson was born on 13 December 1879 in Wigan, Lancashire. She was the daughter of Madge Carr Cook and Charles Robson. Her mother was an English-born American stage actress and as a young girl, Eleanor moved to the United States. Her father disappeared or deserted her mother in 1880, and her mother remarried to Augustus Cook in 1891. Cooke later sued her for annulment of their marriage.[2]


Her stage career began at age 17 in San Francisco and she worked in stock companies from Honolulu to Milwaukee before making her New York debut in 1900 as Bonita, the ranchman's daughter in Augustus Thomas's Arizona.[3]

Her ten-year career as a leading Broadway actress included top roles in such plays as Robert Browning's In a Balcony (1900), Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1903) opposite Kyrle Bellew, Israel Zangwill's Merely Mary Ann (1903–04 and 1907), Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer (1905), Zangwill's Nurse Marjorie (1906), and Paul Armstrong's adaptation of Bret Harte's Salomy Jane (1907).[4]


In 1912, she started The Society for the Prevention of Useless Gift Giving (SPUG) with Anne Tracy Morgan.[5][6] Belmont joined the Metropolitan Opera's board of directors in 1933, founded the Metropolitan Opera Guild in 1935 and the National Council of the Metropolitan Opera in 1952. These organisations helped shape the multi-source public-private funding model used by US performing arts organisations in the ensuing decades[7]

Personal life[edit]

Upon her marriage to August Belmont Jr. on 26 February 1910, Eleanor retired from the stage.[8] August and Eleanor were married for over fourteen years until his death on 10 December 1924.[9] Eleanor Belmont died in her sleep in New York City on 24 October 1979.[1]


  1. ^ a b Deirdre Carmody (25 October 1979). "Eleanor R. Belmont Dies at 100. Leader in Charities and the Arts". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 September 2010. Eleanor Robson Belmont, a legendary figure in the world of society and the arts, died last night in her sleep at her home at Fifth Avenue and 93rd Street. She was 100 years old.
  2. ^ "MADGE CARR'S TWO HUSBANDS. --- Augustus Cook's Suit for an Annulment of His Marriage" (PDF). The New York Times. 19 June 1894. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  3. ^ Eaton, Walter Prichard (1910). The American Stage of Today. New York, NY: P.F. Collier & Son.
  4. ^ Mantle, Burns and Garrison P. Sherwood, eds., (1944) The Best Plays of 1899–1909, Philadelphia: The Blakiston Company, pp. 375,377,429,449,478,531.
  5. ^ "Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving Issues Its Second Call to Arms. Mrs. Belmont and Miss Anne Morgan Plan a Big Rally in Metropolitan Life Building". The New York Times. 3 November 1913. Retrieved 16 December 2012. This society, formed as a vigorous protest against the growing custom of exchanging gifts at Christmas without sentiment, the custom of making Christmas gifts for the sake of expediency, or under any other form of compulsion, was organized last year, and carried on an effective and spectacular campaign in the closing weeks of the Christmas shopping season.
  6. ^ Paul Collins (13 December 2012). "The Original War on Christmas". Slate. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 'Have you ever thought that true independence often consists of having the courage to say 'No' at the right time?' fund co-founder Eleanor Robson Belmont asked a packed hall. ... It was a distinctly women's cause – a fact not lost on co-founder Anne Morgan, the daughter of J.P. Morgan. ...
  7. ^ Yellin, Victor Fell, "Mrs. Belmont, Matthew Perry, and the 'Japanese Minstrels'", American Music, v.14 n.3, Autumn, 1996, pp. 257–258.
  8. ^ "Eleanor Robson and August Belmont Wed. Married by Mgr. Lavelle at Actress's Home With Only Near Relatives Present. Honeymoon in The South. Star Of "The Dawn of a To-Morrow" Left The Stage on Feb. 12. Careers of Bride And Bridegroom". The New York Times. 27 February 1910. Retrieved 24 September 2010. August Belmont and Miss Eleanor Robson, the actress who crossed her stage career with the fall of the curtain on "The Dawn of a To-Morrow" at the Majestic Theatre, Brooklyn, on Feb. 12, were married yesterday afternoon at 5 o'clock at, the home of the bride, 302 West Seventy-seventh Street, Mgr. Lavelle. assisted by Father Byrnes of St. Patrick's Cathedral, officiating.
  9. ^ "August Belmont, Stricken in Office, Dies in 36 Hours. Financier and Sportsman Undergoes Operation, Rallies, Then Sinks into Coma". The New York Times. 11 December 1924. Retrieved 3 May 2011. August Belmont, financier and sportsman, died at 6:30 o'clock last evening in his apartment at 550 Park Avenue, less than thirty-six hours after he had been taken ill in his office. ...

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