Georgia Cayvan

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Georgia Cayvan
Georgia Cayvan c 1888.jpg
Georgia Cayvan, circa 1888
Born Georgie Eva Cayvan
(1857-08-22)August 22, 1857
Bath, Maine,
Died November 19, 1906(1906-11-19) (aged 49)
Flushing, New York
Occupation Actress, Comedian
Georgia Cayvan, ca. 1882

Georgie Eva Cayvan (August 22, 1857 – November 19, 1906)[1] was a popular stage actress in the United States in the later part of the nineteenth century.[2][3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

Georgia Cayvan was born at Bath, Maine.[2][4] She attended and graduated from the Boston School of Oratory.[2][3] She initially earned a living as a professional fortune teller.[2][3] She had insight into how to play out stage drama and brought her characters to fruition with her humor and expressive eyes.[5]


Georgia Cayvan in her glass dress, ca. 1893

Cayvan in 1879 accepted her first job on stage as Hebe in H.M.S. Pinafore with the Boston Ideal Opera Company.[2][3][5] She was a member of the Union Square Company.[2] She appeared in Hazel Kirke at the Madison Square Theatre in New York City in 1881.[2] She played the part of Dolly Dutton.[2][4] In 1881 she played the heroine part in a road company in such comedies and dramas as The Professor (1881); The White Slave (1882); Siberia (1883); May Blossom (1884); The Wife (1887); The Charity Ball (1889); and Squire Kate (1892).[4] She then appeared in "Oedipus Tyrannus" at the Boston Theater.[3]

Cayvan also acted at Booth's Theatre in New York City.[3] She performed at the Fourteenth Street Theatre in "The White Slave" and Laura in "The Romany Rye."[3] She also played Marcelle in "A Parisian Romance" in the Union Square Company.[3] Cayvan was successful in the leading part of David Belasco’s "La Belle Russe."[2] She was also a short time with Dion Boucicault.[2]

In 1893 Cayvan became the first person to wear a glass dress.[6][7][8][9] The dress was too brittle to be practical however.[6][9] It was exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition in The Chicago's World's Fair of 1893.[6][9][10] An article in the New York Times of July 28, 1893, predicted that glass dresses would become a fashion "fad." [11] It points out that the first dress was made for Cayvan for her performance in "American Abroad."[11] It was made by the Libbey Glass Company.[11][12] Author Amelia Ransome Neville in her book gave an account of seeing Cayvan wear the fiberglass dress made by Edward Drummond Libbey.[12] She points out that Cayvan wore it in The Charity Ball.[12]

In 1886 Cayvan contracted with Daniel Frohman, becoming the star of the Lyceum Theater in New York.[2] Cayvan toured with her own company (which included Lionel Barrymore) starting in 1896.[2][3] In March of 1897, she performed with her company in El Paso, Texas in a production called "Squire Kate".[13] She was involved in a difficult divorce case in 1896 as being the other woman.[14] She was, however, totally exonerated after defending herself. Cayvan received much support from several women's groups.[2][3]

Later life and death[edit]

After an operation in 1892 her health began to fail.[2][3] In 1900 her poor health forced her to retire to the Sandford Sanitarium in Flushing, New York. There she died in 1906, aged 49, after an illness.[2][3][4] She is buried at Newton Cemetery, Newton Massachusetts.


Georgia Cayvan in "May Blossom", 1884. Photo by Rockwood.

  1. ^ Famous Actors and Actresses on the American Stage p. 167 v.1(A-J) by William C. Young, c. 1975
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "The Willa Cather Archive". Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Brooklyn Standard Union — 20 November 1906". Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Georgia Cayvan — The Oxford Companion to American Theatre. Oxford University Press, Inc., 2004". Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  5. ^ a b c "PictureHistory — Georgia Cayvan". Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  6. ^ a b c "Georgia Cayvan's Glass Dress". Retrieved 2008-08-10. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Chicago World's Fair of 1893 — THE BOOK OF THE FAIR: Chapter Twenty-Four: The Midway Plaisance". Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  8. ^ Cook, J. Gordon , Handbook of Textile Fibres, Man-Made Fibres, p. 641, Woodhead Publishing (1984), ISBN 1-85573-485-0
  9. ^ a b c Kane, Joseph Nathan, Famous First Facts, THE H. W. WILSON COMPANY, 1933, 1935, 1950; "Glass Dress", The first GLASS DRESS of spun glass was made in 1893 for Georgia Cayven who ordered twelve yards of glass cloth at $25 a yard from the E. D. Libbey Glass Company, Toledo, Ohio, who produced it at their exhibit at the World Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 111. The cloth was made into a dress for her, but was not practical for wearing purposes.
  10. ^ "A City Built of Glass". Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  11. ^ a b c "The New York Times — Glass Dresses a "Fad."". 1893-07-29. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  12. ^ a b c "The Fantastic City (1932: Cambridge, Massachusetts), Chapter VIII". Archived from the original on October 22, 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  13. ^ "29 Mar 1897, Page 4 - El Paso Herald at". Retrieved 2017-01-10. 
  14. ^ Barbas, Samantha, The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons, University of California Press (2005), p. 46, ISBN 0-520-24213-0

External links[edit]