Lester Wallack

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from John Lester Wallack)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Lester Wallack
John Wallack.jpg
Born(1820-01-01)January 1, 1820
DiedSeptember 6, 1888(1888-09-06) (aged 68)
Appletons' Wallack James Wilson John Lester signature.jpg

John Johnstone Wallack (January 1, 1820, New York City – September 6, 1888, Stamford, Connecticut), was an American actor-manager and son of James William Wallack.[1] He used the stage name John Lester until October 5, 1858, when he first acted under the name Lester Wallack, which he retained the rest of his career.[2]


He was born in New York but at an early age he was taken to his parents' home in London where he was reared and educated.[3] He had chosen a military career but became discouraged and went to Dublin where he went upon the stage. He remained for two seasons and then went to Edinburgh. Then in 1846, he appeared in London at the Haymarket Theatre under Benjamin Webster's management. There he was seen by George H. Barrett, who had come to London to engage actors for the Broadway Theatre, in New York.[1]

He made his American debut there in 1847, under the name of John Lester, appearing as Sir Charles Coldstream in Boucicault's adaptation of Used Up.[3] His father's brother, Henry Wallack, the father of James William Wallack Jr. (1818–1873),[4] was also in the Broadway Theatre's company. His second appearance was as Viscount de Ligny in Captain of the Guard by James Planché.[3][1]

Subsequently, he performed at the Bowery Theatre, Burton's Theatre, Niblo's Garden and the first Wallack's Theatre. His first appearance at the Bowery Theatre was in 1849 as Don Caesar de Bazan by Adolphe d'Ennery and Philippe Dumanoir.[1]

He was manager of the second Wallack's Theatre from 1861 (demolished in 1901), and in 1882 he opened the third at 30th Street and Broadway (demolished in 1915).[3] Among the productions staged at the latter was Margaret Mather's ill-fated production of Cymbeline in 1897. Another Wallack's Theatre, at 254 West 42nd Street in New York, was named for him in 1924. Wallack joined The Lambs in 1875, which frequently met at Wallack's Theater. He served as its Shepherd (president): 1878-1879, 1880-1882. 1884-1888,[5] and was one of the founders of the Actors' Fund of America.

His greatest successes were as Charles Surface, as Benedick, and especially as Elliot Grey in his own play Rosedale, and similar light comedy and romantic parts, for which his fascinating manners and handsome person well fitted him. He married a sister (d. 1909) of Sir John Millais. He wrote his own Memories of Fifty Years.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Matthews & Hutton 1900, pp. 283–300.
  2. ^ See:
    • "Wallack's Theater". New-York Daily Tribune. June 14, 1858. p. 1, column 6, advertisement. Benefit of Mr. Lester
    • "Wallack's Theater". New-York Daily Tribune. September 27, 1858. p. 2, column 1, advertisement. John Lester Wallack, Stage Manager
    • "Wallack's Theater". New-York Daily Tribune. October 4, 1858. p. 2, column 1, advertisement (for tomorrow). Stage Manager, Mr. Lester Wallack. The company will consist of…Mr. Lester Wallack.…
  3. ^ a b c d e Chistholm 1911, p. 279.
  4. ^ Strang, Lewis C. (1903). Players and Plays of the Last Quarter Century. I. Boston: L. C. Page & Company. p. 131.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-31. Retrieved 2015-10-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)



Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]