The Senator (play)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Senator
Scene from The Senator (1890 play).png
Scene from the play
Written by David D. Lloyd and Sydney Rosenfeld
Date premiered January 13, 1890 (New York)
Place premiered Star Theatre
Original language English

The Senator was a popular 1890 comedic play by David D. Lloyd and Sydney Rosenfeld, also made into a 1915 silent film.


Rosenfeld, a prolific writer and adapter of plays, completed the play after Lloyd died; it is not known for sure how much Rosenfeld did to revise the text. He himself claimed to have made major revisions (though acknowledging the unfairness of claiming such when Lloyd could not dispute it), while some critics suggested he just made minor alterations, perhaps supposing that Rosenfeld himself was not capable of producing such fine product. After initial performances outside New York (it was first performed in St. Louis)[1][2] it debuted at the Star Theatre on Broadway on January 13, 1890, and ran for 119 performances.[3][4]

The play starred actor William Henry Crane and Georgie Drew Barrymore.[5][6] After it closed on Broadway, Crane continued to perform the play for the next three seasons, and it was considered one of the highlight roles of his career, as well as Barrymore's.[1]

The plot is based on a true story of a claim for damages from the War of 1812 for the sinking of the brig General Armstrong which was not resolved for 70 years.[7][8][9][10][11]

The title character of Senator Hannibal Rivers was modeled on Senator Preston B. Plumb of Kansas. When Plumb saw the play he was surprised to see Crane wearing a stovepipe hat, commenting to Crane that "I never wore a silk hat in my life, and my creditors wouldn't know me for myself in a head piece like that." Crane threw the hat down and declared he wouldn't wear it again, though he continued to do so, at least in New York.[12] According to a biography of Plumb, before one performance of the play in Washington, D.C., Senator Blackburn of Kentucky "told Crane to vigorously rub the back of his neck with a large white handkerchief when excited as that was a habit with Plumb in debate." Twenty-four U.S. Senators were in the audience for the performance, and upon seeing that move "roared with laughter" though the general audience had no idea of the cause.[13]

The play saw frequent productions around the United States through the 1890s and early 1900s, and was revived in Washington, D.C. as late as 1914.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]

T. Daniel Frawley, who was in the original cast, later obtained the rights to perform the play in the Western U.S., and enjoyed success with his own company. Frawley later opined that everyone involved in the original production seemed to have met with success. In addition to the crowning performances by Crane and Barrymore, for instance, he noted that Jane Stuart later "became a star" herself before marrying General Auer, a Milwaukee millionaire—one of three of the cast's females to marry millionaires.[22]


Still from 1915 film.

The 1915 silent film version, a five-reel production released in December of that year, was directed by Joseph A. Golden for Triumph Film Corporation. Charles J. Ross starred as Senator Rivers.[23]

It is not known whether the film currently survives.[24]

Cast of 1890 play[edit]

  • William Henry Crane as Senator Rivers
  • George F. Devere as Alexander Armstrong
  • Henry Bergman as Count Ernest von Strahl
  • Harry Braham as Baron Ling Ching
  • James Neill as Richard Vance
  • T. Daniel Frawley as Lieut. George Schuyler
  • W. Herbert as Isaiah Sharpless
  • J.C. Padgett as Silas Denman
  • John J. Gilmartin as Erastus
  • Lizzie Hudson Collier as Mabel Denman
  • Augusta Foster as Mrs. Schuyler
  • Jennie Karsner as Mrs. Armstrong
  • Jane Stuart as Josie Armstrong
  • Georgie Drew Barrymore as Mrs. Hilary[1][25]

Cast of 1915 film[edit]

  • Charles J. Ross as Senator Rivers
  • Joseph Burke as Senator Keene
  • Ben Graham as Silas Denman
  • Thomas F. Tracey as Secretary Armstrong
  • Philip Hahn as Count Ernst von Strahl
  • Dixie Compton as Mrs. Hilary
  • Constance Mollineaux as Mabel Denman
  • Gene Luneska as Mrs. Armstrong
  • William Corbett


  1. ^ a b c Clapp, John Bouve & Edwin Francis Edgett. Plays of the Present, p. 245-46 (1902)
  2. ^ (26 November 1889). Mr. Crane in Boston, The New York Times
  3. ^ Fisher, James & Felicia Hardison Londre.The A to Z of American Theater: Modernism, p. 427 (Scarecrow Press 2008) (ISBN 978-0-8108-6884-7)
  4. ^ (11 May 1890). The Senator's Farewell: Theodore Moss's Expensive Present To William H. Crane, The New York Times
  5. ^ Burt, Daniel S. (ed). The Chronology of American Literature, p. 277 (2004)
  6. ^ (20 February 1891). A Lunch for "The Senator", The New York Times
  7. ^ The Letters of Henry Adams, p. 215 (1982)
  8. ^ (27 November 1889). Amusements; Mr. Crane's New Play, The New York Times (includes plot summary)
  9. ^ (27 April 1890). Something About "The Senator", Morning Call
  10. ^ (17 May 1890). The Senator, The Illustrated American (includes photographs
  11. ^ 46th Congress, 1st Session, Mis. Doc. No. 13, The Miscellaneous Documents of the Senate of the United States ... (1879)
  12. ^ (20 January 1891). Senator Plumb's Hat; It Disturbs the Serenity of Comedian William H. Crane, The Anaconda Standard (from The New York Times
  13. ^ Connelley, William Elsey. The Life of Preston B. Plumb, 1837-1891, p. 339 (1913)
  14. ^ (30 June 1895). Columbia Theater: Debut of Miss Helen Kelleher in "The Senator", San Francisco Call
  15. ^ (27 November 1896). With A Lively Senator, Hawaiian Star (1896 production in Honolulu, put on by the company of T. Daniel Frawley, who was in original Broadway production)
  16. ^ (28 May 1899). At The Theaters, St. Paul Globe
  17. ^ (6 November 1900). The Lafayette - The Senator, The Times (Washington, D.C.) (reporting on third-week of 1900 run in Washington, D.C.)
  18. ^ (4 July 1903). New Features for New York Roof Gardens, Evening World (1903 revival at Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York)
  19. ^ (8 August 1904). With "The Senator" - Morosco Company Produces Love Story, Los Angeles Herald (1904 Los Angeles production)
  20. ^ (13 June 1905). Castle Square Theatre: The Senator, Boston Evening Transcript (1905 Boston revival; notes last played in Boston in 1899)
  21. ^ (4 August 1914). Last Nights Amusements; Columbia; "The Senator", Washington Herald (August 1914 Washington, D.C. production)
  22. ^ A Theatrical Mascot, Los Angeles Herald, Number 345 (10 September 1899), p. 2, col. 1-2) (detailed recounting by T. Daniel Frawley of the later success of the cast)
  23. ^ Denig, Lynde (25 December 1915). The Senator - Drama of Washington Life with Charles J. Ross in the Title Role -- Released by Equitable, Moving Picture World
  24. ^ "The Senator,, Retrieved 6 December 2013
  25. ^ (12 January 1890). The Theatrical Week, The New York Times (includes cast list)

External links[edit]