Otis Skinner

Otis Skinner
Born June 28, 1858(1858-06-28)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Died January 4, 1942(1942-01-04) (aged 83)
New York City, New York
Occupation actor
Spouse Maud Durbin
Children Cornelia Otis Skinner

Otis Skinner (June 28, 1858, Cambridge, Massachusetts – January 4, 1942, New York City) was an American actor.

He was the son of a Universalist minister; his brother, Charles Montgomery Skinner, was a noted journalist and critic in New York. Skinner was educated in Hartford, Connecticut, with an eye towards a career in commerce. A visit to the theater left him stage-struck. He secured his father's blessing for a theatrical career, and his father not only approved but also obtained from P. T. Barnum an introduction to William Pleater Davidge. Davidge employed him at eight dollars a week, and Skinner's career was launched. In the latter half of the 1870s, he played various bit roles in stock companies, and alongside stars such as John Edward McCullough. He built up his repertoire for several years in New York and Boston, including three years with Lawrence Barrett.

By the mid-1880s, he was touring first with Augustin Daly, then, in 1889, with the troupe of Edwin Booth and Helena Modjeska. After that season, he played Romeo in London opposite Margaret Mather. His association with Mather lasted two years; after, with Booth dead, he returned to Modjeska, starring opposite her in her most famous roles. He also originated the role of Schwartz in Hermann Sudermann's Magda, and played Armand in Dumas's Camille.

By the middle of the 1890s, he was a star in his own right. In 1894, he produced and starred in Clyde Fitch's His Grace de Grammont; the same year, he performed in his brother's translation of Victor Hugo's Le roi s'amuse. In 1895 in Chicago, he succeeded as Hamlet; his performance was praised as natural and unaffected, without elocutionary tricks. From 1895, he was associated with the troupe of Joseph Jefferson.

He excelled in Shakespearean roles like Shylock, Hamlet, Richard III and Romeo, and his Colonel Phillipe Brideau in The Honor of the Family was considered one of the greatest comedic performances of the first quarter of the twentieth century. Skinner's signature role was as Hajj the beggar in Kismet (1911) on Broadway, and he continued playing it on stage for twenty years, recreating his performance both in the 1920 and 1930 film versions of the play.

Later roles included Albert Mott in Humpty Dumpty (1918), Sir John Falstaff in both Henry IV, part 1 (1926) and The Merry Wives of Windsor (1928), and Shylock opposite the Portia of Maude Adams (1931–32) in The Merchant of Venice. Like that of Charles Irving, his Shylock was naturalistic and at least partly sympathetic; he avoided the melodramatic excess characteristic of earlier interpretations of the character.

Skinner was also a successful writer whose books included Footlights and Spotlights and Mad Folk of the Theatre. His daughter, actress and author Cornelia Otis Skinner, was born in 1901.

He was portrayed onscreen by a somewhat miscast Charlie Ruggles, in the film version of Cornelia Otis Skinner's autobiography, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. In life Skinner had a cultured but raspy voice that sounded similar to actor James Mason.

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  • Otis Skinner — est un acteur américain né le 28 juin 1858 à Cambridge (Massachusetts), États Unis et décédé le 4 janvier 1942 à New York City, New York. Il est le frère cadet de l écrivain Charles Montgomery Skinner (1852 1907) et le père de l actrice Cornelia… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Otis Skinner — noun United States actor (1858 1942) • Syn: ↑Skinner • Instance Hypernyms: ↑actor, ↑histrion, ↑player, ↑thespian, ↑role player …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cornelia Otis Skinner — Born May 30, 1899(1899 05 30) Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Died July 9, 1979(1979 07 09) (aged 80) New York, New York, U.S. Occupation Actress, screenwriter …   Wikipedia

  • Cornelia Otis Skinner — Cornelia Otis Skinner, née le 30 mai 1899[1] à Chicago (Illinois), morte le 9 juillet 1979 à New York, est une actrice et femme de lettres américaine. Sommaire 1 Biographie 2 Filmographie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cornelia Otis Skinner — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Cornelia Otis Skinner (Chicago, Illinois, Estados Unidos, 30 de mayo de 1901 Nueva York, Nueva York, Estados Unidos, 9 de julio de 1979) fue una actriz y escritora estadounidense. Era hija del actor Otis Skinner y su …   Wikipedia Español

  • Cornelia Otis Skinner — noun United States actress noted for her one woman shows (1901 1979) • Syn: ↑Skinner • Instance Hypernyms: ↑actress …   Useful english dictionary

  • Otis (given name) — Otis Armstrong, a former NFL running back for the Denver Broncos Otis R. Bowen, the former governor of Indiana and former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Otis Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles Times between 1960 and 1980 …   Wikipedia

  • Skinner, Cornelia Otis — born May 30, 1901, Chicago, Ill., U.S. died July 9, 1979, New York, N.Y. U.S. actress and writer. She made her stage debut in Blood and Sand (1921) with her actor father, Otis Skinner, who also collaborated on her first play, Captain Fury (1925) …   Universalium

  • Skinner, Cornelia Otis — (1901 1979)    Born in Chicago, the daughter of actor Otis Skinner, Cornelia Otis Skinner was educated at Bryn Mawr before joining her father in his production of Blood and Sand (1921). She appeared in many plays, including Will Shakespeare… …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

  • Skinner, Otis — (1858 1942)    Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where his father was a local minister, Otis Skinner began his long career at the Philadelphia Museum in 1877, followed by two seasons at the Walnut Street Theatre and small roles in productions… …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater


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