Fiske, Minnie Maddern

Fiske, Minnie Maddern,

1865–1932, American actress, b. New Orleans. Born of a family of actors, she spent her childhood on the stage. In 1890 she married Harrison Grey Fiske, editor of the New York Dramatic Mirror, appearing thereafter under his management. Her roles in A Doll's House (1894) and later Ghosts and Hedda Gabler established Fiske as one of the greatest interpreters of the intellectual drama of her time. Her Becky Sharp and Tess of the D'Urbervilles were particularly admired, although she was best loved as a comedienne. In 1901 she opened the Manhattan Theatre in New York City, and was influential in combating the powerful and destructive monopoly of the 1890s, the Theatrical Syndicate.

Bibliography

See biography by A. Binns and O. Kooken (1955); Mrs. Fiske: Her Views on the Stage, ed. by A. Woollcott (1917, repr. 1968).

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Fiske, Minnie Maddern (b. Mary or Marie Augusta Davey)

(1865–1932) stage actress; born in New Orleans. The daughter of a theatrical family, she made her stage debut in her mother's arms at age three. In her many child roles, including Little Eva in Uncle Tom's Cabin, she was praised as mature beyond her years. She graduated to ingenue parts, then eventually reached stardom as Stella in an 1885 adaptation of Sardou's In Spite of All. She was described as a short, magnetic redhead whose acting was full of subtlety and finesse. After her marriage to Harrison Grey Fiske, she briefly retired and wrote plays, but returned to the stage in 1893 to act in serious roles including Nora in A Doll's House and Tess in Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Partly in response to a conflict with the Theatrical Syndicate, which tried to block their enterprises, she and her husband bought the Manhattan Theatre in 1901 where they produced several big successes.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.