Skinner, Otis

Skinner, Otis,

1858–1942, American actor, b. Cambridge, Mass. Skinner made his New York debut in 1879. After years as supporting player to Booth and Barrett, he toured with Augustin DalyDaly, Augustin,
1838–99, American theatrical manager and dramatist, b. Plymouth, N.C. After 1859 he was drama critic for several New York City newspapers and adapted many plays from French and German.
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 and later with ModjeskaModjeska, Helena
, 1844–1909, Polish actress who achieved fame in the United States primarily for her Shakespearean interpretations. After initial acclaim in Warsaw, she emigrated in 1876 to the United States with her second husband.
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. Enjoying a long and varied career, he won lasting fame in Kismet (1911). Skinner wrote extensively about the theater. The Last Tragedian (1939) contains his selections from Booth's correspondence.

His daughter, Cornelia Otis Skinner, 1901–79, American monologuist, actress, and author, b. Chicago, first appeared in her father's company in 1921. She won fame for her one-woman shows and original monologues. She wrote Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (with Emily Kimbrough, 1942), the autobiographical Family Circle (1948), Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals (1962), and Madame Sarah (1967), a biography of Bernhardt.


See his Footlights and Spotlights (1924, repr. 1972) and Mad Folk of the Theatre (1928).

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Skinner, Otis

(1858–1942) stage actor; born in Cambridge, Mass. Called a "flamboyant and scene-filling" actor, he performed in both classic and modern plays. He was the father of Cornelia Otis Skinner.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.