Webster, Margaret

Webster, Margaret,

1905–72, American actress, producer, and director, b. New York City; daughter of Ben Webster and Dame May WhittyWhitty, Dame May,
1865–1948, English actress. She made her London debut in 1881. In 1892 she married Ben Webster, an actor, and in 1895 she first appeared in the United States, becoming a favorite on the stage and in films.
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. Webster made her formal acting debut in 1924. After working with several English companies, including the Old VicOld Vic,
London repertory company and theater. The Old Vic theater opened in 1818 as the Coburg, and was renamed the Royal Victoria in 1833, soon familiarized to the Old Vic.
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 (1929–30), she returned to the United States and began (1935) an outstanding career as director and producer. In 1946, together with Eva Le GallienneLe Gallienne, Eva
, 1899–1991, American actress, producer, director, and translator, b. London; daughter of poet Richard Le Gallienne. She made her debut in London in 1915 and in New York City the next year.
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, she founded and managed the American Repertory Theatre, and from 1948 to 1951 she directed the Margaret Webster Shakespeare Company. Webster directed several operas and notable presentations of Shakespeare in England. She wrote Shakespeare without Tears (1942), Shakespeare Today (1957), and two autobiographical works, The Same Only Different (1969) and Don't Put Your Daughter on the Stage (1972).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Webster, Margaret


Born Mar. 15, 1905, in New York City; died Nov. 13, 1972, in London. American actress, director, and producer.

Webster was the daughter of the well-known English actor Benjamin Webster and the actress May Whitty. She made her acting debut in 1924 in London. In 1929–30, she was a member of the Old Vic Theatre, where in 1932 she played the role of Lady Macbeth. She lived in the USA from 1936. Webster’s major roles included Masha and Madame Ranevskaia in Chekhov’s The Sea Gull and The Cherry Orchard. In 1946, Webster joined E. Le Gallienne in organizing the American Repertory Theatre (1946–47).

Some of Webster’s best work was as a director of Shakespeare’s plays. In 1943 she directed Othello, with P. Robeson in the title role in a Theatre Guild production. (She interpreted the play as the tragedy of a black in a racist society.) From 1948 to 1950, Webster managed a touring Shakespearean company, which introduced college and university students to the works of Shakespeare, including Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and The Taming of the Shrew. She also staged plays in various theaters in the USA and Canada. Webster also produced operas, including Verdi’s Don Carlo (1950) and Aida (1951) for the Metropolitan Opera and Walton’s Troilus and Cressida (1955) for the New York City Opera. Webster was the author of Shakespeare Without Tears and articles about the theater.


Shakespeare Without Tears. New York, 1942.
Shakespeare Today. New York, 1957.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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He leaves the love of his life, Debra (Gadoury) Deary his wife of 31 years; two daughters: Barbara Deary and her husband Paul Robillard of Webster, Margaret Sue Deary of Webster; one son: Keith Patrick Deary of Webster; three sisters: Jane and her husband Tom Grohowski of Webster, Mary and her husband Jim Paul of Dudley and Katie Deary of Grafton; three brothers: John Deary of Dudley, Timmy Deary and his wife Kim of Dudley and Mark Deary and his wife Karen of Webster; a granddaughter, Rozlyn Robillard; several nieces and nephews.