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Charlotte Cushman
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    (July 23, 1816-February 18, 1876)
    Born in Boston, Massachusetts
    Stage actress
    Notable roles include Lady Macbeth, Meg Merrilees from 'Guy Mannering,' Hamlet and Romeo
    She said, 'I was born a tomboy.'
    She started as an opera singer and claimed she changed careers when she strained her voice. However, the real reason for the switch may have been hostile reviews, such as the New Orleans critic that declared, 'Miss Cushman can sing nothing.'
    She was sued by her ex-lover, actress Matilda Hays, who claimed she had put her own career on hold to support Cushman. (They settled out of court.)
    Her lover Emma Crow married her nephew/adopted son, Ned.
    She gave her first farewell performance in 1852, and her last one 23 years later.
    When she was thirteen, her father died and left the family destitute, forcing her into show biz.
    Her triumphant tour of England (1844) helped make acting a respectable career for a woman in America.
    She used her celebrity to promote several female artists and sculptors.
    During the Civil War, she headlined several benefits for sick and wounded Union soldiers.
    Walt Whitman called her performance as Nancy Sykes in 'Oliver Twist' 'The most intense acting ever felt on the Park boards.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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