The Lady in Charge

In its heyday, Philadelphia’s Arch Street Theatre seated approximately 2,000 patrons for each performance who came to see the renowned thespians of the 19th century. Popular performers – Fanny Davenport, Joseph Jefferson and Charlotte Cushman – played “The Arch” at 819 Arch Street. Even actor John Wilkes Booth took his turn there as Macbeth two years before he...
read more

Ben Solowey: The Thing Speaks for Itself

In a career that spanned more than six decades, Ben Solowey (1900-1978), painted, sculpted and created exactly as he wanted. He paid no attention to what was fashionable or lucrative at the moment, cultivated no distinguished patrons, sought little publicity and asked for no exhibitions; unsolicited, the work nevertheless came to him. Although he gained renown for his portraits of the American...
read more

The Soulful and Sultry Miss Ethel Waters

Much of Ethel Waters’ success as a popular twentieth-century entertainer has been credited to the rather simple fact she, in her own words, never forgot who she was and where she came from. She achieved renown as blues singer, theater and film actress, and best selling author. She also emerged as a role model, if not icon, for several decades of African American women. And she accomplished...
read more

The Barrymores of Philadelphia: America’s Royal Family of the Theatre

America’s fabled royal family of the theatre, the Barrymores — a name recognized throughout the world by generations of audiences — began its meteoric rise in mid-nineteenth- century Philadelphia. The twentieth-century scions of entertainment — Lionel, Ethel, and John Barrymore — were born in Philadelphia, children of the rapscallion English charmer, Maurice Barrymore (1847–1905) and his equally...
read more