During the 1886 New York season,
Julia Marlowe was an overnight sensation as Parthenia in Ingomar.
The next year, she had great success performing Twelfth Night,
Romeo and Juliet, and Ingomar in repertory at the Star
Theatre, New York. For the Star engagement, Joseph Haworth played
Malvolio, Romeo, and the title role in Ingomar opposite Miss
Marlowe. Julia Marlowe wrote:
In selecting my company, naturally
the most important consideration was the leading man. As I studied
the part of Juliet month after month, I had often wondered who my
Romeo would be, and considering all the available actors, I had set
my mind on Joseph Haworth. I had seen him play in A Moral Crime,
a stirring play by Elwyn Barron, a dramatic critic of Chicago. The
story somewhat resembled Sardou’s Fedora, and Mr. Haworth’s
performance exhibited the very highest qualities of a romantic
actor. I had seen him play also in Denise with
at Daly’s Theatre, a pronounced success. In appearance he somewhat
resembled Edwin Booth. He was dark, with expressive eyes, a fine
voice and really great tragic force. Also he played comedy lightly
and charmingly. He was generally accounted at that time to be the
best actor of leading roles on the American Stage.
made an appointment with Mr. Haworth to meet us at the Bijou Theatre
and discuss the engagement. He had heard of my success as Parthenia
and was at least curious enough to listen to a proposal. Yet the
engagement was only for one week, and he was much in demand at the
Said Aunt Ada to Mr. Haworth,
"Miss Marlowe is going to produce Romeo and Juliet at
the Star theatre on December. The thirteenth."
Mr. Haworth looked at me not
" He will do it," I said to
"Who aims at stars shoots higher
than he who means a tree," quoted Mr. Haworth. (I discovered
later he carried about whole pockets full of aphorisms.)
"Yes," said Aunt Ada,
"she is very ambitious."
"I am glad to hear it,"
approved Mr. Haworth. "I am ambitious myself. But Juliet is a
good deal of undertaking."
"He won’t do it," I
"They say no woman can play
Juliet until she has ceased to look like it," continued Mr.
Haworth with his eyes on me. "Miss Marlowe certainly would look
Juliet." And he smiled at me as if to say, "That’s a
"Oh! He’s going to do
it," I said to my heart.
"But," he went on,
"the part really requires a life time of experience."
"No he’s not," I murmured
and felt my case was lost.
"We propose to produce Romeo
and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and Ingomar,"
persisted Aunt Ada, who had a way of sticking to the matter in hand,
"and the engagement would only be for one week."
"I have studied Romeo," Mr.
Haworth said, "but I have not played the part2.
I would prefer to play Malvolio in Twelfth Night, but I am
not up in it, and Ingomar would be a new part for me3.
Three new characters in one week. That’s something of a task even
for an experienced actor."
"Let me think about it,"
temporized Mr. Haworth preparing to go.
Aunt Ada stepped into the breech.
"Why don’t we go on the stage and run through the balcony
scene?" she suggested. "That will give you an idea of what
Miss Marlowe can do."
Mr. Haworth hesitated. He looked at
his watch. I am sure he was about to say he had an important
engagement and, once he had escaped, we probably would never see him
again. His eyes fell on me, but I was praying with all my might that
he would play Romeo and I was tongue-tied---I could not say a word
in my own behalf.
"Very well," he granted.
"Let’s go through with it."
The stage was cluttered with all
sorts of lumber---furniture--- boxes---curious paraphernalia
belonging to the burlesque of Adonis. A grand piano was
surrounded by many chairs in one corner near the footlights where no
doubt ladies of the chorus had that morning been taken through new
songs. A poor, dim ‘tee light’ shone sadly down front. Ropes
with sandbags at their ends hung from the flies.
It was late November, and the theatre
was cold. Mr. Haworth shivered and turned up the collar of his
"Shall we begin?" asked
On the instant, as if he had been
waiting for that remark the whole night long, a man in some remote
part of the stage began to hammer with all his might. Actors know
something of the sort is bound to happen. It can’t be explained,
but must be accepted as inevitable and confronted with philosophy.
"I’ll go and speak to
him," volunteered Mr. Haworth and disappeared into the gloom.
Assisted by Aunt Ada, I moved some of
the deal boxes to one side of the stage, placed them together and
lifted a chair on top with its back facing the stage, so that I
could lean of the balustrade of Juliet’s balcony. Aunt Ada placed
herself ‘within’---behind the boxes---so she could speak the
lines of the nurse.
The hammering had ceased. Mr. Haworth
reappeared. "I don’t know how we can manage it," said he
skeptically. But he was not to escape.
"Oh, yes this is the
balcony," said I eagerly, "and that’s the garden---there
where you are now."
"Oh, I see," said Mr.
Haworth with resignation. "Then I will enter from here,"
and he moved some of the Adonis properties to one side.
Romeo entered, listened to the
derisive shouts of Mercutio and Benvolio and spoke, "He jests
at scars that never felt a wound."
Four women cleaners, who had
evidently been looking forward to this moment, commenced a violent
argument and banged seats with violence.
"Ladies," protested Mr.
Haworth. They paid no attention. "Ladies," shouted Romeo.
They continued unmoved. Now Romeo addressed them more precisely at
the top of his voice. "Cleaner-ladies," he cried.
There was a silence. "Are yez
talking to us?" said one.
"I have that honor,"
replied Mr. Haworth, who had visited Ireland. "Will you,
ladies, do me the great favor to remain silent while we go through a
scene which I believe will give you very great pleasure? It is said
to be the most exquisite love scene the world has ever known. You
are women. Pray be seated in four of those chairs with your brooms
on your knees. Let me beg your attention while we wring your hearts.
Do not restrain your tears."
The four ‘cleaner ladies’
subsided in four stalls.
Mr. Haworth began again:
‘He jests at scars, that never
felt a wound.
But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair then she:’
(Juliet enters on to the balcony)
'It is my lady; O, it is my
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!’
I was no longer on a cluttered stage.
I was in a garden of Verona. The little ‘tee light’ became the
moon in Italian skies.
‘O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art
Through the lines I was thinking: Oh,
I wonder if I’ve said it well enough. Will he accept the
engagement? Oh, I hope he will.
‘Deny thy father and refuse
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.’
Can he see my face in the darkness? I
wondered. Do I look like Juliet? Will he get discouraged? How can I
preserve any illusion under these circumstances?
I expected him to stop at the end of
my line, but to my delight he went on:
‘Shall I hear more…’
yes," said my heart. ‘Please do.)
‘…Or shall I speak at this?’
Here, I knew, was a real, live Romeo.
Previously those words had been spoken to me only by Aunt Ada. Now
here was Romeo, dressed in a heavy winter overcoat, muffled up to
the chin, on a cold dark stage, gazing up at me sitting on two deal
boxes with a toppling chair. As the lines floated up to me, I heard
them as, during three long years of preparation, I had imagined they
must sound. His voice was beautiful, convincing. He had the rare
quality of becoming at once the character he assumed. Romeo was
never more real to me at any time in my life than that day.
The scene plays about twenty minutes.
This thought came to me several times as I threw my heart into the
lines: "He must think I am doing it well or he would
stop." To my glad surprise he continued until the end.
‘Parting is such sweet sorrow
That I shall say good-night till
it be morrow…’
" I’ll do it!" shouted
I hardly heard the comment of one of
the cleaners, "This talk sets me crazy." Down I came from
my dry goods box and rushed to Aunt Ada, wondering if I had
justified my apprenticeship of years, long years, wondering if I had
really satisfied Mr. Haworth---wondering if I had done justice to
Shakespeare. My anxiety was cut short by hearing Aunt Ada ask Mr.
Haworth, "What is your salary?"
Mr. Haworth descended from the
clouds. "Oh, three hundred and fifty dollars a week," said
he, and then with a pleasant smile at me added, "But if it’s
any consideration, I’ll take three hundred to play with Miss
I had never done much shopping and
certainly none for Romeos, nor did I know their market values. But I
thought it nice of Romeo to mark himself down like that, so I said
gratefully, "Oh, Mr. Haworth."
If he had said three million, it
would not have seemed much to Juliet whose pocket had never in her
life contained more than a few dollars at a time. There’s nothing
like beggary to make one generous. I quite expected a wizard to wave
a wand and materialize the necessary money out of the air. However,
to Juliet’s aunt even three hundred dollars seemed a large sum.
Still she was well aware of Mr. Haworth’s value and she jumped at
The matter was settled. My Romeo was
" Oh! it’s fine," he
said. "I’m full of enthusiasm about it. I’ll go at once and
start all the interest possible." He looked at me and intently
for the first time---I mean at me, Julia Marlowe, for he had been
gazing with love at Juliet. "We’ll have a great
success," he predicted and took my head. "I’ll be ready
in a week for rehearsal---perfect, letter-perfect in my part."
He rushed through the dark auditorium
and bowled over one of the cleaners who sat down hard on the floor.
"A thousand pardons, madam," he cried as he lifted her up.
"The devil take ye!" was
all his thanks, but Mr. Haworth embraced her and declaimed
"Look thou but sweet and I am proof against their enmity."
Then once more waving his hand to me, he shouted, "It will be
fine! It will be splendid!" and made his exit.
When rehearsals began I found all the
actors helpful and sympathetic. The first day I was regarded with
curiosity, but my evident knowledge of what I was about soon
inspired respect. There was no doubt or hesitation over our stage
directions. Everything proceeded swiftly and with certainty; every
detail had been thought out.
"Seldom have I seen rehearsals
go so smoothly," Mr. Haworth praised. He took pains to be kind
and helpful, remaining after the others had gone to request that I
go over scenes with him. He was a man of great experience and great
natural gifts, and I owe much to his guidance.
Another instance of Mr. Haworth’s
exuberance occurred when one afternoon we went for a walk in Central
Park after an early dinner to go through our lines. As dusk came on,
a ragged man approached us while we were crossing the great meadow.
Mr. Haworth, nervous and excitable, became suspicious and said,
"I don’t like that chap. He’s up to something."
"Oh, nonsense," I replied.
"He’s only a poor creature anxious for charity."
"I don’t know," said he.
"I’ve heard of queer doings in this park."
At that moment the man walked up to
us swiftly and said something in a low tone. Instantly Mr. Haworth
turned on him in amazing fury and hurled in his teeth the lines of
the fiery Tybalt4:
‘Alive, in triumph! And Mercutio
Away to heaven, respective lenity,
And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!
Now, Tybalt, take that ‘villain’
That late thou gavest me; for
Is but a little way above our heads,
Staying for thine to keep him
Either thou, or I, or both, must go
Those words, uttered with the most
tragic frenzy and accompanied by a violent gesture, culminating in a
furious rush at the astounded man, so terrified him that he ran
yelping across the meadow, surely convinced that he had met a
"One can’t be too careful with
that sort of people," said Mr. Haworth. "One never knows
what they’re up to."
As I learned something of his past,
my admiration for Joseph Haworth increased. There was much
similarity in the circumstances of our lives. His father was an
Englishman from Lancashire; his mother spoke with a strong
Lancashire accent. The family had emigrated before Joseph’s birth
to Cleveland, Ohio5,
where the elder Haworth secured a position as a railway engineer6.
As the children grew up they were given jobs at the Cleveland
Terminus7. But Joseph
became enamored of the stage and entered the stock company of the
Cleveland Euclid Avenue Opera House. Later he played at the Boston
Museum. He supported his widowed mother, helped his brother to enter
Annapolis, aided his sister and finally purchased a home for the
family in Cleveland. All this was done on a salary of thirty dollars
a week, while he himself lived on an allowance of seven dollars
weekly. Afterwards he was leading man with John McCullough until
that tragedian died. He had filled brilliant engagements in New York
before acting with me. He was to die at the early age of thirty-five8.
Actress Ada Dow was Julia Marlowe's mentor and business manager. (Back
2. Joseph Haworth had already played Romeo
opposite Mary Anderson in Boston. (Back to text)
3. Joseph Haworth had already starred as
Ingomar in matinee performances with McCullough's company. (Back
4. These are actually Romeo's lines spoken
to Tybalt. (Back to text)
5. Joseph Haworth was born in Providence,
Rhode Island. (Back to text)
6. Joseph Haworth always stated the his
father was a surveyor. (Back to text)
7. Joseph Haworth said he worked in a
newspaper office as a boy, and there are press references to a
lawyer who employed him. (Back to text)
8. Joseph Haworth died at the age of
forty-eight. (Back to text)