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Ida Conquest


The gorgeous daughter of a Boston merchant, Ida Conquest enjoyed the attention of producers and leading men from girlhood. Playing "Buttercup" in a long-running juvenile production of "H.M.S. Pinafore" by the Boston Museum company, she became the city favorite. Her accent was sufficiently patrician to enable her to perform leading roles on the legitimate stage before she was twenty.

The tragedian Tomasio Salvini would be the first of a sequence of first rank male stars who hired her, launching her professional career in 1892. The better-financed Frohman Brothers snapped her up and cast her in both comedies and dramas throughout the 1890s, until the prospect of playing opposite William Gillette in London caused her to break with the producers. She made a sensation playing "Too Much Johnson," a success that moved John Drew, one the brightest figures in the American dramatic firmament to secure her services. She was his leading lady for three seasons, triumphing in "The Tyranny of Tears," but sharing Drew's failure in "Richard Carvel." Her last major role with Drew was "The Second in Command," but the various Barrymores were agitating for parts and Conquest parted ways.

Conquest next partnered with Richard Mansfield, another of the great leading men of the stage, but only won out and out stardom in Clyde Fitch's farce, "The Money Makers." Among the most versatile and intellectual actresses of the turn of the century, she embraced intellectual drama, playing in G.B. Shaw's "Man and Superman," before ending her career collaborating with Nazimova in Ibsen in 1910.

Eventually she married the director of a jewelry company, and entertained herself designing fine jewelry during the years of her retirement. David S. Shields/ALS