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Kate Castleton


Kate Castleton (1856-1892)

Lotta Crabtree created the type of the comic actress who performed variety inserted willy nilly into an evening's entertainment. English born Castleton excelled at novelty songs, dancing, and farce, and toured in ramshackle vehicles such as "Crazy Patch" and "The Dazzler" that subordinated plot to episode and inserted set pieces. Her start in show business took place as a singer in the London music halls. She convinced Josh Hart of Manhattan's Theatre Comique to hire her in 1876. She married a neer-do-well named Joe Clayton, who was arrested for forging a $64,000 life insurance draft. The relationship cycled through a divorce, a reconciliation, and a second divorce by 1881. Her first touring vehicle was "All at Sea." She then signed onto Edward Rice's "Pop" (1882) where she created a sensation with a suggestive song, "For Goodness Sake don't say I told you." She became one of the leading soubrettes of the American stage in the 1880s. Critics made allowance for the inanity of the presentations in which she starred--"It can hardly be called a play . . . but is more like a wild, insane dream of mirth, melody and roaring, vest-ripping fun." Her sudden death of peritonitis at age thirty six in Providence, RI shocked the theatrical world.