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Laura Burt



The soubrette from the Isle of Man had singular luck in the assignment of roles during her early stage career. She would be assigned the plum role in a series of successful plays, beginning with June in the melodrama "Blue Jeans," followed by Madge "In Old Kentucky," and then "Linsey Woolsey." Daughter of a Welsh temperance campaigner and evangelist, Burt imbibed the rhetorical intensity of her parent and applied it to her first role, in 1888, would-be female politician Belva Lockwood whose stump speech is the dramatic climax of "Fantasma."

Once she established success on the Broadway stage, Burt sought to expand the scope of her work, going periodically into vaudeville to work up routines, and assaying roles in London to develop a more precise vocal grasp of class dialects. After the turn of the 20th century, she discovered another touring vehicle in the costume drama "Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall" touring in partnership with Henry Stanford.

When not on stage, she exercised her elocutionary skills to the podium of women's suffrage meetings. Though she appeared intermittently on Broadway until 1927, she rarely appeared in successful vehicles, and her two silent motion pictures of 1919 did not greatly impress. David S. Shields/ALS