Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com advises that these 19th Century
biographies, although edited, still contain period bias.
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DAVIDGE, William Pleater, actor, born near Ludgate Hill, London, England, 17 April 1814. He joined an amateur dramatic society, and made his first appearance, at Drury Lane theatre, in the minor part of James in "The Miller's Maid." He appeared at Nottingham in 1836, and acted in London, on 26 September of that year, in the "hmnted Tower." After acting in various parts of Great Britain, he settled its Manchester, and in 1850 came to the United States, where he made his first appearance in the old Broadway theatre, New York, as Sir Peter Teazle. He supported the popular stars of the day--Edwin Forrest, Gustavus V. Brooke, Julia Dean, Lola Montez, and others--and, after leaving the old Broadway theatre in 1855, made a tour through the country. He was a mere-bet of F. B. Conway's "star combination," and in 1863 was one of Mrs. John Wood's company at the Olympic theatre, where he remained two seasons. He afterward took part in the Shakespearean revivals at Winter Garden theatre, and, in August 1867, appeared as Eccles, in "Caste," at the new Broadway theatre near Broome Street. He was at Daly's Fifth Avenue theatre from 1869 till 1877, then traveled with Miss Fanny Davenport's company, and in 1879 was the original Dick Deadeye, in " Pinafore," at the Standard theatre. In 1885 he became a member of the Madison square theatre company. Mr. Davidge has played over one thousand parts during his career, and played them all with zeal, intelligence, and humor. Among his best parts, besides those already mentioned, are Bishop Riggs in " Mats and Wife," Old Hardy in the " Belle's Stratagem," Hardeastle in " She Stoops to Conquer," and Croaker in "The Good-Natured Man." In Shakespeare's comedies he has been successful as Caliban, Touchstone, Dogberry, Nick Bottom, and Old Gobbo.
--His son, William, comedian, born in Manchester, England, 11 March 1847, made his first appearance in the French theatre, New York, in the burlesque of "The Lady of the Lions."
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