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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 27 February 1847Coventry, Warwickshire, England, UK
Date of Death 21 July 1928Small Hythe, Kent, England, UK  (heart attack)
Birth NameEllen Alice Terry

Mini Bio (1)

Legendary British stage actress who made a few silent film appearances. The daughter of strolling players, she was born in Coventry into an almost exclusively theatrical family. Her grandparents were actors, as were all six of her siblings. But only her son, Edward Gordon Craig, would in any way approach her fame in the theatre, albeit as a designer rather than as an actor. She made her debut in 1856 at the age of 8 before an audience which included Queen Victoria. By age 11, she had played a dozen roles including Puck. At 16, after showing early brilliance, she played "An American Cousin" (a year before the famed American production clouded by Lincoln's assassination) and then retired. After six years, still only 22, she returned to the stage and in 1875 played a landmark Portia in "The Merchant of Venice." For the next three decades, she played every major Shakespearean role opposite the greatest British tragedians, in England and in America. Her long association with theatrical giant Henry Irving ended with his death, but a year later, in 1906, she began a long professional and personal relationship with George Bernard Shaw. After more than half a century onstage, she undertook a tour of England, America, and Australia, lecturing on the theatre and on Shakespeare. She was coaxed into a film appearance in 1916 and played in a handful of additional pictures through 1922. Created a Dame by George V in 1925, she was the recipient of virtually every honor available to a figure of the English-speaking stage. After a long illness, she died at 81 from a combination of stroke and heart attack at her home in Smallhythe Place, Tenterdon, Kent, England. Her long estranged husband, James Carew, survived her.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (3)

James Carew (March 1907 - 21 July 1928) (her death)
Charles Wardell Kelly (21 November 1877 - 1885) (his death)
George Frederick Watts (20 February 1864 - 1877) (divorced)

Trivia (11)

Great aunt of John Gielgud
She was awarded Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in the 1925 King's Honours List for her services to drama.
Although married to George Frederick Watts, her children Edith Ailsa Geraldine Craig (9 December 1869 - 1947) and Edward Gordon Craig (16 January 1872 - 1966) were fathered by architect Edward Godwin, who deserted them. Terry and Watts separated a year after they married, but didn't divorced until 1877.
Her two most famous children, Edith Craig and E. Gordon Craig, were the offspring of architect Edward Godwin, with whom Terry lived during much of her marriage to painter George Frederic Watts.
Several obituaries at the time of Terry's death mention a final film appearance, Land of Hope and Glory (1927), but most trustworthy evidence suggests this is in error. The leading role being played by actress Ellaline Terriss, it seems likely the similarity in names is at the root of the misinformation.
She refused to accompany her friend, Charles Frohman, to England from America aboard the British liner, Lusitania, sailing the next day on the neutral American ship, New York. Thus, she survived one of history's most famous disasters at sea.
Son Edward Gordon Craig acted with Henry Irving's Lyceum company from 1885-1897. Feeling restricted in creativity, he turned to scene design and was notable for pioneering new theories in the art. He was employed for the 1903 productions of "The Vikings" and "Much Ado About Nothing" starring his mother. He founded the Gordon Craig School for the Art of the Theatre in Florence, Italy, in 1913.
Was the third of 11 children. Two died in infancy.
She was interred at St. Paul's Church in London, England in the plot of the South Wall in the silver funeral casket.
Grandmother of Edward Carrick.
Aunt of director Herbert Mason.

Personal Quotes (6)

Conceit is an insuperable obstacle to all progress.
Eulogy is nice, but one does not learn anything from it.
If it is the mark of the artist to love art before everything, to renounce everything for its sake, to think all the sweet human things of life well lost if only he may attain something, do some good, great work - then I was never an artist.
Imagination, industry, and intelligence - the three I's - are all indispensable to the actress, but of these three the greatest is, without doubt, imagination.
No amount of skill on the part of the actress can make up for the loss of youth.
That little something extra. (on star quality)

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