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Ira Aldridge, A Great American Negro Actor of the Past Century
                  IRA ALDRIDGE                    115
of the Russian Academy of Arts and Sciences; of the imperial
and ducal institute of Austria: of the Imperial  Academy of
Arts and Sciences in St. Petersburg, and many other honor-
able and learned societies, and in most cases the membership
was conveyed by means of handsome medals, accompanied
at times by autograph letters.
    His daughter, of whom I shall speak later, modestly says
of him: "He appeared in London in 'Othello.' "The Merchant
of Venice' and many other Shakespearean plays, always tak-
ing the leading part with the greatest success. He also toured
the provinces.  Of course, 'Othello' was his chief role.  He ap-
peared in the principal theatres on the Continent and was
decorated by many sovereigns."
    In the home of this daughter I saw among other testi-
monials a handsome portrait of Count Tolstoi with this in-
scription written at the bottom of the picture:
    "May this portrait remind Mr. Aldridge of a man who has
been much struck by his high, genial and scenic talent, his
aesthetical and cultivated mind and his pure, warm and ele-
vated soul. The writer esteems himself particularly happy
in having had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of so
distinguished an artist."
          (Signed) The Count, Theodore Tolstoi,

      Vice-President of The Imperial Academy of Arts.

    St. Petersburg, December 24, 1851.

    A contemporary pen picture of this great tragedian is fur-
nished by a correspondent of a Paris paper, writing from St.
Petersburg, during the time of Mr. Aldridge's acting in that
city. He writes: "The success of the Negro actor, Ira Ald-
ridge, has been wonderful. At his debut, people were curious
to see an 'Othello' who needed neither crape, nor pomade to
blacken his face. From his appearance on the stage the Afri-
can artist completely captivated his audience by his harmoni-
ous and resonant voice and by a style full of simplicity, na-
ture and dignity. For the first time we had seen a tragic hero
talk and walk like common mortals without declamation and
without exaggerated gestures. We forgot that we were in a


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African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, Vol. 29, Num. 2

Ira Aldridge, A Great American Negro Actor of the Past Century


Volume:  29
Issue Number:  02
Page Number:  113
Date:  10/1912


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