(Excerpt from Ghetto Silhouettes East Side of New York Ci...)
Excerpt from Ghetto Silhouettes East Side of New York City. Tbis dis trict, wkicb is prooaoly tbe most populous one upon tlze gloke, lies between tbe Bowery and tke East River, wbicb form its east and west ooundaries, and from Catberine Street to Houston. Here Mr. Warfield gatbered material for bis professional work as an actor and playwrigbt and Miss Hamm spent muck time during four years of laoor as a Social Settlement worker. N early all of tbe inci dents are taken from actual facts, especially tbose wkick seem tbe most improoaole. Tbc life of tbe etto is like and unlike tbat of every otber crowded district in tbe metropolis. Its unlikeness seems to just?) tke presentation of its dramatic incidents in tbe form offiction. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.
He attended San Francisco public schools but left before completing his secondary education.
He was first a newspaper vendor; next a program boy at the Standard Theater; and then an usher at the Bush Street Theater. From supernumerary (briefly, in 1882) in Siberia, presented at the California Theater, he advanced to comic storytelling and impersonations at lodges and clubs and, about 1886, at the Wigwam (a San Francisco music hall where he first used the name Warfield). His acting debut, as Jewish villain Melter Moss in Tom Taylor's The Ticket-of-Leave Man, occurred about 1888 with Fanny Wood's troupe at Napa, Calif. In November 1890 Warfield moved to New York, where on December 7 he first appeared (at a salary of $15 per week) as a dialect comedian at Payne's Concert Hall, a noisy Eighth Avenue saloon. He later played Hiram Joskins, another Jewish role, in The Inspector, a melodrama; Honora, an Irishwoman, in O'Dowd's Neighbors; and John Smith in The City Directory (on the road and in New York). As Brick, a rustic, in A Nutmeg Match, he "did by far the best acting" - according to a Herald reviewer (Feburary 28, 1893). His first-act comic conception of an immigrant Russian Jew - to become familiarly known as Einstein - in About Town, which opened at the Casino on Feburary 26, 1894 - inspired the Jewish character he played throughout the rest of his career. After joining George Lederer's Casino company in the summer of 1895, Warfield ingratiated his "Jewish specialty" (and other dialect parts) into a succession of presentations consisting of comedy, song, and dance. He also parodied such stage luminaries as Henry Irving, Tommaso Salvini, Sarah Bernhardt, and Mrs. Leslie Carter. In 1898 he signed with comedians Joe Weber and Lew Fields for three seasons (playing four or five burlesques each year) at their Music Hall at Twenty-ninth Street. "I learned more from the burlesque I played with Weber and Fields than from anything else, " he said. Warfield and the two zany managers shared the sixteen-foot-deep stage with Fay Templeton, Mabel Fenton, Bessie Clayton, Lillian Russell, Willie Collier, Peter F. Dailey, De Wolf Hopper, and other reigning favorites, combining their talents in hilarious desecrations of current Broadway hits. Warfield had a natural aptitude for burlesque and loved to play it. He saw it not as a matter of slapsticks, but as "a great art [that] must be played seriously, yet with a tinge of humor to give it satire. " His distinctive technique consisted of fidelity to detail, imperturbable gravity in preposterous situations, and extravagant, ludicrous speeches. In November 1900 David Belasco signed Warfield to star as Simon Levi in The Auctioneer, a serio-comic play, which opened in September 1901. Warfield described it as "simply a transplanting of my Jew peddler into new and expanded surroundings. " In Warfield's portrayal the stage-Jew stereotype was supplanted by the sympathetic Russian exile of New York's Lower East Side. "Ere long the boxes will understand the Jews of Southeastern Europe, " Warfield prophesied, "and the gallery will not lag behind. " The production was an instant success and continued lucratively on the road until January 1904, when Warfield terminated the run because of Belasco's tour-contract litigation with the Klaw-Erlanger "syndicate. " He acted in this play for three years and revived it successfully in 1913-1914 and 1916-1918. Belasco's flimsy, tear-jerking script and directorial genius rescued Warfield from burlesque, elevated him to national celebrity, and made him rich. In 1904, during an eight-month hiatus between The Auctioneer and another starring vehicle, Warfield became a partner of Marcus Loew, who owned a penny arcade on Fourteenth Street. Warfield put up all his savings and persuaded Loew to leave the fur business; together they launched an enterprise, capitalized at $100, 000 (chiefly real estate), to market motion pictures in penny arcades. The actor's investments in Loew's Incorporated eventually made him a millionaire. Warfield returned to the stage, and to further acclaim, on September 12, 1904, as Herr Anton von Barwig in Belasco and Klein's sentimental The Music Master at Young's Pier Theater in Atlantic City. It ran in New York through June 1905 and continued on tour until 1907. Barwig's anguished cry, "If you don't vant her, I vant her!" was overpowering; and The Music Master became Warfield's most successful vehicle. To one reviewer Warfield as Wes Bigelow in A Grand Army Man was "simply Barwig without the broken English" (Harper's Weekly, November 9, 1907). The role was a predictable amalgam of humor and pathos embodying Warfield's thesis that success was simplicity of style, and that people liked to weep sweet tears. Writing of his two-phase performance as Peter Grimm--first corporeal, then "a spirit clothed in mortal life" - in Belasco's somber The Return of Peter Grimm, which opened at the Hollis Street Theater in Boston on January 2, 1911, Alexander Woollcott commended its "great tenderness [and] curious spell. . It is difficult to recall any performance by an American actor since [Joseph] Jefferson which has been so rich in loving kindness" (New York Times, September 22, 1921). During 1916-1917, Warfield toured in the title role of Vanderdecken, Belasco's brooding, ambiguous "Flying Dutchman" script. As early as 1913, Warfield announced his ambition to play Shylock, the only classic role he found interesting. In Belasco's opulent mounting of The Merchant of Venice at the Lyceum Theater in New York on December. 21, 1922, he at last had his wish. But after its New York run and a year on the road, the $250, 000 production had lost $80, 000; Belasco and Warfield had become estranged; and Warfield had decided to retire. He died in New York City.
(Excerpt from Ghetto Silhouettes East Side of New York Ci...)
Warfield was a member of The Lambs and The Players - and of the Roman Catholic church.
He was not an intellectual actor or an intellectual man, he admitted: "I am just human, and I try to be natural and honest. "
On October 5, 1899, Warfield married Mary Gabrielle Bradt of San Francisco. They had no children.