Maude Adams was not beautiful
There were some sources I came across which said that Maude Adams was not beautiful; not even actually very attractive at all.
(Note: “Kit” is Katherine Cornell) “At about the same time Kit was trying to alleviate her own tensions by exploiting Patty's, Maude Adams flew into town as Peter Pan, and Maude Adams was not beautiful.”
“Nothing about her, beginning with her name, was beautiful. Already a theatrical legend, offstage she was an insignificant figure in brown clothes. Brooks Atkinson writes that she would be denied credit in stores she could have bought and sold, because clerks couldn't believe she was good for the merchandise she wanted to charge. If she gave her name and they knew the name, they didn't believe her, this mousy plain person of no distinction; a woman so withdrawn, so private, so compulsively shy that she spent thirty thousand dollars on a curtained railroad car to take her from city to city. A woman so lacking in the trappings of feminine beauty that she did not even try to compete but came on the stage dressed as a boy.”
”Despite her apologetic air on the street and in stores and hotels, Maude Adams did not creep onto the stage, nor did she hide behind scenery or other actors. She flew. She burst through the window exulting in her own difference, reckless in her physical fragility, all the more brave because the wire suspending her glinted in the stage lights. She flew into sight the champion of youth, barely larger and scarcely more robust than the band of worthies she commanded, the lost boys in Never Land. With her pervasive sweetness of personality, she made strength in others seem an essential, a necessity, she made a child-like Kit feel her own strength and value it, even revel in it. Maude Adams as Peter Pan was not a mirror image, she was an ideal to be protected and cherished. And yet she embodied each child who loved her from the audience, weak or strong-this very serious thirty-five-year-old woman dressed in the clothes of a boy. She flew in from the wings with all the cathartic force of the deus ex machina in old Greek drama. The cry of 'Follow the leader1!' was heard again, and this time even leaders followed.” (Leading Lady, The World and Theatre of Katharine Cornell, Tad Mosel, 1978, p.38)
...Maude Adams was typecast as nondescript Miss Thing and, as always, made the character glow in James M. Barrie's A Kiss for Cinderella.” (same source, page 67)
“Though her facial features were pleasing and her stage technique competent, she could claim neither beauty nor histrionic genius.” (Maude Adams, an American Idol: True Womanhood Triumphant in the Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century Theatre, doctoral thesis, 1984, Eileen Karen Kuehnl.)
This is someone who I can't possibly even begin to understand. “Nothing about her, beginning with her name, was beautiful.” What??? Maude Adams was definitely beautiful, no ifs, ands or buts about it. And what is wrong with her name? If memory serves me, at least two Presidents had the same last name as her. What is wrong with the name “Maude”? He refers to her as being “ so lacking in the trappings of feminine beauty.” He refers to her as being typecast as “nondescript.” What is with it with this person?
“In virtually everyone's estimation, Maude failed to measure up to the beauty stands of the day...She just looked flatchested, waistless, and hipless.” (Maude Adams, an American Idol: True Womanhood Triumphant in the Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century Theatre, doctoral thesis, 1984, Eileen Karen Kuehnl)
She was “unlovely in features, without beauty in physical lines.” The World Nov. 8, 1903
Some Players: Personal Sketches, 1899: “For the rest she is a scrawny, awkward girl, all angels and physical disappointments; her arm is no more like the slender limb of a lovely woman than like the disjointed branch of a sapling; she has a yard of plain, bony wrist, and likely that much ankle; her waist reaches from her necek to her hips, and every Hogarth curve is missing. She has not Bernhardt's combination of thinness and leonine force of grave, her lithe elegance, or animal suppleness. Miss Adams is simply a bony young woman who tries very hard to use her feet and hands as if they were not hinged on wires.”