Maude Adam's Isolation
“She and Charles Frohman attempted to limit all publicity which did not directly relate to her current play in production.” (Maude Adams, an American Idol: True Womanhood Triumphant in the Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century Theatre, doctoral thesis, 1984, Eileen Karen Kuehnl)
“After her return to New York City for her Quality Street engagement, Maude remodeled her East 41st Street house, adding a room designed as a facsimilie of the convent cell she had occupied. The public soon knew that she slept and worked in this ascetic space with its unadorned white walls, rugless floor, curtainless window, narrow iron bed, and utilitarian furniture. Maude sold that house in 1906...” (same source)
“Maude forged another link with the Roman Catholic sisterhood, thus reinforcing her secular nun identity, in the summer of 1915 when she retired to a Manhatten convent, the Cenacle of St. Regis, where she recuperated from the physical and mental strain of a long, grueling tour and quietly mourned the recent death of Charles Frohman. The nuns of that French order, women who devoted themselves to 'providing a place of retirement for religious devotion and rest, and in serving those who are unhappy and need to spend a time in seclusion,' invited tehir famous guest to stay with them whenever she desired to disappear from public view. So during her final two seasons at the Empire Theatre, Maude resided at the uptown convent on Saturday and Sunday nights. A few years later, in 1922, she reciprocated the nuns' kindness and cemented her relationship with them by giving the Cenacle her 300-acre Long Island farm.” (same source)
“There is no actress who pays so little attention to the outside world. Except for the society of three or four friends of her girlhood, she lives a life which stands quite apart. Society, in the general acceptance of that term, she has always detested and shunned. It is only on the rarest occasions that she will go out to dinner, even at the house of old acquaintances, and then only on condition that no other guests are to be present. When not acting herself, it is very rarely that she thinks of entering a theater.” Munsey's Magazine, Aug. 1905
“In order to avoid recognition and intimate contact with the public, she rode in closed carriages or automobiles instead of walking; she swathed herself in veils and enveloped herself in cloaks. during tours she usually secluded herself in her Pullman car, hotel suite, or backstage dressing room rather than venturing out to sightsee or dine in restaurants; and when on shipboard, sailing between America and Europe, she always kept her name off passenger lists, took meals in her stateroom, and avoided mingling with fellow travelers. (Maude Adams, an American Idol: True Womanhood Triumphant in the Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century Theatre, doctoral thesis, 1984, Eileen Karen Kuehnl)
“The impetus for Maude's extreme reclusiveness came from three diverse sources: Charles Frohman's firm belief that a star's private life should be kept private; her own painful shyness and inordinate self-consciousness around strangers and acquaintances; and her serious, hard-working dedication to the theatre.” (same source)
“The life Maude led while secluded away from the public eye bore the mark of nun-like purity and simplicity...Maude preserved her sexual and social chastity-she disdained male lovers, alcohol, and tobacco—within the context of a Spartan lifestyle. Though for several years she simultaneously maintained three different houses and adjacent properties (her Manhatten brownstone, her Long Island farm, and a cottage in the Catskills), the only extravagance commentators attributed to these dwellings was their shelves and shelves of new and reare books....The same plainess and practicality characterized Maude's personal wardrobe....Off the stage she wore the dark colors and simple, unchanging styles that pleased her very conservative tastes. (same source)
Rennold Wolf, 1912: “I do not hesitate to record that she is the most poorly dressed of all her sisters. Not, that she is untidily or shabbily dressed, for neatness is one of her virtues. Yet she almost invariably adheres to a color scheme of dull gray or black, her head covering is a shawl or little round cap, aqnd the garb in its entirety is uninvitingly severe. Miss Adams' style of dressing has not varied in a dozen years. I doubt exceedingly if she knows aught of the prevailing modes. The panier skirt, I fancy, is to her an unheard-of innovation, and that the sheath gown has come and gone is probably not within the range of her observation. If Maude Adams possesses jewelry, it never has adorned her person. The blaze of diamonds is to her a strange spotlight. “
“Frohman went beyond this and strongly opposed his stars appearing in public plcaes. Eternally stage-struck himself, he believed that if glamorous theatre folk were seen too often in public the glamour wore off, with the result that the public became less interested in paying money to see them.
He fought valiantly to keep Ethel Barrymore, Maude Adams, and others mysteriously shrouded from the public eye.
“Most of all, he hated his girl stars to marry, and in this field (as well as others) Maude Adams remained his all-time favorite. She not only made the most money for him and remained the most malleable to his will, but never did she contemplate matrimony. Some thought she and Frohman were married, but both were wed tightly to the theatre.”The Great White Way: A Re-creation of Broadway's Golden Era of Theatrical Entertainment, Allen Churchill, 1962