More Information on Maude Adams

Adams, Maude, (Nov. 11, 1872 - July 17, 1953), actress, was born Maude Ewing Adams Kiskadden, daughter of James Henry Kiskadden and Asenath Ann Adams Kiskadden, in Salt Lake City. Her mother was a leading player in Brigham Young's Deseret Stock Company, and "Little Maudie" made her debut at nine months in The Lost Child. Before she was seven she had toured with her mother through the mining towns of the West Coast, and after her parents settled in San Francisco she began to appear regularly on stage. The child was precocious and assured. "She had temperament," David Belasco observed. "She could act and grasp the meaning of a part long before she could read." Carefully drilled by her mother, she became accustomed to the discipline of the theater, and despite her frail appearance she accepted the hardships of touring as a matter of course.

Playing juvenile roles of both sexes, Little Maudie appeared in a succession of such standard melodramas as Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Octoroon. At the age of ten she was enrolled in the Collegiate Institute of Salt Lake City. She proved a good student, but after four years she persuaded her parents to let her return to the stage. It was the only formal education she ever had, although she read extensively throughout her life.

After her father died, Maude and her mother traveled east in a touring version of The Paymaster (1888), and in New York she played briefly in the stock companies of E. H. Sothern and Charles Hoyt. Her career really began with her engagement by Charles Frohman. An imaginative and dedicated producer, he gave her minor roles in All the Comforts of Home (1890) and Men and Women (1890). The following year she had a more important part in Henry DeMille's Lost Paradise, a role that capitalized on her gift for pathos. Confident of her emerging talent, Frohman next cast her as the leading lady opposite his newly acquired star, John Drew. In their first play together, Clyde Fitch's Masked Ball (1892), she justified Frohman's decision. Her piquant beauty, slight figure, and rippling laughter captivated audiences, and she played a tipsy scene in so attractive a fashion that even the staunchest prohibitionists capitulated to her charm. During the next four years she appeared opposite Drew in a succession of light comedies.

The turning point in her career came during a performance of Rosemary (1895), the last play in which she appeared with Drew. James Barrie, invited by Frohman to see a performance, was so taken by Maude Adams as the guileless young heroine that he decided to dramatize for her his successful novel The Little Minister. In 1897 she appeared in it at the Empire Theatre. It was the first of a series of successes, all written by Barrie, produced by Frohman, and starring Maude Adams: Quality Street (1901), Peter Pan (1905), What Every Woman Knows (1908), and The Legend of Leonora (1914). As Peter Pan, Maude Adams achieved her greatest success. Although the role had been created by Nina Boucicault in London in 1904, Adams incarnated the spirit of the boy who would not grow up. Her costume, which she designed, with its feathered hat and round collar, set a national style. As one of her biographers comments, "children, corsets and cigars" were named after her, and her frequent tours in this and other Barrie roles made her an idol from coast to coast. Her elfin charm, her pathos, and her elusive quality perfectly complemented Barrie's conceptions, but outside this narrow range of drama Adams was not altogether happy.

Charles Frohman's production of Romeo and Juliet (1899), in which she played opposite William Faversham, exposed her limitations. Her fans acclaimed her portrayal as simple and charming, but her critics found her lacking in passion or depth. She was not up to the emotional demands of Shakespeare, and although well-suited physically to appear as his "breeches" heroines, she played Viola for only two performances (in 1908) and Rosalind only once (in 1910). She was more at ease in male dress in Rostand's L'Aiglon in 1900, but even in this most playgoers preferred the more fiery interpretation of Sarah Bernhardt.

Despite her reluctance to play mature roles and her narrow theatrical range, Maude Adams had an army of passionate admirers. To them she represented the spirit of youth and innocence. Her private life was untouched by scandal. Religious by nature, and nominally Protestant, she spent some months in a convent near Tours and in later years deeded her estate in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., to a Catholic order. Her insistence on privacy inevitably made her the most publicized actress in America. She never married.

Adams' last important engagement was in Barrie's Kiss for Cinderella (1916), in which she appeared both in New York and on tour. At its conclusion, in 1918, she went into virtual retirement, although she subsequently acted with Otis Skinner in The Merchant of Venice (1931). She performed on stage for the last time as Maria in Twelfth Night (1934). Maude Adams' interest in the theater was not confined to acting. She patented a bulb for stage lighting and designed the light bridge used at the Empire Theatre. She was also interested in the possibilities of color photography and cherished the hope of filming Kipling's Kim. In addition, she intermittently supervised a school of acting at Stephens College, Mo., between 1937 and 1950. She died at her farm in Tannersville, N.Y. Her admirers had never wavered in their affection for her. If they were aware of her limitations as an actress, it did not bother them. They agreed with Barrie's observations: "Charm is a sort of bloom upon a woman. If you have it, you don't need to have anything else."

Maude Adams house for sale

FAMOUS HISTORICAL HOME - OFFERED AT $650,000 "The Maude Adams House"

It stands on a hillside in deep wood on East Onteora Road, leading from Tannersville. The architect, George Reid, built many of the early Onteora houses, the Church and Library. The builder was Marshall Francis. The size of the house was not for entertaining but to allow her theater work, Maude Adams is famous for her role as the original "Peter Pan". She was, also tremendously successful in the Barrie play "The Little Minister" and it's long run. "The Little Minister" was the play, which began the long association of Sir James Barrie and Miss Adams. It made a fortune for the author, the actress and the producer. Their work together lasted for twenty years. And so, with fortune in hand. Miss Adams chose the loveliest spot she'd ever seen to build her home. Miss Adams bought acres and acres of land on Onteora Road. Caddam Hill was Miss Adams' summer home during the years of her brilliant successes and triumphs. The name "Caddam" is taken from Caddam Wood, in the Scottish hills, it was a place referred to in Sir James Barrie's play "The Little Minister".

Information from another source:

A great stage star in the early 20th century, Maude Adams is best remembered for her performance in J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, which she first played in 1906.

The daughter of a leading lady in a repertory company, she was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Taking her mother's maiden name (her family name was Kiskadden), she first appeared on the stage while still a child. At 16 she joined the E. H. Sothern Company in New York, later becoming the leading lady of the Charles Frohman Stock Company. Projecting an elfin quality that was especially suited to the plays of J. M. Barrie, she appeared as Lady Babbie in his The Little Minister (1897, 1905, 1916), to great critical acclaim. After her success as Peter Pan she went on to star in Barrie's other plays, Quality Street (1902) and What Every Woman Knows (1908).

After retiring for 13 years, she made a comeback as Portia in The Merchant of Venice (1931) and as Maria in Twelfth Night (1934). She headed the drama department at Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri, from 1937 to 1943, then taught part-time at the college.

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