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Agnes Ethel

Biography: 

Agnes Ethel

(1841-1903)

Protege of the great actress Mathilde Heron, Agnes Ethel began as a talented amateur trained by a veteran in an act of love. Born in Ireland as Bridget Keon, she came to American as a small girl. She debuted in Heron's great role, Camille, in Jerome's Private Theater in New York on October 10, 1868. Augustin Daly witnessed the performance and hired her to be his leading lady. She was beautiful, passionate, and patrician in her manner. She was also wealthy. Her great successes came from a trio of plays that enjoyed long Broadway runs: "Divorce," "Frou Frou" and "Agnes." The last was a play that she commissioned directly from the French playwright Sardou, becoming the first American actress to secure the rights of a foreign play on the American stage. During her heyday on the stage she was thought the quintessential New York actress. She commissioned her own gowns from the greatest costumer in America, Simon W. Laureys. Her marriage to millionaire Frank W. Tracy in 1875 brought an end to her stage career. His death in 1886 made her enormously wealth. Her love of the theater was manifested in her conspicuously loyal presence in the boxes on theatrical first nights on Broadway up to the time of her death in 1903.