A Shakespearean actress who organized her own touring troupe in the late 1870s, Bessie Darling specialized in tragic women roles--Lady Macbeth, Juliet, Queen Katherine. When not performing Shakespeare, she performed costume dramas such as "Lucretia Borgia," "The Hunchback," or "Magnolia." When not touring, she was associated with the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia. "The Modern Queen of Tragedy" left off touring in 1880 when weight problems made her appear an implausible heroine.
Married to the belligerent Charles Berry, who managed her company, Bessie Darling appeared frequently in the papers as an ancillary figure in fist fights, fracases, blackmail allegations, and alleged thefts. Nearly killed in a conflagration in 1886, she died in a house fire in 1921. David S. Shields/ALS