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Edwin Arden

Biography: 

(1864-1918)

From 1882, when he received his first stage credit supporting Thomas Keane in Chicago until his death by heart attack in 1918, Edwin Arden exemplified theatrical craft as an actor and playwright. His ascent was swift, making an impression in "Young Mrs. Winthrop" with the Madison Square Theater players in 1882. His classical technique and professionalism made him a first call collaborator for stars such as Edwin Booth, Maude Adams, Dion Boucicault, and John Gilbert. His early years took him to the American west where he worked as a laborer, cowboy, and roustabout. These experiences found their way into his scripts for plays such as "The Eagle's Nest" and "Barred Out."

For a decade from the mid-1880s to the mid-1890s he toured in his own company, which mixed classic repertory, a few modern staples, and his own compositions. In the 20th century he, like other leading men and women of that era, expanded into vaudeville, but found sketch drama inartistic and the touring obnoxious. He was much more suited to motion pictures, and directed the film verson of "The Eagle's Nest" in 1915. "Ruling Passion" with Julia Dean proved to be a substantial posthumous hit. While he appeared frequently on the Broadway stage in the 20th century, only 1902's "The Ninety and Nine" and his work with Maude Adams in "L'Aiglon" (1900) could be said to have been both critical and popular successes. David S. Shields/ALS