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Frank C. Bangs

Biography: 

(1832-1908)

During the final thirty years of the 19th century, Frank C. Bangs supressed the knowledge that he was a veteran of the Confederate Army. Born in Virginia, Bangs began his acting career in the 1852 in Washington, D.C., at the National Theater, worked his way to juvenile lead in John Drew's company, enlisted upon the outbreak of hostilities, and quietly resumed his craft back at the National Theater after the armistice became reality.

A performer equally capable of doing Irish comedy schtick and Shakespearean tragedy, Bangs became an actor of prominence working with Edwin Booth in the famous 1872 production of "Julius Caesar." In the 1870s he had become a fully fledged star, though critics never accorded him full approbation because of his penchant for mugging in climactic scenes. The list of his important roles was impressive: "Sardanapalus," "Michael Strogoff," both male leads in "The Corsican Brothers," "The Silver King," and John Strebelo in "The Banker's Daughter." Bangs had the curious ability to make himself the center of gravity in every scene, often by moving and speaking slightly slower than everyone else on stage, a trick he learned from Edwin Forrest.

NOTES: "Frank C. Bangs, the Grand Old Man of the American Stage," Idaho Statesman (March 2, 1903), 6. David S. Shields/ALS