A dramatic actress whose greatest successes occurred in San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, rather than Broadway, Lillian Lawrence was a stock company tragedienne. Versatile and capable of absorbing roles quickly, she spent the 1890s to perform in an enormous number of plays. Contemporary critics characterized her as an emotive actress of the old school who did not employ understatement or suggestion, but presented women as vessels of passion. Hence melodramas, such as "The Two Orphans" established her initial popularity.
In 1897 she became the lead actress of the Castle Square Theater in Boston. She won a kind of cult devotion in the city's theater-going public that lasted until her leave-taking in 1901. Thereafter she counted it her spiritual home. Her earliest stage experience was had on the West Coast, and San Francisco was her first dramatic home.
Early in her career she had a daughter out of wedlock who in the course of time would become the silent film star, Ethel Lynn Terry. Her daughter's prominence in Hollywood enabled Lillian Lawrence to enjoy a brisk second career playing stage matrons in motion pictures. David S. Shields/ALS