The saucy soubrette who leapt into popular consciousness in 1883 was viewed as the most original songstress of her age. Small, flat-chested, and intelligent looking rather than beautiful, she captured attention by her cleverness on stage and her unflagging energy. She was one of the earliest personality girls on Broadway, a reaction to the reign of the professional beauty. As a vocalist it was expression rather than technique that made her effective. Born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, she graduated from Cincinnati Normal School in 1881. Five months later, she debuted as Clip in "A Messenger from Jarvis Section" at the Standard Theater in Cincinnati, winning the only praise of any performers in the play. A year of work in Cincinnati elevated her to the status of local sensation and the nickname "The Little Electric Battery." For all of her energy, she precisely thought out her roles and her gestures were so apt they seemed natural to spectators. Her touring vehicles "Fogg's Ferry," "Miss Pru," and "Dew Drop" were not memorably crafted musical dramas. So the lure of top billing and big money on the vaudeville circuits lured her away from musical theater during the 1890s.