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Marie Jansen

Biography: 

(1857-1914)

A musical comedienne, short and curvy Marie Jansen made her reputation on her naughty girl piquancy rather than her beauty or her voice. A Bostonian, she trained at the New England Conservatory of Music and appeared in music halls settings, while still a student. The Comley-Barton Opera Company hired her, against the wishes of her family, and she appeared in "Lawn Tennis" (a flop) and "Olivette," where she was elevated to lead on the illness of Catherine Lewis and made an enormous success.

Jansen subsequently joined the McCaull Opera Company, the finest touring unit of the era, and performed most of the comic opera repertoire of the period. She was brought to London to create the lead role in Charles Wyndham's "Featherbrain." She returned to New York, reenrolled with McCaull before attaching herself to the Casino Theatre in a string of successes: Javotte in "Ermine," "Nadjy," and "The Oolah." She toured her own company in the 1890s, enjoying one hit vehicle "Delmonico's at 6," but her cavalier attitude about money insured that it would fail.

Jansen went into receivership in 1896 and was declared bankrupt in 1904, and on multiple occasions over the decades was taken to court by furriers and shop keepers who had extended her credit that she neglected to pay back. One wonders whether the theft of $1,300 worth of diamonds in 1893 was an arranged disappearance. David S. Shields/ALS