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Virginia Dreher

Biography: 

(1859-1898)

A housewife and mother hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Virginia Dreher was forced onto the stage when her husband, a physician, died leaving her insufficient means to support herself and her child. Applying to her late husband's friend, the Louisville theatrical manager John Norton, for a position in his company, she confessed she had never performed before, even in amateur theatricals. Her height, her grace, and the southern lilt of her voice convinced Norton to give her a try. His gamble paid off; she was a success.

Dreher's first lead was as Julia in "The Hunchback" at the Grand Opera House in St. Louis in 1882. On the strength of that performance Augustin Daly hired her away for the 5th Avenue Theater in New York. There, from 1882 to 1888 she supported Ada Rehan in various second roles and served as her understudy. She proved untemperamental, a quick study, and tactful and won the approbation of London critics for her natural style of performing.

In London Dreher met George Postlethwaite, a wealthy young business man, who married her and took her from the stage. Since two other supporting actresses in Daly's troupe, Kitty Cheatham and Edith Kingdom also married wealth, Dreher was popularly called one of "the three lucky Daly girls." In the 1890s she contracted tuberculosis and died of the disease in Phoenix in 1898. David S. Shields/ALS