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Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - Printable Version

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Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - Susan Higginbotham - 01-30-2014 06:52 PM

While chasing down a rather dubious genealogical claim today, I stumbled into some sites which claim that Charles Manley, a stage actor who starred in some silent films late in his career, was among the cast at Ford's on the night of the assassination. I checked Thomas Bogar's book and didn't see him mentioned in it.

So does anyone know whether this is true, or if not, from where the misconception might have arisen? I'm guessing that perhaps Manley, who was born in 1830, might have acted at Ford's but not on the night in question.

This notice of his death doesn't mention any link with the assassination:

http://books.google.com/books?id=saMbAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA1841&lpg=PA1841&dq=charles+manley+actor&source=bl&ots=Gbv5SdveRR&sig=ZuxPpfRRsa_JUHMch9cRjFAsbKk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FOTqUuOeJJLgsAT86YGwAw&ved=0CGAQ6AEwDA#v=onepage&q=charles%20manley%20actor&f=false


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - Hess1865 - 01-30-2014 08:10 PM

He's listed on IMDB as living from 1830-1916
It also says he was in the cast the night Lincoln was shot.
He was also known as Daddy Manley, and it seems he mostly played 'grandfather' types in the silents, the best known being 'Uncle Josh In A Spooky Hotel' (1900)
His film 'career' ended with his death in 1916


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - Houmes - 01-30-2014 08:47 PM

(01-30-2014 06:52 PM)boswellbaxter Wrote:  While chasing down a rather dubious genealogical claim today, I stumbled into some sites which claim that Charles Manley, a stage actor who starred in some silent films late in his career, was among the cast at Ford's on the night of the assassination. I checked Thomas Bogar's book and didn't see him mentioned in it.

So does anyone know whether this is true, or if not, from where the misconception might have arisen? I'm guessing that perhaps Manley, who was born in 1830, might have acted at Ford's but not on the night in question.

This notice of his death doesn't mention any link with the assassination:

http://books.google.com/books?id=saMbAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA1841&lpg=PA1841&dq=charles+manley+actor&source=bl&ots=Gbv5SdveRR&sig=ZuxPpfRRsa_JUHMch9cRjFAsbKk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FOTqUuOeJJLgsAT86YGwAw&ved=0CGAQ6AEwDA#v=onepage&q=charles%20manley%20actor&f=false

He wasn't listed on any of the playbills for Ford's Theatre that night, unless he was using an alias or was an understudy.


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - BettyO - 01-31-2014 05:52 AM

Could be that this gentleman was an understudy or perhaps simply employed in some other capacity at Fords on the night of the assassination. Could also be a "marketing" ploy made up by Mr. Manley to better his theatrical reputation. Found this article/obituary on his death which also states that he was at Ford's the night of the tragedy. The article is in the Seattle Daily Times, March 3, 1916

The last article states that the "Oldest Actor" worked with Kean, Forrest and Booth but doesn't mention which Booth, or that he was associated in any way with Ford's Theatre or the cast of "Our American Cousin." This article is from the Augusta Chronicle (Georgia), March 21, 1915.

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Also found some genealogy on him here:

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/MANLEY/2008-06/1214398942

Also more interesting stories concerning folk who claimed to be there:

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wynkoop/webdocs/2111923.htm

True or false - Ford's Theatre and the cast of "Our American Cousin" is beginning to look like the Peterson House' "Rubber Room" - everyone claimed to be there! I have found similar occurrences where elderly gentlemen also claimed to have been at the hanging of Mrs. Surratt. Everyone wanted to get into the act apparently; whether or not it was legitimate or verifiable.


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - Hess1865 - 01-31-2014 06:09 AM

Great work Betty!!


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - RJNorton - 01-31-2014 08:47 AM

(01-31-2014 05:52 AM)BettyO Wrote:  True or false - Ford's Theatre and the cast of "Our American Cousin" is beginning to look like the Peterson House' "Rubber Room" - everyone claimed to be there! I have found similar occurrences where elderly gentlemen also claimed to have been at the hanging of Mrs. Surratt. Everyone wanted to get into the act apparently; whether or not it was legitimate or verifiable.

So true, Betty! I don't know if this is the gentleman you refer to or not, but J. F. Troutner claimed he met and had conversations with Lincoln several times in the White House, was present at Ford's Theatre when Lincoln was shot, said the shot came before the second act began, claimed he heard Spangler was paid $10 to tend to Booth's horse, said George Atzerodt was waiting at the train station to kill Grant, claimed he viewed Lincoln on his deathbed, said he was present for the hangings, and claimed to come into possession of a piece of the rope with which Mary Surratt was hanged.


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - Susan Higginbotham - 01-31-2014 08:52 AM

(01-31-2014 05:52 AM)BettyO Wrote:  Could be that this gentleman was an understudy or perhaps simply employed in some other capacity at Fords on the night of the assassination. Could also be a "marketing" ploy made up by Mr. Manley to better his theatrical reputation. Found this article/obituary on his death which also states that he was at Ford's the night of the tragedy. The article is in the Seattle Daily Times, March 3, 1916

Thanks so much!

I've been researching Surratt boarder Nora Fitzpatrick's family connections for an article I'm working on. Her oldest son, James Whelan, married a Nellie Manley. A couple of people on Ancestry.com claim that the actor Charles was Nellie's father, but I haven't seen any verification of this. It would be wonderfully eerie, though, if all of these claims were true and a Surratt boarder's son married an Our American Cousin actor's daughter.


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - BettyO - 01-31-2014 10:02 AM

I've been researching Surratt boarder Nora Fitzpatrick's family connections for an article I'm working on. Her oldest son, James Whelan, married a Nellie Manley. A couple of people on Ancestry.com claim that the actor Charles was Nellie's father, but I haven't seen any verification of this. It would be wonderfully eerie, though, if all of these claims were true and a Surratt boarder's son married an Our American Cousin actor's daughter.
Quote:That's grand! Keep up the research -

I don't think that many folk have done much research on the Surratt Boarders - it should be very interesting! I know Mr. Hall years ago was intrigued with the "little Dean girl" and did some research on her. I do have an obituary of her - I'll have to dig it out.



RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - Tom Bogar - 01-31-2014 10:13 AM

My favorite quote about the countless false claimants is this by drama critic John Bouve Clapp in 1916: "It is estimated that enough players have been credited with acting at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, to have filled the playhouse itself." I lost track after awhile of how many of these folks I had to discard along the way, who had no valid claim whatsoever.


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - BettyO - 01-31-2014 10:31 AM

Love the quote, Tom - I have to agree.... unless it can be verified by letters or backed up by other accounts, it should be discarded. Still, it makes for interesting reading - and newspapers back in the day were trying to sell newspapers!


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - L Verge - 01-31-2014 12:25 PM

Most theaters had stock companies. Do you think some of these claims came from those types of actors? Did Ford's have such a system, and is there a list of them for the 1865 season?


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - Tom Bogar - 02-01-2014 06:57 PM

(01-31-2014 12:25 PM)L Verge Wrote:  Most theaters had stock companies. Do you think some of these claims came from those types of actors? Did Ford's have such a system, and is there a list of them for the 1865 season?

That may have been the case with some, Laurie, since John Ford continually rotated his large, intermingled stock company actors among his (at the time) five theaters (Washington, Baltimore, Cumberland, Alexandria, and Philadelphia). But most of the false claimants I encountered did not appear anywhere on my master list of his 1864-65 company (I can post the whole list, but it's pretty long).


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - L Verge - 02-01-2014 07:24 PM

When I read your book, Tom, I was surprised to see that Ford owned five theaters -- especially the ones in Cumberland and Alexandria. Having gone to college just north of Cumberland at a time when that region was suffering economically, it took me awhile to realize that the city was on the old National Road and was fairly prosperous until much of its industry died. How big was that theater compared to Baltimore's?


RE: Actor Charles Manley acting at Ford's? - Tom Bogar - 02-02-2014 02:15 PM

(02-01-2014 07:24 PM)L Verge Wrote:  When I read your book, Tom, I was surprised to see that Ford owned five theaters -- especially the ones in Cumberland and Alexandria. Having gone to college just north of Cumberland at a time when that region was suffering economically, it took me awhile to realize that the city was on the old National Road and was fairly prosperous until much of its industry died. How big was that theater compared to Baltimore's?

Even though I refer to them as "John Ford's five theatres," he actually only owned three of them: the Holliday Street Theatre in Baltimore; Washington's Ford's Theatre, of which he was only the majority-shareholder (others included Maggie Mitchell, newspaper publisher John F. Coyle, and printer Henry Polkinhorn); and the Alexandria Theatre, which he built in Fall 1863 on King Street, conveniently across from the Alexandria Gazette, but which by 1865 he had sold to others and then leased back from them, losing even that shortly after the assassination when he couldn't keep up the rent. The one in Philadelphia was a short-term lease (he tended to overextend himself), and the one in Cumberland was the old Belvidere Hall, variously reported as being at 123 or 125 Baltimore Street, and which was used in October 1862 as a military hospital. I don't know how big it was, though, as it was difficult getting detailed information from various folks in Cumberland, and that was such a small piece of the book that I didn't pursue it further. Sorry I can't be more specific/helpful.