Henrietta Crosman

Henrietta Crosman

Crosman in a publicity still from the Broadway play Madeline (1906)
Born (1861-09-02)September 2, 1861
Wheeling, West Virginia, U.S.
Died October 31, 1944(1944-10-31) (aged 83)
Pelham Manor, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1883-1940s
J. Sedley Browne (1886-1896; divorced);[1] 1 child
Maurice Campbell (1896-1942; his death);[2] 1 child
George Browne
Maurice Campbell Jr.

Henrietta Crosman (September 2, 1861 – October 31, 1944) was an American stage and film actress. She was born in Wheeling, West Virginia to George Crosman Jr.(1836-1911),[3] a Civil War Major and Mary B. Wick (1837-1912),[4] a niece of composer Stephen Foster.[5][6]

Theatrical career

Her grandfather was a Civil War General, George H. Crosman. Crosman was born the year the Civil War started and moved all over the US from post to post with her army father, and so was educated in many places. On leaving school she decided to become an actress. She got her start in 1883 at the old Windsor Theatre, New York with the assistance of the long-time theatre manager John A. Ellsler. Her debut role was as Lilly in Bartley Campbell's The White Slave.[7][8]

She later toured the country with Robert L. Downing in classic parts. In 1889 she appeared in her first Shakespeare play, As You Like It at Augustin Daly's theater. During the course of the early 1890s she was managed by Daniel Frohman and appeared in his stock company. From 1892-94 her career was managed by Daniel's brother, Charles Frohman. For a short period during 1891, and in between Frohman brothers, she was under the aegis of A. M. Palmer.

Munsey's Magazine, 1910
Henrietta Crosman in "The Sword and the King" (1902)

By 1900 Crosman was a star and appeared for the first time as such in Mistress Nell keeping in line with the sort of costume adventures that were becoming her forte. In 1902, she appeared in the productions of "Joan of the Shoals", "As You Like It" and "The Sword of the King". In 1903, she premiered another exceptional play "Sweet Kitty Bellairs". Several of these plays would turn up as films in the silent era played by younger actresses.

In 1911, she and her company staged 60 performances of Catherine Chisholm Cushing's comedy, The Real Thing, at the Maxine Elliott Theatre in New York, before taking the show on the road. In early July 1912, Crosman and company were in Regina, Saskatchewan following the Regina Cyclone, and staged a benefit performance of The Real Thing for the victims.[9]

Now in her forties, Crosman was starting to move away from the strenuous sword carrying, heavy costume adventures that she was popular in. Much of the remainder of her theatrical career would consist of drawing room comedies and farces, a type of playing that was less hectic for an ageing actress. However she would return to revivals of Shakespeare i.e. The Merry Wives of Windsor and in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals.[10]


Crosman in Charlie Chan's Secret (1936)

Crosman, like many a heralded stage star, held off from motion pictures. But by 1914 and possibly out of curiosity she 'signed up', as the popular motto went at the time, for a one-picture deal with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players. It was a film version of The Unwelcome Mrs. Hatch,[11] which as a play had been a winning success for Mrs Fiske in 1901 on Broadway. The Supreme Test followed in 1915 for Universal Studios but afterwards her silent film appearances were sporadic. Her husband Maurice Campbell joined his wife in the movie industry eventually becoming a noted director.

By 1930 silent films had given way to talking pictures and as in 1914 the motion picture business courted stage trained actors. Crosman a veteran and now approaching seventy had a career resurgence endearing herself to a new younger generation who never had the chance to see her in her youth on stage. She gave a heartbreaking performance in a rare lead film role in Pilgrimage (1933) as the embittered mother of a soldier killed in World War I who travels to the Argonne and undergoes a spiritual renewal. An earlier talkie in which she appeared was The Royal Family of Broadway (1930), a Paramount version of the play by Edna Ferber, loosely based on the Barrymore family.

Personal life

Crosman married and had two sons. George (born 1887), with her first husband J. Sedley Brown. Brown later married actress Carrie Clark Ward. By the mid-1890s she was married to Maurice Campbell and bore him a son, Maurice Jr. in 1896.

Maurice Campbell was a Broadway stage director and producer. He and Crosman joined the nascent silent film industry; he was a noted film director in the 1920s. The marriage to Campbell, eight years her junior, was a happy one and ended with his death in 1942. Henrietta Crosman survived her husband by two years, passing away in 1944, aged 83. Biographical information for Crosman is archived in the University of Pittsburgh.[12]



  1. Historic Pelham: "Famous 19th and Early 20th Century Actress Henrietta Foster Crosman Lived in Pelham Manor" by Blake A. Bell, Pelham Historian; April 9, 2015 retrieved January 12, 2015
  2. ..see Historic Pelham; Bell, Blake A.
  3. Geni.com website; George H. Crosman Retrieved June 8, 2016
  4. Geni.com ; Mary Baldwin Crosman(nee Wick) Retrieved June 8, 2016
  5. Henrietta Crosman - North American Theatre Online
  6. GREAT STARS OF THE AMERICAN STAGE by Daniel Blum c. 1952 Profile #15
  7. The Burr McIntosh Monthly 1905; accessed MAy, 25, 2013.
  8. The Players Blue Book, 1901, p. 86; accessed May 25, 2013.
  9. http://www.morethanamonster.com/downloads/Karloff-in-Saskatchewan.pdf
  10. WHO WAS WHO IN THE THEATRE: 1912-1976, originally by John Parker, culled from many of his editions published annually (Crosman, Henrietta profile; p. 564)
  11. PICTORIAL HISTORY OF THE SILENT FILM by Daniel Blum c. 1953, p. 54
  12. "Henrietta Crosman in As You Like It". Archives and Manuscript Collections at the University of Pittsburgh Library System. Retrieved 2016-01-29.
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