William Farren - Encyclopedia

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WILLIAM FARREN (1786-1861), English actor, was born on the 13th of May 1786, the son of an actor (b. 1725) of the same name, who played leading roles from 1784 to 1795 at Covent Garden. His first appearance on the stage was at Plymouth at the Theatre Royal, then under the management of his brother, in Love a la mode. His first London appearance was in 1818 at Covent Garden as Sir Peter Teazle, a part with which his name is always associated. He played at Covent Garden every winter until 1828, and began in 1824 a series of summer engagements at the Haymarket which also lasted some years. At these two theatres he played an immense variety of comedy characters. From 1828 until 1837 he was at Drury Lane, where he essayed a wider range, including Polonius and Caesar. He was again at Covent Garden for a few years, and next joined Benjamin Webster at the Haymarket, as stage-manager as well as actor. In 1843 at the close of his performance of the title-part in Mark Lemon's Old Parr, he was stricken with paralysis on the stage. He was, however, able to reappear the following year, and he remained at the Haymarket ten years more, though his acting never again reached its former level. For a time he managed the Strand, and, 1850-1853, was lessee of the Olympic. During his later years he confined himself to old men parts, in which he was unrivalled. In 1855 he made his final appearance at the Haymarket, as Lord Ogleby in a scene from the Clandestine Marriage. He died in London on the 24th of September 1861. In 1825 he had married the actress Mrs Faucit, mother of Miss Helena Saville Faucit (Lady Martin), and he left two sons, Henry (1826-1860)1860) and William (1825-1908), both actors. The former was the father of Ellen [ Nellie ] Farren (1848-1904), long famous for boy's parts in Gaiety musical burlesques, in the days of Edward Terry and Fred Leslie. As Jack Sheppard, and in similar roles, she had a unique position at the Gaiety, and was an unrivalled public favourite. From 1892 her health failed, and her retirement, coupled with Fred Leslie's death, brought to an end the type of Gaiety burlesque associated with them.

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