Dibdin family

Definition

Theater

  • The British actor-manager, comedian, playwright, and composerCharles Dibdin (1745 - 1814) and his illegitimate children bythe actress Harriet Pitt, Charles Isaac Mungo Pitt (1768 - 1833),a playwright and manager, and Thomas John Pitt Dibdin (1771 - 1841)an actor-manager, playwright, and songwriter.

    Noted especially for naval ballads such as 'The Lass thatLoved a Sailor' and 'Tom Bowling', Charles Dibdin wrote around1000 songs, as well as ballad operas like The Waterman(1774), which became part of the repertory of the Toy Theatre. Dibdinestablished his reputation as an actor in 1768, playing Mungo in IsaacBickerstaffe's The Padlock (for which he also composed themusic). In 1796 he built the Sans Souci Theatre in Leicester Square,where Edmund Kean performed as a boy acrobat. For many years Dibdinperformed in the popular one-man show The Whim of the Moment,a miscellany of songs, anecdotes, and comic monologues.

    Thomas Dibdin made his stage debut at the age offour, playing Cupid to the Venus of Sarah Siddons at Drury Lane. Followinga period as an upholsterer's apprentice, Thomas ran away to act inthe provinces. He later found success as an author of stirring navaldramas such as The Mouth of the Nile (1798) and Nelson'sGlory (1805). After briefly managing the Haymarket, Thomas tookover at Covent Garden; in 1806, following the defection of the theater'sresident clown to a rival company, he hired Joseph Grimaldito appear in his popular pantomime Harlequin and Mother Goose.Grimaldi remained at Covent Garden for 17 years, during which timehe became recognized as the king of clowns. Thomas married the actressNancy Hilliar and their four children, who used their grandmother'sname of Pitt, all worked in the British and US theater.

    Charles Pitt, given the middle name of Mungo fromhis father's most famous role, managed Sadler's Wells and wrote severalsuccessful plays, pantomimes, and songs. In 1826 he published thevaluable History of the London Theatres.

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