Kitty Clive

Definition

Theater

  • (Catherine Raftor; 1711 - 85) British actress, who excelledin farce, burlesque, and low comedy. She made her debut as a singerat Drury Lane. Colley Cibber (see Cibber family) discoveredher comic talents in 1729, when she played Phillida in his Lovein a Riddle.

    Kitty became a famous comedian and wrote several short farcesherself. Her portrait was painted by such leading artists as Hogarth.She remained at Drury Lane for most of her career, enjoying a sweet-and-sourrelationship with David Garrick. Although they admired eachother's acting, he angered Kitty by refusing to let her play highcomedy and tragedy. She was once seen standing in the wing cursingGarrick's acting, which had just brought tears to her eyes. Suddenlyangry at her emotions, she rushed off thundering, "Damn him,he could act a gridiron."

    On another occasion she was in a play with the celebratedNed Shuter, who one evening had to be replaced by Thomas Weston. Asthe substitute entered, the furious audience began chanting "Shuter! Shuter!".Each time Weston attempted to speak his lines, the cries redoubled:"Shuter! Shuter!". Finally the hapless actor pointed atthe patient Kitty, and asked, "Why should I shoot her? She playsthe part very well." The house rippled with appreciative laughterand respectfully let him continue.

    When Kitty retired in 1769 her admirer Horace Walpole presentedher with a small house called 'Clive's Den' at Strawberry Hill nearTwickenham. There her charm and wit were relished by such devoteesas Dr Johnson.

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