Laura Keene



  • (Mary Moss; 1826 - 73) British born US actress and manager. Shetoured widely in America and elsewhere before opening her own theater inNew York, thereby becoming the first US woman to manage a theater. Althoughher production of Tom Taylor's Our American Cousin in 1858proved a great success, her prosperity came to an end with the outbreak ofthe American Civil War in 1863. Keene subsequently toured with her company,which included Joseph Jefferson (see Jefferson family) andE. A. Sothern (see Sothern family), the latter starring withher in Our American Cousin. It was during a performance of this playin 1865 that President Lincoln was shot (see Ford's Theatre).Keene, who had toured Australia with Edwin booth, was the first personto recognize the fleeing assassin as his brother, John Wilkes Booth(see Booth family). It was also Keene who held thedying president in her arms until he was carried out of the theater.

    She reopened New York's Fourteenth Street Theatre in 1871and retired from the stage in 1872.