Lillie Langtry



  • (Emilie Charlotte Le Breton; 1853 - 1929) British actress,famous for her beauty and her affair with the future King Edward VII.The daughter of the dean of Jersey, she married Edward Langtry asa passport to London society, becoming the toast of its fashion setters.When she became pregnant by the Prince of Wales she returned to Jerseyfor the secret birth of her daughter in 1881. That same year, shecaused a sensation by becoming the first society woman to appear onthe stage, when she starred in She Stoops to Conquer at theTheatre Royal, Haymarket.

    Audiences loved her charm and freshness, but critics did nottake her seriously either in Britain or America, where she made herdebut in 1883. "The crudities of her performance were obvious,"wrote one New York newspaper. She toured America in a specially fitted private railcar (see Lalee) provided by Diamond Jim Brady, and earnedan unprecedented $6000 a week while critics damned her performancein As You Like It. Indeed, she often created chaos on stagethrough her lack of professionalism, once accidentally handing anactor a piece of celery instead of the flower he expected. On anotheroccasion, she told her leading man, "Let us retire and seeka nosy cook."

    Lillie became a US citizen in 1887, the year in which sheplayed Lady Macbeth on Broadway to unexpected critical acclaim. In1895, her husband, whom she had supported for years, died in a lunaticasylum; she secretly married Sir Jugo de Bathe, the heir to a baronetcy,in 1899.

    After a brief retirement, Lillie leased London's grand ImperialTheatre, remodelled and modernized it, and reopened it in 1902 withCrossways, which she cowrote. That year she gave a commandperformance at the Imperial and dined at the White house withPresident Theodore Roosevelt.