Furneaux Cook as Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance

Furneaux Cook (1878, 1879-80, 1881, 1884-86)

[Born 1839, died West Kensington, London 19 Jan 1903]

John Furneaux Cook had a theatrical career in excess of 30 years in London, the British provinces, and America.He was in the cast of Letty the Basketmaker, an obscure opera by Balfe, when it was staged by John Hollingshead at the Gaiety Theatre in 1868.It shared the bill with two other works including W. S. Gilbert's burlesque Robert the Devil.His early parts included that of Peter the Watchman in Cinderella the Younger (also at the Gaiety, 1871), and the title role in Cellier's The Sultan of Mocha which he played in Manchester in 1874 and 1875.

He joined Carte's touring Comedy Opera Company in 1878, playing Doctor Daly in The Sorcerer and Old Matthew in the curtain raiser Breaking the Spell on tour from March to September.His next engagement with D'Oyly Carte came from December 1879 to April 1880.Cook was part of the Company Carte took to America to present the authentic H.M.S. Pinafore and to launch The Pirates of Penzance.He played Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore, followed by Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance with the First Company in New York until February, when he moved to the newly-formed Second Company in Philadelphia as their Sergeant of Police.For the last two weeks of the Philadelphia engagement (April 12-24), the Second Company gave H.M.S. Pinafore instead of Pirates.This time, Cook took Captain Corcoran as his role. On Friday evening, April 23, the Company gave a benefit for Cook, a "great double bill" (all of Pinafore, followed by Act II of Pirates) with Cook playing three roles (Deadeye, the Captain, and the Sergeant of Police), presumably one in each act.

Upon returning to England he left the D'Oyly Carte organization again, appearing in Manchester and Liverpool in The King's Dragoons, and in London in La Belle Normande and The Grand Mogul.

He was back touring with the Carte organization (Mr. D'Oyly Carte's "B" Company) briefly in November and December 1881, as Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre in The Sorcerer and Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore.

Cook left the D'Oyly Carte again but remained in comic opera, appearing once more in London with Kate Santley's Company at the Royalty as Farmer Bowman in George Sims and Frederic Clay's The Merry Duchess, April-November 1883.

He returned to the D'Oyly Carte yet again in July 1884 with Mr. D'Oyly Carte "C" (Repertory) Company, where he toured until December as Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore, the Sergeant in The Pirates of Penzance, and Archibald Grosvenor in Patience. After a break of four months, "C" Company was relaunched in April 1885.This time Cook played Deadeye and the Sergeant, but not Grosvenor (now taken by Charles Conyers).When Iolanthe was added to the tour in May, Cook was the Earl of Mountararat.

"C" Company closed its run in July 1885, but Cook quickly transferred to Carte's "D" Company where he replaced Fred Billington as Pooh-Bah in The Mikado (the only opera on the bill) in August.He played Pooh-Bah until the end of the run in June 1886, when he left the Carte organization for the last time.

His next part in London was to be one of his biggest:creating the role of Squire Bantam in the original production of Stephenson and Cellier's Dorothy at the Gaiety in September 1886.He continued to appear on the London Stage for another dozen years.He was the recipient of a benefit matinee performance of Dorothy, held for him at the Gaiety in June 1897, Cook reviving his original role as the Squire.His last appearance on the London Stage was in the jury box in Trial by Jury, at Drury Lane on March 17, 1898, during a special benefit performance for Nellie Farren.

He was the brother of T. Aynsley Cook and Alice Aynsley Cook.

Page modified August 25, 2003 © 2001-03 David Stone