Ethel Jackson as Sonia in The Merry Widow

Ethel Jackson (1897-98)

[Born New York City 1 Nov 1877, died East Islip, Long Island, New York 23 Nov 1957]

A native New Yorker, Ethel Jackson was educated in Paris, Dresden, and at the Vienna Conservatoire, where she initially studied piano.She made her first stage appearance at the Savoy in the chorus of The Yeomen of the Guard in August 1897.Still in the Savoy chorus for the opening of The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein (December 1897), she replaced Florence Perry as Wanda in January 1898.For the first London revival of The Gondoliers (March-May 1898) Miss Jackson was Fiametta, though she also filled in for Emmie Owen as Gianetta for a time in April.She next appeared as Barbe in The Beauty Stone (May-July 1898) before leaving the Savoy and the D'Oyly Carte at the end of its run.

She then traveled to America where she appeared under Charles Frohman as Elsie Crockett in Little Miss Nobody at the Broad Street Theatre in Philadelphia, September 5, 1898. In 1899, she appeared in The Runaway Girl at the Casino, making at least two Berliner recordings from that show. They may be heard on the Pearl CD set, "Music From the New York Stage 1890-1920, Volume One: 1890-1908," GEMM CDS 9050-2.

She appeared regularly on Broadway and on tour until 1902, when she retired from the stage for four years.She reappeared in August 1906 as Chandra Nil in The Blue Moon at the Casino, and then in October 1907 created the part that would bring her lasting fame:that of Sonia in the first New York production of Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow at the New Amsterdam Theatre.She left after six months due to marital difficulties, but returned to the stage again in 1912.She continued to perform through the 1920s and '30s:her last appearance on Broadway being as Mrs. Wheeler in Key Largo in 1939.

After a successful Broadway career and three failed marriages, she did not enjoy a comfortable retirement.In February 1957 she entered the Percy Williams Home (for indigent and ailing actors and actresses) where she died the following November.

Page created August 27, 2001 © 2001 David Stone