It’s been an especially eventful December at the Lillian Booth Actors Home (more to come next week!). On December 5th, John Erman (our fabulous Actors Fund supporter who donates his time and talent to make special monthly visits by celebrities and entertainment legends possible) and Tony and Drama Desk Award nominee Howard McGillin stopped by The Home to spend some time with the residents. Set to be seen as Frank Crawley in the upcoming production of Rebecca at the Broadhurst Theatre, Howard spoke about his life in the industry, which includes his record-setting run as the longest running Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. He also treated the residents to a few show-stopping tunes, accompanied by pianist Joseph Thalken.
And just in case you want to see the show Howard dedicated so much of his career to, The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway is about to become the first production ever to hit 10,000 performances on February 11, 2012. Amazingly, that record-setting event will benefit The Actors Fund! Don’t miss it – visit our website for tickets.
The Actors Fund’s Lillian Booth Actors Home is an assisted living and skilled nursing care facility that provides a comfortable living environment on six acres of property in Englewood, New Jersey. Click here to learn more about The Home and its services.
The Actors Fund marked its annual Edwin Forrest Day celebrations with two special readings of Shakespeare: The first took place on April 29 on the grounds of The Actors Fund Home in Englewood, NJ (we’ve pasted our highlight video below), and the second, on May 2, at Off Vine in Los Angeles.
The history of The Actors Fund is entwined with the name of this great actor, who historians consider the first great star of the American theatre.
Born in Philadelphia in 1806, Edwin Forrest quickly became the most popular actor in nineteenth-century America. Particularly admired for his interpretations of Shakespeare, he was the first American to be acclaimed internationally as well. (His star shined so brightly, in fact, that he was one of the two actors whose Shakespearian rivalry spurred New York City’s infamous Astor Place Riot in 1849.)
The most important part of Edwin Forrest’s legacy, though, was what he did to help change society’s perception of actors, which at the time was not generally positive. A major supporter of both The General Theatrical Fund and the American Dramatic Fund Association (two predecessors of The Actors Fund), his true desire was to establish a retirement home for the elderly members of the profession he so loved. Four years after his death in 1872, The Edwin Forrest Home opened in Philadelphia, funded by the bulk of Forrest’s enormous estate, which he left for this purpose. It remained open until the 1980s, when its Board of Managers decided to close the home, sell the property, and contribute its sizable assets to The Actors Fund for the merger of The Edwin Forrest Home with The Fund’s Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey. Today, The Lillian Booth’s main section is known as the Edwin Forrest Wing.
The name of this great actor and humanitarian also lives on in The Actors Fund’s Edwin Forrest Society, membership in which is granted to those who have included a gift to The Fund in their estate plan. For more information on the Edwin Forrest Society, please call Wallace Munro, Director of Planned Giving, at 212.221.7300 ext. 128, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Los Angeles Edwin Forrest Day photos by Daniel G. Lam. Edwin Forrest daguerreotype by Mathew Brady.