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Frohman Tells of Bygones, Marks 83rd Birthday Quietly

Make a habit of glancing through the classified advertising columns. They may have a surprise in store for you.

Daniel Frohman will be eighty-three today.

Not eighty-four, as some reports would have it.

The old gentleman of the American stage yesterday took exception to published reports that he was nearing his eighty-fourth anniversary, and with a vehemence that somewhat belied his four score and three years, demanded:

“Now, I don’t look that old, do I?”

He went on to explain that while he was willing to grant that he looked like eighty-three (and he most certainly did not) no one could accuse him of looking like eighty-four.

“For one thing,” he remarked, “I don’t have the experience of a man of eighty-four.”

Daniel Frohman has his home above the Lyceum Theatre on Forty-fourth street. He has maintained quarters there for thirty-two years.

“Always living in the past,” he said yesterday, as one long arm indicated the pictures, the signatures, the mementoes of past dramatic stars. “And,” he added, “living in the past now more than ever.”

PICTURES LIVE AGAIN

As he talked, the producer brought back to life long-dead and some forgotten stars of the old stage. The pictures that fairly covered his walls came to life and stalked again on the stage of his theatre below.

“It was from here that we used to watch our second night performance,” he said, opening a door in the wall through which one could look directly below onto the stage. “It was from here that my guests and I watched some of the greatest actors of all countries make history.”

He showed the reporter about his home, modest and comfortable in its old-fashioned trappings, cool from the floor to the high ceiling. He touched some of the pictures gently, caressingly, reminiscently.

“Here is Bernhardt, the Divine Sarah,” he mumbled, as though talking to himself. “What an actress! What a lovely personality! Why, it seems only yesterday. But never mind, we’ll look at a few other old friends.”

The boy who was born in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1851, turned back the calendar for a glimpse of the glamorous years that marked his rise to the pinnacle of success as a producer and manager.

As president of the Actors Fund he has spent the past few years of his life caring for the cast-off veterans of the stage.

“It was here I sat with Paderewski more years ago than you can remember,” he told the reporter. He indicated a table upon which pens, papers and books rested. “It was here that I entertained Signor Salvini, Edwin Booth, Duse, Modjeska, Lilly Langtry, Joseph Hoffman and others that I remember as the greatest actors that ever lived.”

He found the reporter copying the names.

“Wait now, if you’re going to mention those, you’ll have to mention a few others as well. It’s hard to say which have been the greatest actors I’ve ever managed, but I’ll give you the names of the few I can remember offhand.

“There were, of course, all those I’ve mentioned. Then there was Maude Adams, Sothern, Haskell, Mae Robson, Skipworth. Oh, there were so many. Mary Anderson was the most beautiful actress in the history of the American stage. May Irwin was the most humorous. Joseph Jefferson was the greatest comedian. Bronson Howard, Arthur Pinero, Clyde Fitch, Augustus Thomas, Bartley Campbell, Henry Arthur Jones—well, I suppose you’re in a hurry, young fellow, perhaps I can tell you all about these and other great actors again sometime.”

He recalled the time that Jan Kubelik came to the old Hippodrome and would not believe, even after he had looked over the house, that such a massive auditorium could be jammed to the rafters.

STAGE BEFORE FILMS

Frohman says that a good play, well acted, will always prove popular.

“And the movies will never replace the stage,” he predicted. “Even the highest salaried actors get tired of making movies—turning out plays that appeal to the standards of the masses. Why, just the other day I met a friend of mine who has been doing very well in Hollywood. What do you think he said? He told me, ‘I’m going to stay out there another year. Then I’ll have made enough money to be able to afford to act on the stage again’.”

Daniel Frohman wants to produce one more “hit.” He wants to see his name in lights over his theatre just once more.

“Then I’ll be content,” he said yesterday. “Give me a good script, a good cast and an intelligent audience, and I’ll ask for nothing more from life.”

He will spend his anniversary today quietly. He will take dinner with his nephew and niece, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Davis.

Make a habit of glancing through the classified advertising columns. They may have a surprise in store for you.

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