March 9, 1905

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Editor’s Staff

March 9, 1905

Actor David Warfield, Father Georgy Gapon, and Senator William B. Bate
March 9, 1905 – a date they had in common!

David Wohlfeld’s first time in a theatre was in his teenage years when he was hired as an usher for a San Francisco acting company. His decision to be an actor was easy, but he had to wait nearly a decade to make his first stage appearance. It was 1888, and David – who took the stage name, Warfield – earned a role in a tour production of Tom Taylor’s The Ticket-of-Leave Man. Two years later he went to New York City, where he appeared at the Casino Theatre and at Weber and Field’s Music Hall. In 1901, he was discovered by David Belasco who starred him in the lead role of The Auctioneer, which he played 1,400 times, including a revival that extended over several seasons.

By comparison with many other actors, Warfield appeared in only a few productions, mostly under Belasco’s management, but his devotion to his stage roles was admirable throughout the acting profession. His fortune and success in theater centered on his playing of just four major roles over a 25-year period: Simon Levi in The Auctioneer (1901), Anton von Barwig in The Music Master (1904), Wes Bigelow in A Grand Army Man (1907) and the title role in The Return of Peter Grimm (1911).

One of his best-known roles was that of Anton von Barwig in The Music Master, which he played from 1904 to 1908, appearing in the part more than a thousand times. In 1908, Warfield and his company appeared at the historic Elitch Theatre of Denver. It was there that presentations of The Music Master and A Grand Army Man were given with Denver-native Antoinette Perry in co-star roles. Theatre people know Perry because she was the actress for whom the Broadway acting award – The Tony – is named.

Warfield’s position as a leading American actor developed after his audiences saw his masterful skill in how he took on a role and he became the role.

None could do a kindly old gentleman better than he, in any of these plays. His method of portrayal of the pathetic and amusing eccentric made him one of the world’s richest entertainers.

In 1916 Wakefield appeared in Van der Decken, a play by Belasco, based on the legend of the flying Dutchman.

In 1922 he enjoyed the honor of having the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, his birthplace in 1866, named for him.

Warfield died in 1951 in New York City at 84.

The Music Master postcard is a product of the New York City firm, H. J. Hanf, on which someone wrote the date March 9, 1905. It is always fun to speculate why people write only dates on their souvenirs. One cannot help but wonder, was this written by an avid theatergoer to remember when they saw The Music Master, or did they write the date to remember that they saw the play on the exact same day that a revolution against Czar Nicholas II of Russia began under the leadership of Father Georgy Gapon.

Georgy Apollonovich Gapon was a Russian Orthodox priest and leader of a peasant class revolution in early 1905. He is most frequently remembered for the protests he led of working-class civilians seeking more freedom and better living conditions. Many of Gapon’s protests were threatened by the Imperial Army and on one occasion the protesters he led were fired on.

It is father Gapon’s silhouette that we see in the famous photo of the Narva Gate in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on the first day of the revolution.

Just over a year after the March 9th protest in April 1906, Gapon was murdered by members of the Socialist Party when it was discovered that he had cooperated with the government to guarantee the safety of his peaceful protesters.

For the devoted history enthusiast, the date March 9, 1905, has yet another event to its credit. It was on that day that former Confederate Major General and later Tennessee Senator William B. Bate died of pneumonia shortly after the inauguration of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Senator Bate was one of the first members of Congress to endorse the formation of a national weather bureau.

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I had never heard of any of these men, although I was aware that Russia had experienced a revolution several years before the one that brought Lenin to power in 1917.

The actor’s name lives on as the Warfield is still going strong after all these years.

nice history!

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