Elsie Leslie (August 14, 1881-October 31, 1966)

Elsie Leslie by female photographer Zaida Ben-Yusuf, Platinum print, 1899
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
  Elsie Leslie as Lord Fauntleroy, NYPL, (note her surname Lyde still being used)

Elsie Leslie was born in New York City on August 14, 1881. She was the daughter of Evelyn Burdick Lyde and Benjamin Tanner Lyde. Her father enjoyed a career as a successful merchant until his health began to fail. In order to help her parent’s make money, Elsie Leslie made her first appearance in Joseph Jefferson’s production of Rip Van Winkle in 1885 at the age of four years old. Her parents were family friends of Jefferson’s. Her first successful performance was as Editha in William Gillette’s Editha’s Burglar at the Lyceum Theatre in New York City with E.H. Sothern. She would later become known for the original title role in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy in Boston, Massachusetts in 1888. Three years later she appeared in Daniel Frohman’s production of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper in which she played both parts, co starring with William Faversham.

Lyceum Theatre, NYC, 1870s 

Lyceum Theatre, NYC, present day

Leslie then retired from acting to attend school only to return to the stage in 1898 where she starred as Lydia Languish in The Rivals with Otis Skinner. Later, she played Dot in The Cricket on the Hearth, Glory Quayle in The Christian (1901), Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew (1903), the female lead in The Man on the Case and Alias Jimmy Valentine (1909), toured in The Man on the Box, and starred with George Arliss in Louis N. Parker’s Disraeli (1912).

Elsie married Jefferson Winter, a fellow actor and son of poet-critic, William Winter in 1901. They lived on Staten Island in New Brighton but were subsequently divorced. In 1918 she married Edwin J. Milliken, an investment banker. Elsie Leslie died on October 31, 1966 in New York City. She was 85 years old and was survived by her husband.


Pamela Britley said…
What an interesting woman. Great photos!