Photo courtesy of Dionysus Theatre
Complex, New York, New York
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Julia Marlowe was a stage actress during the late 1800's and early 1900's. From 1873 to 1877 she resided in a 3-story brick building on Second Street in the city of Portsmouth, Ohio. She lived here from age 7 to age 10.
Julia Marlowe was her second stage name. She began performing under the name of Frances Brough.
She was born Sarah Frances Frost at Caldbeck, England, on August 17, 1865. She came to the United States with her parents, John Frost and Sarah Hogston Frost, when she was five years old. Upon entering the United States, her family settled in the state of Kansas. From there, they moved to Ironton, Portsmouth and Cincinnati, Ohio.
In the March 3, 1903 edition of The Marion Daily Star newspaper, details of Julia's life in Portsmouth was recounted by Mr. Edward Staiger. (Some of the details of the article were recorded incorrectly, or Mr. Staiger's memory was failing him. Her name was Fannie Brough, not Jennie Brough. She left Portsmouth when she about 10 years of age.)
"When Mr. Staiger was a boy and attended school at Portsmouth, a certain girl who was known as a tomboy was his classmate. This tomboy left Portsmouth when she was about sixteen years of age and went out into the world to become known and admired, later, as Julia Marlowe.
When Miss Marlowe lived at Portsmouth, her name was Jennie Brough and she was the daughter of a woman who ran a boarding house and saloon which was one of the most popular resorts in the town. Mr. Staiger recalls the girl as an unpromising youngster, a dare-devil willing to do anything any boy or girl was afraid to do.
Mrs. Brough moved to Cincinnati when Julia was about sixteen years old, and opened a boarding house on Sixth street, which she is still running, despite the achievements of her wonderful daughter. She has since been married to a man by the name of Beck.
Mr. Staiger has met his old classmate but once since the days of their childhood and that was in Cleveland after she had won great favor at the hands of the theater-going public. Julia greeted him in an old-time rollicking way, and an evening of most pleasant reminiscences followed."
Another article in the February 2, 1942 issue of The Marion Star newspaper recounted:
"There are still living in Portsmouth those who remember Frances as a gay, lively girl, fond of making speeches, riding horseback, going on excursions into the Kentucky hills."
Most of Julia's acting reviews were stunning. Audiences and critics alike were kind to her. During her off seasons from the stage, she traveled around the world. She had homes in Egypt, England, Switzerland, and the United States.
In 1894, Julia married Robert Taber, but they were later divorced in 1900. Her second marriage was to her long-time co-star, E. H. Sothern in 1911. Julia and Edward H. Sothern remained married until his death in 1933.
Julia's health required her to take several breaks from the stage. She announced her retirement in 1915. It was in that same year she lost her former manager, Mr. Charles Frohman, a passenger of the ill-fated Lusitania.
In 1921, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree by George Washington University. She continued many philanthropic duties after her retirement.
Julia because a virtual recluse after her husband died. Her last public appearance was in 1944 when she gave 17 trunks of Sothern and Marlowe costumes to the Museum of the City of New York.
Julia spent the remainder of her life at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. She died at that hotel in November of 1950.
Click the link below to see Julia Marlowe's mural panel on the Portsmouth, Ohio floodwall: