Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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COOKE, George Frederick, English actor, born in Westminster, 17 April, 1756; died in New York, 26 September, 1812. His father, an Irish captain of dragoons, died soon after his birth, and he removed with his mother to Berwick-upon-Tweed, where he was apprenticed to a printer. A strolling company interested him in the theatre, and, after frequently taking part in private theatricals, he left his trade in 1771, and in 1776 made his first public appearance in Brentford in the tragedy of "Jane Shore." After acting with various provincial companies he made his first decided success at Manchester in 1784. He joined the Dublin company in 1794, became the hero of the stage there and'in Cork and Manchester, and in 1800 played Richard III. with success at Covent Garden theatre, London. For ten years he was the rival of John Kemble, and played both in tragedy and comedy in the largest cities in Great Britain, his most popular characters being Richard III., Shylock, Iago, Sir Giles Overreach, Kitely, and Sir Pertinax Macsycophant. He sailed for the United States in 1810, and appeared, on 21 October, as Richard III. before 2,000 spectators in the Park theatre, New York. Here, before the play began, he requested the audience to stand while "God Save the King" should be played, and finally carried his point, calmly taking snuff during the tumult that followed his demand. His conduct was equally capricious at Philadelphia and Baltimore ; but his acting, which was the finest that had been seen in this country, attracted large audiences. His inveterate habits of intemperance, which had long vexed his managers, finally terminated his life. He is buried in St. Paul's churchyard, New York City, where a monument was erected to his memory by Edmund Kean in 1821. It was repaired by Charles Kean in 1846, and again by Edward A. Sothern in 1874. The inscription, written by the poet Halleck, includes the couplet:"Three kingdoms claim his birth,
Both hemispheres pronounce his worth."
Kean considered Cooke the greatest of modern actors, Garrick alone excepted. His memoirs were written by William Dunlap (2 vols., London, 1813), and Dunlap's novel, "Thirty Years Ago" (1836), contains notes of his conversation and many incidents of his life and character.C00KE, John P., musician, born in Chester, England, 31 October, 1820; died in New York City, 4 November, 1865. His father was a musician and actor. After leading the orchestra of the Adelphi, the Strand, and Astley's, London, he came in 1850 to New York as leader at Barton's theatre in Chambers street, and was afterward musical director at several other New York theatres. He composed and arranged music for the "Winter's Tale," " Midsummer Night's Dream," and other Shakespearian plays, and when engaged at the Old Broadway theatre wrote melodies for the "Sea of Ice," which added much to its success. He also composed several pieces that have been thought worthy of more pretentious musicians.
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