Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PLACIDE, Henry, actor, born in Charleston, South Carolina, 8 September, 1799; died near Babylon, L. I., 23 January, 1870. His father, Alexander, was a French variety performer, who appeared at Sadler's Wells theatre, London, and came to this country in 1792. For many years he was a professional itinerant, but he became lessee of the playhouse in Charleston, South Carolina, and in 1811 was one of the managers of the Richmond, Virginia, theatre, when it was destroyed by fire, with the loss of many lives. Henry appeared as a child, under his father's direction, at the Charleston theatre, and in 1814 was seen at the Anthony street playhouse in New York city. Thereafter he became attached to various travelling companies, playing occasionally in some of the southern cities. On 2 September, 1823, he appeared at the New York Park theatre as Zekiel Homespun in "The Heir at Law," and for about twenty-five years, with slight interruptions, he remained attached to that establishment. He made a few brief visits to other cities, and in 1838 played at the Haymarket theatre in London. Being disappointed by his reception, he soon returned, and after the destruction of the Park theatre by fire in 1848 played only occasionally at Burton's theatre and the Winter garden. His final performances were in 1865, after which he retired to his country home. There was never a more conscientious American actor, nor one who filled a wider range of characters. Besides being a comedian, Placide was also a good buffo singer; but his manner was somewhat hard, and his Shakespearian interpretations often lacked unction and raciness. He was an artist of remarkably good average performances and the greatest of New York favorites, but never rose to distinction in any particular character. The portrait of Placide represents him as Dromio in the "Comedy of Errors."--His brother, Thomas, actor, born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1808; died in Tom's River, New Jersey, 20 July, 1877, was attached in his youth to several minor playhouses in subordinate parts, but his real debut was made at the Chathamarden theatre in New York city in 1828 as Andrew Bang in "Love, Law, and Physic." For several years he was connected with the Park theatre, and he afterward led a roving life. From 1850 until 1854 he managed the Varieties theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana, and in 1855 he joined the company at Wallack's theatre, New York city. A little later he retired from the stage. Thomas Placide was a boisterous performer, who never rose to prominence. His best parts were servants and footmen. In voice, look, and action the brothers were much alike, but as artists they were widely distinct. This was strongly manifested when they appeared as the two Dromios in the "Comedy of Errors."
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