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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MURDOCH, James Edward, actor, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 25 January, 1811. He learned the trade of a bookbinder with his father, but on 13 October, 1829, appeared at Arch street theatre, Philadelphia, as Frederick in Kotzebue's play of "Lover's Vows," afterward acting for many years in most of the large cities of the United States. In 1840 he became stage-manager at Chestnut street theatre in Philadelphia, and in the following year temporarily withdrew from the stage to lecture on Shakespeare and teach elocution. In 1845 Murdoch returned to the drama, beginning an engagement at the Park theatre in New York city as Hamlet, and then visiting other cities, Canada, and California, in 1856 he performed at the Haymarket theatre, London, with moderate success, and in 1857 and 1858 he settled on a farm near Lebanon, Ohio. During the civil war he nursed sick and wounded National soldiers in hospitals, gave readings from the poems of Thomas Buchanan Read and others for the benefit of the United States sanitary commission, and became a volunteer aide on the staff of General William S. Rosecrans. Since that time he has been professor of elocution at the Cincinnati college of music. Murdoch's best efforts were in the line of genteel comedy and juvenile tragedy; his Romeo, Charles Surface in " School for Scandal," and Don Felix in " The Wonder," had many admirers. But while his acting satisfied the critics, it failed to charm the many, rendering his "star" engagements unprofitable. In connection with William Russell he published " Orthophony, or Culture of the Voice " (Boston, 1845), and "The Stage " (Philadelphia, 1880).
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