Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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HACKETT, James Henry, actor, born in New York city, 15 March, 1800; died in Jamaica, L. I., 28 December, 1871. He was educated at Union Hill academy, Flushing, L. I., in 1815 studied a year in Columbia, and for a short time read law. In 1817 he entered a counting room, and two years afterward married Katherine Lee-Sugg, an actress. He then removed to Utica, New York, to begin business for himself. In 1819 Hackett returned to his native place, and engaged in commercial ventures that led to his financial ruin. He had always a predilection for the stage, as a boy had joined an amateur association, and in 1816 went so far as to appear several times, under an assumed name, with a strolling company in Newark, New Jersey After his business failure, inclination and the encouragement of his wife induced him to venture before the New York public. He began his career in the part of Justice Woodcock in "Love in a Village," and on succeeding nights performed as Sylvester Doggerwood, a part wherein he gave striking imitations of noted actors, sketches of Yankee characters, and a capital representation of one of the Dromios in Shakespeare's" Comedy of Errors." In the latter he closely copied the Jewish usage and peculiar farcical drawl of John Barnes, a noted comedian. His representations of Yankees, western pioneers, and Frenchmen assured his success, and on 6 April, 1827, he sought to extend his reputation by appearing at the Covent Garden and Surrey theatres in London. He repeated the experiment of appearing before a London public in 1882, 1840, 1845, and 1851, but failed to win success. Returning in 182S, he played Richard III., Monsieur Morbleau, in imitation of Charles Matthews, Rip Van Winkle, Solomon Swop, and Colonel Nimrod Wildfire--a wide range of characters. Hackett's "Monsieur Tonson, come again," spoken in the French farce, was for many years a common quotation, and more than once repeated in speeches delivered in congress. His characterization of Rip Van Winkle was that of a genuine Hollander of the heavy Knickerbocker style, entirely unlike Jefferson's Germanized representation. Solomon Swop was the first well-drawn character of the conventional stage Yankee. "Colonel Wildfire" was an extravaganza founded on the combined characters of Colonel Bowie and Daniel Boone. Such were the beginnings of American comedy, all of which must be placed to the credit of James Henry Hackett. In 1829, for a brief period, he became co-manager of the New York Bowery theatre, and for a season manager of the Chatham. Abandoning management, he again made tours throughout the Union, winning a fair degree of success. He became lessee of the New York National theatre in 1887, and was eventually interested in the Astor Place opera-house. In 1840 Hackett added to his repertory O'Callaghan, an Irish character; Sir Pertinax Mac Sycophant, a Scottish part; and the Shakespearian roles of Falstaff, Hamlet, and King Lear. Hackett's Hamlet was a pronounced failure; Lear possessed many points of interest that caused much critical comment; but his Falstaff, for many years, remained the best on the English stage. In 1854 Hackett brought to this countrythe famous Italian singers Grisi and Mario for a tour of eight months. This venture yielded him a handsome return, and for years thereafter he led a retired life. His last public engagement was in 1S71, as manager oaf the Howard athenaeum in Boston. Hackett was polished gentleman, and the intimate companion of Irving, Paulding, Cooper, Halleck, John Quincy Adams, and other notabilities of his day. He published "Notes and Comments on Shakspeare" (New York, 1863).--His wife, Katherine, actress, born in England about 1797; died in Jamaica, L. I., 9 December, 1845, was the daughter of the English ventriloquist, Lee-Sugg, and began her theatrical career at the age of seven, on the London stage She came to the United States from the Birmingham theatre, and in 1819 appeared at the New York Park, as Miss Lee-Sugg, in the part of Jessie Oatland, in which she displayed a well-trained contralto voice. In the same year she was married, and retired from the stage. After an intermission of seven years, when her husband had failed in business, Mrs. Hackett appeared at the Park theatre, mostly in operettas, and continued to play until 1832. Her last appearance was in 1838, at the National theatre for her husband's benefit, as Susan in "Perfection." Mrs. Hackett's forte was comedy and operetta, although she sometimes performed tragic parts. In "The Croakers " Halleck thus mentions her: "There's sweet Miss Lee-Sugg--by the way, she's not pretty--She's a little too large, and has not too much grace, Yet there's something about her so witching and witty, 'Tis pleasure to gaze on her good-humored face."--Their son, John Keteltas, lawyer, born in Utica, New York, 13 February, 1821; died in New York city, 26 December, 1879, was educated at Columbia, and at the University of the city of New York, where he was graduated in 1837. He then studied law in Utica, and was admitted to the bar in Albany, New York. In 1850-'7 he resided in California, where he was for some time corporation-counsel for San Francisco. He was made assistant corporation-counsel of New York city in 1863, and in 1866 became recorder of the city, which office he held till his death. He was noted for his independence on the bench.
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