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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CLARKE. John Sleeper, comedian, born in Baltimore, Maryland, in1835. He became a member of an amateur dramatic association in his native City in early life, and essayed tragic parts, but made his debut as Frank Hardy in "Paul Pry," at the Howard Athenaeum in Boston in 1851, and began his first regular engagement at the Chestnut street theatre, Philadelphia, in the part of Soto in "She Would and She Would Not," 28 August, 1852. In the following January he was the leading comedian at that theatre, and, after playing in the Front street theatre during 1854, became first comedian, and in 1858 joint lessee of the Arch street theatre. In 1863 he was joint lessee of Winter Garden, New York City, in 1865 he purchased with his brother-in-law, Edwin Booth, the Walnut street theatre, Philadelphia, and in 1866 acquired an interest in the Boston theatre. In the autumn of 1866 he appeared in Boston, and a year later, after the burning of Winter Garden theatre, in January, 1867, appeared in London at the St. James theatre, and at once achieved a success as Wellington de Boots, a part that he had played more than a thousand nights in the United States. He played also Bob Tyke in "The School of Reform," Caleb Scudder in "The Octoroon," and, after a tour in the provinces, revived old comedies, and was very successful in the role of Dr. Pangloss in "The Heir-at-Law." He again appeared in New York on 17 April, 1870, performed in other cities, returned to London, appearing at the Strand theatre, 29 July, 1871, played in the United States the following winter, and in March returned to London, where he was proprietor of the Chafing Cross theatre, and afterward managed the Haymarket theatre, London, with E. A. Sothern. He has made several professional visits to the United States.
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