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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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CURTIS, MARGUERITE A. (1866-1953)

CURTIS, MARGUERITE A., entertainer; b. Gray Rapids, 14 Feb 1866, d/o David Curtis and Elizabeth Harris; m. 1st, 1890, Chip Chase, of Fredericton, and 2nd, 1908, Philip J. Blank; d. Boston, Mass., 4 Jul 1953.

The eldest of ten children from a modest country home, Marguerite A. Curtis displayed a childhood passion for reading and reciting, which in combination with an ability to sing and a gift for mimicry, led her to a career as an entertainer. Her performances in Miramichi dance halls in the late 1880s were followed by evening recitals in Fredericton and elsewhere in the province.

Around 1890 Curtis and her first husband moved to Boston, where under the tutelage of a Madam Berucho she mastered the art of imitating different dialects and became a professional 'dialect reader', performing for audiences in the concert halls and opera houses in Boston, as well as at Carnegie Hall in New York City. When she returned to give a performance in Blackville in 1892 the Union Advocate described her acting and singing as "excellent" and stated that, in contrast with the amateurs usually seen on the local stage, she had "talent and taste."

After her first marriage ended in divorce Curtis, who maintained her maiden name as her stage name, became the wife of a wealthy businessman, Philip J. Blank, and lived with him in a spacious old home in Winchester, Mass. Beset by health problems, she retired from the stage at a relatively early age, and after she was widowed in 1924 became increasingly reclusive. In the end her only companions were her house pets.

Sources

[b/m] Curtis [d] Leader 31 Jul 1953 / Advocate 7 Sep 1892, 10 Sep 1918


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