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Joseph Jefferson

      Joseph Jefferson, distinguished, among his other brilliant successes as an actor, as the creator for this generation of the character of Rip Van Winkle in the play dramatized from the story in Washington Irving's "Sketch Book," was the third of his name in a family of actors. The first of the three was born at Plymouth, England, in 1774. He was the son of Thomas Jefferson, a comedian of merit, the contemporary and friend of Garrick, and came to this country in 1795, making his first appearance in New York on February 10, 1796, in the part of Squire Richard in "The Provoked Husband." Dunlap says that, young as he was, he was already an artist, and that among the men of the company he held the first place. He lived in this country for thirty-six years, admired as an actor and respected as a man. He died at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1832.

      Joseph Jefferson, the second, was born in Philadelphia in 1804. He inherited the laughing blue eyes and sunny disposition of his father, but he had not his talent as an actor; he is said to have been best in old men's parts. His taste, however, led him to scene-painting rather than to acting; yet his skill in either direction was not enough to win success, and, in spite of well-meant efforts, he lived and died a poor man: ill luck pursuing him to the end of his days, when he was carried off by yellow fever at Mobile in 1842, just as his unprosperous skies were brightening a little. His son bears affectionate witness to...

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