The Day – February 20

The Day – February 20

Holidays and observances

The Day – USA: February 20

National Cherry Pie Day
National Love Your Pet Day
Presidents Day – Third Monday in February
National Clean Out Your Bookcase Day
National Day of Solidarity with Muslim, Arab and South Asian Immigrants
National Handcuff Day
National Hoodie Hoo Day
National Student Volunteer Day
World Day of Social Justice

The Day in US History: February 20

All the World’s a Stage

Joe Jefferson
Joe Jefferson [seated in front], Palm Beach, Florida, circa 1904.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920
Jefferson died in Palm Beach in 1905.

Comic actor Joseph Jefferson, one of the best-known American stage personalities of the nineteenth century, died in Palm Beach in 1905. Born into a family of actors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 20, 1829, Jefferson achieved one of his first major successes in 1858 in Tom Taylor’s Our American Cousin. He is best remembered for his portrayal of Rip Van Winkle in an Americanized version of a German folk tale popularized by Washington Irving in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent (1819-20). Jefferson took this play on the road for years after he originated the role, and became known throughout the United States for his portrayal.

Joe Jefferson as Rip Van Winkle
Joe Jefferson as Rip Van Winkle,
Napoleon Sarony, 1869.
History of the American West, 1860-1920: Photographs from the Collection of the Denver Public Library

The first American theaters were built in the eighteenth century–in Williamsburg, Virginia, (1716) and in Charleston, South Carolina (1730). Many theater groups of that period were itinerant. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, there were many theaters throughout the country and American actors were making a name for themselves on both sides of the Atlantic. Three of the most famous of Jefferson’s contemporaries were Edwin Booth, son of native Englishman Junius Brutus Booth and brother of the infamous John Wilkes Booth—himself an actor of some note, Charlotte Cushman, and Edwin Forrest,  who was known for his vocal power and athleticism on stage.

Edwin Booth
Edwin Booth, Seated, Facing Camera, Bust,
D. F. Barry,
[1897 or 1898].
History of the American West, 1860-1920: Photographs from the Collection of the Denver Public Library

Junius Booth, half-length portrait
Junius Booth, Father of John Wilkes Booth, in Theatrical Costume, studio of Mathew Brady, circa 1844-1852.
America’s First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839-1864

Charlotte Cushman
Charlotte Cushman, Half-length Vignetted Portrait, Facing Right,
[ca. 1855].
America’s First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839-1864

Edwin Forrest, head-and-shoulders portrait
Edwin Forrest, studio of Mathew Brady, circa 1844-1860.
America’s First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839-1864

The Library of Congress is rich in materials on the performing arts.

The Day in History – February 20-External Links

The Day’s Weather in History
The Day in Earthquake History
This Day in Naval History
The Day’s Document from the National Archives
The Day’s Events, Births & Deaths –Wikipedia
The Day in History by AP
On this Day -1950 to 2005 – The Day’s Story–BBC
On This Day: The New York Times
This Day in History –History.com
The Day in Canadian History – Canada Channel
History of Britain that took place On This Day
Russia in History –Russiapedia