Lillian Russell Marries Husband #4
Helen Louise Leonard was born in in Clinton, Iowa in December 1860. Her father was a newspaper publisher and her mother was the feminist who was, the first woman to run for mayor of New York City. Leonard excelled in school theatrics. In November 1879 she made her first appearance on Broadway as “an English Ballad Singer” using the stage name Lillian Russell. She joined the chorus of a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, got pregnant and married husband #1 orchestra leader Harry Braham. The baby died in infancy and the marriage broke up.
Russell returned to theater and began getting bigger and better parts. In 1884 she married husband #2 her music director who composed the score for her current play a year after their daughter, Dorothy Lillian Russell, was born. Russell continue to act in successful plays featuring the music of Solomon and in plays for Gilbert and Sullivan in England. In 1886 Solomon was arrested for bigamy since his previous marriage had not been dissolved. Russell obtained a divorce from Solomon in 1893.
By the 1880’s Russell was one of the most popular actresses in America. She was always in the press and could be considered a superstar of her era, always extremely popular with audiences. When Alexander Graham Bell introduced long distance telephone service in May 1890, Russell’s voice was the first carried over the line. In 1893 and toured with the J C Duff Opera Company and married husband #3 tenor John Haley Augustin Chatterton (known professionally as Signor Giovanni Perugini) in 1894. They were separated and divorced in 1898.
In 1899 Russell joined the Weber and Fields’s Music Hall, where she starred in their burlesques and other entertainments until 1904. Getting older and having voice trouble she switched to non-musical comedic roles and started performing in vaudeville.
Lillian Russell’s only recording “Come Down Ma Evening Star” – 1912
On June 14, 1912 Lillian Russell, 51, married husband #4 Alexander Pollock Moore, 44, owner of the Pittsburgh Leader (a newspaper publisher like her father.) The wedding was held in Pittsburgh at the grand Schenley Hotel and their honeymoon must be brief as Russell must return to Broadway and Moore must be at the Republican National convention in Chicago in 4 days.