The Boss

   This four-act melodrama by Edward Sheldon had its first performance in Detroit on 9 January 1911 prior to its New York opening on 30 January 1911 at the Astor Theatre, where it ran for 88 performances, produced by William A. Brady. Sheldon's interest in realism can be seen in this play, despite the melodramatic trappings. Holbrook Blinn played the title character, Regan, "the type of self-made man who, born in the back room of a saloon, and with nothing to start on, has risen from the best 'scrapper' in his ward to be the biggest politician and the most influential and successful business man in his town" (New York Times, 31 January 1911). Having unscrupulously gained control of grain contracts that are the basis of James Griswold's wealth, Regan offers to cover up the information if he can marry Griswold's daughter Emily, a move that will gain Regan the social position he craves. Emily (played by Emily Stevens) agrees to marry Regan to spare her father, but she makes it clear to Regan that she cannot love him. Emily's brother, Donald, teams up with Regan's childhood pal and reformer, Archbishop Sullivan, to bring Regan to justice by organizing the workers in their ward. Regan plans to escape to Canada, but Emily confronts him and insists that he face his punishment. He then realizes that she cares for him. The play's depiction of class warfare between immigrant Irish Americans and bluenosed capitalists remained relevant for a motion picture version in 1915 (starring Blinn and Alice Brady) and a successful revival in New York at the Chelsea Theatre Center as late as 1976.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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