Thompson, Denman

(1833-1911)
   Pennsylvania-born Denman Thompson grew up in New England and performed in circus and stock without gaining much attention. When he developed a vaudeville sketch about the definitive rube, a good-natured New England farmer, the character proved so popular that Thompson wrote a play about him called Joshua Whitcomb (1878), which did well on tour. Thompson then collaborated with George W. Ryer on a second Whit-comb play, The Old Homestead (1887), which achieved 160 performances at New York's Fourteenth Street Theatre, phenomenal success on the road, and returns to New York in 1899, 1904, 1907, and 1908. Following Thompson's death, a 1913 revival featured Edward L. Snader as Whitcomb. Despite attempts at other roles, Thompson's audience demanded Joshua Whitcomb and he played the iconic character for the rest of his career. With Ryer, Thompson also wrote The Sunshine of Paradise Alley (1896) and Our New Minister (1903).

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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