- (1847-1924)The pert, red-haired, banjo-playing, singing actress began her stage career as a child in the California mining camps of the 1850s. After winning popularity on the San Francisco stage, she came under the management of J. F. Whitman of Chicago, where she performed soubrette roles in a stock company. She was subsequently managed by her mother, Mary Ann Crabtree, a severe watchdog over her daughter's behavior and reputation. As one of the most beloved performers on the road, Crabtree would play to sellout houses in response to posters announcing simply "Lotta tonight!" Her sprightly energy, improvisational skills, and winning ways shone through all her roles, and she would usually find a moment to interpolate some banjo-playing and clog dancing or an Irish jig. Among her perennially popular offerings were both of the title roles in Little Nell and the Marchioness as well as the title roles in The Little Detective, Musette, and The Firefly. When she retired in 1891, she had accumulated a fortune of $4 million, which she left to charity.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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