Joseph Jefferson

(1829–1905)

Joseph Jefferson

Anecdote...

“I was coming down the elevator of the Stock Exchange building, and at one of the intermediate floors a man whose face I knew as well as I know yours got in. He greeted me very warmly at once, said it was a number of years since we had met, and was very gracious and friendly, but I couldn’t place him for the life of me. I asked him as a sort of feeler how he happened to be in New York, and he answered, with a touch of surprise, that he had lived there for several years. Finally, I told him in an apologetic way that I couldn’t recall his name. He looked at me for a moment and then he said very quietly that his name was U.S. Grant.

“ ‘What did you do, Joe?’ his friend asked.

“ ‘Do?’ he replied, with a charactertistic smile. ‘Why, I got out at the next floor for fear I’d ask him if he had ever been in the war.’ ”

Biographical Note: 

Joseph Jefferson was a well-known U.S. actor. So successfully did he create the role of Rip Van Winkle in a dramatized version of Washington Irving’s story that after 1859 he was always identified with the part.

More Information: 

The Joseph Jefferson Awards (The Jeff Awards) are given annually to acknowledge excellence in theatre in the Chicago area. Founded in 1968, the award is given in tribute to actor Joseph Jefferson. Read an excerpt from Jefferson’s biography detailing how he came to play the part of Rip Van Winkle.

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