OTD: Edwin Booth Gets Shot At

On this date, April 23rd, in 1879, Edwin Booth performed Richard II at McVicker’s Theatre in Chicago.

Edwin Booth in 1879

Edwin Booth in 1879

While performing the final solioquy of Richard II on Shakespeare’s birthday, Edwin altered his normal practice of sitting throughout the speech and for no clear reason felt compelled to stand.

“He leaned himself over to steady himself as he got up.  As he did so, a bullet whizzed over his head.  Another shot was fired, and looking up, he saw a man standing in the gallery, pistol in hand, ready to pull the trigger once more, had he not been prevented by several persons from behind who seized his arms.  Edwin walked calmly to the front of the stage, pointed him out, and cried, ‘Arrest that man!’  For a few moments, the audience was panic-striken, but was quieted after the would-be-murderer had been taken from the house.  Edwin addressed them, saying he wished to speak with his wife who was backstage and would then finish the performance.”

The Booth family was shaken by the events at McVicker’s and may have believed the attempt on Edwin’s life was a latent revenge act for Wilkes’ assassination of Lincoln.

Stay tuned for more to come about the culprit behind this attempt on Edwin Booth’s life…

 The Mad Booths of Maryland by Stanley Kimmel

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “OTD: Edwin Booth Gets Shot At

  1. J. Beckert

    What’s interesting about this is I’ve heard Edwin dug the slug out of a prop it hit with a penknife and had it mounted in a gold cartridge with the inscription – “To Edwin Booth – From Mark Gray” and wore it on his watch chain.

    • And you would be correct, Joe.

      I was hoping just to make a quick post about the incident using a summary from Nora Titone’s book, but I found there’s quite a bit more about Mr. Gray that I want to investigate. Hence the, “come back for more” part. It’s too late for me to give it the attention it deserves tonight.

  2. Great post once again Dave! I have read about this as well. Luv sharing your posts on the Spirits of Tudor Hall page.

  3. Happy 449th Birthday to William Shakespeare!

    “No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
    Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
    Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
    Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth”
    ― William Shakespeare, Richard II

  4. Rich smyth

    There is very little on Mr. Gray. I hope you dig up a bunch!

    • I’m still conducting my research on Mark Gray, and so far his story is fascinating. And don’t worry, Rich. I know why you read this blog and so tomorrow I’ll be calling a library in Iowa looking to find his grave.

  5. Rich smyth

    “I hope you dig up a bunch” you got my hint!

  6. Pingback: The Attempt on Edwin Booth’s Life | BoothieBarn

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