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Ruth Draper
Date: 1884 - 1956
Remarks: One of New York City's most gifted daughters, Ruth Draper, was born December 2, 1884. She was a granddaughter of Charles A. Dana, the great editor of The New York Sun, and a daughter of Ruth Dana Draper and the eminent physician, Dr. William H. Draper. Inspired by Ignace Jan Paderewski, who knew Miss Draper as a child and was among the first to recognize the promise of a successful career in her uncanny gift of characterization, she began her professional life about 1915. Later Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, Ellen Terry, Henry James, George Bernard Shaw, and Sir James M. Barrie were deeply impressed by her early work and gave her enthusiastic encouragement. It was Henry James who admonished her to seek no further than the talent which she held there in her two hands. "My dear," he said, "you have woven yourself a very beautiful little Persian carpet. Stand on it." In many countries, her audiences for three generations have discovered in her an understanding, loving and penetrating observation of the people she portrayed. In whatever country she found herself, she was tireless in her performances for charities and, during the war, toured camps and hospitals. She was acclaimed in London as "the joy of two continents." Her repertoire consisted of thirty-seven sketches in which there were fifty-eight characters--comic, tragic, lovable or ridiculous, brought to life with the simplest accessories, and who seemed to fill the stage. Some of her material was taken from actual experience but most of the sketches were drawn from her imaginative and comprehensive understanding of people and their surroundings. Miss Draper died in New York City on December 30, 1956.