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Stephen Ruppenthal

revised by Joanna R. Smolko

[James Calwell, Jr. ]

(b Reading, PA, March 21, 1945; d Philadelphia, PA, April 6, 1992). American performance artist, composer, writer, and arts administrator. He studied sculpture at the University of Texas, Austin (BFA 1968), and at the University of California, Berkeley (MFA 1972). As an administrator he cofounded and was vice president and curator of the performance space, 80 Langton Street (San Francisco, 1975–6, later renamed New Langton Arts), and was a trustee of the San Francisco Art Institute (1975–8). As artist-in-residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco (1976–7) he created the visual installation Light Weight Phantoms; and in 1977 he joined the sculpture department of San Francisco State University. He acted as consultant to museums and galleries and to the NEA, and his performances and sound sculptures have been presented in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1979), the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (...

Article

Craig Jennex

(b Thunder Bay, ON, Nov 28, 1949). Canadian pianist, composer, musical director, actor, producer, and bandleader. He has been musical director for David Letterman’s late-night shows since 1982. Prior to working with Letterman, Shaffer was a featured performer on “Saturday Night Live.” He has served as musical director and producer for the Blues Brothers and cowrote the 1980s dance hit “It’s raining men.” He has served as musical director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

[Hatfield, Alfred Griffith ]

(b Lessburg, VA, Nov 7, 1848; d Columbus, OH, April 3, 1921). American minstrel performer and manager. He gave his first minstrel performance as a schoolboy in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, and subsequently appeared in minstrel shows, serious theater, and circuses. In the late 1870s and early 1880s he played with major minstrel troupes, and in 1886 he formed Al G. Field’s Minstrels, a large touring company that functioned until 1928. His show grew in size and splendor until it became one of the most elaborate and expensive. It was especially noted for its lavish costuming and sets. Moreover, Field’s company was the first to carry complete scenic sets and to travel in specially built railroad cars. Field wrote and directed all of his own productions and also performed in them as endman, monologist, or companion to the main comedian; he was also one of the few minstrels to become wealthy....

Article

(b Los Herreras, Nuevo León, México Dec 16, 1921; d Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, Sept 1, 2003). Mexican actor, singer, songwriter, and film director. Eulalio “Piporro” González Ramírez is best known for developing an idiosyncratic style of parodying Northern Mexican, or norteño, identity, lifestyle, and language through music and comedic acting for radio, stage, and film. His career spanned 60 years. He began as a newspaper reporter and radio personality in Monterrey and in US-Mexico border towns when he landed a role on the radio comedy, Ahí viene Martín Corona (Here Comes Martín Corona) produced in México City and starring the popular singer and actor Pedro Infante. At age 28, he played Infante’s elderly sidekick in 19th-century northern México where his bumbling character, “Piporro,” helped solve conflicts and dustups in local ranch life. The show’s success led to the 1951 film of the same name starring González and Infante. González enjoyed countless roles as “Piporro” in classic ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

[Jack ]

(b Bellefonte, PA, June 30, 1837; d Salt Lake City, UT, Sept 28, 1901). American minstrel show manager. He began his career in 1864 in Michigan and Ohio, and by the late 1860s and early 1870s he was managing his own and others’ minstrel troupes. From about 1873 he concentrated his talents on his own company, Haverly’s Minstrels, and began to buy interests in other companies and theaters in several cities. The trend toward huge companies began with Haverly’s Mastodon Minstrels in 1878, with its “40, count ‘em, 40” performers; by 1880 he had a company of 100. After 1883 minstrelsy was dominated by the type of large, profitable company, traveling nationwide, that Haverly had pioneered; such companies replaced the raucous shows of the early troupes with lavishly produced variety entertainments. Haverly’s Mastodon Minstrels disbanded in 1896, and Haverly retired from active management shortly after. He was probably minstrelsy’s most successful organizer and promoter, having a good sense of the public’s taste and a flair for advertising and producing....

Article

Dominique-René de Lerma

(b Baltimore, MD, c1840; d Surabaya [now in Indonesia], 1902). American minstrel-troupe manager. He became one of the most successful African American managers of minstrel groups. In about 1865 he organized the Original Georgia Minstrels, probably named after a 15-member troupe of former slaves called the Georgia Minstrels, established in April of that year by W.H. Lee in Macon. Hicks’s troupe began touring in the Northeast and the West and, within three years, included a 13-piece brass band. In 1870 Hicks and some of his members joined with Sam Hague’s Great American Slave Troupe (formerly Lee’s group) for a tour of the British Isles. In July of the following year there was a disagreement and Hicks returned to the United States. He sold his company to Charles Callender in 1872 but continued to work as its manager. From 1877 to 1880 he toured Australia with a new troupe, also called the Georgia Minstrels. Returning once more to the United States, he worked with various groups including Hicks and Kersands’ Minstrels, McIntosh and A.D. Sawyer’s Colored Minstrels, and Callender’s Minstrels, with whom he presented the Callender Consolidated Minstrel Festival in the Grand Opera House, New York, in ...

Article

Susan L. Porter

(b nr Manchester, England, cJune 7, 1765; d nr Bladensburg, MD, Sept 12, 1805). Actor, singer, and theatrical manager of English birth. He began his career in 1782 with the Tate Wilkinson troupe in York; by 1790 he was playing leading roles in tragedy, comedy, and comic opera at the major English provincial theaters. He made his debut in the United States on 26 September 1792 with the Old American Company in Philadelphia, together with his second wife, Frances Hodgkinson (née Brett) (b England, 1771; d Philadelphia, PA, 27 Sept 1803). In addition to his varied acting roles and his notable popularity with audiences, Hodgkinson frequently sang in concert. He was credited with “a fine taste for music” and a voice that was “powerful, melodious, variable, and of immense compass” (Mirror of Taste and Dramatic Censor, i/3, 1810); he was also said to be proficient on the violin and the flute. He became manager of the Old American Company in ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

(b Ballina, Ireland, April 13, 1822; d Chicago, IL, Sept 8, 1893). Minstrel performer and manager of Irish birth. He came to the United States in 1844 and began performing with Christy’s Minstrels in Buffalo, New York in 1845, remaining with the company two years. He continued to perform, but made his reputation chiefly as a manager, owner, and promoter. He first organized a company of his own in 1851 and took it on a tour of Europe, then during much of the 1850s he managed Maguire’s Minstrels, the foremost troupe in San Francisco. He organized Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels in 1860, and after it disbanded in 1861 he opened his own minstrel hall in Brooklyn. He remained in Brooklyn for much of the remainder of his career, though he spent periods in Chicago in the early 1870s, and again in the early 1880s; he built minstrel theaters in both Brooklyn and Chicago, where not only his own troupes but all the important touring companies of the day performed. He followed the trend for larger companies with the formation of his Megatherian Minstrels in the 1880s....

Article

Bonnie E. Fleming

(b Harrisburg, PA, March 2, 1921; d Westport, CT, Sept 16, 2017). American singing actress, producer, stage director, and teacher. Possessing a wide range of performing skills, she was known for undertaking challenging operatic roles such as Birdie and Regina in Mark Blitzstein’s Regina (1949, 1953, and 1958) and Lizzie in Jack Beeson’s Lizzie Borden (1965). She worked on Broadway, in light opera, on radio and television, and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Lewis attended Penn State University and was encouraged by its Glee Club director to audition for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she went on to study with Emilio de Gogorza. After her teacher suddenly left the Institute, Lewis auditioned and made her debut with the Philadelphia Opera Company at the age of 19 in the role of the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. A remarkably quick study, Lewis absorbed music and words in any language almost on the spot, a gift to which she attributed most of her early success. In ...

Article

Mikaela Minga

[Antoniu, Christache]

(b Bucharest, Romania, Dec 25, 1907; d Tirana, Albania, March 17, 1979). Tenor, actor, and stage director. He studied at the Mimodramatic High School of Bucharest and then in Rome, with M. Polverosi. In Romania, he had a successful career as an actor and singer. He was in the movie industry in the 1920s and early 30s, playing in more than 15 films, including Ciocoii (1931), Iancu Jianu, (1928), and Maiorul Mura (1927). In the meantime, he worked in the Alhambra theater as a singer and stage director of operettas. In the mid 1930s, Antoniu moved to Albania and pursued a singing career. He made only one cinematic appearance in 1943, for the short film documentary Takimi në liqen (‘Meeting at the Lake’). He was a dramatic tenor, with a baritone quality in his voice. This led him to explore a large range of operatic characters from both the Western opera repertory and the Albanian one. He performed and recorded Albanian traditional or folk songs, handled with an operatic vocal posture and arranged with western harmonies. His son, Gjergj Antoniu was a prominent Albanian cellist....