Hamblin, Thomas S(owerby)
- Gillian M. Rodger
(b London, England, May 14, 1800; d New York, NY, Jan 8, 1853). American actor and manager. He began his acting career as a utility player in regional theaters in England, gradually learning the profession, and eventually finding bookings in London. He worked in London theaters from 1819 until he left for the United States in 1825. His first American appearance was in the role of Hamlet at the Park Theater in New York, and he continued to tour widely in the United States until 1830, when he took on the management of the Bowery Theater in New York. From 1830 until his death in 1853, Hamblin was one of the leading New York managers, and under his management the Bowery emerged as a popular and highly successful theater. Hamblin challenged the primacy of the Park Theater, and won by appealing to the local nativist male audience, the “Bowery B’hoys.” Hamblin staged a diverse range of entertainment for these men, ranging from blackface minstrel performances and circus acts to melodrama and Shakespeare performed by audience favorites such as Edwin Forrest and Junius Brutus Booth. He also opened his theater for local voluntary fire companies to hold their balls, and staged benefit performances for organizations that served his audience. In his position at the Bowery, Hamblin was instrumental in shaping a local American drama that contrasted sharply with the imported plays and stars preferred by the social elite....