Critical acclaim for Joseph Jefferson: Dean of the American Theatre . . .
"In Arthur Bloom, Joe Jefferson, America's most famous nineteenth-century comic actor and forever identified by his signature role of Rip Van Winkle, has found a perspicacious, objective, and thorough biographer. For those like myself who have long admired Jefferson's delightful Autobiography, Bloom's account of this unique personality's long and fruitful career, as well as the heretofore hidden glimpses into his personal life, will prove to be a welcomed study for its meticulously researched details and its myriad insights into Jefferson's accomplishments, his ideas on acting, and even the portrait of the less attractive side of his personality. With copious notes and a complete listing of Jefferson's theatrical tours from 1866 until his retirement in 1904 in a lengthy appendix, Bloom's biography is surely the definitive chronicle of the life of one of America's great unforgettable characters." —Don B. Wilmeth, Asa Messer Professor, Brown University
"This magisterial yet highly readable book at once becomes the standard biography of the greatest American comic actor of his time. Arthur Bloom provides a nuanced account of the relation between Joseph Jefferson's expansive public persona and the enigmatic, private man behind the mask. And since Jefferson began in poverty and obscurity and ended as a rich and famous star, the book also offers a lively, panoramic view of what it was like to be an American actor in the nineteenth century." —Julius Novick, Professor of Literature and Drama Studies, State University of New York, Purchase
"Professor Bloom's prodigious research has yielded a tale worthy of its subject: one of the great American theatrical pioneers, Jefferson's life, here rendered in accurate, revealing detail, becomes the illuminating story of a most remarkable man. The book recreates once and for all the career of a worthy trailblazer who brought entertainment and art to a public understandably appreciative of his great talents. Jefferson's biography emerges from these pages with astonishing clarity, revealing the shrewd artist-manager, and also the distinguished artist-actor who served his public for many years with care, concern, and delight. This story will remind the careful reader of what a career in the nineteenth-century American theatre truly was, meant, and could be." —James Coakley, Professor of Theatre, Northwestern University