Joseph Jefferson
Actor Joseph Jefferson
Photograph by Napoleon Sarony

Joseph Jefferson

"Beyond question the most popular and respected American comedian of the 19th century."3 Born into a theater family, Jefferson made his stage debut at the age of four and toured professionally with his mother. He later worked in and managed theaters in Baltimore and Richmond, respectively. While he garnered acclaim for playing roles in The Heir-at-Law and Our American Cousin, Jefferson achieved fame for his staring role in and production of Rip Van Winkle.

The New York Times said about Jefferson, "In Rip Van Winkle he evinces all his abilities and sounds the gamut of all quiet and natural emotions. He is no doubt the best comedian America has yet produced, and probably unsurpassed in Englandů" and in a review a year later, "In many important respects [his performance] more nearly approaches positive perfection than any single piece of acting now before the public."4

The Autobiography of Joseph Jefferson was published in 1889.
Formal portrait of Jefferson

Engraved by G. Kruell, from a photograph by Pach Brothers.
Jefferson Formal Portrait

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