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Ira Frederick Aldridge

(1807-1867), Actor

Sitter in 4 portraits
Born in New York and educated at the New York African Free School, where Aldridge developed an interest in theatre. He came to Britain in 1824, and first appeared in May 1825 as Othello at the Royalty Theatre in the east end of London. In 1833 he made his West End debut playing Othello again at Covent Garden; audiences were positive but reviewers found the idea of a black actor shocking and the third and final performance was cancelled. Aldridge continued to perform around Britain, cultivating various black roles and was better received elsewhere. He made several successful European tours, becoming one of the highest paid actors in the world. His subsequent reputation led to a triumphant return to the London stage in 1855.

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