See also:English actor, son of an under-
See also:cook to
See also:Charles I., was
See also:born in
See also:London . He was apprenticed to
See also:John Holden;
See also:William Davenant's publisher, and possibly later to a bookseller named Rhodes, who had been
See also:wardrobe-keeper to the theatre in Blackfriars . The latter obtained in 1659 a licence to set up a
See also:company of players at the
See also:Cockpit in
See also:Drury Lane; and on the reopening of this theatre in ,66o,
See also:Betterton made his first appearance on the stage . His talents at once brought him into prominence, and he was given leading parts . On the opening of the new theatre in Lincoln's
See also:Fields in 1661, Sir William Davenant, the patentee, engaged Betterton and all Rhodes's company to
See also:play in his
See also:Siege of Rhodes . Betterton, besides being a public favourite, was held in high esteem by Charles II., who sent him to
See also:Paris to examine stage improvements there . According to Cibber it was after his return that shifting scenes instead of
See also:tapestry were first used in an English theatre . In 1692, in an unfortunate
See also:speculation, Betterton and his friend Sir
See also:Watson were ruined; but Betterton's affection for Sir Francis was so strong that he adopted the latter's daughter and educated her for the stage . In .1693, with the aid of friends, he erected the New Playhouse in the tennis
See also:court in Lincoln's Inn Fields . It was opened in 1695 with Congreve's Love for Love . But in a few years the -profits fell off; and Betterton, labouring under the infirmities of age and
See also:gout, determined to quit the stage . At his benefit performance, when the profits are said to have been over £500, he played
See also:Valentine in Love for Love .
In 1710 he made his last appearance as Melantius in The Maid's Tragedy; he died on the 28th of
See also:April, and was buried in
See also:Westminster Abbey . In appearance he was athletic, slightly above
See also:middle height, with a tendency to stoutness; his
See also:voice was strong rather than melodious, but in recitation it was used with the greatest dexterity .
See also:Steele and Cibber all bestow lavish praise on his acting . His repertory included a large number of Shakespearian roles, and although many of these were presented in the tasteless versions of Davenant,
See also:Dryden, Shadweil and Nahum Tate, yet they could not hide the
See also:great histrionic gifts which Betterton possessed, nor does his reputation
See also:rest on these performances alone . The blamelessness of his
See also:life was conspicuous in an age and a profession notorious for dissolute habits . Betterton was author of several adaptations which were popular in their
See also:day . In 1662 he had married Mary Saunderson (d . 1712), an admirable actress, whose Ophelia shared the honours with his
See also:Hamlet . See
See also:Thomas Betterton (1891) : The Life and Times of Thomas Betterton (1886) .
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