Janauschek, Fanny (1829–1904)

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Janauschek, Fanny (1829–1904)

Czech actress. Name variations: Fanny Janauscheck. Born Francesca or Franziska Magdalena Romana Janauschek in Prague, Bohemia (now Czech Republic), on July 20, 1829; died at the Brunswick Home in Amityville, Long Island, New York, on November 28, 1904; fourth in a family of nine children; her father was a tailor; her mother was a theater laundress; married Frederick J. Pillot (died July 1884).

A celebrated actress, Fanny Janauschek gave evidence of dramatic talent from childhood and, by 16, was playing lead roles in Prague. After a series of successful engagements in European cities, Janauschek became a European star, touring throughout Germany, Austria, and Russia for the next 20 years.

Though she spoke only a few words of English, she arrived in America in 1867 with her own troupe of actors, playing in New York and elsewhere, in the German language. When producer Augustin Daly promised her that she would be a great success if she learned English, she went "into the country," said Janauschek, "took four professors, one for reading, one for grammar, one for pronunciation, and the other to go over my roles with me. I studied twelve and fifteen hours a day." Daly then presented her to the American public in numerous roles, including that of Lady Macbeth (Gruoch ) and Elizabeth I , queen of England. By the 1870s, she was, indeed, a great success. After several visits to Europe and Australia, Janauschek finally settled in the United States, where she continued to appear until her retirement in 1898.

An actress of the highest order, Janauschek was gifted with a patrician voice and gave fiery performances. The majesty and pathos of her Mary Stuart , queen of Scots, and Marie Antoinette were long remembered, while her characterizations of Medea, Meg Merrilies, and Lady Macbeth were considered outstanding. She also gave marvelously contrasted portrayals of the dual roles of Hortense, the French maid, and Lady Dedlock, in a dramatic version of Dickens' Bleak House.