Shaw, Mary G. (1854–1929)

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Shaw, Mary G. (1854–1929)

American actress, lecturer, and women's suffrage leader. Born on January 25, 1854, in Boston, Massachusetts; died of heart disease in New York City on May 18, 1929; daughter of Levi W. Shaw (a carpenter and builder) and Margaret (Keating) Shaw; graduated from Girls' High and Normal School in Boston, in 1871; married twice; second marriage to the Duc de Brissac (divorced); children: (first marriage) Arthur Shaw (an actor).

Mary G. Shaw taught in Boston until her voice gave out from overuse in the classroom. She then turned to acting, joining the Boston Museum stock company in 1879. In the 1880s, her dramatic talent attracted the attention of Helena Modjeska with whom she played for several seasons, and where she attained distinction by the power and intelligence of her acting. Shaw soon became recognized as one of the leading dramatic actresses of her time, and from 1890 to 1910 appeared in many notable New York productions. She was one of the first actresses to present Henrik Ibsen on the American stage, when she created a profound impression with her portrayal of Mrs. Alving in Ghosts. Throughout her life, Shaw gave much of her time to the cause of women's suffrage with brilliant lectures throughout the country. In 1909, she had starred in Elizabeth Robins ' play Votes for Women at Wallack's Theater in New York. Mary Shaw died in 1929 while on tour with Eva Le Gallienne 's Civic Repertory Company production of The Cradle Song.