On this date, April 23rd, in 1879, Edwin Booth performed Richard II at McVicker’s Theatre in Chicago.
While performing the final solioquy of Richard II on Shakespeare’s birthday, Edwin altered his normal practice of sitting throughout the speech and for no clear reason felt compelled to stand.
“He leaned himself over to steady himself as he got up. As he did so, a bullet whizzed over his head. Another shot was fired, and looking up, he saw a man standing in the gallery, pistol in hand, ready to pull the trigger once more, had he not been prevented by several persons from behind who seized his arms. Edwin walked calmly to the front of the stage, pointed him out, and cried, ‘Arrest that man!’ For a few moments, the audience was panic-striken, but was quieted after the would-be-murderer had been taken from the house. Edwin addressed them, saying he wished to speak with his wife who was backstage and would then finish the performance.”
The Booth family was shaken by the events at McVicker’s and may have believed the attempt on Edwin’s life was a latent revenge act for Wilkes’ assassination of Lincoln.
Stay tuned for more to come about the culprit behind this attempt on Edwin Booth’s life…
The Mad Booths of Maryland by Stanley Kimmel