Eleanor Robson Belmont


Biography of Eleanor Robson Belmont

Eleanor Robson Belmont (13 December 1879 – 24 October 1979) was an English actress and prominent public figure in the United States. George Bernard Shaw wrote Major Barbara for her, but contractual problems prevented her from playing the role. Mrs. Belmont was involved in the Metropolitan Opera Association as the first woman on the Board of Directors, and she founded the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

She was born on 13 December 1879 in Wigan, Lancashire to Madge Carr Cook and Charles Robson, and moved to the United States as a young girl. Her stage career began at age 17 in San Francisco and she worked in stock companies from Honolulu to Milwaukee before making her New York debut in 1900 as Bonita, the ranchman's daughter in Augustus Thomas's Arizona. Her ten-year career as a leading Broadway actress included top roles in such plays as Robert Browning's In a Balcony (1900), Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1903) opposite Kyrle Bellew, Israel Zangwill's Merely Mary Ann (1903–04 and 1907), Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer (1905), Zangwill's Nurse Marjorie (1906), and Paul Armstrong's adaptation of Bret Harte's Salomy Jane (1907). She retired when she wed August Belmont, Jr. on February 26, 1910. He died on 10 December 1924.

Mrs. August Belmont, as she thereafter was known, joined the Metropolitan Opera's Board of Directors in 1933, founded the Metropolitan Opera Guild in 1935 and the National Council of the Metropolitan Opera in 1952. These organisations helped shape the multi-source public-private funding model used by U.S. performing arts organisations in the ensuing decades.

Mrs. Belmont died in her sleep in Manhattan on 24 October 1979.

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