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HAMPSHIRE SENTINEL, Keene, N.H. WEDNESDAY, June 19, 1935

BELIEVES HE CAN
PERPETUATE FAME
OF NOTED ACTOR

Denman Thompson, 2d,
Melrose, Mass., Aspires
to Follow Grandsire's
Footsteps

Mrs. Thomas .B, Holmes of 31 Summer street, eldest granddaughter of Denman Thompson, famed Actor of West Swanzey, is not one bit ashamed to be known as one of the "old fuddy-duddies" to which her cousin. Denman Thomson, 2d, of Melrose, Mass. alludes as having kept him from going on the stage and who, he is reported to have said, can go jump in the river.

Mrs. Holmes and other descendants of the great Actor made famous throughout the land for his playing of "Joshua Whitcomb" in "The Old Homestead" were surprised and not altogether pleased at an interview with their 25-year-old cousin published in Monday's Boston Post and which revealed the young man's intention of casting aside family admonitions and taking to the boards.

"A long, lean lad named Denman Thompson, 2d," the lead reads "has squared his Jaw and made up his mind, at 25, that the famous theatrical name he bears shall be perpetuated on the stage, And no 'old fuddy-duddies' can make him change his mind, says he."

Does Not Approve Step

Mrs. Holmes, eldest living descendant of the great actor and therefore "reigning mother'. of the noted West Swanzey family today told a Sentinel reporter that she spent a good many years with her grandfather and knew him very well. She expressed the thought that neither he nor his son and two daughters would approve of the step which young Denman is taking. Mrs. Holmes said that her grandfather's talent was such that none of the children inherited it, although Frank Thompson (Denman 2d's father) and Melvina Thompson McFarland (Mrs. Holmes' mother) both worked with the actor, the former as manager, the latter on the stage. They have felt that they were better off the stage since they could not measure up to Denman the first. Her brother, Denman T. McFarland of Jamaica Plains, Mass., and another cousin, Miss Anita Kilpatrick, 28, of Melrose, daughter of Annie Thompson Kilpatrick, are the other "fuddy-duddies", who feel that they are respecting the wishes of their grandfather in their unfavorable attitude toward his namesake's entering a stage career.

Denman Thompson was very well-known in Keene and Cheshire county and his ability was greatly appreciated here. Though his family cooperated with him and although Mrs. Holmes' mother was on the stage a good many years, the Keene "fuddy-duddy" does not feel that her family can be mentioned with the Barrymores and the Drews. The "fuddy-duddies" are content to let the greatness of the grandfather uphold the theatre tradition, rather than to make feeble efforts on the boards themselves, according to Mrs. Holmes.

The story, in part, as it appeared in the Post follows: 

"Denman Thompson, 2d, whose home is at 27 Park drive, was a child 9 months old when his famous grandfather died. 'The Old Homestead' type of play is, perhaps, not in his line - not till he's older at any rate. But he's going to be an actor, just the same, because he has wanted to be an actor since he was a child and because 'It's a matter of pride to keep the name alive on the stage.' 

"His mother, who was on the stage herself as part of the latter companies that played 'The Old Home-stead,' is willing, His grandfather, he feels sure would be mighty well pleased.

"And the 'fuddy-duddies' can go jump in the river, says Denman Thompson, 2d.

"The 'fuddy-duddies' it seems, are well-meaning, but not enthusiastic people who have kept this ambitious young man from going on the stage before now, 

"'There are a lot of them,' he said, 'who mean well, but who have funny ideas. They look at me and say I'm too tall' (he's 6 feet 2) 'too tall to be an actor, or that I'm not handsome.'

Need Only Ability

"'My idea is that. if you have acting ability, that's all you need. That idea about being handsome is just a hangover from the old days of the .silent pictures.'

"'I've wanted to be an actor since a I was a small boy and I've been hanging round theatres or working in them since I was at Newton High school.'

"'At the high school, I used to a work backstage with Newton amateur troupes that used the hall. I did everything. I moved scenery and carried pictures and carried spears on the stage.'

"'And after I got out of school, I worked at the Hollis Street theatre for two years, as assistant treasurer, in the box office.'

"'It was in the box office that I first began to meet people who would come to the window and who remembered seeing my grandfather. They would look at me and say: 'Well, you won't make an actor. You're too tall!"

"'I worked as an usher at the Fenway theatre since the first of the year and had a lot of fun doing that kind of theatre work. Now I'm through. I've resigned my job and I'm going to be an actor.'"

He Believes Talent Inherited

"Just what definite prospects this likeable young man has are not at present to be disclosed. He has, however, connections which may start him in a summer theatre in a couple of weeks or will, otherwise, take him direct to Broadway.

"He has a pleasantly frank and engaging personality; he is sincere, intelligent and courageous, 

"'The Barrymores and Drews and, such families,' says he quite matter-of-factly, 'have shown that acting talent can go through a family and can be kept alive from generation to generation. It has flourished in my family for two generations. My late father was manager for my grandfather's show and was also manager of the Palace theatre in New York. My mother was a member of the quartette in the last few years of "The Old Homestead.' Her name was Laura Cobb and came from Auburn, Me.' 

"'And, now that I'm 25, I'm going to be an actor, too'"

"The original Denman Thompson died in 1911, after having earned more than $5,000,000 with 'The Old Homestead,' a drama of country life which he wrote himself and whose people were modeled after those he himself knew in West Swanzey. 

"His popularity has never been duplicated by any male star in this country. He played the role of 'Joshua Whitcomb' year after year for 35 years and the public, instead of becoming bored came to consider his annual visits as the gayest events of the popular theatre."

Contributed by: Dick Thompson, Wheezeball@aol.com

The documents are direct quotes and should not be taken and used as one's own work without identifying the source.

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Updated: 16 Jan 2017 12:51 PM