A cabinet card portrait of the English-born actor and theatre manger George Rignold.
Born George Richard Rignall in Leicester, his parents were William Rignall, an actor and theatre manager, and his wife, Patience Blaxland, an actress. George Rignold began his acting career quite young, playing the part of the messanger in Macbeth. He soon gained a reputation in London, playing the parts of William in Black-Eyed Susan and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.
In 1875 he toured North America, where his good looks made a great impression, following this success with a tour of Australia. Now dubbed ‘Rignold Rex’ and ‘Handsome George’, he next spent a season playing Henry V at Drury Lane, proving to be so popular in the role that Staffordshire figures were produced of him as the king on horseback. He then toured the United States again, before settling in Australia. He held the lease of Her Majesty’s Theatre in Sydney from its opening night on 10 September 1887, when he recreated his success as Henry V, and for the next seven years.
According to an unnamed critic writing in The Bulletin (18 November 1899), Rignold could be arrogant and impatient with stage-managers. He retired in 1900 but came out of retirement in 1907 to play Jason to great acclaim in The Bondman, produced by Bland Holt. His last stage appearance was at a benefit for George Sutton Titheradge in December 1910.
Rignold's first wife, whom he married on 28 September 1865, the actress Marie Braybrook Henderson, died in Australia on 26 February 1902. Rignold’s second marriage, on 3 October 1907, was to Georgina Harriet Dora Coppin (1864–1911), the daughter of the Australian politician and theatre manager George Selth Coppin. He had no children from either marriage. Rignold died on 16 December 1912 at Charlemont Private Hospital, Darlinghurst. He left his estate of £11,000 to the Royal General Theatrical Fund.
This portrait of Rignold, taken in New York in 1875 [the date is printed on the back of the mount], shows him as Shakespeare’s King Henry V, with Mlle. Berthe Giradin as Princess Katherine.
Photographed by Napoleon Sarony of 680, Broadway, New York.
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