Amelia Bingham

Amelia Bingham Biography

Amelia Swilley Bingham (March 20, 1869 " September 1, 1927) was an American actress from Hicksville, Ohio. Her Broadway career extended from (1896 - 1926).

Bingham attended Ohio Wesleyan University before marrying Lloyd Bingham. Her father was a Methodist minister who managed a hotel. Her future husband persuaded her father to permit Bingham to go on stage approximately a year before the couple married.

Theatrical career

Her first role in a stage production came on the Pacific Coast. Her New York City debut came at the People's Theatre, 199 Bowery, in 1893. Her role was a leading part in a melodrama entitled The Struggle For Life.

Her first successes in the 1890s included The Power of Gold, The Shaughran, Colleen Bawn, The Village Postmaster, and Captain Impudence. By 1897 she was managed by Charles Frohman and was the leading lady in The White Heather. With Frohman she was featured in The Pink Domino, The Proper Caper, On and Off, At the White Horse Tavern, The Cuckoo, and His Excellency The Governor.

Bingham's popularity as a performer peaked around 1897. She tallied more than 9,000 of 30,000 votes cast in a newspaper competition for the title of American State Queen. Earlier stars like Lillian Russell, Maud Allan, Ada Rehan, and Fannie Davenport received a mere hundred votes each.

She started the Amelia Bingham Company which produced The Climbers starring Bijou Fernandez. In accomplishing this feat in 1901, she became America's first female manager. A visit to London, England in 1900 acquainted her with actresses who were their own producers. The Climbers by Clyde Fitch premiered at the Bijou Theatre on January 15, 1901, and had an extended run. Other plays which were staged with her oversight were Lady Margaret, The Modern Magdalen, and The Frisky Mrs. Johnson. Bingham performed and produced Olympe (1904), a Broadway play in which she later toured with Gilbert Miller. Bingham acted the lead in Big Moments from Great Plays (1909) and starred with William H. Crane and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in The New Henrietta, prior to World War I. However illness began to hinder her from working around 1914. In 1918 she appeared in The Man Who Stayed Home.

Her final stage appearance came at the Century Theatre in The Pearl of Great Price. She depicted Shame in the 1926 production. Bingham detested having to play the type of woman she portrayed in this production. She commented, for years I have played decent women on the stage. Financial circumstances forced her into accepting the part. The previous year she participated in a revival of Trelawny of the Wells (1925), written by Arthur Wing Pinero.


Bingham died of heart disease complicated by pneumonia in 1927. She was 58 and her illness lasted eight months. She died in her home at 103 Riverside Drive in New York City, a house formerly owned by Joseph Jefferson. Following breakfast she gazed out on to the Hudson River a final time prior to succumbing. She loved the river and preferred seeing it to looking at the Seine River or any of the European rivers. Her husband, Lloyd Bingham, predeceased her. He died in Kristiania, Norway on a mission of peace for Henry Ford to Scandinavia in 1915.

Bingham resided in the Riverside Drive mansion for a decade after her husband's demise. Passers-by noticed statues and black curtains inside. Its interior also housed gilt-framed mirrors with intricate decorative patterns, clocks, coats of armor, helmets, lances, swords, candelabra, and crucifixes. Many of the items were collected by Lloyd Bingham and some were sold when it was discovered that Bingham's estate amounted to less than $5,000. In 1925 two thieves stole $1,500 in jewelry from the home. Bingham's quick thinking prevented them from noticing a bag which contained $20,000 in jewels.

She was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx after a funeral which took place at the Little Church Around the Corner.

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