Mabelle Gilman Corey

Mabelle Gilman Corey Biography

Mabelle Gilman Corey (1882/?1874 - March 1966) was an American stage actress and Broadway beauty at the close of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century. She later gave up her career and married into wealth to William E. Corey in 1907. Her life after leaving the theater was a series of adventures that her wealth could provide.

Early Life and the Stage

She was born Mabelle Gilman to Charles H. Gilman and Jeannette R. (Curtis) Gilman. Mabelle Gilman's birth date, which has been the subject of much conjecture, corresponds with the 1880 U. S. census for California as 1874. The SSN Death Index has a record for "Mabel" Gilman, born 1874, dying in March 1966 aged 92. Gilman attended Mills's College Almeda, San Francisco. She studied voice under Julie Rosenwald. She would later make her forte in musical comedy.

She first appeared on the stage in London at the Comedy Theatre on July 11, 1896 as Rosa in "The Countess Gucki". In September 1896 she made her Broadway debut at Daly's playing O Kinkoto San in "The Geisha" (opened September 9, 1896). She played Lucille in "The Circus Girl", Juno in "The Tempest", Alice in "The Runaway Girl"(open Aug.25 1898) with James T. Powers and parts in "Much Ado About Nothing" and "The Merchant of Venice". Gilman was in "In Gay Paree"(open Mar.20 1899), "The Rounders"(open Jul.12 1899), "The Casino Girl" (opened March 19, 1900) and "The King's Carnival"(open Sep.9 1901). She went to London to the Shaftesbury Theatre and opened The Casino Girl in London on July 11, 1900. Back in New York for the 1902 season she starred in "The Hall of Fame"(open Feb.5 1902) which had a great run. She closed out 1902 in "The Mocking Bird"(open Nov.10 1902). In 1903 Gilman was the heroine in "Dolly Varden (play)" which she also performed at the Avenue Theatre in London on October 1, 1903. At the Comedy Theatre (the first London theatre she appeared at in 1896) she was seen in a comic opera playing the title role in "Amorelle".


Gilman in 1905 was one of the top musical comedy stars on Broadway. In this year she first met William Ellis Corey during an engagement of "The Mocking Bird" in Pittsburgh. Corey was a millionaire, having made his fortune in steel. He was president of United States Steel after Charles Schwab. Corey had a wife Laura and a son Alan. Over time Corey paid off Laura so that he could marry Mabelle. Pittsburgh society threatened to shun Corey if he married Mabelle. Mabelle and William Corey married on May 14, 1907. Corey had bought his new wife a chateau in France, valuable jewels and had given her one million dollars all as a wedding present. Corey's Reno divorce from his first wife Laura and subsequent marriage to Mabelle help put Reno on the map as a destination for quicky divorces.

Life in Europe

Mabelle and her sisters Eunice and Pearl had all studied voice from Jean de Reszke, a noted tenor. Mabelle had plans for grand opera but her new duties as matron took up time for her preparations. She also developed a dislike for her home country the US claiming too much noise. Mabelle entertained high profile guests to the Corey chateau in the years before World War I. Mabelle made another claim that American men are more worried about accounts receivable, stocks, bonds rather than his wife. The marriage to William Corey deteriorated and divorce came in 1923. While living in France, she was taken captive by the Nazis in 1940 and was placed in an internment camp near Vittel, but was released in 1942 after all female prisoners over 60 years of age were freed.

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