Theatre's First Managers

David James (David Belasco)

An English comedian, who was born in Birmingham in 1839 and died in London on October 3rd 1893.

He made his stage debut as a child in the ballet at the Princess theatre under the guidance of Charles Kean. Subsequently he appeared in various burlesques his best creation being produced at the Royalty theatre as Mercury in 'Ixion' by F C Burnands.

In 1870 he joined H J Montague and Thomas Thorne as the management of the newly opened Vaudeville theatre. He created his greatest success as Perkyn Middlewick in Byron's 'Our Boys' which opened on 16th January 1875 and ran until 18th April 1879 after a run of over 1300 performances.

In 1881 he left the Vaudeville theatre to join the Bancrofts at the Haymarket theatre and then moved to the Lyceum theatre where 'Two Roses' had been especially revived for him.

He joined Charles Wyndham's company in 1886 at the Criterion theatre.

Shortly before his death in 1893 'Our Boys' was revived for him. He left his large fortune to charity, mainly Jewish institutions.

Last updated 16th September 2005