Lewis Waller


Lewis Waller, born in Spain, initially studied to work in the commercial industry. He got his start in the companies of famous Dame Helena Modjeska and J. L. Toole in the 1880s.  During his career, he was best known as something of a matinee-idol in the popular romantic plays of his day like The Three Musketeers and his most popular role in Monsieur Beaucaire, a dramatic adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s novel. For his portrayals, he attracted large female audiences who made themselves in a fan club. Waller won critical acclaim in at least some of his Shakespeare roles: as Brutus in Julius Caesar, as Henry V, and as Faulkenbridge in King John. He created the role of Sir Robert Chiltern in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband (1895). He married Florence West, an actress who appeared often with Waller in his most successful romances. He became manager for the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in the mid-1890s after leasing it during Sir Beerbohm Tree‘s tour in the US. Tree invited Waller to join his company in 1897 and toured with him and his lavish productions of Shakespeare.

Although Waller himself loved playing Shakespeare roles like Romeo, Othello, and Henry V, his most profitable plays were always his romances and he is often remembered for his good looks. He did make several recordings of his speeches from Henry V which still exist. Waller died  just two days shy of his fifty-fifth birthday from pneumonia.