Joe Jefferson’s Birthday

On this day, the 20th of February in 1829, the comic actor Joseph Jefferson, one of the best-known American stage personalities of the nineteenth century, was born into a family of actors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Jefferson achieved one of his first major successes in 1858 in Tom Taylor’s Our American Cousin. (yes, that play).  He is best remembered for his portrayal of Rip Van Winkle in an Americanized version of a German folk tale popularized by Washington Irving in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent (1819-20).

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