Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Menken, Adah Isaacs
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Menken, Adah Isaacs
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MENKEN, Adah Isaacs, actress, b. near New Orleans, La., 15 June, 1835; died in Paris, 10 Aug., 1868. Her father was a Spanish Jew, and her mother a native of Bordeaux. Her maiden name was Dolores Adios Fuertes. When seven years of age she made a successful appearance as a dancer with her sister Josephine. During her early career on the stage she mastered French and Spanish, and visited Havana, where she became popular, and was known as the “Queen of the Plaza.” After playing in Texas and Mexico she returned to New Orleans, retired from the stage, and published a volume of poems entitled “Memories,” over the signature of “Indigena.” While in Galveston, in 1856, she married Alexander Isaacs Menken, a musician, from whom she was subsequently divorced in Nashville, Tenn. Returning to the stage, she appeared at the Varieties theatre in New Orleans during the season of 1858. After playing in Louisville and Cincinnati, and as leading lady on the southern circuit, she entered a studio in Columbus, Ohio, for the purpose of studying sculpture. On 3 April, 1859, she married in New York city John C. Heenan, the pugilist, but in 1862 was divorced from him by an Indiana court. She made her first appearance in New York city in June, 1859, played there in 1860, travelled throughout the west and south as an actress, and returned to New York, where she married Robert H. Newell. She sailed for California in July, 1863, went to England in the following year, and was immediately engaged at Astley's theatre, London, where she played her favorite character, Mazeppa. In 1865 she was divorced from Newell. In 1866 she again visited New York, repeating her personation of Mazeppa, but terminated her engagement abruptly and made a brief tour through the west. On 21 Aug., 1866, she married James Barclay, at her residence in New York city, and the same year again sailed for England. She died in the Jewish faith, and her remains rest in Montparnasse cemetery. On her tomb, at her request, were engraved the words “Thou Knowest.” While in London she published “Infelicia,” a volume of poems (1867).