The man who is called "the original Svengali," Wilton (Andrew) Lackaye was born on this day in Loudoun county, Virginia. Though he remembered today for his ghoulish performance in 1915 as the rogue hypnotist as a middle aged actor, he had a very long career on the stage in the later part of the 19th century. And...he was the original Svengali, having been the first actor to play the role on the stage in 1895 (the same year the novel was published in installments). His first turn in films though did not come in the form of a performance, it instead came in 1913 when he posed for one of Universal's Animated Weekly news films--No. 46--billed in the description of the newsreel as: Wilton Lackaye, the famous Broadway star. He entered films as an actor the following year in Maurice Tourneur's version of Frank Norris' The Pit in the lead role--a reprisal of the role from a stage production that he starred in (that stage production, by the way, was produced William Brady who produced the film, and adapted by Channing Pollock, who also adapted the film version--the film is presumed lost). His famous turn as Svengali in film form came in the film Trilby opposite Clara Kimball Young; released on the 20th of September in 1915. That film was also directed by Tourneur. Lackaye only appeared in five more films, the last of which was in 1925. Though he was a superstar of the stage, he never appeared in any talking pictures. His last film appearance came in The Sky Raider, directed by T. Hayes Hunter and filmed at Mirror Studio in Queens, New York. Lackaye died in New York City at the age of 69 on the 21st of August in 1932. He is interred at Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens, New York.
Lackaye as Svengali
[source: James Lacy (Find A Grave)]