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Terriss, William

TERRISS, WILLIAM (1847-1897), English actor, whose real name was William Charles James Lewin, was born in London on the 20th of February 1847. After trying the merchant service, medicine, sheep-farming in the Falkland Isles, and tea-planting in Bengal, in 1867 he took to the stage, for which his handsome presence, fine voice and gallant bearing eminently fitted him. His first appearance in London was as Lord Cloudrays in Robertson's Society, at the old Prince of Wales's theatre. He quickly came into favour in " hero " parts, and appeared at the principal London theatres from 1868 onwards. In 1880 he joined Irving's company at the Lyceum, playing such parts as Cassio and Mercutio, and in 1885 he acted there with Mary Anderson, as Romeo to her Juliet, etc. He was then engaged to take the leading parts in Adelphi melodrama, and it was in this capacity that for the rest of his career he was best known, though he occasionally acted elsewhere, notably with Irving at the Lyceum. His last appearance was in Secret Service. On the 16th of December 1897, as he was entering the Adelphi theatre, he was stabbed to death by a madman, Richard Arthur Prince. Terriss married Miss Isabel Lewis, and his daughter Ellaline Terriss (Mrs Seymour Hicks) became a well-known actress in musical comedy, in association with her husband Edward Seymour Hicks (b. 1871), proprietor of the Aldwych and Hicks theatres in London.

See Arthur J. Smythe, The Life of William Terriss (London, 1898).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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