Christie MacDonald

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Christie MacDonald
Famous Prima Donnas; 1900
Born February 28, 1875
Pictou, Nova Scotia
Died July 25, 1962 (aged 87)
Fairfield, Connecticut
Occupation actress
Years active 1892-1920
Spouse(s) William Jefferson
Henry Lloyd Gillespie

Christie MacDonald (February 28, 1875– July 25, 1962) was a Canadian-born American musical comedy actress and opera singer. She was perhaps best remembered as the Princess of Bozena in the 1910 operetta Spring Maid. The 1913 musical Sweethearts was specifically written for MacDonald by composer Victor Herbert. She retired from the stage after appearing in a 1920 revival of the musical comedy Florodora.[1]

Early life

MacDonald was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia.[2] the daughter of John MacClean MacDonald, a shipbuilder, mariner and inn-keeper in the coastal town of Pictou and Jessie (née MacKenzie). When she was about nine her family relocated to Boston, Massachusetts where she attended Bowdoin and later Boston High School.[3][1]


MacDonald began in theatre in 1893 in New York when she was cast in Francis Wilson's popular play Erminie. She thereafter found success in the operetta brand of musical theater. MacDonald's first starring role came in 1900 when she assumed the title role in the Kirke La Shelle and Julian Edwards comic opera The Princess Chic. MacDonald starred or co-starred in The Belle of Mayfair (1906) with Valeska Suratt, Miss Hook of Holland (1908) with Bertram Wallis and The Mikado (1910) with Fritzi Scheff. In 1910 she starred in one of her best known musicals The Spring Maid by Victor Herbert. In 1913 she popularised Herbert's Sweethearts.[4]

MacDonald made several gramophone records before retiring in 1920. She was married first to William W. Jefferson, a son of the famous actor Joseph Jefferson, in 1901 and ended in divorce several years thereafter. In 1903 she conceived a child, with prominent theatrical promoter and New York State Senator Timothy Sullivan, who was soon placed in the New York Foundling Hospital.[5] [6] MacDonald did not return to the stage until 1904.

In 1911 MacDonald married Henry L. Gillespie, the scion of a wealthy Pittsburgh contracting family and had one daughter, Christie. As of 1950 MacDonald was living with her daughter and grandchildren in Westport, Connecticut.[7] Christie MacDonald died in Fairfield, Connecticut on July 25, 1962.[1]

Selected musicals

File:Christie MacDonald 2.JPG
Christie MacDonald,
The Opera Glass, 1898


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Christie MacDonald Dies at 87. New York Times, July 27, 1962, p. 25
  2. The Oxford Companion to the American Theatre 2nd Edit. by Gerald Bordman c.1992
  3. The Opera Glass, January, 28, 1898, pp. 29-31 Retrieved June 21, 2014
  4. Pictorial History of the American Theatre 1860-1970 originally by Daniel Blum c.1953 ; expanded edition c.1970
  5. Baker Family Tree: Chapter 3 Retrieved June 21, 2014
  6.; Sullivan Fitzgerald boards
  7. Great Stars of the American Stage by Daniel Blum c.1952

External links