Saturday, June 16, 2012

The General's Daughter

Odette Tyler in 1927

As far as I've been able to trace so far, former Brigadier General William Whedbee Kirkland (1833-1915) and his wife Susan Ann Hardee (d. 1905) moved to Savannah, Georgia, after the American Civil War ended, and they had three children there: Margaret Kirkland, Noble Hardee Kirkland and Elizabeth Lee Kirkland. I'm not entirely sure about Margaret, or what became of her, but the second kid was born in 1868 and the third in 1869 or 1872, depending on the source.  

Odette Tyler, late 1800s

The Kirklands seem to have been quite unconventional people. Susan Ann Hardee Kirkland, for instance, was married four times (Kirkland, Mann, Callahan, Wilkins): unusual at the time and even in 2012. Noble Hardee Kirkland, named after Noble Andrew Hardee (Susan's father), eventually took to making and acting in movies under the name Hardee Kirkland. The general's daughter, Elizabeth "Bess," took the stage name of Odette Tyler circa 1884, well before she married Rezin Davis Shepherd -- who also had a stage name (R. D. MacLean) -- on April Fool's Day, 1897. 
Odette Tyler (upper left), The Saphead (1920)

Odette Tyler (aka Elizabeth Bess Lee Kirkland/Shepherd) acted in many plays in New York City and elsewhere, and had a supporting role in The Saphead, a 1920 silent movie directed by Herbert Blaché and Winchell Smith that starred Buster Keaton. For a time, she ran her own repertory company. She also wrote Boss (sometimes given the subtitle: A Story of Virginia Life), a novel published in 1896, and The Red Carnation, a play she first produced in 1905. At the end of her arc, Odette, the general's daughter, died in Hollywood in 1936. 

Today's Rune: Signals. (Sources include: "Odette Tyler Shepherd" by Alice Pike Barney, 1927, Smithsonian American Art Museum; Odette Tyler, cabinet card, Pach Brothers, New York City, late 1800s; still from title cards, The Saphead, 1920).


jodi said...

Erik, those old chicks had the best hats ever!! Love a good lid..

Charles Gramlich said...

Definitely sounds like unusual folks. Married four times in that day and age.