Edward Hugh Sothern (1859-1933)

Production History

Date Play Venue Role
May 19, 1890 The Highest Bidder California Theater

Newspaper Articles

The Morning Call (San Francisco, California) - May 18, 1890

E.A. Sothern's Mesmeric Experiment.

A book published by Bartley of London, entitled "Memoirs of E. A. Sothern," by a Mr. Pemberton, has recently been very extensively quoted from by the press of this country. In a recent conversation with E. H. Sothern, who plays "The Highest Bidder" at the California Theater, beginning Monday night, that gentleman said: "Mr. Pemberton's book is very complete in what it tells, but some of my father's most laughable practical jokes are not mentioned at all. I remember one which happened at the Southern Hotel, St. Louis, when I accompanied him en tour in 1873. It seems that a professor of mesmerism, called Caldwell, met the governor in the billiard-room of the hotel and annoyed him excessively with his boastings of his power. At last the governor said: 'You cannot possible influence me, sir. I am a most obstinate subject, and no one has yet succeeded in placing me in a mesmeric state." This but seemed to increase Cadwell's anxiety to make the trial, and, after a small wager had been laid upon the result, he commenced making his passes before my father's eyes. To his delight and astonishment, my father seemed to yield almost immediately to the influence and in a very few moments was following every command the professor gave him. Very soon, however, my father appeared to be seized with a violent fit and fell writhing to the floor. In vaid did Caldwell make his reverse passes. His every movement but seemed to increase my father's agony. Just at this time I entered the room. They had lifted my father from the floor and laid him on the billiard table. They had torn open his clothing about his neck and deluged him with water. As he lay face downward upon the table he presented a most alarming spectacle, and that and the evident agitation of the professor so aroused my boyish fears that I began to cry bitterly. A this the dear old governor made a most terrific gasp, and as I looked at him I saw him deliberately wink his eye at me several times. Then I knew it was only one of his jokes, and going to his room, sent his valet to take care of him. He was carried to his chamber, and the professor, who followed closely, was not allowed to enter the room As soon as the door was fairly shut the governor got into a dry suit of clothes, ordered dinner served in the room, which being en suite had an entrance from another hall way, and after dinner went quietly to the theater to play.

"Cadwell, in the meantime was pacing up and down before the door, begging every one to let him see Mr. Sothern as he was the only one who could dispel this hypnotic influence, without the counteracting of which Mr. Sothern might suffer very seriously. He remained there several hours, when seeing me leave the room, he asked anxiously: 'How is your father feeling now?'

"Pretty well, I fancy," I replied. "He has been playing at the Olympic Theater for the last hour or two."

"Cadwell stared at me as though he thought I was crazy, and rushed down the stairs. As he never returned I fancy he learned he was the victim of one of the dear old governor's practical jokes."

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