Joseph Jefferson Is Born

Comic actor Joseph Jefferson, one of the most well-known American stage personalities of the nineteenth century, was born into a family of actors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 20, 1829.

He made his stage debut at the tender age of three in a production of German playwright August von Kotzubue's Pizarro.

Jefferson achieved his first great success in 1858 in Tom Taylor's Our American Cousin. He is best remembered for his portrayal in the 1860s of Rip Van Winkle, an Americanized version of a German folk tale popularized by Washington Irving in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent (1819-1820).

Joseph Jefferson (February 20, 1829 – April 23, 1905) was an American actor. He was the third actor of this name in a family of actors and managers, and one of the most famous of all American comedians.

Jefferson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father was a scenic designer and actor and his mother an actress. He appeared onstage early in life, often being used when a play called for "a babe in arms". His first recorded appearance was at the Washington Theatre in Washington, D.C. where he appeared in a benefit performance for the minstrel Thomas D. Rice. It was there that the four-year-old Jefferson sang alternating stanzas in the song "Jump Jim Crow". His father died when he was 13, and young Jefferson continued acting and helping to support the family. Jefferson was twice married: at the age of 21 in 1850, to actress Margaret Clements Lockyer (1832–1861), whose early death left him with four children; and in 1867 to Sarah Warren, niece of William Warren the actor.