hat is Twelfth Night Club, Inc.?
Twelfth Night Club, Inc. is the oldest club for professional women of the theater in the United States.
It was founded in 1891 by Alice Fischer (who married the Actor William Harcourt). She envisioned a sister organization to the Lambs and the Players. Its original name was the F.A.D.’s, which stood for fencing, acting and dancing. It was Daniel Frohman who suggested “The Twelfth Night Club” would be a more appropriate name for a club whose members were all Broadway leading ladies. This was the name under which we were incorporated in 1893. We still have our original charter from New York State.
Our archives contain many autographed photographs of past members and guests of Twelfth Night: our first President, Viola Allen (shown above), and Laurette Taylor, May Robson, Blanche Ring, Louise Drew, Minnie Maddern Fiske, Julia Marlowe, Helen Modjeska, Sarah Bernhardt, Helen Bonfils, Maida Reade and Helen Hayes, to name a few.
There were also many great men of the American theater who were friends of Twelfth Night: Daniel Frohman, Edwin Booth, John Drew, John Barrymore, David Belasco, Joseph Jefferson, Chauncey Alcott and David Warfield.
Today, our members work in all areas of theater, TV and film. We are established as a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising money for theater-related charities as well as providing our members with a warm and relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the company of other theater professionals.
We are an all-volunteer organization, existing completely through contributions and the dues of our members and Gentleman Friends. Almost every month we hold a Sunday afternoon meeting with a special theme or celebrity guest. Anniverdary Party guests in recent years have included: Rosemary Harris, Angela Lansbury, Frances Sternhagen, Estelle Parsons, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Lavin, Lee Grant, Bebe Neuwirth, Sally Struthers, Don Correa and Sandy Duncan.
Our Players and Playwrights group continues to hold readings and staged productions. Membership participation at all levels (writing, performing, directing and production) is encouraged and welcomed.
Currently The Actor’s Fund of America is generously providing us space to hold our functions. But we are still searching for a permanent home where we can display our extensive memorabilia of the American Theater, and continue as a support network of encouragement and companionship for Actresses in the 21st century.
If you are interested in learning more about The Twelfth Night Club, Inc. please write to us. Contributions in any amount to help further our charity work are welcome, as are prospective members.
As an active member in the 70s-80s I have fond memories of meetings and teas (and a few good pictures..I think I was host (or whatever we called it) for Maureen Stapleton and for Hermione Gingold)). I was in NYC for a five years, from Vancouver BC, doing research on David Belasco and his era and sending theatre reviews to a Vancouver radio station and a few spots for CBC radio.
I became a member after interviewing the wonderful, late, Madge West who urged, and sponsored, my involvement. Madge had eirbeen a child actress for Belasco and appeared with his big star Blanche Bates in early 1900s (I have accurate data) I just came across their pic and wonder if you would like it for your archives. They were both 12th Nighters. Madge was still working in TV in the 80s.
I’m trying to recall names of my fellow members and only one comes quickly to mind Maddie Fetterman, who died several years ago.
I also wanted to check re a lithograph of La revue blanche by toulouse lautrec which I purchased at one of the clubs sales around 1980. I just discovered it with some Belasco program repros. Not sure if it’s a real lithograph or a member’s rendition!!
Alas there will be not 12th night visits for me, my travelling has been totally curtailed since I’ve started to break! I’ll soon be 86 so I guess a slow down is inevitable (and frustrating)
Let me know if you would like the madge west picture and I’ll send it. I doubt that you are still in those very funky meeting rooms (Señor Wences lived across the hall I think. elizabeth (liz) carroll
Thanks for your kind comments. We do things slowly at the Club, hence this belated response. You may remember some of our current officers, who were also in the Club when you were a member in the 70’s and 80s. You’re correct, we are no longer at the Woodward on 55th st, and Senor Wences has, no doubt, moved on. Please send an email to our address at TNC1891@aol.com if you would still like to share the photo of Madge West. I’m not sure we can authenticate your Lautrec litho, but there are other ways to do that, I’m sure. Thanks again for your note. Respectfully, Jami Fields