William Gillette’s Last Performance – Today in History: February 27

Detail from a portrait of William Gillette - New York Public Library Digital Gallery, Billy Rose Theatre Division

William Gillette

William Gillette

On February 27, 1936, William Gillette made his last appearance on any Connecticut stage at the Bushnell Memorial auditorium in Hartford, starring in Austin Strong’s comedy Three Wise Fools. After a thunderous ovation at the final curtain, Gillette, then in his mid-80s, thanked the audience for their “fine performance.” He would go on to perform the play in New York but died nearly a year later, never returning to a Connecticut stage. Gillette is probably best remembered for his 1,300 performances in the lead role of his own play Sherlock Holmes, written in 1899.

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