Chauncey Olcott, The Irish Tenor
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What it is:
Cabinet card measuring 4.25 x 6.5 inches.
What I know about it:
Photographer is Launey of New York. Otherwise undated and unidentified, but see below.
Once again, I find myself singing the praises of the internet. Not only does it let me buy antique photos, but it lets me research them once I have them. I’ve had this one lying around a while. It looked rather theatrical, literally, like the portrait of an actor or opera singer or something, especially given that it’s from New York. There’s also the clue of the two lines of scratched-out printing at the bottom, which I suspected was a name. Names on old cabinet cards are usually only printed when it’s a photo of somebody notable being published. So I finally decided to try to figure out who this guy is. I did a Google image search on “Launey cabinet card”, and it wasn’t long before this exact image showed up in undamaged form, revealing that the deleted words are Chauncey Olcott / “The Irish Tenor”. (The white spot on his elbow is just additional damage.) Though billed as “The Irish Tenor”, Chancellor “Chauncey” Olcott (1858-1932) was actually born in Buffalo, New York. He was a Broadway star, a singer and actor, but also a notable songwriter. Perhaps his most famous song was “My Wild Irish Rose”, and a 1947 Hollywood biopic with Dennis Morgan as Olcott was titled after the song. Olcott died, one hopes with some flair, in Monte Carlo. The remaining mystery of this photo is why somebody would have obliterated the name.