Pixley, Annie

SKU: AUT5157


Annie Pixley (nee Annie Shea, 1858-93) was an American stage actress. A native New Yorker, she grew up in California. She made her debut performing comic opera and, according to her New York Times obituary, was well known for her work on stage.  Autograph Card Writing Signed, n.d. -  4 1/4 x 2 1/2 written in k ink with gold edging all around and nice age-toning seen.  Overall, fine condition. 

Annie Pixley (1853-1893) was an American born stage actress who graced stages throughout Canada and the United States, beginning as part of a three-person sister act in the 1860s at the age of fourteen. 

After the sisters broke up the act and following her marriage to fellow actor Robert Fulford in the 1870s, Pixley embarked upon a successful solo career during which she played everything from Snow White to frontier princesses. She appeared on some of the major stages in the United States and Canada - and her travels eventually brought her to London’s Grand Opera House and Port Stanley’s former Fraser House Hotel where she and her husband and son Tommy (who died at age 12 in 1886) summered until her unexpected death at the residence of her brother-in-law, Edwin Fulford, in London, England in 1893. 

Apparently, some controversy surrounded the circumstances of Pixley's death including a claim by her mother and siblings that Robert Fulford and Annie's personal maid, Miss Annie Joyce, played a role in her demise which played itself out in the courts leading to some sensational press coverage at the time. After the courts were unable to find any concrete evidence, Fulford was absolved of any responsibility for her wife’s death and he set about the task of building the mausoleum that would house her late wife’s ashes and the exhumed body of their son Tommy. 

Fulford took a personal role in the design and construction of the building and no expense was spared. It was completed on a plot of land then adjacent to Woodland Cemetery at a cost of $20,000. Pixley, Tommy Fulford, three members of Fulford’s family and Robert Fulford himself after his death at age 70 in 1912 are interred in the Pixley-Fulford Mausoleum. 

While a tad short on narrative, Purcell's slim volume is very readable and chock full of interesting primary documents, including Census Rolls, Death Certificates, newspaper articles, and numerous photographs of  Annie Pixley in her various stage roles. Photographs also take readers inside the family mausoleum and document its contents. Sources are listed at the back.

While reading the book I could not help but think the story of Annie Pixley and her London area connections is one ripe for dramatization. Perhaps London's prolific playwright Jason Rip thinks so, too.