From Deep in the Oldies Vaults
- The lives of the countless billions of people who came before us are lost in the sands of time. All that is left of them is the dry written word.
- But in the early 20th century we gained the ability to record sound and moving pictures. In a small way we can now watch, listen to and understand our past.
Chauncey Olcott (born John Chancellor Olcott) (July 21, 1858 – March 18, 1932) was an American stage actor, songwriter and singer of Irish descent.
He was born in Buffalo, New York. His mother, Margaret (née Doyle), was a native of Killeagh, County Cork.
In the early years of his career Olcott sang in minstrel shows, before studying singing in London during the 1880s. Lillian Russell played a major role in helping make him a Broadway star. When the producer Augustus Pitou approached him in 1893 to succeed William J. Scanlan as the leading tenor in sentimental operettas on Irish themes, Olcott accepted and performed pseudo-Irish roles for the remainder of his career.
Olcott combined the roles of tenor, actor, lyricist and composer in many productions. He wrote the complete scores to Irish musicals such as Sweet Inniscara (1897), A Romance of Athlone (1899), Garret O'Magh (1901), and Old Limerick Town (1902). For other productions he collaborated with Ernest R. Ball and George Graff in works such as The Irish Artist (1894), Barry of Ballymore (1910), Macushla (1912), and The Isle o' Dreams (1913). There are some 20 such works between 1894 and 1920.
In 1925, a serious illness forced him to retire, and he moved to Monte Carlo where he died of pernicious anemia in 1932. His body was brought home and interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.