Cora Brown-Potter

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Cora Brown-Potter (1857–1936)[1] was a professional actress.

Also known as Cora Urquhart Brown-Potter or Cora Urquhart Potter and billed as Mrs James Brown-Potter, Mrs. Brown-Potter, Mrs Brown Potter or Mrs Potter.


Born Cora Urquhart in New Orleans, she made her name as amateur in America and was trained by David Belasco. She was a glamorous red-head, especially celebrated for her costumes, and started a successful partnership with Kyrle Bellew at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in the New York production of Civil War in 1887, after which she and Bellew toured the world for the next ten years, referred to as the Potter-Bellew Company in many instances.

In the early 1890s they undertook a tour to Australia and the Far East.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Brought to South Africa by Luscombe Searelle in 1892, on her way back from the eastern tour, she performed for the Potter-Bellew Company in the Exhibition Theatre, doing scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Camille and Hamlet. They returned to England toward the end of February after the Exhibition Theatre in Cape Town burnt down, with all their costumes, just before a final performance of As You Like It.

She returned with a new company under her own name for a second, though short and less successful, season under the management of the Wheeler Theatre Company in June-July of 1907. Though Kyrle Bellew was no longer with her, the company included a fine performer in A.G. Poulton, but according to Boonzaier (1923) the rest of the company was not that great. The repertoire presented included Camille (Dumas), La Belle Marseillaise (Berton), Charlotte Corday (Bellew), Tosca (Puccini), The School for Scandal (Sheridan) and The Ironmaster (Pinero)


D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 393-4, 427

Fletcher, 1994,

Hartnoll, 1967.

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