Biography and History

Born June 2, 1874 in Sewickly, Pennsylvania, Lulu Glaser was an early fan of the theater. The singing lessons she took since early childhood paid off when she managed to convince her parents to allow her to audition for a role in the Francis Wilson Opera Company. Wilson himself took an immediate liking to her and admitted her into his chorus. After six months, as a result of a cold that the leading lady had caught, Lulu Glaser was called upon to take her place as the star in The Lion Tamer. The leading lady soon left the company, following Glaser's immediate success as her replacement, and Glaser proceeded to take over all of her roles, including those in The Merry Monarch and Erminie. By the 1895-96 season, Glaser was promoted to the role of prima donna of the company. She was featured in The Chieftain and Half a King.

In 1900 Glaser left Wilson's company to open the Lulu Glaser Opera Company where her first production, Sweet Anne Page, received lukewarm receptions. However, her second production, Dolly Varden, which opened the following year, was to be her biggest hit. For the next three years, Dolly Varden created a successful business on the road.

From 1904-1912, in addition to her first marriage and divorce with Ralph Herz, there was a succession of new operas, most directed by a variety of managers. None of them managed to attract even close to the amount of attention that Dolly Varden received. A Madcap Princess came first, followed by Miss Dolly Dollars, The Aero Club, Lola from Berlin, and The Merry Widow. Mlle. Mischief, under the management of the Shubert Brothers, followed and became Glaser's biggest success since Dolly Varden. The next two productions, The Girl from the States and The Girl and the Kaiser, also managed by the Shubert Brothers, however, were dismal failures, and her last comic opera in 1911, Miss Dudelsack, convinced her to withdraw from the theater scene.

For several years afterwards, Glaser performed short musical sketches with her second husband, Thomas Richards, from whom she later divorced. However, by 1917, she had stopped performing altogether and slipped away into quiet farm life to raise chickens in Connecticut. Lulu Glaser passed away on September 5, 1958, at the age of 84.

Source: From the finding aid for TC033

  • Lulu Glaser Papers. 1821-1966 (inclusive), 1895-1917 (bulk).

    Call Number: TC033

    The Lulu Glaser Papers contains various artifacts, letters, photographs, and other items belonging to Lulu Glaser, a popular singer and actress during the early 1900s. Glaser broke into show business at age seventeen and quickly proceeded to become a leading star. After several years of extreme popularity, however, Lulu Glaser faded from the front stage, making her last stage appearance in 1917. For the remainder of her life, she lived on her Connecticut farm in a hermit-like seclusion.