JAMES M. HILL - Obituary

NYT, October 5, 1912.

J. M. Hill, Old Manager, Dies

Exploited Margaret Mather and "The Old Homestead"

James M. Hill, an old time theatrical manager, died on Wednesday at St. Luke's Hospital after a short illness. His home was at 97 West 163d Street. Mr. Hill belonged to the theatrical life of New York of the period of the eighties and before. He had been business manager, producer, and theatre manager, and his reputation in his time was comparable with that of the most prominent of the present-day theatrical people. For the last fifteen years or more, however, he had been out of the active theatrical world. When he retired from this business he became interested in financial matters and conducted a brokerage office, a business in which he had been interested before he went into theatrical work.

Mr. Hill was noted for being the discoverer of Margaret Mather and of Denman Thompson. Miss Mather he brought out from a comparatively small position on the stage and advanced her into stardom, so that she became known as one of the important actresses in her day. Mr. Thompson he first saw as the leading actor in a rural New England sketch called "Uncle Josh Whitcomb."

On Mr. Hill's advice Mr. Thompson elaborated the sketch into "The Old Homestead," and continued playing it up to the time of his death. For a time during the middle '80's Mr. Hill was manager of the Union Square Theatre when that was a regular production house, and presented there a number of important plays, including "The Henrietta."

James M. Hill, the manager who supposedly brought Denman Thompson to fame. He is my g-g-g-uncle. Following is an obit. I have other articles from the 1880s that outline is role in Thompson's rise.

James Hill's family originally was from Loudon, NH (ca. 1780s), then moved to Exeter, Maine. I believe the Hill line extends back to Valentine Hill of Durham, NH. Children and grandchildren of Valentine married into the Thompson family. So now I am wondering if there is both a professional and a family tie.

Thanks, Kate.

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Updated: 16 Jan 2017 12:51 PM