Edwin Forrest – 1806-1872
One the great tragedians of the 19th-century American stage, Forrest started a feud with the English actor William Macready, which triggered in May 1849 the Astor Place riot in New York City as a mob of Forrest partisans stormed the Astor Place Opera House, where Macready was appearing. Twentytwo persons were killed and 36 wounded. Forrest’s reputation was another casualty of the riot. Two years later, he stirred a fresh scandal when he sued his actress wife for divorce on grounds of adultery. He lost, but obsessively appealed for 18 years, during which time he became a recluse. Forrest’s experience is an early example of the nation’s limitless appetite for scandal.