Elsie Leslie 1881-1966

Born Orange, New York


Elsie Leslie made her theatrical debut at the age of four. At seven she was hailed as a star for her performance as Little Lord Fauntleroy, the popular hero of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s much-loved novel of the same name. Two years later, she made headlines again in the dramatized version of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, prompting the celebrated author to proclaim Leslie “the sweetest girl in the world.” Concerned about this success, her parents pulled her from the theater and sent her to school. Out of the spotlight for nearly a decade, Leslie resumed her acting career in 1899. Ben-Yusuf created this portrait to publicize her comeback in her new role as Lydia Languish, the hopelessly romantic ingenue in Richard Sheridan’s comedy The Rivals. Leslie continued to act, but never received the adulation as an adult that she had earned as a child.

Platinum print, 1899
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress