LFAnudgedprofJ9/12/18

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Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, California is the final resting place of Harry S. Duffield, who attained fame as an actor after his Civil War drummer boy stint.

A movie poster from Harry Duffield’s career as an actor for the movie “For Those We Love,” from 1921.

Harry Duffield also appeared in the movie “Wise Fool.”

Harry Saunders Duffield

May 3, 1850 – Oct. 13, 1921

Harry was born in New Orleans opposite the Cathedral on State Street. He was the son of Saunders Balch Duffield and Sarah Twogood Duffield, both of whom were accomplished artists in dramatic and theatrical work. Tragically, Sarah, in the flower of her career, died at Charleston, South Carolina, on Nov. 1, 1854. Harry orphaned at age four and a half, was placed in the care of Mr. and Mrs. James Jackson, who were nearby loyal friends of his parents. The Jacksons gave the lad private tutors early on. All along life’s upward way Harry would acquire fairly strong doses of formal schooling, and he would turn these to good use.

In 1857, Harry, now seven, rejoined his father, Saunders, in Mobile, Alabama, where he continued his education in an academy. Then he attended Spring Hill College. Early in 1862, at age eleven, because of the on-set of war and its strained circumstances, Harry got separated from Saunders. From time to time he would be double orphaned, effectually. At this point in his life, serendipity seemed to take over, for Harry came under the aegis of Harry McCarthy, author of popular lyric songs of that day. Yes, Harry McCarthy, “the Arkansas Comedian,” whose most beloved anthem was that “Southern patriotic song” The Bonnie Blue Flag which he wrote, arranged and sang at his personation concerts.”  The timing of its arrival could not have been better. His Missouri and The Volunteer numbered among his successes. During their tour of the Confederate South, little Harry assisted big Harry who entertained in many cities; often Little Harry peddled and sold his benefactor’s songs among the audiences.

That fall of 1862, after their return home to Mobile, Harry, still only 12½ years, schemed to get himself into the C.S.A., for he was bursting with patriotism. We can only report that he did achieve this ambition, for he was accepted as a drummer boy in the Twentieth Alabama Infantry. With this regiment Harry Duffield served effectively for nearly six months in the command of Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith (1824 – 1893). At length, when Gen. Kirby-Smith learned of Harry’s extreme youth, he ordered Duffield to be discharged and provided him enough funds to pay for his travel – through federal lines under a flag of truce – to Cincinnati, Ohio, where his father was known to be living. Re-united with Saunders Duffield in Cincinnati, Harry attended school.

About the time he turned thirteen, Harry was allowed to go to New York City, where it was arranged that he would be given employment by an actor named William H. Crisp. Harry took charge of Crisp’s stage wardrobe and office. Within weeks, Harry made his stage debut, spoke his first lines as a page. When the season drew to a close, he was hired as assistant to a magician whose venture shortly failed. Harry next joined the Waldron Family of players, who traveled under the stage title of “The Queen Sisters.” Finally, after a period of somewhat turbulent experience, he rejoined his father in Cincinnati.”  Saunders was a leading stock-company manager of that day, exercising control of theatres not only in Cincinnati but also in Louisville and Nashville. Under his father’s own tutelage Harry was given excellent instruction, and this equipped him for his chosen profession-acting.

Indeed, the entire adult life of Harry S. Duffield became one of progressive advancement as an actor. In 1880, he was living with his wife, Mary E., in Hudson County, New Jersey. He was living also with his son, Charles L.,  an un-named infant daughter, and a son/stepson/adoptive son named Arthur, 12, born in Scotland. {Census report}

He came in contact with many great players who inspired him. Harry became a leading name in stock-company theatre life. In the new century he was drawn to Hollywood and actually got into the movies before he died in Los Angeles, where his last known address was 2742 Francis Avenue. Yes, you could say that he did “make it to the top.” Harry S. Duffield appeared in five movies circa 1920-21 and co-starred in one with Lon Chaney! It was called “For Those We Love.”

This is a movie poster from a 1921 newspaper for the movie “For Those We Love,” in which Duffield costarred with Lon Chaney.

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