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James Keteltas Hackett : biography

September 6, 1869 - November 8, 1926

James Keteltas Hackett (September 6, 1869 – November 8, 1926) was an American actor and manager.


He was the son of James Henry Hackett, a comedian and celebrated Falstaff. His elderly father died age 71 when Hackett was just two years old thus never living to see Hackett grow to an adult. He was born in Ontario, Canada, and graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1891.

Hackett made his professional debut in Philadelphia in 1892 as Francois in The Broken Seal. In New York later that year, he played opposite Mrs. Potter. Later in the decade, he played Romeo to Olga Nethersole's Juliet, and Mercutio to Maude Adams's Juliet. Hackett played Captain Basil Jennico in the 1900 production of The Pride of Jennico with Bertha Galland in her New York stage debut.A History of the New York Stage from the First Performance in 1732 ..., Vol. 3 by Thomas Allston Brown 1903 pg. 612

In 1913, Adolph Zukor lured Hackett from the stage to star in director Edwin Porter's film The Prisoner of Zenda (1913), for a role which Hackett had played in the theater numerous times. Since feature films were in their infancy (indeed The Prisoner of Zenda is considered the first five-reel American film) Hackett was at first reluctant to take the part. Zukor tried to convince Hackett in person, and as Neal Gabler writes, "When Hackett came to visit Zukor, he was the very picture of the faded matinee idol. He wore a fur-collared coat with frayed sleeves and carried a gold-headed cane".

In 1897, he married the actress Mary Mannering and in 1911 Beatrice Mary Beckley. He and Mannering had a daughter Elise together.Famous Actor Families by Montrose Moses c.1906Great Stars of the American Stage by Daniel Blum c.1952 Beckley appeared with Hackett in Hackett's debut film The Prisoner of Zenda for Zukor's Famous Players company.Pictorial History of the Silent Screen by Daniel Blum c.1953 page 37

Recorder John K. Hackett (1821–1879) was his half-brother. In 1914, James inherited the larger part of the estate, valued at $1,389,049.46, from his niece Minnie (Hackett) Trowbridge (1850–1914), the only child of his brother John. At age 57, Minnie had married Francis Emory Trowbridge (1845–1910), and died without issue.; in NYT on March 5, 1914 in NYT on June 14, 1914


  • Strang, Famous Actors of the Day in America, (Boston, 1900)
  • William Winter, The Wallet of Time, (two volumes, New York, 1913)
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