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Frank Bacon

Frank Bacon

Frank Bacon (1864–1922), actor and playwright. Born in Marysville, California, he spent time as a journalist and photographer before making his stage debut in San Jose, California, in 1890 as Sample Switchell in Ten Nights in a Barroom. Bacon remained in stock in San Jose for seventeen years, running a small farm to supplement his income, but after the 1906 earthquake he toured for three years as Sam Graham in The Fortune Hunter. In New York he appeared in Stop, Thief (1912), The Miracle Man (1914), The Cinderella Man (1916), and Barbara (1917), but his crowning moment came when he created the role of the boozy, easygoing spinner of tall tales, Lightnin' Bill Jones, in Lightnin', a play that he wrote with Winchell Smith that established a New York long‐run record for its time. Bacon played the part more than two thousand times and was touring with it when he died. Many critics saw his Lightnin' Bill as a latter‐day Rip Van Winkle and compared him, in both the style and quality of his acting, to Joseph Jefferson in the earlier play. Bacon acknowledged that his rough‐hewn but warm characterization was, in fact, modeled on Jefferson's.