Composer/violinist Herbert Dillea
(1870-1909), the Mr. Bluebeard company director,
urged the twenty-six-piece orchestra to continue playing
even as bits of flaming curtain fabric began falling
on their heads.
Dillea, born Herbert Otho Dilley, became a dentist
as a young man in Ohio. His love of music ultimately
drew him to composing and conducting. His best known
tune was "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder." Dillea's compositions were also used in Ward & Vokes
shows and other Klaw & Erlanger productions,
including Beauty and the Beast and Mother Goose.
Though the official cause of his death was
consumption, his family said he suffered a nervous
breakdown after the fire and never fully recovered.
His parents were J.B. Dilley and Anna M. (Hutchinson)
should be noted that a description of Dillea's
behavior by Iroquois house director, Antonio
Frosolono, varied from Dilea's report. According to
Frosolono, Dillea “went out like a shot out of a
gun; he went over the stand and everything. He went
under the stage. Then everybody else got out. I
still sat there because I did not see much danger to
myself, or anybody else. I saw the people when they
went out, and I heard the cries, and that is what
attracted my attention. I stayed there until
everybody else had gone out of the orchestra. The
time when I thought it was time to get out was when
the bass fiddle and the cello got to burning.”
Frosolono's sniping at Dillea may be another example
of conflict between Iroquois house personnel and
traveling Mr. Bluebeard personnel.