becoming an actor, former barber Samuel Bell
(1870-1921) lived with his widowed mother in
Beverly, Massachusetts. In the Mr.
Bluebeard traveling company he performed in the
chorus, singing and dancing in the
octet and on stage during the fire at the
Iroquois Theater December 30, 1903.
The group was performing the "Pale
Moonlight" number on the dimly lit stage during
when the fire broke out, making their observations
of especial interest to authorities. Bell was
one of three who urged calm on the audience from the
stage, the other two being
Eddie Foy and
Sam sent a telegraph to his
mother and brother, Fred E. Bell, the day after the
fire to assure them he was safe.
Along with seven other men in
the octet, Samuel was arrested the night of the
fire and jailed at the Harrison street police
station on Harrison and Pacific, held on $5,000 bond.
(The arrests were made to prevent octet members from
leaving Chicago before their testimony could be
gathered in a
coroner's inquest that began on January 6,
1904.) Women in the group were arrested and
allowed to post a $1,000 bond.
Unable to post bail
immediately, Bell remained in jail overnight. Attorneys
Benjamin and Thomas S. Stevens represented the
Bluebeard cast members.
Samuel was one of many
children born to the late Samuel Bell and Mary
Elizabeth Pickett Bell. Three years after the
Iroquois Theater fire he married Cora Flanders and
by 1910 operated a bowling alley in Beverly.