The Mr. Bluebeard stage manager William T.
Carlton (1863-) was one of the first to be arrested.
Carleton testified that he saw sparks shooting out
of the switchboard. The switchboard was located
directly beneath the bridge on which the carbon arc
lamp was operated.
In court testimony it was revealed that the fire
curtain snagged on the side lamp reflector during
the opening performance of Mr. Bluebeard, a
month prior, tearing small piece of the curtain.
An Iroquois house carpenter,
James Cummings, then assigned workers to
close the side lamps after every act. 'Trouble
was, Cummings was out on leave for 32 of the 37 days
the Iroquois was open. During his absence, no
workers were specifically assigned to close the
lamps. According to H. Hill, an Iroquois house
light operator critical of Carlton's performance,
Carlton relegated the task to whatever worker
happened to be closest.
It should be noted, that Hill was employed by the
Iroquois Theater whereas Carlton was employed by
Klaw & Erlanger. The combative relationship
that developed between Mr. Bluebeard and
Iroquois personnel during the trial must have made
it difficult for jurors to distinguish fact from
Though Carlton was among the early batch of 12
arrestees, released on $5,000 bond, he was not held
over for the grand jury trial.
William Carton immigrated to the U.S. from Canada in
1883. In 1903 his family lived in Manhattan
while he was the road with the Mr Bluebeard
company. His family consisted of a wife of 17
years, a Virginia native named Lois (1864-), and two
daughters, Evelyn (1884) and Catherine (1894-). Two
other children had died.
was not able to find William and his family after
1904. He was too young to retire but
employment in his craft may have become difficult
after all the negative Iroquois publicity. In
the 1900 census he described himself as an actor,
suggesting that stage management wasn't his first
Another William T. Carlton (1859-1930) in the
theater industry was a light opera singer and
company producer associated with the Bostonians.
Earlier in 1903 he performed a benefit concern in
Chicago with Jessie Bartlett Davis.