An original signed photograph of the British stage actor, the common-law husband and manager of the famously awful soprano Florence Foster Jenkins. He is shown as a young man in a serious pose, with his arms folded in front of him, and has signed at the foot. Photographed by Packard Studios. Together with an autograph letter from Bayfield to a Mr. Winslow, dated December 9, 1918, sending his correspondent the signed photograph and also expressing his willingness to help in a theatrical project. "Your letter interests me for it is the first sign of the time to come when the Y.M.C.A. will attempt to understand the stage and the power for good existent both in the lines of the worthy people who depict character & emotion, and in the art of the theatre..." 4 pp. Two holes punched at the left edge of both the photograph and the letter; otherwise in fine condition. Photograph 5 x 7 inches (12.7 x 17.8 cm); letter 5 x 8 inches (12.4 x 20 cm).
Florence Foster Jenkins, an American girl born in 1868 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to a well-to-do family, has become a legend as “the world’s worst opera singer.” She made some vanity 78 rpm records for the Mel-o-tone label during World War Two, and in October 1944 hired Carnegie Hall for a recital. The bad reviews that resulted from that recital were said to break her heart and she died a few weeks later at age 76, but the recordings have kept her name and her art alive. In recent years there have been several plays about her, and this year there are three full-length movies. The first, a French comedy-drama titled “Marguerite,” was released earlier this year. A second, produced in Britain and starring Meryl Streep as Jenkins, is being released in the USA in August, 2016, and later this year a German docu-drama starring soprano Joyce di Donato as Jenkins will premiere. Two different full-length biographies of Jenkins have appeared within the last weeks in England, one by Darryl Bullock and the other by Jasper Rees. However, autograph material and other historical memorabilia of Jenkins is of the utmost rarity.