21 March 2017

Tombstone Tuesday : Joseph Kline Emmet

This week's Tombstone Tuesday is on the mausoleum vault of Irish-American Joseph Kline Emmet (1841-1891). His family vault is located in Albany Rural Cemetery. Emmet was a stage actor who successfully promoted Germanism in the Albany theatre and stage. Emmet became known as the originator of German dialect comedy. His performances combined graceful dancing, singing of sentimental or comic songs, and yodeling. Emmet became enormously popular in December 1869, when he created a character known as “Fritz Von Vonderblenkenstoffen” in a show called Fritz, Our Cousin German. The performance returned to Albany for an eleven day run at the Academy of Music in April 1870.[1] On October 18, 1870, Emmet again returned to Albany, this time at the Trimble Opera House, with his performance of Fritz. He had just completed seventy-five consecutive nights at Wallack’s in New York City. The Albany Argus advertised the show as a “magnificent reception of the talented young comedian, Mr. Joseph K. Emmet… in his great specialty of the German Emigrant… in which he will introduce songs, dances, and instrumental solos.…”[2] Emmet made Albany his permanent home in 1882. He erected a mansion on Van Rensselaer Boulevard known as “Fritz Villa.” Later, his former property was transformed into Wolfert’s Roost Country Club.[3] The former Laughlin Street in North Albany was renamed to Emmet Street in honor of Albany’s celebrated performer in June 1879.

Emmet vault

Peek inside the Emmet vault

[1] Phelps, Players of a Century, p. 305. Albany Argus, April 20, 1870, 1:9.
[2] Albany Argus, October 18, 1870, 1:9.
[3] Reynolds, Albany Chronicles, p. 722. Howell and Tenney, eds., History of the County of Albany, N. Y., pp. 706-707.