October 7, 1871: Birth of Future Duluthian Adelaide Thurston

On this day in 1871, future Duluthian Adelaide Belle Sawyer was born in Wisconsin. Her family moved to Duluth in 1889, when she was 18. She quickly became involved in local theater, and by 1894 local newspapers were calling her “one of the most promising and brightest of the amateur performers of Duluth.” She was so full of promise, she left for New York City the next year and changed her last name to Thurston. She joined a touring company and spent the next twenty years barnstorming the country, becoming famous for roles in plays such as Polly Primrose, The Girl From Out Yonder, The Little Minister, and Sweet Clover. She performed in one motion picture, 1915’s The Shadow of a Great City. She would return to the Zenith City to see her family at Christmas and Thanksgiving, often performing at the Lyceum Theatre while she was in town. Her sister Eva, who also caught the acting bug, was a founder of Duluth’s Little theater. In 1922, retired from the stage, Thurston became a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee. She was quoted at the time as saying, “I left the world of make-believe to enter a world of reality and find it far more stimulating and interesting.” Thurston died on February 10, 1951, in New Jersey, at the age of 78. Read her complete biography by David Ouse here.

Adelaide Thurston photographed for Cosmopolitan magazine, July 1905. (Image: Duluth Public Library)thurston