The comedian and manager John L. Toole was born in London on 12 March 1830, the youngest son of James and Elizabeth Toole. His father was the celebrated Toastmaster of the East India Company. Originally a clerk in a wine merchant’s office, young Toole turned to the stage, joining Dillon’s company in Dublin. He appeared in London at the Lyceum in 1856, as Fanfaronade in “Belphegor”. In 1858 he joined Ben Webster’s company at the New Adelphi, remaining for nine years. One of his successes there was Bob Cratchit in his friend Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”. Toole eventually played in almost every theatre in the United Kingdom, and he toured the United States, Australia and New Zealand. In 1879 he took over the lease of the Charing Cross Theatre in William Street, gave it his name in 1882, and managed it until 1895, when gout forced his retirement. The theatre was pulled down to make way for an extension of old Charing Cross Hospital.
Toole had become a member of the Garrick Club in 1864. He died on 30 July 1906 in Brighton, where he had retired. Toole and Henry Irving were great friends, and they appeared together in a revival of “Robert Macaire” at the Lyceum on 14 June 1883 (see Burnim and Wilton, “The Richard Bebb Collection in the Garrick Club”, B0163). (OCT, WWW)