Noah Miller Ludlow (1795–1886) was an American manager and actor. One of the great pioneers of the American theatre, he was born in New York and made his debut as an actor in Albany in 1813. Ludlow acted with Samuel Drake before he organized his own troupe in 1817 called the American Theatrical Commonwealth Company. For a decade he toured regions of the South and Midwest (then the West), many of which had never seen proper live theatre before. In 1835, he joined with Sol Smith to form a reorganized, reinvigorated American Theatrical Commonwealth Company, which soon was managing theatres in all the major cities along the Mississippi River and in some inland towns as well. It was dissolved when Ludlow elected to retire after a farewell entertainment at the New Orleans St. Charles Theatre in 1853. He was considered a competent actor, especially in comic roles, but his claim to fame rests on two other achievements: his acumen and courage as a theatrical producer and theatre manager in regions largely ignored by most professional luminaries, and his superb autobiography, Dramatic Life as I Found It, 1880, filled with historically important and fascinating pictures of America and its playhouses.
Scope and Contents: 1851: August 17. Autograph letter signed from Ludlow to Solomon Smith concerning his travels in the East and discussing prospective jobs, and the formation of a new acting company. 4 pages