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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. XI, No. 1
Spring, 1987



As John Simon noted in his review of Barbara Gelb's monodrama My Gene, there's some confusion among O'Neill's chroniclers and critics as to the original name of his third and final wife, Carlotta Monterey. Some writers give it as Taasinge, others as Tharsing. The confusion is understandable, as the lady herself gave one or the other of the two names at different times, for the simple reason that both are essentially correct, and yet one is a little more right than the other.

Carlotta's father, Christian Nielsen Taasinge, left his home in Denmark at the age of sixteen and knocked about the world for several years as a seaman and ship's officer before he settled down in California to fruit farming and managing other people's farms. By the time he married his second wife, Nellie Gotchett, he had Americanized his name to Tharsing.

When Hazel, their only child, was about four, Nellie Tharsing left her husband, deposited her daughter with a sister who had several children, and proceeded to make her own way in vital, lusty San Francisco of the 1890s. Throughout childhood and in school Hazel was known as Tharsing, but later in life she at times said she was originally named Taasinge. Perhaps she thought it sounded more elegant than Tharsing, and it's also possible that she favored it in hopes that O'Neill's researchers would have a harder time in picking up and following her early trail. As her stage name suggests, Carlotta Monterey, in spite of her Danish, German and Dutch forbears, appeared more Latin than anything else.

Her closest living relative, a grandson named Gerald Eugene Stram, says: "There was a family--owned island off Copenhagen named Taasinge. I found it on a map once."

--Louis Sheaffer

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Carlotta Monterey (née Hazel Tharsing), as played by Colleen Dewhurst in the 1987 New York Shakespeare Festival production of My Gene by Barbara Gelb. Locked in St. Luke's, she recalls and relives the trials and joys of life with O'Neill. Photo: Martha Swope.

Christian N. Tharsing (n6 Taasinge), father of Carlotta, in a photo from Sacramento Union Makers of Northern California (1917). The Roman-senatorial similarity of James O'Neill, Sr. at the same age (67) can be seen on p. 7 of Louis Sheaffer's O'Neill, Son and Playwright. --Ed.



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