C. M. S. McLellan

Charles Morton Stewart McLellan (18651916) was a London-based American playwright and composer who often wrote under the pseudonym Hugh Morton. McLellan is probably best remembered for the musical The Belle of New York and drama Leah Kleschna.

C. M. S. McLellan
The Sketch; December 11, 1901
Charles Morton Stewart McLellan

(1865-09-04)September 4, 1865
DiedSeptember 16, 1916(1916-09-16) (aged 51)
Other namesCharles M. S. McLellan
Hugh Morton
Spouse(s)Marie Adelaide

Early life

McLellan was born on September 4, 1865, in Bath, Maine[1][2] to William H. and Florida (née McLanathan) McLellan. His father was a successful wholesaler who later formed the shipbuilding firm, E and S. Company. Florida McLellan, the daughter of a ship's captain, was described in her 1898 obituary as having "unusual business talent and tact."[3] At an early age, McLellan's family moved to Boston, where he attended Hopkinson School (founded by the father of artist Charles Hopkinson) and Chauncy Hall Preparatory School.[4][5]


McLellan began as a journalist, eventually rising to become editor of the publication Town Topics. After finding success in the late 1890s, he left journalism to write full-time for the stage. Over the remainder of his life, McLellan produced a steady stream of mostly light and often popular musical comedies, frequently in collaboration with the composer Gustave Kerker and later Ivan Caryll.[6]

McLellan’s first major success,The Belle of New York, opened at the Casino Theatre on September 28, 1897, to mixed reviews and closed after a two-month run. The following year the show was brought to London, where it opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre on April 12, 1898, and went on to have an extremely successful run of 697 consecutive performances, closing on December 30, 1899. The Belle of New York later proved successful on tours of Australia, New Zealand and the British provinces and returned to Broadway for revival engagements in 1900 and 1921. The musical was made into two Hollywood films, the first in 1919 with Marion Davies, Etienne Girardot and L. Rogers Lytton, and the second in 1952 with Fred Astaire, Vera-Ellen, Marjorie Main and Keenan Wynn.[7][8][9][10]

Leah Kleschna, a melodrama about the daughter of a Paris jewel thief, was first produced at the Manhattan Theatre in December 1904, and the following year at London’s New Theatre. Minnie Maddern Fiske played the title role in New York, and Lena Ashwell played it in London. Leah Kleschna was portrayed by Carlotta Nillson in the 1913 silent film version of the play produced by the Famous Players Film Company.[11][11][12][13]


McLellan died on September 21, 1916, at his long-time residence in Esher, a small town on the outskirts of Greater London.[14] He was survived by his wife, Marie Adelaide McLellan, a native of Brooklyn, New York. The couple had three children, Gabrielle, Hugh and Elizabeth.[15] A few years after his death his son married the French actress Yvonne Arnaud and in 1927 Marie McLellan published a revised version of The Belle of New York. His younger brother, George Brinton McLellan (1867–1932), was a successful London-based theatrical manager and producer probably best known for the popular play Is Zat So? and for his marriages to musical comedy actresses Pauline Hall and Madge Lessing.[14][16][17]


Source: Who's Who in the Theatre:[18]


  1. McLellan’s first middle name is spelled Marton on his 1915 US Passport Application
  2. Chas. Marton Stewart McLellen-US Passport Application-September 13, 1915-Ancestry.com scan
  3. The Local News – Bangor Daily Whig & Courier (Bangor, ME) March 22, 1898; Issue 70; col B
  4. Who's Who on the Stage, Walter Browne, E. De Roy Koch; 1908; p. 292 (Google Books)
  5. Who's Who in America, John W. Leonard; 1901-1902; p.736 (Google Books)
  6. "C.M.S. M’Lellan, Playwright, Dies", The New York Times; September 23, 1916; p. 10
  7. Munsey's Magazine, Volume 343 (Google Books)
  8. The Belle of New York, Internet Broadway Database
  9. The Belle of New York (1919) Internet Movie Database
  10. The Belle of New York (1952), Internet Movie Database
  11. The Bystander Magazine, July 7, 1905, p. 487 (Google Books)
  12. Leah Kleschna, Internet Broadway Database
  13. Leah Kleschna, Internet Movie Database
  14. "C.M.S. M'Lellan, Playwright, Dies", The New York Times; September 23, 1916; p. 10
  15. UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 24 Sep 1898; Ancestry.com scan
  16. Bath Independent (Bath, Maine) May 15, 1897: P. 6
  17. "G.B. M'Lellan Dies Suddenly in London", The New York Times; February 2, 1932; p. 32
  18. Who's Who in the Theatre, Volume 3; pp. 408-409 (Google Books)
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