1. Frontier Gentleman: “The Belle Siddons Saga” — An Old Time Radio Classic!

Listen to These Programs:  Frontier Gentleman: The Gambling Lady   ~  Frontier Gentleman: Belle Siddons Encore   ~   Frontier Gentleman: Belle Siddons Strikes Back   ~   Frontier Gentleman: The Last of Belle Siddons

For our Show #1 we played four episodes of Frontier Gentleman. All four were episodes in The Saga of Belle Siddons, a true historic figure in the Old West.  These episodes are a great deal of fun.  Who was Belle Siddons?  The following article will shed some light:

DEADWOOD - The faro queen of the early days of Deadwood was as pretty a girl as ever dealt cards across a gambling layout.  She was also as high born a lady as ever sacrificed her all for the cause of the Old South.  In Black Hills history she was known by her nom-de-plume, Madam Vestal.

In Deadwood Madam Vestal operated her own gaming room.  With a knowledge of refinement she furnished her den with a luxurious taste. In this setting the flawlessly groomed beauty, artfully jeweled and gowned, was hostess to a select clientele.  


Frontier Gentleman - The Belle Siddons Saga

Belle Siddons, aka Madame Vestal ***** courtesy of http://lastoftheplainsmen.freeforums.org/

Madam's establishment became the talk of the gulch and her personal technique the envy of every other gambler and entertainer in the old west. 

She never spoke of her past or denied that she was a young widow making her way in the world.  Such rumors won her sympathy.  Generous hearted patrons did not mind losing their bank roll to the lady of the faro game. They boasted of their losses, as if loosing to Madam Vestal was an honor.

In a way it was --- for in 1877 Madam Vestal could out charm any imported girl in any theater or dance hall.

Frontier Gentleman starring John Dehner

John Dehner who plays J.B. Kendall

Who she was, what she was, and the part that Deadwood played in her rise to power and eventual down fall was a thing of legend.  She revealed much about herself when, as a degraded outcast, she thought she was about to die.  All her life she had been slightly boastful and over confident of her powers to outwit others.  Eventually it was this trait that led to her last confession.

She was born Belle Siddons, the daughter of a politically powerful St. Louis family.  Belle received every advantage a university at Lexington could offer and her debut into society was the climax of a busy Jefferson City social season.

With family, fortune and captivating beauty, Belle Siddons had the world in her hand. As fate would have it, however, her dreams were shattered by outbreak of the civil war.  Being a loyal southerner, Belle determined to utilize her charms to the best possible advantage.

She became a meek, bewildered, southern woman when Union forces moved into her locality. The same tender solicitude that she had used to coax boys into signing up for the Confederate Army was later employed to charm the soldiers in blue.

Belle Siddons, rode, dined, danced and attended DeBar's opera house with union officers as her escorts.  She became a Confederate Spy and boasted of how she tricked staff officers to gain information she later relayed to Generals Price and Forrest, who were attacking Grant's supply lines. 

Union Major General Samuel R. Curtis

In December, 1862, General Curtis ordered her picked up for investigation as a spy.  One of her admirers tipped Belle off and she tried to escape, but was arrested at St. Genevive with incriminating evidence in her possession, and returned to Union headquarters.

 Confident of her beauty, appeal and position in society, Belle gambled that chivalry would come to her aid.   Were the Yanks making war on women?  She defied them to shoot her like a common spy.

General Curtis ordered her held in prison. Robbed of attention and her luxurious lifestyle, Belle offered a compromise and the Union authorities accepted.  She was sent south in a prisoner exchange --- honor bound to do only hospital work for the duration of the war.

She kept that promise.  

During the reconstruction period Belle Siddons turned up once again in Jefferson City as a lobbyist.  While in Jeff City she met and married Newt Hallet of Kansas City.  The couple moved to Texas where, a few years later, Hallet died of yellow fever.

From then on Belle Siddons-Hallett transformed herself into the mysterious Madam Vestal. While she never spoke of her past she did become the faro sensation of Wichita, Ellsworth, Fort Hayes, and Cheyenne.  She endured the hardships of the trail to reach the gold camps in the Black Hills where Deadwood seems to have fired her up with a zest for dangerous living.

Frontier Gentleman - The Belle Siddons Saga

The post above is quoted from an article that appeared in the Rapid City Journal on February 20, 2005, written by Joe Koller.

Okay.  History lesson is over --- it's time to listen.  Pay special attention to the sound effects (which I discuss briefly between the episodes).  They are among the best ever crafted for any  radio program and add much depth and richness to the broadcast!​

Why not curl up in a comfortable chair and give a listen?​

Here Are the Programs You Will Hear on Show #1:


The Gambling Lady

 Date: 6/29/58 (CBS)

Starring: John Dehner


Belle Siddons Encore

Date: 8/24/58  (CBS)

Starring: John Dehner


Belle Siddons Strikes Back

Date: 8/31/58  (CBS)

Starring: John Dehner


The Last of Belle Siddons

 Date: 9/4/58 (CBS)

Starring: John Dehner

Click Below to Listen to Show #1

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