UNUSUAL CASTING—ULYSSES S. GRANT AS DESDEMONA. I recently came across the information that Ulysses S. Grant as a young man had played Desdemona in a production of Othello put on by soldiers. I cherished the story, but after a while I looked it up on Google. The story seems to be almost—but not completely—accurate. The production in question took place in Corpus Christi, Texas in December 1845 during preparations for the Mexican-American War. Here is what seems to be an authoritative article by Murphy Givens, who is a retired editor at the Corpus-Christi Caller-Times. The officers decided to stage Othello. Givens says: “Grant was urged to try out for the part [of Desdemona]. He had a trim figure and almost girlish good looks; his friends called him ‘Beauty.’ Though the costume fit perfectly, the officer playing the Moor couldn’t look at Grant without laughing.” Grant was replaced by a professional actress, and “Grant grew a beard to hide his girlish good looks.” So, to be strictly accurate, Grant won the part of Desdemona in auditions, but never performed it.
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