Harry Beckett (June 10, 1839 – October 24, 1880) was one of the six founders of The Lambs at the December 1874 dinner at Delmonico’s. He was the first Boy, from 1875-1879. Beckett was elected Shepherd and served one term, 1879-1880.
He was born in London. His father died at an early age, and he was raised by his mother. He was trained as a violinist but fell into comedy.
The first years of the club under Henry Montague as Shepherd and Beckett as Boy passed quietly. After Montague died suddenly in 1878, J. Lester Wallack was elected Shepherd unanimously. But during the next election, two years later, Beckett won by just one vote. On April 22, 1879, Beckett turned over the entire cash assets of The Lambs to new treasurer Edmund M. Holland: $80.40.
Beckett was Shepherd when The Lambs moved into the first permanent clubhouse at 34 West 26th Street from No. 19 East 16th Street. To save money, he moved the contents of the club, by himself, from house to house. The frequent trips raised the suspicion of patrolmen on the block who guarded Union Square. As the story goes, four officers stopped Beckett and he explained he was the Shepherd of The Lambs on the way to The Fold. They let him go, and his arrival at the clubhouse was met with laughter, until he produced pieces of the club billiard table from underneath his cloak.
He returned to England to put his children in school there. While in London he wished to fulfill a lifelong dream, to perform on the London stage after being a success in the U.S. However, the results were poor, he took sick, and died soon after.
Beckett died on October 24, 1880. In his Times obituary, the writer recalled Beckett’s charm and grace, writing: “An actor can make his personality felt to people even over the barrier of the footlights, and Mr. Beckett succeeded in doing this.”
Beckett is interred in the Brompton Cemetery in London in a section containing quite a few actors and musicians.