41 Charles Dornonville de la Cour

Born on 22 June 1838 in Copenhagen to Niels Georg la Cour (no. 13) and Emilie Antoinette la Cour, Charles wanted a career at sea, and, in 1853, at the age of 15, he went on a three-month voyage to England. Having passed both his ship’s mate exams in Copenhagen in 1853 and 1854, he also worked at sea in 1855 in the West Indies and New York and, in 1855-56, in England, but having lost his ship at sea, he returned home to Copenhagen by way of France, Belgium and Germany.

Once back in Denmark, Charles wanted to enrol at the royal Danish naval academy, but he was unlucky at the entrance examination, so instead he took and passed the entrance exam for the Landkadetakademi*. He graduated from the academy in 1856, was promoted to second lieutenant in 1858 and was then assigned to the 3rd Dragoon’s Regiment in Aarhus. After his transfer to the 6th Regiment at Wansbeck in 1863, he was made adjutant to the outpost commander at Dannevirke and Dybbøl in 1864, and in the Second Schleswig War* he fought in the Battle of Dybbøl on 18 April 1864. On 27 June that same year, he was made a Knight of the Order of Dannebrog*. He was stationed in Kolding for a while, but at his own request was transferred to the Aarhus dragoons again in 1865.

Charles’ first wife was Karen Christiane Judithe Dornon-ville de la Cour (née Christensen), and they were married on 22 June 1865 in Aarhus. Born on 11 March 1838 in Aarhus, Judithe, as she was called, was a daughter of a grocer, iron founder and civilian captain by the name of Christen Christensen and his wife, Caroline Agnete Brorson Schinnerup. Judithe was a popular singing teacher and later held in esteem as a singer. She died on 5 October 1875 in Copenhagen.

Charles left the military on 28 May 1866 with a pension and the rank of first lieutenant when the new army act passed by the Danish parliament required cuts to be made in the cavalry. A civilian now, Charles built a lime kiln near Risskov, but he closed it again in the autumn of 1867. In October of that year, he was hired as an assistant to work for the Jutland-Funen railroad company Jernvejes Drift, before moving to the Railroad Office in 1870 and resigning in 1872. Charles debuted as an actor at the Folketeateret theatre in Copenhagen on 27 August 1872 but left it in 1876. Some time later that year, Charles and his wife joined Foglit’s troupe of actors and went with them on a trip to Norway, but they returned in 1877 to the Folketeateret theatre, although only for one season.

Charles married his second wife, Eleonora (Ella) Caroline Dornonville de la Cour (née Møller), on 12 August 1876 in Copenhagen. Born on 31 January 1851 in Frederiksberg, Ella, as she was called, was a daughter of Lars Møller, a butcher, andKaren Marie Møller. She began working as a singer at the Folketeatret theatre in 1872 and as an actress there in 1873. Having performed in theatres in Norway between 1877 and 1881, she returned to Copenhagen in 1882 and performed at the Dagmar-teatret until 1884. Ella and Charles separated in 1883 and were divorced in 1886. After the separation, Ella performed at the Casino theatre and again at Folketeatret in 1908-09. Her film debut was sometime around 1908, with the Nordisk Film company, for whom she performed in some 50 films up until the end of 1911. Between 1913 and 1916, she worked at Kinografen and performed in ten or so films. Her last film was Swedish-made Häxen (“The Witch”) from 1922, when she was 65 years old.

After an unsuccessful attempt to make a career in business, Charles went to Norway again, this time as the leader of a small theater company, and he and his wife worked as actors in Denmark, Norway and Sweden (one tour took them all the way north to Vardø, near the northernmost tip of Norway) until, in 1882, they were both hired by the newly created Dagmar Theatre in Copenhagen. Charles left this theatre as a result of separating from his wife and travelled in August 1883 to Norway, where he again tried to join the business community, but was forced to accept work as an actor.

In October 1886, Charles was hired by Folkebladet, an illustrated weekly magazine based in Christiania (now Oslo), but he lost this position after a year. In March 1888, he got a job with the Nationaltidende newspaper in the same city, which he held until the paper ceased publication on New Year’s Day in 1891. He then joined the staff of Norges Sjøfartstidende (“Norway’s Maritime Gazette”) in June 1891, becoming editor in December 1894, when the paper reorganised itself as a limited liability company. Age and deafness caused Charles to resign from the paper in October 1913, and he and his third wife moved to Copenhagen. From October 1914 until his death, he had free lodgings with Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Louise’s foundation (a Masonic foundation).

Charles’ third wife was Elisabeth (Betty) Sophie Alfrida Dornonville de la Cour (née Nyegård); they married on 19 June 1886 in what is today Oslo, Norway. Betty was born on 27 August 1844 in Copenhagen, and her father, M. Nyegård, had a master’s degree in law and worked as a recorder (a type of judge). She joined the Kasino theatre company at an early age, later acted with the Orlamund company and subsequently worked for a number of years as an actress in Norway. Charles died on 10 July 1921, less than a month after celebrating his silver wedding anniversary with Betty, who died only a few months later, on 28 September 1921. (Five children: Copenhagen Line, first branch.)