Halstead, Claribel (Baird) 1973

Claribel Buford (Baird) Halstead, class of 1925, played the male lead, “The Rt. Hon. Benjamin Disraeli,” in USAO’s comic stage production Disraeli so well, that a businessman who saw it while passing through Chickasha said her portrayal eclipsed that of George Arliss in the New York stage version. Schooled on the stage under Francis Dinsmore Davis, she was selected by Miss Davis in 1927 as a charter member of the honorary Green Masque dramatic society. As well as performing in summer theater, Claribel studied and worked for six summers to earn her M.A. in Speech from the University of Michigan, 1936. Originally from Chickasha, she was nationally recognized as an outstanding stage performer in a great range of roles from tragedy to modern comedy, and went on to be one of the nation’s leading teachers of interpretive speech. In 1948 Claribel became the first graduate of the Oklahoma College for Women to return as commencement speaker and was listed in Who’s Who of American Women. Having graduated from OCW with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English degree, she taught speech at OCW from 1927-47. She joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1948 and taught there until she retired as full professor in theater department. Well known in the professional world as Claribel Baird (her first husband’s name), she later taught and performed under that name, even after she married William Halstead, who also taught drama at the University of Michigan. The University of Michigan is endowed with a professorship (drama) in her name, as well as the William and Claribel Halstead Scholarship Endowment.

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