Booth's father, Junius Brutus Booth, emigrated from England in 1821 and
quickly established himself as one of the great actors of the day. Most of
his children were born out of wedlock, and most followed him onto the stage.
John Wilkes Booth started his career in 1855 in Baltimore, and then in
Philadelphia. Initially, he didn't show promise but in 1858 he moved to
Richmond, Virginia where he became more confident as an actor and grew popular with audiences.
He temporarily enlisted in the Confederate army in 1959 in order to witness the hanging of abolitionist John Brown - afterwards he returned to Richmond and was discharged. He did not fight in the Civil War (apparently having promised his mother that he would not join the Confederate army). However, according to some reports he was actively engaged in smuggling medical supplies to Confederate forces.
He left the stage in 1864 to concentrate on his oil investments (bought from his earnings as an ...