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Kitty Melrose, English musical comedy actress and singer, London, circa 1909

January 10, 2013

Kitty Melrose (1883-1912),
English musical comedy actress and singer;
(photo: Rita Martin, London, circa 1909)

This real photograph of the actress and singer Kitty Melrose was published in London about 1909 by A. & G. Taylor in its ‘Reality’ Series, no. 1353.

Miss Melrose first came to notice in 1905 when she made an appearance as Rectory Belle in a revival of Seymour Hicks’s musical dream play, Bluebell (Aldwych Theatre, London, 23 December 1905). Remaining with Hicks, she was next seen as one of the twelve Bath Buns in The Beauty of Bath, a musical play produced at the Aldwych on 19 March 1906. Again with Hicks, she then took the part of Miss Liverpool in the less successful musical play, My Darling (Hicks, 2 March 1907) before appearing as Trixie Clayton in Brewster’s Millions (Hicks, 1 May 1907), a comedy with Gerald du Maurier in the leading role. Miss Melrose’s next part was Fanny in Cosmo Hamilton’s farce, ProTem (Playhouse, 29 April 1908) before returning to musical comedy in Charles Frohman’s New York production of The Dollar Princess at the Knickerbocker Theatre (6 August 1909). Kitty Melrose’s last appearance was as Cleo in The Quaker Girl (Adelphi, 5 November 1910), starring Joseph Coyne, and Gertie Millar for whom she was sometime understudy.

‘Golf Ball Hurts Actress.
‘Miss Melrose May Be Disfigured – Her Nose Fractured.
‘Kiss Kitty Melrose, an English actress, playing in The Dollar Princess at the Knickerbocker Theatre, received so severe a fracture of the nose on Friday afternoon from a blow of a golf ball that the doctors who have her in charge fear that she may be permanently disfigured.
‘She was hurried to this city in an automobile from the Links of the Danwoodie Country Club under an anaesthetic for treatment here. She had gone to the course with F. Pope Stamper of the same company. They had gone over the course once when Mr. Stamper prepared to make a long drive. Miss Melrose stood watching, about forty feet to the right. He swung with great force, but sliced the ball. It shot out, rotating at an angle, and, making a curve, struck Miss Melrose squarely on the side of the nose.’
(New York Times, New York, Sunday, 17 October 1909, p.18f)

‘Pathetic Death of Deserted Woman.
‘Actress Dead With Her Head Inside a Gas Oven.
‘London, June 7 [1912]. – the love affairs of the actress, Kitty Melrose, aged 29, who has lately been an understudy for Gertie Millar in The Quaker Girl, at the Adelphi theater and who was found dead in her flat with her head inside a gas oven, occupied the attention of the coroner at Westminster today.
‘Letters read at the inquest, showed that she had been living with Lawson Johnston, a young man about town, who had promised to marry her. Later he wrote her that he found it impossible to carry out his promise owing to the opposition of his people, upon whom he was dependent.
‘He acknowledged it was wrong for him to allow her to think that marriage was possible, but he added, the family had found out that they had been living together and said the marriage was impossible.
‘Kitty’s letters in reply were very pathetic. The last one said among other things:
‘“Eddie. By leaving me alone, you thought you were doing right, but it was all wrong. God forgive you, as I hope he will forgive me.”’
(The Evening Observer, Dunkirk, New York, 7 June 1912, p.7d)

The full story surrounding Kitty Melrose’s suicide, which took place on 3 June 1912, is recounted by James Jupp, The Gaiety stage door; thirty years’ reminiscences of the theatre, Jonathan Cape, London, 1923. She is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

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