Archive for January, 2013

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Nellie Souray, who in 1910 married Viscount Torrington

January 27, 2013

Eleanor (Nellie) Souray (1880-1931),
English actress (photo: probably Bassano, London, circa 1902)

This real photograph cigarette card of the English actress Eleanor Souray was issued in England about 1902 as no. B 180 in Ogden’s Guinea Gold New Series 1.

Eleanor Souray’s modest theatrical career, which endured for less than a decade, began in 1899 as an extra in Sydney Grundy’s play, The Black Tulip (Haymarket, London, 28 October 1899), starring Cyril Maude and Winifred Emery. She was next seen as one of Bluebeard’s Wives in the pantomime Blue Beard (Drury Lane, London, 26 December 1901), starring Dan Leno, Herbert Campbell, Elaine Ravensburg and Madge Girdlestone. She subsequently appeared as Mabel Macdonald in the musical play, The Girl from Kay’s (Apollo, London, 15 November 1902), starring Louis Bradfield, Aubrey Fitzgerald, Willie Edouin, Letty Lind, Ella Snyder and Ethel Irving. Miss Souray then became a member of the cast of the first production of J.M. Barrie’s play, The Admirable Crichton (Duke of York’s, London, 4 November 1902), succeeding Sybil Carlisle in the part of Lady Catherine Lasenby. Afterwards she appeared as Lady Brabasham in the musical play, The Blue Moon (Lyric, London, 28 August 1905), in a cast headed by Courtice Pounds, Fred Allandale, Walter Passmore, Willie Edouin, Florence Smithson, Billie Burke and Carrie Moore. Miss Souray’s final London appearance was as Dioné in the comic opera, Les Merveilleuses, which was produced at Daly’s on 27 October 1906, starring Robert Evett and Evie Greene.

Miss Souray was also engaged in several touring productions, one of which was in 1904 with H.B. Irving and Irene Vanbrugh in A.W. Pinero’s play, Letty.

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On 29 September 1910 Eleanor Souray was married in Paris to George Byng, 9th Viscount Torrington, from whom she obtained a divorce in 1921. In 1924 Lady Torrington published Over the Garden Wall; a story of racing and romance (Hutchinson & Co). She died by suicide on 8 December 1931.

Eleanor Souray

Eleanor Souray as Dioné in
Les Merveilleuses, Daly’s, London, 27 October 1906
(photo: Rita Martin, London, 1906)

‘A marriage that attracted much attention in England and Europe was that of Viscount Torrington, a descendant of Admiral Sir George Byng, and Eleanor Souray, and English actress. The wedding took place in Paris, and was celebrated in the presence of relatives of both persons. Tod Sloan the former jockey, also was a witness of the ceremony. The friendship of the couple started through their mutual interest in horse racing. Both own strings of horses, and they have pitted their horses against each other on all the famous tracks in England and France. Lady Torrington is tall, graceful, a clever horsewoman who rides astride, an excellent shot, a clever golfer, and fond of outdoor sports generally. She met Lord Torrington last summer at Ostend. He inherited his title when 3 years old. He has abundant wealth, is a keen sportsman, fond of motoring and riding. The couple will spend the winter hunting in England. Next summer they will be at the racing centers, where they will take a house near the training stables.’
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, 12 October 1910, p.7e)

‘London, Feb. 25 [1911] … The Viscountess Torrington is making desperate efforts to break into the select set of the peerage, and to that end is contemplating leaving the turf for the more aspiring pursuit of aviation. Last October Lady Torrington, who was then Miss Eleanor Souray, one of [George] Edward[e]s’ show girls, met the young viscount – he is only 23 – by accident in the paddock at Epson, when her horse Darrars, a 9 to 1 shot, won over Torrington’s Abelard Second, the favorite. The courtship was of the wildfire variety, and they were married a few days after the meeting.
‘Their happiness has been the subject of much comment, as the match was considered ideal, both having a common interest amounting to a passion in racing. Lady Torrington, both before and after her marriage, has had a strong love of race horses. She contested many events, both at home and abroad, with conspicuous success. But now she has apparently abandoned these and a few days ago made a splendid flight over Salisbury plain with M. Tetard in his biplane.
‘She is so enthusiastic over her new pursuit that her friends intimate that it is her intention to sell out her stables. The marquis, however, frowns on aviation, and the mutuality of their pursuits seems on the point of breaking.’
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Sunday, 26 February 1911, p.13b.)

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January 27, 2013

the beauty chorus tableau from Yes, Uncle!,
on tour in the United Kingdom, 1918
(photo: unknown, probably London, 1917/18)

This colour halftone postcard of the beauty chorus tableau from Yes, Uncle!, a musical comedy by Austen Hurgon and George Arthurs, with music by Nat D. Ayer and lyrics by Clifford Grey, was issued during the United Kingdom tour, when the company appeared for the week of Monday, 30 September 1918. The piece was originally produced at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London, on 29 December 1917, when the cast was headed by Fred Leslie, Davy Burnaby, Henri Leoni, Robert Nainby, Leslie Henson, Margaret Bannerman, Julia James, Lily St. John, Alexia Bassian and Gladys Homfrey. Douglas Byng played the small part of Napoleoni.

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January 27, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Isabelle Girardot, English singer and actress (1868-1957)
(photo: Ferrier, 1 Tally Street, Dundee, Scotland, circa 1892)

Isabelle Girardot on tour in the United Kingdom as Marton in La Cigale, 1892
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Carlisle
La Cigale is here this week. Miss Isabelle Girardot plays Marton in a sweet and fascinating manner, and sings her songs in a way that secures the hearty approval of the large audience. Charlotte is admirably rendered by Miss May Laurie. Miss Clare Harrington is good as the Duchess. Mr C.A. White gives a rollicking rendering of Matthew Vanderkoopen, Mr E.T. Steyne’s William is good. Mr Frank H. Morton in the rôle of Vincent Knapps sings in a masterly style. Mr Percy Compton is the Duke of Fayensberg, and right well does he acquit himself. A quintette of pretty and graceful dancers, headed by Miss Maude Fisher, supplies a special feature. The chorus is large and good.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 6 February 1892, p. 18e)

‘GIRARDOT, Miss Isabelle:
‘Actress, is a sister of Etienne Girardot, the actor. She was born in London and began taking lessons on the violin when she was four years old. She entered the Royal Academy of Music when she was nine and won several gold and silver medals. In her early ‘teens she made her first professional stage appearance in the part of Ella Willoughby in the musical comedy, In Possession, by Walter Browne, at Mr. and Mrs. German Reed’s entertainment at St. George’s Hall, London. Her next engagement was in La Cigale, in which she played the title rôle. She also appeared in Madame Favart, and The Geisha, under the management of George Edwardes. Other rôles in which she has appeared are Madame Angot, Olivette, and Pepita. Miss Giradot came to this country [the United States] six years ago and has devoted much to to church singing, although she has played in several of F.C. Whitney’s productions. She recently played with her brother in a revival of Charley’s Aunt.’
(Walter Browne and E. De Roy Koch, editors, Who’s Who on The Stage 1908, B.W. Dodge & Co, New York, 1908, p. 196)

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January 26, 2013

a die-cut lithograph scrap of acrobats,
probably German, late 19th Century

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W.H. Lingard’s celebrated song, ‘Sal and Methuselam,’ London, 1866

January 26, 2013

William Horace Lingard (1838-1927)
English comic vocalist, actor manager and dramatic author,
featured in character on the song sheet cover of F.C. Sansom’s ‘Sal and Methuselam,’
which he sang in London music halls during 1866/67.
(published by The British and American Music Publishing Co Ltd,
London, 1866, artwork by Alfred Concanen, probably after a photograph, 1866)

William Horace Lingard first came to notice in the mid 1860s as a talented comic singer on the English music hall stage, particularly in London, where he made appearances at the Alhambra, Leicester Square; the Metropolitan, Edgware Road; Gatti’s, Westminster Bridge Road; the Philharmonic, Islington; Weston’s, Holborn; the Marylebone and others. Noted for his impersonations and quick change work, audiences especially enjoyed his performances in songs such as ‘Statues’ for which he presented a ‘living gallery’ of celebrities, including Napoleon III and the late Lord Palmerston.

Although Lingard also enjoyed success as a female impersonator, an aspect of his performances which has been made much of in recent years, his repertoire and talents were a good deal wider. He and his wife, Alice Dunning Lingard, a former music hall dancer, first visited the United States in 1868, appearing in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere, where they remained for some time. They and their company also travelled further afield, notably to Australia and New Zealand where in the late 1870s they gave unauthorized performances of Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, and to the Far East. Eventually the couple returned to England, where Alice died in 1897, to become firm favourites on tour. W.H. Lingard continued to work into his old age, dying at the age of 89 in 1927.

For further information, see Kurt Gänzl, The Encyclopedia of The Musical Theatre, Blackwell, Oxford, vol. II, p. 865.

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At first reading F.C. Sansom’s ‘Sal and Methuselam’ would appear to be a touching account of a lovelorn young couple whose chance of happiness together is wrecked by the girl, Sal’s mother who believes her daughter is too good for Methuselam. The old lady forbids the relationship whereupon Methuselam runs away to become a soldier and is killed; Sal, on the other hand, remaining alone at home, commits suicide by swallowing an oyster, shell and all. A touching story it may be but one has the distinct impression that in Lingard’s comic delivery it would have appealed to his mid Victorian audiences’ sense of dark humour and fair play. Although one cannot help feeling sorry for Sal, Methuselam and his prospective mother-in-law are less deserving of sympathy. He, a ‘nice’ young man, described as ‘a Cat distroyer on a Saussage Machine’ (presumably meaning that he was in the shady business of duping the honest public into buying sausages made from dead cats) no less than Sal’s interfering mother, richly deserve their fates, the latter ultimately haunted to her wits’ end when Sal and Methuselam are translated into ghosts.

For an interesting sidelight on the contemporaneous market in sausages, see ‘Veiled Mysteries’ on Lee Jackson’s Victorian London web site.

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Constance Collier, English stage and screen actress, about 1893

January 26, 2013

Constance Collier (1878-1955),
English stage and screen actress,
(photo: Lafayette, London and Dublin, circa 1893)

This real photograph postcard, published about 1903 by W.G. Pollard of London, serial number 62, shows Constance Collier when she was appearing as a Gaiety Girl at the Gaiety Theatre, London, about 1893.

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January 26, 2013

a photograph of the set and cast of the New York Hippodrome revival
of Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, produced on 9 April 1914
(photo: White, New York, 1914)

‘GREAT SHIP WHEN SEEN ON LAND
‘PERFORMANCE OF ”PINAFORE” AT HIPPODROME IS SURELY DANDY.
‘By Beau Rialto.
‘(Written for the United Press.)
‘NEW YORK, April 25 [1914]. – In these days of battle squadrons swinging into Mexican waters ready for action after the general titter aroused over the banishment of the demon rum from aboard our vessels, the ”King’s Navy” may now be viewed at the Hippodrome. The greatest ship ever seen on land is H.M.S. Pinafore, at anchor in the huge tank of New York’s famous play house. Tars scamper about the rigging, for the Pinafore has tops’ls, gaffs, main and mizzen masts, and every other mark of an old ”windjammer.”
‘In the staging of the famous Gilbert and Sullivan opera ”Pinafore” in the Hippodrome, the height of scenic wonderment was fairly reached. The great ship, rising out of the water hight above the audience, looks as though it might spread sail and get under way at any moment. In the second act the ship is illuminated and the crowds that have packed the Hippodrome to view the most impressing of all ”Pinafores” have been carried away by enthusiasm at the sight of the lighted ship with the calciums bathing it in soft blues, while the chorus appears in early Victorian gowns as a part of a picture which may never be forgotten.
‘Owing to the vastness of the Hippodrome, many of the lines of ”Pinafore” are lost, but as a setting for the rendering of the famous songs and the general presentation of the opera the present staging has probably never before seen equaled. Mme. Josephine Jacoby, as Little Buttercup, makes her first appearance in a small boat. She is rowed across the tank to the huge vessel.
‘Imagine ”The Nightingale’s Song” and ”Maiden Fair to See” sung high up in the rigging of a ship. As Ralph Rackshaw Vernon Dalhart qualified as an expert balancer in the rendering of these two songs. Albert Hart’s ”Dick Deadeye” was one of the hits of the enlargement of the much-produced ”Pinafore.” Adding to the novelty of the production, ”Dick Deadeye” is forced to swim as well as sing when he is pushed overboard and covers the full length of the tank.’
(The Fort Wayne Daily News, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Saturday, 25 April 1914, p. 4e)