Archive for April, 2013

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Reg Wright

April 27, 2013

Reg Wright (fl. circa 1920), female impersonator
(photo: E. Dyche, Birmingham, circa 1920)

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Florrie Forde

April 27, 2013

an early appearance in Brisbane, Australia, of Florrie Forde (1875-1940), Australian-born British music hall singer and pantomime principal boy
(photo: unknown, probably UK, late 1890s)

‘THEATRE ROYAL.
‘THE ALL NATIONS MINSTREL COMPANY.
‘A complete change of programme was effected by the All National Minstrel and Novelty Company at the Theatre Royal on Saturday evening. The attendance was extremely encouraging, the house being packed in every part, many downstairs having to be content with standing room. The reception of the company was as enthusiastic as the audience was large; indeed, the demands for encores was at times monotonous, and certainly unfair to the performers. The members of the company, for the first part, which was of a miscellaneous character, were pleasingly grouped, and a liberal display of electric light and bunting aided in no small measure the management in its efforts to compose a brilliant stage picture. Mr. Edward Holland was the only new end man, his associates being Messrs. Alf. Lawton, Sam. Keenan, and Will. Leslie. These four knights of the burnt cork with their quips and cranks kept the fun going merrily, and eschewed as far as possible the recital of ”chestnuts.” Their efforts were well seconded by Mr. James Crayden, the interlocutor. The songs forming the first portion of the performance were, on the whole, well selected, and generally equally well sung. In ”The Fisherman and his Child” Mr. A. Farley’s fine basso voice was heard to advantage, and the undeniable demand for an encore was well merited. Miss Ella M’Donald was scarcely at home in her selection of ”Old Madrid,” but the popularity of the song has not waned – a fact testified to by the audience. Miss Lillie Rowley chose ”The night bird’s cooing” – a difficult number – and on the whole acquitted herself with credit. Perhaps the finest effort of the evening was Mr. Henry Clay’s interpretation of the fine old song ”The Anchor’s Weighed.” Mr. Clay did justice to Braham’s able work, and had to respond to a vociferously demanded repeat. The light and comic element was furnished by Miss Florrie Forde, Miss Clara Spencer, Edward Holland, Sam. Keenan, Will. Leslie, Alf. Lawton, and last as well as least – in point of size – Master Freddie Leslie. Honours in this department were shared by Miss Forde – who infused much life in recording the desires of a stage-struck maiden and was so far successful as to cause the ”gods” to cry, ”Good on you, Mary Ann” – and the juvenile Leslie. The second part opened with a vocal ballet based on a song which has many references to Monte Carlo, and danced by eight young ladies arrayed in somewhat gorgeous, if sparse drapery, who did a fair amount of high kicking. This was followed by an equally gay terpsichorean display by four ladies, described as a ”pas de quatre.” This had to be repeated. Master Freddie Leslie sang the now well-known comic song ”Close,” and gave a good account of himself. An Irish speciality by Craydon and Holland kept the audience well amused for nearly half-an-hour. These comedians are not unknown to Brisbane playgoers, whose anticipations on Saturday of something good were realised to the full. As a recall they sang a parody on the done-to-death American song ”After the Ball,” in which some really funny business was introduced. Miss Florrie Forde contributed ”As the church bells chime” with such effect as to secure an encore, and Sam. Keenan so disturbed the risible faculties of his auditors as to threaten serious consequences for some of them. It would be difficult to decide which was most grotesque – his facial expressions or his make up. The Leslie Brothers appeared in a sketch entitled, ”Music Mad.” This item was the gem of the second part. Not only were the audience amused by the witticisms of Fred. – who as burnt-cork artist has few rivals – but they were entertained with selections on most out-of-the-way instruments, but out of which excellent music was drawn. The entertainment concluded with a farce called ”Slatery’s Home,” in which six members of the company let their auditors into the secrets of an Irishman’s home, and furnished some scope for Alf. Lawton and Clare Spencer’s representation of the larrikin and his ”donah.” The same programme will be repeated until further notice.’
(The Brisbane Courier, Brisbane, Australia, Monday, 5 March 1894, p. 6d)

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Maude Odell

April 27, 2013

Maude Odell (fl. early 20th century), English model of feminine beauty, ‘the Original Sandow Girl’ (not to be confused with the American actress of the same name)
(photo: Bassano, London, 1906)

The references to Sandow and the body beautiful are to the internationally acclaimed German-born strongman and athlete, Eugene Sandow (1867-1925) who was billed as ‘The Most Powerful Man on Earth.’ Through his popular act he created something of a fad during the early years of the twentieth century for healthy living. It should also be noted that the shapely, white-clad beauties known as Sandow Girls – theatrical successors to Gibson Girls – first made their appearance in the farcical musical play, The Dairymaids at the Apollo Theatre, London, on 14 April 1906. In one scene they (played by Minna Moore, Dorothy Ward and others) and Carrie Moore, the leading lady of the show, were discovered exercising with ropes, punch-bags and dumbbells. The Dairymaids ran successfully until December that year, by which time Maude Odell had already made her mark at the Palace.

Palace Theatre of Varieties, London, November 1906.
‘The Palace had added a very agreeable item to its already amusing programme. It consists of the fine poses of a lady who is known variously as “Galatea,” “La Statue Humaine,” and Miss Maude Odell. Under whichever name you care to take her, or by any other, she remains sweet, delicate, attractive. The pictures which she realises in her, apparently, marble figure are extremely various. “The Dancer,” after Tadolini, in the Villa Borghesi, is very charming; Lord Leighton’s “Bath of Psyche” is well realised; the Luxembourg “Salambo” is another difficult pose remarkably well carried out. But each of the eight pictures are worth seeing. Music by Mr. Herman Finck and odes from the graceful pen of Mr. Clifton Bingham grace the production.’
(The Bystander, London, Wednesday, 7 November 1906, p.473b)

American Music Hall, New York City, January 1909
‘Maud Odell did not win any marked favour in her sketch, The Chamelion. The offering is so unpromising that comment is uncalled for. The posing of Miss Odell, however, was artistic and quite pleasing.
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 16 January 1909, p.17d)

‘As she travels, Maud Odell, the English model of feminine proportions, has wrought out a definition of beauty in connection with which she has chosen to criticise American women. “Beauty is health,” she is credited with saying. “American women are not beautiful because they are anaemic. The cheeks are pale, their steps are not sprightly, they look as though they never drew a long, deep breath that swept the lungs. Americans should be the most beautiful of women because they have natural style and they are clever and vivacious. But they worship intellect and neglect the body.”’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 13 February 1909, p.2c)

Maude Odell
a half-tone photograph of ‘Miss Maude Odell (the Original Sandow Girl)’ published probably in 1906 by Weiners of London. The remainder of the caption reads, ‘Now appearing at the Palace Theatre, London as “Galatea” (La Statue Humaine), a Type of Beauty attained by the use of the “Sandow Symmetrion.”’
(photo: Wykeham, Balham, London, circa 1906)

Blaney’s Lincoln Square Theatre, New York City, February/March 1909
‘Maude Odell made her reappearance at Blaney’s Lincoln Square last week, in what was reported as a new act written and staged by James R. Gary. The posings were practically new, but the act is laid pretty much along the same lines as the old one. William H. Turner, Harold La Coste, and Daisy Chaplin gave adequate support with little to do. Miss Odell was greatly appreciated in her poses, but what is the reason for the sketch infliction? She could score a much greater hit with the elimination of this part. The poses included “The Water Carrier,” “Night,” “Skating,” “The Snake Charmer,” “Ode to Bacchus,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Her supporting models contributed “A Fantasy, “Springtime,” “At the Seashore,” “Cupid and Venus,” and the concluding ensemble tableaux, “The Maid at the Bath.”’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 6 March 1909, p.9a)

Blaney’s Lincoln Square Theatre, New York City, March 1909
‘Maude Odell followed and received more applause than last week. Some of the poses were new ones and caused much favourable comment.’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, 13 March 1909, p.12b)

Blaney’s Lincoln Square Theatre, New York City, March 1909
‘Maude Odell, assisted by her six models, was seen in her newest posing act, The Maid at the Bath. As already stated in The Mirror, the sketch is stupid. The posings are well conceived and cleverly carried into effect. Miss Odell is seen to better advantage than heretofore and the entire offering is vastly superior to her former one.’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 20 March 1909, p.9d)

‘Why They Don’t Clap.
”’Have you seen the near perfect woman, Maude Odell?” she asked. ”No. You ought to see her. And if you want to be really amused, you ought to go and watch the men gazing at her wide-eyed, the men with their wives. They are taking in all her perfect points, but they are afraid to applied her on account of their wives. That beautiful, near perfect woman leaves the stage nearly every time without a handclap on account of the wives.”’
(Chillicothe Constitution, Chillicothe, Missouri, Saturday, 27 March 1909, p. 6d)

‘Most Perfect Woman in the World Is Here
‘Maude Odell, Who Won $10,000 Beauty Prize, Says It’s Easy to Be Handsome.
”’Every woman can be as perfectly formed as I am,” is the good news Maude Odell brings to dissatisfied femininity. The steady, truthful look in her large, clear brown eyes as she made the statement in the atrium at the Claypool [Indianapolis] Friday added its testimony to the conviction in her voice. She was having a week’s rest from vaudeville and was enjoying it.
‘It was at a little four-cornered dinner in honor of her birthday. ”Honest truth, I don’t have a birthday in every city I play,” she said in a rather startled tone, ”for I’m not that anxious to grow old.”
‘After some gallant bantering on the part of the men in the party to the effect that if she told her real age the local branch of the Gerry Society would get after the management of the Colonial Theatre, where she is to pose in living pictures this week, for allowing a child to appear on the stage in violation of any child labor laws that may exist here. Miss Odell, swearing all to secrecy, told her age. And it hasn’t been more than a decade since she was ”sweet sixteen,” either.
”’No, I’m not a crank on diet, for behold!” she said, daintily spearing a generous bit of indigestible lobster with a fork. The lobster went the way of other indigestibles, and the dinner ended with the only tribute to the ancient gods that have ruled beauties since Cleopatra’s time, a glass of milk.
‘Women Made to Be Attractive.
”’The real thing is exercise,” she went on. ”From my earliest recollection my father instilled into my mind always that women were made to be attractive. I pondered on his teachings even when a small child, and when he died I sought out Eugene Sandow and told him I wanted to be a perfect woman.
”’Sandow was struck with the novelty of a girl of 14 having that as a life ambition, and he and Mrs. Sandow took me in. I soon became their favorite pupil, and it is they who set me on the road to reach my life’s ambition.
”’After exhausting their methods I devised methods of my own, and today my system enables me to keep every one of my dimensions to a hair’s breadth.”
‘Miss Odell in her big picture hat and beautifully fitting black dress was a magnificent sight, and the lobster added to her attractiveness, showing that all this beauty was human.
”’It’s proportion that makes beauty,” she went on. It must not be supposed that she gave all this in the form of a lecture, for it was a birthday dinner, a very informal one, and her ideas on beauty were doled out in snatches, sandwiched in between bits of conversation on all sorts of common, everyday subjects.
”’It’s proportion that makes beauty, and a girl four feet high can be as beautiful as the regulation five-feet, eight-inch woman. Taking her height as a basis she should develop her other dimensions to correspond, and that is what I have succeeded in doing.”
‘Miss Odell, unlike the majority of physical culturists, neither swims nor rides horseback. Both exercises she considered detrimental to proper development, each tending to develop certain special muscles out of proportion to others.
‘She loves automobiling, but, unlike the vast majority of her sister artists of the stage, she admits that she is an amateur when it comes to running a machine. During her stay in Indianapolis she intends to take a spin on the Motor Speedway, but she will insist that the machine be under the guidance of an expert chauffeur. She has a horror of taxicabs, having been held up in Brooklyn not so very long ago for $12 for a single trip, though she admits she and her companion were partly to blame for insisting on a circuitous route when the conscience-stricken chauffeur wanted to drive direct.
‘Masters American Slang.
‘Miss Odell is English through and through, and talks with a strong English accent. During her residence in New York, however, where she has been a sensational vaudeville headliner, she has picked up a number of Americanisms.
”’How do you heat your flat?” she asked a local member of the party. ”’With hot air,” was the answer.
”’I hope you don’t furnish the hot air yourself,” she flashed.
‘Her mastery of American slang startled the Indianapolis members of the party and made her English manager open his eyes.
‘She has acquired the soda fountain habit – the ”American” soda fountain in England, be it noted, is a painful joke to American tourists who have been inveigled into investing in the wretched stuff dispensed – but she has not yet mastered the American sandwich habit, though she is taking lessons. She had her first roast beef sandwich a few days ago and found it very much to her taste.
‘Before coming to America, where, by the way, she will locate permanently, Miss Odell was a sensation in the capitals of Europe – London, Paris and Berlin. The winning of the $10,000 prize for the finest physical specimen of young womanhood was an incident.
‘Artists raved over her when she posed in living pictures, even the Berlin artists, the hardest in the world to please. She has had many tempting offers to pose for paintings and statuary, but has accepted none of them.
”’The only think I have consented to is to have a cast made of me for the British Museum,” she said. ”I have consented to that in order that my proportions may be permanently preserved.”’
(C.J.B., The Indianapolis Sunday Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, Sunday, Society & Stage, 23 January 1910, p. 1b-e)

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Miss Raynham

April 26, 2013

a carte de visite photograph of Miss Raynham (1844?-1871), English actress, as Sam in Tom Taylor’s drama The Ticket-of-Leave Man, produced at the Olympic Theatre, London, on 27 May 1863
(photo: W. Rowland Holyoake, 23 Great Coram Street, Russell Square, London, W.C., probably 1863)

The Ticket-of-Leave Man was revived many times, as on 25 May 1885 when Sam was played by Nellie Farren

‘The Olympic [Theatre, London] entertainments comprise the comedy of Taming a Truant, in which Mr. Robert Soutar, from the Brighton Theatre, now sustains the part of Captain Pertinax, and gives promise of being a valuable acquisition to the London boards; followed by an extravaganza, called Acis and Galatea [Acis and Galatea; or, The Nimble Nymph and the Terrible Troglodyte, produced at the Olympic, 6 April 1863], written by Mr. Burnand, and which may be pronounced to be the best and most successful of the Easter novelties. It is superior in refinement and language than these pieces generally are, and is admirably acted as well as elegantly put on the stage. One of the leading features in it is a clever imitation of Mr. Fechter by Miss Raynham.’
(The Sporting Gazette, London, Saturday, 11 April 1863, p. 383b)

Olympic Theatre, London
‘Mr Tom Taylor’s new drama is a success, though he has departed from his accustomed style of writing, and given us a piece more after the fashion of the Adelphi or Surrey dramas. It is called The Ticket-of-Leave Man, and is the history of the endeavours of one Brierly (Mr Neville) to free himself from the consequences to which he has become exposed owing to the villainy of a fellow named Dalton (Mr Atkins). Exiled from his native land, he returns to find all occupation denied to him as soon as it is known that he is the bearer of the fatal document called a ticket of leave. But, after many trials and troubles, he contrives to foil the schemes of Dalton, and to become restored to the paths of rectitude one more. In these honest intentions he is aided by Mary (Miss Kate Saville), to whom he is ultimately married. There are other characters in the piece which was admirably played by all the dramatis personae – a gamin of the English type being capitally played by Miss Raynham, and a professional vocalist being as admirably sustained by Miss Hughes, who sang twice during the progress of the drama. Miss Kate Saville was expressive and pathetic, and Mr Neville, whose rising qualities as an actor are being more apparently every day, took the leading business of the evening with the greatest success. The drama was most favourably received, and will doubtless have a long run.’
(Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, London, Sunday, 31 May 1863, p. 3b). The cast of the original production of The Ticket-of-Leave Man also included George Vincent

‘DEATHS OF ARTISTES. – The theatrical world has been much shocked by the self-imposed death of Mr Walter Montgomery, who so lately played at the Gaiety. It is supposed he had overworked himself in dramatic study. Miss Raynham, the original representative of Sam Willoughby, in the Ticket of Leave Man, at the Olympic, has died recently at Homburg. Mr St Auby has also died of consumption at the Charing-cross Hospital.’
(Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, London, Saturday, 9 September 1871, p. 11a)

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The Three Meers

April 26, 2013

a cabinet photograph of The Three Meers (fl. late 19th/early 20th Century), English comedy wire act (left to right, George Omo, Alf Meers and his wife, May Meers)
(photo: Hana, London, circa 1900)

Alfred Meers, said to have been born about 1868 at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, the son of Robert Meers and his wife, Lucy (née Koplen), married May Vinson Warren in Manhattan, New York, on 12 April 1896.

”’Alfy” Meers is now a landlord, as he writes me, having purchased two houses at Catford, London, one of which is called the ”Meers,” and the other ”Warren” Villa. His title must be increasing in size in consequence. When you see him, ask him what ”Pop’s” Villa comes off.’
(The Music Hall and Theatre Review, London, Friday, 21 September 1894, p. 10c)

The Royal music hall, London
‘What a technically known as ”straight shows” are apparently slowly but surely becoming almost a dead letter in the music halls. It has become quite a rarity to see either vocal or acrobatic performers who do not introduce more or less comedy into their act, skill of the most expert order often being made subservient to mere comic fooling. The Meers don’t go quite as far as this, but they have re-modelled their clever wire act in such a manner as to appeal to the risible faculties of the audience, as well as to its appreciation of a distinguished exposition of the art of wire-walking. Mr. Alf Meers is responsible for most of the fun, and, together with his partner, performs a series of feats that are remarkable for extraordinary powers of balancing the body while careering on a thin, lightly-stretched wire. As a conclusion he mounts a wire which is made to travel along at a very rapid speed, maintaining his foothold in surprising fashion. After this comes tumultuous applause from the audience, who can but be delighted with what they have seen.’
(The Music Hall and Theatre Review, London, Friday, 9 August 1901, p. 91c)

‘The Meers now proceed on a short provincial tour. They return to the London Pavilion early in September, and thereafter again visit the Continent.’
(The Music Hall and Theatre Review, London, Friday, 16 August 1901, p. 111d)

‘The Meers, whose comic wire act, entitled ”Early Morning,” is so popular a constituent of the Pavilion programme just now, shortly proceed on another tour of the Continent. They go to Amsterdam for a fortnight, to Brussels for a for fortnight, and to Dusselldorf for a fortnight. In December they cross the Atlantic, in fulfilment of engagements that will occupy them six months.’
(The Music Hall and Theatre Review, London, Friday, 6 September 1901, p. 157c)

‘Another sensational European novelty heads the bill at Keith’s Theatre this week, where the three Meers, from the Palace Theatre at St. Petersburg, make their debut.’
(The New York Times, New York, Sunday, 20 April 1902, p. 14b)

‘THE THREE MEERS.
‘(Alf. Meers, May Meers and Geo. Omo)
‘Alf. Meers, the manager of the Three Meers, was born in Cheltenham, in the county of Gloucester, England, and made his first appearance before the public as a boy four years old, at Newsome’s Circus, in Liverpool, 1872. He is the originator and first producer of three people on one wire at the same time. He is also the originator of ”the endless wire trick.” Mr. Meers made his first American debut in 1894, with the Lottie Collins Co., and has returned three times to fulfil successful engagements. The Three Meers open on the Keith Circuit Oct. 23, 1903.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Wednesday, 25 February 1903, p. XIIb)

‘The Three Meers.
‘Comedy wire artistes. Now doing a round of the chief provincial towns. In October next they sail for America, where they are under contract for twelve months. After this they return to England to fulfil an engagement at the Empire, Leicester Square.’
(The Variety Theatre, London, Friday, 14 July 1905, p.9)

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Fred Aretlli

April 25, 2013

a carte de visite photograph of Fred Artelli (fl. 1870s-1890s), ballet dancer and Harlequin
(photo: T.J. Tungate, 35 Queen Street, Edgware Road, London, circa 1875, negative number 1504)

Theatre Royal, Liverpool
‘To make way for novelties which are certain to please ”Royal” patrons, Humpty Dumpty has signified that he will shortly quit the sphere of his prosperous career at the patent Theatre. The lovely scenery, lively business, and talented company have contributed in a large measure to the success of the Pantomime, and the author (Mr J.F. M’Ardle) has displayed an ingenuity in connection with its construction which cannot be too highly praised. His peculiar ”Argument,” like the ancient ”Chorus,” is worth reproducing, and is to the following effect:- ”There was seen a great stone, and in ye midst thereof was like an anvil of steel, and therein stack a fair sword naked by ye point, and letters there were written in gold about ye sword that said thusly:- ‘Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone is rightwise kind born of all England!’ Then ye people marvelled muchly, and all ye knithts and ye squires went to behld ye stone and ye sword. And when they say ye scripture some assayed, such as would have been king. But none mote stir ye sword nor move it. ‘Marry come up, beshrew my heart, i’ fackins, by my halidame,’ exclaimed Arthur, ’ I shall gette that sworde, or, as ye manne in ye playe sayeth, I will perish in ye attempt.’ Accordingly, he dydde get ye sworde from ye stone, and he overcame ye villaine Surlichurl, and ye wicked Impe, yclept Humpty Dumpty, and married ye Lady Guinevere, ye king’s daughter, and Arthur’s sweethearte, and, like all ye folkes who gette married, they lived happy ever afterwards. (For all ye further particulars see ye Small Bills, and ye Grande Pantomime itself. N.B. – Ye children in arms not admitted by themselves.)” The Harlequinade is of the most bustling kind, the principals being Madame Elise (Columbine), Miss E. Rowella (Harlequin à la Watteau), Signor Artelli (Harlequin), Mr A. Bolton and Mr E. Burgess Pantaloons), the De Castro troupe (Sprites, and Dolph Rowella and the Great Little Rowella (Clowns).’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 4 February 1877, p. 8d)

‘ROYAL PARK THEATRE.
‘Great Success every Evening of
‘SIGNOR FRED. ARTELLI’S COMIC BALLET TROUPE. At Liberty for Fetes and Galas. For terms, address, Mr GEORGE HADLIEGE HUNT, Park Theatre, Camden-town.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 6 May 1877, p. 15b)

‘MR EDITOR. – Sir, – will you allow me to state that, owing to the illness of Mr Willie Warde, the part of Rapless, the oofless swell, in Round the Town, at the Empire, Leicester-square, has been played for some considerable time by, yours faithfully, FRED. ARTELLI
‘Empire Theatre, June 6th, 1893.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 10 June 1893, p. 17c)

* * * * *

For references to Artelli’s appearances at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, London, during the 1890s, see Ivor Guest, Ballet in Leicester Square, Dance Books, London, 1992.

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Ada Ibrahim

April 25, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Ada Ibrahim (fl. 1880s), wire walker
(photo: Maucourt, Rue Lafaurie de Montbadon, 40, Bordeaux, France, mid 1880s)

‘EASTHAM ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS.
‘NEW AND STARTLING NOVELTY.
‘see MDLLE. ADA IBRAHIM,
‘The most charming and graceful Artiste extant.
‘This Young Lady received a perfect ovation on Saturday.
‘Only a Limited Engagement. Don’t miss seeing her.
‘AMUSEMENTS ALL DAY LONG.’
(Liverpool Mercury, and Lancashire, Cheshire, and General Advertiser, Monday, 28 June 1886, p. 1c)

Eastham Gardens, Birkenhead, near Liverpool
‘Mdlle. Ada Ibrahim is at present fulfilling a highly successful engagement here. The lady’s movements on the the wire are executed with such gracefulness. The performances is extremely clever, and is undoubtedly a great ”draw.” The adroit gymnasts, Nestor and Aerian, are also here, and are meeting with deserved success.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 10 July 1886, p. 18c)

‘New and Startling Novelty.
‘MDLLE. ADA IBRAHIM, Wire Equilibriste, the most graceful and charming Artist extant, who has Performed at all the Principal Theatres and Circuses on the Continent.<br. ‘Liverpool courier, June 28th, 1886. – Amongst his various attractions Mr Thompson, the proprietor of the Eastham Gardens, has made a palpable hit by the engagement of Mdlle. Ada Ibrahim, a Parisienne artist of wonderful ability, whose original and graceful performance meets with the most hearty approbation from the numerous spectators who daily flock to those pretty gardens to gaze upon this new protégée of the public. Ignoring the business of Menotti, Wainratta, and other wire walkers, Mdlle. Ibrahim has chosen for herself a performances which is perfectly unique in character as it is daring in execution. Possessed of rare symmetry of figure, her movements on the wire are executed with the most unqualified gracefulness. There is no straining after effect, he attitudes are unstudied, and her manner has that nai:veté and abandon which makes her skilful performance a pleasure to all. On Saturday this talented young artiste met with quite an ovation from several thousand pleasure-seekers.’
‘The Quarry Floral Fête.
‘Local Papers, Shrewsbury. – Amongst the several great attractions of the floral fête Aug. 18th, 19th, at Shrewsbury, special mention is made of the wonderful and graceful performance of that distinguished artist Mdlle. Ada Ibrahim, especially engaged, and whose performance gave the greatest satisfaction to a numerous audience.
‘At Liberty for a few Weeks prior to fulfilling a lengthened Engagement at the London Pavilion.
‘For terms address, Parravicini, 49, Duke-street, London; or, Mdlle. IBRAHIM, Bromborough, Cheshire.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 28 August 1886, p. 18d)

London Pavilion
‘… Mdlle. Ida [sic] Ibrahim is a wire-walker who undresses ”up aloft,” after a fashion already introduced to frequenters of Music Halls. She first appears in male evening dress, and gets over certain difficulties in her déshabillement very adroitly. She is a graceful and dainty funambulist… .’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 9 October 1886, p. 10a)

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Grace Palotta and Gracie Leigh in Cinderella

April 24, 2013

Grace Palotta (1870?-1959), Austrian-born actress and singer, popular in England and Australia, as the Prince in the pantomime Cinderella, produced at the Grand Theatre and Opera House, Croydon, south London, Christmas, 1897, with (left) Gracie Leigh
(photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1897/98)

‘Mr. George Edwardes is indeed to be congratulated on the success of his first pantomime, Cinderella, at the Grand Theatre and Opera House, Croydon. The words have been written by Mr. Horace Lennard, and he and Mr. Edward Sass have spared no pains or expense in the production of the piece. Some of the scenes are wonderfully effective, and those of the Royal Forest and the Baron’s Kitchen are most realistic. Mr. Lionel Rignold is amusing as Baron Klondyke, and Mr. Fred Wright jun., as Pedro, is admirable. Miss Maggie May makes a very fascinating Cinderella, and her pathetic rendering of ”Now de eyes I lubb’d am flown” always gets a well-deserved encore. Miss Grace Palotta, as the handsome Prince, looks stately and imposing, and is full of go and vivacity, especially in her song of a ”rollicking, frolicking man-about-town.” Mr. Welton Dale and Mr. George Antley, the Ugly Step-Sisters, sing a capital song, ”Not always.” Of the dances the ribbon dance in the first act and the autumnal dance in the second are as pretty as any dances we have ever seen. The costumes are gorgeous, and the whole pantomime is lavishly stages and dressed.’
(The Court Circular, London, Wednesday, 5 January 1898, p. 13a)

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Isadore Rush

April 24, 2013

‘She is beautiful and her face and carriage have a peculiar charm … . Her laugh is like low music…’
(Willa Cather, Nebraska State Journal, Nebraska, Thursday, 13 September 1894, p. 5c)

a cabinet photograph of Isadore Rush (Mrs Roland Reed, d. 1904), American actress and singer, as Cleopatra Sturgess, ‘a twentieth-century woman,’ in The Politician; or, The Woman’s Plank, a satire in four acts by Sydney Rosenfeld, based in the original by David D. Lloyd, produced by Roland Reed in 1894
(photo: Falk, New York, 1894)

Isadore Rush and Company on tour in Hugh Morton’s Glittering Gloria, Walker Theatre, Winnipeg, Canada, Tuesday, 4 October 1904
‘Was Glittering Gloria quite as glittering as had been anticipated by last night’s big audience at Mr. Walker’s play house/
‘Perhaps not.
‘But there’s one thing sure, and that is that none of us can truthfully say we didn’t get the worth of our money if a good hearty laugh is what we wanted.
‘What some of us were looking for – and didn’t find – was the glint and glitter of regulation musical comedy.
‘But bless your heart, there wasn’t any real regret because we mistook the character of the entertainment.
‘After all, you know, amusement is the chief end and aim of all up-to-date theatrical representations, and, judged by that standard, Glittering Gloria was a hit with a capital H.
‘Yes, indeed, no disputing that: for I saw ordinarily undemonstrative persons holding their sides with uncontrollable laughter – and some of the roars of that gathering caused windows to rattle across the street.
‘What if the situations are impossible? What if the plot is hackneyed?
‘If the show makes folks laugh, what else can you ask?
‘Back to the mines with your carping critics!
‘Crudely fashioned is it?
‘Well, who cares so long as it makes us merry?
‘And, come to think of it, perhaps if the show had been the stereotyped musical comedy that some of us expected, we shouldn’t have been half as well pleased.
‘Honestly, now, don’t you think there was quite enough singing as it was – considering the singers.
‘Now for instance take our old friend Isadore Rush – she of the sozodont smile and the fluffy gowns.
‘We’re all fond of her, of course, dainty little woman, but goodness gracious you didn’t want to hear Isadore sing any more, did you?
‘Well, rather not!
‘Isadore has a pretty prance and oh, such pearly teeth. But her singing – well a little of Isadore’s singing goes such a long way.
‘And then there’s lovely little Lulu Loudon. Lulu’s all right, yes, indeed, but fancy having her warbling at you all evening.
‘Why it would be enough to – well, never mind, but it’s just as well that Glittering Gloria has been altered from musical comedy to farce don’t you think?
For originally it was musical comedy you know – that is it was in New York.
‘Yes, and come to think of it, as musical comedy in New York it was a frost – a blighting frost that lowered the grade of Fisher and Ryley’s bank account.
‘Miss Rush did most of her work in the second act, but she wears lovely gowns in all the acts and looks even more stunning than ever.
‘The part she has is rather a boisterous one, but our fair Isadore just seems to take a delight in hustling round – in Rush to work, so to speak.
‘Yes, and think of all the hustling between acts to don those Worth creations. Haven’t seen what her press agent said, but, of course, they are Worth creations. They always are.
‘Wilton Heriot as Toddleby, an eccentric Englishman – all stage Englishmen are eccentric, you know – was one of the special hits. Some of Mr. Heriot’s business is particularly funny.
Edward Favor’s bright comedy helps out the third act – and it needs the assistance. Favor used to be one of the vaudeville headliners and in his new field is also doing nicely, thank you.
‘George Parsons as Jack James has a marvellously mobile face. How that chap James can prevaricate to be sure. As Chimmie Fadden would say he puts old Annanias clean to the bad.
‘George B. Jackson does a neat bit of character work as Slapton, presenting a comedy Britisher without making him an offensive burlesque. Mr. Jackson has many Winnipeg friends, made in the palmy days of Charley Lindsay’s Columbia Opera company., and they’re all pleased to find him making continued progress in the profession.
‘Miss Olney as Mrs. Jack James is up to the mark, but Miss Loudon isn’t any better in her part, than she ought to be.
‘There is to be a special matinee this afternoon and to-night the concluding performance.’
(C.W. Handscomb, Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Wednesday, 5 October 1904, p. 3b/c)

‘ISADORE RUSH, ACTRESS, DIES IN OCEAN SURF
‘Well Known Theatrical Star victim of the Sea, at San Diego, California.
‘San Diego, Cal., Nov. 15 [1904] – Miss Isadore Rush, leading lady in Glittering Gloria, and widow of Roland Reed, was caught by an immense wave while in bathing with other members of the company and carried into deep water.
‘She was rescued and brought unconscious to the shore. Then her friends and a number of doctors worked frantically over her two hours in the effort to restore consciousness, but at the end of that time Miss Rush died.
‘Caught by High Wave.
‘At the time the actress was carried out by the big wave, half a dozen members of her company were in the surf with her. The waves were unusually high. Miss Rush was a little farther out from the shore than the others and was caught up by the back flow of a great breaker. The struggles of the actress to escape being carried out were seen by a spectator. He at once gave the alarm to her friends.
‘Brought Ashore Unconscious.
‘Assistance was at once hurried to her, but she was unconscious when brought to shore, physicians were called and every means possible used to revive the unfortunate woman, but without success.
‘Another member of the company, Wilton Heriot, who endeavored to rescue his companion, was rendered unconscious in the attempt, and was pulled out of the water by H.B. Smith. He was revived after vigorous treatment.
‘The accident occurred at a point were an immense pile of rocks threw the water into high surf, and it is possible that she was injured by striking on one of the bowlders.’
(The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Tuesday, 15 November 1904, p. 1b)

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Billie Barlow

April 23, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Billie Barlow (1865-1937), English burlesque actress and singer, as Mercury in the burlesque Orpheus and Eurydice on tour in the United States, 1884/1885
(photo: Falk, New York, probably 1884)

‘The Event of the Season.
‘The Bijou Opera Company will appear at Nevada Theater on Saturday evening in the brilliant operatic burlesque entitled Orpheus and Eurydice. This Opera is full of pith and scintillates with bright music and amusing situations. They music in the present production is bright, the orchestration competent and the costumes superb. The cast includes many popular favorites and some new people who will be strong cards. Mr. Digby Bell as Jupiter, and Mr. Harry Pepper as Orpheus, do all that can be done in the vocalism and the lines. Mr. George C. Boniface, Jr., as Styx, the melancholy porter of Pluto, sings ”The Monarch of Arcadia” with becoming solemnity, and Marie Vanoni does the opera bouffe business of Eurydice with chic enough to make it tell. Miss Billie Barlow, as swift-footed Mercury, recalls the pleasant impression she made in Billie Taylor and other pieces. Miss Amelia Somerville gives an enlarged living picture of an ideal Juno, and Laura Joyce Bell is resplendent in lavender silk, satin stars as Diana. The best work of the evening is accomplished by Miss Ida Mulle as Cupid. She is like a bisque figure of the German-doll type, and as dainty a Cupid as St. Valentine, instead of Jupiter, might have chosen as an emissary, and the applause she gains is accorded without hesitation, and the little lady at once becomes a favorite. The presence of any number of ethereally dressed beauties in Jupiter’s Court will carry the opera to the satisfaction of the management and please the jeunesse doree, who delight in the frolic of the can-can, well danced, under the changing lights in a comfortable and pretty theater.’
(Reno Evening Gazette, Reno, Nevada, Thursday, 14 August 1884, p. 3c)

‘BILLIE BARLOW’S SALARY.
‘Billie Barlow, the dapper Mercury of Orpheus and Eruydice, in the jaunty hat and superbly fitting cloth suit, ascended the witness stand before Judge Browne in the City Court yesterday, and, under the pilotage of Mr. A.H. Hummel, swore that while she was playing at the Bijou Opera House in 1884 it was proposed by Miles and Barton that she should travel with the company. She refused unless an increase of salary from $30 to $50 during the tour was given her. She was paid $50 for her Baltimore engagement, but the defendants declined to give the increase during the period of the performances at Niblo’s Garden, Williamsburg, and the People’s Theatre. Gen. Barton denied the promise of the increase and showed Miss Barlow’s written receipts in full for her salary up to the time she left them. The jury, after fine minutes’ deliberation, returned a verdict for the full amount claimed and costs.’
(The New York Times, New York, Wednesday, 20 March 1886, p. 3)

‘MISS BILLIE BARLOW.
‘This charming burlesque actress who has achieved such a conspicuous success as the principal boy in the pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, is not, as may be generally supposed, an American. Her stage appellative was given in America, and given under the following circumstances. Miss Minnie Barlow – her real name – was a member of a comic opera company travelling from Liverpool to New York. During the voyage a member of the same company jokingly called her ”Billie Barlow” after the old song with that title, and on arriving in New York Miss Barlow found herself announced with ”Billie” for a christian name. There was novelty in it, the name stuck, and Miss Barlow has been known by it ever since. Miss Minnie Barlow, however, is a Londoner. She was born in the Metropolis on July 18th, 1865. Her first appearance on the stage was in H.M.S. Pinafore at the Opera Comique, London, June 34d, 1879. In the following autumn Mr. D’Oyley Carte [sic] organised a company for an American tour. Miss Barlow was a member of this combination, and on Dec. 8 she sang in Pinafore at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York. On Dec. 31st she appeared in The Pirates of Penzance at the same theatre, and after going on a tour through the principal American cities, we find her in the autumn of 1881 playing in Patience at the Savoy Theatre, London. After remaining there for a year Miss Barlow made her second professional trip across the Atlantic, again with D’Oyley Carte’s company, which opened the season at the Standard Theatre, New York, Sept. 26th, 1882. Miss Barlow appeared successively in Les Manteaux Noirs, Rip Van Winkle, and Iolanthe, under D’Oyley Carte’s management, and then joined E.E. Rice and appeared at the Bijou Opera House as Mercury in Orpheus and Eurydice, and made a great hit. Subsequently Miss Barlow appeared in Falka and The Little Duke, in which she was last seen before her return to England. Her next appearance was in London as a member of the Dixey Burlesque Company at the Gaiety Theatre, when she played Artea in Adonis. When Dixey returned to the Stages Miss Barlow remained at the Gaiety, under the management of Mr George Edwardes, and before long she was playing Fernand in Monte Cristo, jun. During the temporary absence of Miss Nelly Farren from the role of Edmond Dantes, Miss Barlow took up the part at five minutes’ notice, and scored an unqualified success. The charming freshness of her style was quite a novelty to audiences saturated with the conventional. Managers on the look out for attractions for their pantomimes soon had their optics focussed on the new burlesque star, and the competition for her services ended in Messrs Howard and Wyndham securing the prize. Of Miss Barlow’s merits in The Babes in the Wood it is like gilding refined gold to say anything now. The grace and sprightliness of her acting, the conscientious desire she has to please, her sweet, well trained voice, charming face and figure, and above all her modest and becoming demeanour, make her performance of Walter stand out as a revelation in the method of playing burlesque boys.’
(The Newcastle Weekly Courant, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, Friday, 10 February 1888, p. 5f)