Chummie La Mara

June 1, 2013

Chummie La Mara (d. 1945), British music hall comedienne, billed as a ‘burlesque artiste’
(photo: Hana, London, circa 1899)

Gatti’s Palace of Varieties, 214 Westminster Bridge Road, London, July 1899.
‘It would require too great a knowledge of the vernacular of the modiste for the mere man to attempt to describe the charming costumes worn by Miss Chummie La Mara, who sings with any amount of go a lilt laudatory of Bacchus. “She hasn’t been the same girl since” tells of the alteration in a damsel’s way of conducting herself since her residence in Pimlico – favoured locale of the music hall song writer – and, clad in handsome principal boy’s costume, which displays her fine proportions to the utmost advantage, she has the vigorous assistance of the gods to help her trill “Meet me, love.” Miss La Mara’s is a very pleasing and popular turn.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 29 July 1899, p.16a)

‘Chummie LaMara.
‘18 Mins.; Two [changes of costume].
‘Pastor’s [14th Street, New York City, week beginning Monday, 22 July 1907]
‘Chummie LaMara came over from London for her first American appearance without a marked English accent, but the young woman brought over a new wrinkle in dressing for the vaudeville stage. Probably by this time eight or ten burlesque managers have decided that each will use the design ”exclusively” for next season. Miss LeMara [sic] wears it after the second song. The costume is a silver embroidered decollete gown, overlaid with a black net covering. On the right side, from the waist down, the skirt has a partly concealed opening, but the aperture is permanent. To meet the exigencies of sudden draughts, Miss LaMara’s lower limbs are encased in a nice looking pair of tights, or at least what could be seen had that appearance. Chummie isn’t extravagant in the display. Were she to throw one end of the skirt over her shoulder for a Claude Duval effect, Chummie would be a stunning picture, according to all the information at hand. But she doesn’t, and she isn’t featuring the tights here, although that might have happened at the Oxford Music Hall in London, the the program says Chum came from. Another thing about Chum is that she sings two verses only of her songs. The usual English singer heretofore invariably seemed to have learned the third verse first, and would cancel an engagement rather than forego the singing of it. Miss LaMara sang four songs, ”What’s the Use of Waiting,’ ”You Can’t Do without a Girl,” ”Sailing in My Balloon” and ”Swing Me Higher, Obadiah.” From those tights, one might imagine that Chummie would take a chance with the lyrics, but she really has the cleanest collection of selections of any foreign singer who has played on this side [of the Atlantic]. Chummie looks good on the stage. The songs are not alarmingly catchy, but Chum manages to induce the audience to join in a couple. With a pleasing stage presence, it must be much gratification to Chummie to know she is making a big hit at Pastor’s Tuesday evening, the audience applauded so vociferously that she was compelled to return before the footlights after the card for the next act had been placed, an unusual occurrence at the Fourteeth street house. The girl doesn’t try for comedy, and she is not likely to achieve the success some of her predecessors, but Chummie is all right. She is a type of the English singer we have not seen before.’
(Variety, New York, Saturday, 27 July 1907, p. 12c/d)

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