Emma Don, male impersonator

September 5, 2013

Emma Don (1873-1951), English music hall singer, dancer and male impersonator, as she appeared with her company in 1910 in the song-scena, On the Thames Embankment.
(photo: unknown, probably UK, 1910; halftone postcard, no publisher’s credit, probably 1910)

Emma Don was born at Sevenoaks, Kent, on 25 November 1873, one of the children of Martin Bushling (1833?-), a tailor, later a hotel waiter, and his wife, Emma (1835?-1928). In 1897 she married Walter Munroe (1866?-1928), a music hall agent and sometime entertainer, by whom she had several children. She died at Clacton-on-Sea on 23 January 1951.

‘Miss Emma Don, billed by Mr. Gibbons as the ”Daintiest of Boys,” is appearing with success with week at the Hippodrome, Willesden, with new songs. Miss Don has had a most varied music-hall career. She first appeared at the age of ten in Drury Lane pantomime as ”Cupid.” At twelve years of age she was in Mr. Sidney Cooper’s pantomime, Zac and the King of the Manikins. At the age of fourteen she played in America, at Sheep’s Head Bay, Coney Island, as principal dancer in one of Pain’s firework spectacular shows. She then joined her two sisters [Lizzie (Elizabeth) and Lulu (Louisa)], the three playing as the Sisters Don; they toured America and the Continent and played at the leading music-halls in the British isles. After her marriage to Mr. Walter F. Munroe (of Munroe’s Comedy Team) she commenced her single turn as a male impersonator, and played [Prince Rudolph] in the Garrick [Theatre, London] pantomime, Puss in Boots [26 December 1899]. Two years ago she played a six months’ engagement in America on the Keith Circuit, and is now playing her third return tour on the Gibbons Circuit. Miss Don is about to produce a new vocal scena, entitled On the Embankment, which is intended to depict the light and shade of London life.’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 3 February 1910, p. 14c)

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