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Ernest Linden, American minstrel and female impersonator, sometimes billed as ‘The Burlesque Queen of Song’

November 25, 2013

Ernest Linden (active 1870-1887), American minstrel and female impersonator, sometimes billed as ‘The Burlesque Queen of Song’
(photo: H.S. White, 264 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1875)

‘Three of the finest female impersonators ever seen in this country [the United Kingdom] were Fred Dart in 1870, Frank Pieri in 1875, and Ernest Linden who was with the company [Moore and Burgess Minstrels] from 1879 to 1885. His singing voice was not of exceptional strength, but sufficient for the serio songs he adhered to. His speaking voice was of a contralto quality; extremely graceful in all his movement and quite a humorist, he had just the requisite touch of burlesque in all his business that made it so supremely clever and entertaining. Few female impersonators could wear their frocks with the same grace as Linden; these brilliant concoctions were usually made by Worth of Paris. This fact was advertised and they were the admiration of all the ladies present.’
(Harry Reynolds, Minstrel Memories, London, 1928, p. 124)

* * * * *

Philadelphia, Monday, 26 September 1870
‘AT THE ARCH STREET OPERA HOUSE, Ernest Linden, the female impersonator, will appear for the first time this evening, in conjunction with other attractions.’
(The Daily Evening Telegraph, Monday, 26 September 1870, p. 5b)

New Memphis Theatre, Memphis, May 1872
‘Duprez & Benedict’s minstrels, the best troupe that has visited Memphis for a long while, are doing a fine business at the theater. Last night the theater was well filled, and the audience enthusiastic in their praises of the performance. The ballads of Messrs. Frank Dumas and G.B. Harcourt are nearly all new and beautiful, and are among the best we have ever heard, and never fail to convulse the audience with laughter. The falsetto singing of Mr. Ernest Linden is always highly appreciated, while his ”get up” is not interior in style and gorgeousness to that of any operatic singer on the stage. The Messrs. J. Fox and W. Ward are the most artistic clog dancers and acrobats that have ever appeared on the boards of the Memphis Theatre, and their performances never fail to elicit a hearty encore. Altogether the performance is most excellent, and should not fail to draw a crowded house nightly.’
(The Public Ledger, Memphis, Tennessee, Thursday, 9 May 1872, p. 2b)

Emerson’s California Minstrels, The Opera House, Wheeling, West Virginia, December 1976
‘… Ernest Linden is indeed the burlesque queen of song, and won shouts upon shouts of applause from the audience… .’
(The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Wheeling, Saturday, 16 December 1876, West Virginia, p. 4d)

‘Ernest Linden is having a dress built which will cost between four and five hundred dollars when finished. For a detailed description of it we must refer our readers to some of the Miss Nancies of the press.’
(Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, Sunday, 25 November 1877, p. 2b)

‘The following description of Ernest Linden’s new dress may interest our lady readers; White satin princess en train; elegantly embroidered vine, commencing at the back and running round train, composed of pansies, forget-me-nots and daisies. Wheat worked in gold and other pretty flowers. All worked in bright colors. The front is worked in one large bouquet of beautiful flowers and birds of Paradise. Bottom of dress slashed in blocks, edged with pink satin, and filled with white and pink French lace; round train boxed pleating, piped with pink. Sleeves, Marie Antoinette. Square corsage, fitted with crape lace. A band of white satin embroidered for neck, edged with lace. Gloves, stockings and slippers embroidered to match.’
(Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, Sunday, 9 December 1877, p. 2b)

‘Ernest Linden has a wardrobe that a princess might envy. He does not depend upon his clothes for success, however, as his female impersonations are wonderful simulations of femininity. – Philadelphia Mirror.’
(Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, Sunday, 19 May 1878, p. 2c)

Hague’s Minstrels, ‘The Original Slave Troupe,’ St. James’s Hall, Lime Street, Liverpool, England, August 1878
‘Mr. Hague’s latest addition to his company – Mr. Ernest Linden – is a great acquisition. His representation of the ”burlesque prima donna” is an undoubted success. His make-up is clever and tasteful, and his vocalisation natural and artistic.’
(The Liverpool Mercury, Liverpool, Wednesday, 7 August 1878, p. 6e)

‘Hague’s Minstrels at the Colston Hall, Bristol, England, April 1879
‘… The second part of the entertainment was as varied and as interesting at the first. Mr. Ernest Linden, who is styled the ”Patti of the Minstrel Stage,” was immense in his burlesque in personation of a Prima Donna, and his wonderfully flexible voice and powers of humour won for him an enthusiastic encore… .’
(The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Bristol, Monday, 14 April 1879, p. 3e)

The Moore and Burgess Minstrels, St. James’s Hall, Piccadilly, London, Thursday, 18 September 1879
‘On Thursday evening the Moore and Burgess Minstrels entered upon the fifteenth year of their marvellously successful entertainment … A new artiste of great merit, Mr Ernest Linden, appeared as a coloured prima donna with great success. Mr Linden was arrayed in a magnificent costume by Worth, of Paris, and his scene was extremely amusing and effective… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 21 September 1879, p. 3d)

The Moore and Burgess Minstrels at the Colston Hall, Bristol, England, Saturday, 9 December 1882
‘Messrs. Moore and Burgess’s Minstrels, who make it their boast that for seventeen years they have never ”performed out of London,” but who, in consequence of the St. James’s-hall, Piccadilly, which has been their home for so many years, being temporarily closed for repairs and alterations, are now making a provincial tour… . Mr. Ernest Linden, the ”burlesque Queen,” convulsed his hearers by his intensely comic interpretation of the song ”Awfully Awful.”’
(The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Bristol, Monday, 11 December 1882, p. 3c)

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