Archive for February, 2014


K. Scott-Barrie’s The Upper Ten, an English concert party, circa 1912

February 28, 2014

The Upper Ten, an English concert party organized and headed by the actor and entertainer Kemsley Scott-Barrie (seated, right, on piano); other members of the group included Leslie Barker (back, left) and Mamie Watson (back, right)
(photo: Donald Massey, Bognor, Sussex, probably 1912)

‘The Upper Ten, who describe themselves as the ”merry and bright” concert party, are living up to this description at the Alexandra Palace Summer Pavilion this week, where their two shows a day are being well supported. Mr. K. Scott-Barrie, who heads the combination, is, of course, well-known to our readers, and his effervescent humour permeates the programme. Indeed, if we may criticise, we would suggest thet he need not interfere quite so much during other turns, but give the artists a chance to show their own merits. Miss Peggy Rae [i.e. Peg Ray, mother of Peter Sellers], Miss Mamie Watson, Miss Lillian Collard, Miss Madge Carr, and Miss Louie Milne [mother of Jimmy Campbell] all display ability in their respective lines, the last-named being a clever pianist, whiles the male members of the company are Mr. Charlie Carr, Mr. Reg Leslie, and Mr. Leslie Barker [(1895-1965) who later worked with Gabrielle Ray]. Some of the actions in the concerted items might be varied more, but, taken as a whole, the entertainment is certainly pleasant and amusing.’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 6 June 1912, p. 19d)

Kemsley Scott-Barrie, whose real name was Edward Woolhouse, was born in 1883 in Leeds, Yorkshire, one of the children of Arthur Woolhouse, a joiner, and his second wife Sarah Ann (née Cousins), and baptised at the church of St. John the Baptist in that city on 13 April 1884. Originally an apprentice bricklayer, he became a professional entertainer in his early 20s. His relatively short career lasted from 1906 until enlisting during the First World War, attaining the rank of Corporal in the Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment). He appeared in pantomime and on the music hall stage but became particularly identified with his concert party work. He died on 6 October 1918 of wounds received in action, a little over a month before the end of hostilities. He is buried at Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, near Dieppe, northern France. (For further information, see The Stage, London, Thursday, 12 November 1998, p. 10)


Clive Watts, English comedian and eccentric dancer

February 26, 2014

Clive Watts (1865?-1932), English comedian and eccentric dancer, who appeared at music halls and in pantomime, revue and other popular entertainments
(photo: Hana, London, circa 1910)

The Bedford music hall, London, week beginning Monday, 20 July 1908
‘Clive Watts scores heavily with ”Please, Mr. Manager” and some excellent patter. Smartly dressed, he also executes a neat and clever eccentric dance, which is loudly applauded.’ (The Stage, London, Thursday, 23 July 1908, p. 11e)

‘Clive Watts is a comedian who can tell funny stories and sing comic absurdities with equal ability. He made a great hit with his stories, and the audience appreciated his efforts. His dancing was really marvellous and he introduced many new steps into his whirlwind dancing.’
(Weymouth and Portland Standard, Weymouth, Dorset, England, Tuesday, 10 March 1914)


Bob Pender’s Troupe of pantomimists and knockabout comedians

February 23, 2014

Bob Pender’s Troupe of pantomimists and knockabout comedians
(photo: unknown, in or before 1917)

Keith’s vaudeville theatre, Syracuse, New York, week beginning Monday, 19 December 1921
‘Keith’s headliners this week are Clayton White and Grace Leigh company [sic] in a one-act playlet, Cherie. The plot is laid on Long Island, near the Belmont race track, in the home of the Harringtons. In it, Mr. White and Miss Leigh will no doubt have opportunity to display their unusual ability to act. The added attracted is the famous Bob Pender troupe [including Archie Leach], which were featured all last season at the Hippodrome, New York. They are animal impersonators, stilt walkers and eccentric dancers. Also on the bill are Glen and Jenkins, in Working on the Railroad.’ (Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, New York, Monday, 19 December 1921, p.9c)


Eunice Hill, singer and dancer in vaudeville, New York, 1896-1898

February 23, 2014

Eunice Hill (active late 19th Century), American singer and dancer
(photo: Schloss, NewYork, circa 1896/98; Ogden’s Guinea Gold cigarette card, issued in the United Kingdom, late 19th Century)

Little is known about Eunice Hill although she is recorded as having appeared in ‘songs and dances’ at Proctor’s Theatre, 23rd Street West, New York, during the week beginning Monday, 23 March 1896. Two years later she was at Tony Pastor’s Theatre, also in New York.


Nora Stockelle, English music hall and pantomime soubrette and dancer

February 23, 2014

Nora Stockelle (active 1907-1920), English music hall and pantomime soubrette and dancer
(postcard photo: Charles & Russell, 10 Royal Avenue, Belfast, circa 1915)

Merry Moments Merry Moments, a revue by Albert P. de Courville and Herman Darewski, first presented at the Hackney Empire, north London, 22 March 1915. There were various changes during the subsequent tour: Nell Emerald was temporarily replaced by Lily Lena and by July 1915 Florence Smithson had been added.
Finsbury Park Empire, north London, week beginning Monday 17 May 1915
‘Harry Day brings his Merry Moments to Finsbury Park Empire this week, and frankly disdaining the fetters of a plot of any kind, just gives us a series of amusing scenes, linked together by choruses, and the evolutions and dances of Lottie Stone’s troupe. The effect is decidedly pleasing, and requires no mental effort to follow. Amongst the most amusing episodes are ”The Amateur Burglar,” by Hal Jones, [Fred] Hawes, and T. Gamble; ”Bookkeeping” and ”A present from a friend,” by Marriott Edgar and Walter Williams; ”The Canadian Bully,” by Lily Lena, [Hal] Jones, and [Fred] Dark; ”A swish wish,” by Nora Stockelle, Messrs. Edgar, Jones, and W. Williams. These are apparently the favourites with the audience. Lily Lena’s archness and piquancy find immediate favour with the audience, and she makes a great hit with her song, ”What a lady.” Nora Stockelle scores with ”All of you rag with me,” as does Miss [Beatrice] Boarer and Walter Williams with their duet, ”Anytime, Anywhere.” altogether, Merry Moments may be said to have made a good impression, and Mr. A. Coleman Hicks has no cause of complaint as to business.’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 20 May 1915, p. 16a)


Olga Sydney imitating Maidie Scott, London, 1916/17

February 22, 2014

Olga Sydney (1903-1986), ‘The Wonderful Child Mimic’ and later variety artist as she appeared in her imitation of the music hall star Maidie Scott in the ‘children’s revue’ section of The Happy Family, the children’s play first produced at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London, on 18 December 1916 and revived at the Strand Theatre, London, on 24 December 1917, matinees only.
(postcard photo: Elliott & Fry Ltd, London, 1916/17)

Olga Sydney was the daughter of Simeon Blaiberg (1874?-1943), a north London house furnisher. Her career began about 1916 and lasted until she was married in 1927 to Raphael Woolf (1899-1961), whose father was an india rubber manufacturer.-


Florence Smithson, English soprano and musical comedy and pantomime actress

February 19, 2014

Florence Smithson (1884-1936), English soprano and musical comedy actress, who appeared in several Drury Lane pantomimes and spent much of the last part of her career touring variety theatres in the United Kingdom. She is best remembered for her appearance as Sombra in the original production of The Arcadians (Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 28 April 1909).
(photo: Metropole Studios, Cardiff, circa 1915)