Archive for April, 2014


The Great Vance in character for his song, ‘Adolph Simpkins; or, The Valet de Chambre,’ London, 1865

April 30, 2014

song sheet cover for the popular song, Adolph Simpkins; or, The Valet de Chambre, ‘written composed & sung by A.G. Vance with the greatest success every where.’
‘You can see by my hair and refinement
I’m no hupstart, my manners is calm
And I hold the most noble appointment,
Of Lord Crackwitt’s valet de chambre.’
(probably based on a photograph of Vance in character; lithograph by Concanen & Siebf, published by Hopwood & Crew, London, probably 1865)

‘MR. EDITOR. – Sir, – Having seen a letter in The Era relative to Mr. Vance, styling himself the author of ”The perambulator,” I beg to say it is not the only instance of the kind. Some time ago I composed a song called ”The Valet de Chambre; or, Adolphe Simpkins,” and gave it to Mr. Vance upon the condition that he should say it was written by ”F.H.” (myself), and that if published, ”F.H.” would appear on the title-page as the author. You can imagine my surprise when I saw the identical song published by Messrs. Hopwood and Crew, and announced as ”written, composed, and sung by the Great Vance.” The meanness, to say the least, of the transaction, is apparent, and although Mr. Crayon is an entire stranger to me, it may be some consolation for him to know he is not the only victim of the great (?) Vance’s deception. Trusting to your love of fair play to insert this, and apologising for my intrusion, I remain, sir, yours obediently, FRED. HAXBY, 24, Montpelier-street, Brompton, S.W.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 10 September 1865, p. 10b)

‘MR. EDITOR. – Sir, – In your impression of last week a person singing himself Fredk. Haxby, in a letter dictated in a strain of virulence and personal animosity towards myself and my professional career which must be patent to even the most obtuse reader, accuses me of appropriating to myself the authorship of my well-known song, ”Adolphe Simpkins; or, The Valet de Chambre,” declaring that he himself is the originator of the song in question. Sir, to that false and, it may be, libellous communication I shall next week offer an undeniable and complete refutation, such a refutation as shall recoil on your ill-advised correspondent. Meanwhile, my solicitor is much obliged to Mr. F.H. For his considerate kindness in publishing the address of his present lodgings, as for a considerable period he has vainly sought it. I trust, Sir, with your wonted impartiality, you will insert this reply to a groundless attack upon my name and fame, as at this crisis, when my grand benefit at the Strand Music Hall comes off on the 22d of this month, it would otherwise do me an incalculable amount of injury with my friends and the public. – I remain, Sir, yours, A.G. VANCE.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 17 September 1865, p. 10a)

(It seems likely that Fredk. Haxby was a figment of Vance’s imagination and that the first of these letters, like the second, originated from his own hand.)


Adele Astaire in Lady Be Good, Liberty Theatre, New York, 1924

April 29, 2014

Adele Astaire (1896-1981), American vaudeville and musical comedy actress, singer and dancer, as she appeared in the part of Susie Trevor in the George and Ira Gershwin musical, Lady, Be Good! produced on Broadway at the Liberty Theatre on 1 December 1924.
(photo: Edward Thayer Monroe, New York, 1924)


Gabrielle Ray’s birthday, 28 April; views on the effects of motoring on kissing

April 28, 2014

Gabrielle Ray (1883-1973), English musical comedy dancer and actress, who celebrated her birthday on 28 April.
(photo: Bassano, London, circa 1909)

‘The medical specialist who recently had the hardihood to assert that motoring would ultimately put an end to kissing, because it made the lips hard, will find few supporters among lady motorists, who are practically unanimous in describing his prophecy as nonsense.
”’King goes by favor,” said one young lady, ”and perhaps it is because no one will kiss him or take him for a motor drive that the poor man is setting up to be an authority on something that we understand better then he does.”
‘From the many inquiries made recently a Daily Mail representative arrived at the conclusion that ladies will not accept as a scientific fact that statements of the medical pessimist.
”’Motoring will go out of fashion before kissing will,” said Miss Marie Studholme. ”The gold wind makes one’s face hard for a little while, but most of the kissable people in the world are now motoring.”
‘Miss Gabrielle Ray thinks the medical specialist is a very funny man; ”but as I don’t go in for kissing,” she said, ”I don’t know much about hard mouths. I have done a lot of motoring, but very little kissing. At the same time, I think it would be a pity to discourage those who like kissing because it seems to please them very much. If I have by accident kissed anyone I have never heard any complaint about my mouths; but there, you see, I put cream on my face when going out in a motor-car, because before I used to do so the wind made my face very dry.”
‘Mlle. Mariette Sully, the charming French actress at Daly’s Theatre [in <HREF=>Les Merveilleuses], says it is very wicked of the doctor to talk like that. ”If he had said that motoring sops kissing because the automobile shakes so much,” she could understand him; ”but hard lips, oh, no, not at all.”
‘At the Apollo Theatre Miss Carrie Moore [who is appearing in The Dairymaids] holds the same views. ”Motor drives do not make the lips hard. Of course not. Motoring is lovely, and I am sure it won’t put kissing out of fashion.”
‘At the Gaiety Theatre [where The New Aladdin began its run on 29 September 1906] Miss Kitty Mason suggested that motoring will cause wrinkles round the eyes. ”People screw up their eyes when motoring,” she said, ”and I think that must eventually cause wrinkles.” ”Oh, I hope not,” said the other ladies so loudly that Mr George Edwardes had to call for order to allow the rehearsal to proceed.’
(The Grenfell Record and Lachlan District Advertiser, Grenfell, NSW, Australia, Saturday, 27 October 1906, p. 3c)


Cressie and Billy Leonard in the touring revue, A la Carte, United Kingdom, 1916/17

April 28, 2014

Cressie Leonard (b. about 1887, active 1902-1926), Irish-born English music hall comedienne and pantomime principal boy, with her younger brother, Billy Leonard (1891-1974), Irish-born English variety theatre entertainer and musical comedy actor and singer, about the time they appeared together in 1916 and 1917 in the touring revue, A la Carte.
(photo: Dobson Studios, Liverpool, probably 1916/17)

A la Carte, by Richard Merriman and Fred Leigh, with lyrics by Fred Leigh, and music by Alf. Leondard and Henry Pether, was described as ‘a merry dish of musical dainties’ in one scene. First produced on 13 November 1916 at the Palace Theatre, Bath, its principal artists were Reg. Wilson, Daisy West, Cressie Leonard, Billy Leonard (as ‘The Immaculate Dude’), Dorothy Vaughan, Dave O’Toole, Doris and Dot Pickford, Afred Lucella, and Stephen Hall.

Alf. Leonard, a well-known variety theatre violinist, was Cressie and Billy Leonard’s brother.

Billy Leonard in 1929, probably filmed in the British Pathé Studio, London.

* * * * *

Sinbad the Sailor, New Theatre, Cardiff, Wales, 26 December 1913
‘Miss Cressie Leonard as Sinbad has added fresh laurels to her fame. Her gallant bearing and dashing style are magnetic and in rousing audiences to a high pitch of enthusiasm, and the success of her songs is accentuated by the manner in which they join in the choruses. Her principal numbers are ”Hey ho! Don’t you hear the steamer?” ”You made me love you.” and a duet with [Rose Wylie] the principal girl, ”Take me in your arms.” Miss Leonard also excels in her tango dances with Mr. Dan Leno, Jun. [as Hinbad], this proving a novel feature.’


Eva Fallon sings ‘It’s Moonlight On the Rhine’ in the musical comedy, One Girl in a Million, which had its Chicago premier at the La Salle Opera House on Sunday, 6 September 1914

April 27, 2014

song sheet cover for It’s Moonlight On the Rhine, words by Bert Kalmar and Edgar Leslie and music by Ted Snyder, as sung by Eva Fallon in the musical play, One Girl in a Million.
(photo: unknown, USA, probably 1914; artwork by A.W. Barbelle; published by Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co, New York, 1914)

One Girl in a Million was first produced at the Davidson Theatre, Milwaukee, playing for three nights from 3 September 1914, before its Chicago premier at the La Salle Opera House on Sunday, 6 September 1914. A tour followed.

‘The La Salle Opera house again comes to the front with a brand new musical play that possesses a dandy good gingery swing – and an abundance of fetching tunes that keeps one whistling after hearing them. The new piece is called One Girl in a Million, and along with the lively comedy and pretty music quite an interesting story is told, in fact there are several cleverly constructed dramatic situations. The comedy is clean and plentiful – a regular laughing festival is this new piece. There is a plot.’
(Chicago Live Stock World, Chicago, Saturday, 19 September 1914, p. 3c)

One Girl in a Million has undergone several changes since its birth at the La Salle. Comedy scenes are added to the first act, and Eva Fallon and Felix Adler have a patter song. The song, ”Comedy of Love,” is another addition.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 26 September 1914, p. 18c)

The Illinois Theatre, Chicago, Saturday, 28 November 1914
One Girl in a Million, the freshest musical comedy product of the La Salle theatre, Chicago, had its initial tri-city presentation at the Illinois Saturday, when matinee and night performances were given, both of which was generously patronized. The piece has taken to the road after an extended run at the La Salle, where it is said to have prospered better than many of its predecessors. One Girl in a Million departs somewhat from the time-worn musical comedy text. There are no far-away islands or kings and queens, or American warships. The story concerns a society crook who gets into a home of wealth under the guise of a distinguished painter. Of course it is altogether improbably, but it makes a thread to hold the narrative in such continuity as to interest the audience. And of course the former crook marries – One Girl in a Million – after she has taught him, without her knowing he is a bad man, what love is and after he has refused to steal her $5,000 diamond necklace. The cast is headed by Felix Adler, who is the crook; Miss Eva Fallon, who is the girl, and Miss Eva Leonora Novasio, who is her sister. It was Adler’s first visit here as a star, and he made good, proving himself one of the best entertainers seen on the Illinois stage this season. He impresses you as an actor who is an actor without affectation of those who have come into prominence in that profession. He goes through the play without an iota of makeup, wearing an ordinary business suit. At his first appearance you do not regard Adler as a comedian. Rather you imagine he is to be the villain, but it you give him time he will wake you up to the fact that he has the goods. In the second act he got his audience so strongly under his spell that it was with difficulty he was able to conclude his speciality, which was just a bunch of nonsense, talking, singing, dancing and grimacing. Miss Fallon makes a sweet and delightful opposite to Adler. All of the principals are well cast. The comedy was given at Davenport last night and will be at the Moline tonight.’
(The Rock Island Argus, Rock Island, Illinois, Monday, 30 November 1914, p. 9b)


Shepherds Bush Empire, west London, programme cover for the week of Monday, 14 May 1906

April 26, 2014

Shepherds Bush Empire programme cover for the week of Monday, 14 May 1906, with portraits of Horace Edward Moss (1852-1912) and Oswald Stoll (1866-1942), directors of the Moss Empires group of music halls and variety theatres.
(printed by J.J. Keliher & Co Ltd Southwark, London, SE, for the London & Provincial Advertising Agency Ltd, Strand, London, WC, 1906)

The bill for the Sherpherds Bush Empire for the week of Monday, 14 May 1906, comprised:
1. Overture – by the orchestra
2. Three Sisters Chester – Who Sing, Dance and Play
2. Odeyne Spark – The Delightful Comedienne and Dancer
3. Alcide Capitaine – A Fine Woman in a Fine Art [acrobat]
4. Binns and Binns – Eccentric Musical Comedians
5. Francis, assisted by Alfred – Cannon Ball King
6. Frank and Free – The Comedy Couple
7. Belloni’s Cockatoos – A Marvellous Example of Bird Training
8. The American Bioscope – New Series of Up-to-date Subjects
9. Mark Sheridan – The Genial Philosopher [comic singer]
10. Hackenschmidt – Still The Undefeated [strongman]


Miss A. Newton and Nelly Power in H.J. Byron’s extravaganza, The Orange Tree and the Humble Bee, Vaudeville Theatre, London, 1871

April 26, 2014

Miss A. Newton (1859?-1884), English actress, and Nelly Power (1854-1887), English dancer, burlesque actress, singer and music hall serio-comic, as they appeared respectively as The Princess Ada and Prince Precious in H.J. Byron’s extravaganza, The Orange Tree and the Humble Bee; or, The Little Princess who was Lost at Sea, which was produced at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, on Saturday, 13 May 1871.
(photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1871)

Other members of the cast included Charles Fenton as Kokonibbs, The Courageous (King of the Chocolate Islands), Thomas Thorne as Croquemitaine and David James as Tippertiwitch

* * * * *

Miss A. Newton was the stage name of Amelia Smith, a daughter of Richard Smith, a carpenter/scenic artist, and his wife, Alice, who on 21 July 1867 married the actor Thomas Thorne at the church of St. Mary, Putney, south west London. She died on the 18 April 1884, lamented by her husband and a wide circle of family and friends.