Archive for May, 2014


Ellis Stanyon demonstrates his paper-folding feat

May 26, 2014

Ellis Stanyon (1870-1951), English magician, dealer in magic materials and toys, and publisher
(photos: Hellis & Sons, Regent Street, London, probably 1895)

‘The above photos. show Mr. Ellis Stanyon at work in his paper-folding feat. Mr. Stanyon is a clever conjurer and shadowist, and a feature of his entertainment is to fold the same piece of paper forty different ways in five minutes.’ ‘FLOWER VASE. EASTERN WATER-POT. THE SHAHZADA. A BEEF-EATER.’
(The Picture Magazine, London, November 1895, p. 294)

* * * * *

William Ellis Stanyon, professionally known as Professor Ellis Stanyon, was born in the village of Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, England, on 8 January 1870, one of the children of William John Stanyon, a wood turner/sawyer. He was married on 5 November 1893 at Trinity Church, Marylebone, London, to Catherine (Kate) Fairs, daughter of John Fairs, a boot maker. They had five children, of whom Cyril Gordon Stanyon (1903-1976) took over the magic business upon his father’s death in 1951.


homeless men photographed by flashlight at night under the awning of the Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, London, about 1903

May 24, 2014

homeless men photographed at night under the awning of the Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, London, during an engagement of John Hewelt (Charles de Saint-Genois), puppet master and creator of ‘startlingly lifelike’ marionettes.
(photo: unknown, London, circa 1903)

The original caption to this photograph read, ‘FLASHLIGHTS ON SALVATION ARMY WORK. A Queue Outside the Palace Theatre. These men are lounging outside the Palace Theatre in order to bask in the grateful warmth which surges up through the gratings from the engine rooms below – taken at 1.30 a.m.’
(The Bystander, London, Wednesday, 23 March 1904, p. 180).

John Hewelt made the first of several return visits to the Palace Theatre of Varieties, London, in March 1897.
‘The programme at the Palace Theatre has been further diversified and improved by a number of new ”turns” … The principal change in the programme last night was, however, the production of Mr. John Hewelt’s automatic theatre. This is on the lines of the old marionette shows – with a great difference. It shows us for the first time in England as French café chantant in full swing. There is an orchestra, whose conductor gravely swings his baton, and the musicians go through the motion of playing. The audience in the boxes glance through their opera glasses at the people in the stalls, and evidently engage in conversation when the performers are on the mimic stage, though occasionally they applaud. The performers have a galvanised liveliness about them which is most amusing.’
(The Standard, London, Friday, 12 March 1897, p. 3d)


four members of the corps de ballet in one of the Indian Dances from The Dance Dream, a ballet in seven tableaux, invented and produced by the Bolshoi Theatre’s ballet-master, Alexander A. Gorsky, at the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, London, on 29 May 1911

May 22, 2014

four members of the corps de ballet in one of the Indian Dances from
The Dance Dream
, a ballet in seven tableaux, invented and produced by the Bolshoi Theatre’s ballet-master, Alexander A. Gorsky, at the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, London, on 29 May 1911, with music selected and arranged by George W. Byng. The principals were the Russian dancers, Ekaterina Geltser and Vasili Tikhomirov, with Marjorie Skelley (recruited from the Empire, Leicester Square, where she had understudied Adeline Genée), Gina Cormani and Agnes Healy of the Alhambra’s permanent company.
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1911)

For further information, see Ivor Guest, Ballet in Leicester Square, London, 1992, pp. 78-80.


Gladys Cooper photographed by Bassano, London, 1911

May 21, 2014

Gladys Cooper (1888-1971), English actress.
(photo: Bassano, London, 1911)

When this photograph was published in May 1911, Miss Cooper had lately left the cast of Our Miss Gibbs and, turning her back on pantomime and musical comedy, was about to begin her theatrical career in earnest by appearing as Ethel Trent in Frank Howell Evans’s farce, Half-a-Crown, produced at the Royalty Theatre, London, on 31 May 1911. The cast was headed by Dennis Eadie.


Henry A. Lytton and the Cosy Corner Girls from The Earl and the Girl, London, 1904/05

May 20, 2014

Henry A. Lytton (1865-1936), English actor and singer, with the ‘Cozy Corner Girls’ (left to right, Gertrude Thornton, Clare Rickards and Hilda Hammerton) in the musical comedy, The Earl and the Girl which was first produced at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on 10 December 1903 before being transferred to the Lyric Theatre, London, on 12 September 1904.
(photo: unknown, probably Bassano or Ellis & Walery, London, 1904; postcard published by the Rapid Photo Co, London, 1904)

‘My Cosy Corner Girl,’ composed by John W. Bratton, with lyrics by Charles Noel Douglas, was imported from the United States for inclusion in The Earl and the Girl, when it was sung by Henry A. Lytton and Agnes Fraser. They also sang it at the Charles Morton Testimonial Matinee at the Palace Theatre, London, on 8 November 1904.

The Earl and the Girl, the most successful of all the musical comedies in which I appeared and the one which gave me my biggest real comedy part, ran for one year at the Adelphi, and then for a further year at the Lyric. When it was withdrawn I secured the permission of the management to use “My Cosy Corner,” the most tuneful of all its musical numbers, as a scena on the music-halls, and with my corps of Cosy Corner Girls it was a decided success.’
(Henry A. Lytton, The Secrets of a Savoyard, London, 1921, p. 86; Lytton’s ‘My Cosy Corner’ scena ran at the Palace Theatre, London, from April to June 1905)

‘My Cosey Corner Girl’ sung by Harry Macdonough, recorded by Edison, USA, 1903, cylinder 8522
(courtesy of Tim Gracyk via YouTube)


Ralph Lynn and Helen Juliette head the cast of The Purple Lady on a tour of the United States, 1913/14

May 17, 2014

Ralph Lynn (1882-1962), English actor, as Algy Slowman and Helen Juliette (active 1911-1915), American vaudeville comedienne and singer, with other cast members on tour in the United States during 1913/14 in B.A. Rolfe‘s production of the one-act musical comedy, 26 minute The Purple Lady.
(photo: unknown, USA, probably late 1913)

The Purple Lady (not to be confused with a farce of the same name), written by Frank Kennedy, was first produced at the Orpheum, New York City, in May 1913. Ralph Lynn headed the small cast, playing opposite Mercedes Lorenze. ‘… Lynn and Lorenze get through with a nicely written story and a few good numbers, the best being ”The Girl I Met on Sunday Night” in which the chorus work to both Mr. Lynn and Miss Lorenze. Impersonating both girls and boys in this number the chorus get in their best work as the latter. It brought home several encores, although the other numbers failed with one exception. The title [The Purple Lady] is a mystery. The story tells of a double love affair with the usual complications and the usual finish. Lynn’s uncle is in love with Miss Lorenze’s aunt. Those characters are handled by Denny Dugmore and Adelle Barker. Both are capable and show good judgement on the part of the producer, B.A. Rolfe. It seems that Auntie at one time wore a purple dress. That’s the only reason given for the name. It doesn’t matter much, however, for the dialogue is excellent and the laughs are plenty. The costuming of the chorus of the chorus is nothing out of the ordinary, pretty, appropriate, but not a flash. The numbers are staged exceptionally well, At the Orpheum the act pulled a safe hit. With a few week’s [sic] work it will become a standard vehicle for the big time.’ (Variety, New York, Saturday, 31 May 1913, p. 16a). The Purple Lady, with Ralph Lynn but with various changes of cast, eventually left New York for a successful tour.

B.F. Keith Theatre, Washington, D.C., week beginning Monday, 8 December 1913
‘A one-act musical comedy filled with excellent vocal numbers and dances in The Purple Lady, featuring Ralph Lynn and Helen Juliette. Special stage settings and costumes added to the production.’
(The Washington Times, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, 9 December 1913, p. 9a)

Grand Opera House, Pittsburgh, March 1914
‘Ralph Lynn has a cane and the antics he performs with it in a ”silly ass” role make The Purple Lady a mirthful one-act tabloid musical comedy. The company of 10 has little music to assist them, and next to Mr. Lynn’s came Helen Juliette’s dancing is noteworthy.’
(The Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Tuesday, 17 March 1914, p. 16b)


Arthur St. Vincent and Eugenie Montebello, British and Australian music hall entertainers

May 15, 2014

Arthur St. Vincent (active 1869-1887), English music hall singer/songwriter, manager and general entertainer, and his wife, Mdlle. Eugenie Montebello (active 1868-1876), Italian-born British music hall artist, sometimes described as ‘the dashing serio-comic and dancer,’ male impersonator, magician/illusionist and entertainer
(carte de visite photos: Clayson & Cuthbert, 13 ½ South Parade, Nottingham, and Tulley, 26 Division Street, Sheffield, both circa 1870)

Arthur St. Vincent and Mdlle. Montebello appear to have been in their early 20s when they began their separate stage careers. They soon joined forces, however, and in 1873 they set sail for Australia. Settling for a while in the new gold-mining town of Charters Towers, where they are said to have been connected with the Sportsman’s Arms Hotel and its theatre, they were subsequently seen in company on tour with various other entertainers throughout parts of Australia and New Zealand. It was on 27 October 1874 at the Crown Hotel, Dunedin that a son was born to the couple (Otago Witness, Dunedin, New Zealand, Wednesday, 28 October 1874, p. 4b).

Early in 1882 Arthur St. Vincent returned to England but disaster struck his and his party’s return journey to Australia when they were involved in a steamship wreck, which deprived them of their savings and wardrobes. St. Vincent managed to return to his wife in Australia, where a benefit was held for him in June 1884. Later references to Mr and Mrs St Vincent are in Australian sources but they cease in 1887.

* * * * *

‘Success! The Great Arthur St. Vincent. Success!
ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, acknowledged to be the most original and successful Comic that has visited HALIFAX [Yorkshire] (ODD FELLOWS’ MUSIC HALL). Thunders of applause nightly. Pullan’s, Bradford; Fleur-de-Lis, Sheffield; Victoria, Hartlepool; Wear, Sunderland, to follow. Address, HARRY FOX, Middlesex Music Hall, London, W.C.
N.B. Songs and Duets written on moderate terms (Ladies’ versions).’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 23 May 1869, p. 16b)

Metropolitan music hall, Edgware Road, London, week beginning Monday, 23 October 1871
‘… Mdlle. [Eugenie] Montebello and Mr. Arthur St. Vincent, who are comic duettists with voices above the average for musicalness, have newly appeared here, and are well received. They represent a belle and beau, who sing of ”London Society” being more to their taste than that of Baden-Baden, &c. Dressed nearly alike as fops, with peculiar hats and profuse whiskers, they carol a lively strain, the refrain of which is ”Hurrah for the Gaslight School.” The manlike appearance and swagger of the lady cause much laughter. Again they come forward and exhibit cards bearing good representations of the Rose, the Thistle, the Shamrock, and other emblems of nations, and accompany the display of the pictures with appropriate melodies. When we saw them they were so earnestly called that they appeared a fourth time and sang ”A song of songs,” which consisted of snatches of a very large number of popular ditties well woven together and cleverly sung… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 29 October 1871, p. 12a)

‘DPARTURE OF PROFESSIONALS FOR AUSTRALIA. – On Thursday the following members of the Music Hall Profession sailed from Southampton for Australia, viz.:- The De Castro troupe, Valentine Vose, Arthur St. Vincent, Mdlle. Montebello, Airee, Nellie Forrester, Harry Sefton, and Jessie Danvers. Through Messrs Durden and Wills, who witnessed their departure, they send kind regards to their brother and sister professionals.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 31 August 1873, p. 4d)

MR. AND MRS. ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, From all the London Theatres, and late Principal Vocalists of Smith’s English and Continental Combination, beg most respectfully to announce Three Performances as above.
The Company at present consists of the following first-class Artists:-
MR. ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, acknowledged by public and press to be the greatest Local Comic and Characteristic Vocalist, who has visited the Colonies, in all new Songs, written and composed by himself.
MDLLE. EUGENIE MONTEBELLO, pronounced by the London and Provincial Press to be the greatest Lady Impersonator of Male Character in the world.
MR. FRANK VERTEN, (late of the Australian Bell Ringers), Negro Comedian and Dancer, in his beautiful American Songs and Dances.
MR. LESLIE CHARLES, (late of the Canadian Concerts), Baritone and National Vocalist.
HERR JULIUS, Solo Pianist and Musical Director.
MR AND MRS A. ST. VINCENT In their highly amusing Drawing Room Sketches of ”Life and Character.”
Vide Press – ”The most amusing couple we have seen for many a long day.” – Cromwell Argus, December 24, 1875.
An entire Change of Programme each evening
Books of Words may be had at the Hall.
Doors open at 7.30; commence at 8.
SOLE MANAGER – MR. A. ST. VINCENT. SOLE AGENT – ALFRED WRIGHT.’ (The Nelson Evening Mail, Nelson, New Zealand, Wednesday, 2 June 1875, p. 2g)

‘MR. ARTHUR ST. VINCENT has arrived [in London], and will remain in England for Two Months. He will be pleased to hear from old friends; also from Persons having Novelties in any line of Business, Illusions of all kinds, Duets, Dialogues, Comic Songs. Can arrange with Artistes to visit the Colonies either on terms share or otherwise. Address, ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, 32, Fitzroy-street, Fitzroy-square, London, W.C.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 27 May 1882, p. 23c)

of Six Star Artistes
are now on Tour through England.
Managers and Proprietors please send vacant dates for Halls.
N.B. – ”The Hindoo Marvel.”
Australia again in August.
Permanent address, 32, Fitzroy-street, Frizroy-square, London, N.W.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 10 June 1882, p. 21a)


an unidentified actress attired in costume for a breeches role, photographed in Liverpool, late 1860s

May 13, 2014

an unidentified actress attired in costume for a breeches role
(carte de visite photo: E. Cox-Walker, 5 Bold Street, Liverpool, late 1860s)


Mata Hari, Dutch-born exotic dancer and German spy

May 12, 2014

Mata Hari (1876-1917), Dutch-born exotic dancer in Paris, who was executed as a German spy by firing squad at a military barracks to the east of Paris.
(postcard photo: unknown, Paris, 1905/06; published by Neue Photographische Gesellschaft (NPG), Berlin, 1906, no. 570/6)


Lina Edwin, American burlesque actress and singer

May 11, 2014

Lina Edwin (otherwise, Lena Edwin, Mrs Bland Holt, 1846?-1883), American burlesque actress and singer.
(cabinet photo: Howell, 867 and 869 Broadway, New York, circa 1870)

‘A SOUTHERN LADY TAKES TO THE STAGE. – Miss Lina Edwin, who has just opened her theatre in New York, has a romantic history, according to the Brooklyn Union. ”She is a Southerner, well born, and highly educated. She lived on her paternal estates near Richmond, Virginia, and was brought up in the mollesse of the old southern aristocracy. During the war the paternal estates wee melted in the crucible of the Confederacy, and Miss Edwin turned pluckily to self-support. First she tried literature, and became well known in the internal newspaper world as a song writer. Then she set about writing music for her sons, and the orchestral world began to know her. She wrote waltzes and fantasias, and in all acquitted herself well. Next she took to the stage, and in two years or so from a brilliant beginning, reached the degree of manageress in her own right. An opportune legacy has set her right pecuniarily, but it did not arrive until she had got well into the expense list of her ledger on behalf of the public amusement, and now she will appear in her new capacity as manager.”’
(The Daily Phoenix, Columbia, South Carolina, Tuesday, 22 September 1870, p. 2b)

* * * * *

Notable among Lina Edwin’s first appearances were with W.H. Lingard and his actress wife, Alice Dunning, in the former’s production of H.J. Byron’s Orpheus and Eurydice (New York, 1 February 1869); and with Lydia Thompson and her troupe (including Harry Beckett, Pauline Markham, Alice Atherton and Eliza Weathersby) in the burlesque, Pippin; or, The King of the Golden Mines (Niblo’s Garden, New York, 4 April 1870). She subsequently gave her name to a theatre at 720 Broadway, New York, which became well-known for burlesques and other popular entertainment but in December 1872 was burnt to the ground. Meanwhile, in December 1871, Miss Edwin was in Ireland where she appeared as Doe Maynard in the comedy, Rank at the Queen’s Royal Theatre, Dublin. She became a great favourite there, remaining until October 1872. After returning to the United States, Lina Edwin then left for Australia at the close of 1876 in a company headed by Annie Pixley and Bland Holt. She continued her career in Australia until her death in 1883.

Melbourne, NSW, Australia, Thursday, 31 May 1883
‘Mrs Bland Holt, better known by her stage name of Lena [sic] Edwin, died to-day. About two months ago the deceased lady was seized with an apoplectic fit on the stage of the Theatre Royal [Melbourne], which resulted in paralysis, from which she was recovering, but to-day she was seized with a second attack of apoplexy, and rapidly sank. Mr. Holt is at present in Sydney.’
(The Sydney Morning Herald, NSW, Australia, Friday, 1 June 1883, p. 7f)