Archive for July, 2014


Lewis Waller as Henry V, Lyceum Theatre, London, 22 December 1900

July 11, 2014

Lewis Waller (1860-1915), English actor manager, as he appeared in the title role of his production of Henry V at the Lyceum Theatre, London, the first night of which was on Saturday, 22 December 1900.
(photo: Langfier Ltd, London, 1900)

‘Mr. Lewis Waller and Mr. William Mollison are sparing no effort in preparing for their production of Henry V., due to take place at the Lyceum on the evening of Saturday, December 22. The King Henry the Fifth of the occasion will be Mr. Lewis Waller; the Fluellen, Mr. E.M. Robson; Michael Williams will be Mr. J.H. Barnes, and Mr. William Mollison will play Ancient Pistol. The part of Princess Katherine of France will be taken by Miss Sarah Brooke, and Miss Lily Hanbury will impersonate the Chorus.’
(The Sunday Times, London, Sunday, 9 December 1900, p. 6a)

‘At the Lyceum Theatre, last Wednesday night [20 February 1901], the fiftieth performance of Henry V., was celebrated by the presentation to each member of the audience of a souvenir, which took the form of a series of a dozen full-length portraits of the chief members of the cast, admirably produced by Messrs. Langfier and Co. in a form which suggests finely-finished mezzotint engraving. These are in all cases admirable examples of the process of photogravure, the two portraits of Miss Hanbury as the Chorus being especially remarkable. As time goes on these records of memorable productions – permanent, artistic, and photographically accurate – will come to have a high value for the historian of the drama.
Henry V., I found, was going splendidly on Wednesday night; in conception the main impersonations could hardly be improved upon from what they were upon the occasion of the firt performance. But they had matured since then, and had acquired greater completeness in detail, and the general business of the drama played more closely.
‘The finest battle-piece ever painted! That is now one’s predominating impression of Henry V., as rendered at the Lyceum. It opens with a challenge scornfully proffered and nobly accepted; it proceeds to indicate the details of invasion as they appear to those engaged with them, from the prince to the camp-follower; it culminates in a crucial conflict and the victory of Agincourt. And, finally, as in old legends, the hand of a princess is the reward of the victor.
‘Mr. Lewis Waller’s Henry V. remains a magnificent impersonation, manly, vigorous and genial, Mr. Waller excelled himself, I thought, last Wednesday night, in his delivery of ”One more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,” and the demeanour of the soldiers that he was addressing struck me as being more natural and spontaneous there than it was upon the earlier occasion.
‘Mr. William Mollison’s Ancient Pistol is a masterpiece also, Mr. Mollison has divined a temperament for the unfortunate contemner of leeks, and has made a quite convincing human being of him as well as an infinitely diverting one. His apprehensive countenance, at the first appearance of the French soldier, and then, when he perceived that the poor fugitive was too disheartened to dream of resistance, the infinite swagger of his ”Yield, cur!” were delightful touches of comedy. The scene between Pistol and Fluellen was excellently played on both side, and Mr. J.H. Barnes’ Williams was throughout and admirable piece of work, the speech to the King, when the soldier discovers that it is he that he has unwittingly defied and criticised, was an especially fine piece of blunt, manly frankness. The ”dramatis personæ” upon the French side have lesser opportunities afforded them, but the Charles VI. of Mr. Bassett Roe, the Constable of Mr. William Devereux, and the Dauphin of Mr. Gerald Lawrence are all performances of great merit. The Princess Katherine of Miss Sarah Brooke is full of regal and maidenly charm, and Miss Lily Hanbury remains a most statuesque and impressive Chorus.’
(H.A.K. ‘Plays and Players,’ The Sunday Times, London, Sunday, 24 February 1901, p. 6a)


Wray and Wricks, boy comedians

July 6, 2014

Wray and Wricks (Harry Wray and Len Wricks, active 1913-1915), English boy comedians
(photo: Hana, London, circa 1913)


Marion Winchester, the ‘Sugar Queen,’ American dancer, possessor of a casket of fabulous jewellery and sometime Italian countess

July 2, 2014

Marion Winchester (active 1899-1908), American speciality dancer
(photo: Bassano, London, probably late 1905/early 1906; postcard published by Davidson Brothers, London, circa 1906)

Marion Winchester, whose real name was Isabel Marion Brodie, was born at Monterey, California on 21 March 1882, the daughter of Charles A. Brodie. She is first mentioned professionally in her native United States in 1899, having been trained at the Alviene Stage Dancing and Vaudeville School of Acting, Grand Opera House, New York. Her first appearance in London took place in the Spring of 1903, when at The Oxford music hall she was billed as the ‘World’s Champion Cake Walker,’ City. Between then and 1905 she was in Paris, where she was described as ‘une fabuleuse danseuse américaine’ (Le Figaro, 9 December 1903), and where it was rumoured in 1905 that she had married the American millionaire Daniel G. Reid. Although Reid was married three times (twice to actresses), no such contract between him and Miss Winchester was effected and the nature of their relationship, if any, remains open to speculation. Her last known appearances were in the Paris production of Vera Violetta in 1908.

In her application to the American Embassy in Paris in 1921 for an emergency passport (no. 6532), to replace one that had been lost on a recent train journey from Italy to Paris, Isabel Marion Brodie stated that she was professionally known as Iolanda de Monte, and was then residing at 8 Rue de Bois de Boulogne, Paris, for the purpose of studying music. She was subsequently married to the Italian pianist and composer, Count Aldo Solito de Solis (1905-1973), who during 1924 gave a number of recitals in London, the first being at the Æolian Hall, Wigmore Street, on Thursday, 28 February 1924 (The Times, London, 23 February 1924, p. 8, advertisement; The Time, Saturday, 1 March 1924, p. 8), and appeared at five Prom Concerts at the Queen’s Hall, London, including the last night (18 October 1924), when, accompanied by the New Queen’s Hall Orchestra conducted by Henry Wood, he played Liszt’s ‘Totentanz.’ Solito de Solis returned briefly to London early in 1927 to give five recitals. He and his wife continued together until their divorce about 1940; he was then married on 17 August 1942 to the Hollywood actress, Gale Page (1913-1983).

Countess Isabel Marion Brodie Solito de Solis, aka Marion Winchester and Iolanda de Monte, was still living in 1946.

* * * * *

‘Vaudeville and Minstrel …
‘MARION WINCHESTER, premier danseuse recently with the Devil’s Auction Co., is playing the Hopkins’ circuit. She introduces an original speciality, consisting of a cake walk toe dance, in conjunction with ballad singing and serio comic vocalisms. She will play the Keith circuit.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 9 September 1899, p. 558c; The Devil’s Auction, an extravaganza with ballet similar to The Black Crook, was originally produced in New York in 1867 and subsequently revived in rejuvenated form many times)

‘Marion Winchester is making quite a bit success at the Alhambra, Paris. She is a lady who had the happy knack of sowing off the grandest costumes to the best possible advantage. On the same bill are the Harmony Four, Seymour and Dupre, and Johnson and Dean.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 16 July 1904, p. 469a)

‘Du temps où les bals de l’Opéra existaient encore, le secrétaire du théâtre vit venir à lui un solliciteur qui lui demanda un entrée, parce que, disait-it, son médecin lui avait fait de la distraction un précepte d’hygiène. Aujourd’hui, ce setrait à l’Olympia que les docteurs enverraient les neurasthéniques se guérir: où trouveraient-ils un plaisir plus salutaire que celui d’assister à une représentation de Country Girl et d’applaudir Mariette Sully et Alice Bonheur? La délicieuse Marion Winchester, après quelques jours de repos, reprend ce soir son rôle de lady Carrington: c’est une bonne nouvelle pour le monde élégant qui viendra applaudir l’étoile de la danse américaine.’
(Le Figaro, Paris, Tuesday, 29 November 1904, p. 1e)

‘LONDON WEEK BY WEEK (By Emily Soldene.)
‘LONDON. December 16, 1904… .
‘We’ve got a ”Sugar Queen” – Miss Marion Winchester. Of course, she’s an American; equally, of course, she’s an actress – a toe dancer, recently with the Country Girl in Paris; also, of course, she’s at the Savoy. One day in Paris she met in the corridor of the Hotel Lebaudy, ”Emperor of the Sahara.” Marion was sucking a piece of candy. ”Give up sugar-stick,” said he, ” and buy sugar stock.” ”I just froze on,” said Marion. She took the tip, and £20,000 on the deal. She’s loaded up with trunks – sables, new dresses of Paquin diamonds – and is soon going on at the Gaiety.’
(The Evening News, Sydney, NSW, Australia, Saturday, 21 January 1905, p. 7e)

‘Dec. 16 [1905] …
‘Tonight Marion Winchester, well known in the theatres of two continents as a dander, will be seen in the cast of The Spring Chicken, at the Gaiety Theatre.’ (The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 30 December 1905, p. 1146b)

‘Beautiful Marion Winchester Becomes Mistress of $20,000,000 Fortune.
‘NEW YORK, March 1. [1905] – Marion Winchester, the beautiful American dancer, has become mistress of a $20,000,000 fortune by her marriage to Daniel G. Reid of Indiana, organizer of the tinplate trust and director of more than a dozen of the largest corporations in the country. The announcement of the marriage, which took place in Paris recently, reached New York to-day from London, where the couple are now living.
‘This is the second wife Reid has taken from behind the footlights.
‘Miss Winchester was a popular member of the New York Theater company, under the management of the Sire Bros.’
(The San Francisco Call, San Francisco, Thursday, 2 March 1905, p. 5f)

‘Miss Marion Winchester, the ”Sugar Queen” who is appearing in the Spring Chicken at the Gaiety Theatre [London], although an American, is an ardent Free Trader, her experience of Protection, in her native land, being the reverse of pleasant. On March 30 last year [sic; it was actually 20 March1905], the young actress returned to New York [from Southampton] on the St. Louis, and in answer to the usual inquiry of the customs office, stated that she had nothing to declare. On an examination of her luggage however, the official remarked that she had far too many jewels to pass, and she was asked to accompany him to the chief office.
‘The jewels were carefully weighed and tested, and Miss Winchester was staggered with the demand for £12,000, the amount of the duty due. In vain the beautiful dancer protested, tears and anger proved equally unavailing, and finally she declared her intention of departing by the next steamer, rather than pay money or deposit her jewels. On this understanding, after being detained either hours, she was allowed to retain possession of her treasures; but during the two days she remained detectives were continually shadowing her. Before the steamer sailed the jewels were carefully checked, to see that none had been disposed of.
‘Miss Winchester has purchased a house at 35A. South-street, Park-lane [Mayfair (where the actress Eleanor Souray lived in about 1908], with the intention of making her home in London, and emphatically states that the next time she visits her native land her jewels will remain in her London bank.’ (The Northern Argus, Clare, South Australia, Friday, 4 May 1906, p. 3)

Palace Theatre, London, week beginning Monday, 4 May 1908
Marion Winchester ‘fresh from her Continental successes.’
(The Sunday Times, London, Sunday, 3 May 1908, p. 15f)

‘Paris, Nov. 10 [1908].
Vera Violetta, Redelsperger’s spectacular operetta, which had a big run in Vienna, was produced by Victor de Cottens and H.B. Marinelli at the Olympia on the 6th [or 7th November 1908]. Mr. Baron, of the Varietes Theatre, has been engaged for a part that suits him admirably, though this popular actor is getting old and is now rarely seen. Marion Winchester, from the Gaiety, London, plays with much charm and especially pleases by her graceful dancing. M. Fereal, a popular baritone, Girier, the rotund comic, Mlle. Maud d’Orby, the 16 ”Olympia Girls” (Tiller’s), Mathilde Gomez, Mlle. Relly and the Delevines contribute to the success of this piece.’
(Edward G. Kendrew, ‘Paris Notes,’ Variety, New York, Saturday, 21 November 1908, p. 11a)

‘Daniel Gray Reid, the multimillionaire financier, who has been served with summons in an action for divorce brought by his third wife, Margaret Carrier, refused to discuss the affair yesterday. At his apartment on the eleventh floor of 907 Fifth avenue Mr. Reid’s butler said Mr Reid had nothing to say about the divorce… . ‘She married Reid in the fall of 1906, when she was 23 and he 54. she was a chorus girl and played in ”A Chinese Honeymoon” and later ”The Runaways.” ‘Mr. Reid’s first wife was Clarisse Agnew, an actress, who was playing at the old Hoyt Theatre. Following her death Mr. Reid met Marion Winchester in 1905, a dancer, on one of his trips to Paris and after a short courtship married her.
‘Three months after her death, in 1906, he married Margaret Carrier.’ (The Sun, New York, New York, Sunday, 2 March 1919, p. 8d)