Posts Tagged ‘American Music Hall (New York)’


Cissie Curlette, English music hall singer and mimic

October 22, 2014

Cissie Curlette (active 1905-1917), English music hall vocalist and mimic, in costume for her song, ‘What You Never Had,You Never Miss.’
(postcard photo: Schmidt, Manchester, circa 1909)

Tivoli Theatre, Adelaide, Australia, August 1909
‘Cissie Curlette, who is a clever, dainty, and refined comedienne, scored another success. The little lady is popular with all parts of the house, and she knows how to make very point tell with the audience. Miss Curlette will close her season at the Tivoli on Wednesday evening, as she sails for Europe by the Orsova on Thursday.
(The Register, Adelaide, Australia, Monday, 23 August 1909, p. 5c)

‘Monday at the American, New York, Cissie Curlette, personally selected by William Morris in England, will be present as a feature of the vaudeville program for the week.
‘It will be Miss Curlette’s first American appearance. Mr. Morris is willing to gamble on her success. The outcome of the English woman’s debut will be watched with much interest by the vaudeville people. Mr. Morris saw her at the Holborn, Empire, London, immediately booking her twenty weeks yearly for the next three seasons. She was also among the acts last listed by VARIETY’S London correspondent as suitable for America.
‘Miss Curlette is on the style of Vesta Victoria. Miss Victoria claims to ”have but Cissie Curlette in the business.” Among Cissie’s songs are ”What I Never Had, I Will Never Miss,” ”Yea, Verily, Yea,” and a new ”Chantecler” number.
‘The accompanying photograph of Miss Curlette [similar to the postcard photograph, above] resembles somewhat Cissie Loftus in looks. The costume is worn singing ”What I Never Had”.’
(Variety, New York, Saturday, 7 May 1910, p. 11d)

American Music Hall, week beginning Monday, 23 May 1910
‘Daintiest of All English Comediennes CISSIE CURLETTE Direct from a Remarkably Successful Engagement in New York, where Press and Public Proclaimed Her the Best English Artist Ever Seen in America.’
‘Cissie Curlette, the latest importation from Europe, who has been winning a remarkable success for the past two weeks in New York will be the big feature at the American Music Hall this week. Miss Curlette is so different from the average run of English music hall artists that her success in this country was instantaneous. She has been likened to Vesta Victoria, Lucy Weston and Yvette Guilbert, but just where the similarity lies would be hard to say. She in an incarnation of dainty demureness and is gifted with a personal magnetism which fairly electrifies her audience.’
(The Boston Sunday Post, Boston, Massachusetts, Sunday, 22 May 1910, pp. 39b and 40d)

‘American Music Hall, No. 4. In one; thirteen minutes. Seen matinee, June 7 [1910]
‘What You Never Had You Never Miss, Chantecler and Toodle-I-Oodle-I-Oo was the repertoire which the much-heralded Cissie Curlette offered to the unsuspecting, but the eternal question, Who is Cissie Curlette? had been answered, and that was satisfactory. She acts her numbers cleverly, even to the lusty crow of a male rooster in her Chantecler number, and has a modest bearing, that won a place for her in the hears of the Music Hall patrons on short notice. Miss Curlette will never rival Halley’s comet, however, for sensational honors, her offering being a plain and ordinary singing act, with in its class, if it will be allowed to remain there, it is good with no moment of exception, and that much is enthusiastically shown by warm applause.’
(The Billboard, Cincinnati, New York, Chicago, Saturday, 18 June 1910, p. 11b)

‘Cissie Curlette was tremendously boomed by William Morris ere her American appearance. She scarcely lived up to the advertisement, but was reckoned a fair success.’
(The Newsletter, Sydney, NSW, Australia, Saturday, 23 July 1910, p. 3d)

* * * * *

Cissie Curlette was born, probably in Liverpool, about 1876. She was one of the 11 children of John Leary (1832/35-1910), an undertaker of funerals, formerly a mariner, and his wife, Elizabeth (née Leary, 1844-1935). She was living in the early 1920s in the Hampstead area of London but further details of her life are at present uncertain.


Maude Odell

April 27, 2013

Maude Odell (fl. early 20th century), English model of feminine beauty, ‘the Original Sandow Girl’ (not to be confused with the American actress of the same name)
(photo: Bassano, London, 1906)

The references to Sandow and the body beautiful are to the internationally acclaimed German-born strongman and athlete, Eugene Sandow (1867-1925) who was billed as ‘The Most Powerful Man on Earth.’ Through his popular act he created something of a fad during the early years of the twentieth century for healthy living. It should also be noted that the shapely, white-clad beauties known as Sandow Girls – theatrical successors to Gibson Girls – first made their appearance in the farcical musical play, The Dairymaids at the Apollo Theatre, London, on 14 April 1906. In one scene they (played by Minna Moore, Dorothy Ward and others) and Carrie Moore, the leading lady of the show, were discovered exercising with ropes, punch-bags and dumbbells. The Dairymaids ran successfully until December that year, by which time Maude Odell had already made her mark at the Palace.

Palace Theatre of Varieties, London, November 1906.
‘The Palace had added a very agreeable item to its already amusing programme. It consists of the fine poses of a lady who is known variously as “Galatea,” “La Statue Humaine,” and Miss Maude Odell. Under whichever name you care to take her, or by any other, she remains sweet, delicate, attractive. The pictures which she realises in her, apparently, marble figure are extremely various. “The Dancer,” after Tadolini, in the Villa Borghesi, is very charming; Lord Leighton’s “Bath of Psyche” is well realised; the Luxembourg “Salambo” is another difficult pose remarkably well carried out. But each of the eight pictures are worth seeing. Music by Mr. Herman Finck and odes from the graceful pen of Mr. Clifton Bingham grace the production.’
(The Bystander, London, Wednesday, 7 November 1906, p.473b)

American Music Hall, New York City, January 1909
‘Maud Odell did not win any marked favour in her sketch, The Chamelion. The offering is so unpromising that comment is uncalled for. The posing of Miss Odell, however, was artistic and quite pleasing.
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 16 January 1909, p.17d)

‘As she travels, Maud Odell, the English model of feminine proportions, has wrought out a definition of beauty in connection with which she has chosen to criticise American women. “Beauty is health,” she is credited with saying. “American women are not beautiful because they are anaemic. The cheeks are pale, their steps are not sprightly, they look as though they never drew a long, deep breath that swept the lungs. Americans should be the most beautiful of women because they have natural style and they are clever and vivacious. But they worship intellect and neglect the body.”’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 13 February 1909, p.2c)

Maude Odell
a half-tone photograph of ‘Miss Maude Odell (the Original Sandow Girl)’ published probably in 1906 by Weiners of London. The remainder of the caption reads, ‘Now appearing at the Palace Theatre, London as “Galatea” (La Statue Humaine), a Type of Beauty attained by the use of the “Sandow Symmetrion.”’
(photo: Wykeham, Balham, London, circa 1906)

Blaney’s Lincoln Square Theatre, New York City, February/March 1909
‘Maude Odell made her reappearance at Blaney’s Lincoln Square last week, in what was reported as a new act written and staged by James R. Gary. The posings were practically new, but the act is laid pretty much along the same lines as the old one. William H. Turner, Harold La Coste, and Daisy Chaplin gave adequate support with little to do. Miss Odell was greatly appreciated in her poses, but what is the reason for the sketch infliction? She could score a much greater hit with the elimination of this part. The poses included “The Water Carrier,” “Night,” “Skating,” “The Snake Charmer,” “Ode to Bacchus,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Her supporting models contributed “A Fantasy, “Springtime,” “At the Seashore,” “Cupid and Venus,” and the concluding ensemble tableaux, “The Maid at the Bath.”’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 6 March 1909, p.9a)

Blaney’s Lincoln Square Theatre, New York City, March 1909
‘Maude Odell followed and received more applause than last week. Some of the poses were new ones and caused much favourable comment.’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, 13 March 1909, p.12b)

Blaney’s Lincoln Square Theatre, New York City, March 1909
‘Maude Odell, assisted by her six models, was seen in her newest posing act, The Maid at the Bath. As already stated in The Mirror, the sketch is stupid. The posings are well conceived and cleverly carried into effect. Miss Odell is seen to better advantage than heretofore and the entire offering is vastly superior to her former one.’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 20 March 1909, p.9d)

‘Why They Don’t Clap.
”’Have you seen the near perfect woman, Maude Odell?” she asked. ”No. You ought to see her. And if you want to be really amused, you ought to go and watch the men gazing at her wide-eyed, the men with their wives. They are taking in all her perfect points, but they are afraid to applied her on account of their wives. That beautiful, near perfect woman leaves the stage nearly every time without a handclap on account of the wives.”’
(Chillicothe Constitution, Chillicothe, Missouri, Saturday, 27 March 1909, p. 6d)

‘Most Perfect Woman in the World Is Here
‘Maude Odell, Who Won $10,000 Beauty Prize, Says It’s Easy to Be Handsome.
”’Every woman can be as perfectly formed as I am,” is the good news Maude Odell brings to dissatisfied femininity. The steady, truthful look in her large, clear brown eyes as she made the statement in the atrium at the Claypool [Indianapolis] Friday added its testimony to the conviction in her voice. She was having a week’s rest from vaudeville and was enjoying it.
‘It was at a little four-cornered dinner in honor of her birthday. ”Honest truth, I don’t have a birthday in every city I play,” she said in a rather startled tone, ”for I’m not that anxious to grow old.”
‘After some gallant bantering on the part of the men in the party to the effect that if she told her real age the local branch of the Gerry Society would get after the management of the Colonial Theatre, where she is to pose in living pictures this week, for allowing a child to appear on the stage in violation of any child labor laws that may exist here. Miss Odell, swearing all to secrecy, told her age. And it hasn’t been more than a decade since she was ”sweet sixteen,” either.
”’No, I’m not a crank on diet, for behold!” she said, daintily spearing a generous bit of indigestible lobster with a fork. The lobster went the way of other indigestibles, and the dinner ended with the only tribute to the ancient gods that have ruled beauties since Cleopatra’s time, a glass of milk.
‘Women Made to Be Attractive.
”’The real thing is exercise,” she went on. ”From my earliest recollection my father instilled into my mind always that women were made to be attractive. I pondered on his teachings even when a small child, and when he died I sought out Eugene Sandow and told him I wanted to be a perfect woman.
”’Sandow was struck with the novelty of a girl of 14 having that as a life ambition, and he and Mrs. Sandow took me in. I soon became their favorite pupil, and it is they who set me on the road to reach my life’s ambition.
”’After exhausting their methods I devised methods of my own, and today my system enables me to keep every one of my dimensions to a hair’s breadth.”
‘Miss Odell in her big picture hat and beautifully fitting black dress was a magnificent sight, and the lobster added to her attractiveness, showing that all this beauty was human.
”’It’s proportion that makes beauty,” she went on. It must not be supposed that she gave all this in the form of a lecture, for it was a birthday dinner, a very informal one, and her ideas on beauty were doled out in snatches, sandwiched in between bits of conversation on all sorts of common, everyday subjects.
”’It’s proportion that makes beauty, and a girl four feet high can be as beautiful as the regulation five-feet, eight-inch woman. Taking her height as a basis she should develop her other dimensions to correspond, and that is what I have succeeded in doing.”
‘Miss Odell, unlike the majority of physical culturists, neither swims nor rides horseback. Both exercises she considered detrimental to proper development, each tending to develop certain special muscles out of proportion to others.
‘She loves automobiling, but, unlike the vast majority of her sister artists of the stage, she admits that she is an amateur when it comes to running a machine. During her stay in Indianapolis she intends to take a spin on the Motor Speedway, but she will insist that the machine be under the guidance of an expert chauffeur. She has a horror of taxicabs, having been held up in Brooklyn not so very long ago for $12 for a single trip, though she admits she and her companion were partly to blame for insisting on a circuitous route when the conscience-stricken chauffeur wanted to drive direct.
‘Masters American Slang.
‘Miss Odell is English through and through, and talks with a strong English accent. During her residence in New York, however, where she has been a sensational vaudeville headliner, she has picked up a number of Americanisms.
”’How do you heat your flat?” she asked a local member of the party. ”’With hot air,” was the answer.
”’I hope you don’t furnish the hot air yourself,” she flashed.
‘Her mastery of American slang startled the Indianapolis members of the party and made her English manager open his eyes.
‘She has acquired the soda fountain habit – the ”American” soda fountain in England, be it noted, is a painful joke to American tourists who have been inveigled into investing in the wretched stuff dispensed – but she has not yet mastered the American sandwich habit, though she is taking lessons. She had her first roast beef sandwich a few days ago and found it very much to her taste.
‘Before coming to America, where, by the way, she will locate permanently, Miss Odell was a sensation in the capitals of Europe – London, Paris and Berlin. The winning of the $10,000 prize for the finest physical specimen of young womanhood was an incident.
‘Artists raved over her when she posed in living pictures, even the Berlin artists, the hardest in the world to please. She has had many tempting offers to pose for paintings and statuary, but has accepted none of them.
”’The only think I have consented to is to have a cast made of me for the British Museum,” she said. ”I have consented to that in order that my proportions may be permanently preserved.”’
(C.J.B., The Indianapolis Sunday Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, Sunday, Society & Stage, 23 January 1910, p. 1b-e)


January 20, 2013

music sheet cover for Ford T. Dabney’s rag intermezzo, ‘Porto Rico’,
published by Shapiro, New York, 1910,
and featured by Aida Overton Walker (1880-1914),
American actress, singer and dancer,
with S.H. Dudley’s Smart Set Company
(photo: Apeda or White, New York, circa 1910)

Aida Overton Walker and Company at the American Music Hall, New York, July 1909.
Aida Overton Walker, the colored woman singer and dancer, made her first New York reappearance in a new act at the American Music Hall last week. She is now doing what she called a “Dance Afrique – the Kara Kara.” Miss Walker danced with exuberance and light-footedness, with a sort of savage Orientalism that was both interesting and entertaining. Special music was played with the dance, and eight girls added to the effect in no small way. The costuming was appropriate, and the semi darknened stage with woodland scene helped out. The close in one was appreciated, and the dancers were called out for many bows. “That Teasing Rag” was the only popular song number used.’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 24 July 1909, p.20)

National Theatre, Chicago, January 1910
‘Cole and Johnson in the Red Moon will begin a week’s engagement at the National next week. All of the principals hve unusually good voices and the large chorus is not only exceedingly attractive but well trained and comprised of trained voices. Aida Overton Walker, the famous colored comedienne, is an added feature with two new songs and a weird symbolic dance set to out of the ordinary music by Johnson. The Red Moon is a whirlwind of melody, everything moves with snap and vim and the song numbers rapidly introduced with unique costuming and novel effects. The scenic setting of the three acts is elaborate and the show from first to last is brilliant.’
(Suburbanite Economist, Chicago, Friday, 14 January 1910, p.8b)

The Smart Set company in His Honor the Barber with S.H. Dudley and Aida Overton Walker at The Bastable Theatre, Syracuse, New York, November 1910
‘Musical Comedy of Color.
‘Negro talent in stage entertainment is fully made use of in the piece called His Honor the Barber, which is being offered at the Bastable. The minstrel stage has long exhibited with Negro style of comedy, though very few men of African descent have been minstrels. S.H. Dudley, who is the chief comedian of His Honor the Barber, shows that burnt cork comedy can be cone quite as well when the burnt cork grows on as when it is put on. He and the other principals, Aida Overton Walker in singing and dancing interludes, Andrew Tribble in the part of a very deeply colored lady with the razzer, and various representatives of high life among the colored folk of Washington, D.C., are able to carry out a play which has more plot and coherence than some of its sort, and to put into it a rollicking, rough and ready humor that thoroughly delighted last night’s audience.
‘For example, the conversation of Raspberry Snow with Babe Johnson his affinity [sic], both before and after he has secured possession of her razor and revolver, is one of the high points of comedy in the piece. Better work of its sort is seldom seen in music [sic] comedy of any color. And while in costuming and the fine art of stage management His Honor the Barber show defects, it is easily seen that the natural buoyancy and feeling for rhythm of Booker Washington’s race and their effectiveness in certain possible schemes of costuming might easily be adapted to make a musical dancing pie with plenty of chorus work in it remarkably successful.
‘The singing of the Smart Set Company is also above the average of musical comedy choruses.
‘But the main point of the play is the fun of it. Mr. Dudley deserves compliments for his success in this direction.’
(The Post-Standard, Syracuse, New York, Tuesday, 15 November 1910, p.4d)

The Smart Set company in His Honor the Barber with S.H. Dudley and Aida Overton Walker at The Powers Theatre, Decatur, Matinee and night, Saturday, 25 February 1911
‘Remarkable Dancer
‘When Aida Overton Walker is mentioned as one of the Smart Set company of colored people who are to be seen here Saturday afternoon and night in a musical show, the greatest kind of a card is drawn. Aida Overton Walker is a famous dancer, and she deserves all the attention she has attracted to herself in the last few years. She is artistic and she has the instinct for doing the fine thing gracefully. Also she can sing.
‘S.H. Dudley, a droll negro comedian, really heads the company and the piece they are to present is called His Honor the Barber. It is a new musical comedy in three acts. There are plenty of bright and clever musical numbers, and a chorus of twenty five, together with some of the best colored funmakers in the business.’
(The Daily Review, Decatur, Illinois, Sunday, 19 February 1911, p.20a)

Oakland Orpheum, May, 1912
‘Featuring Aida Overton Walker, one-time star with the famous Williams and Walker combination, a ten-person act is one of the many good things the Oakland Orpheum has to offer all week. There are ten in the company, eight dusky maidens, a natty fellow with a panama and a voice, and Aida Overton Walker. Miss Walker has her own idea of the component parts of comedy and claims sunshine is the chiefest of them. She is, therefore, a personage of smiles throughout the act and spreads a certain raidiance over chorus and settings.
‘Four singing numbers are on the Walker bill: Porto Rico, Miss Walker and girls; Lovey Dear, Miss Walker, Creighton Thompson and girls; Bless Your Ever Loving Heart, Creighton Thompson and girls; That’s Why They Call Me Shine, Miss Walker and company.
‘It is in that last that the comedienne gives her impersonation of the late. Her act is a well-filled measure of musical things.’
(Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, Monday, 20 May 1912, p.16c)

For several photographs of Aida Overton Walker by Apeda and White of New York, about 1910/1911, see The New York Library for the Performing Arts.