Posts Tagged ‘animal impersonator’


Albert Felino

June 14, 2013

Albert Felino (1877-1924), English animal impersonator, as he appeared as the cat in Dick Whittington, at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, Christmas 1908.
(photo: unknown, England or Scotland, probably 1908; postcard, The Philco Publishing Co, London, Philco Series 3438E)

Albert Felino was born Albert Brady in Blackburn, Lancashire, in 1877, one of the children of John (b. 1847) and Mary Brady (née Johnson, 1852-1943), who were married in 1868 and were music hall duettists and burlesque artists professionally known as Albert Brady and Marion Johnson. Felino, still known as Brady, performed with his parents until about 1900, after which he began to specialise in impersonating animals. In 1904 he was married to Cora McCole, the daughter of the Scottish music hall artist, John Hina (né Andrew McCole, 1883?-1929), by whom he had two daughters. ‘QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION.
‘Brady and Another v. The North Metropolitan Tramways Company. – The Plaintiffs in this case, Mr. and Mrs. Brady, were music-hall artistes, and damages were claimed in respect of personal injuries suffered by the female Plaintiff in a street accident on the 17th of April last [1896], which injuries produced a very deleterious effect upon their professional prospects… . ‘It was stated that the Plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Brady, were ”operatic and comic-sketch artistes,” the processional name of the lady being Miss Marian [sic] Johnson, and they worked the ”Brady-Johnson Combination.” The members of this combination were the Plaintiffs themselves, Miss Nicholls, and a lad, who was the son of Mr. Brady. Mrs. Brady was the life and soul of the performance, which greatly depended upon her dancing. The combination gave their performances at various music halls in the country and in London… .’
The Sebright music hall, Hackney, London, March 1898
(The Standard, London, Thursday, 25 March 1897, p. 6b)

‘The comic side of life is presented with unbroken energy by the Brady and Johnson company in Turning the Tables, in which a hen-pecked husband and a down-trodden wife take counsel and assert their rights to the dismay and confusion of their respective better-halves.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 19 March 1898, p. 18d)

Shortly after this Albert Felino began to appear regularly in pantomimes and other Christmas productions, such as the donkey in The Forty Thieves, pantomime, Kennington Theatre, Christmas, 1903.

The Forty Thieves, pantomime, Kennington Theatre, Christmas, 1903
‘… ”Abbas,” an intelligent donkey, very cleverly played by Mr. Albert Felino, causes much fun. The children were particularly delighted with his antics in the second scene, Ali Baba’s stables, and when he was being loaded up with the treasure which Ali Baba and Ganem, the latter character being impersonated with much spirit and refinement by Miss Georgina Middleton, had purloined from the cave of the thieves.’ Other members of the cast included Tom E. Murray (Ali Baba), Beatrice Willey (Morgiana) and Little Cliff (i.e. Laddie Cliff) as the donkey boy.
(The Times, London, 28 December 1903, p. 10e)

He was next seen as Esau the monkey on tour during 1904 in The Cherry Girl, a part originated by Edward Sillward when the piece opened at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, on 21 December 1903. At Christmas 1904 he was in The Forty Thieves and the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, with Ruth Lytton, Tom E. Murray, Rhoda Gordon and others. He played the cat in Dick Whittington at the same theatre at Christmas, 1908, a pantomime with Jane Eyre in the title role, Ethel Erskine as Alice, Florence Warde as the Prince of Morocco, Molly Maguire as the Fairy Queen, Phil Ray as Alderman Fitzwarren and Will Evans as Idle Jack. At Christmas 1911 he appeared in The Forty Thieves at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, Birmingham, Christmas, when other parts were played by Malcolm Scott, Happy Fanny Fields, Regan and Ryan and Dorothy Craske.

At the end of 1915 Albert Felino travelled with his family to Australia where he appeared as Priscilla the goose in the pantomime Mother Goose, at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, opposite Harry Farrow in the title role. Gladys Moncrieff played the Fairy Queen. Early in 1916 the production transferred to the Theatre Royal, Adelaide, before moving on to His Majesty’s Theatre, Brisbane, and then to Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney.

Mother Goose, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, Christmas, 1915 ‘A famous animal impersonator is coming to Australia to play the Golden Goose in the J.C. Williamson, Ltd., ”Mother Goose” pantomime in Melbourne. This is Albert Felino, a specialist in these parts. For years the pantomime season in London has not passed without Mr. Felino appearing in an animal role, and his long list of impersonations includes cat, donkey, goose, dog, parrot, baby elephant, money, horse, cow, teddy bear, and giraffe. ”No wonder I have often been described as a whole menagerie in myself,” said Mr. Felino. His success as an animal actor was not achieved without years of assiduous training. A great deal of his time was spent watch the various animals and birds, for, as Mr. Felino explains, ”while the characterisation must be exaggerated and highly coloured, as it were, at the same time it must be close to the original. It is the natural touches – the lifelike characteristics – that appeal so strongly to an audience, as well as the humorous side. The Golden Goose is only of my favourite parts. This will be my sixth ‘goose.””
(The Queenslander, Brisbane, Saturday, 20 November 1915, p. 3d)

‘Albert Felino, who plays the golden goose in J.C. Williamson’s pantomime, after playing cats, dogs, donkey, geese, and other quaint things, thousands of times, had gradually gown shorter. He has to adopt a crouching attitude, or walk with knees bent. ”The golden goose in the ‘Mother Goose’ pantomime,” explained Mr. Felino, ”is the most trying of zoological roles, as it means not only supporting an enormous weight the whole of the time, but throughout the performance I am never able to assume an erect or normal position. My knees are bent all the time, and I have to walk like that or waddle from side to side. Since I took to playing roles like these I have lost five inches in height. I had the distinction in forming the subject of an examination in London last year by some of the most noted medical men, who were extremely curious regarding my loss of stature. Three pages were devoted to the matter in the leading medical journal.’
(The Mail, Adelaide, Saturday, 26 February 1916, p. 7d)

Among Felino’s last appearances were in Robinson Crusoe at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, at Christmas, 1920, with Ralph Lynn, Lottie Collins junior, Lillie Soutter, La Pia and others, followed by those in the same production at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Christmas, 1921, and the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Christmas, 1922, with Will Fyffe, Lillie Soutter and La Pia