Posts Tagged ‘Arthur Collins’

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Whimsical Walker

April 28, 2013

Whimsical Walker (1850/51-1934), English clown
(photo: unknown, probably 1915/16)

‘Dear Girls and Boys –
‘How many of you have never seen a pantomime? Not many, I imagine, for the funny business between clown and pantaloon with which all proper pantomimes still conclude has always strongly appealed to the hearts of the children. I wonder if any of you have seen Whimsical Walker, the world’s most famous living clown. For some years he has been appearing regularly in the pantomime at Drury Lane Theatre, and because he is also appearing in the Trans-Atlantic British-made film comedies I have published his portrait, and feel sure a few facts about his adventurous career will interest you.
‘Mr. Walker was born at sea on July 5th, 1854, and first appeared before the public at Burnley as a tiny clown who emerged from a carpet bag carried by another member of the company. In 1872 he was engaged for the famous Sanger’s Circus in Westminster Bridge Road, London (as a boy ”Uncle Tim” saw and enjoyed many shows there), where a stage performance was given in addition to the circus. Mr. Walker admits that his stage efforts were so bad that he was sacked every night, but always re-engaged because of his skill in the circus. In 1874, and important period in his career, he was engaged by Charles Hengler to appear at his circus in London, where he was christened ”Whimsical Walker,” and for fourteen winter seasons he appeared there regularly. (”Uncle Tim” also enjoyed himself on rare occasions at Hengler’s, which stood on the site of the present Palladium.) In America Mr. Walker appeared with other circuses, including the great Barnum and Bailey shows, and was also commissioned to purchase the famous elephant Jumbo from the Zoo at a cost of £1,000.
‘Jumbo was an enormous success in America, many single day’s takings amounting to as much as £3,000. The cast was poured into great wooden casks and sent to a bank in New York.
‘In 1882 Whimsical Walker opened a theatre of his own in new York with a pantomime called Three Wishes. Its success brought temporary misfortune, for the top gallery dropped a bit when filled with people, a stampede followed, and actions for damages reduced poor Mr. Walker to the clothes he wore and a few dollars. He had to borrow money to return to Liverpool, where he was again engaged by Mr. Hengler.
‘On boxing Day, 1882, feeling in need of a refresher, Whimsical Walker chartered a horse at 7 a.m., and started off for a gallop. Before he had travelled far, however, the horse stumbled and fell, and the clown sustained a fractured leg, which laid him up for five months.
‘In a singularly adventurous career, this is the only serious accident he has ever suffered.
‘On February 20th, 1886, Whimsical Walker was honoured by a Command Performance to appear with his singing donkey before her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle. In commemoration of this visit the queen presented Mr. Walker with the beautiful diamond tie-pin which he is wearing in the [above] photograph.
‘In 1904 the great clown embarked for Australia for a long tour there, but on landing at Melbourne he was cabled for by Mr. Arthur Collins, of Drury Lane Theatre, and he returned immediately. The fact is that Whimsical Walker had been appearing every season in the Drury Lane harlequnade since 1890, and the reason for his sudden recall was that, owing to the death of Herbert Campbell, and the absence of Dan Leno from the cast, Mr. Collins felt that he could not possibly do without the popular clown as well.
‘I hope these details have not bored you. The subject fascinates me. I should like to write a big book about Mr. Walker’s life. Oh, I’ve forgotten to tell you that the first of these films in which he is now appearing on the screen is called The Knut and the Colonel, so mind you look out for it.’
(Uncle Tim, ‘The Young Picturegoer,’ Pictures and the Picturegoer, London, weed ending Saturday, 12 February 1916, pp. 463 and 464)

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April 28, 2013

Whimsical Walker (1850/51-1934), English clown
(photo: unknown, probably 1915/16)

‘Dear Girls and Boys –
‘How many of you have never seen a pantomime? Not many, I imagine, for the funny business between clown and pantaloon with which all proper pantomimes still conclude has always strongly appealed to the hearts of the children. I wonder if any of you have seen Whimsical Walker, the world’s most famous living clown. For some years he has been appearing regularly in the pantomime at Drury Lane Theatre, and because he is also appearing in the Trans-Atlantic British-made film comedies I have published his portrait, and feel sure a few facts about his adventurous career will interest you.
‘Mr. Walker was born at sea on July 5th, 1854, and first appeared before the public at Burnley as a tiny clown who emerged from a carpet bag carried by another member of the company. In 1872 he was engaged for the famous Sanger’s Circus in Westminster Bridge Road, London (as a boy “Uncle Tim” saw and enjoyed many shows there), where a stage performance was given in addition to the circus. Mr. Walker admits that his stage efforts were so bad that he was sacked every night, but always re-engaged because of his skill in the circus. In 1874, and important period in his career, he was engaged by Charles Hengler to appear at his circus in London, where he was christened “Whimsical Walker,” and for fourteen winter seasons he appeared there regularly. (“Uncle Tim” also enjoyed himself on rare occasions at Hengler’s, which stood on the site of the present Palladium.) In America Mr. Walker appeared with other circuses, including the great Barnum and Bailey shows, and was also commissioned to purchase the famous elephant Jumbo from the Zoo at a cost of £1,000.
‘Jumbo was an enormous success in America, many single day’s takings amounting to as much as £3,000. The cast was poured into great wooden casks and sent to a bank in New York.
‘In 1882 Whimsical Walker opened a theatre of his own in new York with a pantomime called Three Wishes. Its success brought temporary misfortune, for the top gallery dropped a bit when filled with people, a stampede followed, and actions for damages reduced poor Mr. Walker to the clothes he wore and a few dollars. He had to borrow money to return to Liverpool, where he was again engaged by Mr. Hengler.
‘On boxing Day, 1882, feeling in need of a refresher, Whimsical Walker chartered a horse at 7 a.m., and started off for a gallop. Before he had travelled far, however, the horse stumbled and fell, and the clown sustained a fractured leg, which laid him up for five months.
‘In a singularly adventurous career, this is the only serious accident he has ever suffered.
‘On February 20th, 1886, Whimsical Walker was honoured by a Command Performance to appear with his singing donkey before her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle. In commemoration of this visit the queen presented Mr. Walker with the beautiful diamond tie-pin which he is wearing in the [above] photograph.
‘In 1904 the great clown embarked for Australia for a long tour there, but on landing at Melbourne he was cabled for by Mr. Arthur Collins, of Drury Lane Theatre, and he returned immediately. The fact is that Whimsical Walker had been appearing every season in the Drury Lane harlequnade since 1890, and the reason for his sudden recall was that, owing to the death of Herbert Campbell, and the absence of Dan Leno from the cast, Mr. Collins felt that he could not possibly do without the popular clown as well.
‘I hope these details have not bored you. The subject fascinates me. I should like to write a big book about Mr. Walker’s life. Oh, I’ve forgotten to tell you that the first of these films in which he is now appearing on the screen is called The Knut and the Colonel, so mind you look out for it.’
(Uncle Tim, ‘The Young Picturegoer,’ Pictures and the Picturegoer, London, weed ending Saturday, 12 February 1916, pp. 463 and 464)

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February 2, 2013

May Leslie Stuart (fl. early 20th Century)
English actress and singer,
as she appeared in A Waltz Dream,
Daly’s Theatre, London, 7 January 1911
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1911)

‘In the course of an interesting chat with an Era representative recently Miss May Leslie Stuart, the charming daughter of Mr. Leslie Stuart, said: –
‘“Following some chorus work at Daly’s in The Count of Luxembourg [20 May 1911] and A Country Girl [probably on tour], Mr. Arthur Collins offered me the part of an Italian girl in The Hope at the [Theatre Royal, Drury] Lane [14 September 1911]. My next engagement was with Mr. Hale Hamilton in Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford at the Queen’s [14 January 1913] – when, you may remember, I played the part of the ingénue, Dorothy. I recall that this was a somewhat strenuous rôle, in that much kissing was a rather prominent feature. The run ended, I paid a most pleasant visit with my husband, Mr. Cecil Cameron, to the United States. Mr. Cameron is, by the way, playing Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Granville Barker in New York.
‘“I appeared with my husband at the Alhambra in a sketch entitled The Girl Next Door. I am afraid I am guilty of writing the ‘book.’ Edward Royce produced the sketch, and it was so successful that it ran for six weeks at the Alhambra, and then for a good while in the provinces.
‘“As I think you will be aware, it was originally arranged that clever and charming Ada Reeve should take up her old part of Lady Holyrood in Florodora [revival, Lyric, London, 20 February 1915], but for reasons of health this was eventually found to be impossible. And so – here I am! I am quite delighted to have the opportunity of playing the part, also to sing the rather “catchy,” in more senses than one, number ‘Jack and Jill,’ which my father has written for me.’
(The Era, London, Wednesday, 24 March 1915, p.7d)

Florodora revived, Lyric Theatre, London, 20 February 1915
‘Miss Evie Greene, the original Dolores, got a most enthusiastic reception on her first appearance, and her beautiful singing and fine acting enraptured her audience. The years that have elapsed since Miss Greene first played this part seem merely to have strengthened the magnetism of her personality. She has never sung “Queen of the Philippine Islands” better than she did on Saturday night; indeed, her performance has lost none of the sprit and charm of the original impersonation… As Lady Holyrood, Miss Ada Reeve’s original part, Miss May Leslie Stuart displays a fresh sense of humour and gives a very natural performance, clever and full of piquancy. She sings “Tact” excellently, and also a song, “Jack and Jill,” of which the words and music have been specially written by [her father] Leslie Stuart for this revival, and which wins hearty applause … In response to great enthusiasm Miss Evie Greene made a little speech at the end of the evening, acknowledging herself to be an old friend, but trusting that she did not “look the part.”’
(The Era, London, Wednesday, 24 February 1915, p.11b)

May Leslie Stuart, accompanied by her father Leslie Stuart on the piano, made four gramophone recordings in London during 1915 for the HMV label. These were ‘Jack and Jill’ from the 1915 revival of Florodora (03430) and ‘Don’t Blame Eve’ (03431), both re-issued on C590; and ‘Is That You, Mr. O’Reilly?’ and ‘Heligoland’ from the revue, 5064 Gerrard (Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, 19 March 1915. In 1916, Miss Stuart appeared as Lady Orreyd in Sir George Alexander’s film production of The Second Mrs Tanqueray