Posts Tagged ‘David Belasco’

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Beth Tate, American vaudeville soubrette

November 8, 2013

Beth Tate (1890-), American vaudeville singer
(postcard photo: unknown, circa 1914)

‘BETH TATE MARRIED.
‘Utica, N.Y., Feb. 1 [1911]
‘William Hurley, a Montreal business man, was married here last week to Beth Tate, who is appearing at Hammerstein’s, New York, this week.’
(Variety, New York, 4 February 1911, p. 10d)

London Pavilion, week beginning Monday, 4 September 1911
‘Marie Lloyd joined the Pavilion bill on Monday evening, and won enthusiastic favour for her chic and piquant rendering of her three latest numbers. One of these, in the character of a ”grass widow,” was a special favourite with the audience. Beth Tate, a Californian comedienne who is new to English audiences, scored an emphatic success on Monday with four songs, which she delivered in a most dainty and pleasant fashion. In a short speech of thanks at the close of her performance she expressed the hope that English audiences would ”keep her here.” She should be assured of that – with the right material. Such favourite and ”reliable” performers as the Two Bobs, Violet Loraine, Athas and Collins, Madge Temple, Helen Charles, Ernest Shand, and Dan Crawley also figure successfully in the Pavilion bill.’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 7 September 1911, p. 13c)

An interview with Beth Tate at the time of her appearance at the Tivoli music hall, Adelaide, South Australia, August 1914
‘A CHARMING COMEDIENNE.
‘A CHAT WITH BETH TATE.
‘Miss Beth Tate’s characteristics on the stage are a quiet manner and well-worn very smart attire, as is evinced in her turn at the Tivoli, where she is starring. They are just as markedly her traits off the stage. She has that sweetest thing in a woman – a low, rich voice, and her words seem to flow gently, so softly are they pronounced, while every syllable is sounded; there is no consciousness of the harsh consonants, and the words do not, as Shakspeare [sic] directs, come ”trippingly from the tongue,” they are so even a tide. She has glorious dark eyes which kindle with feeling, and a very expressive face.
‘She speaks so like a reserved Englishwoman that for a moment, after meeting her, one wonders if it can [be] true she is American, and she is asked.
”’Yes, I am an American, from San Francisco. Speak like an Englishwoman? Perhaps it is because I like them so much. I think I am always quiet, and from the first I have got on well with the English people. No, I have not known them so very long. It is only four years since I began this work.
”’I do not know why educated Americans should have any distinguishing accent; but it is not surprising we have, is it? – for we are such a mixed community racially. I am an American, but I have Spanish and Jewish blood, and Scotch. I guess, for my mother’s name was Tate, and that is Scotch enough, isn’t it?”’
‘The very smart frocks she wears in her turn are mentioned, and she is asked if she will have her portrait taken in them to reproduce.
”’Why, certainly,” she says, good-naturedly, and changes from one gown to another without a murmur, posing just as is suggested with a quick sense of what is wanted, which is very helpful. She makes only one protest, and that is when the photographer wants her to assume the straight-front attitude and endeavours to smooth down the frock, and she quickly says:-
”’Oh, no. That is quite wrong. It must be that way. Why, they are putting bustles there now, and it was only with the greatest difficulty I persuaded my dressmakers not to insert a bustle in these frocks.”
”’Do you go to Paris for your dresses?”
”’No, Bond street (London) is good enough for me. As a matter of fact, if you know how to go about it you can get them cheaper in Paris, but I like my Bond street dressmaker.”
‘One frock is all beautiful diamente [sic] trimming, in front, and the remark is made that they glisten like the real thing at night.
”’You would not mind if they were real, I suppose?”
”’If they were I should not be here,” was the quick reply, ”but should be pleasing myself, doing what I like – serious drama. I have a great desire to make people cry. Not to hurt them seriously, but to arouse their emotions by my acting.”
‘She makes some half-dozen changes, and as there are inevitable interruptions the conversation is very disjointed, so a chat later on is suggested, and she cordially says, ”Why, certainly; I shall be charmed.”
‘So it is resumed later over afternoon tea. Miss Tate is a very modish little figure all in mole colour and a soft shade of rose; the flounced skirt of mole taffetas, and over it the little rose-coloured coatee with more touches. She tells of the charm England has for her, laughs quietly at a memory, and says:-
”’I must tell you a funny thing. Just before we came here we went to New York for a lovely five weeks’ holiday. The first week I went about and thought I was enjoying myself. The second I began to feel fidgety and unsatisfied. The constant noise and bustle got on my nerves – the music while we were eating, and at the best hotels and restaurants, just the same class we stay at in England; the clatter of crockery and all the rush and confusion – oh! I did get so tired of it. We ended by only staying three weeks,” she ends laughing.
‘We refer to herself and husband, for in private life this dainty little lady is Mrs. Hurley, her husband being Irish.
‘She talks quietly about her English experiences, and tells of a tour in South Africa, and of people she has met at different places, which have made her realise how small the world is after all.
”’How did you come to take up this work? Have you always been in vaudeville?”
”’Oh, no. I started in serious drama with a stock company under Mr. Fred Belasco’s management. You know of David Belasco? Well, this is his brother. My mother died when I was 13. I had never [seen] a theatrical performance up to then. The first one I did see was Miss Nance O’Neill, a beautiful woman, and I was mad to act afterwards. My father used to tease me about it, and tried to laugh me out of the fancy. He was a friend of Mr. Belasco, though, and every time I went to a matinee and saw Mr. Belasco I used to ask him to let me go on the stage. At last they gave way. I went into his company, just to walk on.
”’Very shortly afterwards my chance came. They were gong to stage Ghosts, and could not think of any one to play Regena. At last Mr. Belasco was struck by the fact he thought I looked like the part – young and girlish, you know. So he asked me, ‘Do you think you could play Regena?’ And with all the confidence of youth, I said, ‘Oh, try me; please give me the chance.’ I was quite sure I could act anything then. I could not go and ask to play such a part now, thought – an important role in an Ibsen play. You cannot when you begin to realise things, as you get older.
”’Well, I did play it, and I suppose I got through sufficiently well to please them, for after that I was given parts. It is hard work in a stock company always studying and rehearsing and often putting on a fresh thing each week. I stayed there 12 months and then went, still under Mr. Belasco’s management, to Los Angelos [sic].’
”’By-and-bye I begn to be more ambitious, and thought San Francisco not big enough for me, so I went to New York with an idea of conquering there. For some time I had not chance, then I was engaged for a part to tour, but I did not like the part, so gave it up and went back to New York. There seemed no opening for me, and at last I was persuaded to go into musical comedy. I had never known I could sing a song up to then, but you never know what you can do till you try. In fact, you can do anything you want if you only set your mind to it. The second piece I appeared in was The Girl from Rector’s, and I played the French maid. By the way, I followed Nella Webb in the part. Friends of mine were big publishers in New York, and they used to say to me, ‘Why don’t you get up some songs and go into vaudeville; you would do well.’ I would not think of it – did not think vaudeville good enough for me, then; but they kept on so much that they persuaded me to go down to the warehouse and try over some songs. They had me there coaching me up and rehearsing, and at last arranged for me to appear at a trial night.
”’This was on a Friday after the performance, and was about half-past 12. I sang before a lot of agents and managers, and they said I did very well. Next day an agent rang me up and asked me to call. It is a great thing to have them come to you. Generally it is the most difficult thing to get to see them at all. I went down and he offered me an engagement. I might say I was not earning very much in those days, and the terms he suggested seemed very big to me, and I jumped at them. I did not stop to consider that I should have to pay my own fares, buy my own dresses, and everything connected with the turn; my songs, music, and all the items generally covered by the management. The engagement was one that meant such jumps as from new York to Toronto (Canada), and then to Vermont (Virginia), a journey that would swallow a whole week’s salary for the fare alone. I signed the agreement and fixed everything without even letting Mr. Hurley know. He was not my husband then, but we were engaged, and he was away in Canada.
”’I got some pretty frocks, for I do not believe in going on as some do, in a make-shift way, saying, ‘Oh, anything will do for the stage’ – the front presentable, the inside anyhow. No; I believe in having good things. If I could not afford to have them I should choose songs which did not call for dress, but could be more suitably interpreted in a plain frock or character dress.
”’After New York, it happened my first move was to Toronto. I met Mr. Hurley there, and showed him the agreement. I am not a bit business-like or smart about such things. He explained at once hoe I stood and that I could not afford to go on like that. We were married then. When word came for me to go to Virginia he wrote pointing out that I simply could not make such a jump. This caused the cancelling of all the arrangements. The agents said, ”Suffering from swelled head,” and resolved to leave me alone, with the idea I would come to my senses. I waited, doing nothing, and when they found I could not give in they met me and I was engaged again.
”’An English manager saw me, and made me an offer to go to England, but the terms were not quite good enough, and I told him so. He said he would see about it. Another man came and engaged me at the terms. At the time I did not understand I was not going to the same management. It was not until I reached London that I found I was to appear on another circuit. From the first I have got on in England. I have been to South Africa, and could have stayed there longer, but did not think it wise to be away from London too long just as I was becoming known.
”’Yes, I have great trouble to secure songs. Sometimes I buy dozens before I find one that will do. Then very often I have to re-write much of them; that is, I have to alter a line here and there to remodel a verse. You see the song must tell a story and express a sentiment; each verse must have its point.”
‘As Miss Tate tells of her career there is never a touch of egotism or even self-satisfaction at her quick success, but at times a little scorn for her want of foresight and her youthful confidence and often a smile as she recalls an episode. She is still heart and soul a dramatic actress, and her great desire is to do big things in tragedy.
‘She prefer the theatre to the music hall because of the atmosphere gained by working with other people. She says:- ”They are generally nice. At any rate, there are always some nice people in a company you like to be with, and that makes it pleasant. At this work very often I do not meet or know any one else appearing in the theatre.”’
(The Mail, Adelaide, South Australia, Monday, 10 August 1914, p. 2e/f)

‘BETH TATE’S RETURN
‘Back to American Vaudeville After World’s Tour
‘Following a tour of the world, Beth Tate, in the single woman class of vadeville, has returned to New York. She will open next week to break in on the Poli time with restricted material written by Blanche Merrill.
‘Miss Tate, before leaving for the other side, was noted among the single turns for her appearance and voice. Both are said to have been improved during her absence.’
(Variety, New York, Thursday, 3 May 1923, p. 4b)

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Mrs Leslie Carter as La Du Barry, 1901

October 4, 2013

Mrs Leslie Carter (1857-1937), American actress, as she appeared in the title role of David Belasco‘s play, Du Barry, which was first produced on 12 December 1901 at the New National Theatre, Washington, D.C., before transferring to the Criterion Theatre, New York, on 25 December 1901.
(photo: Sarony, New York, 1901)

The New National Theatre, Washington, D.C., Thursday, 12 December 1901.
‘The Du Barry play, after many postponements, was brought out on Thursday night. The performance started before 8 o’clock and ran until after midnight, and yet it was difficult for the observer from the front to point out what material might wisely be sacrificed, for the play is interesting from beginning to end. It is unfortunately that the people who conquer in the battles of every-day life, who triumph obscurely over the adverse conditions of existence, cannot be made successful heroes or heroines. The Trilbys, the Zazas and the Saphos has been exploited until the public might be expected to grow weary of the so-called ”outcasts of society.” But Du Barry is the greatest triumph of recent times. The play is a deliberate falsification of truth so far as the character of the heroine is concerned, but it is cleverly done… .
‘Mrs. Carter is credited with a ready wit which saved the scene in which she strikes her wounded lover and renders him unconscious, so that she can conceal him from the king, who is demanding admittance. It is the scene which represents the lavishly furnished apartment of Du Barry, a scene which must have cut a very considerable figure in the enormous sum total given as the cost of the production. Instead of falling on the ten-thousand-dollar bed, where Du Barry was to conceal him by throwing a twenty-five-hundred-dollar coverlet over him, the lover fell with a crash to one side, smashing $1,158.64 worth of furniture in his descent. But Mr. Belasco, who was standing in the wings, did not care for the furniture. The speech prepared for this scene was rendered inappropriate by the accident.
‘The eminent stage manager groaned.
‘The company turned white.
‘The supernumeraries shuddered.
‘But Mrs. Carter never paused. She made up some talk of her own, which answered every purpose and the act proceeded to a conclusion which brought forth an ovation from the audience.’
(The Evening Star, Washington, DC, 14 December 1901, p. 22a)

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Gertrude Hoffman

May 6, 2013

Gertrude Hoffman (1885–1966) American vaudeville dancer and choreographer, as ‘My Bird of Paradise’ in the ‘Hawaiian’ love song of that name, composed by her husband Max Hoffman [otherwise Hoffmann], with lyrics by Edward Madden, which was included in the revue, Broadway to Paris, produced at the Winter Garden Theatre, New York, on 20 November 1912 following a pre-Broadway opening at the Belasco Theatre, Washington, DC, on 30 September 1912.
(photo: Frank C. Bangs, New York, 1912, with artwork by Starmer for Jerome H. Remick & Co, New York and Detroit, 1912)

‘MAUD ALLEN’S [sic] DANCES COPIED BY NEW YORKER
‘Gertrude Hoffmann Will Soon Startle Gotham With London Sensation
‘SPECIAL DISPATCH TO THE CALL
‘NEW YORK, July 2 [1908]. – Maud Allan’s sensational dances that have been the joy of masculine London for several months are to be imitated by Gertrude Hoffmann.
‘Miss Hoffmann witnessed 14 performances of Miss Allan’s at the Palace, and when she returned said that she had copies the most minute detail, even of scenery, costumes and lighting effects. She gave particular attention to a ”vision of Salome.”’
(The San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, Friday, 3 July 1908, p. 3d)

‘GERTRUDE HOFFMAN OPENING FEATURE AT THE BELASCO [Washington, DC]
‘Appears in ”Broadway to Paris” Week of September 30 [1912].
‘The Belasco theater will open its eight regular season under the management of David Belasco and the Messrs. Shubert on Monday night, September 30, with Miss Gertrude Hoffman in ”Broadway to Paris.”
‘Miss Hoffman, always prolific in novel dance creations, promises some original sensations when her new revue comes to the Belasco theater.
‘Miss Hoffman looked to Moscow and St. Petersburg for her inspiration last season, and the result was ”La Saison Russe,” which proved a revelation. Paris was Miss Hoffman’s artistic Mecca this season, and the answer is found in ”Broadway to Paris.” The spirit and atmosphere of the French capital finds expression in every stage picture, every costume, every speech, song and dance. The dance plays no small part in the revue, both in solo and ballet form, and it is in the sartorial treatment of the dance numbers that Miss Hoffman has given full expression to her poetic unconventional conceptions.
‘Miss Hoffman will herself lead the dance – barefoot – defying the peacock in the gorgeousness and color combinations of her raiment. Her achievements of the past are said to be totally eclipsed both in point of lavishness and originality in her new vehicle. It has a distinctive Parisian atmosphere and a snap that is thoroughly French. An organization of 125 members is supporting Miss Hoffman.’
(The Washington Times, Washington, DC, Sunday, 15 September 1912, p. 10a)

Gertrude Hoffman’s leg paintings
‘It’s the new style, just over from Paris. Miss Hoffman, who was never particularly strong for stocking[s] anyway, is trying to popularize it in America. She appears in her new revue, ”Broadway to Paris,” dressed just like this, with rabbits painted on her legs.
‘Leon Bakst, Russia’s great painter and an international leader in matters of art and fashion, invented the style. He insists that it’s much better to adorn pretty calves and ankles with painted pictures than to cover ‘em with stockings.’
(The Tacoma Times, Tacoma, Washington, Monday, 7 October 1912, p. 5c)

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May 6, 2013

Gertrude Hoffman (1885–1966) American vaudeville dancer and choreographer, as ‘My Bird of Paradise’ in the ‘Hawaiian’ love song of that name, composed by her husband Max Hoffman [otherwise Hoffmann], with lyrics by Edward Madden, which was included in the revue, Broadway to Paris, produced at the Winter Garden Theatre, New York, on 20 November 1912 following a pre-Broadway opening at the Belasco Theatre, Washington, DC, on 30 September 1912.
(photo: Frank C. Bangs, New York, 1912, with artwork by Starmer for Jerome H. Remick & Co, New York and Detroit, 1912)

‘MAUD ALLEN’S [sic] DANCES COPIED BY NEW YORKER
‘Gertrude Hoffmann Will Soon Startle Gotham With London Sensation
‘SPECIAL DISPATCH TO THE CALL
‘NEW YORK, July 2 [1908]. – Maud Allan’s sensational dances that have been the joy of masculine London for several months are to be imitated by Gertrude Hoffmann.
‘Miss Hoffmann witnessed 14 performances of Miss Allan’s at the Palace, and when she returned said that she had copies the most minute detail, even of scenery, costumes and lighting effects. She gave particular attention to a “vision of Salome.”’
(The San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, Friday, 3 July 1908, p. 3d)

‘GERTRUDE HOFFMAN OPENING FEATURE AT THE BELASCO [Washington, DC]
‘Appears in “Broadway to Paris” Week of September 30 [1912].
‘The Belasco theater will open its eight regular season under the management of David Belasco and the Messrs. Shubert on Monday night, September 30, with Miss Gertrude Hoffman in “Broadway to Paris.”
‘Miss Hoffman, always prolific in novel dance creations, promises some original sensations when her new revue comes to the Belasco theater.
‘Miss Hoffman looked to Moscow and St. Petersburg for her inspiration last season, and the result was “La Saison Russe,” which proved a revelation. Paris was Miss Hoffman’s artistic Mecca this season, and the answer is found in “Broadway to Paris.” The spirit and atmosphere of the French capital finds expression in every stage picture, every costume, every speech, song and dance. The dance plays no small part in the revue, both in solo and ballet form, and it is in the sartorial treatment of the dance numbers that Miss Hoffman has given full expression to her poetic unconventional conceptions.
‘Miss Hoffman will herself lead the dance – barefoot – defying the peacock in the gorgeousness and color combinations of her raiment. Her achievements of the past are said to be totally eclipsed both in point of lavishness and originality in her new vehicle. It has a distinctive Parisian atmosphere and a snap that is thoroughly French. An organization of 125 members is supporting Miss Hoffman.’
(The Washington Times, Washington, DC, Sunday, 15 September 1912, p. 10a)

Gertrude Hoffman’s leg paintings
‘It’s the new style, just over from Paris. Miss Hoffman, who was never particularly strong for stocking[s] anyway, is trying to popularize it in America. She appears in her new revue, “Broadway to Paris,” dressed just like this, with rabbits painted on her legs.
‘Leon Bakst, Russia’s great painter and an international leader in matters of art and fashion, invented the style. He insists that it’s much better to adorn pretty calves and ankles with painted pictures than to cover ’em with stockings.’
(The Tacoma Times, Tacoma, Washington, Monday, 7 October 1912, p. 5c)

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Ethel Irving as Lady Frederick Berolles in the Dressing Room scene from W. Somerset Maugham’s comedy Lady Frederick, Lonodon, 1907

January 7, 2013

Ethel Irving (1869-1963), English actress and singer,
as Lady Frederick Berolles in the Dressing Room scene
from W. Somerset Maugham’s comedy
Lady Frederick, Court Theatre, London, 26 October 1907,
with Graham Browne as Paradine Fouldes and Ina Pelly as Angelique
(photo: Dover Street Studios, London, 1907)

‘On the whole, one must confess to rather a disappointment over Lady Frederick, the new comedy by Mr. W.S. Maugham, author of A Man of Honour, in which Miss Muriel Mydford played the married barmaid with such remarkable force a little while ago [in a revival, Avenue Theatre, London, 18 February 1904]. the reason is easy to tell. A Man of Honour was a play of genuine life. It had something to say. Its faults were honest. Lady Frederick is just a conventional, tricky comedy, not quite clever enough at its own game.
‘Its theme, in truth, is almost identically that of Sweet Kitty Bellairs [comedy by David Belasco, first produced in London at the Haymarket, 5 October 1907] without the costumes and the excitements. Lady Frederick is supposed to be an extravagant young Irish widow of the present day, staying at Monte Carlo. She had at one time allowed herself to be innocently compromised in order to shield a weaker woman. A certain lady Mereston, however – a very acid English person – denounces lady Frederick publicly as an adventuress. Lady Frederick tells the real story. Lady Mereston refused to believe it. Not so Lady Mereston’s brother, an old admirer of Lady Frederick. He not only pays off certain debts with which Lady Frederick is entangles, but at the end makes the last of the many proposals of marriage that occur in the course of the evening, and brings down the curtain upon a desired embrace.
‘SOME OLD DEVICES.
‘As a matter of fact, quite a large proportion of the play’s time is taken up by these proposals of marriage to Lady Frederick. Nearly all the men come up one after another. One of them – the orthodox stage villain, here represented as being of Jewish descent – tries to force her to marry him by lending her brother £900 at an exorbitant rate of interest, and threatening to ruin her in two ways if she does not consent. A wearisome old dodge! Then there is the usual nice boy, whom Lady Frederick considerately disillusions by inviting him into her dressing-room, and letting him see her put on her hair and rouge her cheeks and pencil her eyebrows. Another aspirant, an elderly admiral, is choked off even more promptly.
‘When not deprecating the attentions of these men, by the way, Lady Frederick seems to spend most of her time in evading those of creditors. One of the principal scenes of the play represents her wheedling round a visitant dressmaker, to whom she owed £700, with promises of invitations to an archduchess’s party.
‘SECONDHAND INCIDENTS.
‘As may be seen, so far as incident is concerned, practically everything in the piece is secondhand. It is put together with fair cleverness, but not marvellously well. One fancies that Mr. Maugham’s real hope was that Lady Frederick, as a buoyant, brilliant, large-hearted, impulsive Irishwoman, would, by sheer force of personality, carry everything before her and dazzle the audience into delight.
‘It is to be feared, unfortunately, that this is not quite what Miss Ethel Irving’s interpretation is likely to do. Extremely intelligent and alert as she always is, but fearfully nervous, Miss Ethel Irving under-played nearly every scene, and seemed afraid of just the moments that she should have attacked. Her exhibitions of temper were as different from the genuine Irish ”paddy” as a drizzle is from a thunderstorm. She adopted a certain brogue, but it was an accent rather than an inspiration.
‘Of the others, Mr. C.M. Lowne as Lady Mereston’s brother was wholly delightful, Miss Beryl Faber doing all that was necessary with Lady Mereston herself. Mr. Graham Browne as the nice boy viewed Lady Frederick’s toilet with admired astonishment.’
(The Daily Chronicle, London, Monday, 28 October 1907, p. 3e)