Posts Tagged ‘Denise Orme’

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Topsy Sinden and Lily Elsie on tour in See-See, early 1907

March 6, 2015

Topsy Sinden (1877-1950) and Lily Elsie (1886-1962), as they appeared respectively as So-Hie and See-See, with ladies of the chorus, on tour in the United Kingdom during the first few months of 1907 with George Edwardes’s Company‘ in the ‘New Chinese Comic Opera,’ See-See. So-Hie and See-See were originally played by Gabrielle Ray and Denise Orme when See-See was first produced at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London, on 20 June 1906.
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, late 1906/early1907; postcard no 3283F in the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd’s Rotary Photographic Series, published London, early 1907)

”’SEE SEE” AT HAMMERSMITH.
‘Miss Lily Elsie, who played the title rôle in ”The New Aladdin” at the Gaiety, gave a charming performance of ”See See” at the King’s, Hammersmith, last night. Miss Elsie has an engaging presence and a charming voice, and altogether gives promise of a brilliant future. Mr. George Edwardes has staged the popular Chinese comic opera very handsomely, both as regards scenery and company. Mr. Frank Danby and Mr. W.H. Rawlins keep the fun going, and the singing, acting, and dancing of Miss Amy Augarde, Mr. Leonard Mackay, and Miss Topsy Sinden are delightful. The production was enthusiastically received by a full house.’
(The Standard, London, Tuesday, 30 April 1907, p. 4f)

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May Etheridge about 1912, later Duchess of Leinster

November 2, 2013

May Etheridge (1892-1935), English chorus girl
(photo: unknown, possibly Elwin Neame, London, circa 1912)

May Etheridge (née May Juanita Etheridge) was first seen on the stage in the chorus of The New Aladdin, an extravaganza, at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 29 September 1906. She then transferred to the Aldwych Theatre under the management of Seymour Hicks before taking the part of Ko-Giku, a geisha, in The Mousmé, a musical play with music by Lionel Monckton and Howard Talbot, which was produced by Robert Courtneidge at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, on 9 September 1911. Her final official part was in the small role of Ursula in Princess Caprice, a comedy with music by Leo Fall, produced at the same theatre on 11 May 1912. It is believed, however, that she appeared in a small uncredited part in the musical comedy, Betty at Daly’s Theatre, London, during 1915.

By then, however, on 12 June 1913 at Wandsworth Registrar’s Office, near London, May Etheridge married Lord Edward FitzGerald (1892-1976), later 7th Duke of Leinster. They separated in 1922 and divorced in 1930. He was subsequently married three more times (including in 1946 to the former actress, Denise Orme) and committed suicide on 8 March 1976.

‘A Duchess Bound Over.
‘LONDON, April 19 [1930]. – Charged with having attempted to commit suicide, the Duchess of Leinster, formerly May Etheridge, a musical comedy star [sic], who was found unconscious on April 1 [1930] in a gas-filled room at a Brixton boarding house, was bound over to-day to be of good behaviour for two years, in her own recognisances of £50 and two sureties for a like amount.’
(The West Australian, Perth, Tuesday, 22 April 1930, p. 15b)

The Duchess, who eventually changed her name to May Murray, died at her home at Saltdean, near Brighton, Sussex on 11 February 1935; the inquest returned a verdict of death by misadventure following an accidental overdose of narcotics taken to induce sleep.

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Pattie Wells, Madge Melbourne and Ruby Kennedy, in Our Miss Gibbs, Gaiety Theatre, London, 1909

August 22, 2013

left to right: Pattie Wells, Madge Melbourne and Ruby Kennedy, three of the ‘Girls at the Stores’ in Our Miss Gibbs, the musical play produced at the Gaiety Theatre, London, on 23 January 1909. The cast was headed by George Grossmith junior, Edmund Payne, Denise Orme and Gertie Millar.
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1909; hats by Maison Lewis, Hanover Square and Paris)

Pattie Wells began her career as one of the ‘Ladies of Havana’ in Havana, another musical play at the Gaiety (25 April 1908); and she was last seen in Potash and Perlmutter in Society, a comedy by Montague Glass and Roi Cooper Megrue, produced at the Queen’s Theatre, London, on 12 September 1916.

Madge Melbourne was an American, born about 1885. She appeared on Broadway and on tour in the United States between about 1903 and 1906. She arrived in England in December 1908 and lived in London until about 1918. Apart from her appearances in Our Miss Gibbs, during which she made A Gaiety Dueta short film with George Grossmith junior and Edmund Payne, Miss Melbourne was also in the cast of Hullo Ragtime!, London Hippodrome, 23 December 1912, with Ethel Levey, Lew Hearn, Willie Solar, Dorothy Minto and Shirley Kellogg. She was also in Are You There?, a new musical piece by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, produced at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, 28 October 1913, with Lawrence Grossmith, Alec Fraser, Shirley Kellogg and others. Her last appearance seems to have been in the one act comedy, Squibbs by Clifford Seyler, at the London Coliseum, in June 1915, with Mabel Russell and Charles Quartermaine.

Ruby Kennedy, whose real name was Ruby Trelawny, was born in 1889. She first appeared with Seymour Hicks and Ellaline Terriss as one of the ‘Guests’ in The Gay Gordons, a musical play which ran at the Aldwych Theatre, London, from 11 September 1907 for a run of 229 performances. She was last seen in another musical play, The Dancing Mistress, produced at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on 19 October 1912, with Joseph Coyne and Gertie Millar heading the cast. She was married to Group Captain (later Brigadier-General) Henry Brewster Percy Lion Kennedy (1878-1953) at St Luke, Chelsea, London, on 26 November 1913. She died in 1972.

One of Ruby Kennedy’s sisters was May Kennedy (née May Trelawny, 1885-1978) who also appeared in various musical productions, including The Gay Gordons and the revue, Everybody’s Doing It (Apollo Theatre, London, 9 December 1912), with J. Farren Soutar, Robert Hale, Ida Crispi and Unity More.

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Julia Sanderson

July 23, 2013

Julia Sanderson (1887-1975), American actress and vocalist at about the time of her appearance in the musical comedy The Hon’ble Phil, Hicks Theatre, London, October to December 1908. G.P. Huntley, Herbert Clayton, Horace Mills, Denise Orme, Eva Kelly and Elsie Spain were the other principals.
(photo: The Dover Street Studios, London, 1908/09)

‘Two English Musical Plays At Rival Theaters This Week.
‘Two of George Edwardes’ London musical comedy successes will be the leading novelties of the week at the theaters, both The Quaker Girl and The Sunshine Girl being seen in Washington for the first time, the former after noteworthy engagements in London, New York, and Boston, and the latter coming to the Capital for its American debut after a continuous run of more than a year in the English metropolis, where it is till on view nightly at the Gaiety.
‘Washington will be particularly interested in the premiere of The Sunshine Girl at the Columbia tomorrow night, for upon this occasion a new Charles Frohman star will be evolved from the will be evolved from the nebulosity of chorus girl, soubrette, and leading lady. The honor is to be bestowed upon the talented and piquant Miss Julia Sanderson, who has been a Washington musical comedy favorite since the days of the ill-fated Dairymaids, whose cast she deserted during an engagement five years ago in the theater where she is now to become start.
‘Miss Sanderson’s career is not marked by many of those hardships which are usually related as warnings to the stage-struck girl. Her father, Albert Sackett, is an actor, and through his influence she secured an engagement with the Forepaugh stock company in her home city, Philadelphia. Here she divided her time between playing maid and pursuing her grammar school studies, for she made her debut in the theatre when she was 15.
‘As a member of the chorus with Paula Edwardes’ company in Winsome Winnie. Miss Sanderson entered the musical comedy field. She had an opportunity to play the title role when Miss Edwardes retired from the cast on account of illness. The understudy was at that time advertised as the youngest prima donna in the world.
‘But the sudden elevation did not result in any permanent advancement for Miss Sanderson. She went back to the ranks in A Chinese Honeymoon and in Fantana, but was given a hit when De Wolf Hopper revived Wang, after which she joined The Tourists.
‘Miss Sanderson has appeared in London in two successes, first with G.P. Huntley in The Honorable Phil and later with Ellaline Terriss in The Dashing Little Duke. ‘While not so recognized in the size of billboard and program type, Miss Sanderson has been a star in popular appreciation for two years, her graceful dancing, harm of manner, and small, but dulcet voice having won generous approbation in both The Arcadians and The Siren.
‘Mr. Frohman has engaged a capable musical comedy cast to support his new satellite. Joseph Cawthorn has for several seasons been a comedy mainstay for Elsie Janis, and Alan Mudie will be recalled as the agile dancer in The Arcadians.’
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Sunday, 26 January 1913, Magazine Section, p.2a)

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Les Merveilleuses

May 8, 2013

Les Merveilleuses, the comic opera at Daly’s theatre, first produced on 27 October 1906, with music by Hugo Felix, reopens after various changes, including the title to The Lady Dandies at the same theatre at the end of January 1907; Huntley Wright, Gabrielle Ray and others join the cast. Huntley Wright (1868-1943), English actor and singer, as St. Amour in The Lady Dandies, a part in which he succeeded W.H. Berry at the end of January 1907. (photo: Ellis & Walery, London, 1907)

‘At Daly’s they do things in a grand style which distinguishes Mr. George Edwardes’s productions at this theatre from other plays of the same order if not of the same class, and Mr. Edwardes, in all these years, has given us nothing more beautiful at Daly’s than The Merveilleuses, of which the title has now been changed to The Lady Dandies, a wise reversion to the title, or something very like it, chosen for the play before it was first produced. It is a change for the better, for Merveilleuse happens to be just one of those words which an Englishman may pronounce in such a way that nobody can understand what he means – or what he says, which is not exactly the same thing. The name of the piece is not the only thing that has been changed, and on Wednesday evening Mr. Huntley Wright returned once more to the scene of his great successes, and with the return of Mr. Wright to the fold Daly’s is itself again. With the interpolation of new songs, for which Mr. Lionel Monckton has written the music to the words of Captain Basil Hood, who has done M. Victorien Sardou’s “book” into good English, the dalyfication of this “comedy opera” is complete. Mr. Wright has now the part of St. Amour, the Prefect of Police, which was first played by Mr. W.H. Berry. It is not into the background, however, that Mr. Berry retires. In his part of Tournesol, the “police agent,” he is as funny as ever, while the character of St. Amour has expanded wonderfully at the magic touch of the ready and inventive Huntley Wright. Mr. Wright acted and sang and danced and joked as if he felt glad to be back at Daly’s, and the audience laughed as if they were glad to see him back. His satirical, topical song, “Only a Question of Time,” made a great hit, and although I have no great liking for the growing custom of introducing all sorts of personalities – social, political, and domestic – into musical plays, I must acknowledge that the audience seemed to find immense enjoyment in the verse which says “It is only a question of time (And the prominence given her part), And the charming Camille [Clifford], [Edna] May become Nelly Neil, Which is [Charles] Frohman for Sarah Bernhardt.”
‘Another new-comer to The Lady Dandies is Miss Gabrielle Ray, who has an accent all her own in dancing as she has in singing, and this I will say, a daintier dancer I never wish to see, though Miss Ray must make haste to get rid of her air of self-consciousness if she wishes to make the best of her talents. The student of theatrical astronomy may discover a whole constellation of stars at Daly’s just now, and the beautiful music of Dr. Hugo Felix is admirably rendered. Miss Evie Greene, who has a new song since the first night, is in great form; I have never seen her look better, nor act better, nor sing better than she looks and acts and sings as the “merveilleuse” Ladoiska in The Lady Dandies, and Miss Denise Orme, the purity and sweetness of whose voice would melt a heart of india-rubber, is a sheer ecstasy. Mr. Robert Evett, as the hero, and Mr. Fred Kaye have warmed to their parts, and I should say the same of Mr. Louis Bradfield’s performance of the “Incroyable” if I had not found it already admirable when the piece was first produced. Musical plays have a curious elasticity, and I find it difficult to realise what has been taken out of Les Marveilleuses [sic] to put so much more in. Certainly the new infusion of fun does not diminish the attractiveness of The Lady Dandies, and there is a long life, if I am not mistaken, and a merry one, in store for the piece.’
(‘Carados’, The Referee, London, Sunday, 3 February 1907, p.3b)

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Zena Dare

February 16, 2013

Zena Dare (1887-1975)
English actress
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, &c, 1906 and circa)

Zena & Phyllis Dare

Zena Dare and her sister,
Phyllis Dare (1890-1975)
English actress and singer
(photos: Foulsham & Banfield and others, London, &c, 1906 and circa)

These two real photograph postcards by the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd of London in its Rotary Photographic Series were published about 1906. The first (5528A, above), featuring portraits of the popular actress Zena Dare in a variety of roles and poses, is from a set celebrating a number of other young actresses and dancers of the day, including Denise Orme and Gabrielle Ray. The second (786, below), with portraits of Zena Dare and her sister Phyllis, is from one of many so-called ‘large letter’ postcards issued by Rotary.

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February 3, 2013

Thelma Raye (née Thelma Victoria Maud Bell-Morton, 1890-1966)
English musical comedy actress,
in costume as O Kiku San
in the revival of The Geisha, Daly’s Theatre, London, 18 June 1906.
The front-of-house frame encloses
photographs of Miss Raye by the Dover Street Studios
as she appeared in The Little Michus.
(photo: unknown, probably London, 1906)

Auburn haired Thelma Raye was born on 6 September 1890 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nothing is known at present of her early life and training as an actress and singer in musical comedy, and the first we hear of her is in The Little Michus (Daly’s, London, 29 April 1905), playing Marie Blanche in succession to Mabel Green and Denise Orme, and Ernestine in succession to Nina Sevening, Bertha Callan, Iris Hoey, Mabel Russell and Marie Löhr. Remaining with the same management for the next two years she was next seen in the revival of The Geisha (Daly’s, 18 June 1906) as O Kiku San, before playing in Les Merveilleuses (Daly’s, 27 October 1906) as Illyrine in succession to Denise Orme, and in The Girls of Gottenberg (Gaiety, 15 May 1907) as Elsa in succession to May de Sousa and Enid Leonhardt.

Thelma Raye’s next engagement was to play Helene in the American production of the popular English musical, The Dairymaids (Criterion, New York, 26 August 1907, 86 performances). Returning to England she was re-engaged by George Edwardes for the part of Elsa in a touring company of The Girls of Gottenberg, beginning with a short stay at the Adelphi Theatre, London (10 August 1908, 12 performances). She was next seen in a tour of The Pigeon House, first produced at the New Theatre, Cardiff, on 27 June 1910; during the run her part of Léontine de Merval was later played by Iris Hoey and Dorothy Moulton. Miss Raye was afterwards engaged to play Mariana in Bonita (Queen’s, London, 23 September 1911, 42 performances), Honorka in The Grass Widows (Apollo, London, 7 September 1912, 50 performances), and Fifi du Barry (in which part she was succeeded by Marie Blanche) in The Joy-Ride Lady (New, London, 21 February 1914, 105 performances).

Thelma Raye
Thelma Raye as Fifi du Barry in
The Joy-Ride Lady, New Theatre, London, 21 February 1914.
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1914)

On 21 Marcy 1917, now aged 26, Thelma Raye was married to Percy Stewart Dawson (1888-1947), an Australian and member of the Steward Dawson family of jewellers and silversmiths of Sydney & London. The couple had already had a daughter, Dawn, who was born at Bournemouth in England on 1 April 1913. The marriage foundered, however, and in March 1918 Miss Raye returned to London. During 1919 she was on a UK tour as the lead in Cosmo Hamilton’s play, Scandal. It was at about this time that she met the actor Ronald Colman (1891-1958); they were married at on 18 September 1920. Frustrated by his inability to make headway with his career, Colman left England for New York less than a month later followed by his wife in February 1921.

Later recalling that this was the most difficult period in his career, Colman was lucky enough to be chosen to appear in Henri Bataille’s drama, La Tendresse, starring Ruth Chatterton (Empire, New York, 25 September 1922). This led to his being cast as leading man to Lillian Gish in the 1923 Hollywood film, The White Sister, in which Thelma was allocated a tiny part. Such was the success of this venture, at least as far as Colman was concerned, that he was awarded a contract by Samuel Goldwyn and during the next eighteen months he appeared in several other films, two of which respectively starred May McAvoy and Constance Talmadge. In 1924 Colman was seen again with Lillian Gish, in a film version of George Eliot’s novel, Romola, in which Thelma Raye was given an uncredited bit part.

There is little doubt that Colman’s steeply rising success as a Hollywood star soon put an intolerable strain on his marriage. The couple publicly acknowledged a breakdown in their relationship by early 1926 and although separated they did not formally split for another eight years. As one writer has put it, ‘Raye loomed in the background and would periodically appear – often demanding more money in proportion to her husband’s increasing financial success. A divorce was finally arranged after Raye was offered a hefty financial settlement and the parasitic relationship finally came to an end.’ This view was endorsed in the biography, Ronald Colman: A Very Private Person (William Morrow & Co Inc, 1975) by Juliet Benita Colman (b.1944), Colman’s daughter by his second marriage to the English actress Benita Hume. Miss Colman’s opinion of her father’s first wife was that she had ‘a jealous and vindictive nature.’

Of Thelma Raye very little else is heard. In the summer of 1938 it was rumoured that she was to return to the stage in a play, A Garden of Weeds by Ronald Gerard, which was to tour in the United States before a New York opening, but nothing seems to have come of this or any other theatrical project. Then in early in 1939, describing herself as ‘the Original Mrs. Ronald Colman,’ Thelma Raye was reported to have opened a small sports/novelty shop at Laguna Beach, California. She settled in New South Wales, Australia, about 1943 and died at Port Macquarie on 29 June 1966.