Posts Tagged ‘Dolly Dombey’

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Amy Webster, who appeared in the first English production of The Merry Widow at Daly’s Theatre, London, and was later sent to America

June 21, 2014

Amy Webster (active 1900-1908), English actress/showgirl, at about the time of her appearance as Jou-Jou during the long run of the first English production of The Merry Widow, which was produced at Daly’s Theatre, London, on 8 June 1907 and closed on 31 July 1909. During that time Jou-Jou was at various times also played by Dolly Dombey, Dorrie Keppell and Gladys Carrington.
(photo: Rita Martin, London, probably 1908)

Amy (sometime Aimee) Webster was born in London about 1886, the daughter of Frederick Webster, about whom nothing is at present known. She is thought to have made her first professional appearance as an extra in The Price of Peace, the ‘Drama of Modern Life’ produced at Drury Lane Theatre on 20 September 1900. She remained at Drury Lane until early 1903, a period during which she was seen in two more dramas and also in two pantomimes, Blue Beard and Mother Goose (26 December 1901 and 26 December 1902 receptively). She then progressed to adult roles, as Mary Macclesfield in The Little Cherub (Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London, 31 January 1906) and its revised edition entitled The Girl on the Stage (same theatre, 5 May 1906) in which her part was renamed Gertie Macclesfield. Her last appearances were in The Merry Widow, as above.
Amy Webster was married for the first time on 15 March 1906 at Fulham Register Office to Owain Edward Whitehead Greaves (1882-1941); their wedding was kept secret owing to his position in the Royal Horse Guards. In January 1907 he was posted to India and between August that year and March 1908 she is said to have committed adultery with Eric Loder (who in 1912 married Gabrielle Ray) and George Jervis Wood (who in 1909 married Rosa, Countess von Lónyay de Nagy-Lónya und Vásáros-Namény). When Greaves sued his wife for divorce in 1909, she and Wood denied any wrongdoing while Loder failed to appear or file an answer. Rufus Isaacs represented Greaves; Sir Edward Carson represented Wood. (The Times, London, 27 March 1909)

In 1912 Mrs Greaves gave birth to a daughter, Josephine, whose father was George Maria Joseph Alphonsus Grisewood (1891-1916) of the Grenadier Guards. He served with the Expeditionary Force in France from February 1915 and the couple were married in Marylebone while he was home on leave early in 1916. He died at the front near Merville on 27 March 1916 of pneumonia.

According to Grisewood’s grandson, his widow was subsequently obliged to sever her connection with both the Grisewood family and her daughter. In 1919 she was given a one-way ticket to America and duly arrived at the Port of New York aboard the SS Royal George on 23 February that year. Nothing is known of her life after that date.

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Dolly Dombey

August 3, 2013

Dolly Dombey (1887-1967), English musical comedy actress/chorus girl
(photo: Rita Martin, London, circa 1909)

Dolly Dombey, whose real name was Florence Newton, was born in Lambeth, London, in 1887. In 1909 she married Fred J. Blackman (1879-1951), a former actor and theatrical producer who from 1907 to 1921 was in charge of all tours of the productions originating at Daly’s Theatre, London, including The Merry Widow and The Dollar Princess. For the next five or six years he produced various musical shows in London, including The Lady of the Rose with Phyllis Dare in the leading role (Daly’s, 1922) and Katja the Dancer (Gaiety, 1925). In 1927 the couple emigrated with their three children, Joan, Timothy and Barabra, to Australia where Blackman worked in a similar capacity for Williamson & Tait Ltd.

Miss Dombey was one of a number of bit-part actresses who were well-known to London audiences who favoured musicals during the years immediately preceding the First World War. She appeared during the runs of the following productions: The Merry Widow (Daly’s, 8 June 1907); The Dollar Princess (Daly’s, 25 September 1909); The Quaker Girl (Adelphi, 5 November 1910); The Count of Luxembourg (Daly’s, 20 May 1911); The Marriage Market (Daly’s, 17 May 1913); and a revival of A Country Girl (Daly’s, 28 October 1914). Her final appearance was as Lady Mendie in succession to Therese Mills in A Southern Maid (Daly’s, 18 May 1920).