Posts Tagged ‘electric light costume’


January 4, 2013

Nellie Darrell (Mrs Harry Cambridge, fl. 1880s/1890s), English burlesque actress and music hall serio-comic (photo: W.M. Phillips, Southampton, England, circa 1890)

The Washington music hall, London, week beginning Monday, 13 May 1889. ‘Miss Nellie Darrell dances very engagingly, and adopts a very pretty idea – first introduced into the music halls by the late Miss Harriet Laurie – of effectively utilising the electric light in her costume. Her corsage, her skirt, her headdress, and her fan all sparkle as if she wore the largest and most brilliantly coloured jewels, and she looks a veritable queen of light with her glittering coloured tiara crowning her head. Electricity is here employed as the handmaiden to beauty, and a very serviceable handmaiden she proves.’ (The Era, London, Saturday, 18 May 1889, p. 15b)

‘Mr Editor. – Sir, – Allow me to state that I introduced the electric light in a song and dance, my dress being adorned with coloured lights (upwards of forty), each light changing colour while dancing. I may state I first produced the novelty in the year 1888, having had the sole right to work the same. Since my husband, Mr Harry Cambridge, has been seriously indisposed, I was compelled to discontinue the idea, as I could not trust any one but him to work the electric battery. Miss Harriet Laurie was the first lady to introduce the idea of the electric dance, and myself, the undersigned, was number two. Yours truly, NELLY DARRELL, ”the Electric Spark” (title registered, No. 23,839), Cromwell’s Varieties, Sheffield, Dec. 6th, 1892.’) (The Era, London, Saturday, 10 December 1892, p. 17c)


Harry Cambridge, English comic and topical vocalist

January 4, 2013

Harry Cambridge (d. 1892), English comic and topical vocalist (photo: George Aynsley, South Shields, England, circa 1885)

‘From the Sublime to the Ridiculous. MR. HARRY CAMBRIDGE, the Great Vocal Comedian, concludes To-night [10 March 1883], with terrific success, Grafton, Dublin. Monday next, ALHAMBRA, BOOTLE. Special Starring Engagement. Grand Varieties, Gateshead; People’s, Manchester, &c., to follow. The Lady Killer the rage. The funniest Make-up ever seen. More in preparation.’ (The Era, London, Saturday, 10 March 1883, p. 20b, advertisement)

The Sun music hall, Knightsbridge, London, week beginning Monday, 8 October 1883. ‘Cambridge suggests blueness, and Mr Harry of that ilk would do well to drop that song, of the hue of indigo, which deals with the risky subject of hypothetical parentage. In a topical song brought up to date there was some merit, and ”There he goes,” a ditty sung in character, elicited applause. The doings at midnight meetings of a certain army savour too much of Holywell street in its ”palmy” days. Coarse as the subject is, it might be treated in a manner less objectionable than Mr Harry Cambridge chose to adopt in his impression of a corporal of the Salvation Army. This gentleman possesses talent sufficient to win applause by legitimate means without resorting to questionable business.’ (The Era, London, Saturday, 13 October 1883, p. 4a)

‘DIED, Mr Harry Cambridge, vocal comedian, Dec. 28th, 1892. Gone, but not forgotten.’ (The Era, London, Saturday, 31 December 1892, p. 18c)

‘The news of the death of Mr Harry Cambridge, who succumbed on the 28th, was not altogether unexpected. The deceased comedian, who had been ill for some time, was better known in the provinces than in London. His widow, Miss Nellie Darrell, serio-comic and burlesque actress, is known to fame chiefly as one of the first ladies on the music hall stage to utilise the pretty effects of electricity in her costumes.’ (The Era, London, Saturday, 31 December 1892, p. 19a)