Posts Tagged ‘Elsie Janis’


Anna Wheaton as she appeared for the song ‘My Snake-Charming Girl’ in the revue, Push and Go at the London Hippodrome 1915

January 20, 2014

Anna Wheaton (1896-1961), American musical comedy and revue actress, dancer and singer as she appeared in the revue Push and Go at the London Hippodrome (10 May 1915) in her costume for the song, ‘My Snake-Charming Girl.’
(photo: Wrather & Buys, 27 New Bond Street, London, 1915)

Anna Wheaton, accompanied by Jamieson Dodds, recorded ‘My Snake-Charming Girl’ for the Columbia label in London (Col 560) about June 1915. While this is unavailable at the moment, several of Miss Wheaton’s later recordings are featured on YouTube, including ‘Rolled Into One‘ from Oh! Boy!, recorded in New York City, 23 March 1917.

The principals in Push and Go were Violet Lorraine and Harry Tate. They were joined by a number of American artists including Shirley Kellogg, Arthur Swanston and Anna Wheaton. Among the sketches was a skit on Elsie Janis and her mother (played by Misses Kellogg and Wheaton), with Gerald Kirby appearing as Basil Hallam. It was well known at the time that in her private life Miss Janis (the American revue star then currently appearing at the Palace Theatre, London, in The Passing Show of 1915) was always accompanied by her mother and that she was also romantically attached to to her co-star, the English actor Basil Hallam.


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)


Elsie Janis and the American Expeditionary Force

June 30, 2013

a photograph of Elsie Janis (1889-1956), American actress and singer, at about the time of her appearances in France for the American Expeditionary Force during World War I
(photo: Malcolm Arbuthnot, London, circa 1918)

‘Wonderful Part Played by Elsie Janis in Keeping Up Morale of Troops.
‘Many a Company Has Marched to First Night in Trenches With More Gallant Swing Because Elsie Cheered Them on Way.
‘Paris. – the theater was no theater at all. It was just the great train shed which serves as the workshop and headquarters for a small army of American engineers who are lending the P.R.R. Touch to the astonished landscape of France. Though retreat had sounded an hour or so before, it was packed to suffocation with Yanks, for all that day rakish posters, turned out in the company painter’s best style, had intrigued the eye with the modest announcement:


‘And at last, with warning toots from a distant whistle and a great wave of laughter as the order was passed along to clear the track, a locomotive trundled in out of the night, in its cab a pair of proud and grinning engineers, on its cowcatcher Elsie Janis. A moment later and the engine was near enough to the stage for her to clear the space at a single jump and there she was, with her black velvet tam pushed back on her tossing hair, with he eyes alight and her hands uplifted, her whole voice thrown into the question which is the beginning and the end of morale, which is the most important question in the army:
”’Are we downhearted?”

‘The Thunderous Response.

‘You can only faintly imagine the thunderous ”No” with which the train shed echoed. And it is the whole point of Elsie Janis – as well as the whole point of all the mummers now being booked to play for the A.E.F. – that whatever the spirit of the boys before her coming, they really meant that ”No” with all there was in them, that any who might have been just a little downhearted before, felt better about it after seeing and hearing her. For, like the rare officer who can inspire his men to very prodigies of valor, so the flashing Elsie is compact of that priceless thing which, for lack of a less pedantic phrase, we must call positive magnetism. More than one company has marched off to its first night in the trenches with brighter eyes, squarer shoulders and a more gallant swing because, at the very threshold of safety, this lanky and lovely lady from Columbus, Ohio, waved and sang and cheered them on their way.
‘That is why, when the history of this expedition comes to be written, there should be a chapter devoted to the play-girl of the western front, the star of the A.E.F., the forerunner of those players who are now being booked in the greatest circuit of them all, the Y.M.C.A. huts of France.
‘For her, and for her like, there is always room. And work aplenty to do. There are troops to be fired – as by martial music – on the edge of the advance.
‘Elsie Janis (and mother) are having the time of their lives, and she meant every word of it when she cabled back to all her brothers and sisters of the stage to come or they would never know what they had missed.

‘Barn-Storming With Vengeance.

‘For Elsie it has been barn-storming with a vengeance, a tour of tank towns in more senses than one. It has meant traveling without a maid for once in a way, playing a whole season with a one-dress wardrobe, bivouacking in strange and uninviting hotels.
‘It has meant warbling as a cabaret singer among tables of some officers’ mess or mounting a bench to sing through the windows of some contagion barracks where the isolate doughboys had been tearing their infected hair with disappointment because they had heard she was in the post and knew they could not got out to see her.
‘It has meant lingering for an extra performance at some hut because a whole new audience was coming through the starlit heavens from the aviation camp down the lines.
‘In all her years on the stage she has known no such tumultuous heart-warming welcomes as are her nightly portions in the biggest time a booking office can offer to a player in the year 1918.
‘The boys swarm up on the stage and slap her on the back and vow there never was such a girl since the world began. They cheer her until they are hoarse, and she is dizzy with pride.’
(Adams County Union-Republican, Corning, Iowa, Wednesday, 17 July 1918, p. 8b/c)

* * * * *

Elsie Janis Sweetheart of the A.E.F.

This long-overdue and very welcome CD, ELSIE JANIS Sweetheart of the A.E.F., including recordings made by her between 1912 and 1919 for the Victor and H.M.V. Labels, has been issued by Archeophone Records in its Pioneers Series.


Lillian Russell

June 12, 2013

Lillian Russell (1861?-1922), American star of comic opera, appears in vaudeville at the Palace Theatre, New York, 1915
(photo: White, New York, circa 1915)

‘Lillian Russell, a prominent resident of Pittsburgh and well known in these parts as a creator of cosmetics, returned to the stage at the Palace. Many gentlemen with double chins and other visible indications of profitable leisure were present and the welcome back was hearty.
‘Lillian Russell and “My Evening Star”
‘Miss Russell sang four numbers, including “Chloe.” Once more she invited “My Evening Star” [recorded circa 1912, from] to come down. These songs are of the Weber and Fields pre-broiler period, when the chorus girls were required to have – let us say – architectural stability.
‘It was, we’ll confess, our first glimpse across the footlights of Miss Russell. When she was at her height we were observing “Superba” and the second company in The Chinese Honeymoon from a perilous and provincial gallery seat. So, of course, our review is devoid of memories.
‘Watching Miss Russell, we couldn’t help but think that – say forty years from now – we’ll be brushing cigar ashes from our waistcoats, and applauding – with elderly difficulty – the youthful Ina Claire and the girlish Elsie Janis.
‘Anyway, Miss Russell is promising.’
(Frederick James Smith, The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 13 November 1915, p.19a)


January 19, 2013

a photograph of Elsie Janis as Cinderella
with David C. Montgomery as Punks and Fred A. Stone as Spooks,
in Victor Herbert’s musical play, The Lady of the Slipper,
produced at the Globe Theatre, New York, 28 October 1912
(photo: unknown, New York, 1912)

‘Globe (H.D. Kline, mgr.) – The Lady of the Slipper; or, a Modern Cinderella, a musical fantasy in three acts, book by Anne Caldwell and Lawrence McCarty, lyrics by James O’Dea, music by Victor Herbert, staged by R.H. Burnside, produced Monday night, Oct. 28, by Charles Dillingham, with this cast:
The Crown Prince Maximillian … Douglas Stevenson
Prince Ulrich … Engene Revere
Captain Ladislaw … James G. Reaney
Baron Von Nix … Charles Mason
Alzel … Vernon Castle
Mouser (the Baron’s cat) … David Abrahams
Albrecht … Samuel Burbanks
Louis … Harold Russell
Joseph … Edgar L. Hay
Matthias … Ed. Randall
Punks … David C. Montgomery
Spooks … Fred A. Stone
Cinderella … Elsie Janis
Dollbabia … Lillian Lee
Freskotte … Queenie Vassar
Romneys … Allene Crater
The Fairy Godmother … Vivian Rushmore
Valerie … Peggy Wood
Sophie … Florence Williams
Prins … Edna Bates
Clare … Helen Falconer
Ludovica … Gladys Zell
Malda … Lillian Rice
Gretchen … Angle Welmers
Premiere Danseuse … Lydia Loponklwa [i.e. Lopokova]
‘There are no more popular stars in musical shows to-day than the team of Montgomery and Stone and Elsie Janis, and a show that is headed by either the first two named or the last mentioned is reasonably sure of success, but when the three names are to be found in one entertainment, as they are in The Lady of the Slipper, there seems to be only one answer – pronounced and undoubted success.
‘The names of David C. Montgomery and Fred A. Stone have been inseparably linked with fun and frolic ever since years ago they forsook vaudeville to enter the musical comedy field, and the same applies to Miss Janis, and in their present vehicle they live up to their reputations to the utmost degree. The piece is little more than a vehicle, and if it had to rely upon either its book, lyrics or music it would stand little chance of winning the public favor, but it offers opportunities for the trio of stars to introduce their specialities, and these, familiar as they are to us, are always welcome.
‘Elsie Janis never did better work. She had several songs which she ”talked” in her usual clever manner, and the one in the first act with the ”kiddies” was ”put over” in the best style of this clever little lady. She had another song with David Abrahams, in the same set, that also won favor. For her waltz number with Douglas Stevenson she also scored. Then in the last act she gave her well known imitations of well known stage celebrities, for which she won well deserved storms of applause. She was recalled many times, and for one of her encores she gave a perfect imitation of Mr. Stone’s exit earlier in the piece, in which he uses a most peculiar dance step.
‘Montgomery and Stone first appear in characters that remind you of their famous roles in The Wizard of Oz. In this present show Montgomery is transformed from a pumpkin, while Stone is a scarecrow brought to life. They made several changes of costume, and in the second act they hark back to their early vaudeville days and reproduce a travesty on the first song and dance they ever did, entitled ”Then Were the Childhood Days.” Mongtomery, with the aid of a chorus, got a good deal out of a song entitled ”Bagdad.” Stone did a single number entitled ”Punch Bowl Glide,” in which he was immense. In this he introduced some eccentric movements and dancing, and also did some trampoline work, two tables, a lounge and a stage trap being supplied with the bouncing rubber.
‘Vernon Castle, assisted by a female chorus, did a capital number, entitled ”Fond of the Ladies.” Mr. Castle has a capital voice, and while the number gave him little chance to display it to the best advantage, he rendered it with good effect. But Mr. Castle is also a capital eccentric dancer, and the finish of this number was one of the most novel seen on the local stage. With a swaying dance movement, not unlike the ”Turkey Trot,” but absolutely devoid of objectionable features, the girls form a line, with Mr. Castle in the centre (he serving as a pivot round which the line revolves). With each half turn a girl joins the line until all of them, about sixteen in all, are in the line. Then with the same swaying movement the line revolves, and at each half turn a girl leaves the line until Mr. Castle once more stands alone. It is a capital number, and one which caught the house.
‘David Abrahams deserves great credit for his work as Mouser, the cat.
‘In the second act Lydia Lopoukowa [sic], premier danseuse, assisted by a corps de ballet, did some excellent dancing, and was deserving of the hearty applause accorded her efforts.
‘Founded upon the well known story of Cinderella, the work admits of very elaborate singing, which Mr. Dillingham has given it without stint, and the deficiencies of the authors are atoned for to a large extent by Mr. Burnside, who has put his best foot forward in staging the work, and this means that the very best results have been attained.’
(Whit., The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 2 November 1912, p. 6a)

‘Charles Dillingham has arranged to reproduce in moving pictures, in natural colors, the production of The Lady of the Slipper,’ which is now playing at the Globe Theatre. He has also arranged with the Victor Company to secure records of the score. These pictures and records will be kept on file.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 7 December 1912, p. 2c)


Elsie Janis and Basil Hallam in The Passing Show, Palace Theatre, London, 1914

January 13, 2013

song sheet cover for ‘You’re Here and I’m Here’
words by Harry B. Smith, music by Jerome D. Kern
sung by Elsie Janis and Basil Hallam
in Alfred Butt’s production of the revue
The Passing Show, Palace Theatre, London, 20 April 1914
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1914;
published by Francis, Day & Hunter, London, and
T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter, New York, 1914)

The first revue entitled The Passing Show was staged at the Casino Theatre, New York, in May 1894. The name was revived on Broadway for a similar production, The Passing Show of 1912 (Winter Garden, 22 July 1912). Thereafter there was a Passing Show every year until 1919, and the last of the series was The Passing Show of 1921 (Winter Garden, 29 December 1920). Meanwhile in London the format was reproduced by Alfred Butt at the Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, where The Passing Show was produced on 20 April 1914 with Elsie Janis, a young Broadway star making her first appearance in London, Basil Hallam, Clara Beck, Gwendoline Brogden, Winifred Delavanti, Marjorie Cassidy, Jack Christy, Mildred Stokes, Florence Sweetman, Nelson Keys and Arthur Playfair.

Elsie Janis and her partner Basil Hallam were an immediate hit. They recorded their two duets from the show, ‘You’re Here and I’m Here’ (HMV 4-2401; 1.20mb Mp3 file) and ‘I’ve Got Everything I Want But You’ (HMV 04116) in London on 4 June 1914.

The Passing Show proved so popular that Butt repeated his success the following year with The Passing Show of 1915 (Palace, 9 March 1915, with a second edition on 12 July), again starring Elsie Janis and Basil Hallam.

‘Elsie Janis Manager
‘Makes Alfred Butt of the Palace Talk Terms for New Act.
‘London, April 4 [1914]. – Elsie Janis has become a “manager,” according to Alfred Butt, proprietor of the Palace theater, where Miss Janis is to open in the new Revue in a fortnight.
‘“When Miss Janis was in London last summer,” Mr. Butt explained today, “I signed her to appear at the Palace. When she arrived back here a few weeks ago she informed me she had brought two other artists and I must find places for them on the bill.
‘“I saw them to-day for the first time and asked them both to sign contracts. To my amazement they said they couldn’t sign, that they already were under contract to Miss Janis. I asked her what it all meant and she told me she had both these music hall artists tied up tight for twelve months. If I wanted their services I must negotiate with their manager – and I did.”’
(The Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, New York, Sunday, 5 April 1914, Section 1, p.1b)<br><br>

Listen to a cover version of ‘You’re Here and I’m Here’ sung by Olive Kline and Harry Macdonough, recorded for Victor, Camden, NJ, 17 February 1914.