Posts Tagged ‘Eugene Stratton’


song sheet featuring Eugene Stratton singing Leslie Stuart’s ‘My Little Octoroon,’ 1899

November 16, 2013

colour lithograph song sheet cover for Leslie Stuart’s popular song, ‘My Little Octoroon, with a portrait of its original singer, Eugene Stratton (1861-1918), American-born British music hall star, minstrel and negro delineator
(original artwork by W. George, published by Francis, Day & Hunter, London, 1899)
Eugene Stratton recorded ‘My Little Octoroon’ for the Gramophone & Typewriter Co Ltd in London on 7 December 1903. It was issued as a 10” black label G&T (catalogue number 3-2013) in March 1904. Rather more accessible among his relatively few recordings is his 1911 version of Leslie Stuart’s ‘Lily of Laguna,’ a song which he first recorded in 1903.
Leslie Stuart wrote a string of hit songs, a few of which are featured on a medley recorded in London in 1930.


Bessie Butt

April 16, 2013

Bessie Butt (fl. early 20th century), English dancer, actress and singer, as principal boy in Aladdin, pantomime, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Christmas 1909
(photo: Langfier, Glasgow, 1909)

‘Born in London within the sound of Bow Bells [the traditional description of a Cockney], Miss Bessie Butt commenced her stage career at a very early age by playing the child part in [Minnie Palmer’s popular vehicle] My Sweetheart. While still in her early ‘teens she toured through many European countries in company with her brothers – the Reed Family – and made quite a big reputation as a transformation dancer, being billed as “Baby Butt.” An unfortunate illness kept her from the stage for a long period, and her next appearance was under the management of Mr. John Tiller, who looked upon her as one of the most promising of his young recruits.
‘Having ambitions, Miss Butt decided on doing a single turn on the halls, and at once sprang into popularity wherever she appeared. The late Walter Summers saw her, and recommended her so highly to Mr Robert Arthur that she was engaged by him as second girl for the Kennington theatre pantomime of Red Riding Hood, and there she made her first great success in [singing] “Ma blushing Rosie.” The late Clement Scott [dramatist and theatre critic, 1841-1904] was so taken with this number that he went several times to hear it. Miss butt’s next appearance was [on tour] under the management of Mr. George Edwardes as Susan in The Toreador [originated by Violet Lloyd, Gaiety, London, 17 June 1901], and this was followed by Sophie in A Country Girl [originated by Ethel Irving, Daly’s, London, 18 January 1902] and Thisbe in The Orchid [originated by Gabrielle Ray, Gaiety, London, 26 October 1903]. After this she was for twelve months at the London Coliseum, where she created several parts, notably the Black Pearl in Mr. Leslie Stuart’s song specially written for Mr. Eugene Stratton, and produced at the Coliseum in 1905. She also appeared as a wonderfully life-like doll in Mr. Will Bishop’s [ballet] My Gollywog. This was in 1906.
‘A pantomime engagement as Cinderella at Cheltenham was followed by a return to the halls under the managements of Mr. Oswald Stoll, the late Mr. G.A. Payne, and others; and then Miss Butt was seen and secured by Mr. Lester Collingwood to play the title roole in his pantomime of Cinderella at the Alexandra, Birmingham, in 1907. The success was phenomenal, as the run of the pantomime was a record for the country. On that occasion also Miss Butt won the “Owl” cake and diamond ring in a local beauty competition. This year Miss Butt has discarded skirts and gone in for principal boy, and as Dandini at the Royal County Theatre, Kingston, she is undoubtedly the hit of a most successful [Cinderella] pantomime [; other members of the cast were Dorothy Grassdorf, Hilda Vining and Laurie Wylie]. During her short career she has introduced many popular songs, of which probably the most successful have been “Scarecrow,” “Amelia Snow,” “Cherries are blooming,” “Peggy, the pride of the Mill,” and “Sunshine Soo,” her latest effusion, which is likely to eclipse in popularity all the others.
Gifted with youth, beauty, a sweetly clear and distinct voice, a genius for dancing, and unlimited vivacity, there is no knowing to what heights this clever lady may aspire.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 30 January 1909, p.13c)

Bessie Butt

Bessie Butt
(photo: White, Bradford, circa 1908)


Clara Wieland

March 22, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Clara Wieland (fl. 1890s), English music hall comedienne, actress and dancer, autographed for the celebrated London perruquier and costumier Willie Clarkson (1865-1934)
(photo: Warwick Brookes, 350 Oxford Road, Manchester, England, circa 1896)

‘Clara Wieland, the celebrated serpentine dancer, has been associated with the stage from the time she began to think. She has traveled with her father [W.H. Wieland, 1852?-1922], and his invention, the celebrated ”Zeo” [i.e. Adelaide Wieland, the trapeze artist known as Zaeo] all over the continent of Europe and into Egypt, and wherever a length stay was made Clara was placed under the best procurable master of music, singing, acting, mime and dancing. She is an excellent linguist and remarkably well informed. Her varied training has been invaluable in her career, for French, Italian, and even Arabic, came to her with the facility of her mother tongue, which explains the perfect accent she gives to the foreign songs that form so piquant an attraction in her vocal selection. At the time she was born her father had just left the Crystal and Alexandra Palaces, London, where he has managed the amusements for years, and had gone to the continent with his circus, and the circus life came as almost part of herself. Entering into its excitement, she became an efficient haute ecole equestrienne. Her love for singing, however, prevailed, and her father indulged her fancies and carefully instructed her. When she was capable she made her first appearance before the public at the Empire [Leicester Square], London, in June, 1893, by creating a new prismatic serpentine dance. For five years she exhibited at the Aquarium [Westminster, London], where she produced her mirror dance. After this she was engaged as a vocalist at the Empire, where she remained sixty-nine weeks. A short engagement in the variety halls followed, ending with the Palace theater [Cambridge Circus, London], where she remained until the night before she sailed for America.’
(The Gazette, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Wednesday, 25 December 1895, p. 4c/d)

‘A Beautiful Young Actress Who Has Come Into Prominence Recently.
‘In the cast of the ill fated imported London monstrosity Gentleman Joe, which was recently seen in New York [at Henry Miner’s Firth Avenue Theatre, 6 January 1896, for ten performances, with M.B. Curtis in the title role, a part created in London by Arthur Roberts; and with a different cast at the Bijou Theatre, 29 February 1896, for 48 performances, with James T. Powers in the title role, and Clara Wieland as Emma, a part created in London by Kitty Loftus] and a few – a very few – of the larger cities, there was a young woman who at once attracted the attention of the dramatic critics. Columns were devoted to descriptions of her beautiful face and figure and her refreshingly original and thoroughly refined methods. She appeared to be a natural born comedienne and was hailed as one of the rapidly rising lights of comic opera and travesty. The name of the young woman was Clara Wieland, and she was by no means a newcomer or a discovery of the New York critics, for her ability had long been recognized in almost every other large city in the United States.
‘Miss Wieland is an English girl. Her father was for many years the proprietor of a large circus which spent the greater portion of each year in London. His daughter early displayed a marked inclination for the stage and no obstacle was put in her way. While she was still a little girl her father went on an extended tour of foreign countries with his circus, spending a long time in Egypt. Miss Wieland had by this time shown that she was possessed of an exceptionally good voice of rather light caliber, and at each place visited she was put under the care of the best vocal instructors to be had. Her dancing lessons were also faithfully kept up.
‘Later on came a course of instruction in the musical centers of France and Italy, and then Miss Wieland was ready to make her debut. This occurred less than four years ago at a prominent London music hall, where she scored a tremendous hit and was at once engaged for a certain number of weeks each year for three years. Her popularity with the habitues continued to increase, however, and her original engagement, which was intended to last only a month or so, was prolonged until she had been at the music hall for 68 weeks uninterruptedly. She was then the rage and her services were constantly in demand.
‘A firm of American managers brought her over to this country, where she duplicated her success in the vaudevilles. Latterly she has appeared in burlesques of the class of Gentleman Joe, and it is rumored that she will probably be one of the leading members of the cast of a prominent comic opera organization next season. Miss Wieland sings as well as she dancers and acts as well as she does either. The fact that she is bewitchingly pretty and intensely ”chic” is naturally not a drawback to her future success, which is as certain as anything can be which has not actually occurred.’
(Waterloo Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, Thursday, 4 June 1896, p. 6b)

Tivoli music hall, London
‘Since our last visit Miss Clara Wieland has considerably improved her impersonations of prominent musical composers, a form of entertainment that Biondi made popular at the same house. The spectacle of a charming young lady in short skirts and decolletée bodice conducting an orchestra is a somewhat curious one, but there can be no doubt of the artist’s cleverness, whatever we may think as to the reasonableness of its display. We prefer the fair Clara in her chic and animated rendering of a chanson from La Femme Narcisse, entitled ”Ca fait toujour plaisir,” or her mimicry of a plantation Negro in the song ”That high-born gal of mine,” which has been stamped in this country with the hallmark of popularity by Mr Eugene Stratton.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 18 September 1897, p. 18a)