Posts Tagged ‘James J. Corbett’


Alexandra Dagmar and Edmond DeCelle, duettists, United States and United Kingdom, 1890s

December 24, 2014

Dagmar and DeCelle (active 1890s), Anglo-American duettists: Alexandra Dagmar (1868-1940), English music hall vocalist and pantomime principal boy, and Edmond DeCelle (1854?-1920), American tenor
(cabinet photo: Robinson & Roe, 54 West 14th Street, New York, and 77 & 79 Clark Street, Chicago, circa 1890)

‘(By Our Special Commissioner.)
‘Few of the critics, lay and professional, who waxed so enthusiastic over Miss Dagmar’s performance in the pantomime [Cinderella, produced on 24 December 1894] at [the Metropole Theatre] Camberwell had any idea that the lady then made her first appearance in the capacity of a principal boy. But such was the case. Previously Miss Dagmar had appeared on our variety stage, and, as she is an important from America, the impression prevailed that she is a product of the United States. But that is not the case. Miss Dagmar is a London girl, of Danish parents, which may account for her Junoesque proportions and wondrously fair hair. Her association with the stage began some ten years ago, when a friend of the family, remarking her beautiful voice, suggested a professional career. Miss Dagmar was delighted by the very thought. Her father, however, was reluctant, and it was some time ere he could be prevailed upon to let his daughter avail herself of an introduction to Miss Sarah Thorne. But at length all obstacles were overcome, and Miss Alexandra Dagmar became a very humble member of the theatrical profession, playing a fairy, ”of something of that kind,” she vaguely recalls, in a travelling pantomime, on the old subject of ”Peter Wilkins.” She has a vivid recollection of papa escorting her to Maidstone and committing her to the sober and respectable care of a temperance hotel.
‘But good luck was in store for her – good luck that grew, as it sometimes will, out of another’s misfortune. The second girl fell ill – Miss Dagmar was, after no more than a week’s experience, promoted to the part thus vacated, and continued to play it during the fifteen weeks ensuing. Her great effort was a ballad entitled ”Waiting.” Miss Dagmar recalls that one of her companions during a delightful engagement was none other than Miss Janet Achurch, who played the Fairy Queen. After an experience on the stage as free from temptation and knowledge of the great world as a sojourn in a seminary might be, Miss Dagmar returned to the bosom of her family, and her further devotion to the stage was regarded with much disfavour. But the circumstances of her friends underwent a sudden change, and Miss Dagmar was, in fact, quite grateful for the necessity to make the most of her talent. The most lucrative engagement that offered was to visit America, and there join the Boston Redpath Lyceum Bureau.
‘This is a curious and interesting organisation. It forms concert parties and other entertaining bodies, and sends them the round of high-class social institutions – literary society, young men’s Christian associations, and the like. The performances were given in evening dress, and were as proper as proper could be. The company that Miss Dagmar first joined had especially a German character, and she became a notable singer of Volkslieder. For several years Miss Dagmar travelled with the Redpath Lyceum companies; and here one Mr De Celle appears on the scene. Mr De Celle comes from Chicago, and has all his life been devoted to music – as a singer and as a manager for eminent performers. In his time has has, for instance, engineered Remenyi and Ovide Musin, the violinists. Mr De Celle was the manager of the Lyceum company to which Miss Dagmar belonged, and took a special interest in the development of her voice. Some four years ago [sic] they were married.
‘When Miss Dagmar left the Redpath Lyceum she soon found herself in great request with the managers of high-class variety entertainments. At Koster and Bial’s, for instance, she is a great favourite. Alone, or as eventually she appeared, in association with Mr De Celle, Miss Dagmar has appeared at Koster and Bial’s for two years in the aggregate, and she rejoices in a general invitation from Mr Albert Bial to make the famous variety theatre her home. At first Miss Dagmar used to sing on the variety stage in evening dress. Then she had the happy thought of giving in costume excerpts from popular operas, her husband also taking part. The managers of the American theatres, so Miss Dagmar tells you, look upon the variety performer with friendly toleration. ”Sing your exceprt,” they say, ”and welcome. So far from your injuring us, you give us a valuable advertisement.” So Mr De Celle and his wife acquired a vast repertory of operatic fragments. An except from La Cigale was a notable favourite with American audiences. But when the duettists reached England a stern copyright law assailed their repertory on every side, and decimated it. They are left with nothing much to sing besides their always popular jödel. And the worst of it is, pay what money they will for original compositions, they get nothing to suit them.
‘One has run ahead a little. From time to time, ere yet they left America, Miss Dagmar and Mr de Celle appeared with ”combinations,” and notably with Mr William A. Brady‘s companies. They appeared in the variety scene when he produced After Dark, and when eventually he set out with Gentleman Jack, they ”supported” Mr Jim Corbett during a tour of the phenomenal success. Miss Dagmar, in making up her mind to visit England some nine months ago, had two objects in view. She wanted to ”go in for” a severe course of study; and she wanted to distinguish herself as a burlesque boy. Alas! burlesque boys were not in strong demand, and Miss Dagmar determined on a pilgrimage to Italy. But Mr. Brady, then about to exploit Corbett over here, begged his old friends to join him; and so they did, although there were not able to take part in the first week’s performances of Gentleman Jack at Drury-lane [21 April-5 May 1894]. This, by the way, was a memorable period of Miss Dagmar’s life. She wore tights for the first time! One’s demand for a full and particular account of the sensations that a young lady experiences in such circumstances is doomed to disappointment, for Miss Dagmar says, ”Well, you may call it the first time; for I had just had them on previously. That that began my career as a stage boy.”
‘London music hall managers were quick to appreciate the worth of the new turn. Since Miss Dagmar and Mr De Celle arrived in London they have never been out of an engagement, their notable successes having been achieved at the Palace Theatre, the Alhambra, and the Royal. Their services have been secured for well nigh six months to come, and during the spring and early summer they will visit a series of the great continental music halls. Meanwhile, neither of the objects that Miss Dagmar had in view when she determined to come to London has been lost sight of. She meant to study, and she is studying very diligently, with Mr [Albert] Visetti, at the Guildhall School of Music. As to the principal boy? Well, here is the progress of the principal boy. The tantalising delays attendant upon the completion of his theatre at Camberwell left Mr [John Brennan] Mulholland in grave doubt as to whether he should be able to do a pantomime this year or not. When at length he could make arrangements there was probably the shortest space of time at his disposal that ever a manager dared to contemplate for the preparation of a Christmas annual. But he had many potent influences at command, and with wondrous tact and energy he manipulated them to the point of success. Who should be principal boy? That was, indeed, a momentous question. Would Miss Dagmar like the engagement, said her agent? Was not Miss Dagmar, indeed, dying to show London what she could do in this capacity[?] She set to work, and for the first time in her life found herself an important figure in the development of a story on the stage. Miss Dagmar is perfectly delighted with her success. And, indeed, her ambition has received a particular incentive that is not yet the time to disclose. But the variety stage may, at any rate, take a hint to make the most of her while it can. Camberwell is not so very far from the Strand – nor too far for the excursions of observant managers, with eyes wide open when new ”talent” is airing itself, and words of honey on their lips when the discussion of future arrangements begins. Of one thing Miss Dagmar is quite certain. She never had a happier thought than when she determined, after so long an interval, to resume her theatrical career in circumstances curiously similar to those wherein she left it. The years ago she played in a pantomime with conspicuous success, and by the way of a pantomime she has stepped into a position of gratifying distinction on the London stage.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 12 January 1895, p. 11e)


Thomas S. Dare, gymnast, clown and pantomimist

August 1, 2013

Thomas S. Dare (about 1855-after 1910), American gymnast, clown and pantomimist
(photo: H.T. Reed & Co, London, 16 Tottenham Court Road, London, circa 1877)

Thomas S. Dare, whose real name was Thomas S. Hall, was born in New York and for a time worked with his brothers, George and Stewart, both of whom were also gymnasts. He was married for the first time on 1 July 1871 in New York City [(The Sun, New York, New York, Thursday, 12 February 1885, p. 2g)] to Susan Adeline Stuart/Stewart (1854/55-1922) who became internationally celebrated as the trapeze artist, Leona Dare. T.S. Dare subsequently married in 1882 Frances Mary Stevenson, whose stage name was Ada Dare, and was later professionally associated with the boxer James J. Corbett (1866-1933).

Mr. W. Knowles’s Benefit, Cambridge music hall, London, Tuesday evening, 29 May 1877
‘… Mr Steward [sic] Dare (the one-legged gymnast) and Little Hall (the American Clown) gave an exceedingly clever and also amusing exhibition of their talent as performers on the horizontal bar… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 3 June 1877, p. 4b)

‘Original, Sensational, Amusing.
‘the Unipedal, or One-Legged, Gymnast,
‘the Merry Gymnastic Clown,
‘in their Wonderful and Mirthful Gymnastic entertainments. Big success everywhere. Splendidly dressed, and the handsomest Apparatus I the country. Read extracts from Testimonials:-
”’Gentlemen, – We take great pleasure in bearing testimony to the merit and success of your wonderful and unique entertainment. – J.H. JENNINGS, Oxford.”
”’Gentlemen, – I take great pleasure in recommending your wonderful performance to all Managers. – F. ABRAHAMS.”’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 11 November 1877, p. 17d, advertisement)

‘MARRIED [in London], at the Register office, Brixton, on Wednesday, the 20th inst. [December 1882], Thomas S. Hall, better known as Thomas Dare, of the Dare Brothers, to Miss Frances Mary Stevenson.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 23 December 1882, p. 4b)

Springfield, Ohio, September 1886
‘Tony Pastor’s Own Company Tonight At the Grand.
‘Tony Pastor and company arrived this morning and are stopping at the Arcade. His company this season is stronger and better than ever. The Boston Press speaks as follows of the company: … Thomas S. and Stewart Dare, the marvelous gymnasts, and the performance of the latter, the one-legged acrobat, on the horizontal bar are truly marvelous, while the former is too well known in the role of grotesque clown and facial comedian to need any commendation… .’
(Springfield Globe-Republic, Springfield, Ohio, Wednesday, 15 September 1886, p. 1g)

‘She is in Lillian Russell’s Company and Her Husband is a Well-known Acrobat.
‘Thomas S. Dare, the well-known clown, pantomimist, and acrobat, has brought suit for absolute divorce against his wife, Ada Dare, an actress, who appeared last season in Sinbad, the Sailor, at the Madison Square Garden. She is now a member of the Lillian Russell comic opera company, which is on its way to San Francisco. Mr. Dare asks for a decree on the statutory grounds, naming as co-respondents several men said to be prominent in commercial and theatrical circles. Mr. Dare also asks for the custody of his seven-year-old son. According to the not of issue of the case, which has been filed for the September term of the Superior Court, Mr. Dare’s real name is Thomas S. Hall. The papers were served on Mrs. Dare early in August, when she was playing at the Madison Square Garden, but she was allowed the usual twenty days’ notice to pass by without making an answer, and it is probably that the decree will be granted without opposition.
‘Mr. Dare is widely known as a circus and variety performer both in this country and abroad. For eleven years he and his brother, Stewart H. Dare, a one-legged acrobat, travelled in Europe and met with great success. Another brother, George H. Dare, is also an acrobat. Dare’s first wife was Leona Dare, the trapezist, whom he met in New Orleans in 1869, and in 1871 they were married in this city. He taught her to perform on the trapeze and she accumulated a fortune in the business, but she left Dare in 1876. in 1880 she secretly obtained a divorce in Illinois in order to marry Baron Greenebaugh, an Austrian whom she met while performing abroad. The Baron was disinherited by his father and soon after abandoned his wife.
‘Dare was managing a music hall in Paris in 1882 when he met his second wife, whom he is now suing for divorce. Her name then was Frances Mary Stevenson, and she was a member of the Zento troupe of bicyclists. They were married in London, and performed together on the Continent until 1885, when they came to America.’
(The Sun, New York, Thursday, 1 September 1892, p. 9f)

‘If You Would Succeed in the Acrobatic Art Take a Foreign Name.
‘So Says a Clever Impersonator of That Highly Mischievous Character.
‘A gymnastic team which was billed under the names of Paulinetti and Piquo lately appeared at the Orpheum Theater in this city [San Francisco] and presented an act on the horizontal bar that was probably as entertaining as any that has ever been witnessed on the stage. One would infer from the Italian nature of the names that the possessors were born and reared in Italy’s sunny country, but would be somewhat surprised to learn that instead of being of foreign extraction the two gentlemen are both natives of these glorious United States, and to use the words of Piquo himself they are proud of it. There are tricks in all trades, and the theatrical profession is no exception to this general rule, but in an interesting talk with Piquo the reasons for this assumption of foreign cognomens were readily understood and it must be granted that the little deception practised on the American public is fully warranted by the attendant circumstances. It is a well known fact, says Piquo, that a variety artist who appears under a name peculiar to European countries is almost invariably assured of being well received by an American audience simply because there is a mistaken impression that whatever is foreign must be good. This, says he, militates against the American artist, especially in acrobatic performances, and Piquo evidently knows whereof he speaks, for he is no novice in the theatrical business. He first commenced to earn regular salary and thereby professionalized himself in 1868 in the city of New York, where he was born. His proper every day name is T.S. Dare, or Tommy Dare, as he is familiarly called by those who know him best. He played the part of the clown in the act, and will be remembered as having caused considerable merriment in that character. His partner, who rejoices under the name of Paulinetti when he is doing his turn, is Ph. Thurber when he is not going through his very clever and difficult scientific work on the horizontal bar.
‘Piquo says that the immediate cause of their taking the foreign names was the fact that they had traveled extensively throughout Europe, showing at the best music halls in the principal cities, and on returning to this country conceived the scheme. The first manager to whom they applied for an engagement, on learning that they had just arrived from across the pond and had closed a successful season of several months at the Folies Bergeres, in Paris, immediately contracted for their appearance at his theater and paid them double salary for the European name. When they first went to England as the American artists, ”Dare and Thurber,” they were coldly received by the English managers, who said there was a surfeit of that horizontal bar business in the theatrical market, ”don’t you know,” but condescended to give them a trial. The managers soon thawed out, however, on the opening night, when they saw how well the team was received by the languid English audiences, who really became enthusiastic in their applause. After that long engagements were the rule. Mr. Dare (of Piquo), for his identity must be preserved, is authority for the statement that English acrobatic artists cannot compare with the Americans engaged in the same line. In their gymnastic work, while the former are slow, studied and lumbering, the latter are more easy, quick and graceful. Piquo also says that the feats which he and Paulinetti perform are not on-half as difficult as answering to their foreign aliases. After a performance one evening a gentleman of color was overhead to remark to his companion, ”Say, Johnson, dem fellers, Polinaris and Pie-cut, were de best on de programme.”
‘Piquo’s countenance became sad when he said that there was some danger of the team separating, on account of some little misunderstand, but it is to be hoped that such an event will not occur, for two people who work so well together in public should experience no difficulty in getting along in their private life. But Piquo says that it is the gratitude of the world. To use his language: ”I have had a score of partners in the course of my theatrical career; have given them all the benefit of my thirty years’ experience in the acrobatic business, and the they gave me the frigid shake. But, never mind, if this one leaves me I will soon get another one, and we will hold on to the name of ‘Paulinetti and Piquo’ even if the new man should be Scandinavian.”’
(The San Francisco Call, Friday, 14 January 1898, p. 9b)