Posts Tagged ‘Lydia Thompson’

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Lisa Weber’s death and burial, Buffalo, New York, October 1887

March 3, 2015

Lisa Weber (1844?-1887), English burlesque actress, one of Lydia Thompson’s original ‘British Blondes.’ She died in reduced circumstances while on tour in the burlesque Little Jack Sheppard at Buffalo, New York, on 23 October 1887. She was buried at New Forest Lawn Cemetery two days later.

(carte de visite photo: Howell, New York, circa 1868)

‘Lisa Weber Buried.

‘Buffalo, Oct. 25 [1887]. – The curtain has fallen upon the last act of Lisa Weber’s life, and the actress has stepped out upon the boards of an unknown stage. It was an indescribably pathetic little funeral that took place from the Eagle House this morning. Lisa Weber was once a successful and popular actress on the burlesque stage. Reverses came with age, and this year she took out a variety company on the road. Last Monday night she played the rôle of ”Little Jack Sheppard” at the Adelphi Theatre, but on Tuesday she fell sick. Her illness continued during the week and she was ”left behind” by her company. Sunday morning she died. She was in destitute circumstances, and members of the profession playing in Buffalo did what could be done to provide for her temporal wants. To secure a final resting place a lot in Forest Lawn was bought. The Rev. John E. Bold, of St. James’s Episcopal Church, conducted the funeral service. The pall bearers were chosen from members of the dramatic company now in Buffalo. A large number of the dramatic profession was present.’

(The New York Times, New York, Wednesday, 26 October 1887, p. 5c)

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Willie Edouin as ‘The Heathen Chinee,’ inspired by Bret Harte’s character, Ah Sin

June 10, 2014

Willie Edouin (1846-1908), English comic actor, as ‘The Heathen Chinee’ (based on Ah Sin, a character imagined by Bret Harte for a poem, first published in 1870) in Lydia Thompson‘s production of H.B. Farnie‘s burlesque, Blue Beard; or, the Mormon, the Maiden and The Little Militaire, first produced at Wallack’s Theatre, New York, 16 August 1871. After 30 performances the piece began a tour of the United States. Lydia Thompson’s production of Blue Beard, in which Willie Edouin appeared again as ‘The Heathen Chinee,’ was first seen in London at the Charing Cross Theatre on 19 September 1874. This pose shows Edouin stepping away from the playing cards which have just fallen out of his ‘Chinee’s’ long sleeve, as in Harte’s poem.
(carte de visite photo: Fradelle & Marshall, 230 & 246 regent Street, London, W, probably 1875)

Wallack’s Theatre, New York, Wednesday evening, 16 August 1871
‘MISS LYDIA THOMPSON and her new burlesque company commenced an engagement at Wallack’s Theatre on Wednesday evening, Aug. 16th, the house having been closed the two preceding evenings for rehearsals. Although the troupe had been announced to appear on Monday evening, the delay on the passage of the steamship Queen, which bore them to our shores and only arrived on Friday, the 11th inst., rendered it advisable that the opening should be postponed rather than risk a possibly imperfect performance, as the company had never, hitherto, acted together… . Willie Edouin created much hilarity by his grotesque acting of Corporal Zoug-Zoug. He walked with a gait which defies description, but which convulsed the audience with laughter. In the third scene he was introduced as a Heathen Chineee, which he personated in an excellent manner, singing a Chinese song, and performing a Chinese grotesque dance which met with great favor, being thrice re-demanded. He also, with [Harry] Beckett, presented in a realistic manner the celebrated game of euchre played by Ah Sin, as described by Bret Harte, which was rapturously received. His ping being made of India rubber became the vehicle of likewise creating much mirth… .’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 26 August 1871, p. 166b)

Memphis Theatre, Memphis, Monday, 8 January 1872
‘This temple of the Muses was packed from pit to dome last evening by an enthusiastic and fashionable audience, on the occasion of the initial performance of the famous Lydia Thompson blondes, in the extravaganza called Blue Beard. From the rise until the fall of the curtain the troupe kept the audience in a roar of laughter. By way of change, a charming solo, duet or quartette would be introduced, all of which were sung in an artistic and operatic manner. Miss Thompson has lost none of her old-time playful abandonment. Last night she skipped and pirouetted through the part of ”Selim” with airy grace and bewitching sweetness. Burlesque holds its position on the stage as an amuser of the people, and, while it may not aim to accomplish lofty ends, it is still a form of entertainment that is harmless, and, at the same time, fruitful of much innocent enjoyment. Of burlesque, Miss Thompson is now the recognized exponent, and deserves thanks fo the admirable manner in which she has pleased eye and ear in Blue Beard. Next in importance to Miss Thompson in the success of the troupe if Mr. Harry Becket, whose ”make up” and acting as the polygamous ”Blue Beard” presented the same rare appreciation of the broadly humorous which has always characterized his art labors. Willie Edouin, too, as ”Corporal Zoug Zoug” and the ”Heathen Chinee,” also came in for a large share of applause, and, indeed, the entire company appears to be one that will work harmoniously together and be the source of much entertainment to the theater-going public. Two points in Miss Thompson’s characterization were remarkable. One was her interpritation of the song, ”His Heart was True to his Poll,” which was full of an energetic humor for which we did not give her credit; the other was her personal appearance as the ”Shepherd boy,” wheein she looked as though was had strayed out of one of Virgil’s eclogues, with the bloom of the pastoral age upon her. Blue Beard will be presented again this evening.’
(The Public Ledger, Memphis, Tennessee, Tuesday, 9 January 1872, p. 2c-d)

Academy of Music, Charleston, Thursday, 4 April, 1872
‘THE LYDIA THOMPSON TROUPE.
‘A Crowded Audience and a Brilliant Initial Performance.
‘The beautiful burlesquers of Miss Lydia Thompson’s new troupe took simultaneous possession of the Academy of Music and the hearts of its crowded audience at their initial performance last evening. The merry travestie upon the doleful legend of Blue Beard was irresistibly comical, and, with its rollicking humor, its excruciating puns, and its accompaniments of charming dresses and lovely forms, it brought down the house. Miss Lydia Thompson was the jauntiest of sous-lieutenants; Miss Eliza Weathersby, the jauntiest of O’Shabacacs, and Miss Nellie Kamp the pearl of pages. We give place aux dames, as it our duty, but the success of the evening was won by Willie Edouin, the Heathen Chinese, whose euchre scene from the tale of Truthful James was applauded to the echo. To-night will be given the legend of the love-lorn Lurline.’
(The Charleston News, Charleston, South Carolina, Friday, 5 April 1872, p. 3c)

Charing Cross Theatre, London, 19 September 1874
‘Mr Willie Edouin, who re;resented a corporal and a ”Heathen Chinee,” is an extremely clever actor, but his performances are, we should say, a good deal too violet for English tastes. His ”Heathen Chinee,” however, is very much superior to his corporal. His dancing as the Chinee is little short of miraculous, and his antics generally are very laughable, though rather verging towards incontinent extravagance.’
(The Examiner, London, Saturday, 26 September 1874, p. 1056b)

‘… It would be impossible to find for Selim another impersonator as graceful and refined as Miss Lydia Thompson, or for Blue Beard a more humorous representative that Mr. Lionel Brough [replacing Harry Beckett]. But the American actors [sic], Mr. John Morris, who, in presence of the audience, transforms himself instantaneously from a young man to an old one, from man to woman, and from an old woman to a younger girl; and Mr. Willie Edouin, who plays the part of the ”Heathen Chinee,” and after a series of most grotesque performances cheats Blue Bear at euchre, could not be replaced at all. How these gentlemen ever got into the piece is a problem which cannot be solved by analysis. But there they are and there they are likely long to remain. Many playgoers, and a far greater number of non-playgoers, had been congratulating themselves on the fact that burlesque was dead; that it had at last given way to opera bouffe, which was, in its turn, to give way to opéra comique, so that in the end all fun of a farcical kind and set to music would disappear from the stage. This was neither possible nor desirable; and Miss Lydia Thompson’s experiment has shown that, with whatever violence burlesque may be driven out, it will return. No one, however, would have wished for its disappearance had the class in general been as free from vulgarity as it the individual specimen of it which Miss Lydia Thompson has now brought forward.’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Monday, 26 October 1874, p. 10)

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Lina Edwin, American burlesque actress and singer

May 11, 2014

Lina Edwin (otherwise, Lena Edwin, Mrs Bland Holt, 1846?-1883), American burlesque actress and singer.
(cabinet photo: Howell, 867 and 869 Broadway, New York, circa 1870)

‘A SOUTHERN LADY TAKES TO THE STAGE. – Miss Lina Edwin, who has just opened her theatre in New York, has a romantic history, according to the Brooklyn Union. ”She is a Southerner, well born, and highly educated. She lived on her paternal estates near Richmond, Virginia, and was brought up in the mollesse of the old southern aristocracy. During the war the paternal estates wee melted in the crucible of the Confederacy, and Miss Edwin turned pluckily to self-support. First she tried literature, and became well known in the internal newspaper world as a song writer. Then she set about writing music for her sons, and the orchestral world began to know her. She wrote waltzes and fantasias, and in all acquitted herself well. Next she took to the stage, and in two years or so from a brilliant beginning, reached the degree of manageress in her own right. An opportune legacy has set her right pecuniarily, but it did not arrive until she had got well into the expense list of her ledger on behalf of the public amusement, and now she will appear in her new capacity as manager.”’
(The Daily Phoenix, Columbia, South Carolina, Tuesday, 22 September 1870, p. 2b)

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Notable among Lina Edwin’s first appearances were with W.H. Lingard and his actress wife, Alice Dunning, in the former’s production of H.J. Byron’s Orpheus and Eurydice (New York, 1 February 1869); and with Lydia Thompson and her troupe (including Harry Beckett, Pauline Markham, Alice Atherton and Eliza Weathersby) in the burlesque, Pippin; or, The King of the Golden Mines (Niblo’s Garden, New York, 4 April 1870). She subsequently gave her name to a theatre at 720 Broadway, New York, which became well-known for burlesques and other popular entertainment but in December 1872 was burnt to the ground. Meanwhile, in December 1871, Miss Edwin was in Ireland where she appeared as Doe Maynard in the comedy, Rank at the Queen’s Royal Theatre, Dublin. She became a great favourite there, remaining until October 1872. After returning to the United States, Lina Edwin then left for Australia at the close of 1876 in a company headed by Annie Pixley and Bland Holt. She continued her career in Australia until her death in 1883.

Melbourne, NSW, Australia, Thursday, 31 May 1883
‘Mrs Bland Holt, better known by her stage name of Lena [sic] Edwin, died to-day. About two months ago the deceased lady was seized with an apoplectic fit on the stage of the Theatre Royal [Melbourne], which resulted in paralysis, from which she was recovering, but to-day she was seized with a second attack of apoplexy, and rapidly sank. Mr. Holt is at present in Sydney.’
(The Sydney Morning Herald, NSW, Australia, Friday, 1 June 1883, p. 7f)

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Lydia Thompson, English dancer, burlesque actress and theatrical manageress

January 23, 2014

Lydia Thompson (1838-1908), English dancer, burlesque actress and theatrical manageress, who was well known on both sides of the Atlantic during a career which flourished for much of the second half of the 19th Century.
(photo: unknown, probably 1880s; cigarette card issued by W. Duke Sons & Co with Preferred Stock cigarettes in a series numbering 240, USA, circa 1890)

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Camille Dubois, with Lydia Thompson’s Troupe in the United States, 1871-1873

September 7, 2013

Camille Dubois (1851-1933), French-born English burlesque actress and singer, as she appeared with Lydia Thompson’s Troupe in the United States, 1871-1873
(cabinet photo: Sarony, New York, 1871-1873)

Camille Wilhelmina Henriette Reyloff, whose stage name was Camille Dubois, was born in France in 1851. She was one of the children of Edmond (sometimes Edward) Reyloff (1821-1889), who was born in Belgium, a successful pianist, composer and musical conductor, for some years at the Aquarium, Brighton, and his wife, Caroline (1825-1910), who was born in Saxe Coburg, a concert singer.

Camille Dubois is said to have begun her career in 1869 or 1870 and the earliest mention of her is in connection with her engagement in 1871 with Lydia Thompson in the United States. Her career flourished until the mid 1880s. By then she had married on 30 October 1877 the Hon. Wyndham Edward Campbell Stanhope (1851-1883), fourth son of the 7th Earl of Harrington. The marriage ended in divorce in May 1883 and she married again on 8 January 1884 Colonel Walter Adye (1858-1915), by whom she had two children. Camille Dubois died in London on 15 May 1933.

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Camille Dubois on tour in the United States with Lydia Thompson’s company, January 1872
‘MEMPHIS THEATER. – Lydia Thompson’s Troupe drew an immense house last night. The amusing extravaganza, Blue Beard, with ”Sister Anne” on the tower looking for some one to save poor ”Fatima,” was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. The song, ”His Heart was True to Poll,” by Miss Thompson, was finely and dramatically rendered. Her make-up, as the ”Shepherd Boy,” was pastoral in the extreme, and displayed to advantage that artistic taste for which the burlesque queen is justly celebrated. Miss Thompson’s characteristics are well known. She has a captivating face, a grace which cannot be excelled, a sympathetic voice which she uses cleverly, unfailing spirit, and an amount of self-reliance which a popularity seemingly on the increase almost justifies. Miss Camille Dubois produced a favourable impression by good looks, ease of manner, and real talent as a songstress. Miss Kate Egerton and Miss Carlotta Zerbini are equally au fait of their duties. These young ladies, with several of less note, fill the stage in as gratifying a manner as can be imagined. The influence of Miss Thompson’s company over a laughter-seeking assemblage lies, however, in the actors. Mr. Harry Beckett, who was the object of a tumultuous welcome, is as potent to elicit merriment as ever. Last night’s affair placed almost on a level with him, in the exercise of this power, Mr. Willie Edouin, a droll low comedian and a capital acrobat. To-night the charming spectacular drama entitled Lurline will be presented. This is said to be the most attractive play in the repertoire of the troupe.’
(Public Ledger, Memphis, Tennessee, Wednesday, 10 January 1872, p. 2d)

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‘Miss Marie de Grey has taken the place of Mdlle. Camille Dubois in Champagne [i.e. Champagne, A Question of Phiz] at the Strand. The last-named lady has recently been married to the Hon. Wyndham Stanhope.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 11 November 1877, p. 6a)

‘One of Lydia Thompson’s burlesque actresses, Camille Dubois, who journeyed all over America, dancing clog dances and singing nursery rhymes, has had the good fortune to win the affection of the Hon. Wyndham Stanhope, who has wedded her.’
(Dodge City Times, Dodge City, Kansas, Saturday, 29 December 1877, p. 2c)

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Eliza Weathersby

June 30, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Eliza Weathersby (1849?-1887), English burlesque actress and one of the original ‘British Blondes’ introduced to American audiences by Lydia Thompson
(photo: Mora, New York, circa 1880)

‘Eliza Weathersby Dead.
‘THE WIFE OF NAT C. GOODWIN EXPIRES AFTER A PAINFUL ILLNESS.
‘Eliza Weathersby (Mrs. Nat Goodwin) died in New York last night [24 March 1887], after long suffering, from a tumor in the womb. She was 38 years of age. There was no performance last evening at the Bijou Theatre, where Nat Goodwin is now engaged.
‘Miss Weathersby was born in London in 1849, and she made her first appearance in 1865, at the Alexandria Theater [sic, i.e. the Royal Alexandra Theatre], Bradford. Her American debut was made at the Chestnut Street Theater, Philadelphia, on April 12, 1869, in the burlesque of Lucrezia Borgia. She afterwards became the original Gabriel in Edward E. Rice’s Evangeline, a burlesque which was successful all over the country, and thus Eliza Weathersby, originally one of the ”English blondes” brought over by Lydia Thompson, gained a national popularity. When she was singing the chief boy’s part, ”Gabriel,” in Evangeline, the Boston school boy, destined to become famous as Nat Goodwin, was playing ”Captain Dietrick” in the same caste, and Henry E. Dixey, the ”Adonis” of to-day, was acting as the hind legs of the heifer, who executes a solemn dance in one act of Evangeline. On June 24, 1877, Miss Weathersby was married to Nat C. Goodman [sic], and she afterward shared all his successes on the stage. Her last appearance was made in Hobbies.’
(The Evening Star, Washington, D.C., Friday, 25 March 1887, p. 4c)

‘PHYSICIAN VS. ACTOR.
‘A Sensational Episode Growing Out of Eliza Weathersby’s Death.
‘NEW YORK, April 24 [1887]. – [Special Telegram to the BEE.] – The death of Eliza Weathersby-Goodwin, the actress, promises to have a sequel. Dr. Merion Sims has presented his bill for professional services to her husband, Nat C. Goodwin, and Mr. Goodwin has refused to pay, on the ground that it is exorbitant. But this difference of opinion does not make the sensational episode. There are other things back of the matter that, if brought out, as it seems likely they will be in the courts, will prove extraordinary. Mrs. Goodwin had been ill for a considerable period. The trouble was a disorder that resisted all attempts to check it. Eventually the family physician, Dr. T.S. Robertson, deemed it advisable to have experts summoned to consult on the case. Dr. Sims was not among those who came at first. The doctors were in grave doubt as to the precise nature of the malady, but some were inclined to the opinion that it was a tumor in the fallopian tubes. If such were the case the only possible remedy would like in an operation for the removal of the tumor – a very dangerous matter at the best, and one that would be liable to cause death, even if successfully performed. When Mrs. Goodwin was informed of the possible nature of her trouble she expressed a desire that an operation be made, but Dr. Robertson promptly refused to perform it. He was not confident that a tumor existed, and was wholly unwilling to assumer the terrible responsibility for the result if none should be found. The other experts agreed with the family physician. Mrs. Goodwin, however, was anxious that whatever might be done for her should be resorted to, and Dr. Sims was called. He made an examination, and his opinion agreed in its general features with that of his colleagues. The truth of the matter simply was that Mrs. Goodwin must die if the disorder were to be left alone; that a surgical operation might possibly save her, but the chances were so strongly against her that it would hasten the end. This was made clear to the patient, and she unhesitatingly asked Dr. Sims to make the operation. He consented, and Dr. Robertson and one other were present when it was performed. The result showed that no tumor existed. The disorder was inflammation of the fallopian tubes, and soon after the conclusion of the operation Mrs. Goodwin died. Dr. Sims is a physician of the highest professional standing, has an extended practice and comes high. The actor, who disputes the bill, purposes to show, when the doctor sues him for the amount, that the death of his wife was nothing less than scientific murder. He will endeavor to produce the experts to swear that the operation was uncalled for, dangerous and inexcusable. On the other hand it is said that Dr. Sims can easily justify his course. It is pretty sure to be a disagreeably interesting case, unless the actor yields and pays the bills, for the physician is determined to collect, even if it should prove necessary to invoke the aid of the law.’
(The Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Monday, 25 April 1887, p. 1c)

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Ruth Stetson

May 19, 2013

Ruth Stetson (fl. 1880s), American burlesque actress
(photo: Conly, Boston, circa 1888)

‘Memories of old times were revived at the Fourteenth-Street Theatre last evening when Lydia Thompson reappeared before a Metropolitan audience as Prince Fritz in Oxygen. Those who expect to find any traces of time on Miss Thompson’s countenance will be to some extent surprised. She has preserved her appearance wonderfully. As to her voice, there is little of it left. But she has lost nothing in vivacity and grace, nor in that winsomeness of manner that made her a favorite years ago. The old burlesque burnished up with new local allusions and topical songs is just as absurdly funny as ever. It is the sheerest nonsense, so ridiculously bad that it makes people ashamed of themselves to laugh at it; but they do laugh, and that right heartily. The company supporting Miss Thompson is full of industry if not overburdened with skill. A more active and energetic set of buffoons it would be hard to find anywhere. Among them Miss Addie Cora Reed, Lillie Alliston, Ruth Stetson, and Leila Farrel, and Messrs. R.F. Carroll, Alexander Clark, and Louis de Lange especially distinguished themselves last night. The whole company joined in making the old burlesque move with the life of a too much galvanize corpse, and the audience was kept in a state of uproarious laughter from the beginning of the performance to the end.’
(The New York Times, Wednesday, 18 May 1886, p.4)

THE CORSAIR. Spectacular operatic burlesque, in three acts, music by Mr Edward E. Rice and Mr John J. Braham, libretto by Mr J. Cheever Goodwin, produced at the Bijou Opera House [NewYork], Tuesday, Oct. 18th, 1887.
‘In The Corsair all the essentials of the regular Rice burlesque are present, with the exception of clever comedians. Mr Frank David, who made some success as the comedian in The Pyramid, has been put in the principal role here, and falls flat. The other male members of the cast have few opportunities, although Mr [George A.] Schiller was occasionally humorous. Sig. [J.C.] Brocolini is the possessor of a fine voice, and used it to advantage as Seyd Pacha. Miss Annie Summerville was pleasing as Conrad, until she attempted to sing. Miss [Louise] Montague looked pretty and acted well as Medora. The remainder of the ladies [including Ruth Stetson as Fetnab] had nothing whatever to do. Mr Rice has composed a number of bright, catchy airs for the piece, and these were duly appreciated. The scenery calls for special mention, almost all of the sets being marvels of gorgeousness, especially the last one, which represented the Palace of Pearl. In another scene, that of the harem, it is stated in the programme that the curtains, which fill up the stage, alone cost $1,800.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 5 November 1887, p. 15c)

Ruth Stetson also played the small part of Tip-Top, Chief of the Pages in The Crystal Slipper; or, Prince Prettiwitz and Little Cinderella, a burlesque produced by David Henderson which first opened at the Chicago Opera House on 11 June 1888 before heading off on tour. Although there were various changes in cast, others who appeared in the show induced Topsy Venn, May Yohe, Edwin (Eddy) Foy, Marguerite Fish, Ida Mulle and Little Tich. (For further information, see Armond Fields, Eddie Foy: A Biography of the Early Popular State Comedian, Jefferson, North Carolina, 1999, ch. 6)

‘Ruth Stetson, the well-known burlesque actress, is soon to wed Mr. George Brewster, an elderly and wealthy gentleman residing in New York.’
(Duluth Evening Herald, Duluth, Minnesota, Wednesday, 5 June 1889, p. c)