Posts Tagged ‘male impersonator’


Arthur St. Vincent and Eugenie Montebello, British and Australian music hall entertainers

May 15, 2014

Arthur St. Vincent (active 1869-1887), English music hall singer/songwriter, manager and general entertainer, and his wife, Mdlle. Eugenie Montebello (active 1868-1876), Italian-born British music hall artist, sometimes described as ‘the dashing serio-comic and dancer,’ male impersonator, magician/illusionist and entertainer
(carte de visite photos: Clayson & Cuthbert, 13 ½ South Parade, Nottingham, and Tulley, 26 Division Street, Sheffield, both circa 1870)

Arthur St. Vincent and Mdlle. Montebello appear to have been in their early 20s when they began their separate stage careers. They soon joined forces, however, and in 1873 they set sail for Australia. Settling for a while in the new gold-mining town of Charters Towers, where they are said to have been connected with the Sportsman’s Arms Hotel and its theatre, they were subsequently seen in company on tour with various other entertainers throughout parts of Australia and New Zealand. It was on 27 October 1874 at the Crown Hotel, Dunedin that a son was born to the couple (Otago Witness, Dunedin, New Zealand, Wednesday, 28 October 1874, p. 4b).

Early in 1882 Arthur St. Vincent returned to England but disaster struck his and his party’s return journey to Australia when they were involved in a steamship wreck, which deprived them of their savings and wardrobes. St. Vincent managed to return to his wife in Australia, where a benefit was held for him in June 1884. Later references to Mr and Mrs St Vincent are in Australian sources but they cease in 1887.

* * * * *

‘Success! The Great Arthur St. Vincent. Success!
ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, acknowledged to be the most original and successful Comic that has visited HALIFAX [Yorkshire] (ODD FELLOWS’ MUSIC HALL). Thunders of applause nightly. Pullan’s, Bradford; Fleur-de-Lis, Sheffield; Victoria, Hartlepool; Wear, Sunderland, to follow. Address, HARRY FOX, Middlesex Music Hall, London, W.C.
N.B. Songs and Duets written on moderate terms (Ladies’ versions).’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 23 May 1869, p. 16b)

Metropolitan music hall, Edgware Road, London, week beginning Monday, 23 October 1871
‘… Mdlle. [Eugenie] Montebello and Mr. Arthur St. Vincent, who are comic duettists with voices above the average for musicalness, have newly appeared here, and are well received. They represent a belle and beau, who sing of ”London Society” being more to their taste than that of Baden-Baden, &c. Dressed nearly alike as fops, with peculiar hats and profuse whiskers, they carol a lively strain, the refrain of which is ”Hurrah for the Gaslight School.” The manlike appearance and swagger of the lady cause much laughter. Again they come forward and exhibit cards bearing good representations of the Rose, the Thistle, the Shamrock, and other emblems of nations, and accompany the display of the pictures with appropriate melodies. When we saw them they were so earnestly called that they appeared a fourth time and sang ”A song of songs,” which consisted of snatches of a very large number of popular ditties well woven together and cleverly sung… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 29 October 1871, p. 12a)

‘DPARTURE OF PROFESSIONALS FOR AUSTRALIA. – On Thursday the following members of the Music Hall Profession sailed from Southampton for Australia, viz.:- The De Castro troupe, Valentine Vose, Arthur St. Vincent, Mdlle. Montebello, Airee, Nellie Forrester, Harry Sefton, and Jessie Danvers. Through Messrs Durden and Wills, who witnessed their departure, they send kind regards to their brother and sister professionals.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 31 August 1873, p. 4d)

MR. AND MRS. ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, From all the London Theatres, and late Principal Vocalists of Smith’s English and Continental Combination, beg most respectfully to announce Three Performances as above.
The Company at present consists of the following first-class Artists:-
MR. ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, acknowledged by public and press to be the greatest Local Comic and Characteristic Vocalist, who has visited the Colonies, in all new Songs, written and composed by himself.
MDLLE. EUGENIE MONTEBELLO, pronounced by the London and Provincial Press to be the greatest Lady Impersonator of Male Character in the world.
MR. FRANK VERTEN, (late of the Australian Bell Ringers), Negro Comedian and Dancer, in his beautiful American Songs and Dances.
MR. LESLIE CHARLES, (late of the Canadian Concerts), Baritone and National Vocalist.
HERR JULIUS, Solo Pianist and Musical Director.
MR AND MRS A. ST. VINCENT In their highly amusing Drawing Room Sketches of ”Life and Character.”
Vide Press – ”The most amusing couple we have seen for many a long day.” – Cromwell Argus, December 24, 1875.
An entire Change of Programme each evening
Books of Words may be had at the Hall.
Doors open at 7.30; commence at 8.
SOLE MANAGER – MR. A. ST. VINCENT. SOLE AGENT – ALFRED WRIGHT.’ (The Nelson Evening Mail, Nelson, New Zealand, Wednesday, 2 June 1875, p. 2g)

‘MR. ARTHUR ST. VINCENT has arrived [in London], and will remain in England for Two Months. He will be pleased to hear from old friends; also from Persons having Novelties in any line of Business, Illusions of all kinds, Duets, Dialogues, Comic Songs. Can arrange with Artistes to visit the Colonies either on terms share or otherwise. Address, ARTHUR ST. VINCENT, 32, Fitzroy-street, Fitzroy-square, London, W.C.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 27 May 1882, p. 23c)

of Six Star Artistes
are now on Tour through England.
Managers and Proprietors please send vacant dates for Halls.
N.B. – ”The Hindoo Marvel.”
Australia again in August.
Permanent address, 32, Fitzroy-street, Frizroy-square, London, N.W.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 10 June 1882, p. 21a)


Emma Don, male impersonator

September 5, 2013

Emma Don (1873-1951), English music hall singer, dancer and male impersonator, as she appeared with her company in 1910 in the song-scena, On the Thames Embankment.
(photo: unknown, probably UK, 1910; halftone postcard, no publisher’s credit, probably 1910)

Emma Don was born at Sevenoaks, Kent, on 25 November 1873, one of the children of Martin Bushling (1833?-), a tailor, later a hotel waiter, and his wife, Emma (1835?-1928). In 1897 she married Walter Munroe (1866?-1928), a music hall agent and sometime entertainer, by whom she had several children. She died at Clacton-on-Sea on 23 January 1951.

‘Miss Emma Don, billed by Mr. Gibbons as the ”Daintiest of Boys,” is appearing with success with week at the Hippodrome, Willesden, with new songs. Miss Don has had a most varied music-hall career. She first appeared at the age of ten in Drury Lane pantomime as ”Cupid.” At twelve years of age she was in Mr. Sidney Cooper’s pantomime, Zac and the King of the Manikins. At the age of fourteen she played in America, at Sheep’s Head Bay, Coney Island, as principal dancer in one of Pain’s firework spectacular shows. She then joined her two sisters [Lizzie (Elizabeth) and Lulu (Louisa)], the three playing as the Sisters Don; they toured America and the Continent and played at the leading music-halls in the British isles. After her marriage to Mr. Walter F. Munroe (of Munroe’s Comedy Team) she commenced her single turn as a male impersonator, and played [Prince Rudolph] in the Garrick [Theatre, London] pantomime, Puss in Boots [26 December 1899]. Two years ago she played a six months’ engagement in America on the Keith Circuit, and is now playing her third return tour on the Gibbons Circuit. Miss Don is about to produce a new vocal scena, entitled On the Embankment, which is intended to depict the light and shade of London life.’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 3 February 1910, p. 14c)


Minnie Cunningham

May 9, 2013

Minnie Cunningham (1870-1954), English music hall singer and dancer, ‘Provincial pet. London’s pride’
(photo: unknown, circa 1905)

‘Miss Minnie Cunningham.
‘Melodious Minnie. Pretty and Pleasing. Is the daughter. Of someone, naturally. Ned Cunningham. Who could sing. And dance. When he died. Daughter went on Halls. Age jut 10. Started Museum, Birmingham. As a male impersonator. Singing the dad’s songs. Played in several pantos. Then in the “smalls.” Low salary. Lots of fun. First appearance. Middlesex in 1886. Was afraid of London. Shy little girl! Not so timid now. Started with lively song. About Tottie, the Nobleman’s Daughter. Tottie was a frost. Soon disappeared. But “try, try, try again.” With a character ballad. “The Hurdy-Gurdy Girl.” Girl did well. Big success. Miss Cunningham likes pantomime. Never had a lesson in dancing. Bred in her. Greatest success. “Give us a wag of your tail, old dog.” Old song revived. Provincial pet. London’s pride. Deserves all her success. So long!’
(The Variety Theatre, London, Friday, 19 May 1905, p.19a)


Hetty King

April 2, 2013

a ‘Fielding’s Cardette’ of Hetty King (1883-1972), the celebrated English male impersonator in private attire
(photo: Fielding, Leeds, UK, circa 1920)

For a short film of Hetty King in the 1960s performing ‘Goodbye Bachelor Days,’ see YouTube


Ella Wesner

February 7, 2013

Ella Wesner (1841-1917), American dancer, singer and male impersonator.
(photo: Sarony, New York, circa 1870)

For several later photographs of Miss Wesner as a male impersonator, see the New York Public Library Digital Gallery). Miss Wesner’s sisters Mary, Sallie, Lizzie and Margaret were also actresses.

Ella Wesner at the Cambridge music hall, London, June/July 1871
‘Miss Ella Wesner, the new and popular American impersonator of male characters, delighted everybody by the spirited and finished style in which she sang ”I’m the pet of the ladies,” ”Glorious champagne,” ”Pistols for two,” and ”The light fantastic toe.” In response to an earnest recall she danced as well.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 2 July 1871, p.5c)


Deb St. Welma

February 7, 2013

Deb St. Welma
(photo: E. Dyche, Birmingham, circa 1917)

This real photograph postcard, probably dating from 1917, is by the photographer Ernest Dyche, 32 Coventry Road, near Bordesley Station, Birmingham.

Little is at present known of Deb St. Welma apart from the fact that she and Kitty Baxter were in a double act entitled ‘Sparking Titbits’ on a tour of various UK music halls during 1917. The present postcard of Miss St. Welma probably shows her as she appeared singing the chorus number, ‘There’s a Girl for Every Soldier’ which was recorded several times, notably in 1917 for the Zonophone label by Florrie Forde.


Vesta Tilley, celebrated English music hall male impersonator and pantomime principal boy

January 6, 2013

Vesta Tilley (1864-1952), English music hall male impersonator and pantomime principal boy
(photo: unknown, probably England, late summer 1903)

Vesta Tilley at the Palace Theatre, London, week beginning Monday, 21 January 1907
‘Miss Vesta Tilley will present a scene, simple in ”tone” and ”human” in sentiment, entitled ”King Baby,” in which a strong difference between husband and wife is settled by the unconscious aid of the name character of the song. In this case, Miss Tilley will for the nonce discard the character she had already made herself famous, male impersonations, and will wear ordinary feminine attire.’
(The Sporting Times, London, Saturday, 19 January 1907, p. 10c)