Posts Tagged ‘Minnie Palmer’


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)


Hope Booth

February 15, 2013

Hope Booth (1872-1933), American actress and singer
(photo: unknown, USA, circa 1895)

Hope Booth’s disastrous London debut, 1894
‘Miss Hope Booth, a relative of the late Mr Edwin Booth, who was in negotiation with Mr Hare for the use of the Garrick Theatre, eventually sublet to Mr Willard, has now secured the Royalty. She intends shortly to produce there a farcical comedy of the American variety, including songs and dances. The title of the it is Little Miss Cute.’
(The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Bristol, England, Saturday, 25 August 1894, p. 8f)

‘On Friday night (too late for notice this week) Miss Hope Booth, an American soubrette, of the Minnie Palmer order, opens the Royalty Theatre with an American entertainment piece called Little Miss Cute.’
(The Sporting Times, London, Saturday, 15 September 1894, p. 4e)

‘I fancy Little Miss ‘Cute has capped the record – in matters theatrical at least. There was once a ”Single Speech Hamilton” who built up a Parliamentary reputation on the basis of a single oration. But I doubt if there was ever – prior to the production of of Little Miss ‘Cute at the Royalty on Friday week – a play the run of which was limited to a single night. It was indeed a case of ave atque vale – how d’ye do and good-bye – with (Miss) Hope Booth and her histrionic companions. If you ask me why the Royalty opened its doors on Friday only to close them on Saturday, I answer that, though the course was strange, the reason was simple. Little Miss ‘Cute was, to use the favourite phrase of the lady-novelists, too ”impossible” for endurance in a longer run. The piece is called a ”Variety Comedy,” though melodrama would have been much nearer the mark. One of the characters shows a quite cat-like vitality as, although twice murdered, he is alive and kicking at curtain-fall. The entire play may be said to consist of a variety of incidents strung together without sequence or continuity.
‘The heroine was played by Hope Booth – the lady preferred to drop the ”Miss” before her name on the programme. This actress hails from the United States, and suffice it to say that though she essays to act, to sing, and to dance, she can at present do none of these things. She has indeed everything to learn. Some members of the company did much better, and, under more favourable circumstances, might do really well. Of the men, Mr. Gerald Spencer, Mr. Frank Fenton, and Mr. Ivan Watson, and of the ladies, Miss Violet Ambruster and Miss Italia Conti, did their utmost to save the play from its impending fate. But if they had one and all reached the counsels of perfection, the result must have remained unaltered, and the première and the dernière would still have been the same day.’
(The Country Gentleman: Sporting Gazette, Agricultural Journal, and ”The Man about Town”, London, Saturday, 22 September 1894, p. 1205c)

‘The TRAFALGAR SQUARE Theatre has reopened [on 13 September 1894] with a new three-act farce by Mr. John Tresahar, which belongs to a rather old-fashioned type in which extravagance is carried to the point of puerility. Its title is The Chinaman, and its business mainly depends upon the efforts of a young barrister to palm himself off on his aunt and patron as a Chinese mandarin and a wealthy client. Finally, the young barrister is found availing himself of the disguise to keep watching upon his wife, whose proceedings have awakened in him jealous suspicions. the part of the masquerading young barrister is played by Mr. Tresahar himself with an abandonment to its farcical spirit which, together with the sprightly acting of Miss Edith Kenward, Miss Cicely Richards, Mr. Frank Wyatt, and Miss Clara Jecks, may help to explain the favour with which this piece was received. Little Miss Cute, at the ROYALTY, may also be included under this heading, although its official classification is that of ”variety comedy.” As it only survived for one more night the first exposure of its childish absurdity, there is no need to do more than express a hope that it may prove to be the last production of its class on our stage, and that Miss Hope Booth, to whom we are indebted, or more strictly speaking, not indebted for this American importation, may, ere she appears again, learn to correct the irritating affectations and eccentricities of her style of acting.’
(The Graphic, London, Saturday, 22 September 1894, p. 335b)

Little Miss Cute was so cute that she didn’t attempt to keep the Royalty open for more than one night. If she had only been a little cuter she would have saved herself a lot of money and me a very miserable evening. Miss Hope Booth is a merry little woman, but there is more hope about her than genius, sorry as I am to have to say it. We are all tired of the Minnie Palmer drama, especially when Minnie isn’t in it.’
(Gossamer, ‘Waftings from the Wings,’ Fun, London, 2 October 1894, p. 139a)

‘LONDON, Saturday [22 December 1894]…
‘The last act of Little Miss ‘Cute was played to a not unsympathetic audience in the Bankruptcy Court to-day. Little Miss ‘Cute was the foolish play brought over from America by Miss Hope Booth, who had the intention of carrying London by storm. She brought a thousand pounds and the right to produce the play free of royalty. Its first night (at the Royalty) was also its last night. Miss Hope Booth had to confess no assets, but, as her indebtedness is only £162, this was not of much consequence. The mortifying part of the business is that the American papers had published glowing accounts of how the nobility were at the feet of Miss Hope Booth, and how men struggled to get near her with gifts of diamonds! Alas this was only a journalistic fantasy. If the diamonds had existed they would have had to appear in court to-day in the shape of assets. But we all admire Miss Hope Booth’s pluck, and hope she will have better luck.’
(Western Mail, Cardiff, Wales, Monday, 24 December 1894, p. 4g)

‘In the Court of Bankruptcy, on Wednesday, before Mr Registrar Giffard, a sitting was held for the public examination of Miss Hope Booth, formerly an actress in America, and who came to England about April, 1894. She stated, in reply to the assistant receiver (Mr E.S. Grey), that when she came to England she had £200, not £1,000 as represented in a private examination taken in the official receiver’s office. That must have been somebody’s mistake. Neither was it the fact, as alleged in the examination, that the objects of her visit to England was the production of the play Miss Miss Cute. She came for a holiday. She did produce Little Miss Cute at the Royalty Theatre, and formed a company for the purpose, but the piece proved a failure, and was only played one night. She afterwards returned to America, and it was not the fact that she was possessed of some valuable diamonds. She had none, and wished she had.
‘Mr D.N. Pollock appeared for the bankrupt, and Mr Warburton on behalf of the Actors’ Association, representing certain professional creditors.
‘On further examination, the bankrupt said her manager was recommended to her by Mr Hare, and she was given to understand that Little Miss Cute would probably succeed. The manager refused, however, to ring up the curtain after the first night. She regretted that the company had had the trouble of a three weeks rehearsal without remuneration, but could not help it. She took no money back with her to America, her passage expenses being paid by her family when she arrived. Her recent expenses at the Hotel Victoria had been paid by friends. She had been an actress in America for some years – since she was a little girl.
‘The examination was adjourned pro forma for the amendment of the accounts.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 26 January 1895, p. 13d)


January 14, 2013

colour lithograph souvenir of My Sweetheart with a portrait of
Minnie Palmer (1860-1936), American actress and singer, in the leading role.
(printed by A. Gast & Co, New York and St. Louis, 1885)

My Sweetheart, a three-act musical comedy by Frederick George Maeder and William Gill, was originally produced in the United States of America; its first performance in the United Kingdom was at the Princess’s Theatre, Glasgow, on 4 June 1883. Miss Palmer’s success with My Sweetheart was international, some of its many tours taking the production as far afield as Australia.