Posts Tagged ‘Ogden’s Guinea Gold’

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Jeanne Giralduc, French soprano

December 5, 2014

Jeanne Giralduc (active late 1880s-early1900s), French soprano, who formed a successful partnership with her husband, the baritone A. Ducreux as duettists. M. and Mme. Ducreux, who made several recordings in Paris in 1906 for the Odeon label, also appeared several times at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, London.
(photo: unknown, probably Paris, circa 1895; Ogden’s Guinea Gold Cigarettes cigarette card, issued in England, circa 1900)

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Alexandrine Martens, ‘die preisgekrönte Schönheit,’ international singer

November 17, 2014

Alexandrine Martens (active 1886-1896), ‘die preisgekrönte Schönheit’ (‘the award-winning beauty’) and singer, who was at the Amy P, Paris, in 1888 and again in 1893
(photo: unknown; Ogden’s Guinea Gold cigarette card, England, late 1890s)

‘Aux Folies-Bergère. – Nous constatons avec plaisir que le théâtre des Folies-Bergère jouit d’une vogue indiscutable sous la nouvelle direction de M. Allemand, lequel fait du reste tout ce qui est nécessaire pour attirer et retenir son public.
‘Trois attractions en ce moment sont inscrites au programme: les taureaux espanols, les frères Hulines, les soeurs Martens.
‘Les soeurs martens sont quatre gracieuses et superbes tziganes, qui chantent avec un charme indéfinissable des mélopées de leur pays. Ces chants où les cris de joie se mêlent à des accents d’une tristesse sauvage, produisent une profonde impression sur les spectateurs. Puis ce sont des tyroliennes, des romances, des chansonnettes d’une gaieté folle.
‘L’une de ces jeunes filles, Mlle Alexandrine Martens, dont nous donnons le portrait, a obtenu l’année dernière le prix de beauté au concours de Vienne.
‘Il est difficile de rencontrer une jeune fille plus séduisante. Son visage, du plus pur ovale, encadré de cheveux noirs, a quelque chose qui attire et fascine. Aussi n’est-il pas étonnant que chaque soir les soeurs Martens soient l’objet de véritables ovations.’
(La Presse, Paris, Thursday, 5 April 1888, p. 9a)

‘The Alexandrine Martens Quartet will commence on Monday next an engagement with Mr Dan Lowrey, of Dublin and Belfast, afterwards going to the Winter Garten, Berlin.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 14 December 1895, p. 17a)

‘AN UNLUCKY QUARTET.
‘At the Lambeth County Court, on the 27th ult. [February 1896], an action was tried by his Honour Judge Emden, which was brought by Miss Ada Dannett against Miss Alexandrine Marten, to recover damaged for breach of contract. The plaintiff claimed to be entitled to £125 balance of salary due under a contract dated Nov. 20th, 1895, whereby the defendant agreed to engage her for twelve months at £2 10s. per week to sing in a quartet, but to bring the matter within the jurisdiction of the county court she claimed £50 damages for the breach. Mr C.W. Kent was counsel for the plaintiff, and Mr W.H. Armstrong solicitor for the defendant.
‘The plaintiff stated in her evidence that, having been engaged by the defendant, the quartet opened at the Star Music Hall, Dublin, for twelve nights, commencing Dec. 23d, 1895, and, after fulfilling the engagement, they returned to town [i.e. London], after which the defendant decided not to proceed further.
‘For the defence Mr Armstrong stated that, in consequence of the want of stage experience of the plaintiff and the other two ladies engaged by the defendant, she decided to abandon the affair.
‘Miss Amy Pennington, one of the quartet, stated that she had cancelled her contract with the defendant by mutual consent, on account of her want of stage experience, and that the other lady had done the same.
‘His Honour said that, according to the terms of the contract, there must be judgement for the plaintiff, but not for the amount claimed. It was a most unfortunate affair for the defendant, and he should award the plaintiff £20. On the application of Mr Armstrong that amount was allowed to be paid at £2 per month.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 17 March 1896, p. 18c)

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Nellie Braggins, American actress and singer in comic opera

April 16, 2014

Nellie Braggins (1872-1924), American actress and singer in comic opera
(photo: unknown, United States, circa 1898; Ogden’s Guinea Gold Cigarettes cigarette card issued in England, circa 1900)

‘Washington has a genuine musical treat in store for it. On April 18, The Highwayman will be presented at the Lafayette Square Opera House by the Broadway Theater Opera House by the Broadway Theater Opera Company. It is rarely that a piece comes so well recommended. The company to present The Highwayman is extraordinary in its number of clever and famous principals. Among them are Joseph O’Mara, Camille D’Arville, Jerome Sykes, Nellie Braggins, Harry Macdonough, Maud Williams, Van Rensselaer Wheeler, and Reginald Roberts.’
(The Times, Washington, DC, Sunday, 10 April 1898, part 2, p. 15c)

THREE LITTLE LAMBS TO-NIGHT.
Three Little Lambs, by the author of 1492 and Jack and the Beanstalk, which comes direct from an engagement of fifty nights at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York, will be presented for the first time here at the Academy of Music to-night.
‘The story of Three Little Lambs is full of characteristic humor. The banking house, with its head a confidence man and its minor officers flirtatious young woman, is eminently an original idea. The introduction to this remarkable financial institution of the banker’s former pal in a humble station and his frisky bride is the source of no end of amusing complications, and the transfer of the whole party to Porto Rico is a bold expedient that might daunt an audacious dramatist.
‘With all its extravagances and absurdities, its jollity and audacity, there is nothing to offend the most delicate sensibilities. Three Little Lambs is as clean as it is bright. The skill shown by members of the Fifth Avenue Theatre Musical Company, the brilliancy of the stage setting and costuming make the production noteworthy of its kind, and the large audiences that have witnessed it have given every evidence of enjoying all its many features. In the company are found the names of Miss Marie Cahill, Miss Nellie Braggins, Miss Clara Palmer, Raymond Hitchcock and Edmund Lawrence, and the fine appearance, good training and vocal strength of the big chorus makes it a musical success.’
(Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, VA, Wednesday, 25 April 1900, p. 5d)

* * * * *

St. Louis, 25 June 1900
‘The wedding of Nellie Braggins and John W. Gantz last Thursday was strictly private owing to the serious illness of Emory Braggins, an uncle of the bride. Miss Braggins’ last appearance on the stage was in The Beggar Student at Uhrig’s Cave two weeks ago. She is under a provisional contract with the Uhrig’s Cave company for the remainder of the season, but will not sing again except in case of emergency. At the close of the season she says she will retire from the stage for good.’
(The New York Dramatic News, New York, Saturday, 30 June 1900, p. 10c)

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Eunice Hill, singer and dancer in vaudeville, New York, 1896-1898

February 23, 2014

Eunice Hill (active late 19th Century), American singer and dancer
(photo: Schloss, NewYork, circa 1896/98; Ogden’s Guinea Gold cigarette card, issued in the United Kingdom, late 19th Century)

Little is known about Eunice Hill although she is recorded as having appeared in ‘songs and dances’ at Proctor’s Theatre, 23rd Street West, New York, during the week beginning Monday, 23 March 1896. Two years later she was at Tony Pastor’s Theatre, also in New York.

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Dido Drake, English actress and singer

February 2, 2014

Dido Drake (1879-1970; theatrical career 1898-1909), English actress and singer
(photo: unknown, probably UK, circa 1898; Ogden’s Guinea Gold cigarette card issued about 1900)

‘One of Mr C. Trevelyan’s dramatic pupils – Miss Dido Drake – has obtained a West-end engagement, Mr Thomas Thorne having selected her as understudy for the part of Margery, in Meadow Sweet, and Belinda, in Our Boys.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 6 August 1898, p. 12c)

Miss Drake appeared as Sparkle in the pantomime Cinderella at the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate, London, produced on 24 December 1898 – Frances Earle appeared as Prince Paragon, Julie Bing as Cinderella and Horace Lingard as Baron Stoney.

‘Miss Dido Drake, who is at present touring with Mr. Edward Terry and playing the part of Lavender, lately appeared at the Avenue Theatre with Mr. Weedon Grossmith in The Night of the Party. Previous to this she played in The Little Minister on tour.’
(The Tatler, London, Wednesday, 19 March 1902, p. 505c)

Dido Drake was born in Wavertree, Liverpool, on 11 November 1879 and baptised Harriette Jane Mercedes Drake at the chapel of St. Nicholas, Liverpool, on 3 December 1879; her parents were James Adolphus Drake (1846-1890), a broker and commission agent, and his wife, Alison (née Lycett), who was born in Edinburgh in 1855. In 1909 Miss Drake was married to the former actor, Arthur Steffens Hardy (1873-1939), a prolific writer of short stories for boys, whose real name was Arthur Joseph Steffens. Following his death she married in 1939 Leslie Binmore Burlace (1891-1962) and died on 12 October 1970.

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Marie Tyler, English music hall comedienne and pantomime principal boy

January 11, 2014

Marie Tyler (1872?-1905), English music hall comedienne and pantomime principal boy
(photo: H.R. Willett, 5 Bristol Bridge, Bristol, late 19th Century)

This real photograph Ogden’s Guinea Gold cigarette cards records Marie Tyler’s appearance in the pantomime Cinderella, which was produced on Boxing Day, 26 December 1896 at the Pavilion Theatre, Mile End Road, East London. The cast also included Arthur Alexander, Rezene and Robini, Alice Lloyd, Julian Cross, Daisy Wood, Maitland Marler, Amy Russell, Lennox Pawle, Blanche Leslie, Arthur Bell, Florence Hope, La Petite Mignon, the Celeste Troupe and the Staveley Quartette.

Pavilion Theatre ‘In place of the usual Demon’s cave in which the plot of the pantomime is often hatched, the pantomime Cinderella opens in ”The Abode of Father Time,” a setting of clocks of every description, each showing the time in a different country. Topical allusions are plentiful through the piece, one referring to the East-end water companies finding special favour. Another leading scene is ”The Golden Ball-room,” in which electric lights are employed. As Prince Perfect, Miss Marie Tyler was yesterday warmly welcomed, and as Dandini, the valet, and Cinderella, Miss Alice Lloyd and Daisy Wood appeared for the third year as Pavilion pantomime favourites. Arthur Alexander, Julian Cross, and Rezene and Robini also took part in the production.’
(Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, London, Sunday, 27 December 1896, p. 2b)

‘Miss Marie Tyler, a lady we do not remember to have seen before in a London pantomime, does excellent work as Prince Perfect, and justifies her selection for such an important part. She gives a slightly melodramatic tinge to the Prince’s scenes, and her earnestness and conscientiousness enhance the point of her lines. Her vocal opportunities are wisely utilised in singing ditties that have been made popular at the [music] halls, one of the most successful being ”The song that will live forever.”’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 16 January 1897, p. 11b)

‘PRESENTATION. – On Tuesday night Miss Marie Tyler, who is playing principal boy in the pantomime, Cinderella, at the Pavilion Theatre, Mile-end-road, was presented with a magnificent bouquet of flowers, with long silk ribbons of pink and yellow. The presentation was made by the conductor at the finish of her soldier’s son, ”The Song that will Liver for Ever.”’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 30 January 1897, p. 10b)

* * * * *

Marie Tyler’s real name was Marian Frances Elizabeth Crutchlow. She was born about 1872 at Bethnal Green, East London, one of the children of Thomas Crutchlow, a wholesale confectioner, and his wife, Frances Elizabeth. She was married at the Registry Office, Brixton, South London, on 3 November 1897 to the music hall singer, Leo Dryden (1863-1939) whose son by his previous liaison with Mrs Charles Chaplin was the actor and film director, Wheeler Dryden (1892-1957). The latter was therefore half-brother to Sydney and Charlie Chaplin.

Marie Tyler died after a short illness on 27 June 1905.

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Kate Cutler in A Model Trilby, 1895

July 28, 2013

Kate Cutler (1864-1955), English actress, as she appeared in the title role of the burlesque, A Model Trilby; or, A Day or Two After Du Maurier, which opened at the Opera Comique, London, 16 November 1895. Trilby, the play, with Dorothea Baird in the title role, had opened at the Haymarket Theatre, London, on 30 October 1895.
(photo: unknown, probably London, 1895; Ogden’s Guinea Gold cigarette card issued about 1900)

‘Miss Nellie Farren has fixed the date of the reopening of the Opera Comique with A Model Trilby; or, A Day or Two After Du Maurier, for the 16th [November 1895]. The burlesqued Trilby will be represented by clever Miss Kate Cutler, and Mr Tree’s Svengali will be travestied by Mr Robb Harwood… . The interior [of the Opera Comique] has been greatly altered; new stalls, dress circle, and upper boxes have been added, and a new and spacious pit has been provided; so that Miss Farren’s enterprise will have a fair start, so far as the house in which it is made is concerned.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 2 November 1895, p. 10a)

‘Messrs Yardley and Brookfield’s burlesque The Model Trilby had a trial trip on Monday afternoon at the Kilburn Theatre. Miss Kate Cutler was demurely droll as Trilby, and Mr Robb Harwood imitated cleverly the appearance, voice, and manner of Mr Beerbohm Tree as Svengali. Miss Cutler’s song ”The Altogether” seems decidedly smart; and we await with agreeable anticipation the production of the ”skit” at the Opera Comique on Saturday next.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 9 November 1895, p. 12b)

A MODEL TRILBY, AT THE OPERA COMIQUE.
‘The trilby jokes date back to the fifties, Taffy in the burlesque says in apology. It may be out of regard to the unities that Miss Farren has gone to the same period for the ”new and original comedy” which precedes A Model Trilby at the Opera Comique. Nannie is a good half-century belated. With its naïve sentiment, its old-fashioned seducer, its painstaking dialect, it might perhaps have brought tears to the eyes of the Amelias of a more susceptible generation. But the early Victorian revival could not make this sort of primitive pathos and humour again the fashion, and in the face of it a modern audience yawns politely from the stalls, laughs uproariously from the gallery. Or, it may be that there is wisdom in the choice. After so tame a performance, the weakest attempt at burlesque could not by seen gay.
‘The Model Trilby of Mr. C.H. Brookfield and Mr. W. Yardly, is, however, something more than an attempt, and would, in parts, amuse under any circumstances. Trilby, the book, it must be confessed, adapts itself to parody with unusual facilities. Indeed, with us it is a question whether the play at the Haymarket belongs, strictly speaking, to burlesque or to melodrama. The Haymarket Taffy, with his pepper-pot and dumb-bells, the Haymarket Mrs. Bagot with her unreserved confidences to a chance concierge, the Haymarket Mr. Bagot, modelled upon Mr. Blakeley in his familiar rôles, are really conceived in as farcical spirit as the same characters at the Opera Comique, and are, if anything, the funnier because of the seriousness with which they are played. And if the magnificent proportions of Trilby herself have grown less at the Opera Comique – because the part has been so much cut down, Durien, the artist-author explains – at least the lady has an ankle to account for her speciality as a model. In the Haymarket, too, the success, in large measure, depends upon make-up; the characters are received with applause in proportion as they look like Mr. Du Maurier’s drawings. But the trick is an easy one, and on the stage of the Opera Comique, Svengali and Taffy and the Laird and Trilby all reappear with a genuinely comic excellence of imitation. In the case of Svengali, Mr. Robb Harwood and Mr. Tree might change places, and the two audiences be none the wiser. The burlesque takes all the usual indispensable liberties with the play and the novel. The whole story is turned topsy-turvy. Little Billie weeps unrestrainedly because he is counted too young to see Trilby pose in the ”altogether”; Trilby’s voice is ruined by Svengali in the training, and so on. But, after all, plot in burlesque matters little. The great thing is the way it is written and played. Mr. Brookfield and Mr. Yardley, in the beginning at least, are not wanting in wit and gaiety. They have seized upon the real weakness of Trilby, and got all the fun out of it they can; to provide harmless, Bowdlerized indecency for the middle classes; that is the little game of Durien, their artist-author, ”the present scribe,” who is perpetually appealed to by his puppets to set them straight. But. Apparently, the material, made to their hand as it might be, could not hold out for an hour or more. The second half of the performance, ending in an indifferent variety entertainment, drags and is as dull as the first half is light and gay and spontaneous. And here the trouble must rest with the authors; for, to the end, the actors do their very best. The whole thing is carried through with plenty of ”go” and life and vivacity. Mr. Eric Lewis, as Durien, may show unexpected restraint in his get up, but he plays with spirit, and his song and dance with Mdme. Vinard is one of the best things in the whole burlesque. Miss Kate Cutler does not bother to study the Haymarket Trilby, except to borrow a hint for her first costume, and, perhaps, this is just as well. Mr. Farren Soutar and Mr [C.P.] Little and Mr. [George] Antley make the Taffy and Laird and Little Billie of the play seem by comparison more tedious than ever, and before dullness sets in on their own stage they have one very jolly dance. We have already said that Mr. Harwood’s Svengali is a capital piece of mimicry. The music has the appropriate gaiety, and there is a Trilby dance, which means, of course, bare, or rather stockinged, feet. And the chances are that in the course of time the last part will go at a more lively rate, and A Model Trilby will be as amusing a little skit, which is all it pretends to be, as you could have.
‘But on Saturday, perhaps, the prettiest bit of comedy of the evening was given by Miss Nellie Farren in the little speech to her ”boys and girls,” a lump in her ”froat,” ready for the good cry all ”females” must have at such a critical moment. Miss Farren the manager has not forgotten Miss Farren the actress.’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Monday, 18 November 1895, p. 3b)

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July 13, 2013

G.H. Chirgwin (1854-1922), English music hall entertainer, singer and musician, famously billed as ‘The White-Eyed Kaffir’
(photo: unknown, probably UK, late 1890s; Ogden’s ‘Guinea Gold’ cigarette card, circa 1900)

“’THE WHITE-EYED KAFFIR.”
‘A CHAT WITH “CHIRGWIN”
‘And this was the White-eyed Musical Kaffir!
We must confess that our first impression of the famous Chirgwin were distinctly disappointing, and that they by no means came up to his pictured presentment, as made familiar in the highly-coloured bills to which he refers easily as his “printing.” We had imagined to our selves a long-drawn-out ebony figure, relieved only by a diamond-shaped patch over his right eye and topped off by an Ally Sloper hat of the most pronounced type. Such a personality we felt would be a distinct adornment to the rich decoration of the Moorish lounge at Menzies’ [i.e. at the Menzies Hotel, Melbourne]. Instead, we are introduced to a ruddy-faced gentleman well on the right side of middle age, and loosely attired in a tourist suit that smacks of the rolling ocean. The Kaffir’s manner far from being bloodthirsty is distinctly amiable and presently, when seated in his cosy sitting-room under the guardianship of his guide philosopher and friend, Mr. Harry Rickards, he proves himself an admirable conversationalist.
“’I must have been on stage for many years? I believe you. It is nearly 33 years since I first took to the boards, and I shall be just 42 years of age in December. The fact is that my first public appearance was at 5 years of age when my brothers and I appeared as the Chirgwin Family, and formed a Juvenile Christy Minstrel troupe. I used to play the bones and the violin at first, and gradually increased my mastery of other instruments till now it pretty well covers the whole range of strings, as well as the bagpipes and the musette. When I grew older we separated, and I appeared for a time with a younger brother, but for the last eighteen years I have been on my own’.”
“’And how did you come to be known as ‘the White-eyed Kaffir?”
“’Oh, that was a pure accident. I had gone up to perform at an open-air fete at Gloucester. A storm got up in the middle of the performance, and a lot of dust was blown into my right eye. The pain was so great that I naturally set to work rubbing my eye and when I faced the audience again there was a shriek of laughter. I had rubbed a patch of the black off round my eye, and the effect was so peculiar that I stuck to it ever since. Though, of course, it was some time before I adopted the diamond shaped patch as a distinctive mark.”
“’And you always appear in the same make up”
“’Always, even when I do my Scottish act, but, of course, I change the clothes and properties. You see my entertainment is unique of its kind. I am the only artist in England who goes in for this line of business, and it is a style which allows of the black face always being worn. You see have no prepared patter, and I don’t adhere to any specified programme. My idea is to come on the stage and have a good time. When I get an audience that I like I go off at score, giving them a melange of songs, dances and instrumental music, and reeling off the dialogue just is it comes into my head. I have never appeared but with a black face, except in my pantomime engagements.”
“’To show how I vary my entertainment, no one in England has ever been able to mimic me. Many of the best mimics have tried to do so. Perhaps one of them will say, ‘Look here, Chirgwin, old man, I’m going to sing that song of yours exactly as you sing it.’ Well, that man will come to the halls where I’m singing night after night, and when he thinks he has got me off pat I’ll wing it in an entirely different way, so that when he comes on afterwards to mimic me it isn’t a bit like, and he gets properly slipped up.
”’I’ll give you another illustration. On the same night I have appeared at four different halls ranging from the Tivoli and the Oxford [in central London] to Harwood’s varieties at Hoxton, which perhaps caters to the roughest class of people in London. Then I have gone straight from there to sing at a command concert in the state-room of the Lyceum Theatre before the Prince of Wales, and with an audience including such critics as Sir Henry Irving and Mr Beerbohm Tree.“
”’You have never crossed the line before, I believe.“
”’No, I’ve been all over the Continent, Spain, France, Germany and Italy, but this is my first experience out of Europe. If it’s all as pleasant as it was on board the Ophir I feel that I am going to have a real good time.“
”’And is your stay likely to be long?“
”’My engagement with my old friend Mr. Rickards is for six months though that depends on how I suit him.“
‘Mr. Rickards from the depths of a mighty arm chair, breaks in to say ’’You’ll suit me all right, old boy” and then subsides again while the “White-eyed Kaffir” takes up the thread of his discourse.
“’I’m due back in London again next August, and after filling my engagements there I go to America. The only thing I am sorry about is that I can’t open at the Opera-house [in Melbourne] on Saturday night. What with the long rest of six weeks and the sea air both my instruments and myself have got a little out of order. Working as hard as I can, things will hardly be right before Monday. An artist must be constantly playing and singing to keep up to concert pitch. Why, every fiddler in the orchestra feels the difference in his fingers on Monday after Sunday’s rest. I want to do myself justice, so I shall wait till Monday evening to make my first bow to an Australian audience.”
Mr Chirgwin is accompanied by Mrs Chirgwin, a daughter well up in her teens, and what he terms “a young Kaffir” just rising six months.’
(The Argus, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 28 November 1896, p. 13d)

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G.H. Chirgwin in Australia, 1896

July 13, 2013

G.H. Chirgwin (1854-1922), English music hall entertainer, singer and musician, famously billed as ‘The White-Eyed Kaffir’
(photo: unknown, probably UK, late 1890s; Ogden’s ‘Guinea Gold’ cigarette card, circa 1900)

”’THE WHITE-EYED KAFFIR.”
‘A CHAT WITH “CHIRGWIN”
‘And this was the White-eyed Musical Kaffir!
We must confess that our first impression of the famous Chirgwin were distinctly disappointing, and that they by no means came up to his pictured presentment, as made familiar in the highly-coloured bills to which he refers easily as his “printing.” We had imagined to our selves a long-drawn-out ebony figure, relieved only by a diamond-shaped patch over his right eye and topped off by an Ally Sloper hat of the most pronounced type. Such a personality we felt would be a distinct adornment to the rich decoration of the Moorish lounge at Menzies’ [i.e. at the Menzies Hotel, Melbourne]. Instead, we are introduced to a ruddy-faced gentleman well on the right side of middle age, and loosely attired in a tourist suit that smacks of the rolling ocean. The Kaffir’s manner far from being bloodthirsty is distinctly amiable and presently, when seated in his cosy sitting-room under the guardianship of his guide philosopher and friend, Mr. Harry Rickards, he proves himself an admirable conversationalist.
”’I must have been on stage for many years? I believe you. It is nearly 33 years since I first took to the boards, and I shall be just 42 years of age in December. The fact is that my first public appearance was at 5 years of age when my brothers and I appeared as the Chirgwin Family, and formed a Juvenile Christy Minstrel troupe. I used to play the bones and the violin at first, and gradually increased my mastery of other instruments till now it pretty well covers the whole range of strings, as well as the bagpipes and the musette. When I grew older we separated, and I appeared for a time with a younger brother, but for the last eighteen years I have been on my own’.”
”’And how did you come to be known as ‘the White-eyed Kaffir?”
”’Oh, that was a pure accident. I had gone up to perform at an open-air fete at Gloucester. A storm got up in the middle of the performance, and a lot of dust was blown into my right eye. The pain was so great that I naturally set to work rubbing my eye and when I faced the audience again there was a shriek of laughter. I had rubbed a patch of the black off round my eye, and the effect was so peculiar that I stuck to it ever since. Though, of course, it was some time before I adopted the diamond shaped patch as a distinctive mark.”
”’And you always appear in the same make up”
”’Always, even when I do my Scottish act, but, of course, I change the clothes and properties. You see my entertainment is unique of its kind. I am the only artist in England who goes in for this line of business, and it is a style which allows of the black face always being worn. You see have no prepared patter, and I don’t adhere to any specified programme. My idea is to come on the stage and have a good time. When I get an audience that I like I go off at score, giving them a melange of songs, dances and instrumental music, and reeling off the dialogue just is it comes into my head. I have never appeared but with a black face, except in my pantomime engagements.”
”’To show how I vary my entertainment, no one in England has ever been able to mimic me. Many of the best mimics have tried to do so. Perhaps one of them will say, ‘Look here, Chirgwin, old man, I’m going to sing that song of yours exactly as you sing it.’ Well, that man will come to the halls where I’m singing night after night, and when he thinks he has got me off pat I’ll wing it in an entirely different way, so that when he comes on afterwards to mimic me it isn’t a bit like, and he gets properly slipped up.
”’I’ll give you another illustration. On the same night I have appeared at four different halls ranging from the Tivoli and the Oxford [in central London] to Harwood’s varieties at Hoxton, which perhaps caters to the roughest class of people in London. Then I have gone straight from there to sing at a command concert in the state-room of the Lyceum Theatre before the Prince of Wales, and with an audience including such critics as Sir Henry Irving and Mr Beerbohm Tree.”
”’You have never crossed the line before, I believe.”
”’No, I’ve been all over the Continent, Spain, France, Germany and Italy, but this is my first experience out of Europe. If it’s all as pleasant as it was on board the Ophir I feel that I am going to have a real good time.”
”’And is your stay likely to be long?”
”’My engagement with my old friend Mr. Rickards is for six months though that depends on how I suit him.”
‘Mr. Rickards from the depths of a mighty arm chair, breaks in to say ”You’ll suit me all right, old boy” and then subsides again while the “White-eyed Kaffir” takes up the thread of his discourse.
”’I’m due back in London again next August, and after filling my engagements there I go to America. The only thing I am sorry about is that I can’t open at the Opera-house [in Melbourne] on Saturday night. What with the long rest of six weeks and the sea air both my instruments and myself have got a little out of order. Working as hard as I can, things will hardly be right before Monday. An artist must be constantly playing and singing to keep up to concert pitch. Why, every fiddler in the orchestra feels the difference in his fingers on Monday after Sunday’s rest. I want to do myself justice, so I shall wait till Monday evening to make my first bow to an Australian audience.”
Mr Chirgwin is accompanied by Mrs Chirgwin, a daughter well up in her teens, and what he terms ”a young Kaffir” just rising six months.’
(The Argus, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 28 November 1896, p. 13d)

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Dorothy Vane

May 25, 2013

Dorothy Vane (née Gertrude Amy Mackenzie,1870-1947), English actress and singer in the role of Pitti-Sing in a D’Oyly Carte touring production of The Mikado, mid 1890s
(photo: unknown, mid 1890s)

This real photograph cigarette card of Dorothy Vane in the role of Pitti-Sing in a D’Oyly Carte touring production of The Mikado was issued in England about 1900 with Ogden’s Guinea Gold Cigarettes.