Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Life at 75 ... is eventful!


A couple of weeks ago, I turned 75. Three-quarters of a century. I am a semi-retired writer (well, one has to do something!), living on a quiet, 35-acre 'farm', with few outside interests that cannot be followed via computer, and a healthy lack of interest in what is going on in other parts of the world. For me, politics means an infestation of fleas. So, I ought to be lazing in the sun with a daiquiri, penning the odd book or three ...

Not. Since the fatidic birthday (photo taken tactfully full-frontal, as the side view explains why I weigh in at 100kg...)

Gerolstein has been a hotbed of action ...

On the debit side

(1) the wonderful 1950s Fergie broke down! He has served us 20 years with not too many hiccoughs, and it seems this is but another (expensive) one. Massey Ferguson de Gerolstein is a tough wee fellow, though almost as old as I. And he works much harder!

(2) The farmbike threw a wobbler. These machines are notoriously friable, but ours -- used daily to scoop up the horse droppings of the day/night -- has been pretty well-behaved. However, he is resisting going backwards (I know that problem, too) so off to Sefton Garage for a service.

(3) The gardens are under fire from Mother Nature. The peahens are determined to wreck the flower beds, and are risking permanent eviction. The roses have developed yellow-leaf blackspot from some unknown critter. As soon as Wendy planted spinach, broccoli and kale in our new planter boxes, we were invaded by white butterflies who seem to be able to get through two layers of micro-mesh ...  And, as we sat today eating our lunch, four little black calves appeared in the garden, bucking with joy ... what next! A quick txt and they were off home, tail between their mutual legs. 

On the 'houses' side

(1) we gave my kitchen an update. It's going to have to see me out. I could never afford another ... but it is lovely and fresh ..

Painters still to come ... and ... maybe a new back door, after 20 plus years of wind, rain and animal attacks..?

And last night a picture fell off the wall in the hallway ..  smashed glass everywhere ... 

The fallen lady

(3) On the animalistic side:

January total: 9 horses, 4 cats, 7 peafowl.      February total: 8 horses, 8 cats, 9 peafowl.

We have had a couple of ill boys, but the minus one in the horse category was a happy event. Ever since Mr B (Dynamite Paul) had to be retired as a racehorse after only 6 races, we have looked for a home for him. But it didn't happen, and it didn't happen .. well, honestly, we were too picky .. and he joined the little band of 'pets' -- specifically Mikie and Rocky -- in our paddocks. 

But ... this week old friend John came to do the kitchen and told us he'd had to hand on his riding horse to his wife, Gina. Did we have a nice, friendly retired racehorse who we wanted to sell? No. We didn't. But we had one we would GIVE him ... one condition, on both sides: he had to get on with Charlie...

Mr B and Charlie: Love at first sight!

Meanwhile Boofie (22yo) is recovering from laminitis, Johnny (10) from overweightness ... and they are confined to quarters. They were very pissed off to see the calves dancicng on the green grass!

2003. Two kittens. 2021 two elderly madames. Minnie sleeps a lot (like me). Thoroughbred ChiQi has become exceptionally demanding. She has developed a Catti LuPone-like yowl which shatters my eardrums. She knows this and yowls, while looking like an elderly angel, every time she wants (a) to go out (b) to come in and (c) to be fed. 

To them, some ten years ago was added 'Socks'. He, literally, walked through living room doors one summer evening. Being a playful young male, he was not 'dignified' company for our girls, so he moved into Wendy's house, where he has become somewhat of a recluse. He is let out to gambol (and can he gambol!) from 6am to 10am, when playtime is over and the girls are allowed out. 

Number four? Lily, or weekitty, is an orphan of the storm, like Minnie. The last survivor of a Gerolstingean feral litter of a few years back. She, neutered, innoculated, fed royally, is domiciled pro tem in what used to be our Guest Bach ... She likes to play pattycake, but forgets she has fingernails like Florence Foster Joyner ...

Four. A slightly overlarge family but ...  And then came Lollipop. We are used to giving occasional 'visitors' a feed outside. But Lollipop became a regular. And Lollipop has not been neutered and a wee while back she appeared on the sewage tank with three little Sherberts ... mama (who is little more than a kitten herself) sits and keeps an eye on the triplets when they emerge, usually at dusk or dawn ...

Last night, all three came to have dinner together (with mother) on the porch. Even a prowling peahen didn't dare approach!

Then the fowl. Oh, the fowl. First, there was one. A few years ago there were something like forty of them here. Nigel, the peacock-snatcher worked hard to carry off many -- for export all round the country -- and we'd got down to eight. Bearable. Seven boys and one girl. Then Mr Hoppy succumbed to his illness. Seven. Mademoiselle had one chick last year, and one this year. They stopped being cute at about week six, and became public menaces at three months. I began planning exportation. And blow me down ... one night, I saw two wrong-sized peahens .. foreigners! Go away! We don't want any hangers-on. Especially breeding stock. They haven't gone away. They have adopted our crowd, and seemingly intend to stay. I intend they shouldn't. Nigel is coming to visit tomorrow ..

Mr P, the ur-paterfamilas, of course, will stay ...

(4) On the other sides

The draft cover design for my forthcoming book arrived ...

Then, brother John is intending to return home after nearly half a century in Britain. I am delighted, but first there is a huge amount of paperwork, house-hunting etcetera to be done. I am on the case!

But right now, this feller needs a drink ... so he'll grow more gorgeous blooms ...

'Mademoiselle Pauline Rita' . Winkled out ...

While I was answering my morning mail, the name of 'Pauline Rita' came up. With www references. Not including me. What! So I did a little checking and ... well, I think I ought to publish the full and correct version of her life and career .... so here goes ...

RITA, Pauline [GLENISTER, Margaret] (b Bourne End, Bucks 1 June 1842; d 38 Perham Rd., West Kensington, London 28 June 1920).

 Many years ago, while writing my book Emily Soldene: In Search of a Singer I took time out to delve into the tale and identity of ‘Madame Pauline Rita’. This is what I wrote:


‘Pauline Rita has long been a bit of a musical-theatre mystery. I can tell you now, with all the satisfied feeling of a successful treasure-hunter, that it took me something like ten years to find out what the real surname of this lady with the curiously pan-European nom de théâtre was (her first name was, I was able to discover from her easily uncoverable death certificate, not Pauline at all, but the decidedly British Margaret), and whence she came. For, when she later became, reasonably briefly, one of the West End’s top musical-theatre stars, the various biographies of her that were given in the press were rather difficult to reconcile. It looked as if Richard D’Oyly Carte had been around again, faking up the singer’s ‘background’ for publicity purposes, as was his wont. She was, of course, said to be ‘daughter of a gentleman’. ‘Born in London’. One c.v. had her spending ‘ten years studying at the Conservatoire in Milan’, another trotted out that oh-so-overused lady vocalist’s tale about originally having just sung as a ladylike amusement, but having been forced to go on the stage professionally when her family lost their money. It was said, with some verisimiltude, that she had at first had a violent vibrato, which spoiled her singing, but that she trained with Duvivier in London and got it under control. Presumably when she wasn’t in Milan. Anyway, there were no complaints about her singing in the 1870s.

Well, ‘Pauline Rita’ was indeed, I eventually and unsurprisedly discovered, no kind of a Mademoiselle at all. The lady was born at Bourne End, near Wooburn, Bucks, on 1 June 1842, the daughter of a leather-worker called William Glenister (‘gentleman’?!) and his wife Elizabeth Anne née Burdock, and she was christened plain Margaret Glenister. By the time she made her opéra-bouffe début on the Doncaster stage, she was actually Margaret Phillips, for she had been married in 1863, in the City of London, to a certain Thomas Phillips, 'merchant', borne him two children, and just the previous year been widowed. The ‘family money’ she had lost the support of prior to going on the musical stage was evidently not a father’s, but a husband’s. If there had ever been any. I haven’t yet discovered what Mr Phillips did for a living, or where…’


I then went on to give the paltry bits about the lady’s performing life which I had, then, discovered. 

Well, since then I’ve found quite a few more. I have also found out via the census that father Glenister was more precisely a shoemaker, and, from the music press of the same year, that the bit about Milan was at least partly true. The Musical World reported that ‘an English girl about eighteen years of age’ by the name of Miss Glenister had appeared in a Benefit for Castellani at Ivrea, near Milan, singing pieces from Lucia di Lammermoor and I Masnadieri. ‘Those who have heard Persiani’, went the paragraph, ‘assure us that the young singer is not in the least inferior’.

However, the ‘ten years’ is nonsense. For in the 1861 census Margaret is in London, living with her aunt Jemima and her husband, Mark Taylor, a quarry owner, in Marylebone. And she is again in the city of London in late 1863 for her marriage to Mr Phillips. I will admit that from then until 1869 I have no trace of her, either as Mrs Phillips or Mme Rita (I wonder who dreamed that up, and when), except that her sons Herbert Tom (b Beacon Hill, Holloway, 8 November 1864) and Edward Stanley (b Finsbury 18 November 1866; d February 1957), were born in Britain…

I also know that, as of 1869, Pauline’s singing teacher was not Duvivier but Charlotte Sainton-Dolby, and since she was already performing professionally, age 27, in that selfsame year, she hadn’t yet lost anybody, or presumably any putative family fortune. 

I do wonder, however, as I have done in other similar cases, how an 18 year-old shoemaker’s daughter from Buckinghamshire gets to go to Milan and study, with all the expenses there involved, but maybe the quarry owner helped out.


What I had underestimated, however, was the extent of Pauline Rita’s experience before she made her first comic opera appearance in the West End of London. If she had started her career late – age twenty-seven, it seems, unless she’d previously used another name – she had certainly made up for that by several busy years in the music world.

In 1869, Charlotte Sainton-Dolby mounted a Farewell Tour of Britain with a concert party featuring Edith Wynne, Elena Angele, Cummings, Byron, Maybrick and Madame Pauline Rita and the music of the Messe Solennelle to which she had secured the British rights. The tour began in late September and ran right on it to the following January. Pauline was pointed out by the reviewer of the Musical World: ‘Madame Rita, whose name is new to the musical public, created a highly favourable impression .. Mme Rita’s voice is a pure soprano, light and flexible in quality, and that it has been trained in a correct manner was shown by her facile execution of Rossini’s ‘Una voce’. The lady is young, of prepossessing appearance… I understand she is a pupil of Mme Sainton …’

During 1870, I spot her only singing the soprano part in St Paul at Cirencester, but when the Italian opera season of 1871 opens, she is there as a supporting member of the company ‘allotted such parts such as Flora in La Traviata, Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto, ‘the peasant girl with a few phrases to sing in the last act’ in I due giornate or Teresa in La Sonnambula.’. She subsequently went on tour with Mapleson’s company, but took just one week out to go to Doncaster and sing Frédégonde to the Chilpéric of Emily Soldene. The following April she began a second season at the Italian opera.

In the meanwhile, she had sung at a number of concerts – I spot her at Margate with Mrs Talfourd, at the Horns Assembly Rooms with George Perren, at St George’s Hall, and during the 1872 season in Monsieur Sainton’s series, in two concerts for Arditi (‘Sing Sweet Bird’), at Alice Mangold’s, Florence Lancia’s, and Michel Bergson’s, as well as in further trips to the country – a concert Sonnambula at Dundee, Elijah at Preston, Gade’s The Erle King’s Daughter at Bath, and in concert with Vernon Rigby at the flautist Radcliff at Swindon. In 1873, she ranged from Judas Maccabaeus at Exeter to The Messiah at Lichfield, a Plymouth Israel in Egypt in which she sang the entire female music when the contralto fell ill. She sang at the Cramer concerts at Brighton and de Jongh’s concerts at the Manchester Free Trade Hall as well as Rivière’s Covent Garden promenade concert series (‘Lo, here the gentle lark’, ‘C’est l’Espagne’, La Fille de Madame Angot selection). On 4 June 1873, she mounted her own concert at Cromwell House, South Kensington, with Rigby, Santley, Maybrick, Julia Elton and Mme Deméric-Lablache billed alongside fellow Sainton-Dolbyite, Julia Wigan.

In the new year, she went out with a concert and oratorio party organised by D’Oyly Carte, alongside Mme Deméric-Lablache, Pearson, Frank Celli and Radcliff. Given the presence of Mr Carte, now her agent, and her recent success performing French opéra-bouffe and comic opera material, it was not surprising that Pauline Rita ended up being cast in a production of that type.


On 22 August 1874 she opened at the Opera-Comique in the role of the Princess Marguerite in Serpette’s The Broken Branch, in what was billed as her ‘first appearance on the stage’. Well, apart from Doncaster and two seasons at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Her florid singing won very high praise (‘wonderfully improved since we last heard her in the concert room’), although she was criticised by some for ‘reediness and a tendency to tremble’. The Broken Branch was followed by Les Prés St Gervais, in which she played the Prince of Conti, and confirmed herself as an opéra-comique star of the first order, but she dropped out of its successor, Giroflé-Giroflà for ‘a few weeks at the seaside’. Not for the first time, Mme Rita’s health was letting her down.

Back in the saddle, she starred in La Fille de Madame Angot at the Opera-Comique, in Cellier’s new Tower of London at Manchester, as Gustave Muller in The Duke’s Daughter at the Royalty Theatre, the little Dora’s Dream at her Benefit at the Princess’s Theatre, and went on tour with a Carte repertoire company, to repeat her role in The Duke’s Daughter. When co-prima donna Selina Dolaro walked out, she had also to go on in some performances of La Fille de Madame Angot. Her ‘faultless singing and captivating manner’ won the provincial critics.


On 1 March 1877 she took the role of the Plaintiff in a starry production of Trial by Jury, mounted at Drury Lane for the Compton Benefit, but she was notably absent from the comic opera scene. The answer came in November when Carte was able to advertise that she was ‘recovered from her severe indisposition of 18 months’ and available for work. The work she got was back with Mapleson, but not with the Italian opera this time. She was cast to play Betly in The Swiss Cottage in a season of English performances at Her Majesty’s Theatre. But she didn’t make it. Helene Crosmond stepped in, and Mme Rita’s reappearance was delayed. She went down to Brighton for concerts at the Aquarium, and Carte then cast her as Aline in The Sorcerer for the first tour of Gilbert and Sullivan’s successful comic opera. Once again, however, she could not last the distance, and soon had to hand over the role to Duglas Gordon.

In 1879 she advertised ‘having arranged to stay in town for the season [she] is prepared to give singing lessons in English, French or Italian’. Now care of Napoleon Vert.

Pauline Rita was seen once more on the London stage. She played some performances as Josephine in HMS Pinafore in the ‘rebel’ production at the Imperial Theatre, now advertised as ‘after four years of illness’, and that was it.

For a good number of years now, Pauline had been the companion of the (married) flautist, John Richardson Radcliff (1842-1917), and in the early 1880s the pair decided to quit Britain for Australia and New Zealand. They gave concerts, and Pauline even went back on the stage in performances of Acis and Galatea and Trial by Jury. And in Ascot Vale, Melbourne, on 23 January 1884, they got married. I presume that Radcliff’s wife was no longer in the picture, but nothing is certain in Victorian Australia.

The couple returned to Britain in 1886, and gave performances of a programme entitled From Pan to Pinafore (St James’s Hall 12 April 1888). They appeared once more in the Covent Garden proms, and Pauline brought out her ‘Lo, here the gentle lark’ at Benefit performances. She also gave singing lessons, until her eyesight began to fail her.

In spite of their late start, and in spite of the poor health from which Pauline Rita had suffered much of her life, the couple had more than thirty years of married life. Radcliff died in 1917, and his wife three years later.

Her son, Edward Stanley Phillips, was a Westminster Abbey choirboy, before going on to be a clergyman, rector of Bow, latterly in Devon.

Well, I see that I wrote that in 2017. Part of my Victorian Vocalists collection which didn't make it into the published book. I'd probably find more details now ... but I thought I'd blog this 'work in progress (?)' anyhow ..

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Players of the American musical theatre: 1920s

A little selection of photographs from American musicals of the 1920s ....

The first pair are from what might better be called an 'Americanised' musical, as it was a botched version of of a German piece:

RIQUETTE Operette in 3 acts by Rudolf Schanzer and Ernst Welisch. Music by Oscar Straus. Deutsches Künstlertheater, Berlin, 17 January 1925.

 First produced by Heinz Saltenburg at the Berlin Deutsches Künstlertheater, Riquette starred Käthe Dorsch as the Parisian telephone-girl of the title. Riquette is a poor lass with a young brother to support, so when she gets a proposition from well-off young Gaston, she says `yes'. The proposition is, however, an odd one. Riquette is to be a ‘beard’, his mistress only in appearance, to cover up his affair with the married Clarisse. Clarisse sets off for a holiday in colourful parts (a second act must take place in colourful parts, and this time it is a spa in the Pyrénées) and Gaston and Riquette follow at an almost discreet distance, but the lady's husband is not wholly fooled. He hires the little telephone attendant Picasse to follow Madame. Picasse disguises himself as an Albanian Prince for the purpose, only to discover, as the fun starts to fizz, that there is a vengeful and real Albanian on his heels. Needless to say, by the end of the evening, Riquette has replaced Clarisse in Gaston's affections.

 Riquette had a goodish Berlin run of three and a half months before giving over the Deutsches Künstlertheater stage to Hugo Hirsch's Monsieur Trulala and then to Straus's Teresina with the other major star of the Berlin musical stage, Fritzi Massary, at its head, but thereafter it had a rather curious career. It doesn't seem to have headed right away for Vienna, yet it was promptly produced in both Britain and in America, albeit with rather strange results.

 The American version (ad Harry B Smith) was originally announced to star Britishers Stanley Lupino and June, but in the event it was Vivienne Segal who was in the title-rôle when the show opened at Detroit, only to be replaced by Mitzi as Riquette wended towards Broadway. It wended slowly, for E Ray Goetz was taking the same route with Naughty Cinderella (a version of the French musical comedy Pouche) and the two pieces were said (although it is difficult to see any more than the already well-used fake-girlfriend motif in common) to be based on the same original. Since the musical content of Naughty Cinderella was limited to Irene Bordoni's usual handful of songs, however, Goetz’s production was adjudged a play and the `musical' rights held by the Shuberts were apparently not infringed. The Shuberts retorted by making their Riquette into a Naughty Riquette (even though she didn’t seem to do anything naughty), but they kept her away from Broadway, playing lucrative dates such as Philadelphia, until more than a year had passed. Once the now `naughty' show arrived in New York, with Straus's score, by this stage, decorated with extra numbers by Al Goodman and Maurie Rubens, it was in a state to play for 11 weeks.

 In Britain, Jimmy White produced the show (ad Gertrude Jennings, Harry Graham) with Annie Croft in the title-rôle and Jay Laurier heading the comedy, with a run at Daly's Theatre in view. Unconvinced by a pre-London Christmas season played in Scotland, he abandoned Riquette in the frozen north, but comedian Billy Merson picked it up, chopped it up, and put such pieces of it as he fancied into a show which he called My Son John (ad Graham John, Desmond Carter, Graham, add nos Vivien Ellis) which, with Miss Croft again featured, eventually played for 255 performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre (17 November 1926).

 Hungary got a production at the Városi Színház (ad Jen*o* Hoppe) which seems to have been more faithful.

USA: Detroit 17 August 1925, Cosmopolitan Theater 13 September 1926; Hungary: Városi Színház Rikett 4 December 1925; UK: Kings Theatre, Glasgow 21 December 1925; Austria: Raimundtheater 1927 

These photos show Stanley Lupino, and Mitzi, with juvenile man Alexander Grey and Audrey Maple as the other 'other woman'.

HAJOS, Mitzi [HAJÓS, Magdalena, aka Mizzi] (b Budapest, 27 April 1891; d New Preston, Conn, June 1970). A little, spitfiring soubrette who moved from Europe to America, and was there turned into a durable musical comedy star.

 After attending drama school in Budapest, Mizzi Hajós made her earliest appearances on the stage at the local Magyar Színház (A Gyurkovics lányok 1908) and then in Vienna. She played in the Leo Ascher burlesque Hut ab! (1909, Lotte) at Venedig in Wien and starred as Mary Gibbs in the Viennese version of Our Miss Gibbs at the Établissement Ronacher before -- at the age of 19 -- being taken to America.. She appeared there at first in vaudeville in an adaptation of the Ronacher burlesque of Rostand’s Chantecler called A Barnyard Romeo (1910) playing a little white pheasant (‘in coagulated English’) to Stella Mayhew’s duck and William Morris’s rooster, and moved on to play Fifi Montmartre in the Shuberts' revusical La Belle Paree (1911) at the Winter Garden, and to tour in Christie MacDonald's star rôle of Princess Bozena in Werba and Luescher's Broadway hit The Spring Maid (Die Sprudelfee), and had her first Broadway lead rôle in the same producers' production of De Koven's Her Little Highness (1913, Anna Victoria). That show, and the reduction of it, Queen Ann, played by the little singer on the vaudeville stage, disappeared quickly, but her next appearance, in the title-rôle of the extremely Hungarian Sári (Der Zigeunerprimás, 1914) hoisted her briskly to star status. Over the following years, with the aid of Sári impresario Henry Savage, she staunchly maintained that status, billed as the `baby star', `the paprika primadonna' and finally, from 1916, simply as `Mitzi' (‘Americans don’t know how to pronounce either of my names..’) through a series of mostly unexceptional rôles and shows which nevertheless packed in the audiences in the long series of tour dates she trouped year after year.

 Anne Caldwell and Hugo Felix's Pom-Pom (1916, Paulette), a piece adapted for her benefit from the Hungarian operett Csibészkirály, had her cast as another Continental heroine, this time an actress mistaken for the pickpocket she plays on stage, Head Over Heels (1918, Mitzi Bambinetti) had her playing an acrobat to Jerome Kern music, while Zelda Sears and Harold Levey's Lady Billy (1920, Countess Antonio) cast her as an aristocrat disguised for much of the evening in boy's clothes. The same team of writers dipped into fantasy with a second vehicle for her in The Magic Ring (aka Minnie an' Me, 1923, Polly Church). A move to the Shubert management for Oscar Straus's Naughty Riquette (Riquette, 1926, Riquette Duval) gave her some worthwhile music and yet another long and successful tour, whilst The Madcap (1928, Chibi) cast the now 37-year-old star alongside Sidney Greenstreet as a teenager pretending to be 12 in a musical version of Régis Gignoux and Jacques Théry's Parisian play Le Fruit vert. She returned to Broadway for the last time as a star as Sári in a 1930 revival, and thereafter appeared only as a featured player on the non-musical stage. In her retirement she worked in the offices of the Shubert organisation, until she was firmly (and unwillingly) retired in 1952.

 Mitzi was married to stage and screen actor Boyd Marshall (1885-1950) who played alongside her in Lady Billy (John Smith) and The Magic Ring (Tom Hammond).

LUPINO, Stanley [HOOK, Stanley] (b London, 15 May 1894; d London, 10 June 1942). Startled-looking little star comedian and author of two decades of British musicals.

 The son of dancer George LUPINO [George Emanuel Samuel Lupino HOOK] and a member of a famous family of dancers and acrobats, Lupino worked as a child in an acrobatic act and in pantomime, and as a young man in revue, variety (his first musical comedy appearance being in the one-act Go to Jericho in a variety house) and at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in animal rôles in pantomime. He had his first good musical-comedy rôle in 1917 at the age of 24 supplying the supporting comedy in the Gaby Deslys vehicle Suzette (Tibbs) and he made a notable success later the same year in the principal comic part of Arlette (Rono) in which he made the hit of the evening with his performance of Ivor Novello's  song `On the Staff'.

 Established as a leading comic, he mixed musicals and revues over the years that followed, appearing at the Gaiety in The Kiss Call (1919, Dr Pym), in Oh! Julie (1920, t/o Mumps), His Girl (1922, James Hicks) and Cochran's remade Phi-Phi (1923, Mercury), before making his American début alongside Vivienne Segal (pre-Broadway) and later Mitzi in the local version of Oscar Straus's (NaughtyRiquette (1925/6, Théophile Michu). He remained in America to play in the Jenny Lind biomusical The Nightingale (1927, Mr Carp). During this period he won his first West End credit as a writer when he supplied some material to C B Cochran's many-handed musical version of the famous comedy Turned Up.

 Back in Britain, he was seen in the farcical Up with the Lark on the road before he teamed up with rising producer Laddie Cliff as co-librettist and co-star of the new style dance-and-laughter musical So This is Love (1928, Potiphar Griggs). The piece was a substantial success, and many of the team it created continued together over the following years, playing in a number of further shows in the same vein, written and directed by Lupino, produced by Cliff and starring the pair as chief comedians (Jerry Walker in Love Lies, Reggie Powley in The Love Race, Percy Brace in Sporting Love, Tommy Teacher in Over She Goes, Bertie Barnes in Crazy Days) with decided success.

 Lupino also rewrote the already rewritten libretto of the American musical So Long, Letty!for Cliff, in an unsuccessful attempt to get it into shape for town; wrote, directed and starred in Hold My Hand (1931, Eddy Marston); wrote and then rewrote Paste/That's a Pretty Thing, which was ultimately played at Daly's Theatre without him in the cast and without equivalent success, and was credited with the `book' to the wartime revue Funny Side Up (1940) produced at His Majesty's Theatre with a score made up of a mass of songs mostly culled from the backlists of American publishers.

 After his winning partnership with Cliff and their series of shows together was ended by the little producer-dancer's premature death, Lupino went on to star at the Hippodrome in The Fleet's Lit Up (1938, Horatio Roper) and took the leading comic rôle in his own Hollywood saga, Lady Behave (1941, Tony Meyrick, also director). But he himself was taken ill during the run of this last show, and died at the age of 48. He was represented posthumously as an author in two further shows, a remake of That's a Pretty Thing calledLa-di-da-di-da and The Love Racket, both successfully produced by his cousin, Lupino Lane, in 1943.

 Lupino worked widely in early British musical films, both as an author and an actor, writing the screenplay with Arthur Rigby and Frank Miller for the cinema version of Love Lies and starring in that piece as well as in the screen versions of The Love RaceHold My Hand and Over She Goes.

 Lupino's wife Connie EMERALD [née O’SHEA] (b ?1889, d December 1959) appeared in supporting rôles in several musicals in the provinces (The Belle of New YorkOur Miss Gibbs, Kathie in The King's Bride, Bon Bon in The Algerian Girl), in Australia (The Swiss Express), in London (The Prince of PilsenNobody's Boy, and alongside her husband in the majority of his 1920s and 1930s shows) and in New York (Naughty Riquette). 

MAPLE, Audrey [SCHROEDER, Elsie] (b Trenton, NJ 16 February 1888; d Greenwich, Conn 18 April 1971) played for thirty years on the musical-comedy stage in America. The daughter of musician cum restaurant manager,  Robert Schroeder and his wife Malvina Lavinia née Maple, she began her career as understudy to Louise Gunning in Tom Jones, played on the Poli circuit (The Pianophiends 1907, A The Love Waltz, 1908) and then moved to New York featured as Chrysea ('I Like London') in the American production of The Arcadians in 1910, and as Geraldine in The Firefly, duetting 'Sympathy' with Melville Stewart. She played in Madame Sherry, Katinka, High Jinks, Peggy, The Dream Maiden and in 1914 she teamed with Fletcher Norton in vaudeville The Last Tango. Which makes it rather strange that one finds her in the New York census of 1915 listed as Mrs George E Griffths, wife of an English broker and a housewife! The housewiving (and Mr Griffiths, 'manager in investment securities' whom she sued for divorce for desertion in 1928) evidently didn't last long, for in the years that followed she featured in such shows as the vaudevile skit Miss Captain Kidd, the musicals Tonight's the Night, Molly O ('AEsop was a very moral man'), Goodnight Paul, Oh so Happy in Chicago, as leading lady of Her Regiment opposite Donald Brian, as Mercedes in the Winter Garden Monte Cristo jr, Tangerine, Hitchy Koo of 1922Princess April, Naughty Riquette, My Princess, Sunny Days, Angela and The Street Singer around America, all the time shearing years of her age and apparently living the life of a good time girl. In 1924-5 she was raided by the police, and was cited as co-respondent in the divorces of two New York millionaires. The marriage to Griffiths produced a daughter, Audrey who died, aged 3, on 22 September 1919. Her second marriage, in her fifties, to Ernest Arthur Zadig (2 October 1842), engineer, was more enduring.

Of Alexander Grey, I can discover little. Of Mitzi's leading man in this tour of Lovely Lady rather more.

Jack SQUIRES [SQUIRES or SQUIER, John Joseph] (b Camden, New Jersey 26 February 1890; d 109 West 45th St, New York 21 June 1938) had a consistent career as a musical comedy and revue juvenile. He was voted always a pleasant performer who owed, perhaps, much of his success to his easy manner and his good looks.

I first spot him, through 1917-8, as the juvenile leading man in Poli's musical theatre stock company, and playing a double act with one Dorothy Arthur. Mr Squier-Squire was apparently a married man, so maybe Miss Arthur was Mrs Dorothy Squires. (Oh, dear!). He toured in the George White Scandals and was cast for his first New York (supporting) role as Bryce Forrester in Pitter-Patter. His credits over the next decade inlcuded The Naughty Diana with Ilse Marvenga, Marjorie, Happy go Lucky, Yours Truly, Artists and Models, Woof Woof and Simple Simon. Between these engagements, he toured in such pieces as The Chocolate Soldier, Very Good Eddie, Rio Rita and The Laugh Parade, as well as this Lovely Lady. He was later hired (1930) to support Mitzi and her husband in a revival of her biggest success, Sári.  

In 1938, he found himself a new career as a player in short moving pictures (Pardon my Accident, Sing for Sweetie, The Candid Kid, The Miss They Missed, Getting an Eyeful, Dynamite Delaney), but it was not to develop. Jack died of a heart attack, aged 48, in that same year. He was buried in the Catholic Actors' Guild plot at Calvary.

A more familiar pair of pictures

Rose Marie, and its famous Totem-Tom-Tom girls. One of the most spectacular moments in 1920s musical theatre. These photos ar'n't from the original production, but from a 1926 revival produced by Arthur Hammerstein out of town with Virginia Johnson Paul Donah, Houston Richards, Marcella Shields, Walter Lawrence, Dolores Suarez, Paul Porter and ... the only name that means owt to me ... June Roberts, as Wanda, the dancing murderess.

June ROBERTS (b 1899; d ?) was the daughter of performers Mr and Mrs (Louisa) Will H Roberts, and she began her career as a kiddie dancer, 'Dainty June Roberts', alongside her parents, in vaudeville, most notably performing a scena The Doll Maker's Dream in which she 'aged 7' featured as the doll. She quickly became the main attraction of the piece and 'June Roberts and company' toured for a good number of years, until June was no longer dollsized, and she moved into revue (Hitchy Koo, Town Gossip) and musical comedy (Up in the Clouds, touring in Listen Lester). In 1922 she featured in the Siegfeld Follies, from where she was hired by Hugh J Ward for his musical comedy company in Australia. She (and little sister Dorothy) appeared in Australia in The Honeymoon Girl, Listen Lester, Tangerine, Little Nellie Kelly and The O'Brien Girl, returning to America in 1925. 

Then came
Rose-Marie. Hammerstein mounted his revival out of town, and June was cast as Wanda. The production was brought to New York in January 1927, but June was no longer with it. She was still playing her role, but at the Mogador in Paris. The spectacular Paris production of Rose-Marie must be the only one where the Wanda got star billing. June's fan dance and Totem-Tom-Tom were key elements in the show's huge success. And, of course, June stayed in France. She gave dance recitals of 'modern American dances', she repeated her Wanda and also played in The Desert Song with the Tournées Baret, she choreographed such shows as Le Chanson de Bonheur at the Gaité-Lyrique ...

My last sighting of her is in 1938. Did she go home when the war came? There are a June Roberts and a Dorothy Roberts around filmland in the coming years ... I don't know.

The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady was a touring vehicle for Pat Rooney, wife Marion [Lawless] née Bent (b Bronx 23 December 1879; d Bronx 28 July 1940) and son Percy ('Pat III')...

Produced in Philadelphia, the show toured without visiting New York.

A genuine 'musical comedy', and a genuine hit, was My Girl by Harlan Thompson and Harry Archer (Little Jessie James, Merry Merry) produced at the Vanderbilt Theatre 24 November 1924. Unpretentious, book-based, a small principal cast with no star names (Marie Saxon, Russell Mack, Harry Puck, Helen Bolton, Edward H Wever), it ran for 291 performances before heading for the country.

The players here are Edna Morn, George Sweet and Roger Grey.

Edna MORN [MEISCH, Edna May] (b Rochester 8 December 1891; d 14 July 1952), daughter of a hotelkeeper/carpenter, Charles Meisch, and his wife Josephine, began her working life as a stenographer, before taking to the stage in musical comedy (When Dreams Come True, Sári, Pom Pom. Flo Flo, Fiddlers Three, Three Showers). She toured for several seasons for George M Cohan and Sam H Harris in the title-role of Mary, and then played that same young lady opposite Eddie Dowling in the successful run of Sally, Irene and Mary (1922-3). Her tour in My Girl was, it seems, her last engagament. 25 August 1926 she married Harry J Martin, manager of the Louisville Brown's Theatre, and retired to motherhood.

I gave up on George Sweet, because there are several of them, but the tall Mr Grey or Gray is an interesting chap ..

Roger GREY or GRAY (b Omaha, Neb 26 May 1881; d Los Angeles 20 January 1959), son of a lumber merchant, and originally an express messenger, had a long and variegated career in showbusiness. He began doing a tramp act in vaudeville, moved into musical comedy and comic opera, and at one time toured his own little Roger Grey Opera Company with a large repertoire of musicals. He toured as 'Mutt' in the Mutt and Jeff musicals, in The Gay Musician, The Mayor of Tokio, Little Johnny Jones, A Royal Vagabond, So Long Letty, The Sun Dodgers, Little Jessie James  played stock at Poli's, ran a little company and/or a double act in vaudeville, staged dances, and in 1925 'the amiable Roger Grey of the Oxford bags' took part in My Girl. I see him in Bye Bye Bonnie in 1927, touring in Hit the Deck in 1930... In the 1930s he voyaged to filmland and appeared in a number of moving pictures through into the 1940s. He authored a musical That's It played at Pittsburgh 18 July 1921.

He married actress Marion Rudolph (1907), and subsequently Jessie Roberts.

This photo is from New York's Lyric Theatre production of Kissing Time. Based on a German-language musical, Mimi, by the father of the American 'intimate' 1920s musical comedy, Adolph Philipp, with a score by Ivan Caryll, the composer of the era, the piece had a disappointing run  of less than two months, before hitting the road. 

The featured dancers in the show were Carl Hyson and Evelyn Cavanaugh, who came with their own choreography, and the eleven chorus ladies were dignified with character names in the best modern fashion.

Not all shows, however, got this kind of production. I happed today on these two unidentified photos of pieces from the same period, which don't seem to have had the same dollars and design lavished on them ...

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A curled darling of the salons: Who was 'Léonce Valdec' and what became of him?

This morning I came upon a photo which set me wondering afresh on a mystery I had tackled a few years back...  so I thought, while the drills are drilling, and my kitchen arising from its ruins ... try again, Johnny. 

Well I'm sad-happy to report that I found nothing new ... and I don't suppose I'll get round to tackling Mons Valdec again .... so I post my findings here, in the hope that someone, somewhere, one day will find it useful or, better still, fill in my gaps ...

VALDEC, Léonce (aka WALDECK) (b Cognac c1841; d unknown)


For fifteen years, the light baritone known as ‘Léonce Valdec’ was the darling of the Paris salons. I would have expected his history to have been paragraphed by the fashionable papers, his death garlanded in obituaries, his name to have appeared in many a memoir … but no. Hardly a mention, outside his concert reviews. Very little clue as to who, precisely, he was: and when there is, the clues are contradictory.


Clue number one comes from an unlikely place. The 1871 British census. He (as Waldeck, which just may have been his name) happens to be in town, and tells us that he is 30, born in Cognac, has a 27 year-old wife named Maria who comes from Herne Bay and a two year-old son by the name of Albert, who was born in Paris. 


An issue of Comoedia from 1933, talking of the colourful Count Max de Waldeck, assures us that the singer was his son, and that he committed suicide. Both pieces of information, if true, would surely have been mentioned before. The allegedly 85 year-old count (who, equally allegedly, lived to 110) did apparently have a son by his 17 year-old English wife, and that son did indeed sing, but he was named Gaston not Léonce, was a basso profondo, somewhat younger, and when he gave a concert one kindly journal commented: ‘M G de Waldeck, qu'il ne faut pas confondre avec le gracieux baryton Valdec, est fils du célèbre peintre de Waldeck qui vient d'accomplir sa cent-huitième année…’. So we’re back where we started.


There are other, possibly misleading, little ‘facts’ dropped here and there. I see him called a pupil of Romain Bussine, and a ‘lauréat du conservatoire’. The two fit together, but both are mentioned only once, that I can find, and I don’t find him in the Conservatoire lists. In fact, the only Cognaquois mentioned are an actor and a bassoon player.


He first comes to the fore in May 1868 when he mounted a concert at the Salle Erard. ‘Le bénéficiaire, un baryton d'avenir, M Léonce Waldeck, n'a pas eu à se plaindre du public qui lui a largement prodigué ses applaudissements, ainsi qu'aux frères Lamoury. à Mlles Louise Mürer, L Duval et Blanche Bragel …’. However, I don’t see him in public again until February of 1870, when, at the same venue, he hosted another concert with Anna Fabre, Louise Mürer, MM Leon Desjardins, Paul Bernard and Castel. He sang Schubert’s ‘Le Roi des Aulnes’ and Madame de Grandval’s ‘Le Bohémien’ and the press nodded ‘on a pu apprécier la fraîcheur de la voix, et le style elégant du jeune chanteur ..’. When he sang a few days later at Bernard’s concert they confirmed ‘‘un baryton très sympathétique de goût irréprochable’.

Whether the 'handsome' Waldeck had yet begun his conquest of the salons of Paris and its countesses and duchesses, I do not know, but in 1870 he crossed the channel to partake of the London season. He began singing for Benedict at a Dalston Hospital Benefit (30 March), then at Clara Schumann’s concerts, as featured vocalist alongside Edith Wynne. I’ve picked up a good number of appearances during the season – Amy Perry’s concert with the Doria sisters and the pupils of Lansdowne Cottell, the New Philharmonic concerts singing Gounod’s ‘Le Vallon’ alongside arias by Pauline Lucca, a Benefit for a Day Nursery, or Marras’s at home (‘O Lisbonne’, Mireille). ‘This gentleman is likely to prove a great acquisition to the platform’ quoth the press, ‘his pronunciation is pure, his intonation pleasing, his style gentlemanly, and his voice both rich and sympathique’. He sang for Kuhe, Madame Celli, Cottell again, at the concerts of Annetta Zuliani, Emma Wildish (Gounod’s ‘Voulez-vous aller’), Mary Elizabeth Walton, Julius Benedict, Antoine de Kontski, Henry Holmes … ‘pure tone and admirable expression’, ‘a pleasing French baritone’ and on 6 July gave ‘his second morning concert’ (I seem to have missed the first) at Cromwell House. He sang, a selection of top instrumentalists played, and Emily Muir came in to sing the Noces de Jeannette duet with him. He seems to have closed his season 16 July, singing ‘David Before Saul’ at Store Street.

‘M Léonce Waldeck, a baritone of considerable merit, gave a song from Martha very pleasingly. He has a sympathetic voice of good quality, and sings accurately and with judgment, barring a tendency in forte passages to force his tone into a passionate vibrato’ wrote The Examiner after Lansdowne Cottell’s concert. That passion (and vibrato) would help him to become a favourite of the ladies …


I don’t know whether the Waldecks went home after the London season. The Franco-Prussian war had just exploded into action. Anyway, I see no trace of our ‘baryton martin’ until April of the new year, when he turns up in Dublin, equipped with two songs by Charles Salaman (‘I would tell her’, ‘A Voiceless sigh’) and giving a concert (21 April) at Cramer and Wood’s Rooms.

Back in London, he sang in more public concerts (Silas, Billet, Romano, Mme Celli, Alfred Gilbert, Henri Logé, E Guerini), and doubtless as many private ones, as well as revisiting Dublin (Gounod’s ‘Noel’ and Chanson du printemps, The Scented Vine’ &c) and appearing in London with Salaman as guests with the Dublin Glee and Madrigal Society.

H appears to have stayed over this year, for he turns up at the Albert Hall in December singing with Lemmens-Sherrington and Edward Lloyd in a performance of Carter’s Placida and in February of 1872, he gave a concert with Salaman in Brighton.

London during the war of 1871 proved a grand place for linking up with the high society French, and, during 1872, Waldeck appeared regularly with Juliette Conneau, sometime lady-in-waiting to the Empress Eugénie, as well as with the high society lady who called herself ‘Haydée Abrek’, pianist de Kontski and such associated persons as Jules Lefort, basso Monari and Irish amateur William Maitland. At de Kontski’s concert they performed his opera Les Deux Distraits (11 March 1872). During the season of French plays at St James’s Theatre, Waldeck was engaged to sing between the acts (‘La Romance de Boabdil’). The concert engagements proliferated, ranging from charity dates, to the concerts of such as Wilhelm Ganz and Luigi Arditi (‘Vainement Pharamond’, Joseph). 

He also, round this time, got to know the London-based Gounod and his singing girlfriend, Mrs Weldon, and performed with them regularly.  On 7 June 1873, at Tavistock House, together with Mrs Weldon and Werrenrath (another hanger-on of the composer) he took part in the first full performance of the composer’s ‘Biondina’ songs. The curious Mrs Weldon refers to Waldeck (and others) dismissively in her biography, but at the time they were only to happy to use him and his rising fashion. On 28 June 1873 Waldeck (‘an agreeable and accomplished concert singer with a sympathetic baritone voice and a cultivated style’) gave a concert at the Olympic Theatre. Gounod played piano, Mrs Weldon sang, Waldeck sang Gounod music and duetted with the lady. In July, they returned to Paris, where Mons Valdec (as he had no definitively become) was seen again in concert with Mrs Weldon.


It seems that the change of name came along with a change of status. Instead of being a charming amateur (and the word ‘sympathique’ litters his notices) he was now singing professionally. 

From March 1874, the press speaks of him in a different tone: ‘Un jeune artiste français, M. Léonce Valdec, doué d'un remarquable talent de chanteur et d'une excellente diction musicale, est en ce moment à Paris, de retour d'Angleterre, où il vient de faire une brillante saison et a su se conquérir de chaleureuses sympathies …’. And there is a mention of ‘la voix sympathique et parfaitement stylée du baryton Valdec, encore un amateur devenu artiste, et des meilleurs…’. ‘On parlait de son prochain engagement à l'Opéra-Comique.’.


They only spoke of it. And this ‘incident’ gives us the one (apart from Mrs Weldon) ‘picture’ of Valdec that we have. The writer Henri Maréchal recounts in his memoirs the tale of the abortive Opéra-Comique affair. He describes: ‘Un baryton mondain don’t le succès était alors très vif dans beaucoup de salons parisiens. D’aspect agréable, elégant, doué d’une toute petite voix, prenante par le charme de son timbre, il soupirait avec goût les cantilènes amoureuses à la mode …’, before going on to tell of the singer’s haughty demands (a letter from Jules Barbier reprinted long after give a comical picture of these) and the quick deflation of the idea of casting him on the stage. He also added that the singer was living hand to mouth, and had billeted himself on a rich friend … er.. what about the wife and child?


In the years that followed, Valdec knew his greatest vogue. He appeared again and again at the Salle Érard, the Salon Pleyel and the Salle Herz in concerts of his own (6 May 1874 ssq), and as the frequent guest of others. He made a considerable success with the song ‘La Fauvette’ by Louis Diémer ‘qu'il détaille de la façon la plus intelligente’, ‘remarquablement rendue’, gave new songs by Widor, Clemence de Grandval (including an aria from her Stabat Mater), Faure (‘Le Message’, ‘Alleluia d’amour’), older ones by Gounod (‘Le Vallon’), Schubert (‘Ave Maria’, ‘La Truite’), occasionally touching on the operatic with Le Medecin malgré lui or, a favourite, the Zauberflöte duet. When the Paris season ended he headed to the provinces – Nantes, Le Mans, Limoges, Valenciennes, Arras, Orleans – returning as ever for the high season with more songs with which to delight the fashionables and the critics into reviews such as ‘Valdec a chanté avec son goût accoutumé deux romances délicieuses de M. Magner, qui, lui-même, l'accompagnait … On ne peut dire mieux que M Valdec, et sa voix exquise en fait un des meilleurs chanteurs de salon que nous ayons jamais rencontrés’.

Faure’s ’Dans les ruines d’une abbaye’ and ‘Fleurs du matin’, Paul Bernard’s ‘Faucheuse’ (‘un véritable succès’), Niedermeyer’s ‘Le Lac’, Pergolesi’s ‘Tre giorni’, Joncières’ ‘Invocation du Dimitri’, Diémer’s ‘Adieux à Suzon’, Pessard’s ‘Dites, la jeune belle’  … Valdec had his sphere. But he apparently had others ambitions: ‘Malgré ses succès dans les salons, M. Valdec aurait l'intention d'aborder la carrière théâtrale et serait prêt à accepter un engagement pour une de nos scènes de genre’. It didn’t happen. Back to the country, and the material he had made his great successes with: ‘Le concert donné le 8 septembre à Étretat, par M. Léonce Valdec, le baryton des soirées parisiennes, a été, sans contredit, le plus réussi de la saison. À M Valdec, on a bissé la Truite, de Schubert, dont il a fait une chose à lui, et ‘Bonjour Suzon’ de Faure’.

During the season of 1877, Valdec was seen regularly on the Paris platform: for Albert Sowinski, Luisa Valli, Pauline Boutin. Alice Sydney Burvett, Doquin Ardiun, Louis Breitner, Therese Castellan, Léopold Déledique, Mlle Fanchelli and doubtless many others, as well as his own soirée (‘Très remarquable le concert du sympathique baryton Léonce Valdcc qui sait aussi bien dire que chanter. Rappel après chacun de ses morceaux’). He seems to have been a favourite with Mme de Grandval, whose songs he continued to give, and at who concert he appeared singing the composer’s duet ‘Le Forêt’ with her.

At the end of the season this year, a notice appeared: ‘M Léonce Valdec, le baryton si souvent applaudi dans les concerts, donnera cet hiver des leçons de chant chez lui, 4 rue Bochard-de-Saron (Avenue Trudaine)’. 


But he didn’t reduce his performing: the Concerts du Châtelet, the Concert Carvalho with Mme Carvalho singing Gounod and Shubert, the Concerts Cressonnois at the Théâtre Porte Saint-Martin (‘La Romanesca’, ‘Guide à bord ta nacelle’) … He scored a new success with Madame de Grandval’s ‘Scrupules’ (‘avec charme exquise’), gave Meyerbeer’s new ‘Poème d’Octobre’, Diémer’s ‘Les Ailes’ … and only Orléans was heard to mutter ‘Il manie habiliment une voix qui manque, malheureusement, de sonorité’. Orléans, it appears, wasn’t into the ‘baryton de salon et charme’.


Paris was. When he gave his concert of 1879 it was adjudged ‘une des meilleures de la saison’, in 1880 he was simply dubbed ‘le chanteur de salon par excellence’ and toured in concert for impresario Ullmann. And the chansons kept coming, from the pen of Mme de Grandval (‘La vase brisé’, ‘Au bord de l’eau’), Diémer (‘nouvelle Sérénade espagnole, délicieusement chantée par M. Valdec’), Nadaud (‘Insomnie’), Delibes (‘Regrets’), plus the usual dose of Gounod (‘A Venise’, ‘Gallia’).


In the first months of 1882, Valdec presented a series of eight Parisian matinées, and in June he paid one more visit to London. However, I spot only two professional appearances. 1883 brought a second series of matinees, and an announcement that he was starting a concert and touring agency. It seemed he was running down his career. When he sang for Lebouc in December 1883, the usual review was slightly muted: ‘M Valdec, chargé des intermèdes de chant, a rendu avec succès le charmant air de Suzanne de Paladilhe, et le Départ, scène de Gounod, puis des mélodies de M Albert Renaud qui ont produit bon effet’.

His appearances got less frequent in 1884. His own concert was held not in the old venues but in the Salle Flaxland, he was still paragraphed as ‘le chanteur attitré des salons parisiens’, but it seems to have been more by habit than actuality.

My last sightings of Léonce Valdec are 30 March 1885, giving a concert at the Salle Duprez, and in May the same year singing at the concert given by George Hesse at the Salle Érard. And then … simply no mention. No advertisements. Nothing.


I suppose he died. Sooner rather than later? Was he indeed the one who committed suicide? Or did he simply, as Maréchal says rather indefinitely at the end of his Opéra-Comique tale ‘die in poverty soon after’.  You would have thought some music journalist would have noticed. But I have just these two (contradictory) references … one in 1920 and one in 1933. Half a century after my last real sighting. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Army, the Navy, the Church, and the Stage ... and carpenters in my kitchen


Well, three out of four ...

Tuesday 23rd February. 8am, the first tradesman (electrician) arrived to do his bit towards the transformation of my kitchen. The carpenters and due any moment ...  outside the sky is white with several varieties of floating vegetable matter .. so I am being chef de chantier for the day while amusing myself with the past. Little bits of the past, because I don't want to get into something longwinded, only to have the proofs of the GILBERT AND SULLIVAN book land on my desk ...

Today's investigatees ...

Arthur Manley Hil and wife, Alice

Francis Knowles

A G Girdlestone

Two churchmen and one army ...

There's not a lot of story in Arthur Manley HILL (b Chapel Allerton 21 January 1843-d Roborough 14 November 1933). Son of a Devonshire military man (eventually a  General), John Thomas Hill (1811-1902), A M Hill was launched on the military by the purchase of a commission as an Ensign in the 5th Fusiliers in 1860. He purchased a lieutenant's rank in 1864, while stationed in Ireland, where, in 1866 (1 August) he married Alice Honoria [Laura] Browne, daughter of James Arthur Browne of Browne Hall, County Mayo,  In 1868, he got out of the army and moved eventually back to Devon, where he lived out his life as a 'gentlemen' at the family home of 'Good-a-meavy House'.
The handsome young couple pictured above were to have eight children, of whom five survived to adulthood:

(1) Reginald Charles James (b 26 June 1867; d 15 April 1942) of globetrotting propensities. He married Elizabeth Robertson Savage in Bloemfontein in 1899, fathered a son, John Adrian Aimé (1900), and moved to the plantations of Colombo where John ran the Remuna Estate in Horana. John died in 1930 and the elders returned to Britain.

(2) Arthur Lloyd St Leger (b 1869; d Roborough 23 August 1921) gent seems to have just been a gent. He didn't marry.

(3) Frederick Thomas Cecil (b 17 July 1874; d Gallipoli 7 August 1915). The disadvantage of being a career army man, is that you sometimes get killed in battle. Frederick, a major in the 6th Yorks and Lancs Regiment fell at Gallipoli. He was married to Marie Joséphine Elizabeth Léontine de Foresta.

(4) Gerald Ernest Montague (b 21 February 1876; d 2 October 1954) was awarded the DSO in his capacity as an officer in the 2nd East Lancashire Regiment. He retired with the rank of Lt-Col.

(5) Lillian Helen Gwendoline (1877-1955) married a somethingth son by the painful-sounding name of Ricketts by whom she had two children. When her husband succeeded to a baronetcy she acceded to Burke and Debrett, but without him. He promptly walked out. She finally and very publicly divorced him in 1936. Her son, [Sir] Robert Ricketts married a daughter of Stafford Cripps. 

Diving for cover from all those titles, I happend upon plain Francis KNOWLES (bapt 4 June 1848; d The Rectory, Gimingham, Norfolk 24 October 1931) son of grocer/draper William and Martha Knowles of Hoyland Nether, Yorks. Well, he became not just plain Francis. He was 'the reverend Francis Knowles MA (Cantab)'. Yes, a clergyman. St Catherine's College, Cambridge. Subsequent posts at Ely, Pererborough, curate of Christchurch, Leicester which he left in 1879, allowing us to date our photo, curate/vicar of Silsden, finally coming to rest at Gimingham, where he officiated for some 40 years.At 50, he married vicar's daughter Mary Tatlock (d 25 November 1922).

And so to my third gentleman. This one would surely be someone cute and curious ... but ... Arthur Gilbert GIRDLESTONE (b Alderley, Cheshire 1842; d Vicarage, Brixton Hill 13 December 1908) was another clergyman!  And not just a clergyman, but a clergyman son of a clergyman. Father Charles was rector of Kingswinton and Arthur, an only child, became curate there. He later became vicar of All Saint's, Brixton. He was a serious alpinist and wrote a book on 'The High Alps without Guides' in 1870.

My father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather, mountaineers all, would have loved this gent. I also, I feel ..

Well, there are carpenters all over the kitchen (I personally disposed of the mummified rat!) ... the whirr of battery-screwdrivers resounds in the air ... I guess its time to come back to the 21st century ...

The stage? Well, I researched a couple of Edwardian performers this morning for folks on the grand Family Treasures Reinstated ( site ...

The Navy? Well, maybe I'll do sailor lads tomorrow!