Saturday, May 2, 2020

Cartesians: Great careers and early graves ...

I thought I was slimming my list of Victorian Cartesian players-to-be-identified. But today collector David Lovell sent me a load of 1880s and 1890s cast lists and, with my first cuppa of the day, I extracted a whole load of names ... all principals, because choruses weren't listed ... which I hadn't touched. So, what is a man to do ...  Here goes with my Queen-of-the-Mayday results ...

Walter GREYLING [GOODBODY, Walter] (b Ely 1854; d ?St Helier, Jersey c 1905) was born at Ely, the son of cattle-salesman James Goodbody (1824-1879) and his wife Eliza née King (1827-1881) and was a youthful choirboy at the local cathedral. Later, he became organist at St Mary's, Ely. In 1875, leaving his organ-stool to young sister, Eliza Kate, the young bass took up a place in the York Minster Choir, and for the next four years lived in York, teaching French (!) and singing.

He made the news when, in the early morn, he plucked three rosebuds from someone's garden and got dragged to court. His advertisements ceased and soon after he left York and church music and joined D'Oyly Carte. A new career and a new name: Walter Greyling. York was rather surprised when their Mr Goodbody turned up in town as Major General Stanley (1881).

Walter spent more than five successful years in the Carte companies, and, right at the beginning, committed the frequent "I love you honey" marriage. His bride was the singer 'Maud (later BeatriceGROSVENOR' [GRAVEUR, Beatrice Lucy Maud] (b 7 Duke Street, Aldgate 1859; d 4 Smarts Terrace, Norwood 1935) who had had quite an adventurous life prior to beoming a vocalist. At the age of three, she had been baby-snatched. Their marriage last just a smidgin longer than their Cartesian engagement, and produced, it seems, three children of which one survived.

After their Carte years, I see Walter and Maud together in the pantomime Herne the Hunter at Bath (1885-6) and Torquay (with fellow ex-Cartesians Marie Wynter, Madge Inglis, James Stevenson), after which they seem to have parted. I see Walter touring with Henry Wardroper in The Miraculous Doll and for Haldane Crichton in Lovers (1886), with the Fred Vokes troupe (1887), and taking over as Carl in the remade touring musical Geraldine (1888-9). Another replacement was a lady named Annie Morton, who was to become the de facto second Mrs Greyling.
In 1890 he toured in W S Gilbert's adaptation of Les Brigands, in 1891 he was reduced (with Annie) to singing, alongside a bird imitator, knockabout duettists and a gymnastic act, with a diorama of Darkest Africa. At Christmas 1892 they played in Sinbad the Sailor. Between 1894 and 1898 Walter took a job with the very small operatic troupes managed by Mrs Gordon Hicks and George Nielsen, and he and Annie produced their first daughter, Constance Greyling Goodbody (20 November 1897). In 1901, I spot the couple in St Helier, Jersey. Walter is professing 'vocalist and guide'. They weren't just visiting, they had relocated to the seaside climes, and I think it may have been for Walter's health. Annie gave birth to a seond daughter May Alexandra (8 May 1902), and in 1904 Walter was admitted to the local hospital-cum-poor house. I suspect he died there. In 1911, both his wives, the legal and the de facto, were calling themselves 'widow'. Maud is living with an aged spinster aunt from Megavissey; 'Annie Greyling' (pianist) and May are visiting a bricklaying-labourers' family in Huddersfield. This family and its names! When May died in 1995, in New Zealand, her parents were listed as Edward Greyling, opera singer, and his wife Elizabeth .... no, Walter Goodbody and his paramour Annie Morton ..
Maud-Beatrice, who had sung on the halls as Maud Graveur and played at Bath in pantomime in 1886, had a more amusing later career. She toured as Tabitha in Doris (1889), tripped to South America with Edwin Cleary, played Lady Alicia in Marjorie (1891), visited the Continent with the Carmen-up-to-Data tour (Micaela), played Aunt Turlurette in Nemesis for Russell Rosse (1892), visited India and the East for twelve months for E W Willard, and on her return went out with a Shop Girl tour (1896). She also played in The Pilgrim's Progress at the Olympic (1897, Dame Gossip) before she went on her travels again, this time to South Africa for manager Lockwood (Seraphina Plimmer in Regina B.A. ). In 1899, she was Lady Elverstone in the provincial musical The Lady Philosopher (1899-1900), then turned up playing Sal in The Lights of London for Milton Bode, with Arthur Roberts in Dandy Dan, the Lifeguardsman and HMS Irresponsible, and in a piece entitled The Owl and the Humming Bird ('a Japanese musical comedy'). In 1907 she was still to be seen playing yet another titled lady in Peter's Mother, in 1908 with Mabel Love in Lady Frederick, in 1915 as Mrs Allenjay in Eliza Comes to Stay, in 1920 as the housekeeper in The Crimson Alibi .. in the last stages of a thoroughly successful and solid career in the theatre of over forty years.

The actor-singer known as Broughton BLACK [BLACK, Harry Virgilius] (b Manchester x 15 July 1860; d Black Rock House, Rottingdean 8 April 1926) spent only a short time as a member of the Carte companies, but his name became familiar on the southern British entertainment circuits around the turn of the century. Harry was the son of bookkeeper Thomas Virgilius Black (1839-1889) and his wife Jane née Parry, and destined for other things. He attended the University of London, became an assistant tutor there, married Manchester girl Arabella Broughton and began a family, while still working as a schoolmaster. But music called, and Harry B.A. left his gown and mortarboard and joined the choir at St Paul's Cathedral.

In 1889, he put his foot on stage for what seems to be the first time at a tryout matinée of the comedy opera Gretna Green, with Leonora Braham, Lyn Cadwaladr and Richard and George Temple. In 1890 he was to be seen with George Temple again, this time cast as Luiz in the D'Oyly Carte Gondoliers. in 1891 he was seen in a different capacity when his schools operetta Aladdin (mus: R T Gibbons) was published, in 1892 he formed the English Opera Singers with Adeline Vaudrey, Jessie Browning, Cecil Barnard et al, and gave 'Ho Jolly Jenkin' and 'gems from the comic operas' in costume, to the provinces and turned out another operetta Constance which the group performed. Cissie Saumarez and others took a turn in the group as it carried on through 1893, 1894 and 1895 (Forty Winks, His Wife's Little Bill, Love's Magic, A Slight Misunderstanding, Amateur Photography). 

He sang in concerts and concert parties, brought out his own group here and there but mostly in Brighton (A Family Affair, Marie Turner, Thorough Base), and in 1897 joined Courtice Pounds and Millicent Pyne on the bill at the Palace. He took part in a Milton Bode tryout At Zero, and played in his production of Orlando Dando (1898, Jack Beresford) and at Christmas played in pantomime at the Crown, Peckham. And then it was back to concerts in Brighton's West Pier. His entry in the 1891 and 1901 censi explained his episodic appearances. He was 'vocalist, actor, manager, author' then 'vocalist, sub-editor and author'. A day job.

In 1904 he went out as Tony in My Sweetheart, in 1905, in the musical The Gipsy Girl (Canon Willoby), in 1906 played the 8 performances of Petronella at the Great Queen Street Theatre, teamed with Scott Russell and Stella Gastelle in The Rose of Auvergne with Pélissier's Follies and played Aladdin at Nottingham. When he sang in a concert at Hoveringham Ferry in 1907 he, rather embarrasingly, billed himself as 'Broughton Black B.A'. In 1911 he, Belle and four of their children are together, and the girls, Dora and Marjorie are listed as 'chorister's.
The Archive tells of his latter day activities, entertaining up to his death in 1926.

If Black stayed but a short while with Carte, what to say of Louie RENE [RAPP, Louisa Fanny] (b Westminster 29 April 1871; d Court Nursing Home, Great Malvern 9 March 1955). She spent twenty years, with few gaps, as leading contralto in the D'Oyly Carte companies. In consequence, almost he whole career is detailed in the Archive, and I have just to top and tail her Cartesian years.
Louis François Rapp, a London-born umbrella manufacturer, and his Australian wife Eliza, were apparently married in Australia, and their first child was born in Manila. When they got to London, however, they got serious and added six more to their family. Two of them would make a name for themselves in the theatre: Alice Harriet (b 27 May 1869) as Alice RENE (Mrs John Bowles Watson), and Louisa Fanny, our 'Louie'. Louie (contralto) and Alice (soprano) appeared together in the 1892-3 tour of The Mountebanks, after which Louie walked straight into the Carte companies. Her first respite came in 1903, following her marriage to antiques dealer, Percy Scott Russell, younger brother of Harold Henry Russell, known to Savoy aficionados as 'H Scott Russell'. But she was soon back, to continue with barely a break, until 1914.

After leaving Carte, Louie Rene worked on, in both plays (Donna Lucia in Charley's Aunt) and musicals (Gay Trouville, Toto) until she, Percy and the widowed Alice retired to Great Malvern.

From a long-serving Cartesian to a brief one. Maisie TURNER (b Houston, Texas 16 January 1876; d Staines January 1903), daughter of Nathan Parker Turner and Anna Maria née Bringhurst, first worked for the organisation in her native America, as a teenage chorister in Utopia (Ltd). She, with her mother and actress sister, Kate Turner (1869-1931, Mrs Fred Winn) subsequently came to Britain and joined the Carte company on tour (1895). In 1896 she sang with Broughton Black's little company, played the title-role in Cinderella and in a trifle called My Friend Gomez at Brighton, appeared as a turn at the Alhambra ('a smart soubrette') and took a tiny part in the musical The Prince of Borneo at the Strand, while sister Kate was playing Sing-Sing in the original A Chinese Honeymoon (1899) out-of-town. She went back on the hallas, thereafter, and I last see her on a bill at the Nottingham, Empire in May 1902, alongside 'The Happy Japs' and a film of the FA Cup Final. Eight months later, at the age of 27, she was dead.

The lady known as Ivy BONHEUR [GUNNING, Eveline Medora Elise] (b St Pancras 18 May 1865; d Hertford 20 March 1951), I have encountered before, as she climbs on to the family tree of producer 'Violet Melnotte' (Emma Solomon). She was the sister of Frank WYATT ('Mr Melnotte') actor, singer, creator of the Duke of Plaza Toro. She seems to have strutted the stage only for two years, as a lead soprano in the Carte tours ... I'm sure I've seen her name elsewhere, but ... Anyhow she married 4 June 1889 a gentleman 'of private means' by name Maurice Stammers, gave birth to an Ivy Mary Stammers (1894) and disappeared from theatrical ken ...

'Marie WYNTER' [KEANE, Mary Jane] is one of those people who seems to have managed, throughout her life, to avoid just about any kind of documentation. Fortunately, her husband was less shy, so she appears on their marriage registration (1884) and his testament (1888), so we know her real name. But that's all. Apart from her two-decade career in the theatre as 'Marie Wynter'.
She first turns up in J L Shine's The Member for Slocum and Don Juan jr company in 1882, but is quickly into D'Oyly Carte's Rip van Winkle tour, and then into his G&S company (1884-5). There, in York, she married Edward John Benbrook (b Rotherhithe x 21 June 1845; d 87 Lewisham Rd, 10 May 1888), company manager.
Following her Carte years, she played Anne Boleyn in Herne the Hunter at Bath, toured as Cerise Marcel to the Erminie of Esme Lee, and as Lady Dunscombe in Jim the Penman. In 1887-8 Mrs Bernard Beere took the Opera Comique and Benbrook was hired as her business manager. Mrs Benbrook cam too, and played supporting roles in As in a Looking Glass and Ariane, until Edward died.

Then nothing was quite the same. It was back to pantomime (Sleeping Beauty in Mother Goose) and a series of musical touring companies -- Nanon with Laura Clement, Dorothy as Phyllis, a repertoire company for George Edwardes to South Africa, Lady Bargrave in the tryout of My Girl, Alice Rees's A Trip to Chinatown -- and a takeover of a small role or two in Little Christopher Columbus at the LyricShe took a turn at the Oxford Music Hall in a racing sketch, On the Flat (1898) then returned to more musical tours: Miss Parallax in The Transit of Venus, Lady Constance in The Geisha, Lady Grey in A Gaiety Girl (1900). And that is my last sighting of her. Where did she come from? Where did she go? Is she the Mary Benbrook who died in 1901 in Kensington aged 42? And thus the Mary Jane Keane born in Southampton in 1860? Father: Patrick 'collector of harbour dues', mother: Mary Ann ... I feel I am on her trail at last ..

 On to someone else...

The name of J[ames] J[ohn] FITZGIBBON (b Peckham January 1867; d 9 Queen's Rd, Peckham 22 January 1898) appears prominently in Cartesian touring programmes for some five years. Then in the tours of His Excellency and of A French Maid ... why no more? His dates tell the tale. He died at his parent's home at the age of 31. His father was James Fitzgibbon, music teacher, his mother Anna Maria O'Gara from Ireland, and he joined the Carte companies in good roles at the age, seemingly, of 23. I wonder what happened ...

A few young people who started their theatre career with the Carte companies went on to have long and memorable careers in the theatre, and none more so that the fellow who was initially billed just as 'Mr G Willoughby''. George WILLOUGHBY [DOWSE, George Willoughby] (b Southsea x 17 Ocober 1869; d Lane Cove, Sydney 23 December 1951) was born the son of Henry James Dowse, a clark at the Portsmouth dockyards, and his wife Rosa née Stevens. He joined the Carte companies at the age of 18, as a chorister, but swiftly moved onwards and upwards. Whether it was he who played in A Young Pretender at the Prince of Wales Theatre, and took out a tour of Betsy with Florence Trevallyan in the cast (1891) I can only suppose, but it is definitely he advertising from 50 Bernard Street, Russell Square as 'light comedian, baritone' in 1892. He didn't have to wait long for a shop. He was hired to play Arrostino Annegato in The Mountebanks (1892-3) and then Captain Coddington in In Town (1894, 'the life of the piece'), the title-role in Bluebeard (1894-5) with 'Ada Willoughby', Sir Reddan Tapeleigh in Go Bang (1895), and the Regent in His Excellency (1895), A Merry Madcap (1896) on the road, in quick succession. In 1896 he played at the Garrick Theatre with E S Willard in The Rogue's Comedy, in 1897 he toured in a melodrama Two Little Vagabonds.

The 'Ada Willoughby' was a wife he had acquired in 1894, a soubrette by name Ada Mary Jackson, and they appeared in a number of shows together before, after some four years, she opted out.
In 1898 he went with Lockwood's musical comedy to South Africa, and he returned to England thereafter (Pavilion Theatre &c) to find his wife gone. So he backtracked to South Africa with Charles Arnold of Hans the Boatman fame. From Africa, Arnold headed to Australia, Willoughby in support ... and found his wife there, shacked up ...  Anyway, the next almost thirty years were a tale of  unalloyed success for George. He officially got rid of Ada, remarried, and became a musical/comedy star and producer (multiple details in the Australian press) on the Australian stage. He officially retired from the stage in 1928, but was heard on the radio up to the late 1940s. Half a century in the theatre, almost all of it at the top. Not bad for a teenage Cartesian chorus boy ...

Oh dear, there's still a lot of David's list left. Including some pretty hopeless cases, and other which I know will take a while ... so I'll close off this bloglet, and start afresh ...

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