Monday, July 27, 2020

Cissy Grahame: the story of a forgotten Victorian actress-manager

Today's e-bay haul got me, once again, launched on a fascinating trip of C19th theatrical discovery. This is 'Cissy Grahame' ...

Oh, yes. I know about Cissy Grahame. She was the lady who sent out tours of musicals in the 1890s. Well, she did, but that was just at the tag end of a remarkable career, and, until today, I somehow didn't really connect her with 'Miss C Grahame', the memorable ingenue of the 1880s.

When I started writing, in the 1970s, the musical theatre was my playground (British Musical Theatre, Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre, Musical Theatre on Record etc). In the 1990s, that field of interest shrunk to only pre-Great War musical theatre (Emily Soldene, Willie B Gill, Lydia Thompson), then, as circumstances allowed, it expanded once more to the nineteenth-century world of opera and concert (Victorian Vocalists), with the dramatic and comic theatre of the age in the margin. Of course opera, concert, musical theatre and theatre frequently overlapped, and I have found myself, these days, taking a rather Todd-AO view of 'my' era ... 

The other month, I penned a wee piece about a not-very-important actor-singer who, as part of his career, had played for Carte at the Savoy Theatre. I was amazed to see that there is an article about him on wikipedia. Oh dear! Barely a mention about the main part of his life, just a screed on the Cartesian portion. Obviously written by a Savoy enthusiast with blinkers. Well, I (fortunately, unpublished) was similarly blinkered as concerned Cissy. To be sure, I knew all about her activity in the musical-comedy world, but I wasn't aware of just how substantial her main career, as a young actress, had been. 

And then this charming photo turned up ... so, I investigated ... and wow! Here is what I found.

The lady who would be known as Cissy GRAHAME was born in Wolverhampton. Under what name I am not sure, for she was illegitimate, but she, herself, said that the date was 10 April 1863. Others say 1862. Maybe. When she married, she gave her name as Sarah Collett Grahame, and her father as Thomas Grahame (deceased), barrister. Which is untrue. But I found a Sarah Collett Gibson born in Wolverhampton in 1862 (and a plain Sarah Collett in 1863) ... I guess only a birth certificate would tell all. Anyhow, 'Thomas Grahame barrister' has apparently been identified (by others, presumably with reason) as 48 year-old QC Thomas Phinn, sometime Liberal MP for Bath, Judge Advocate of the Fleet and, to all appearances, the confirmed bachelor that he died as, in 1866.  Oddly enough, in the fatidic 1861 census, at the time when he was theoretically fathering Sarah, Phinn was living in rooms at 50 Pall Mall, and the chief domestic of the place was a Mrs Jane Gibson. Maybe Mrs Gibson had a teenage daughter ... for, when Cissy was born, her mother was about 15 years old. I imagine that Wolverhampton is not relevant, and that the pregnant teenager was merely sent, or went, to Staffs to have her baby. But, of course, that is not proven fact, merely a familiar scenario. 
Oh, when Mr Phinn died, he left nearly 20,000L, the main beneficiary being his sister. There were minor bequests to 'family and friends' but Mary ?Gibson/Graham[e] and their child don't seem to be mentioned. Not in the press reports of his testament, anyhow!

Thomas Phinn

The www tells us 'she [Cissie] was the daughter of an actress and she took her first stage role at the age of thirteen'. Hmmm. Sadly I cant find Mary and Sarah in the 1871 census, so I don't know if Mary was an actress, or if she latterly became one. 'Grahame' looks like a stage-name, to me. There were a heap of 'Miss Grahame's on the 1860s and 1870s stage. But, no! Here we are, Mary worked as 'Miss Giffard'.

'Age of thirteen'? Perhaps. Maybe they were living in London, and pretty, little 'Miss Grahame' would easily have found bit-work. Is she the 'Miss Grahame' as a virtual extra in Loo at the Strand? The Miss Grahame as a Christmas babe at the Standard is Rose, there are so many ...

I spot her for the first time in January 1877, at the Queen's Theatre, Edinburgh, playing the role of Anne Chute in The Colleen Bawn. From Edinburgh, she moved to Hull, manager: Wilson Barrett , and his company. There she can be seen in Little Bo Peep, Land Ahead (Mary Morrow), The Shauraughn (Arte O'Neil), Stolen Kisses (Cherry Spirit), Queen's Evidence (Ada Summers), in Much Ado About Nothing (Hero), The Schhol for Scandal (Maria), Money (Georgiina Vesey) as well as Adrienne in Proof, which Barrett took on tour. Then Barrett's company moved to Leeds 

Cissy had started as she would go on, playing good roles in good pieces under good management.

The next management under which she would appear was that of John Hare. At 16 years of age, Cissie was hired to make 'her first London appearance' at the Royal Court Theatre. She was cast as Lucy Franklin in a revival of A Scrap of Paper (4 January 1878) alongside Willie and Madge Kendal and, although she was judged a little 'emphatic', she was much liked. She would quickly shake off the dust of the provincial style, as she settled into a long run of another French adaptation, The Ladies Battle and Cousin Dick, and then -- as Hare and the Kendals moved on to the St James's Theatre -- as the ingenue of Val Prinsep's Monsieur le Duc (1879). After a visit to Hull, Cissy returned to the Royal Court, where she played alongside Modjeska in Mary Stuart, then to the Prince of Wales for A New Trial with Charles Coghlan and Amy Roselle and In Honour Bound (Kate Dalrymple). As ingenue of the theatre she was cast in the next piece, and thus created the role of Nellie in The Colonel. She would play it right throughout the comedy's very long run.

As Nellie in The Colonel

There followed a season with the Bancrofts and Modjeska in Odette (Eva Treherne) at the Haymarket, and Wilson Barrett engagements as leading lady, in the provinces, in such as The Lights of London (Bess Marks), The Silver King (Nellie Denver) and Claudian (Almida).
In 1884, she joined the company at the Vaudeville Theatre under Tom Thorne, where she appeared in Confusion, Saints and Sinners, Under Fire, Loose Tiles and Open House, before being hired for the Adelphi. Cast as Arragh-na-pogue, she found that the Adelphi was a bit vast for delicate playing, and moved on to Her Majesty's (Secret Service), then to the Strand (The Rubber of Life), the Crystal Palace with Edgar Bruce (Crutch and Toothpick) and, then, the Globe where she appeared in The Pickpocket (Mrs Hope) but also in a little dramatic forepiece entitled Barbara in which she made a personal hit. 

She appeared as the baddie (to Ellen Terry's goodie) in the trial of the blank verse The Amber Heart at a Lyceum matinee, but reverted to her usual successful role-play-management combination when she joined the Comedy Theatre for the long-running The Arabian Nights and for Uncles and Aunts, to which was adjoined a little piece entited Fennel. Fennel was the work of one Jerome K Jerome. Mr Jerome would soon become important in Cissy's life.
In the meanwhile, however, the young actress had accepted the worst engagement of her life. He was called Edward George Saunders; he, like she, was 24 years old, and a lawyer. You would have thought she might have learned about lawyers from her mother, but ...

Anway, she stuck him out for a decade before she divorced him for a long list of distasteful behaviours, and of infidelities, the last of which was an affair with an actress, Winifred Hare. However, in her petition, Cissy took care to mention a couple of Mr Saunders's other women as well. Tough luck, Winnie.

Winifred Hare

Cissy appeared for Mrs Oscar Beringer at the Opera Comique, at Toole's in The Bungalow, and then she took Terry's Theatre and produced a play on her own behalf. The play was entitled New Lamps for Old, it was by nice young Mr Jerome K Jerome, and Cissie was a success both with it and it it.

Next up, she put on The Judge, again with W S Penley starred, at the Opera Comique, then Jerome's The Maister of Wood Barrow, before leasing the provicial rights of the famous Triple-Bill (A Pantomime Rehesal etc) from C J Abud. The programme, with Cissy herself featured in one volet of the triptych (A Commission) toured from 1892 till 1894, when she took up the provincial rights of the hit musical A Gaiety Girl with equally happy results...
Two attempts to launch a new musical piece in All Abroad and On the March were mildly received and Cissy retreated from the arena ...

Instead, she took up the management of the Broadway Theatre, New Cross. She ran that house from 1897 to 1899, during which time she divested herself of Mr Saunders and found herself a new husband. This one was made of much better stuff.
William Edward Allen (b Belfast 2 March 1860) was the son of Irish printer, David Allen, whose business he had expanded into a vastly successful theatrical printing company which had just gone public. Cissy joined him in marriage in 1898, and in the business as well, and the two produced not only three sons, but built up a large and fruitful theatrical empire which included the ownership of a number of provincial theatres. At Allen's death in 1919 (12 April), Cissy, with the support of her sons, took over the running of the firm ... the whole tale is told in David Allens: the history of a family firm 1857-1957 written by Cissy's son, William Edward David Allen.
Our heroine died in 1944, after a memorable triple-headed career, in which she had made few misjudgements and suffered few failures... 

Tidy up time. Mr Saunders married Ellen Mary Winifred Hare as soon as the divorce was through. Too soon afterwards, they had a daughter, Winifred Maude Ellen Beatrice (14 January 1898). E G Saunders built and briefly managed the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill, the Terriss Theatre, Rotherhithe and the Camden Town Theatre, and presented there an approximate version of Chilpéric in cahoots with the original English producer, 'Richard Mansell'. Winifred was top-billed as Frédégonde, Courtice Pounds played the title-role, and a bundle of Englishmen were credited with 'additional material'. Saunders         went bankrupt, in 1906, over the construction of the Waldorf Theatre, Aldwych. That seems to have been the end of his romance with the theatre. I'm told he died in 1930.

Winifred died 26 February 1953. She left 532L 18s 1d to be executed by Winifred Maud[e] Ellen Beatrice Lugg 'actress, playwright and clerk at the corn exchange' ...

Having finished this article, I find a detailed biographical piece on Cissie in The Era Annual of 1896. It clears up that 'age 13' business. Mother was a member of the Hull stock company, and thus and there it was that little Cissy first went on stage.

Mary Grahame (or Gibson or Giffard or whatever) lived all her life with her daughter and her two successive husbands and children. She outlived her seducer/paramour by three-quarters of a century, and seems to have died in 1931, aged 86. Oh, in answer to my own query: I first meet Miss Giffard on the stage in the  Bradford company of 1868-9 ('Miss Giffard ... would make an acceptable actress if she could overcome her diffidence'), so I think maybe she became an actress, after Cissy's birth. I spot her in Willie Worboys's Benefit at St George's Hall in 1872, and -- good gracious! -- in the Swanborough's Strand Company, playing opposite H J Byron. (I think this may be a different Miss Giffard). In 1873 she advertises from 'Lancing House, 9 Mount Ararat, Richmond'. And yes! There she is, in 1875, in Sefton Parry's company at Hull, playing the Countess de Linière in The Two Orphans. Miss M A Giffard in Cyril's Success. Opposite Henry Ashley in The Adventures of a Love Letter and as Mrs Swandown in Everbody's Friend (ie To Oblige Benson), opposite Mrs Rousby as Queen Mary in Twixt Axe and Crown, playing leads with the company at Edinburgh, and then sharing the stage with her daghter, as Madame Deprêt, in Proof ...

And what do I see? When Cissy is at the Royal Court, Miss Giffard is in the company too. And here she is, playing Lady Capulet to Modjeska's Juliet and Wilson Barrett's Romeo, as Hannah Kennedy when Modjeska and Cissie play Mary Stuart at the Court, at the Princess's with Barrettt as Aunt Fanny in The Old Love and the New 'a capital portrait of a woman whose life has been blighted by an early and unfortunate attachment'. Hah! She wouldn't even have had to act!  And, oh goodness, she too had a role in The Colonel. It's really rather rude to just write 'mother was an actress': Mary deserves at least 'mother was the actress Miss M A Giffard'.


PS  I see also that W MacQueen Pope 'a leading authority on the British stage' (wot!) also wrote a piece about Cissy. Poor old 'Popey' was, if anything a 'misleading' authority, specialising in the good old 'history as I remember it, and improved ad lib' kind of writing. I'll stick to the Era Almanac. Except I don't need to, because now, chuckle, I've Done It Myself!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Cartesians: Murder, she said ....

A nice Cartesian (you are a Cartesian if you are listed in David Stone's archive) photo appeared on e-bay this week ... an 'American' chappie, whom I had passed by many times, but had never investigated. So, this seemed a good moment to do so. I had no idea to where his story would lead me, nor of the folk I would meet there ... and, I guess you know by now that when I get a bone, I worry every skerrick of meat from it, before letting it go!

So here goes, and here he is ...

John E[dward] NASH (b Finsbury c1863; d Los Angeles 5 November 1934). 

Mr Nash gave a good few variations of his background, and family historians have pasted together a few more, so I can't do better than 'Finsbury c1863', which is what he himself said in the London 1911 census. Well, the British records do not show a John Edward Nash in the birth lists for 1863, or anywhere near. There is a plain John in Islington (of which Finsbury is a part) in 1862, and a John Alfred in 1864. There is a John born to an unmarried mother in Lambeth workhouse in 1863 ... oh! and one born Queen St, Islington 14 September 1863 by William (carman) ex Ann ...  It is all the more confusing in that he says, variously, that he emigrated to America in 1874 and/or 1879.  And that he was married in 1891, 1899 and/or 1901 ...  The family historians attach him to the William/Ann, and give his date of baptism as that of the workhouse babe. So... take your pick. William and Ann died 1875 and 1877 in London. So ... emigration 1874? Or 1879? Aged 11, or 16? His obnubilated background becomes more confirmedly so, when, in the 1910s, he and wife cross the Atlantic. She gives her precise date of birth, he leaves a blank.

It was definitely no later, for my first sighting of Nash on the stage is in America in that year of 1879. He is touring with a Norcross company, star Lisette Ellani (Ellen Hatch), playing HMS Pinafore and Trial by Jury. He is in the cast and .. aged 16? .. company treasurer! In 1880, he succeeded to the part of Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, and I see him next in summer season in Massachussetts, again doubling as player and box-office manager. In 1882, he was at the Fifth Avenue with signora Ellani in A Checkered Life, and at the Bijou as the Colonel in Patience. Harry St Maur was cast as Grosvenor and judged vocally appalling, so maybe Nash substitued for this photograph.
Over the years that followed, I spy him playing Gregoire in Prince Conti with Catherine Lewis, Coqueilcot then Marvejol in Olivette, Freddy Bowman in The Merry Duchess, Bob Becket in HMS Pinafore, Testaccio in A Night in Venice, Pericles in A Trip to Africa, Luigi in Gasparone, Rollux in The Twins and visiting San Francisco with John Duff's company. When Duff produced Dorothy (1887) he was Tom Strutt.

At the (supposed) age of 25, he took a turn into directing, and staged The Queen's Mate, and staged The Queen's Mate, with Lillian Russell and Marie Halton, for Duff, and followed up by directing Paola, Iolanthe, The Mikado, HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance -- cast with some of the country's best comic opera performers: J H Ryley, Digby Bell and Laura Joyce Bell, Lilly Post, Chauncey Olcott -- before moving over to Palmer's Theatre to direct James Sauvage and Marie Tempest in The Red Hussar. He was, for a period, stage director for the Bostonians (The Knickerbockers, The Maid of Plymouth &c), then for the Tivoli in San Francisco, from where he was sacked for neglect of duty: he spent too much time at the horse races. He sued Mrs Kreling for wages, and won, but he had made a gentlemen's agreement on the two-year length of the contract, so lost that suit in absentia contractis. He took employment as general manager for one-time Tivoli soprano, Gracie Plaisted, and 'adapted' Dorothy to her purposes under the title Chanticleer Hall, but he was soon back in New York, directing Brian Boru for Fred C Whitney (1896).  In 1898, he turns up at Koster & Bial's Music Hall, directing their burlesque In Gotham.

And, somewhere in here, he got married. At least once. In one of the many approximate documents that spice his life, Nash said he was first married at the age of 28. Which, if his say so is correct, means 1891. Before he was naturalised American (San Francisco 18 May 1893). When the San Francisco gossips rumoured that he was to marry Gracie Plaisted, he countered that he was already married. His wife was in New York. Hum. Is this the same wife whom he was suposed to have wed in 1899? Or in 1901? We know who she was. But the family historians don't bring out any proof. And there is no notice of marriage, that I can find, in the trade papers ... but from 1902, and for the next quarter of a century, they called themselves Mr and Mrs Nash, so that's good enough for me. (PS found! John Nash (sic) married Lilian Wolfe 23 November 1900 at Bridgeport, Conn, so I guess she had a predecessor).

This is the Mrs Nash we 'know', known for the stage as Lil[lian] HAWTHORNE (b Nashville, Illinois 4 July 1877; d 196 Hastings Street. Brooklyn 22 March 1926). She was one of four sisters, daughters of a New Orleans gentleman (well, he was a real estate agent latterly) by the name of Tazwell Wolfe ka Hawthorne (d 27 July 1912) and his wife Adrianna or Andrewanna or Ada née Rogers, a farmer's daughter from Pontotoc, Mississippi. Three of the girls Eleanor, Lillian and Adelaide, were to make a name in the world of showbusiness: as Nellie Hawthorne, Lil Hawthorne and Lola Hawthorne, they performed for a number of years from America to Britain to Europe, as 'the Sisters Hawthorne'. From what I can work out, that was the order of seniority: Nellie b Oakdale, Ill 2 March 1875; Lil next, and Lola b Illinois 30 April 1879). 

My first stage-sighting of Nellie is in Charles Hoyt's The Tin Soldier, at the Bijou Theatre in 1890. Also in the cast was a Welshman known as Robert Courtenay Vernon. They were married three months into the engagement, 10 April 1890, at ... Anaconda, Deer Lodge, Montana. Nellie said she was 21. They must be blind or accommodating in Montana. At the end of A Tin Soldier, they went out with Lewis Morrison's Faust company, then Fannie Rice's A Jolly Surprise, Joseph Gaites's The Wild Duck, The Spider and the Fly etcetera, until the sister act began in 1895. Vernon latterly gave up the stage and became a champagne salesman until his death (29 August 1917). 

However, Lillian had already begun, in 1889, when she was cast in a small boy's role in the comic opera Paola. Aged 12! Director; J E Nash. Then she and Lola joined the Bostonians. Director: J E Nash. I see them playing Leila and Fleta in Iolanthe with Henry Dixey's company at Palmer's Theatre in 1892. Director: J E Nash. And in the Bostonians's The Knickerbockers, Robin Hood, and The Ogallalas. Little Lola was featured as a dancer in Carmen. In Eddie Foy's Off the Earth, Lola played the Queen Dowager and Lillian was Gavotte.
In that same year, the three sisters got together as an act, and their success at Koster and Bial's ('Sporting Girls') and in The Twentieth Century Girl (1895) set them on the path they would follow. The act, sometimes with two of them, sometimes with three, would make them great variety favourites ..

The trio were interpolated into Morocco Bound, played the London Palace (November 1895), the Canterbury, the Tivoli '... three tall, graceful and striking American girls, with great refinement of style, and possessing cultivated voices which harmonise very effectively in their first trio. Their second is a coon song, which is redolent of the humour of the cotton plantation, and which is followed by a very pretty and dainty dance ...'. 

They performed 'She's the daughter of Officer Porter', 'Up to Dick', their coon trios, but one of the most successful features of the girls' act was a scena titled The Story of the Willow Pattern Plate, with music by the not yet Florodora-ed Leslie Stuart. The whole scene was set in blue and white, with a little bridge upon which stood, at curtain rise, the three little maids in all blue and white. The press amazed that they looked as if they were part of the scenery. Then the music began, they stepped down from the bridge, and gave their song. 'The sister voices harmonise delightfully' commented the London critic. The scena, although buky to travel, remained in their act, two little maids or three, for a number of years and Francis, Day & Hunter published the music with the girls' picture on the cover.

They popped back to America, to play in In Gayest Manhattan (1897) at Koster and Bial's (director: J E Nash) and to introduce their Willow Pattern scena, which by its simplicity and novelty won huge approval ('An English artist painted it, and his work is in marked contrast to the glittering effects to which home talent has of late been so generously devoted'). Lola (now Mrs Lawrence Joseph Rodriguez) made headlines by getting knocked over by a horse on Broadway. The trio were soon back in London with their latest scenas 'The Ladies' Fire Brigade' and 'Sleighing'. 'They come behind the footlights in a sleigh drawn by a good nag driven by a coachman in a smart uniform, and form an attractive picture as they stand on the stage, set with a specially-painted snow-scene. Their svelte figures are well set off of plum-soloured tunics and skirts trimmed with white fur, the costumes being  completed by toques to match.' The Penny Illustrated Paper printed a large interview with the sisters who avowed coming from Dallas, Texas, where father and grandfather fought in the Civil War and lost their all, so the girls had to go on the stage ... it did reveal, however, that Ellaline Terriss's Shop Girl hit 'I want yer, my honey' was a version of the 'Bully Song' and that the girls had actually been the first to sing it in its popular version. 
At Christmas 1897 they went to Dublin where they headlined in Michael Gunn's pantomime Aladdin, but the following year it was just Lil, appearing solo. Lola and Nellie had gone back to America, and were singing Leslie Stuart's 'Lily of Laguna' at Koster and Bial's. Lil was singing 'Take it home and give it to the baby' (as a doll-vendor, see above), 'Sweet Rosie O'Grady' and 'I'll be your sweetheart' to Londoners. 

Henceforth, the three-sister act was over.

Lil went to Berlin's Winter-Garten, popped over to fulfil an engagement in America, back to Britain to play the Alhambra, then Edinburgh and Glasgow, and principal boy in Cinderella at Liverpool ... so, I wondered, did she marry while there? For in February 1900, she came into court, in Liverpool, with Nell, Vernon and Nash ... and on the occasion she was named as Lillian Nash. She wasn't. Not yet.

Nash directed the American The Whirl of the Town in its London production, though I wonder if the 'Percy Nash' who directed Lil in Puss in Boots at the Shakespeare at Xmas 1900 is a typo. He seems to have spent most of his time, from now on, managing and promoting Lil. Although one article says that he owned a houseboat, Adrianna, moored on the Thames, opposite Hampton Court Palace, where teas were served. .  Anyway, for the next decade Lil was a splendid feature of the music-hall stage ... until ... there came a murderous little man ...

Lil was a staunch member of the Women's Music-Hall Guild, where one of her friends was ...

Their involvement in this famous case turned their lives upside down. 

Lil and John at Crippen time

After a couple of years spent in Brooklyn, Lil returned to performing in England, but, around 1915, the couple left Britain and returned, finally, to America and to Manhattan Beach. After some varied entrepreneurial activities (beach catering, owning a garage), however, Nash found a new area of showbusiness in which to get involved: the film screenplay market. I see him credited with Madame X (1920), Under the Lash (1921)  'he is scenario-writing for Goldwyn...'.. 

Lil died in 1926, of heart trouble, aged 49. Soon afterwards, John married Beatrice Wilkinson Rudd, the widow of a Brooklyn taxicab operator. They moved to Hollywood's 4649 Sunset Boulevard, and John worked as a screenwriter and actor for hire for the last years of his life. 

His obituaries were typical of the showbiz nonsense of the time and place

Well, well. Who knew that Pinafore was produced in 1881, that Sullivan was Sir and Gilbert was not, that the teenaged Nash produced Patience in 1882 .. who knew that Robin Hood was produced in 1891 rather than 1890 ...

Lola's husband, 'Rod' Rodriguez worked as manager for Julia Marlowe, and for a tour with Sarah Bernhardt. They were apparently divorced, for when he died in August 1926, his death certificate avowed that his widow was Julia Bernhardt Marlowe. Was somebody joking. Anyhow, Lola remarried Mr George Doerschuck, brewer, and she died of the same heart trouble as Lil (plus a few liverish things) 15 July 1928. There was a son, Jack Rodriguez.

Nellie kept on working after the end of the vaudeville act, but she too retired. In 1930, with John gone Hollywood, just she and mamma Adrianna, a hearty 84, remained in Brooklyn. Mamma died in Coney Island Hospital 5 April 1933. And her death certificate shows that daughter no 4, Lizzie, was still alive. I don't know what became of Nellie Hawthorne Vernon. I leave her in Beaumont St, Brooklyn for now ...

We've wandered a long way from Leila, Fleta and Archibald Grosvenor, but that's what happens sometimes. And who knew that we'd meet Mr Crippen -- more 'celebrated' than any of them -- on the way ...

PS Lil made a number of gramophone recordings and can also be seen on film

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Cartesians: Stripping Away (some of) the untruths ...

Phew! What a couple of days. How much time spent on just a handful of Old Cartesians. And all I wanted to know was ... who were you?

I started off all-rightishly. David Stone sent me another American Princess Ida photo. The three warriors. Played by Messrs Cloney, Ainsley Scott and Early. Of whom I had, vaguely, heard only of the second-named ...

So I went to work, first, on Mr Scott. Mazellah Ainsley SCOTT (b Nashua, NH ?26 July 1840), son of George J Scott, ship's carpenter, and his wife Elizabeth née Danforth. I see them in 1855 living in Charlestown. But Ainsley was on the stage before his teens were out. I see him playing in New Orleans by 1858, and in New York by 1861. And he had already found his niche: in minstrel shows, where he played comedy and burlesque, and sang ballads in 'his fine deep bass voice'. He rose quickly in the minstrel world, playing with the San Francisco Minstrels, Morris brothers, Pell and Trowbridge's troupe, with Billy Emerson's California Minstrels ('he is not only a good basso singer but a capital actor') ... his minstrel career is detailed in several of the careful American books on minstrelsy ... and, in 1874, visited Australia with the Emerson troupe. He stayed in Australia, with his current wife who also performed, playing in various troupes, under his own management until, in 1875 , he went bankrupt. I spot him, in 1880, playing Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore in Tasmania. 

While in Australia, he fathered a son, George Clarence Ainsley Scott (28 May 1875) of whom the mother was registered as Nellie Moreton. Which was not the name of either or his first two wives. The boy died aged one, but when Scott arrived back in California he was said to have arrived with a wife and a child. But he, nevertheless, briefly married one Ida Ball ('arrested for bigamy ... fired two pistol shots') in 1883 ... Mr Scott's private life life seems to have been extremely irregular. But he carried on. He sent out Ainsley Scott's Jubilee Singers, the Kentucky Jubilee Singers ... and then suddenly he surfaces playing Arac in Princess Ida ...
He didn't make a habit of it. He returned to the minstrel stage, to Ainsley Scott's Concert Troupe' (1888), Mrs Ainsley Scott's Medicine Company (1890, wot?), and in 1901 he got married yet again. He toured, doing readings from Parsifal and lecturing on Wagner (1904) and in 1907 he was giving 'dramatic recitations' billed as '82 years old - the oldest actor in America'. He was 67. Unless.. unless there were TWO of them ... and they were both born in Nashua, and shared the wives ... bah!

I drew an absolute blank on Mr Early. But Edward J CLONEY (b ?Rhode Island, 1857; d New York ?1891) was to lead me into even more complex family details than Scott of the ?five wives. It wasn't his fault, though. I can't find a birth record for him. He comes up before my eyes for the first time in 1878, as the bass singer in the quartet at St Francis de Sales Church in Boston, in 1879 singing in concert at the YMCA in Boston Highlands, in 1880 singing at a memorial service in Boston, and in 1881, again, in Boston. But not in any public documents until 1888, when he turns up on a very scrappy marriage certificate from Jersey City which says, merely, that he is 30 years old. His wife is listed as 19, which is a lie by at least three years. So, I rather suspect 'Cloney' may have been a pseudonym.

I see him, for the first time on the stage, in 1884, playing in a production of The Beggar Student at the Spanish Fort, New Orleans. Adah Richmond is featured, our friend 'Ralph Wreckstraw' Henry Laurent in Janicki, and W A Gillow is Enterich. Spanish Fort usually staged seasons with a stock cast, but this one must have soon finished, because next thing he was up in New York playing Princess Ida!  Sometime around here, he also played with the Selina Dolaro company ... at some stage he was stage manager for John Stetson ... I see him damned for a weak portrayal of the Mikado, and then playing in Ruddigore with J W Herbert, Brocolini and Agnes Stone4 July 1886, he became a father; 5 October 1888 he married the mother of his child, Miss Josephine Folch. My last sighting of Edward is in 1890: assistant manager of the Casino, Parkersburg ... my next sighting of his wife, she is 'widow'.

The wife. Ah, the wife. THIS is where all my time went. Chasing her. Because wife and baby daughter were to make much, much more splash in American showbiz than poor papa.

Josephine Juliette Sophia Folch was born 14 February 1866 to a lady who had seemingly started life as Annie Josephine (or Anna Apollonia) Howlett and who was, apparently, a vocalist. In 1851 she had married fellow opera singer Pietro Intropidi and had a son, Fred, who would go on to become a successful theatre conductor, and a daughter, Anna. Then I lose track of Pietro, but in 1866 Annie produces a daughter, Josephine, whose birth certificate says that the father is one Don Joseph Folch or Casta. Another opera singer? Spanish. She next appears to have married one 'John Henry' (J H Tooss), produced a child christened Harold Morris Henry, ?before marrying one Julius Krzywoszynski ...  Anyway, she ignored all other mates and called herself Ann Intropodi till her death.
Josephine also gave up the Folch and called herself Josie INTROPODI (b 14 February 1866; d NYC 19 September 1941), and under that name made herself a long and fine career as a comedienne in musical comedy. 

Josie's daughter, Ethel Josephine Clony, ka Ethel INTROPODI (b NYC 17 May 1883; d 18 December 1946) is surely the Ethel who made a fine career as a dancer and actress ...  I see that Uncle Fred also had a daughter named Ethel Josephine ... or was he just claiming little sister's out-of-wedlock babe ... you never know, with this family! Anyway, the press just 'forgot' that she had a father

I've wandered a little far from Mr Cloney (or 'Mr Cloney'), haven't I, but this is how a morning can disappear once you get on rails ... and there was worse to come!

But lets have just one slightly less hectic one. Back to Britain!

This identification may be, just MAY be wrong. I lack the one final poussière of proof. But I'm pretty sure I'm right, even though there are a couple of odd joins in my tale. Between 1886 and 1901, with gaps (see David Stone's archive) a gentleman by name 'Harold Charles' performed as a baritone with the Carte company at the Savoy Theatre. And, at odd periods during that time, an aspiring concert singer by name H C Portway appeared in London and the provinces. I posit that they were one and the same baritone.
Harold Charles PORTWAY (b The Croft, Halstead, Essex 1869; d 139 King's Avenue, Clapham 10 July 1918) was the son of a well-off ironmonger, Charles Portway and his wife Anne Winifred née Attfield. In 1881 he can been seen at Faversham Grammar School. In 1891, he is back in Halstead: but not with the family, boarding, solo, with an elderly lady, and professing to be 'ironmonger's assistant'. In between times, according to me, he had spent four years as a chorister and etcetera at the Savoy. Had he given up? Was he aiming for a career in the concert world. Or did he just not know quite what his direction was? In March 1894, he can been seen returning from America ... yes, he's been singing in St Paul's church choir in Los Angeles! It seems that he ('pupil of Modini-Wood') then tried something else

The notices were from a tryout of a local opera The Lady of Bayonne at Cheltenham (9 February). 
Harold had a go. in 1897, he appeared singing Schumann songs in a concert where Rutland Barrington was also on the bill, he staged a concert of his own, performing In a Persian Garden with Emily Squire, Adealide Lambe and Gregory Hast, and he went back to the Savoy to play a small part in His Majesty. In 1888, Mr Portaway appeared in concert again, promoting an evenung if Browning lyricked songs at St George's Hall, in 1889 he took a part in C J Abud's tour of A Pantomime Rehearsal (Tomkins), in 1900-1 he was back at the Savoy. I see him just once more, in 1905, playing 'a waiter' in a tour of The Orchid. In the 1911 census, living in two rooms in Streatham, he insisted he was living 'on his own means'. When he died in 1918, he had 55 pounds to his name.

Britain, alas, has its annoyingly coy folk too. And before I write up the tale of the lady who called herself Evelyn KINGSBURY [KEATSON, Elizabeth Louisa] (b London c 1861; d 6 Braidley Road, 
Bournemouth 5 April 1936) I'm going to have one last hour devoted to trying to discover who she was. 
Well, one more paver in the crazy paving of this story ... but no final answer, so here's what I have. See if you can fill in the gaps.
1861 A child named Elizabeth Louisa * was born 'in London'
1878 A child named Alfred William Keatson was born in Bloomsbury to said Elizabeth and a chap named [George] William Keatson of whom I can find no other record
1884 A second child was born the said parents, in Boston, 8 November. Father is listed as 'physician'. Child named Georgie Leora. (Why?). Most of the boxes on the form are left blank.
1887 Miss Evelyn Kingsbury is on tour with the D'Oyly Carte Opera as Rose Maybud in Ruddigore. Her home address is 7 Woburn Place, Russell Square. During 1887-8 she tours as Josephine, Yum Yum in the British provinces.

1889 she is in America, but back in Britain in time to play Fairy Queen in panto at Glasgow.
1891 she is advertising weekly for work. On census day, she 'widow' and Georgie are 'visitors' at the home of a carman named Cooper at Victoria Street, Ventnor, Isle of Wight. Alfred is at boarding school. Mr Keatson is, apparently, dead.
1892 Evelyn is performing at the Holborn royal, Music Hall, before going on tour in the provincial musical Bonnie Boy Blue
1893 'Musical drama' Devil may Care and Boy Blue in Little Red Riding Hood at Aberdeen
1895-7 Mrs Keatson of 15 University Garden Terrace, Glasgow 'late prima donna ...' teaching singing

1898 '16 Eaton Place, Hillhead...'
1899 Albert emigrates to New Brunswick. He is already 'resident' there
1911 Evelyn ('singer') and Georgie ('chorus girl') in a large ?hotel in Kensington
1912 Georgie becomes Mrs George Bayard Hynes (d 21 April 1973).

So, professionally, why did she find it so hard to get another job after her Carteing-years? And who the hell was ?George William Keatson?

While I was in the 'K's, I tried a few other inhabitants. Few would render their veritable identity. For now.

Arthur KENNETT came from the so-called Royal English Opera Company of John O'Connor (1883-4, O'Moog in The Lily of Killarney, Ethelerus in The Piper of Hamelin, Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro) to join the Savoy Company (1885). He later toured with Fannie Leslie, as Grénicheux in Les Cloches de Corneville, worked as a 'descriptive and baritone ballad vocalist', and I see him last at Ashton-under Lyme in 1892.

Leo[pold Albert Ravener] KLOSS (b Birmingham 1861; d Chelsea 1929) was the son of a small-time pianist. He began life as a lawyer's clerk, but thereafter doggedly insisted that he was an actor and vocalist for the rest of his life. I see him at one stage performing with the Mohawk Minstrels, but not much else. 

Sebastian KING (KING, Samuel Hooke) (b Soho 30 June 1859; d Lambeth 16 January 1927) had a rather more substantial career as the G&S archive details. His wife (1885) was one of the Augarde girls, Louise Adele Augarde, sister to the better-known Amy, by whom he had 4 children. He appeared as a baritone singer on the music-halls, and in pantomime (Glasgow, as a bass-baritone Gipsy King, regular demons) in between musical theatre engagements.

D'Arcy [George Vincent] KELWAY (b Portsmouth 21 Januaryn 1870; d Carlton, Australia 7 December 1940) had his Cartesian experience at the beginning of his career. He went on to became a well-known theatre and radio comedian in Australia.

So, some Ks but far from all ....

Rose/Rosa CARLINGFORD seems to have been a lady. Maybe, a rather quirky one. She came from, seemingly, nowhere to make a hit of the role of Peronella in Boccaccio (1882) at the Comedy Theatre ('acts with a keen sense of humour and possesses one of those rich and rare voices which the French term 'contralto par exception basse''), and followed up by taking over as the Fairy Queen in Iolanthe at the Savoy (1883). But the follow-up was made up merely of bits and pieces. She (and Hayden Coffin) lent their names to the attempt to popularise the 'Ammoniaphone'; she joined Louisa van Noorden and her pupils in concert for Children's penny dinners at Steinway Hall (11 December 1885), and she went to America with the Vokes Family playing that 'society-amateurs' triple-bill piece A Pantomime Rehearsal (Lady Rosa Tralee) and The Tinted Venus (1885-6).
Back home, she sang in Arthur Helmore's concert at Crystal Palace, acted with amateurs at St George's Hall, and in 1894 took part in an attempt to reproduce the hit of the Court triple-bill at the Avenue Theatre (Lady Barker in The Depths of the Sea). She won much more column space when she gave her name and address (258 King's Rd, Chelsea) as a reference for a nation-wide advertising campaign for some voice cure. I see her last playing Ibsen at the Stage Society (1900), and in Mice and Men (1902) at the Lyric ...  So far, I have found no suitable alter ego in the King's Road ...

But Britain wasn't totaly fruitless. I don't know why I chose to investigate Alice YORKE [FRANKISS, Alice Lightfoot] (b Hull 5 May 1863; d 8 Walsingham Rd, Hove 29 February 1952). She's rather outside my field, as most of her fine career was made as a leading or nearly-leading lady in drama and comedy in London and in the provinces. But she had a 'melodious voice', and at the age of twenty she fulfilled an engagement, in 1883, with the Carte touring company, playing Edith in The Pirates of Penzance and Hebe in HMS Pinafore. It seems to have been her only appearance in a book musical, although she spent time playing in An Adamless Eden in 1884, played a number of pantomime engagements and displayed her nice soprano in several dramatic pieces.
The daughter of a seed-merchant, Thomas Frankish, and his wife Annie née Young, she was born in Hull, but brought up in Islington, and like her sisters, was sent out as a governess. But not for long: rechristened 'Alice Yorke' she joined Edgar Bruce's company at nineteen, followed into the business by her younger brother, Hugh William, who became 'Gilbert Yorke' and began a solid career at nineteen, and by sister Emily Schofield Frankish who became 'Ella Yorke' (Mrs Robson Lambert). 
Alice's list of credits is long and wide, and includes time as leading lady to Edward Terry (The Rocket, In Chancery, Culprits), Gervaise in Drink opposite Charles Warner, The Private Secretary opposite Penley at the Comedy Theatre, top-of-the-bill tours in Alone in London, As in a Looking Glass, A Dead Man's Gold, The Arabian Nights, A Woman's Revenge, et al, in repeated London engagements (Royalty, Novelty, Comedy, Olympic, Standard, In Sight of St Paul's at the Princess's etc) and a long tour with May Fortescue playing The Lady of Lyons, Forget-me-Not, As You Like It and, particularly, Moths in which, as Fuschia Leach, she seemed to get better notices than the star. I see her as Sybil Grey in The Duchess of Coolgardie, Lady Algy in Lord and Lady Algy, Lady Sneerwell in The School for Scandal, Princess Eliza in Madame Sans-Gêne ... as well as in the role of Jenny Pigtail in Robinson Crusoe at the Crystal Palace, as Aladdin at Liverpool, as Morgiana at Plymouth and even, briefly, as Talbot to the Joan of Arc of Kate Neverist in a touring burlesque.
In 1892, Alice married Charles Edward James Blyth Pratt, sometime assistant to Albert Gilmer, then the manager of the Oxford Music Hall, and 28 February 1894 gave birth to Violet Alice Blyth Pratt. As 'Violet Blyth' she created the role in the musical Who's Hooper? which her mother hand played so successfully in the Pinero comedy, In Chancery, three decades earlier. Violet, after a breach of promise case (which she won), married twice, but seems to have been ?unofficially the wife of Lupino Lane, with whom she played in his Victoria Palace musicals, and the mother of Lauri [Henry] Lupino Lane.

The family spreads even more widely in British show business if you count marriages and remarriages. Violet's first husband was John Oliver Twiss ... and the story is told . And there's more .. but that will do.

Finally, today, I dip back into America, for a 'third little maid', who also caused me a long, time-consuming wander. Unconsummated. The archive tells us Mamie CERBI [CERBI, Matilda E] died in Providence, Rhode Island 11 August 1896.  And there she is: 'Mary McGee'. Typical. VSE. I have spent hours chasing up these people, getting more and more muddled by contradictory 'facts'  ... but, first of all, their careers.

Mamie. Apparently, she played for E E Rice in Adonis and Billee Taylor, but I first spot her in late 1885 and early 1886, cast as Peep-Bo in The Mikado, alongside such folk as J W Herbert, Mary Beebe, Agnes Stone and Augusta Roche/Alice Carle.

She played in the local musical, The Mystic Isle, at the Temple, Philadelphia and, in July 1886, she allegedly married. 'Miss Ulmar's understudy as Yum Yum' reported the press had married the fine young light comedy actor-singer Robert E Graham. The young couple, thereafter, most often appeared together: in The Little Tycoon ('a stunning soubrette'), in The Crystal Slipper, where Graham played the Baron and Mamie took-over from May Yohe as the Price when that lady was dropped after first night, in a touring version of the flop The Sea King (1890-1)

 and in their own vehicle, Larry the Lord, in which Mamie performed 'her Italian specialities'.

In between times, Mamie bore a son, Robert (9 May 1891) and either one daughter with two different names (Matilda, Naomi) or twins (10 August 1893) at E13th Street. And then she died. I wonder why?

Well, this is what I've dug up. The parental names on the birth certificates of her children are Matilda E Cerbi and Robert E Graham McGee. There aren't and weren't many folk named Cerbi in the USA. I've picked up just a handful. A I refuse to believe that there is more than one Matilda E. Even though I can't find her birth registration, I can find, in 1881, 'Matilda E Cerbi aged 18, daughter of Benedetto Cerbi (1825-1885) and Marianna née Tognini (1844-1905). Benedetto was a bookbinder from La Spezia, settled in New York, and he also had sons, George (1864-1940), Henry (1870-1963) and Francis (1872-1913) .. I could scarcely believe that was our sweet soubrette, though. For the document was a marriage certificate ..

and it was closely followed by another, for the birth, a 69th Street, of Martha Caroline Bennette or Bennett ... 23 March 1881 ...  so our little Peep-Bo, our stunning soubrette, had already done a bit of Peep-boing when she married (or 'married') Bob Graham. I don't know what became of Henry and little Martha: none of these people seem to partake of censi et al ...

So, Mamie was now Mrs Graham. Or Mrs McGee. Or was she? Next ball of wool. 'Robert Graham or McGee, born Baltimore, 1859'. Nix. Oh, look, here's a learned piece about early movie makers: 'Born in New York, New York in April 1896, Shadrack Edmond Graham was the son of a Broadway actor
/producer Charles Edmond Graham and prima ballerina Edith Craske Graham. The Graham family moved to Hollywood shortly after Shad was born'... another adds 'his Uncle was Robert E Graham...' and calls Edith 'international prima ballerina at the Drury Lane Theatre, London'. 

Oh dear. And now I'm irredeemably sidetracked. But the movie world, of course, deals in mythology. Edmond Shadrick Joseph Walstrum (ps Graham) was born NYC 26 April 1896. His father was Charles Edmond Walstrum (ps Graham), actor, and his mother the former Mrs Catherine Eliza[beth] Pierpoint, wife (1875) of music engraver William Pierpoint and mother of Catherine, Percy Valentine and William Pierpoint. Yes, Eliza's birthname was indeed Craske, she was the daughter of a hotel waiter of that name, and yes she tardily began a career as a music-hall and theatre dancer. (Shadrack wrote a book titled Mama was a Ballerina but was good enough to call it a novel!). 'Edith' actually appeared on stage wth Robert and Mamie, but I challenge the filmies to find a lien of parentage with Bob. Though the Walstrum descendants of Peter Walstrum, a British cordwainer of that name, were indeed Baltimore-born folk ... don't say I have to check Sophia, Rosalie and Amelia to see if they married a McGee ...  Baltimore marriage records are crap, as I found out when going all the way there to find 'Alice May'. Bah! I've strayed too far from Mamie ... I would guess that she died as Mamie E Graham McGee ... and nobody took much notice.

Bob died 17 July 1916. Son Robert went into the theatre as R E Graham jr, later into films, and died 12 November 1959 in Cincinnati. The girl or girls ..? I see Matilda (Mrs Boesch then Mrs Thomas Phillips 1941) ...

This could go on, with details and extensions in every corner ... but let's end with Mamie's son ... 

I think I'll need a day or two off after that lot. Perhaps I should give my house a going over ... a spring dusting in mid-winter ... that means taking all the books off the shelves ... and, of course, I'll open one or three ...