(1851-) English actor, manager, writer, entrepreneur.
Arthur Garner turned from architecture to the theatre while still a young man, and after touring the British provinces came to Australia in 1873, remaining for three years. He returned in 1879 with the London Comedy Company, and the followed year opened Garner’s Theatre in Adelaide. In late 1881 he joined forces with J.C. Williamson and George Musgrove to lease theatres in Sydney and Melbourne and the following year they formally established their “The Triumvirate” (1882-1890). Little is known of Garner’s life after his 1897 insolvency, largely a result of property speculation hit by the 1890s depression.
- See also: Williamson, Garner & Musgrove
1: Garner’s wife, actress Blanche Stammers, came to Australia with Garner in 1873 and again in 1879. She died here in 1883 following a brief illness.
2: Garner’s Theatre was previously known as White’s Assembly and Concert Rooms
Image source: National Library of Australia.
(1888-1973) New Zealand-born comedian, entertainer, artist, film actor/scriptwriter/ director and producer, entrepreneur, inventor, sportsman.
A comedian who specialised in “digger” roles, Pat Hanna’s multifaceted saw him excel as an inventor (including the game Batinton), lightening sketch artist, creator and producer of the Famous Diggers troupe, and as a film producer. His most popular creations were the military sketches featuring himself as Chic (Chic and Bert, and later Chic and Joe). Hanna’s films were Diggers (1931), Diggers in Blighty and Waltzing Matilda (1933).
- More details
- “Diggers“ 1931 (3 film clips available online through Australian Screen)
- ♫ “The Gospel According to Cricket” [extract] 1929 (mp3)
- ♫ “Cricket-isms” 1934 (mp3)
Circuit operator, manager, producer.
Small-time Sydney theatrical entrepreneur Will Harris is known to have operated a variety circuit around the city’s suburbs as early as 1919. The venture, styled as Will Harris’s All-Star Vaudeville, initially showed at the Ryde Town Hall on Monday nights and soon afterwards expanded to include the Haberfield School of Arts (Wednesdays). Managed by Waldemar Johnson, the circuit was still running in the early 1920s.
(aka Colonel C.B. Hicks )
One of the most significant African-American minstrel showmen of the late 19th century, Charles B. Hicks formed the Georgia Minstrels in 1865 and over the next 37 years piloted various black troupes through the USA, Europe, the East and the Antipodes. His Australasian tours were 1877-79 (Georgia Minstrels); 1879-80 (with R.B. Lewis’ Georgia Minstrels, as manager); 1888-89 (Hicks-Sawyer Minstrels); 1889-91 (American Coloured Minstrels); and 1898-1899 (Harmston’s Circus, as general manager). Following his last visit to Australia he took Harmston’s Circus through India and the Dutch Indies but died in Surabaya, Java, in 1902.
- For further details see: Waterhouse, Richard. “Antipodean Odyssey: Charles B. Hicks and the New Georgia Minstrels in Australia 1877-1880.” Journal of the Royal Historical Society 72 (1986), 19-39.
- See also: Georgia Minstrels 
Image source: Irene Cox Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library (National Library of New Zealand)
(1842-1901) Businessman, manager, producer, troupe owner.
Englishman Frederick Hiscocks established a map publishing business in Victoria in the early 1870s. He later turned his entrepreneurial attention to the stage and in partnership with Alf Hayman managed several high profile minstrel troupes before establishing Hiscocks and Hayman’s Mammoth Minstrels. After touring Great Britain in 1881 Hiscocks returned to Australia and in 1883 founded the troupe he is best remembered for – Hiscocks’ Federal Minstrels (1883-89). He was later associated with the New English Specialty Co, Hicks-Sawyer Coloured Minstrels, and two Gaylord and Silbon companies.
(ca. 1862-1914) Dancer, entertainer, businessman, theatre lessee, troupe owner, manager, producer.
Ted Holland first came to prominence in the mid-1870s as a member of “the Australian team,” Delohery, Craydon and Holland. After the trio separated in the early 1900s Holland turned to full-time vaudeville management. He initially formed his own touring company before settling in the Brisbane in 1904, where he leased the Theatre Royal from Harry Rickards and later from Percy St John, presenting Holland’s Vaudeville Entertainers there for six unbroken years. In 1911 he and St John joined forces to lease the Empire Theatre.
Sports promoter, film exhibitor, manager, businessman, circuit owner, vaudeville producer, theatre lessee, theatrical agent.
Bert Howard (aka the Droll” and “Lord Mayor of Poverty Point”) worked for Harry Rickards, Harry Clay and J.C. Bain in his early career. Around 1910 he began exhibiting films in the Sydney suburbs while also involving himself in the boxing industry. He later established a booking agency and his own vaudeville circuit (occasionally joining forces with other managers). Howard was associated with agent James H. White in the late 1920s, and continued showing vaudeville, pantomime and pictures in Sydney and New South Wales into the early 1930s.
(ca. 1842-1909) Comedian/endman, dancer, musician (banjo), entrepreneur, manager.
Thomas P. Hudson first came to Australia in 1868/69, securing engagements with several Australian-based minstrel companies. He returned in 1874, billed as late of the St James Christy Minstrels, and teamed up with ex-Billy Emerson artists to form the US Minstrels. After the troupe disbanded in 1879 he founded Hudson’s Surprise Party, engaging many Australian-based performers over the next 25 years for tours through Australasia and the East. During his career he also leased venues in Adelaide (Bijou Theatre – aka Hudson’s Bijou) and Calcutta, and managed tours for stars like Nellie Stewart and Antoinette Sterling. Hudson died in Bournemouth, England.
- See also: Hudson’s Surprise Party.
Although Hudson was often billed as an American it is likely that he was either born or raised in England. Evidence for this comes from a report in The Star (New Zealand) which records: Hudson “commenced his career as a boy of seven… at a benefit to E.D. Davies, ventriloquist, in England… forty-five years ago” (6 Oct. 1894, 2).
Image: Australian Stage Annual (1901), 41
Frank Hussey made his professional debut in the USA in the early 1850s but had to (temporarily) abandon this career due to family pressure. He returned to the stage during the California gold rush and went on to carve out a significant reputation in America and internationally – notably as a troupe manager/leader. Hussey came to Australia in 1869 and was initially associated with Frank Weston. He later toured his own troupes and starred in Walter Cooper‘s Hazard (written for him) in 1872. He left Australia that same year but returned in 1884 for F.E. Hiscocks. Hussey settled in Launceston in 1886 and died there three years later.
- More details (research notes)
- See also: Weston and Hussey • Hussey, Kelly & Holly Celebrated Comedians • Weston & Hussey Minstrels • Frank Weston
Hussey’s US career included the following companies: Wells and Hussey Minstrels, Hussey’s New York Minstrels, Hussey and Taylor’s California Minstrels, Hussey’s Male and Female Minstrels, and Hussey’s Minstrels (aka Frank Hussey’s Troupe). In 1859 he created headlines around America after accidentally shooting and killing a colleague while being attacked back stage at a theatre in San Francisco.
Image source: Houghton Library, Harvard University
Cedric Johnson’s name has first been identified as manager of several Melbourne suburban cinemas during the early to mid-1910s. In October 1915 he engaged Huxham’s Serenaders to play at the Follies Theatre, St Kilda, and over the next two years also produced the troupe’s tours of Victoria and Tasmania. His career as a theatrical manager/entrepreneur later involved the proprietorship of such companies as Vogues and Vanities (1919-21) and the New Ideas (1922-23). Johnson likely turned to real estate management in 1924, initially being engaged by the Melbourne Sub-Divisions Company as its representative for the Corio Estate, Geelong.
Image Source: Prahan Telegraph 26 June 1915, 5.
GEORGE H. JONES
Character and descriptive artist, singer, comedian, actor, entrepreneur.
George H. Jones started performing at Sydney smoke concerts and social activities, in the early to mid-1890s, and later appeared at such venues as the Bondi Aquarium and Coogee Palace Aquarium. By the end of the decade he was working as both a vaudeville performer and as an actor in musical comedy/pantomime and burlesque – notably with Albert Powell, William Cosgrove, M. L. Raphael and (reportedly) for Williamson and Musgrove. By 1903 he had begun his entrepreneurial career, first with the American Star Entertainers. Other known ventures were an open-air People’s Concerts (Sydney, ca. 1904-05), Jones’s Huge Surprise Party (ca. 1907), Jones’s Mammoth Moving Theatre (1908-1911) and Jones’s Entertainers (1912).
- More details (research notes)
- See also: Jones’s Huge Surprise Party • Jones’s Mammoth Moving Theatre
Jones, whose career after 1912 is yet to be determined, should not be confused with another variety performer and entrepreneur from the same era – George A. Jones.
(1863-1926) Entrepreneur, theatrical showman, publican. [Born Richard Phillip Kenna in Country Clare, Ireland]
The son of Richard Kenna Snr (-1879), who settled in Australia and became a prominent and wealthy publican in Bathurst, New South Wales, Richard “Dick” Kenna attempted to serve in the Soudan in 1885 as a dresser (hoping to later practice medicine) but was thwarted when his father’s trustee successfully sued him for defamation. Although forced into bankruptcy Kenna soon afterwards turned to show business, at first in Bathurst and later in England (with a “talking horse”) and the USA (with fighting kangaroos). After returning to Australia in 1894 he ran a theatrical agency in Melbourne with Joseph MacMahon then returned to Bathurst where he establishing himself as both a rural showman and publican. He ran the family-owned Grand Hotel from 1902 and later owned and/or operated at least three other hotels.
One of Australia’s best-known bookmakers of the early 1900s, Andy Kerr immigrated to Australia from Scotland in the mid-1880s. Widely known as the “Coogee Bunyip,” he further cemented his association with the suburb by taking over the management of the Boomerang Theatre in 1917. That same year he also became manager and co-publisher of Australian Variety and Show World. In 1918 he briefly partnered Harry Sadler as a director at the Gaiety Theatre and following Sadler’s death in 1919 formed a partnership with Harry Clay to run the theatre.
Circuit owner, manager, producer, theatre lessee.
Sydney vaudeville entrepreneur Jack (Jacky) Landow initially established himself as a mercantile businessman before turning to the entertainment industry in 1911. Landow’s Entertainers toured the south and south-western regions – including Surrey Hills, Lakemba, Kogarah and Bankstown, through until 1919, albeit with several interruptions. Highly regarded within the industry for his policy of employing mostly local acts, Landow’s “small-time” status did not restrict him to small time acts – with Charlie Pope, Arthur Tauchert, George Sorlie, Desmond and Jansen, and Maud Fanning being among those engaged.
Described in 1916 as a “real hustler,” Joe Lashwood came to Australia in his twenties and by 1906 was appearing regularly on Harry Rickards’ bills. A specialist endman (“bones”) and “eccentric” comedian he worked for most of the leading Australia and New Zealand vaudeville firms over the following two decades but found his greatest success in the 1910s in partnership with Kitty Remby. During this period Lashwood also operated his own theatrical agencies and various vaudeville troupes, and in the early 1920s combined performing with spruiking in Sydney before settling in Newcastle as a promoter/producer and performer.
Lashwood was the father of radio star, television presenter, writer, director/producer and politician, Hal Lashwood (1916-1992). He is perhaps best remembered as Roy Rene’s straightman in the McCackie Mansion radio series and for his television variety show Hal Lashwood’s Alabama Jubilee (1958-61).
Image source: Australian Variety 31 May (1916), 12.
GEORGE R. LAWRENCE
(1867-1926). Sharpshooter, theatrical manager, producer, film exhibitor.
A promoter/manager in his early career, English-born George Lawrence later toured a “William Tell” act with his wife for ten years. In the mid-1890s he co-founded the Perth-based firm Jones and Lawrence, which between 1896 and 1902 managed three key venues – the Ye Olde Englyshe Fayre, the Theatre Royal and Cremorne Gardens. He later pioneered Sunday pictures in Perth and ran the Kings Theatre (Fremantle) for many years.
Born in Scotland of Jewish heritage, John Lazar came to Australia in 1837. He managed Sydney’s Theatre Royal and Royal Victoria, before settling in Adelaide in 1840 where he managed the Queen’s Theatre until moving back to Sydney in 1843. Lazar returned to Adelaide in 1848 but within two years had entered the jewellery profession and between 1855and 1858 served as the city’s mayor. Lazar moved to New Zealand in 1863. During his time in Australia Lazar was also involved in the theatre as both an actor and writer.
- See also Samuel Lazar [below]
While running the Queen’s Theatre in 1850 Lazar sued John Stephens, proprietor of the South Australian Register over an article which denounced his establishment as “hot-bed of demoralisation” (“Licentious Stage” 16 Jan. 1850, 3). Although Lazar won the verdict his claim for £200 damages was ignored by the jury who awarded him only one farthing. For a full report of the trial see “Lazar vs Stephens” (Adelaide Observer 9 Mar. 1850, Supp 1-2).
(1838-ca. 1883) Theatre manager/lessee, writer, producer, director.
The son of John Lazar, Samuel Lazar established his entrepreneurial credentials at the Theatre Royal in Adelaide before moving to Sydney to refit and administer the Queen’s Theatre. In 1875 he moved on to look after the second Theatre Royal, situated at the corner of King and Castlereagh Streets. For the next seven years he was exclusively associated with the Royal, producing among other things the theatre’s popular Christmas pantomimes.
- See also John Lazar [above]
Image: Stephens, A.G. J.C.W. Memorial (1913).
(1818-1906) English-born actor, circus performer, theatre manager/lessee, producer, director. [Born George Benjamin William Lewis]
George Lewis was born in London and started out as a circus performer and eventually took his own circuses to India before turning to the theatre after meeting his wife, actress Rose Edouin. The couple first came to Australia via the Far East in 1872 and alternated tours of through Australasia and the East until 1876. Lewis became the first lessee of Melbourne’s Bijou Theatre and later leased and/or managed theatres in Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand. He also invested in property, but ran in to financial difficulties as a result of the depression.
- See also: Mrs G.B.W. Lewis (aka Rose Edouin)
- For further details see Mimi Colligan. “Lewis, George Benjamin William (1818-1906)” Australian Dictionary of Biography (2005); and Circus and Stage: The Theatrical Adventures of Rose Edouin and G.B.W. Lewis (2013).
(ca.1869-1931) Greek-born theatrical entrepreneur, businessman. [Born: Marinos Lekatsas]
Marino Lucas and his brother Anthony came to Australia in 1886 and settled in Melbourne. Both were later heavily involved in architecture and construction. Between 1907 and 1917 Lucas was largely based in Tasmania where his activities included building Launceston’s Princess (1911) and Majestic (1917) theatres; managing/leasing Hobart venues (including the Theatre Royal and Temperance Hall); and operating vaudeville companies (notably Lucas’ Gaiety Entertainers and the Grand Tivoli Vaudeville Co). He was also a film exhibitor and producer. Soon after returning to live in Melbourne he built the Victory Theatre in Malvern (1919).
- See also: Princess Theatre (Launceston)
Anthony John Jereos Lucas (Lekatsas) (1862-1946) was in influential Greek Australian businessman, philanthropist, builder, Greek Consul General to Australia (1921) and Consul in Melbourne (1931-46).