Entrepreneurs [M-R]

ORPHEUS McADOO

McAdoo, Orpheus [Yale](1858-1900) American basso, entrepreneur, producer, teacher.

Born in North Carolina, Orpheus Myron McAdoo was a teacher prior to becoming a professional musician. He first came to Australasia with Frederick Loudin’s Fisk Jubilee Singers (1886-89). Following tours of the USA, Europe and South Africa he returned in 1892 with his own (Virginia/Fisk) Jubilee Singers.  During another tour of the region(1898-99) he briefly returned to the USA to put together McAdoo’s Georgia Minstrels and Alabama Cakewalkers. The company’s  Australian tour, which opened in Sydney in July 1899, continued through until a few weeks before McAdoo’s death on 17 Jul 1900.

Image source: Beinecke Library, Yale University

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JOHN N. McCALLUM

(ca. 1872-1956) Businessman, administrator, tour manager, producer, theatre owner, company director.

McCallum, JN 1 [SLQ]John Neal McCallum’s early career involved various managerial and administrative positions in Brisbane. His association (as representative) with Edward Branscombe‘s Westminster Glee and Concert Party led to him being offered the position of manager of the Cremorne Gardens when Branscombe opened it in 1911. McCallum purchased the theatre in 1916 and under his ownership it became a Brisbane landmark for almost 40 years. His son, John McCallum, was an actor, producer, director, and screenwriter who achieved local and international recognition.

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HUGH D. McINTOSH

McIntosh, Hugh D(1876-1942) Businessman, sports promoter, company director (General Manager), producer, newspaper/magazine owner, circuit owner.

After establishing a successful chain of pie stalls in Sydney, Hugh D. McIntosh turned sports promotion and in 1912 bought a controlling interest in the Tivoli circuit. Under his direction it was legally known as Harry Rickards Tivoli Theatres Ltd. Over the next few years McIntosh expanded into the media, purchasing several newspapers and magazines (notably the Green Room and Sunday Times), and in 1917 became a New South Wales parliamentarian. Facing financial ruin in 1920 he sold his shares in the Tivoli. He moved to England in 1932 (after being declared bankrupt) and briefly ran a successful chain of milk bars.

  • For further details see: Frank Van Straten. Huge Deal: The Fortunes and Follies of Hugh D. McIntosh (2004) • “Hugh D. McIntosh 1876-1942.” Live Performance Australia (2007) [sighted 19/04/2014]

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STANLEY McKAY

(1879-1974) Actor, director, producer, troupe owner, tent show operator.

McKay, Stanley 1One of Australia’s pioneering tent show theatre operators, Stanley McKay’s early theatrical career saw him associated with the Sydney Muffs amateur dramatic company. His first professional venture was in 1909 when produced an acclaimed production of Hamlet with Scottish tragedian, Walter Bentley. He soon afterwards began touring his own pantomime and Shakespeare companies around Australian and New Zealand under canvas. After serving overseas during WWI, McKay returned to Australia and spent the next six decades working almost continuously as a touring showman (including engagements with the Victorian and New South Wales education departments).

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ROBERT McLEISH

McLeish, Robert [NA 3 Aug 1929, 1](1883-1953) Singer (baritone), entrepreneur, film industry advocate.

Considered the father of Victorian motion picture industry, Robert McLeish started out as a suburban variety entertainer in the early 1900s, often performing as an illustrated singer (in front of moving pictures). He later moved into vaudeville and concert promotions before focusing his attention on the emerging film industry. Initially associated with the Northcote Theatre (from ca. 1914) he went on to become one of the state’s leading motion picture showmen. During this time he built theatres, established his own cinema chain, and served in numerous official roles, including President of the Cinematograph Exhibitors’ Association, Chairman of the Hoyts Victorian Executive and as President of the Green Room Club (32 years).

Although McLeish’s career from 1915 onward was primarily associated with the motion picture industry he nevertheless retained a connection with variety theatre, engaging performers to entertain his audiences between films and on occasion presenting an all-vaudeville programme at some of his suburban theatres.
Image source: News (Adelaide) 3 Aug. (1929), 1.

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GEORGE MARLOW

(ca. 1877-1939) English-born entrepreneur, filmmaker, businessman [Born: Joseph Marks]

Marlow, George [TT Aug 1915, 13]George Marlow came to Australia as a child and during his youth performed as an actor and pianist. He worked as an actor for William Anderson in the late 1890s but turned to management in 1904 – first with Anderson and later with John Fuller Snr. He toured his own Travesty Company in 1905 and two years later leased his first theatre (in Newcastle), followed in 1910 by Melbourne’s Princess Theatre. The following year he bought the Princess and built the Adelphi  (Sydney). Marlow also toured his own dramatic companies around Australia during the 1910s, directed several films (1911-1912), and produced pantomimes, revues and revusicals into the 1930s.

The Adelphi was later renamed the Grand Opera House (1916) and Tivoli Theatre (1932). Marlow’s wife was the actress Ethel Buckley.
Image source: Theatre Magazine Aug. (1915, 13.

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GEORGE E. MELROSE

Actor, mimic, tour manager, entrepreneur.

Although George Melrose career prior to 1922 has not yet been ascertained, several newspaper items published in 1924 record that he previously spent three years with the Fullers (his employment duties are unknown) and had also been associated with Allan Wilkie’s Shakespearian Company. After finishing up with Taylor and Colman’s Pantomime Company in 1922 (as tour manager) he operated the Amusu Vaudeville Company (mostly within the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales) through until 1925. He later toured companies and ran permanent shows in the Hunter as well as further afield (including Northern New South Wales and Queensland). Melrose continued working as a showman/ manager up until at least the mid-1930s.

Melrose’s other post-1925 ventures included The Originalities of 1925, Theodore K and Company (1925), George Melrose Vaudeville Co (1926), The Frivolities of 1928 and 1929, Union Tivoli Vaudeville (Newcastle 1932, as producer/performer), The Versatiles Musical Comedy Co (1933), and St Leon’s Circus (1934, as tour manager). He also managed Swedish wrestler Hector Wukberg in 1930.

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GRAHAM MITCHELL

(ca. 1902-) Singer, comedian, dancer, actor, entrepreneur, hotelier.

Graham Alexander Mitchell toured New Zealand with Lee White and Clay Smith in 1923 and for some ten years worked primarily as a vaudeville and revue comedian/singer (baritone). His entrepreneurial career, largely associated with Brisbane, began in 1932 when he debuted his Serenaders company (1932-1940). He also produced The Jesters at Fortitude Valley’s Rex Theatre (1936-37). Mitchell ran into financial difficulties in the late-1930s and at one stage worked for Carlton Newsreel Theatrette Pty Ltd. After he went bankrupt in 1940, he spent time in the Illawarra region of New South Wales before moving to Tasmania where he ran a picture theatre and later several hotels.

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GEORGE MUSGROVE

Musgrove, George [NS, 242](1854-1916) Producer, company co-owner, businessman, manager.

George Musgrove worked briefly for W. S. Lyster before finding success as a producer in 1880 with Offenbach’s Tambour Major (Melbourne Opera House). With J.C. Williamson and Arthur Garner he ran the most successful theatrical firm in the Antipodes during the 1880s (Williamson, Garner and Musgrove), and between 1892 and 1899 was a partner in Williamson and Musgrove (running the UK end of the business). He continued to produce shows in England and Australia until 1914. Musgrove was also closely associated with Australian actress/singer, Nellie Stewart.

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HARRY G. MUSGROVE

(1884-1951) Businessman, film exhibitor, producer, company owner, manager.

Musgrove, HG [TT Dec 1920, 33]Harry G. Musgrove began his career working for his uncle George Musgrove (above) and later moved into film exhibition. In 1920 he joined E.J. Carroll and Dan Carroll to form Carroll-Musgrove Theatres and the following year took over control of Harry Rickards’ Tivoli Theatres. Musgrove was forced into bankruptcy two years later, however, when his co-production with J.C. Williamsons, The Forty Thieves, failed to recoup its investment. Musgrove subsequently sold his interests in the Tivoli organisation to Williamson’s and went on to work for United Artists in Shanghai.

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JACK O’DONNELL

Manager, entrepreneur, producer.

Jack O’Donnell’s career as a showman likely began in the late 1890s or early 1900s. In 1908 he took a company on tour through New Zealand and was later involved in touring an aeronautical (ballooning) amusement through Australia and Java. Between 1914 and 1920 he managed the career of Winifred La France in Australasia and the USA. After separating his interest with La France O’Donnell briefly managed the Midnight Frolics Company before establishing a partnership with Bert Ray. The pair toured pantomimes (and later revues and vaudeville) around Australia up until the late-1930s.

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CHARLES POLLARD

(1858-1942) Musician (violin), actor, company proprietor, manager, producer.

Pollard, Charles - Susan Barr [Downes]The third of James Pollard’s sons to his first wife Mary, Charles Albert Pollard performed in and around Launceston as a child with Pollard’s Orchestral Union, and in 1881 became one of the original members of his father’s Lilliputian Opera Company (1881-85). In 1896 he and his sister Nellie took a company overseas, leaving Australasia to Tom Pollard. Together (and sometimes separately), they toured their juvenile companies through South Africa, England and Canada, but were largely associated with the East and the USA between 1897 and the early 1910s).

Image source: Susan Barr Collection in Peter Downes. The Pollards (2002).

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JAMES POLLARD

Pollard, James [Downes](1833-1884) London-born organ-builder, piano tuner, company proprietor/manager.

The son of James Pollard and Elizabeth Clara Hicks, James Joseph Pollard emigrated to Australia in 1860, settling in Launceston. All of his children, three with Corunna (nee Weippert) and 15 with Mary Eleanor (nee Weippert), received a comprehensive musical education, and the mid-1870s were performing locally as Pollard’s Orchestral Union – playing at parties, balls, concerts and for theatre productions. In 1881 Pollard established his Lilliputian Opera Company for a tour of New Zealand. The troupe, which later played Australia and the East, disbanded almost a year after Pollards death from dropsy in Townsville in June 1884.

Image source: Peter Downes. The Pollards (2002)

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POLLARDS: For further details relating to the Pollard family, and in particular James Joseph Pollard, Tom Pollard and the Australasian-based Pollard juvenile and adult opera companies, see Peter Downes. The Pollards (2002).

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TOM POLLARD

Musician, manager, troupe proprietor, producer. [Born Thomas John O’Sullivan]

Pollard, Tom [Downes]One of five brothers to be associated with the various Pollard companies, Tom O’Sullivan adopted the Pollard name when he toured as a musician with the first Lilliputian Opera Company. He later married Emily Pollard. Between 1886 and 1891 he worked for various firms as a tour/stage manager before reviving the Lilliputians in 1891. It toured between 1897 and 1905 as The Pollards (an adult company) and later as the Royal Australian Opera Company. He revived the juvenile company in 1907. After it folded in 1910 Pollard acquired cinemas in New Zealand and became involved in amateur theatre. He died in Christchurch.

Image source: Peter Downes. The Pollards (2002)

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C.F. PUGLIESE

(1865-1940) Theatre proprietor, film exhibitor, producer, screen writer.

Caroline Donaldson married Italian-born watchmaker/jeweller Antonio Pugliese (1853-1916) in 1883. Together they raised seven children and in the early 1900s founded became involved in the entertainment industry, initially through leasing Sydney’s Alhambra Theatre. Their association with the Alhambra continued through until 1921, during which time they oversaw the production of vaudeville shows, revues, dramas, musical comedies, pantomimes and films. Pugliese and her son, Humbert, were also involved in the production of three early Australian films, notably The Church and the Woman (1917, with a screenplay by Caroline) and The Waybacks (1918).

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HUMBERT PUGLIESE

Pugliese, Humbert [Pike & Cooper 1980. 94](1884-1955) Theatre proprietor, film exhibitor, film producer

Umberto (Humbert) Pugliese became involved in family’s theatrical enterprises in 1906 when his parents took control of Sydney’s Alhambra Theatre. During the next 15 years he helped oversee the production of a wide array of entertainments at the theatre, including waxworks exhibits, vaudeville shows, revues, dramas, musical comedies, pantomimes and films. The 1910s also saw Pugliese and his mother produce three early Australian films, while also managing the operations of at cinemas in Bondi and Leichhardt. He later became the proprietor of the shoe store chain Mabs McGuirk.

Image source: Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper. Australian Film 1900-1977 (1980), 94.

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FRANK REIS

(1871-) Actor/entertainer, stage manager, director, producer, troupe owner, vaudeville circuit operator.

After coming to Australia from South African Frank Reis was associated with Dan Barry (1896), William Anderson (1899-1909), George Marlow (1910-13, above) and George Willoughby (1913), establishing his reputation as both a dramatic actor and stage manager. After making his first vaudeville appearance in 1913 as a comedian, Reis put together a musical comedy/vaudeville troupe called the World’s Entertainers [4] in 1914. By 1919 he was running a Sydney suburban vaudeville circuit. Reis continued to work as an actor, teacher, and producer well into the 1930s.

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A.T. RICHARDS

Richards, A.T. [WM 9 Dec 1905, 30]Projectionist, tour manager, troupe proprietor, theatre manager, entrepreneur

Little is currently known about A.T. Richards early life and career – even his given names are yet to be identified. His name is first connected with the London Bioscope Company in 1901 (a film and live entertainment venture originating out of Melbourne in mid-1900). He and music director/pianist E.W. Oyston, identified as owners from February 1901, toured the company until ca. October 1902. By June the following year Richards had established his own company. Eventually known simply as Richards Entertainers it continued operating around Australia, largely in regional areas, until late-1910. Richards then joined film showman Sidney Cook in opening and operating the Fiveways Picture Gardens in Brisbane’s Woolloongabba (1910-1924).

1: A. T. Richards’ association with the London Bioscope Company has not been confirmed until February 1901. However, he may have been involved as a silent partner from the beginning. Interestingly, published shipping manifests record that an A.T. Richards sailed to London in April 1899 and returned to Melbourne in late September/early October the same year. If this was the same person he may have travelled to London in order to purchase a bioscope and films, and also learn to operate the projector.
2: Although sometimes described as the “London operator,” he was likely born or raised in Australia. Details regarding Richards’ movements after the Fiveways Pictures venture closed down in January 1924 are presently unknown.
Image source: Western Mail (Perth) 9 Dec. (1905), 30.

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HARRY RICKARDS

(1843-1911) Comedian/singer, manager, troupe owner, businessman, company owner, circuit operator, producer.

Rickards, Harry 6 [SLV]After starting out in London music halls during the late 1860s, Harry Rickards toured the Antipodes three times before establishing a permanent base in the country in the late 1880s. Although often referred to as the “Napoleon” or “king” of Australian vaudeville, Rickards did not monopolise the industry. He instead concentrated on the upper end of the market, providing a high-class entertainment package, frequently travelling to England and America in search of the best international acts. After his death the Tivoli circuit was taken over by Hugh D. McIntosh.

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ERNEST C. ROLLS

Rolls, Ernest C [NLA](ca. 1890-) Director, producer, theatre lessee, businessman.

Ernest Rolls brought his London hit, Aladdin, to Australia in 1925 for J.C. Williamson’s Ltd, and two years later produced the Australian premiere of Sunny. He had further hits with Rio Rita and the revues Good News (Fullers’ Theatres) and Whoopee (George Marlow -above), before producing his own cabaret-revues. Hit hard by the Depression Rolls moved to New Zealand in 1937, leasing a chain of theatres and overseeing Williamson’s productions. After suffering significant losses he returned to England in 1939, later staging variety shows at English seaside resorts.

Image source: National Library of Australia.

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Published on April 15, 2011 at 9:27 pm  Comments Off on Entrepreneurs [M-R]