HAROLD T. MORGAN
Sydney solicitor, businessman, alderman and Newtown Mayor, Harold Morgan was the legal representative of vaudeville entrepreneur Harry Clay from the early 1900s. In 1912 he became a partner in the company which Clay’s Bridge Theatre, Newtown. Morgan continued to manage the company’s legal affairs after Clay’s death in 1925, with these duties later falling to his sons. The family also continued acting for Catherine Clay up until her death in the early 1960s.
Jack Musgrove (cousin of Harry G. Musgrove) established his reputation with Fullers’ Theatres in the 1910s, eventually managing of all the company’s Victorian operations. In 1921 he joined Hugh D. McIntosh‘s Tivoli organisation in 1921, remaining with the company when it became Tivoli Celebrity Vaudeville under J. C. Williamson’s Ltd in 1924. Musgrove later worked for the Hoyts chain before reviving the ailing Sydney Trocadero dance hall in 1936. The venue remained under his management until his death in 1956.
Image: Courtesy of Frank Van Straten, Tivoli (2003).
The son of entertainer Leonard Nelson, Roy Nelson commenced his professional career with publisher Allan and Co in 1915 and then moved into the film industry. After joining the Tivoli circuit as a light comedian he was employed by Brisbane music store, Harmston’s. Three years later Shaw and Sons’ employed him to open up similar stores in Brisbane and North Queensland, while he also produced prologues at the Majestic and Strand theatres (Brisbane) for Dan Carroll. By 1926 Nelson had become a manager with publisher Chappell and Co.
- See also: Leonard Nelson
Image: Everyone’s 15 Sept. (1926), 51.
Advance Rep, tour manager.
Frank O’Sullivan was born and raised in Launceston, Tasmania, and went on to carve out a career as an advance rep and tour manager after having first been involved with Pollard’s juvenile and adult opera companies (owned and operated from 1891 by one of his brothers Tom Pollard). According to Frank in a 1928 interview he was just 16 when he joined Pollards. He was also later associated for many years with J. C. Williamson’s Ltd, and is known to have continued working throughout Australasia and overseas (notably Africa) for various theatrical firms well into the 1930s.
J. J. O’SULLIVAN
(ca. 1870-) Advance Rep, tour manager.
Well-known throughout Australasia and the East as an advance rep and manager, J. J. O’Sullivan was born in Launceston, Tasmania, and at age 16 joined Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company, becoming one of five O’Sullivan brothers to be involved with Pollard’s juvenile and adult opera companies (his brother Thomas was best known as Tom Pollard). Among the other companies, firms and artists he was linked to during his 30+ year career were Allan Wilkie (including his Shakespeare Company), Amy and Eileen Castles, J. C. Williamson’s Ltd (particularly its Gilbert and Sullivan companies), and Edgar Warwick (Court Cards Co).
Lew Parks initially pursued a career in newspapers, working for both the Evening Post and Advertiser as a young man. At some stage he also drew cartoons for the Bulletin. His interest in the business side of the theatre industry saw him become involved in publicity for several Adelaide venues, and following a chance meeting with Benjamin Fuller in the mid to late-1910s he was appointed publicity manager for Fullers’ Theatres. After several years he joined Hugh D. McIntosh (Tivoli circuit) and in 1924 was appointed press campaigner for the Fuller-Ward partnership. He later dabbled in entrepreneurism, and in the early 1940s returned to publicity management (for J. C. Williamson’s) and freelance journalism.
1: A 1924 Truth (Sydney) article on Parks indicates that he showed much promise as a writer, and while still in his teens was given a responsible literary position with the Evening Post. Parks is also recorded as having worked as an advertising copywriter (“Lew Parks: The Fuller-Ward Publicity Campaigner.” 24 Aug. 1924, 12).
2: His brother was Harold Parks, known professionally as George Edwards.
Image: Truth (Sydney) 24 Aug. (1924), 12 .
Regarded as one of Australia’s finest caricaturists of the early 20th century, Donald MacDonald, known to the public almost exclusively as “Pas,” had his work published in numerous magazines and newspapers in both Australia and New Zealand. While his subjects ranged across the gamut of society he was particularly noted for his impressions of theatrical people, including many vaudevillians. His reputation by the mid to late-1910s was such that he became the “face” of Dr Sheldon’s Digestive Tablets for several years. MacDonald died at his Lewisham (Sydney) home in 1945 aged 83.
Image: Pas by Pas. Source: Advertiser (Adelaide) 4 July 1917, 10.
(1876-1944) Comedian, singer, theatre manager.
Associated with the Harry Rickards/Tivoli circuit for more than 30 years, Harry Phillips started out as a comic singer in the 1890s and in 1910 toured Australia as Harry Houdini‘s props man. An older brother to Nat (aka “Stiffy“), Jack and Dave Phillips, all of whom were well-known in the Australian entertainment industry, Harry also had long industry connections with Sydney’s Apollo and Princess theatres as well as the Fullers‘ organisation.
- See also: Nat Phillips
Image: Courtesy of Nancy New (daughter).
Dancer, monologuist, troupe leader, teacher.
One of Australia’s most gifted and successful teachers of juvenile vaudeville artists, Lillian Ross began her career as a dancer in Brisbane around the turn of the century and later ran the Lillian Ross Refined Variety Entertainers. By 1912 she had established her own dance academy in Brisbane and in 1914 moved it to Sydney. Among her best known students were Little Verlie, the Crown Quartette, Wee Darrell, the Four Alroys, Charles Nicholls, Tiny Tot Marjorie and Connie Lavarra.
The brother of comedian/entrepreneur Harry Sadler, Bill Sadler is now remembered largely for suggesting to Roy Rene that he call himself “Mo” just prior to the comedian’s debut with Nat Phillips as Stiffy and Mo in 1916. Sadler is believed to have started out as a performer before taking up a position as doorman/front of house manager for his brother at the Princess Theatre (Sydney) ca.1916-17. He was later associated with Harry Clay‘s circuit and the Tivoli circuit operated by Connors and Paul (Con-Paul Theatres).
aka Felix Le Roy
A prolific songwriter, Joe Slater initially established himself as a singer in Sydney during the early 1890s. In 1893 he set up his own publishing company and by January 1895 had been contracted by Harry Rickards to produce his Tivoli songsters. In addition to his publishing activities Slater also continued performing at special events and composing his own songs (sometimes in collaboration with lyricists). He found arguably his greatest success during World War I writing patriotic ballads. His songs were also published by other firms – notably Davis and Co, Dinsdales, Tivoli Publishing, Alberts, Palings, and E. W. Cole. Slater died at his home in Manly (Sydney) on 16 April 1926 after a lengthy illness.
Joe Slater’s collaborators included: Ward McAlister, Evelyn Milwood, Maurice Dalley, Clifford Jackson, Charlie Vaude, John E. Nugent and Bud McGregor. He also worked closely with arrangers such as Bert Rache and Owen Conduit.
Image source: National Library of Australia.
(1872-1947) Boxer, referee, businessman, trainer, bouncer.
Considered a brilliant welterweight, and perhaps best remembered for his double knock-out fight with Otto Cribb in 1900 [see below for details], Frank “Snowy” Sturgeon was born in Armidale, New South Wales. His professional boxing career ran from 1893 until 1909, and out of 36 fights he won 22, lost 9 and drew the remaining two. In the 1910, the year after he retired Sturgeon attempted to shoot himself but survived and eventually went on to establish himself as a referee and gym owner among other things. His association with variety entertainment was primarily as Harry Clay‘s “chief-chucker out” at the Coliseum, North Sydney during the 1910s.
- For further details (re: Sturgeon and Harry Clay”) see: “Sometimes His Shows Were a Riot.”
The 1900 Sturgeon v Cribb Australian welterweight title fight occurred at the Metropolitan Athletic Club, Pyrmont (Sydney) on 20 April. Scheduled for 20 rounds the fight stopped in the eight when both men landed simultaneous knockout blows. Sturgeon fell to the ground unconscious while Cribb barely-conscious fell back against the ropes which held him upright for the count-out. A moment later he fell to the ground and remained unconscious as the welterweight title was awarded to him.
RAPHAEL (RALPH) TOLANO
(1819-1896) Theatre lessee/publican/producer.
Convicted of stealing and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, Ralph Tolano was transported from London to the colony of New South Wales in 1837. He later established himself as a businessman in the Bathurst region before moving to Sydney in 1856 where he became the publican of several hotels, including Tolano’s Hotel (adjoining the Prince of Wales Theatre). After the complex burned down in 1860 he briefly leased the Royal Lyceum Theatre before taking over the Royal Victoria Theatre for many years. His first big success as a producer was the 1861 season by American actor Joseph Jefferson.
- See also Joe Tolano.
Image: Courtesy of Nancy New.
Agent, musical director, musician.
Active in Australia (and largely within Victoria) between 1852 and 1861, and again in 1890, E. Totten has first been identified in association with Rainer’s Ethiopian Serenaders (1852-54). He toured Totten’s Harmoneons in 1854 before re-joining Rainer’s troupe in 1855. He was later associated with Ashton’s British and American Circus (1857-58), the Edouin Family (1858-59), Barlow (equestrian 1859), A. Chow (Chinese contortionist, 1859), Coleman (Polyphonist, 1861) and Boley’s Minstrels (1861). Totten’s name seems to disappear from Australia until 1890 when he is once again agent for the Edouin Family’s tour through Tasmania and Victoria. Little is known of his whereabouts after this time.
- See also: Totten’s Harmoneons
CLAUDE E. WEBB
Claude E. Webb became involved in the entertainment industry at age 17 as Treasurer for the Lynch Family of Bellringers. He was later employed as an advance rep by Alfred Dampier and Charles Holloway, toured the USA with Olga Nethersole and was associated with Harry Clay (1909), George Willougby Dramatic Co and King’s Dramatic Co (both 1914). In later years Webb became one of Adelaide’s leading picture and theatre house managers.
CLAUDE H. WHAITE
(1865-1924) Scenic artist, manager, advance rep, actor, sketch artist. [Born: Claude Hamilton Blake]
Linked to the Australasian and Far East regions between 1889 and ca. 1915, Claude H. Whaite first came to the region with the Brough and Boucicault Company. After several years working as an actor he moved New Zealand (1894-1903), establishing himself there as a scenic artist and manager. He later traversed both countries as an advance rep, and theatre and tour manager. Among the firms he was associated with were Maggie Moore, Forbes Wilson, Brough-Flemming, Herbert Fleming, Harry Rickards, Allan Hamilton and West’s Ltd. Whaite died in England some four years after inheriting £14,000.
This overview has been sourced from research undertaken by Joy Whaite
A. C. WHITE
Theatre manager (film, vaudeville and boxing)
A. C. White managed Charter’s Towers first permanent picture house, Lyceum Pictures. Located in the School of Arts it opened in 1909. After the lease was taken over by Birch and Carroll (Olympia Amusement Company) in 1910 White opened a boxing stadium. It also briefly operated under his management as the People’s Popular Pictures. He later conducted a picture house in Townsville for 12 months before returning to Charters Towers to work as T. V. Coyle’s manager at the Theatre Royal. When Coyle joined forces with Birch and Carroll in 1912 to run the Olympia Theatre (formerly the Stadium), White maintained his managerial position with the new firm until ca. 1919.
1: Lyceum Pictures, the People’s Popular Pictures and Olympia Theatre were all involved in presenting live entertainments in conjunction with moving pictures.
2: After resigning from Birch, Carroll and Coyle, White moved to Townsville. He was later involved in construction of an electrical and water plant for the Townsville Harbour Board.
JAMES H. WHITE
Theatrical agent/journalist/vaudeville entrepreneur.
James H. White established himself as a theatrical manager around the turn of the century and by 1915 was operating as a theatrical agent out of the offices of Australian Variety. He also worked as a journalist for the magazine with his regular column “Whitie.” In 1916 he became the manager of Clay’s Theatrical Enterprises agency before eventually taking it over himself. White also joined forces with Norman Bambury (Bambury & White, 1924-1925) and Bert Howard around 1928/29.