Calvert to Clifford ……. p.1
Cogill Brothers to Cusko’s Monkeys ……. p.2
(1879-1938) English-born singer, entertainer, stage manager [Born in Halifax, Yorkshire]
Ben Calvert decided against going into the family wool textile mill business and instead studied singing at the Royal Academy of Music under Alberto Randeggar. After a number of years playing the leading London concert halls and provincial circuits he accepted a contract with Edward Branscombe that led to 12 months (and 38,000 miles) of international touring with the Scarlet Troubadours. Calvert came to Australia in 1910 with Branscombe’s Jesters, and later transferred to the entrepreneur’s Dandies companies (notably the Green Dandies). He and fellow Jesters/Dandies artist Florence Henderson married in 1913 and four years later settled in Mildura where Calvert ran a singing academy and presented concerts. They later owned a fruit farm.
- For further details see: “A Sweet-Throated Jester: Mr Ben Calvert.” Prahran Telegraph 31 Dec. (1910), 5.
- See also: Florence Henderson • Edward Branscombe’s Jesters • Edward Branscombe’s Dandies
1: A tenor capable of performing any style required of him, Calvert notes in the 1910 Prahran Telegraph interview that he had a special fondness for Oratorio singing.
2: Calvert, who died on his Mildura property on 22 April 1938, is buried in the town’s Nichols Point Cemetery.
Image source: Prahran Telegraph 31 Dec. (1910), 5. Additional information courtesy of Chris and Lorraine Lemon.
Lawrence Campbell studied acting and elocution in England and attempted a career on the English stage before poor health forced him to immigrate to Australia in 1892. After setting up schools of elocution in Tasmania he moved to Sydney in 1894 and quickly established himself as one of the country’s leading instructors. Campbell performed regularly himself, and between 1916 and the mid to late-1920s held the rights to recite verse and do impersonations from C. J. Dennis’s Songs of the Sentimental Bloke in both Australia and New Zealand. He also presented it on Australian radio in 1930.
The Lawrence Campbell Oratory Competition is named in his honour.
Ventriloquist, shadowgraphist, magician, film exhibitor.
Frank Cane started out performing in Melbourne and regional Victoria in the early 1900s, initially playing community events and social functions before turning professional. Active well into the 1920s Cane also often doubled-up as the shadowgraphist Kavello and occasionally worked a magic/mystery act (under his own name). It was as a ventriloquist (with his ‘partner’ Curly) that he was best known by Australian audiences, however. Cane also briefly ran his own picture house in Yarraville (1914) and operated a vaudeville agency in Melbourne (1916-1920). Among the many companies and circuits he worked with were: Harry Clay (1920), K-Nuts (1921), Fullers’ Theatres (1922), Copeland and Cole (1924), George Drew‘s New South Wales Western Line circuit (1925).
1: Cane was based out of Sydney for around five years beginning 1920, apart from some 12 months touring New Zealand(1923-24). He is known to have still been performing as late as 1930. From around 1922 he appears to have been working with a dog named “Bluey.”
2: As the shadowgraphist Kavello (often spelled Kavelio), Cane created mini-dramas and comedy sketches by throwing shadows of puppets and other objects on a screen. Some reviews from 1919 onwards indicate that the act was in colour.
(1883-1929) English comedian, singer (tenor). [Born: John Valentine Cannot]
After establishing his name in the UK under George Edwardes’ management Jack Cannot came to Australia for J. C. Williamson’s in 1910 to play the dame in Jack and the Beanstalk and never left. A huge star with the Firm and on the Tivoli circuit during the 1910s and early to mid-1920s, he also found engagements with companies like J. and N. Tait and Fullers’ Theatres and featured regularly on radio. Struggling to get stage work in the late-20s he joined the staff of the Daily Guardian but eventually succumbed to depression and committed suicide.
Image Source: “Boys in Khaki, Boys in Blue” (National Library of Australia)
aka Baby Capel
A student of Sydney teachers Tom Donnelly (dance/stage work) and Mrs Golding (voice), Eileen Capel was active on the Australasian stage between 1899 and 1915. Billed as Baby Capel she began presenting song and dance routines at the School of Arts from September 1899 and by 1903 was a regular with Harry Rickards. She later appeared, as Eileen Capel, with leading vaudeville and theatrical firms such as James Brennan, Fullers’ Theatres, Harry Clay, J.C. Bain and Holland and St John, and William Anderson (in vaudeville and pantomime). One of her early signature acts was an imitation of Little Tich. Capel retired after suffering a nervous breakdown in late-1915.
Capel’s surname was often spelled with two ‘l’s during her career (i.e. Baby Capell and Eileen Capell). For the sake of consistency the AVTA uses the name Capel, as this appears to have been used more often. Her given name was also mistakenly spelled ‘Aileen.’
Image source: Theatre Magazine Apr. (1905), 5
Singer, actress, troupe proprietor/manager, producer, businesswoman.
Myra “Emmie” Carden took her Bijou Variety troupe around south-west Queensland and Northern New South Wales (N.S.W.) in 1884, and over the next decade toured the same region for much of each year. She also travelled further afield on occasions, being identified in the mid-1880s with South Australia and southern N.S.W. Between 1886 and 1891 Carden toured in partnership with Fred Loyola, initially with Loyola’s Magnet Troupe but for the most part under the billing Myra Carden’s Magnet Company. In the early 1890s she also worked briefly for Dan Tracey and provided a much-used testimonial for Bonnington’s Irish Moss. Carden settled in Manilla, NSW in 1894, and soon afterwards became known as Myra Hill-Carden.
The Myra Carden research notes PDF includes information relating to Loyola’s Magnet Variety Troupe and Myra Carden’s Magnet Company.
(1891-1958) Soprano, entertainer. [Born: Minnie Veronica Carew]
Vera Carew developed her craft as an actress/entertainer through numerous legitimate and popular concerts in Melbourne and in regional Victoria and South Australia, including for example J. and N. Tait‘s Opera Pops and the Page Lang Entertainers. From 1918 onward she frequently toured wider a field, notably with Walter Kirby (1918-22) and Cesaroni (New Zealand, 1920). She and her husband, tenor Jim Foran, began working together in 1924. They toured with Pat Hanna‘s Famous Diggers (ca. 1926), performed in England and America in the mid-1930s and were still appearing on stage together as late as 1939.
- See also: Page Lang Entertainers
It is unclear if there is any familial connection between Carew and a singer/actress who toured with the Woodfield Opera Company through regional Victoria during the early 1890s. That artist’s name is reported as being Vera Carewe.
Thanks to Suzanne Coburn and Robyn L Brooks/Neal for additional information.
CARLTON & SUTTON
(ca. 1893-1924) Patter comedians, endmen, novelty dancers.
One of Australia’s longest comedy partnerships, Harry Carlton and Ted Sutton came together in 1893 while appearing in Sydney with Dan Tracey‘s minstrel company. Apart from a couple of periods when they briefly teamed up with other comedians, the two comedians toured their act for some thirty years – their last known engagements together being in 1924. During that time they worked for virtually every Australian and New Zealand vaudeville firm of any consequence. Carlton and Sutton initially built their reputations as specialist Irish sketch comedians and clog dancers, and later turned almost exclusively to patterology.
Ted Sutton is known to have teamed up briefly with Arthur Alberts (ca. 1905) and Walter Jamieson (ca. 1914-16). Harry Carlton was still working as a comedian (in Newcastle) in 1935
Billy Carlyle began her professional career in the early 1920s as a model and dramatic actress. After touring with D. B. O’Connor‘s company in 1924 she was cast in the film The Adventures of Algy (1925). Carlyle and the film’s star Claude Dampier teamed up soon afterwards, securing work as a comedy sketch act on Fullers’ Theatres circuit. Carlyle also worked briefly with Brandon Cremer’s Comedy Company. A move to England in 1927 saw the pair establish a popular comedy partnership on stage and in radio that lasted until Dampier’s death in 1955. Carlyle appeared in at least five UK films and two variety television series between 1930 and 1947.
- More details (research notes)
- See also: Claude Dampier
- ♫ Claude Dampier & Billie Carlyle. From Workers Playtime (1943) (mp3)
- ♫ Claude Dampier & Billie Carlyle. (n.yr.)
Carlyle and Dampier married in 1929. She self-published Claude Dampier, Mrs Gibson and Me in 1978 (Mrs Gibson being a fictional audience member popularized by Dampier). Although several film databases (including IMDb) indicate that Carlyle appeared in only six films, she has been linked to several more through various newspaper articles published in the 1930s. See Carlyle’s “Research Notes” for further details.
Image source: David Walker. Great Paper Treasure (on sale via eBay, 2014).
aka Dennis Carney
English-born female impersonator, dame, stilt dancer, comedian, writer.
The son of Yankee Henri Carney, proprietor of a late-nineteenth century English provincial variety company and inventor of the “stilt” dance, Denis Carney started out in Manchester pantomimes from age ten and in 1896 came to Australia. He remained a regular presence in the Australasian region until at least the mid-1920s. Although best known for his female impersonations, comic songs, and stilt dancing (often as a Yorkshire policeman), Carney also played dame roles, performed grotesque dances, patter, and even wrote farces. His services were taken up by most of the leading firms of the era, including Frank Clark, Harry Rickards, Fullers’ Theatres, Harry Clay, Ted Holland, Birch and Carroll, J.C. Bain, and Dix-Baker.
Carney made his Australian debut in Perth for Jones and Lawrence (Cremorne Theatre) on 11 November 1896 (billed as “direct from London”). His last known engagements were in 1925 with Alf Coleman’s pantomime and revue tent show.
Image source: Theatre Magazine Mar. (1910), 10.
One of up to five female impersonators in the Smart Set Diggers, “Tiki” Carpenter performed largely as a “danseuse.” His forte as a dancer also allowed him to specialise in “dainty miss” and flapper-type roles during the company’s sketches and burlesques. Carpenter joined the troupe after the Armistice, having served in France with another concert party, the Green Diamonds, and was still performing as late as 1930.
- See also Smart Set Diggers
NEVA CARR-GLYNN 
(ca. 1878-1906) Singer (contralto), actress.
Claiming to be a descendant of Lord Wolverston. Neva Carr-Glynn was born on Walloon Station (Ipswich, Qld) and educated at Richmond Convent. Immediately after finishing school she was secured for a dramatic tour by Albert Norman and Walter E. Baker (1893) and the following year made her Tivoli debut. She appeared regularly on Harry Rickards‘ circuit circuit before leaving Australia in 1905, while also securing engagements with Slade Murray, Harry Barrington, the California Minstrels, Ettie Williams, Elsie Adair, Harry Cogill [below], J.C. Bain and John F. Sheridan among others. She and her husband were killed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Neva Carr-Glynn was the great-aunt of actress/entertainer Neva Carr-Glynn .
Image source: Referee 10 Aug. (1898), 10.
NEVA CARR-GLYNN 
The daughter of Irish vaudevillian Arthur Glynn and Scottish singer, Marie Dunoon, Neva Carr-Glynn learned dance from Minnie Hooper and left school at 14 for the theatre. After appearing in the Fullers‘ Dick Whittington chorus in 1923 she quickly rose to principal girl (Robinson Crusoe, 1925) and principal boy (Aladdin, 1927) roles, and worked in revue and musical comedy for Gayle Wyer, Jim Gerald, Phil Smith, George Wallace, and Frank Neil. After seven years in England (1930-37) Carr-Glynn returned, initially working in revue with Jim Gerald, then in numerous radio dramas for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) between 1938 and 1941. She later worked extensively in television and legitimate drama.
- For further details see: Martha Rutledge. “Carr-Glyn, Neva Josephine Mary (1908–1975).” Australian Dictionary of Biography 13 (1993) • Richard Lane. Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama (1994), 189-91 • “Neva Carr-Glynn.” Internet Movie Database (IMDb).
Neva Carr-Glynn shares the same name with her great aunt [above]. Her son is actor Nick Tate.
Image source: Sydney Morning Herald 29 Mar (1934), 29.
(1837-) US-born minstrel comedian (bones), singer, entrepreneur.
Dave Carson left his home city of New York in 1853 aged 16 to try his luck on the Australian goldfields but instead went on to carve out a long and successful international career as a minstrel performer and theatrical impresario. During the eight years he spent in Australia Carson was associated with several companies including the Virginia Minstrels, Ethiopian Serenaders and the San Francisco Minstrels. He and Tom Brower toured the East with a company between 1861 and 1865. Carson then operated his own circuit in opposition to Maurice Bandmann up until at least the mid-1880s.
(aka Skeeta Cass )
(ca. 1881-1948) Comedian, writer, troupe manager, director, producer. [Born: Wilfred Albert Cass]
Billy Cass started out his career in the early 1900s and by 1907 was touring with Jones’ Huge Surprise Party, along with Ivy Bowman (later Ivy Cass). The pair worked for Harry Clay, J. C. Bain, Post Mason, and Dix-Baker among others during the 1910s, and by the end of the decade Cass had developed into a specialist revusical comedian and pantomime dame. He toured consistently up until the early 1940s, either for firms like the Fullers’ Theatres, Clay’s Bridge Theatre Co, Stanley McKay, Alf Coleman, and Union Theatres Vaudeville, or with his own troupes. Cass also reportedly appeared in the 1920 Snowy Baker film, The Jackeroo of Coolabong.
- See also: Billy Cass Company
Cass began using the professional nickname, Skeeta, after playing the character with that name in The Jackeroo of Coolabong.
Image: Will and Ivy Cass ca. 1907. Source: Lyn Workman
aka J. Herbert Cato
Herbert Cato began to emerge as one of Tasmania’s leading concert baritones after settling in Launceston in late-1882. Over the next 12 years he maintained a high profile as singer, conductor, and occasional manager/promoter while also working as a lawyer’s clerk. After moving to Sydney in 1894 Cato attempted to establish his concert career but was forced at various times to pursue opportunities as a variety artist, finding work with Harry Rickards, the Coogee Aquarium, and the Elite Minstrel Company (Brisbane) among other firms. He founded the Cato and Co theatrical agency in Sydney in 1900 but appears to have retired from the entertainment industry after it ran into financial difficulties in 1903.
- See also: Cato and Co
- For further information see: Shirley Elrick. “Joseph Herbert Julian Cato.” shirley-elrick.com [sighted 13/08/2015] • Carol Cato and Marion Sargent May. “Julian Herbert Cato.” Launceston Family Album [sighted 13/08/2015]
1: Although largely known as Herbert Cato, he used the name Julian instead of his given birth name Joseph. Members of Cato’s family, including his grandfather and four uncles, were among the pioneers of the Tasmanian fruit industry. For further details see “Cato Family.” Mercury 25 Nov. (1932), 8.
2: In his youth Cato was regarded as a fine athlete, competing in competitions as a cyclist and Australian Rules footballer (he captained the Launceston club in 1883). Before leaving the state he also served in numerous administrative roles (including secretary and manager) for Hobart and Launceston sports and social clubs and musical societies.
3: Research undertaken by various descendants and family members indicates that Cato was employed as a tally clerk in the 1930s. He may well have returned to this area of employment following the collapse of his agency.
Image: Carol Cato and Marion May.
(ca. 1873-1927) Singer, actor, entertainer. [Born Rebecca Cohen in Toorak, Melbourne]
Regarded as a highly versatile entertainer Daisy Chard was considered a favourite with audiences around Australia up until her retirement in the early 1900s (ca. 1907). She reportedly made her stage debut (billed as Fascinating Daisy) in Melbourne at age three with a touring minstrel company. Her success led to an appearance alongside Hosea Easton at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre the following year. Over the next three decades Chard worked for most of the leading theatrical firms operating in Australia, including John F. Sheridan, Bland Holt, Harry Rickards, Williamson and Musgrove, John Gourlay, Frank Clark, Charlie Cogill [below], and Ada Reeve.
Chard married her first husband, vaudeville artist Tom Edwards, ca. 1898. Their only child later took to the stage ((known professionally as Eva Chard), and performed with Eileen Ryan as the Chard Sisters. Daisy Chard’s second husband, L. E. Rowe was proprietor of Perth’s Empire Picture Theatre.
(-1921) Comedian, dancer, actor, troupe manager.
A native of Melbourne, Joe Charles was a “most versatile and gifted vaudeville comedian” (Theatre Magazine, 38) who developed a “droll” style of delivery and also established himself as an eccentric dancer of considerable ability. He initially worked as an office boy at the Melbourne Herald for five years and later found employment as a drover, waiter and night porter before turning to minstrelsy as a full-time professional in the early 1900s. His twenty-year career saw him associated with all the leading Australasian-based firms, including the Rickards, Fullers and Clay‘s circuits. He also toured his own troupes. Between 1914 and his death Charles worked a very popular act with Emilie Dani (aka the Glory Girl).
- See also: Charles and Dani [below] • Emilie Dani (aka The Glory Girl)
- For further details see: “Joe Charles – Before He Was and Now That He Is.” Theatre Magazine Oct. (1914), 38.
The other firms and managers Charles worked for included F.M. Clark, Tom Perman, Jones & Lawrence, Ted Holland, James Brennan, J. C. Bain, Cook and Fowles, Harry Barrington, C. Post Mason, Birch and Carroll, Walter Morris, Weston and Hill, Taylor and Coleman, and Dix-Baker.
Image source: Critic (Adelaide) 1 Sept. (1909), 14.
CHARLES & DANI
(1914-1921) Comedy, singing and patter
Emilie Dani and Joe Charles possibly met when he joined Post Mason‘s Record Breakers in Brisbane in early December 1913 (she was the company’s top-billing The Glory Girl). They made their debut as a double act in February 1914 at Brisbane’s Crystal Theatre (under Cook and Fowles’ management) and by May were touring their own company through Queensland. Charles and Dani travelled together throughout Australia appearing both as solo artists and as a comedy patter/sketch act until Charles’ death in 1921. Their engagements with other firms and companies included long associations with Harry Clay and Fullers’ Theatres, as well tours for Birch and Carroll, Walter Morris, and Taylor-Coleman. They were also popular with regional film exhibitors.
In late-1915 an Australian Variety journalist “mistakenly,” referred to the pair as husband and wife. In a subsequent issue Dani vehemently denied this claim, mentioning that Charles was already married to someone else. The pair eventually became a couple, however, leading to Charles’s eventual divorce. An obituary published in Everyones records that Dani had arranged to be married to Charles when he was admitted to hospital. He died before it could take place, however (11 May 1921, 16).
Image source: Theatre Magazine Mar. (1916), 43.
Conrad Charlton started out singing professionally in the 1910s and by the early 1920s was a Fullers’ Theatres artist – appearing in Dick Whittington (1921/1922) and with Walter George’s Sunshine Players (1922). He was later a member of Pat Hanna‘s Famous Diggers (1922-23), worked as between-films singer, and toured with Billy Maloney (Town Topics / Scandals) and J. C. Williamson’s Royal Comic Opera Company (1927-28). Charlton made the first of many radio broadcasts as a singer (and actor) in 1925 and in 1929 secured work with 2BL (Sydney) as a producer/ announcer/presenter. He later rose to studio manager with the Australian Broadcasting Commission and before being appointed its General Manager for Western Australia (1936-47) and Victoria (1947-53). After retiring from the ABC he joined the Age newspaper as Public Relations Officer.
1. When Charlton joined 2BL in 1929 it was being operated by the Australian Broadcasting Company (not to be confused with the Australian Broadcasting Commission – better known as the ABC). He remained with 2BL when the ABC assumed ownership in 1932 and in the early 1930s often presented programmes on poultry farming and pigeons (among other duties).
2: Charlton died in Melbourne on 6 June 1976. His sons Michael (1927-) and Tony (1929-2012) also carved out long careers in the media.
Image source: West Australian 1 Apr. (1947), 6.
American singer/revue and burlesque lead actor.
“Fashion-plate” entertainer Carlton Chase toured South Africa and the USA (with Ziegfield Follies) before joining the American Burlesque Company for its 1913-14 Australasian tour. After the company disbanded he toured the Fullers‘ circuit with troupes led by ex-American Burlesque Company members Paul Stanhope and Bert Le Blanc. Chase went back to America after the war, but returned to Australia in 1924. During the remainder of the 1920s he appeared in vaudeville and pantomimes, on radio and with various revue/revusical troupes (including the George Ward Co). His whereabouts after 1929 are unknown.
(1881-1968) Tenor, revue producer, straight man, music teacher, composer, manager.
After graduating from Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium, Maurice Chenoweth toured Australasia with the Westminster Glee Club and performed with the Leidertaefel and Royal Philharmonic Societies, before turning to a career in vaudeville. He had long associations with Harry Clay and Fullers’ Theatres as both a performer and manager. Chenoweth also had a good deal of involvement in radio as a performer in variety programmes during the late-1920s/early-1930s.
(1888-1948) Singer, actress.
Essie Clay’s career on the stage encompassed both variety and serious drama between the early to mid-1890s and World War I. She first appeared on stage as a child, touring with her parents Harry and Kate Clay, and made her debut with Harry Rickards in 1898. Her career highlight was a dramatic tour of Queensland in 1909 starring opposite Scottish tragedian Walter Bentley. Clay’s last known stage appearances were in 1914.
CATHERINE (KATE) CLAY
aka Kate Henry
Largely associated with her husband Harry Clay, Catherine Clay started performing in the early 1890s as Kate Henry and later toured with the same minstrel troupes – notably Walshe’s Novelty Co, the Continental Vaudeville Co (1898, 1899) and the Australian Eleven (1899-1900) before helping establish Clay’s Waxworks and Vaudeville Co in 1900. She retired in 1905 after having appeared on each of the annual Queensland tours (billed as either Kate Henry or Kate Clay).
aka Frank Terry / La Petit Franklin
Born into an acrobatic family, Nat Clifford started out with Barnum and Bailey’s Circus but later attempted a career in the US Navy. After realising that his future lay in the theatre he quickly rose to be a vaudeville star, while also securing notoriety as a boxer, pimp, card sharp, bigamist and prison escapee. In the 1890s Clifford began to diversify into song writing, finding international success that led to Australia engagements with Harry Rickards (1904), William Anderson (1909-10) and James Brennan (1910-11). During these tours he wrote songs for many local artists, including Jennie Opie, Maude Beatty and Ernest Fitts.
Sometimes referred to as an Englishman (due to his many years in British musical hall), Clifford later carved out a highly successful career in Hollywood as Frank Terry, a gagman for silent films and in the 1920s and 1930s as Laurel and Hardy’s comedy writer. He also wrote occasionally under the pseudonym La Petit Franklin. Clifford/Terry died in California, having spent several years as a missionary to a leper colony in Hawaii.
Image source: National Library of Australia.
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