Practitioners [D]



Dampier, ClaudeEnglish comedian (theatre, radio and film), writer, director.

Claude Dampier and his first wife Irene Vere came to Australia in 1910 under contract to Edward Branscombe. They remained in the country until 1917, with Dampier spending most of that time as manager/headliner with Branscombe’s Red Dandies. He returned in 1921 for the Tivoli circuit, this time in partnership with Hilda Attenboro and was later associated with Pat Hanna and Fullers’ Theatres (including the Frivolities, and his own Trump Cards). Dampier also starred in two Australian films in the mid-20s. After returning to England in 1927 he carved out a very successful career on the stage and in radio – largely in partnership with his second wife, Australian actress/comedienne Billie Carlyle.



aka The Glory Girl

Soprano (also mezzo-soprano), patterologist, soubrette. [Born Emilie Danehy in Sydney]

dani-emili-tper-11-dec-1926-7Although Emilie Dani studied singing as part of her convent education and later trained under Madam Slapoffski, she appears to have turned to the variety stage by early 1911. Billed as the mysterious Glory Girl she presented an operatic scena on the Tivoli circuit for four months in 1913, and later toured the act for its creator/producer Post Mason before teaming up with comedian Joe Charles in early 1914. The partnership continued until Charles death in 1921. Before retiring in 1927 Dani worked for Ike Beck and Amusu Vaudeville, and toured with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Tip Top Comic Opera Co (New Zealand) and D.B. O’Connor‘s Opera Co (ca. 1925-1927).

1: In the lead-up to Dani’s debut at Brisbane’s Empire Theatre on 21 January 1911, a publicity notice identifies her as “a successful operatic soprano.” No details relating to her career prior to this engagement have yet been located.
2: Advertisements and reviews spell Dani’s first name variously as Emili, Emilie, Emalie, and Emily throughout her career. She was also referred to on a number of occasions between 1914 and 1916 as Diana.
3: Dani retired from the professional stage after leaving the D.B. O’Connor company in Perth in late-1927. She remained in the Western Australian capital for some time before eventually returning to New South Wales and is known to have occasionally returned to performing as late as 1934. Her address in the late-1940s and early 1950s is recorded as being the Lakemba Hotel.
Image source: Truth (Perth) 11 Dec. 1926, 7.



Danseuse/specialty dancer, comedy sketch actress, society entertainer.

Alice Davenport’s name has first been located in the early 1880s performing a specialties turn that included skipping, hornpipe and skate dances. In 1885 she joined F.M. Clark‘s Red Stockings, and later appeared with the Cogill Bros and Tommy Hudson among others. After leaving her first husband, George A. Jones, she and Dave Warne toured a sketch act between 1895 and 1904. When they separated in 1904, Warne teamed up with Lily Octavia, while Davenport worked as a society entertainer (mainly around Victoria and South Australia) up until at least 1907.



aka Dorothy Van Der Sluice

davis-dot(1895-) Dancer, singer, revusical actress.

Perhaps best known today as the first wife of comedian Roy Rene, Dorothy Claire Davis was 21 when she joined Nat Phillips’ Stiffy and Mo chorus. She and Rene were married at St Stephen’s Church, Sydney, on 17 March the following year. Although the couple were reportedly planning to work up novelty vaudeville act together, Rene’s increasing success with the Stiffy and Mo partnership saw this idea shelved. Nevertheless the couple worked together as members of the company for eight years. By the late-1910s Davis had been elevated to principal cast member status, and in 1921 played Prince Charming in Fullers’ Cinderella pantomime. She retired from performing in 1924.

1: Davis’ retirement possibly coincided with the (temporary) disbanding of the Stiffy and Mo company in 1924. The couple separated in 1927 and Davis applied for a divorce (on the grounds of abandonment) in 1928. The decree was granted in early 1929. The following year she took her former husband to court for failing to maintain his alimony commitments. Although Davis won the verdict, Rene also had his payments reduced.
2: In 1936 Davis was again in the news when she was named in the New South Wales divorce court as having conducted an affair with the petitioner’s husband. See “Stimson v Stimson.” Sydney Morning Herald 10 Nov. (1936), 8. Interestingly the petitioner’s barrister was W.J. Curtis, K.C.
Image source: Fuller News (Sydney) 21 Jan. 1922, 16.



(1853-1944 ) English character comedian, singer, dancer, puppeteer

Fred Davys came to Australia with American soubrette Georgie Devoe [below] in 1887 under contract to Harry Rickards.  After splitting with Devoe in 1893 he teamed up with Ida Lewis to tour his own company.  His marionette act, “On the Back of My Daddy-Oh,” later became his signature turn. The pair eventually settled in West Wyalong where they also built their own theatre.



(1874-1916) Comedian, singer, dancer.

Tom Dawson initially worked as a journalist before turning to the variety stage, first as a dancer and later as a comedian. Best known for his comedy songs, Dawson was largely associated with Harry Rickards and the Tivoli circuit between 1904 and 1913 and reportedly had over 200 song successes. He was killed on active duty with the Australian Imperial Forces (A.I. F.) in 1916.



aka George Deane / George R. Dean

English-born actor, singer, comedian.

Dean, George [STS 27 May 1928, 2]George Dean came to Australia in 1880 as a juvenile actor with George Musgrove‘s Tambour Major company. Although largely  associated with the “legitimate” stage as comedian, actor and occasional stage manager over the next two decades, he nevertheless made occasional forays into variety – the first possibly being as a member of Emerson and Wood’s Alabama Minstrels in 1892. Dean became more heavily involved in vaudeville from the late-1890s, spending many years with Harry Rickards and also appearing in pantomime – notably William Anderson’s William Anderson‘s Sinbad the Sailor (1904-1906) and Babes in the Wood (1909).  He also worked for Rowley’s Waxworks, James Brennan, Sadler and Beveridge, Dix-Baker, and Fullers’ Theatres, among others, remaining active on the stage and on radio well into the 1930s. His only known film credit were A Long Long Way to Tipperary (1914, as director) and Those who Love (1926, as actor).

1: Dean, whose surname was occasionally misspelled as Deane, appeared in one film, Those who Love (1926).
2: His daughter, Nellie Dean, also carved out a successful career as an actress.
Image source: Sunday Times (Sydney) 27 May 1928, 2.



[Aust: 1882-1884] American multi-instrumentalist/comedian/entrepreneur/troupe manager.

Although Sam Dearin was in Australia for less than two years, he made a considerable contribution to the variety industry, engaging local performers for his various troupes and setting the bar for comedy musicians for generations to come. He arrived in Australia in August 1882 with Clark and Ryman, remaining with their company until June the following year, albeit with several short breaks during which time he toured Lawton, Dearin and Sayer’s Troubadours, and became an original member of Hiscocks’ Federal Minstrels. Between October 1883 and April 1884 he co-managed several touring companies – Dearin and Gardner’s Musical Comiques, Sam Dearin’s Minstrels, and Lawton and Dearin’s Federal Minstrels and Comiques – and made a return appearance with Hiscocks’ Federal Minstrels.

1: Prior to coming to Australia Dearin had carved out a career in the USA as a member of a number of high profile minstrel companies, including Emerson’s Minstrels and Haverley’s Minstrels. He also toured Moore and Dearin’s Troubadours (with George F. Moore). Often billed as either the “Musical Moke” or the “Great Musical Comique,” Dearin could reportedly play at least 12 instruments, and was said to have invented his own comedy instruments.
2: After leaving Australia Dearin spent several years in Britain before returning to America, where he continued performing well into the 1890s. During that period he established himself as a big star with Tony Pastor’s operations.



Incl. Delavale Brothers [1] / Kitty Delavale / Two Wheelers (with Roy Murphy)

Bert Delavale worked around Australasia as a trick cyclist from the late-1890s through until at least 1909. He initially performed with his brother Harry as the Delavale Brothers [1] (ca. 1900-1902) and then with Kitty Delavale (ca. 1902-1904), before teaming up with Roy Murphy (ca. 1905) as the Two Wheelers. Delavale’s name has first been identified in 1900 endorsing Baxter’s Lung Preserver whilst a member of Percy Dix‘s Gaiety Company (New Zealand). That same year the brothers were engaged by John F. Sheridan‘s as a specialty act in his Sydney production of The New Barmaid (Lyceum Theatre, Dec.). In his various partnerships Delavale also worked for Harry Rickards, Fitzgerald Brothers’ Circus, George A. Jones (Perth), John Fuller (New Zealand), and James Brennan.

1: The Delavales may have originally hailed from New Zealand.
2: Bert and Kitty worked for Percy Dix in 1903 and 1904. The engagement included the pantomime The House That Jack Built. Kitty also performed independently as a singer during her career.
3: Delavale and Murphy toured New Zealand for the Fullers (1905).
4: Harry Delavale established himself as an entertainment promoter in the Western Australian goldfields. He is recorded as running shows in Boulder in 1906.



(ca. 1882-1955) Comedian, singer, actor, entrepreneur, troupe manager/proprietor, theatre manager/lessee [Born Ernest Albert Harris]

Ern Harris trained as a singer and elocutionist under Mrs Charles Taylor, and began his Australian career as an amateur entertainer in Melbourne around 1900. By 1906, as Ern Delavale, he was securing work with Joe Solomons and J.C. Bain, and in 1907 he made his debut for Harry Rickards. The following year he teamed up with Will Gilbert (1908-1916) and later toured with his brother-in-law, Ern Vockler, as the Delavale Brothers (1917-1920) before starting a long stage partnership with his wife, Lily Vockler. Delavale’s career included tours of India (1914), New Zealand (six times*), South Africa and Britain (1921-22). He also served as Vice President of the Australian Variety Artists’ Federation (A.V.A.F.), operated a circuit in Sydney (Refined Vaudeville Entertainers), toured his own troupes, and worked in radio.

  • For further details on Ern Delavale’s career see Delavale & Vockler [below] New bio coming soon.
  • See also: Delavale Brothers [below] • Delavale and Gilbert [below] • Ike Delavale (aka Ern Vockler) [below] • Lily Vockler



aka Ern Vockler / Charles Delavale

(1897-1968) Eccentric dancer, comedian, Charlie-Chaplin impersonator, actor, producer, writer, and manager. [Born: Ernest Charles Vockler in Melbourne]

Ernest Vockler’s extraordinarily-long career lasted five decades, beginning ca. 1911 as a juvenile comedian and dancer and continuing up until at least 1954.  Known as “Ike” Delavale from 1923 onwards, he found initial success as a Chaplin impersonator before firmly establishing himself as one of the country’s leading entertainers in two popular partnerships – the Delavale Brothers, and Delavale and Stagpoole. He later toured with Maggie Buckley (1930-1940s). Highly highly regarded as a revusical writer/director, troupe manager/proprietor, and radio celebrity, he worked for most of the big Australian-based firms and had long associations with Harry Clay, Fullers’ Theatres, Les Shipp, Stanley McKay, and Bruce Carroll (Perth). Delavale also toured New Zealand twice with the Delavale Brothers (1917 and 1919) and twice with Stanley McKay’s Gaieties (1935 and 1936).



(1908-1916) Sketch and comic patter team.

Regarded as one of the more popular Australian comedy duos touring Australia and New Zealand during the pre-war years, Delavale and Gilbert worked an act that comprised patter, sketch material and songs. The themes explored by the pair included marriage, outback life and the navy. During their time together Delavale and Gilbert worked for most of the leading variety managements, including Ted Holland, Harry Clay and Fullers’ Theatres. They toured Queensland twice for Clay (1912 and 1916) and played for several months in India in early 1914. The partnership was interrupted for around six months that same year while Gilbert recovered from a severe illness and eventually dissolved in late-1916. Both men later worked a long-term act with their wife.



Comics, sketch artists, eccentric dancer, revue and pantomime actor, producer, manager.

Charles “Ike” Delavale (aka Ern Vockler) and Elvie Stagppole teamed up in 1920 and were later associated with the Walter George’s Sunshine PlayersFullers’ Theatres, and Harry Clay. After separating in the late-1920s, Delavale continued hi career for another two decades. Stagpoole was the daughter of  Alec Stagpoole and Madge Stagpoole  (formerly of the The Stagpooles acrobatic song and dance act).

  • The Delavale and Stagpoole biography is currently being updated. The new version,  due shortly, includes family history details sourced from Janine Stagpoole and John Stagpoole.
  • See also: Elvie Stagpoole“Ike” Delavale [above]
Delavale adopted the “Ike” moniker in 1923.



(1916, 1920-1952) Comedy sketch, patter and song act.

Following the end of the Delavale and Gilbert (1908-1916), Ern Delavale briefly worked with his wife Lily Vockler during the summer of 1916/17 before teaming up with her brother, Ern Vockler as the Delavale Brothers. When the brother-in-laws went their separate ways in late-1920 the Delavale and Vockler partnership finally came together. The couple continued performing as a duo, while occasionally working solo or in ensembles, up until at least the late-1930s. In addition to their engagements around Australasia, which included occasional radio broadcasts from the mid-1930s, Delavale and Vockler also toured South Africa and England (1921-1922). While they worked for many different firms during their career together the 1920s saw the couple mostly linked to the Fullers and Harry Clay circuits.

  • A new biography is currently in process.
  • See also: Ern Delavale [above] • Lily VocklerDelavale Brothers [above] • Delavale & Gilbert [above] • Ern Vockler (aka Charles/Ike Delavale) [above]


DELAVALE BROTHERS [1]: See Bert Delavale [above]



(1917-1920) Sketch and comic patter act.

Following the end of the popular Delavale and Gilbert partnership in 1916, Ern Delavale formed the Delavale Brothers with his brother-in-law Ern Vockler (later Ike Delavale). The pair, along with Lily Vockler (wife and sister respectively) toured for almost four years, albeit with a break in late-1917 when Ern Delavale was hospitalised. They were engaged by such firms as Harry Rickards Tivoli Theatres, Fullers’ Theatres (including New Zealand in 1917 and 1918/1919), Harry Clay and Peter Brooks (Perth). In late-1920 Ern Vockler teamed up with his new partner/wife Elvie Stagpoole, leading Ern Delavale and Lily Vockler to finally form their own act. The Delavale Brothers’ routines often included Charlie Chaplin impersonations from Vockler along with miscellaneous comedy sketches and topical patter.

  • More details
  • See also: “Ike” Delavale [above] • Delavale & Stagpoole [above] • Delavale & Gilbert [above] •Delavale & Vockler [above] • Lily Vockler
Please note: Trick cyclists Bert and Harry Delavale also toured Australia as the Delavale Brothers ca. 1900-1902. See Bert Delavale entry [above] for further details relating to their act.



delohery-tom-ql-21-apr-1898-15(1860-1925) Dancer, entertainer, businessman, troupe/theatre manager, theatre lessee

For two decades Tom Delohery was a member of the specialist dance trio Delohery, Craydon and Holland, which considered the greatest Australian male-dance act of the nineteenth century. Of the three performers Delohery was considered the champion step dancer, a position which many critics claim he had no equal. During their time together Delohery Craydon and Holland also pursued a number of entrepreneurial opportunities, sometimes in partnership with other entertainers. In these ventures Delohery’s name appeared more often in advertising (as lessee, manager and/or co-proprietor) than his partners. Delohery retired from the partnership in 1899 and settled in Brisbane where he eventually established himself as a prominent sporting identity. Brisbane newspapers record him as working as an occasional entertainer up until 1904, however.

1: For many years associated with bookmakers William Mooney and Abe Barrington, and their successor William Danaher, Delohery also conducted his own bookmaking venture in his later years.
2: Delohery died on 21 February 1925 shortly after collapsing in the entrance to Tattersall’s Club, Brisbane (the city was then experiencing a prolonged heat wave). He and his wife Agnes are buried in Toowong Cemetery next to their good friend, Ted Holland.
3. His rare stage appearances in Brisbane between 1900 and 1904 all appear to have been undertaken at the Theatre Royal, initially for Harry Rickards and later for Ted Holland. Delohery is also recorded as having provided advanced training for some dancers – either local or visiting (including, for example, Lynda Davis in 1910).
Image source: Quiz and Lantern (Adelaide) 21 Apr. 1898, 15.



aka The Australian Team


(1883-1899) Dancers, comedians, singers, writers, directors, managers, entrepreneurs

Arguably the most successful male Australian dancing trio of the late nineteenth century Thomas Delohery, James Craydon and Ted Holland appeared with every major Australian variety organisation during their 20 years together, while also operating their own companies at various times. They initially specialised in clog, step, and eccentric dance but later became accomplished all-round variety practitioners. After Tom Delohery left the partnership in 1899 Craydon and Holland briefly worked with Steve Adson.

L-R: James Craydon, Tom Delohery, Ted Holland. Image source: Quiz and Lantern (Adelaide) 21 Apr. 1898, 15.



(1869-1911) Champion lady dancer, singer, sketch artist, comedian

James Bell and his adoptive sister Ada Delroy toured Australia for two years with Harry Rickards (1888-1890), before undertaking a world tour with Baldwin’s Butterfly Co. The pair returned to Australia in1895 and soon afterwards established the Ada Delroy Company. The troupe toured the Australasian region and elsewhere until ca. 1909. Delroy was also a land speculator in the late-1890s.



(-1954) Character comedian.

Billed in 1913 as having come “direct from the leading music halls in London and the continent,” Harry de Robeck’s name has first been identified in connection with a 1910 entertainment programme put at the Sydney Town Hall by the Loyal Orange Institution of New South Wales. Between 1914 and 1918 he was associated with several of Edward Branscombe’s Dandies companies, and was also in an early line-up of Walter George-led Smart Set.  De Robeck worked on the Tivoli circuit beginning in 1918 and is known to have appeared on radio in 1926.

During his career de Robeck was sometimes referred to as Harry de Roebeck or just Harry Robeck.



aka Will Desmond / W.G. Desmond / Stroller Desmond / Dismal Desmond

Singer, dancer, troupe co-founder, producer, radio celebrity.

George William Desmond came to Australia in 1914 with Sydney James and Madeline Rossiter (the Royal Strollers) and remained with the costume comedy troupe until James’ death in Katartchi, Pakistan in 1919. The following year he teamed up with Cyril Northcote and Fred Monument to co-found the Futurists. The enterprise toured internationally until 1923 was revived several times during the mid to late-1920s by Desmond and Northcote. The Futurists were also active on radio throughout the same period and toured New Zealand once as the English Futurists. Desmond appeared with Billy Maloney’s New Ideas in Adelaide (1926-1927), and from 1927 until his return to Britain in early 1930,was known throughout the region via numerous radio appearances as “Dismal” Desmond.

1: Desmond joined the Royal Strollers in 1909.
2: The comedian/singer was almost always identified in advertisements or reviews up until 1927 with the initials G.W. (or sometimes incorrectly as W.G.). Several reports do refer to him as William Desmond rather than George Desmond, however.
3: Desmond’s “Dismal” moniker was very likely adopted as play on the British children’s storybook character conceived by illustrator John Hassell. The dog, which was named after the British slang expression for “miserable person,” first appeared in print in 1926. The following year it was redesigned by Richard Elliott for Dean’s Rag Book Company and soon afterwards became a world-wide best-selling soft toy.
Image source: Sunday Times (Sydney) 10 Dec. 1916, 17.



(1912-ca.1940s) Sketch and patter comedians, variety and pantomime performers

Bert Desmond and Mattie Jansen have first been identified performing in Australia in 1908 and 1912 respectively, with Desmond linked to the Peoples’ Concerts (Melbourne), Ted HollandHarry Rickards and James Brennan prior to establishing a partnership with Jansen in 1912. Although Jansen’s name has not been identified prior to that year it is likely that she had already gained experience as a performer by then. The couple, who married in 1916, found engagements with all the major Australian variety organisations and from the mid-1920s also toured “Mugsy” Desmond’s Revue Company around Australia. A specialist dame, Desmond appeared in Fullers pantomimes from 1920 up until at least 1928. The couple was still performing professionally in the early 1940s.

  • Updated biography coming soon



De Tisne [Hokanson](1890-1931) American actor/variety entertainer, director, businessman

Edward Ralph de Tisne began his professional career in off-Broadway roles and in vaudeville before heading to Great Britain in 1912. He came to Australia in 1919, and the following year married Australian actress Yvonne Banvard. After playing the Fullers circuit for several years the pair teamed up with producer Harrington Reynolds to form the Brisbane-based Renolds-de Tisne Players. When his marriage ended in the mid-1920s, de Tisne briefly alternated between the stage and various business ventures before returning to the USA in 1927. He died in New York, aged only 42.

Source/image: Stig Hokanson. “From Broadway to Brisbane – and Back.” Thespian Times (2013)



aka Dora Devere / Dora Busch

(1866-1916) Singer, serio-comic [Born: Elizabeth Maria Lay in Rutherglen, Victoria]

Dora De Vere started her career in the early 1880s and from 1883 was able to secure work with Frank Smith, F.M. Clark and the Cogill brothers among others. While touring with Clark in 1887 she met pit band musician Frederick William Busch. They married the following year and De Vere subsequently used Busch as her stage surname. The couple toured extensively throughout Australasia with Dora performing as a solo act while William performed with the Paragon Trio. Their tours included India (with Tommy Hudson‘s Surprise Party and Burton’s Circus) and New Zealand (twice). The pair moved to the USA in 1896, later performing with their daughter, Mae, as the Busch-Devere Trio (ca. 1903-1912).

1: Newspaper reports record both De Vere and Devere throughout her career.
2: Mae Busch (1891-1946) was born in Melbourne and went on to become a major Hollywood film star, in both the silent and sound eras.
Sourced from David R. Noakes.



(1867-) Musician, singer, dancer, comedienne.

Devoe, GeorgieGeorgie Devoe came to Australia for Harry Rickards in 1887. After she and partner Fred Davys separated in 1893, Devoe teamed up with comedian Charlie Fanning. The pair touring internationally for 10 years before returning to Australia in 1909. The following year they moved permanently to South Africa. After Fanning’s death in 1915, Devoe moved back to the USA with their daughter Charlotte.



(1923-ca. 1950s) Comedy, song and patter act.

Comedians Jack “Dinks” Paterson and Trixie Ireland teamed up in Sydney in 1923 while under contract to Harry Clay. Paterson had previously worked with George Wallace in the highly popular Dinks and Oncus partnership (1919-1923). The couple, who shortly afterwards married, then spent almost a decade and a half in Great Britain (including Ireland), only returning to Australia in 1929 to tour the Tivoli circuit. During their time in England Paterson and Ireland were pioneering television performers. After moving back home in 1937 they continued to entertain audiences well into the 1950s.

Image: Trixie Ireland (left) and Jack Paterson (right). Source: Register News-Pictorial (Adelaide) 25 May 1929, 12.



(ca. 1871-1899) Comic/character singer, society entertainer, theatrical manager.

Leslie Dix followed his older brother Percy (P.R. Dix) to 1893 via Melbourne (where he possibly gained experience as a “vocal comique,” in the suburbs). After establishing himself in Auckland as a performer through the People’s Popular Concerts he briefly established his own weekly concerts in nearby Thames beginning September 1893. Over the next six years Dix cemented his reputation as one of Auckland’s leading variety and concert entertainers. His stagecraft also included recitations and sketch work. Dix was best known as a comic singer, though. His life was tragically cut short on 30 April 1899 from complications brought on by typhoid fever and an earlier bout of pneumonia. Aged only 28 he had been married only a few weeks.

1. Dix was likely born in Tasmania (and probably in Launceston where Percy was born). Their parents were Richard Porrett Dix, a chemist, and, Emma Elizabeth Nelson Dix (nee Thame).
2. The fact that Dix worked as an entertainer almost exclusively in Auckland suggests that he was engaged in fulltime employment, possibly in conjunction with his brother’s business ventures.
3. No record of Dix’s career in Australia has yet been located. It is presently unclear why his name does not register in Melbourne of Tasmanian newspapers in connection with entertainments. His popularity with audiences and critics in New Zealand following his arrival suggests that he already gained some considerable experience, even though aged only 22 or 23.



(1903-1952) Comedian, singer, musician, actor, radio presenter. [Born John Vyvyan Ormonde Dobbie]

John Dobbie started out his entertainment career as a dance band singer and pianist. He travelled to America in the early 1920s finding work as an actor and later touring Canada with Alla Nazimova. Dobbie returned to Australia in 1927 and after featuring in the silent film Jewelled Nights appeared in regularly in vaudeville, musicals, revues, while also co-starring in four George Wallace films. Following the outbreak of war he moved to Brisbane, playing a major role in entertaining troupes and co-managing the Cremorne Theatre. Dobbie later moved into radio as a presenter and sports announcer.

Sourced from Stig R. Hokanson. Image contributed by Stig R. Hokanson.



(ca. 1893-1973) Charlie Chaplin impersonator, filmmaker, artist, inventor, journalist

Leonard Joseph Doogood started out his entertainment career as an Adelaide-based Charlie Chaplin impersonator. In 1916 he made a cameo Chaplin appearance in a short film about Penfold’s vineyard, and the following year toured a Chaplin act around regional South Australia (billed as Leonard Doogood and Dot). He wrote and directed Algie’s Romance for the South Australian Feature Film Co in 1918 before being offered a contract in New Zealand in 1921 to make several pseudo-Chaplin films and to promote the real comedian’s actual films (this included live performances during screenings). Doogood also impersonated Chaplin in Vanbrugh-Boucicault’s hit production of the comedy Aren’t We All (1924), before turning to journalism in the mid-1920s.

1: Doogood retained an interest in film, being recorded in 1928 as a partner in a patent application for an improved multi-picture camera.
2: See Doogood’s Research notes regarding claims that he was an Englishman.
Image: A scene from Algie’s Romance (1918). Source: Pike and Cooper Australian Film 1900-1977 (1980), 107.



Musician, comedian, writer, songwriter, revusical company manager.

George Drew performed as a solo coon singer before teaming up with Jim Romaine in the early 1910s. The partnership ended when Romaine enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F.) Drew then formed a new act with Jim Harris. From around 1923 he toured his own revusical company. Drew and Jim Romaine reformed briefly in 1927. In May 1930 he was one of the stars engaged for Wal Rockley‘s Old Time Minstrel Show radio broadcast. He was still active professionally in the early 1940s.



aka The Two Driscolls / The Driscoll Boys)

Driscoll Bros 2 [TT Dec 1914, 53]

Comedians, song and patter act, businessmen. [Born: Alfred and Robert Cohen]

Alf and Bob Driscoll toured for more than three decades throughout Australasia, the Philippines and the East, having established their reputations in the early 1900s. By 1904 had secured engagements with Fullers’ Theatres, J.C. Bain, and Harry Rickards. They played Rickards’ Tivoli circuit regularly over the remainder of the decade, while also working for Ted Holland (Brisbane) and James Brennan. Apart from a brief respite in the late 1910s, when they ran their own hairdressing business in the Sydney CBD, the brothers continued their careers well into the 1920s, working for ever major firm in the region.

The Driscolls were married to fellow-vaudevillians (and sisters) Stella and Florrie Ranger. Alf Driscoll retired in the mid- 1920s to return to hairdressing. He died in 1929, aged 49. Bob Driscoll was the Fullers’ treasurer during the same period but is recorded as still being active on stage as late as 1947 (Dick Whittington and His Cat, Empire Theatre, Sydney).
Image source: Theatre Magazine (Sydney) Dec. 1914, 53.



Comedian, dame, comic singer, monologist, producer. [Born and raised in Prahran, Melbourne]

A native of Prahran, Melbourne, W. Bruce Drysdale, was considered one of Australia’s leading comedians and specialist dames of the 1910s. During his early career (1898-1906) he established himself as a suburban comedian, while also making occasional appearances at city venues like the People’s Concerts. He established Citizen’s Concerts in Melbourne and Geelong (1907) before turning professional in 1908. Largely linked to serio-comic Phyllis Faye from 1908 (they married in 1910) the couple toured Australia and New Zealand for Stanley McKay‘s pantomime companies for seven years (1910-1916), with Drysdale engaged as principal comedian/dame. During that period he also secured occasional work with J.C. Bain, Brennan-Fuller, Post Mason, Holland and St John, and Harry Clay. Drysdale enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F.) in 1916 and served overseas. He remained in England after the war, initially finding top of the bill success in self-written comedy war sketches. He later moved into radio.

1. During the late-1890s and early-1900s Drysdale was involved with several Melbourne clubs and societies, including the Prahran Lyre Club (for which he served as secretary at one stage). He made his Peoples Concerts debut on 10 November 1900.
2. In his youth Drysdale trained as a bootmaker, and is believed to have started his own shoe repair shop in Prahran in 1903. This might explain why his name has not been connected with any entertainments during the years 1903 and 1904. It is also surmised that Drysdale’s increasing success entertainer (and promoter ) led to him selling his shoe repair business in Prahran in late-October 1907.
3. Drysdale enlisted in the A.I.F. in September 1916 (along with Stanley McKay and other members of the company). He reportedly served with the 18th Reinforcements, 17th battalion, 5th Brigade.
4. Drysdale and his wife and daughter (also named Phyllis) were reunited in England in 1920. The couple’s second child, Bruce, born in London the following year. The family likely never returned to Australia.
Image source: Sunday Times (Perth) 16 June 1918, 9.



(1908-1916) Bruce Drysdale and Phyllis Faye have been first linked together as members of Webber’s Entertainers Queensland touring party in late-1908. They were prominent on Harry Clay‘s suburban Sydney circuit in 1909 and 1910, and also toured Queensland for the entrepreneur during the second year. After ending their Clay’s contract the pair joined Stanley McKay‘s newly formed touring pantomime and vaudeville company as principle comedian/dame and sero-comic/principle boy. They toured extensively throughout Australia and New Zealand for McKay during the years 1910-1914 and 1915-1916, playing both metropolitan and regional centres. Although they mostly appeared as individual entertainers, the couple nevertheless performed in comedy sketches together on many occasions (billed as Drysdale and Faye). Their joint Australian career ended when Drysdale enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F) in September 1916.

1. For Harry Clay’s 1910 Queensland tour, Faye joined to company in the far north for the return leg. Drysdale undertook the entire five months tour. They married shortly after returning to Sydney in early-August.
2. The majority of Stanley McKay’s regional engagements were played under canvas. Interestingly he disbanded the Drysdale/Faye-led company after it returned from its 1914/1914 New Zealand tour, but revived it in April the following year. Confusingly it became known as the No 2 company because McKay had by that time put together another touring panto company. Headed by Jim Gerald and Essie Jennings it became known as the No 1 company despite having been formed almost four years after the original troupe.
3. During their occasional downtimes with McKay, Drysdale and Faye found work (both individually or together) with such firms as Brennan-Fuller, Holland and St John, and Weston and Hill. In 1913 they even toured briefly in a variety troupe headed by American world heavy-eight boxer Sam McVey. They made a return to Harry Clay’s Bridge Theatre in January 1916 when the entrepreneur engaged McKay’s company for a week-long season of pantomime.
4. Following her husband’s enlistment in the A.I.F. in 1916, Phyllis Faye maintained a high profile solo career in Australia until she departed for London in early 1920 to join him. The couple likely never returned home.



(1908-1954) English-born actress, variety entertainer, dancer, singer. [Born Gertrude Phyllis Hillyard]

A gifted dancer who had trained in London, Phyllis du Barry moved to Australia with her mother in 1923. After working for various firms and appearing in two films she made her debut for the Fullers as the principal girl in Cinderella (Majestic Theatre, 1926). Over the next three years she secured engagements with the Moon and Morris (1926-27), Zig Zag (1927), Jim Gerald (1927-29) and George Ward (1929) revue companies, and toured Australasia in Rio Rita (1929). Du Barry moved to the USA in 1930, continuing her career in both theatre and film until the late-1940s. Her films include: The Moonstone (1934), Cynara (1932) and The Infernal Triangle (1935).

In 1928 Du Barry became Jim Gerald’s step-niece when her mother married his brother Lance Vane (the marriage lasted only a couple of years, however). In 1933 she also appeared opposite Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durnate in the MGM film What! No Beer?
Details for this entry sourced from research undertaken by Robert Colomb. Image source: The Arrow (Sydney) 9 Sept. 1932, 3.


DAN DUNBAR: New entry coming soon



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Published on February 23, 2011 at 8:01 am  Comments Off on Practitioners [D]