Practitioners [D]



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

Claude Dampier toured Australia with Edward Branscombe’s Dandies troupes between 1910 and 1917. He returned to the country in 1921 for the Tivoli circuit, and was also later associated with Pat Hanna and the Fullers’ Theatres (including his own Trump Cards Co). Dampier starred in two Australian films in the mid-20s before returning to England.



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 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 and subsequently spent the next two decades on the “legitimate” stage as comedian, actor and occasional stage manager. He turned to vaudeville in 1899, spending many years with Harry Rickards and also appearing in pantomime – notably William Anderson‘s Sinbad the Sailor (1904-1906) and Babes in the Wood (1909). Dean also worked for such firms as Rowley’s Waxworks Co, James Brennan, Sadler and Beveridge, Dix-Baker, and Fullers’ Theatres, and in 1914 directed the film A Long Long Way to Tipperary. He continued performing on the stage and on radio well into the 1930s.

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.



aka Ern Vockler / Charles Delavale

Delavale, Charles [John Stagpoole](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 three popular partnerships – the Delavale Brothers, Delavale and Stagpoole, and Delavale and Buckley. He was highly regarded as a revusical writer/director, troupe manager/proprietor, and radio celebrity and worked for most of the big Australian-based firms and many smaller concerns. He had particularly strong associations with the Clay and Fullers circuits. Delavale toured New Zealand twice with the Delavale Brothers act (1917/1919) and spent 16 months in there in the mid-1930s as a solo comedian.

  • Delavale’s biography is currently being updated. A new version is due shortly.
  • See also: Delavale Brothers [below] • Delavale & Stagoole [below]



(1908-1916) Sketch and comic patter team.

One of the more popular Australian comedy duos of the pre-war years, Ern Delavale (aka Ernest Harris) and Will Gilbert worked for most of the local leading variety managements, and toured India in 1914. After parting ways in 1916 Gilbert teamed up with his wife Dora while Delavale teamed up with his brother-in-law Ern Vockler (as the Delavale Brothers).

  • The Delavale and Gilbert biography is currently being updated. A new version is due shortly.
  • See also: Delavale Brothers [below] • The Gilberts



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.


DELAVALE & VOCKLER: New entry coming soon



(1917-1920) Sketch and comic patter act.

After the demise of Delavale and Gilbert in late-916, Ern Delavale (aka Ernest Harris) formed a partneship with his brother-in-law Ern Vockler which they worked as the Delavale Brothers. Although Vockler was rarely identified by his birth name in the press he nevertheless adopted his middle name “Charles” to avoid confusion with his older and better known partner. The pair also toured with their wife and sister, Lily Vockler. The trio played the Fullers and Clay‘s circuits before travelling to South Africa and Great Britain. After the Delavale Brothers parted ways, Vockler teamed up with his wife Elvie Stagpoole. Ern Delavale and Lily Vockler returned to Australia in the mid-1920s for Clays, and later appeared on the Tivoli and Fullers’ circuits.

  • The biography for this entry is currently being updated. A new version is due shortly.
  • See also: “Ike” Delavale [above] • Delavale & Stagpoole [above] • Delavale & Vockler [above]



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.

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



English-born sketch and patter comedians, variety and pantomime performers

Bert Desmond came to Australia in 1910 on contract with Harry Rickards and from around 1914 was in an act with soubrette, Mattie Jansen. The pair worked for most of the major Australian variety firms, and from the mid-1920s toured “Mugsy” Desmond’s Revue Company. A specialist dame, Bert Desmond appeared in Fullers’ Theatres pantomimes from 1920 up until at least 1928.



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.


DINKS & TRIXIE: New entry coming soon



Dobbie, John [Hokanson](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

Doogood, Leonard 1918 [P&C 1980, 107]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.



Drew, GeorgeMusician, 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 Dec. (1914), 53.



Du Barry, Phyllis [AROW 9 Sept 1932, 3](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 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]