Practitioners [H]



Comic, singer, dancer, interlocutor, pantomime dame, sketch artist, stage manager, manager, entrepreneur, writer.

hagan-martyn-tsyd-10-nov-1929-11Martyn Hagan’s early career saw him associated with Hiscocks’ Federal Minstrels, John F. Sheridan, Rose Clifford’s Bohemian Musical Comedy Co, the Faust Family and Frank Smith among others. In the late 1880s he co-founded the XLCR Minstrel and Burlesque Company with Charlie Fanning (1888) and Hagan, Buckley and Leston’s Minstrels (1889). During the early 1890s he was associated with Dan Tracey, George Rignold, George Coppin, Harry Barrington and Williamson and Musgrove among others. From 1895 until the late-1920s he worked almost exclusively with his wife, Lucy Fraser.

Image source: Truth (Sydney) 10 Nov. 1929, 11.



(ca. 1895-1930) Society sketch, song and dance act.

Martyn Hagan and Lucy Fraser appeared on the bills of most of the leading Australasian-based entertainment firms and companies, including Harry Rickards, Williamson and Musgrove, F.M. Clark, Frank Smith, Ted Holland, Percy Dix, William Anderson and James Brennan, along with their own troupes – notably the McLean & Hagan Gaiety Company, and the Martyn Hagan Musical Comedy Co. The couple and their family left Australia in 1912, spending the next 18 years working on variety circuits around the world, including the USA, Britain and Asia. Hagan and Fraser returned to Australia in 1929 still working as variety performers. They are believed to have retired from full time engagements sometime during the early 1930s.

Hagan and Fraser’s sons, Vic, Will and Jack, also established long careers in the entertainment industry (both in Australia and overseas).



haining-frank-tbrs-11-may-1930-14Actor, singer, dancer.

Originally from Rockhampton, Queensland, Frank Haining joined the Ancelon-Chapman Dramatic Club in Sydney sometime around 1912 and later toured with Philip Lytton and the D.B. O’Connor Opera Co. He established himself as one of Australia’s leading revusical actors during the 1920s, appearing with revue companies run by Walter George’s (Sunshine Players), George Wallace , George Story, and Stan Foley. In 1929 Haining took up a position as Queensland publicity manager for Birch, Carroll and Coyle. He was involved in radio from as early as 1928, working a comedy act with Frank Perryn. By 1930 he was a member of the ABC Radio Players (Brisbane) and in the mid-1930s he teamed up with Harry Borradale to present a series of stories on Queensland radio.

In his 1960 article “Boy from the Valley,” Billy Moloney indicates that Haining was then working at Columbia Records’ head office in the printing and accessories department (ctd. Showman: Official Journal of the Theatre Managers’ Association 15 Dec. 1960, 42-43).
Image source: Truth (Brisbane) 11 May 1930, 14.



Actress (theatre/film), singer.

Little is currently known about Kathleen Hamilton. She first came to prominence in 1924 as a member of F. Gayle Wyer‘s newly formed Band Box Revue Company, remaining with the company until at least 1925. Her name then disappears from the public record until 1932 when he was cast in the film Grandad Rudd. The following year she appeared in a dramatic production of The Rosery (produced by former vaudeville entrepreneur Carl Dawson). A preview in the South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus (6 Jan. 1933, 6) records that the entire company had been secured from Philip Lytton. Her other known film credit was When the Kellys Rode (1934).

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) erroneously conflates this Kathleen Hamilton with the US actress of the same name. Born Kathleen Stick (-1990), the latter actress married Swedish/US novelist Donald Bengtsson Hamilton (1916-2006) in 1941. The US-centric IMDb also typically lists Grandad Rudd under its later US title (Ruling the Roost), and prioritises the 1935 US release date over the earlier Australia date.



(ca. 1894-1952) English-born comedian, musician, revue writer, company leader, ragtime dancer, boxer. [Born Nathaniel John Brooks]

Hanley, NatAfter arriving in Australia shortly before World War I, Nat Hanley maintained a presence in the local entertainment industry up until at least 1951. He built his whistling, impersonation and monologue act around his piano playing, but also partnered other well-known artists. Hanley also produced revusicals in the 1920s, and was a member of numerous vaudeville, revue and revusical troupes, including the Gay Follies (1914), Empire Comedy Co (1915), K-Nuts (1919), the So and Sos (1923), Nat Hanley Revue Co (aka the Zigzag Revue Co), and Stanley McKay’s Gaieties (1930s).

Additional information sourced from Terry Brooks (Nat Hanley’s son). Image source: Terry Brooks (family collection).



English-born comedian, singer, actor, troupe manager, soldier.

One of the foremost “refined” costume comedy comedians in Australian variety during the 1910s and early-1920s, Reg Harrison started his theatrical career at age nine in a Christy Minstrel show in London. His early career in Australia saw him secure work with the Follies Costume Comedy Co (1911/1912), Mascotte’s Ltd (1911), Grotesques (1912), and Punchinellos [1] (1912/1913), before joining Huxham’s Serenaders (1915-1924). After leaving the Serenaders he joined a briefly reformed Royal Strollers and soon afterwards produced a four month Tasmanian engagement for the Futurists comedy company. Harrison appeared regularly on radio for 2BL (Sydney) between 1925 and 1930, and continued to work as a stage comedian up until at least 1938. His last known engagement was with Rus Garling‘s Far West Concert Party.

1: Reg Harrison’s English career as a youth included music halls and the concert platform. He briefly left the industry to serve with the British Army in the Boer War and returned to South Africa not long after the it ended, spending some six years there as a singer and character actor. After a long engagement in Durban he decided to give Australia a try (“On and Off the Stage.” Table Talk 9 Nov. 1916, 17).
2. His earliest known professional engagement with the Sydney-based Follies was alongside such artists as Harry Graham, Maurice Chenoweth (1911) and George Dean (1912). Around this time he was sometimes referred to as “the prince of jesters.”
3: Harrison toured with Rus Garling’s Far West Concert Party in 1932, 1937 and 1938.
4. Not to be confused with the well-known Perth publican from the early-1900s.
Image source: News (Hobart) 31 July 1925, 4.



Haslemayer, Louis - SLV(1839-1885) Austrian-born magician, musician, necromancer, composer, animal and bird trainer, businessman, author.

Louis Haslemayer may not be remembered today as one of the great magicians of the nineteenth century, but audiences who saw him during his extensive international travels between 1865 and 1885 were left with no doubt that he was a prestidigitator of unparalleled inventiveness. As one Australian critic records in 1880: “Professor Haselmayer’s… entertainment throughout is really an illustration of science in so pleasant a garb that, under the idea of amusement, we are insensibly beguiled into obtaining knowledge.” Haselmeyer mounted his own tours through Australasia (1872-1875 and 1880-1882) and, unusually, spent much time in regional areas. He died in Vienna aged only 46 from complications that arose after having contracted malaria while in India in 1884.

Image: Courtesy of the W.G. Alma Collection, State Library of Victoria.



[Aust: 1890-1892] English soubrette, theatre lessee, troupe proprietor/manager.

Lizzie Hastings made her Australian debut with the Charles and Harry Cogill at St George’s Hall, Melbourne, on 8 March 1890, performing songs and featuring in the comedy sketch “Nan, the Good for Nothing.” In late-September she joined Hugos’ Buffalo Minstrels in Adelaide, and when it departed two months later Hastings put together her own company, playing Adelaide, Ballarat, Launceston and Hobart before amalgamating with the Buffalo Minstrels in Newcastle in late-February 1891. Between March and her departure for America in September the following year, she briefly managed Lizzie Hastings Picnic Party, and secured solo engagements in Sydney with Frank Smith (Alhambra), the Bondi and Coogee aquariums, and Dan Tracey (School of Arts), and in Brisbane with Percy St John (Gaiety Theatre [see Albert Hall]).

1: Hastings’ Australian publicity typically described her as having come “from London’s Gaiety Theatre.”
2: Please note, English actress Flora Hastings, who joined Dan Barry‘s Dramatic Company in June 1890 has been erroneously referred to as Lizzie Hastings in several newspapers (including the Geelong Advertiser).
3: Hastings’ association with Percy St John later involved a Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian tour with the entrepreneur’s Gaiety Comedy and Burlesque Company (ca. June 1891-Jan. 1892). The towns identified to date were Ipswich, Toowoomba, (Qld), Glen Innes, Armidale, Newcastle, Singleton Bathurst, Bourke (NSW) and Mildura (Vic).



Musician, comedian, manager, troupe proprietor.

Will Hastings came to the wider Australian public’s attention when he joined the Gallipoli Strollers in 1919. Largely known as a specialist comedy musician and humorist, he also later made a name for himself as a pantomime dame. He became part-owner of a re-organised Gallipoli Strollers sometime around 1923-24, but was forced to return to solo work after fire destroyed most of the troupe’s property while touring regional New South Wales. In addition to appearing on the Fullers‘ and Clay‘s circuits, Hastings also turned to broadcasting in the mid-1920s.



(aka Frank Hawthorn)

(-1946) Actor, entertainer, comedian, impersonator.  [Born: Francis Hawthorne Anthony Wilson]

A son of scenic artist/entrepreneur W.J. Wilson, Frank Hawthorne was born in Dunedin, New Zealand and started out on the stage as a child. During his lengthy career (which as an adult began ca. 1887s and continued up until the late 1930s), he established himself as one of the country’s leading character actors, appearing in musical comedies, drama and vaudeville and on radio and in film. Hawthorne’s forte as a variety artist was in mimicry, a particular favourite being his impersonations of famous actors. He toured a vaudeville company with his brother Carden Wilson (ca. 1905-06) and then his own troupe in the early 1910s.

Image: ca. early 1890s. Source: Perrier Collection, Mitchell Library (State Library of NSW)



(aka Tom Hedley the Musical Moke / Hedley and Bartlett)

(1881-) Multi-instrumentalist, comedian, animal trainer. [Born: Thomas Henry Headon]

Tom Hedley, “the musical clown,” performed his signature “musical moke” act during the 1900s and 1910s – having trained his “moke” (a donkey or mule) to rear up whenever he played a wrong note. Hedley, who claimed an ability to play any instrument brought to him, performed routinely on xylophone, one-stringed fiddle, accordion, kettle-drum, and glass bottles. During his career (ca. 1904-1932) he worked for most of the leading variety firms, including James Brennan, Fullers’ Theatres, Harry Clay and J.C. Bain. From the early 1920s he worked in a double-act known as Hedley and Bartlett.



Later Robert Helpmann / Sir Robert Helpmann

(1909-1986) Dancer, actor, singer, director and choreographer. [Born: Robert Murray Helpman in Mount Gambier, South Australia]

Considered one of Australia’s greatest ballet dancers, Robert Helpmann was also an acclaimed choreographer, actor (theatre/film) and director (drama, opera and music theatre). Known professionally as Bobby Helpman between 1923 and 1932, he had gained attention in Adelaide as a dancer from age ten. At fourteen he partnered Rosie Bowie in a “Russian Dance” for Billy Maloney and Elton Black‘s 1923 revival of Cinderella (1920). The turn was an instant hit and elevated Helpman’s reputation with production company, J.C. Williamson’s. He later featured as a dancer, actor and singer in many of the Firm’s national productions – including pantomimes, musicals, and revue (notably the So and Sos, 1925-1926). Helpman also worked in Tivolii circuit revues, in cinemas as a between-films/prologue entertainer, and in theatre as an actor (drama and comedy). He left for England in late-1932, and quickly established a considerable reputation as a member of the Vic-Wells company (later Sadler Wells).

  • Research Notes PDF coming soon.
  • For more details on Robert Helpmann’s life and career see: Elizabeth Salter. Helpmann: The Authorised Biography of Sir Robert Helpmann, CBE.” Brighton, Sussex: Angus and Robertson, 1978 • Christopher Sexton. “Helpmann, Sir Robert Murray (1909–1986).” Australian Dictionary of Biography 17 (2007) • Kathrine Sorley Walker. “Robert Helpmann, Dancer and Choreographer: Part One.” Dance Chronicle 21.1 (1998), 1- 72 / Part Two.” Dance Chronicle 21.2 (1998), 229-283 / Part Three.” Dance Chronicle 21.2 (1998), 441–480.
1. Occasionally known as Robert Helpman during his early Australian career, he added a second “n” to his surname ca. 1933 and was also thereafter known professionally as Robert. His friends and colleagues still knew him more familiarly as “Bobby.
Image: Bobby Helpman and Leah Miller in The New Moon (1931). Source: Daily News (Perth) 9 Oct. 1931, 9



(aka Freda Hellston)

(ca. 1897-1990) Soubrette, soprano, dancer, ballet/chorus member.

Raised in Sydney’s Rocks district, Freda Agnes Helston reportedly began her stage career as a four year-old and after training as a dancer under Minnie Hooper toured New Zealand with Nellie Melba’s company. In 1915 she joined the Bletsoes’ Tabloid Musical Comedy Co ballet/chorus, and the following year became an original member of Nat Phillips’ Stiffy and Mo Co (along with former Bletsoes’ performers Roy Rene and Rosie Bowie). Helston remained with the Stiffy and Mo chorus until the early 1920s and appeared in several of the Fullers‘ pantomimes, including The Bunyip (1916).

Additional information sourced from Helston’s granddaughter Deborah Healy.



Hemsley, Arthur - cu [4BC 1116 Flickr](1881-1954) Manchester (UK)-born comedian, dude impressionist, producer/director, stage/film actor, radio actor/performer and presenter.

Arthur Hemsley came to Australasia with his partner Elsa Brull (1879-1961, aka Elsa May) in 1916 and toured for the Fullers and other firms for a little over ten years. During that time he also worked as a director/producer of musical comedies, and operated his own variety companies (on some occasions this involved leasing theatres himself). Between the late 1920s and mid-1940s Hemsley’s career was largely associated with radio (both drama and variety) in Australia and New Zealand. He also occasionally directed stage productions and appeared in the 1951 film The Glenrowan Affair.

Image Source: 4BC 1116 Flickr photostream



(1882-1945) English-born singer/actress/dancer [Born Florence Ellen Hooton in Derbyshire]

henderson-florence-pt-18-jan-1913-6Described in the lead-up to her 1910 Australian debut as “a lady with a peculiarly captivating style,” Florence Henderson grew up in Nottingham, England. In 1909 she toured internationally with Edward Branscombe‘s Scarlet Troubadours before coming to Australia as a member of his Jesters company. Between 1912 and 1917 she toured with Branscombe’s Dandies (notably the Green Dandies) before she and her husband, fellow-Jester/Dandies singer Ben Calvert, moved to Mildura in north-west of Victoria. She assisted him in running a singing academy and staging local concerts, and in later years they ran a fruit farm together. After her husband’s death in 1938 Florence moved to St Kilda, Melbourne, where she lived with her artist brother.

The Calverts, who married in Australia in 1913, both died without issue. Florence is buried in the Nichols Point Cemetery, Mildura, along with her husband.
Image source: Prahran Telegraph 18 Jan. 1913, 5. Additional information courtesy of Chris and Lorraine Lemon.



Holland, Claude [GR Oct 1923, 31](1901-1984) The only child of Brisbane entrepreneur, Ted Holland, Claude Holland began appearing on the stage as a small child. In later years he appeared with Huxham’s Serenaders before pursuing a career in radio. In this medium Holland worked as an announcer, disc jockey, producer and station manager. One of the shows he was linked to was Australia’s Amateur Hour. During his radio career he was employed by 2UE, 2SM and 2UW. In 1976 his name was added to the Australian Broadcasters’ Honour Board.



English-born comedian, patterlogist, dancer, singer, actor (theatre, film and radio), director, radio producer

Hollister, Syd [MP 9 Jan 1926, 8]Syd Hollister came to Australia in 1915 having developed his comedic style in England and over the next 14 years established himself as a top flight variety entertainer with companies like the Ideals, Humouresks, Huxham’s Serenaders and English Pierrots. He also toured his own troupes and specialised in panto dame roles. In 1928 he turned to radio and went on to feature in numerous variety and comedy shows, including Happy-Go-Lucky and The Village Glee Club, well into the 1950s. Hollister appeared in Australia’s first “talkie” Spur of the Moment (1931), and in the 1930s was appointed the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s light entertainment producer for Victoria. He and Darcy Kelway also scored a hit with their radio characters Mrs ‘Olmes and Mrs Entwistle.

1: Following Darcy Kelway’s death in 1940 Mrs Entwistle was briefly played by Field Fisher. When he died soon after taking up the role it was given to Emmie South. The series was put on permanent hold in 1944 following South’s untimely death.
2: Hollister also appeared on early Australian television – making regular appearances on HSV-7s Sunnyside Up.
Image source: Punch (Melbourne) 9 Jan. 1926, 8.



(-1890) Dancer, comedian/endman (tambo), troupe proprietor/manager. [Born: Charles Hawley]

Having established his reputation in the US, Charles Holly came to Australia in 1869 with Frank Hussey and effectively remained here until his death. Best remembered for his 17-year stage and business partnership with Tom Buckley, the pair toured various companies around Australasia and the East on an off between 1872 and the late-1880s. Often billed as specialty dancers, they also appeared in farces, sketches and burlesques. Among the other troupes and managers Holly was connected with during his twenty-odd years in Australia were Tommy Hudson, Kelly and Leon (incl. Mastodon Minstrels), F.E. Hiscocks (Federal Minstrels), Hiscocks and Hayman’s Mammoth Minstrels [1], Florack’s Federal Minstrels, and the Royal Magnet Variety Troupe [1].



Holt, Charles [TT June 1921, 18](1890-) New Zealand-born female impersonator/singer/director/producer.

A draper by trade, Charles Holt formed the Smart Set Diggers concert party in late-1917 while recovering from injuries sustained during his time with the 4th Division, 13th Field Hospital. The troupe went on to play more than a thousand concerts before the end of the war and after being demobilised in 1919 undertook tours of Britain and Australia. Holt toured the East with The Globetrotters in 1922 and then spent several years in New York. He reformed the Smart Set Diggers twice in the mid to late-1920s before going solo. His last known engagement was on the Tivoli circuit in 1930.



English-born singer, actress, dancer.

Minnie Hope came to Australia with in late-1880 with George Musgrove‘s English Opera Company, and scored much popularity as Claudine in La Fille du Tambour-Major. She spent several years with Williamson Garner and Musgrove and appeared briefly with Simonsen’s Royal English Opera Company (1882) before turning to the variety stage as a specialist ballad singer – first with Tommy Hudson and later with Alf Lawton, Frank Smith, D’Arcy Stanfield, and F.M. Clark among others. Although Hope and her husband Chris Johnson lived in the Rockhampton/Mount Morgan region of Queensland for some ten years from 1892, she toured elsewhere at least once – with Harrry Cogill‘s Comedy Company (1897-98). Her last known stage appearances were at a series of sacred concerts in Melbourne in 1904.

1: Hope’s pantomime credits included Jack and the Beanstalk (Williamson Garner and Musgrove, 1883/84), Dick Whittington (D’Arcy Stanfield and James A. South, 1889-91) and Robinson Crusoe (James B. Hickie, 1891/92).
2. Johnson and Hope are first known to have worked together in the 1889 Dick Whittington production at Sydney’s Academy of Music. They may have known each other as early as 1886, however. After retiring from the stage in the mid-1890s Johnson was appointed Secretary of the Mount Morgan School of Arts. He died of pneumonia at Mount Morgan in June 1901.
3. Although Hope was planning to return to England following her husband’s death this is yet to be confirmed. By 1906 she had settled in Sydney. Her last known whereabouts were in 1926 when she reportedly worked in the cloakroom of a Sydney theatre (“Stage Secrets.” Table Talk 19 Aug. 1926, 13).



English-actress, variety entertainer, manager.  [aka Mrs Amy Buchan-Hepburn]

Horton, Amy [QF&P 26 Jan 1889, 5]Amy Horton made her Australian debut at Sydney’s Royal Victoria Theatre in June 1878 and remained in the Australasian region for 12 years. Although she appeared with several dramatic companies during this time her career was primarily linked to variety entertainments. In addition to touring her own burlesque troupe in the mid-1880s Horton featured in companies operated by Frank Smith, Tommy Hudson, Majeroni and Wilson, and D’Arcy Stanfield among others. When she returned home in 1890 to star in a London production of Mystery of a Hansom Cab, Horton found herself billed as “the well-known Australian variety actress.”

1: Amy Horton was not related to Charley Horton [below]
2: Majeroni and Wilson are Eduardo Majeroni and W.J. Wilson.
Image source: Queensland Figaro and Punch 26 Jan. 1889, 5.



aka Charlie Horton

(1865-1901) English-born song and dance artist, comedian, actor, stage manager, writer [Born William John Rogers]

Charley Horton’s career was carried out between the early 1880s and 1887, at which time he contracted rheumatic fever while undertaking a tour of New Zealand in 1897. He came to Australia as a child and initially trained as a compositor before turning to the theatre. After learning his early stagecraft from such comedians as Baker and Farron, Horton established his reputation as a Negro song and dance artiste with Melbourne’s People’s Concerts and Frank Smith‘s Sir Joseph Bank’s Pavilion (Botany, New South Wales). Associated with many leading local performers of the era, he secured engagements with John F. Sheridan, Alfred Dampier, Hiscocks’ Federal Minstrels, and Charlie Fanning among others, and wrote at least one minstrel farce.

1: Horton’s last name is spelled at least on one occasion as Hooton (1887). His first name is spelled either Charlie or Charley in reviews and advertising. He was not related to Amy Horton [above].
2: Horton’s career appears to have been largely confined to Sydney, with occasional forays into nearby regional centres. His longest period away was between 1895 and 1897 when he toured New Zealand with several variety troupes. According to an 1896 interview with Horton, he temporarily retired from the stage during the early 1890s to work for the Government Printing Office, Sydney. While with the company he became a member of its well-known dramatic society.



aka Sunny Day

Hosking, Elsie [Sharon Connolly]Singer, dancer, comedienne [Born: Gwendoline Elsie Hosking]

The daughter of Perth theatre manager Andy Hosking, Elsie Hosking established herself as one of the city’s brightest juvenile vaudeville stars during the latter years of the war, and at one stage was also a member of Allan Wilkie’s dramatic company (ca. 1918-19). Although largely associated with Western Australia during the early 1920s, Hosking occasionally undertook engagements in the eastern states and South Australia. After her marriage to comedian Keith Connolly in 1926 Hosking’s career expanded considerably to include consistent tours throughout Australia, a 1939 New Zealand tour, and radio. Highly-regarded as entertainers the couple continued to perform regularly into the 1950s, with Hosking invariably billed as Sunny Day from ca. 1943.

1: Hosking and Connolly married in Sydney in December 1926. Their only child, Keith Andrew Warrington Connolly (1928 -2005), became a journalist and much-respected film critic.
2: In 1931 Hosking premiered the Don Bradman/Jack Lumsdaine song “Everyday is a Rainbow Day for Me” at Sydney’s Grand Opera House. The audience included Bradman and members of the West Indian cricket team.
Thanks to Sharon Connolly for additional information.



(1864-1939) English-born actor, director, dramatist, entrepreneur.

Considered one of Australia’s leading actor/managers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Kate Howarde’s four decade-long career saw her produce dramas, musical comedies, pantomimes, revusicals, and films. After five years in the USA and Britain (1905-09), she spent the next 25 years touring Australia and New Zealand, notably with the Kate Howarde Dramatic Co. Howarde’s most popular original stage works were Possum Paddock (1919) and Gum Tree Gully (1924). Howarde’s earliest-known radio appearance was with her dramatic company in 1931. She continued presenting her views and memories on air at irregular intervals up until at least 1938.

Howarde’s second husband was Scottish vaudeville comedian.



(aka Mabel Howarth / Huia Mabel Robinson)

Howarth, Mabs [TBT 25 Aug 1910, 3](-1940) Singer, dancer, sketch artist.

Mabs Howarth’s first known professional stage appearance was at Sydney’s National Amphitheatre in 1907. She later appeared with J.C. Bain, Union Theatres and George Stephenson among others. In in 1910 she featured on a Table Talk cover and the following year appeared alongside Roy Redgrave in Franklyn Barrett’s film The Christian. While  with Stephenson’s Wanderers in Adelaide in January 1913 Howarth married Tommy Armstrong. The pair put together a comedy sketch act which they toured throughout Australasia (largely for Fullers’ Theatres) before spending seven years in Great Britain (1916-23). A few years after Armstrong’s death in 1925 Howarth returned to the stage (1927-1928) before moving to England where she established a professional partnership with Henri Merton between 1928 and 1931. Howarth died in Perth in 1940 having spent the previous two years back home.

1 : It is possible that Howarth was raised in Sydney and attended St Mary’s Cathedral School.
2: When she returned to Australia in early 1938 it was without her husband, Frank Robinson. Although Howarth indicated that her return was a visit only, she never went back to England, settling instead in Perth. Robinson’s whereabouts have not been established. There is no mention of him any press reports related to Howarth between 1938 and 1940.
3: Henri Merton’s birth name was Richard Henry Oliver Sheward (1894-1935).
Image source: Table Talk 25 Aug. 1910, cover
Thanks to Colin Perry (Henri Merton’s great nephew) for additional information.



(-1903) Blackface comedian, singer, dancer, troupe proprietor.

Best known as the leader of Hugo’s Buffalo Minstrels (1884-1892), Charles Hugo’s earliest known theatrical activity was in mid-1878 when he was accorded a benefit at Melbourne’s Horticultural Hall and featured in a People’s Concerts bill. With his brother William he toured with Bent and Bachelder’s Christy’s Minstrels (ca. 1882) before establishing the Buffalo Minstrels. The company also featured their brother James and Charles’ wife, Priscilla Verne. After the troupe and his marriage ended, Hugo worked for other companies and attempted to revive the Buffalo Minstrels in 1898. His career during the 1890s suffered, however, as a result of a number of controversial incidents. He eventually moved to New Zealand where he died in Auckland on 5 September 1903.

1: The 1878 benefit, given on 4 June, identifies him as Charles (Hugo) Young.
2: Hugo briefly revived the Buffalo Minstrels in 1898.
3: Hugo’s tarnished reputation began when Priscilla Verne claimed during their divorce that he was a drunkard and had beaten her repeatedly. During his career he also found himself in court on a number of occasions for non-payment of wages and non-payment of bills, was once charged by police with embezzlement, and in 1884 was connected to a controversial fire in Adelaide that destroyed the Academy of Arts.


(Aust: 1920-1932) English comedian, sketch artist.

Before entering the British variety industry in 1914 Harry Huley served in the Royal Navy and was later employed as parachutist and balloonist for Stanley Spencer’s London-based aeronautical firm.° With his wife Bessie he travelled to Australia in 1920 under contract to Fullers’ Theatre and spent the next twelve years touring the firm’s vaudeville circuit as one of its leading comedians. His status was such that following Roy Rene‘s departure from the Stiffy and Mo company°° (July 1925), he became Nat Phillips‘ off-sider in a partnership called ‘Percy the Pom and Oscar the Aussie.’ When Bessie’s health began to decline in 1929 Huley worked largely as a solo comedian. The onslaught of the depression also saw him operate a fishmonger business in Sydney. Following his wife’s death in early-1932 he returned to England and later turned his hand to artist management.

See also: Huley & Bent [below] • Percy the Pom and Oscar the AussieNat Phillips’ Whirligigs

° “Of the King’s Navee.” Fuller News (Sydney) 4 Mar. 1922, 2.
°° See Nat Phillips’ Stiffy and Mo Revue Co.
Image: Sun (Sydney) 29 May 1921, 21.



Harry Huley and Bessie Bent

(Aust: 1920-1932) English sketch artists.

Former Royal Navy sailor and aeronaut Harry Huley met Bessie [Bent] while performing parachute jumps in Wolverhampton during the early-1910s. They drifted into music hall in 1914 and worked a successful sketch and patter act in Britain before accepting a contract in 1920 to tour the Fullers‘ Australasian circuit. Liking both the climate and their reception from Australian and New Zealand audiences, the pair remained for over a decade. Often featuring as a headline acts upon their arrival in any new location, Huley and Bent also worked in pantomime, and appeared in comedy ensemble sketches with many of the troupes they toured with. Among their most popular sketches were “Nothing but Nonsense,” “Two in a Flat,” and “A Case of Bigamy.” From 1929 onwards, Huley began to work primarily on his own. His wife’s death in February 1932, suggests that she may have been in ill-health for several years.

  • See also: Harry Huley [above]
1. The Huley and Bent act was sidelined for some time during the war years when Huley was recalled for unknown period of service in the Royal Navy. Interestingly a par published in Australia in 1923 indicates that he had been active as an entertainer in Leeds in 1916 (“Plays and Players.” Sun 6 May 1923, 21).
2. Although contracted to Fullers’ Theatres for virtually the whole time they were active in Australasia, Huley and Bent were nevertheless leased out to other firms on occasion. These firms included Dix-Baker (Newcastle: 1921-22), Clay’s Bridge Theatre Co (Sydney: 1923/24), John N. McCallum (Brisbane: 1929), and Nat Phillips in 1926 (the later engagement occurred shortly after Phillips left the Fullers and tried his hand at theatrical management). The pair toured New Zealand three times (1921-22, 1926-27 and 1928) and also appeared in the Fullers 1925/1926 pantomime Robinson Crusoe.
3. Among the troupes to engage Huley and Bent were: Nat Phillips Whirligigs (1925-26), Stud Foley‘s Follies (1927), George Ward Revue Co (1927), Con Moreni‘s New Ideals (1928), Sonny Milton’s Novelettes (1929) and Billy Maloney’s New Ideas (1929).
4. Bessie Bent is sometimes referred to in reviews and advertising as Brenda Bent. It is presently unclear whether this was an error on the part of newspapers and/or the supplied publicity, or if it was an alternative professional name.
Image: Australian Variety (Sydney) 19 Aug. 1920, cover.



English singer, dancer, comedienne, stage and screen actress.

Hunt, Lola - cu [SLSA]Lola Hunt came to Australasia in 1910 as one of the “Two Maids” in Jules Garrison’s vaudeville company. A specialist ragtime singer with a “Yankee-Yorkshire drawl” she secured a lead role in George Marlow‘s 1914 pantomime Babes in the Wood before joining the Fullers‘ circuit. During her ten years with the firm she appeared in vaudeville, musical comedies, revusicals and pantomime, while also touring with companies led by Walter Johnson, Harry Burgess, Nat Phillips and Claude Dampier. After returning home in 1925 Hunt worked in theatre and film up until at least the mid-1940s.

Image source: State Library of South Australia.



Hurd, George 1 [British Pathe](ca. 1892-1968)  Juggler.

Recognised as one Australia greatest ever jugglers, three-times Royal Command performer George Hurd initially worked as a wool-classer in Melbourne before making his stage debut in Geelong in the early 1910s. Although self-taught he took his act overseas in 1916, returning in 1920 as a headline act for Fullers’ Theatres and later the Tivoli circuit. After spending much of the 1920s and 1930s playing the international variety circuits Hurd moved back to Australia in 1937, touring for such firms as Stanley McKay’s Gaieties, George Sorlie, Union Theatres and Will Mahoney. He retired in the mid-1950s.

Image source: British Pathe.



Incl. Edith Huxham

English-born comedian, singer, music director, company leader, producer, director, businessman, councillor.

Huxham, Hugh [TT Oct 1915, 45]

Hugh Huxham began his career in Australia ca. around 1900 as a tenor, before founding the Harmonious Huxhams trio (with his wife Edith and her brother Fred). In 1912 he and Edith created the Huxham’s Serenaders, a refined musical/comedy troupe which toured Australia and New Zealand up until 1926. The Serenaders, as with the Harmonious Huxhams also toured the Far East on several occasions. In 1929 Huxham was also appointed to the position of Melbourne producer for the newly-founded and privately-owned Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC). Huxham also continued to work as an arranger, writer and composer throughout the 1930s and 1940s. He and his wife retired to Manly (Sydney) in the early 1950s.



aka Congo Minstrel

(ca. 1825-1882) English-born comedian, actor, songwriter, musician (cornet/flute), stage manager, producer, theatre manager. [Born: John Proctor Hydes (or Hyde)]

J.P. “Johnny” Hydes came to the Australian colonies in 1848 via America and made his first stage appearances at Sydney’s Royal Victoria Theatre (as J.P. Hydes and/or “Congo Minstrel”). His career between 1849 and 1869, was largely conducted in Victoria, and included running Melbourne’s Queen’s Theatre with Charles Young between 1850 and 1854. During a spell in California (1859-60) he met English actress/singer Harriet Gordon (ca. 1837-69). They later appeared in numerous dramatic, comedy, burlesque, pantomime and variety productions in Australia before moving to New Zealand in 1867. Following her death Hydes remained in the country until engaged in mid-1882 as stage manager for the Mastodon Minstrels’ Australian tour. He died in Melbourne on 22 October.

1: In an 1882 interview Hydes recalls that his first professional stage appearance was in Liverpool. He was soon convinced by his parents to abandon the theatre and follow his father in the brewing industry. However, nine months later he joined a theatre troupe en route to America. It was there that he developed his Negro Eccentricities act. See Puck. “Theatrical and Musical NotesOtago Witness (Dunedin, NZ) 18 Mar. (1882), 19.
2: Hydes and Gordon’s only child, Walter, also pursued a career in music and the theatre. In February 1881, some nine months before his death, Hydes married actress Alice Margaret Petherick (of Christchurch, New Zealand). She later worked professionally as Mrs J. P. Hydes.


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Published on April 1, 2011 at 5:52 am  Comments Off on Practitioners [H]