Comic, singer, dancer, interlocutor, pantomime dame, sketch artist, stage manager, manager, entrepreneur, writer.
Martyn 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.
- See also: Hagan & Fraser [below] • Lucy Fraser
Image source: Truth (Sydney) 10 Nov. (1929), 11.
HAGAN & FRASER
(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 & 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, UK 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).
FRANK L. HAINING
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 Perrin. 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.
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 lster 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]
After 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. He 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).
[Aust: 1890-1892] English soubrette, theatre lessee, troupe proprietor/manager.
Lizzie Hastings made her Australian debut with the Cogill brothers 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)
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.
(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.
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.
- For further detail see: Stig R. Hokanson. “Arthur Philips Hemsley, the London Dude” (2013).
- See also: Brull and Hemsley • Arthur Hemsley’s Dandies
Image Source: 4BC 1116 Flickr photostream
(1882-1945) English-born singer/actress/dancer [Born Florence Ellen Hooton in Derbyshire]
Described 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.
- See also: Ben Calvert • Edward Branscombe’s Jesters • Edward Branscombe’s Dandies
- For further details see: “Miss Florence Henderson.” Prahran Telegraph 18 Jan. (1913), 5.
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.
(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.
- For further details see Stig R. Hokanson “Claude Holland” (2013)
- See also: Stig R. Hokanson Thespian Lodge 268 [sighted 12/09/2013]
English-born comedian, patterlogist, dancer, singer, actor (theatre, film and radio), director, radio producer
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 never 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), Fred Hiscocks (Federal Minstrels), Hiscocks and Hayman’s Mammoth Minstrels , Florack’s Federal Minstrels, and the Royal Magnet Variety Troupe .
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 the UK 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-actress, variety entertainer, manager. [aka Mrs Amy Buchan-Hepburn]
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, NSW). 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.
- More details (research notes)
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
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)
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 remarrying, retiring and returning to Britain. She 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.
Image source: Table Talk 25 Aug. (1910), cover.
(-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.
English singer, dancer, comedienne, stage and screen actress.
Lola Hunt came to the Antipodes 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.
- See also: Jules Garrison and His Two Roman Maids
Image source: State Library of South Australia.
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.
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. 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.
J. P. HYDES
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 Notes” Otago 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.