Practitioners [L]



La France [MA 2 Nov 1912, 12](1892-) Quick-change artist, artistic posing, singer. [Born: Winifred Gladys Miller]

Born in Deloraine, Tasmania, and described in her youth as a promising student with a “pure dramatic soprano voice,” Winifred La France eventually turned to variety entertainment as a quick-change/artistic posing act. Billed as the “Parisian Beauty” she toured Australia and New Zealand for a decade before travelling to the USA in 1914 with manager Jack O’Donnell. La France returned to the Australasian region in 1918, and maintained a stage presence here until at least the early 1930s.

Image Source: Mail (Adelaide) 2 Nov. 1912, 12.



aka The Modern Milo

Posing, Living Statues act. [Born: Pansy Montague]

One of Australia’s most celebrated Living Stature performers, Pansy Montague first came to attention of the Australian public in the late 1890s as an actress with Dan Barry and Harry Cogill companies. After developing her La Milo act she presented it, possibly for the first time at the Palace Garden‘s (Perth) in January 1906. Initially wearing a tight-fitting stocking to avoid total nudity she later covered herself in alabaster whiting to create a marble effect. Her popularity led to a long line of engagements in England and America, and many complaints from church authorities.

Image Source: State Library of Victoria.



Lamond, Stella 1 [FVS-Tivoli, 91](1909-1973) Comedian, musician, actor, entertainer.

Cast as one of the babes in the Fullers‘ pantomime Babes in the Wood, Stella Lamond later toured with the Sunbeam Pantomime Children for six years (billed as “woop woop girl”). After going solo in 1928 she joined Nat Phillips’ Whirligigs and went on to work with comedian Joe Lawman (also her first husband) for almost a decade. Lamond, whose career also spanned radio, film and television, later worked in partnership with her second husband Max Reddy.

Music source: Frank Van Straten. Tivoli Echoes (2003).



aka Miss Masculin / Madame Masculin

(1899-1966) Magician’s assistant, mind-reader [Born: Lilian Margaret Woolfe, possibly in Melbourne]

18 year-old Lilian (Lily) Woolfe stole £25 from her mother in mid-1917 and ran away from home. A Victorian police warrant suggested that she would likely seek theatre work in Sydney or endeavour to leave for America. Eventually both things happened as a result of meeting and marrying touring magician Prince Lampini (aka Moritz Hechter/ Prince Mesculin) of the Lampini brothers. By 1919 Lily was her husband’s assistant (replacing his brother) and eventually went on to develop her own mind-reading and crystal gazing and séance act. The couple toured the world extensively, including several returns visits to Australasia, before settling here permanently in 1938. Lily died in Melbourne, aged 66.

1: Lily’s birth surname is spelled both Wulff in the New South Wales Police Gazette (20 June 1917, 274). The writer suggests that it may be spelled Wolfe, however. Lily and Prince’s marriage certificate, as published in Digger: Great War Index, Victoria 1914-1920, spells her family name as Wulff. The Ancestry website records it as Mulff (?). Lily’s death certificate spells her father’s surname as Woolfe, as does his death notice published in the Argus (15 July 1939, 12).
2: Her death was registered with two surnames on the certificate – Lampino and Masculin – as she was known by both names throughout her life.
Thanks to Lester Hechter for the above information and image.



Society entertainer, ventriloquist, magician, comedian, elocutionist.

Little is known about Melbourne-based all-round entertainer Page Lang. He appears to have started his career in the early 1900s playing community and social events, smoke nights and concerts etc. By the end of the first decade he had also carved out a reputation in regional Victoria and southern New South Wales. His movements 1909 and 1911 and in 1913 are currently unknown, while his last recorded engagements were in 1914 (with the Page Lang Entertainers and as a solo magician).



(ca. 1915-1992) Dancer, actor, singer, comedian, industrial activist, television presenter, alderman [Born: Harold Francis Davies]

The son of comedian Joe Lashwood, Hal Lashwood started his professional life in 1932 as a dancer with J.C. Williamson’s. He later toured the Tivoli circuit, and appeared in musical comedies, revues, “legitimate” theatre and radio before acquiring national stardom in the 1940s as Roy Rene‘s off-sider, including McCackie Mansion (as Mr Lasho). He moved into television in 1958 hosting Hal Lashwood’s Alabama Jubilee for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) between 1958 and 1961. It was later renamed Hal Lashwood’s Minstrels. Lashwood’s political career began in 1931 when he helped found Actors’ Equity. He served as its president for 25 years (1951-76) and later as a Waverly Council alderman (1977-87).

1: Lashwood’s year of birth ranges from 1915 to 1920 in various publications. Websites published by Waverley Council and Labor Australia both provide the birth date 13 August 1915.
2: In “ABC Stars of the Air” (an article published around Australia in 1943), Lashwood claims that his grandfather was George Lashwood (1863-1942), a music hall singer who achieved much popularity during the First World War with his patriotic songs. This is yet to be verified.
Image: Hal Lashwood (Lasho) and Mo (Roy Rene), ca. 1946-49); Source: National Library of Australia.



Lauri, Ernest 1917 [NLA]Singer (tenor), entertainer, actor, radio broadcaster.

Ernest Lauri started out his career in Brisbane as an illustrated/picture singer sometime prior to 1911. He also presented songs and dialogue to silent films (including later tours of The Kelly Gang) and appeared in seven films himself. After returning from World War I Lauri scored much success as the “Singing Anzac,” and debuted several hits including “Rose of No Man’s Land,” and “On the Road the Gundagai.” He retired from the stage in 1941 due to injuries sustained in World War II but travelled extensively for more than 15 years undertaking research for overseas radio broadcasts.

Image source: National Library of Australia.



(1909-1977) Comedian, singer, pantomime dame.

Joe Lawman started out as a child clog dancer, and later worked for Clay’s Bridge Theatre Co before making his Tivoli debut in 1930. After playing Nat Phillips‘ off-sider in the Whirligigs Co, he spent almost a decade touring with Stella Lamond.  A popular Tivoli comedian and pantomime dame during the war years, Lawman appeared on radio from as early as 1934, and featured in many community concert broadcasts. He also appeared in at least one film, That Certain Something (1941), and during the early 1940s performed in cinemas in association with Linn Smith [below] and his Trocadero Dance Band. Lawman and his second wife, Joy Robbins worked in Great Britain for ten years beginning 1945.

  • See also: Stella Lamond [above]
Image source: Frank Van Straten. Tivoli (2003), 102.




Alf. J. Lawrance published his first song at age 16 and went on to published more than a thousand by the mid-1940s (some in collaboration) for vaudeville, pantomime, revusical, revue and follies, radio and film. He first came to Australia in 1914 with his wife, singer Violet Carmen (as Carmen and Lawrence) and in the early to mid-1920s partnered singer Nell Crane before going solo. The 1930s saw him employed by Ernest C. Rolls as a pianist/songwriter for revues like League of Happiness, while also contributing music for radio and film. His radio career began in the late-1920s with the privately-owned Australian Broadcasting Company (as music director/ conductor). He joined the government-run ABC in 1937 and was still writing and publishing songs in the early 1950s.

1: Lawrance’s film scores included The Hayseeds (1933), Splendid Fellows (1934), The Flying Doctor (1936, with Willy Redstone) and Rangle River (1936). His songs also featured in at least two Hollywood films.
2: In late-1946 Lawrance teamed up with 19 year-old songwriter Robyn Teakle. The pair went on to write and publish a number of popular songs.
3: Lawrance’s first song, “Goodnight My Little Daffodil,” reportedly sold in excess of 40,000 copies in Britain. Daisy Jerome, Rev. Frank Gorman and Bert Le Blanc were among those Lawrance wrote songs for. The National Library of Australia holds more than 70 of his published songs.



(1885-1968) Melbourne-born singer, comedian, monologist, musician, radio broadcaster ,

Charles Edward Lawrence sang in his church choir and at eisteddfods as a youth. After a period working as a clerk he opted for a career as an entertainer and between the early 1900s and 1926 he worked with numerous companies and shows. These included engagements with wrestler George Hackenschmidt (New Zealand), Edward Branscombe‘s Jesters, Tait’s Follies, English entertainer Margaret Cooper (South Africa), the English Pierrots (1913-1920) and Ada Reeve Vaudeville Company (1924). Known largely noted for his pianologues, Lawrence secured employment on various vaudeville circuits during the 1920s. His radio career began in 1926. From then on he performed on radio and on stage variously as a comedian, entertainer, pianist/accompanist, and compare, and did voice-overs for Cinesound.



(-1907) American minstrel comedian, manager.

Alfred Lawton came to Australia in 1882 with Clark and Ryman’s Minstrels, and remained in the Antipodian region until his death. During those 25 years he toured relentlessly, playing engagements for leading minstrel firms such as F.E. Hiscocks, F.M. Clark, the Cogills, Harry Rickards, Dan Tracey and Frank Smith while also touring his own troupes at various times. He also worked for Macmahon brothers and Williamson, Garner and Musgrove in the 1880s. Lawton died of pneumonia in New Zealand while on tour with the Happy Moments Company.

NB: Lawton was the brother of whistler Frank Lawton and husband of entertainer/teacher Clara Spencer.



aka Emile Lazern

Lazern, Emile and May [E 12 Dec 1928, 132](-1928) English-born illusionist, conjurer, photographer. [Born: Norman Moore in Saltburn, Yorkshire]

Emil Lazern emigrated to New Zealand with his parents and grew up in Wellington. His early fascination with conjuring saw him turn professional at an early age. With Charles Dalton he toured a magic act through New Zealand, Australia and internationally during the mid-1890s (their most prestigious engagement being London’s Crystal Palace). From the late 1890s he returned to working mostly solo (with an assistant). Lazern also toured his companies through Australasia and the East up until the mid-1920s, mostly with his wife May McCrystal (pianist/entertainer). Other business partners included Charles Dalton, ventriloquist Fred Mills and Happy Harry Salmon. Lazern’s Australasian tours included the Tivoli, Fullers and Harry Clay circuits.

Lazern was renowned for his beer making trick in which audience members attempted to out drink his magic bottle. In the early 1910s he developed a passion for photography and went on to specialise in racehorses. He subsequently became a familiar sight at Randwick Racecourse. Lazern died at his residence, 124 Anzac Parade, Kensington on 12 August 1928, 13 months after his wife. He was survived by his son, Jack.
Image: Emil and May Lazern. Source: Everyone’s (Sydney) 12 Dec 1928, 132.



(1874-1949) Comedian, mimic, whistler, singer [Born: Wardrop Hamilton Lear in Bendigo, Victoria)

With a career spanning six decades Ward Lear cemented his reputation as one of Australia’s finest variety entertainers. A specialist mimic who could project sounds like trains, motor cycles, blowflies, scissors being sharpened and a cocktail being mixed, Lear was also known as a whistling/singing comedian and Chinese impersonator. He started out as an amateur in Melbourne during the early-1890s while also employed as a compositor for the Evening Standard, and was still working professionally as late as 1946. During those 50-odd years he worked in vaudeville, revue, and pantomime for numerous Australasian variety firms, including Harry Rickards, Fullers’ Theatres and Harry Clay. He also made the first of many radio broadcasts in 1925.

  • See also: Ward Lear Jnr [below]
1: Lear is believed to have worked in Britain between mid-1900 and mid-1902. His son, James Ward Lear was born in Margate, Kent during that time.
2: One of Ward Lear’s earliest confirmed engagements was at Centennial Hall, Prahran in 1895. He appeared with the Diamond Variety Co, a Melbourne-based amateur variety troupe that also featured a young Fred Bluett.
Thanks to Michael and Anna Jacobs (Jacobs Family Tree) for family history details. Image source: Newsletter (Sydney) 23 Dec. 1911, 22.



(1902-1978) Comedian, theatre manager, publicity manager [Born: James Ward Lear in Margate, Kent, England]

aka James Lear / James Ward Lear

The son of Australian comedian/mimic Ward Lear, James (Jim) Lear also worked as a comedian during the 1920s and 1930s. Although his first confirmed engagements were as a specialist dame with O’Donnell and Ray‘s pantomime company in 1924 (billed as either James Lear or James Ward Lear), he reportedly began his stage career as a boy (ctd Jacobs Family Tree). Lear toured Australian and New Zealand with F. Gayle Wyer’s Bandbox Revue Co (1926-1929), and appeared in musical comedies in England during the early 1930s before turning to other areas of the entertainment industry. In 1940, for example, he took over the management of Newcastle’s Victoria Theatre, and in 1946 became Hoyts publicity manager in Melbourne.

  • See also: Ward Lear [above]
1: In 1928 Lear took a break from Gayle Wyer’s company to appear in A Turf Secret, an “Australianised” adaptation of Willard Mack’s American racing melodrama Weather Clear, Track Fast. Produced at the Empire Theatre, Sydney beginning 21 November, A Turf Secret is described as a comedy drama with music.
2: Lear died in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, on 15 July 1978 survived by his wife, Louise (nee Chambers) and two children.
Thanks to Michael and Anna Jacobs (Jacobs Family Tree) for family history details. Image source: Everyone’s (Sydney) 15 Dec. 1926, 30.



(1884-1974) American-born Hebrew comic, musical comedy actor, singer, revusical producer and writer, film actor. [Born: Bertram Leon Cohen]

One of the pioneers of the Australian revusical, Bert Le Blanc and Jake Mack (as Ike and Morris) rivalled Nat Phillips and Roy Rene (Stiffy and Mo) in the 1910s and early 1920s. A favourite with audiences through his larrikin persona (despite portraying a heavily-accented Jew), Le Blanc came to Australia in 1913 with the American Burlesque Company and remained for the rest of his life. His career, which continued well into the 1940s included a role in Roy Rene’s Strike Me Lucky and numerous radio appearances.



(1910-1985) Comedian, dancer, actor, showman, business proprietor. [Born Eric Stanley Marshall]

Eric Marshall took the stage name Bobby Le Brun “just for fun” prior to securing work on Harry Clay‘s Sydney circuit in 1928. He toured with Mo’s Merrymakers that same year and in 1929 made his Tivoli debut. Over the the next two decades Le Brun toured with Kate Howarde (1930-31), George Sorlie (1933-37), Barton’s Follies (1941-45) and the Great Levante. He also spent much time in Newcastle and Sydney and toured New Zealand (1948-49). Between 1949 and 1961 he ran Georgie Sorlie’s tent show with Grace Sorlie, and before retiring in 1975 appeared regularly on television on the club circuit.

Image source:



aka Mrs Harry Smith / Mrs Joe Williams

(ca. 1880-1934) Serio-comic, singer, actress, theatre proprietor, business woman, racehorse owner. [Born: Eva Maud Roberts Leek]

Eva Lee featured in concerts at Sydney’s Coogee Palace Aquarium before starting a lengthy engagement with Harry Rickards in 1897. She toured New Zealand with Alfred Woods’ Dramatic Company in 1898 and returned to Rickards’ circuit in 1900, 1905-1907, 1909 and 1911. Lee’s career also included engagements with Percy St John, Ted Holland, Harry Clay, Dix-Baker, James Brennan, John Fuller, Marino Lucas, and a New Zealand tour with her own company (1912). Between 1906 and 1913 she worked an act known as “Eva Lee and her two piccaninnies.” Lee was absent from the variety industry for several periods between 1910 and her retirement from the stage in 1916 while pursuing various business opportunities. In 1923, as Mrs J. Williams, she rebuilt Ascot’s Arcadia Theatre. It remained under her control until 1929.

1: Lee was known by her maiden name at the start of her career. She removed the ‘k’ from Leek while working for Harry Rickards in 1897.
2: Her various non-theatrical business ventures included fish shop and kiosck proprietor, as well as licensee of the Royal Hotel in Nundah, Brisbane.
Image: Melbourne Punch 1 July 1897, 8.



[1920, 1922-1923, 1925-1926, 1927] American variety entertainers. [Lee Anna White (1880-1927) and Henry Clay Smith (ca. 1885-)]

Internationally-renowned vaudeville, revue, and musical comedy entertainers Lee White and Henry Clay Smith established themselves as huge stars in Australasia through four tours during the 1920s. Their local industry involvement was also considerable. A number of up and coming performers were given career breaks through engagements in various troupes and productions led by White and Smith. Highly regarded for their song and piano comedy act, as well as for their acting and dancing, Clay Smith also wrote many of their songs and routines, while additionally managing their joint career. Towards the end of their final tour, which also included numerous radio appearances, White became ill and died not long after returning to America. The Australian tours were undertaken in largely in association with Harry Rickards Tivoli Theatres Ltd, Harry Musgrove Vaudeville, J.C. Williamson’s Ltd, and Birch, Carroll and Coyle.

1. Among the many local performers to have been given career-breaks or boosts by White and Lee were comedian Syd Beck and soubrette Billee Lockwood. The composer/librettist team of Kenneth Duffield and Dion Titheradge also had their Puss and Boots and Pot Luck revues staged in England by White and Smith with much success in the early-1920s.
2. The third tour became controversial after the two entertainers were arrested in early-1926 over debts that exceeded £3,500. During their subsequently bankruptcy application Smith claimed that these had largely accrued during their previous tour and that they had been active in meeting their obligations. Although their bankruptcy was soon afterwards discharged, the registrar noted that the “reprehensible” situation had been brought about by undue extravagance. See for example: “The Curtain Rung Down.” Truth (Sydney) 14 Nov. 1926, 13.
3. White and Smith toured the world extensively during their career together. In addition to America and British, established destinations included the Far East, and South Africa. They also made several recordings, some of which are available in various formats.
4. Clay Smith was born in the USA but raised in England. His life and career following the death of his wife are yet to be ascertained. An article published in Smith’s Weekly in 1936 suggests that he had by then retired from the theatre industry. See “‘Where is Clay Smith?’ Asks an Old Friend.” Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) 4 July 1936, 5.
5. A selection of portraits featuring Lee White can be viewed at the National Portrait Gallery (London, England) website.
Image source: Sun (Sydney) 21 July 1922, 8.



Lenton, Lance cu [B 22 Jan 1887](1854-1900) Minstrel comedian/writer/ librettist/songwriter/ journalist. [Born: Lancelot Shadwell Maclean Keen]

The son of a Hobart doctor, Lance Keen established his reputation with Australian audiences in the early 1870s as a song and dance man with Weston and Hussey’s Minstrels, before changing his name to Lance Lenton. Under this name he initially found success as both a blackface and Dutch character comedian in the mid to late-1870s before turning to writing. His output included songs, sketches, burlesques and pantomimes. Among the artists to have had hits with his songs were F.M. Clark, Slade Murray, Horace Bent and Will Whitburn. Although in demand as both a comedian and dramatic actor Lenton retired from performing in the late-1880s to work as a journalist.

Lenton’s  brother Walter P. Keen was also a well-known comic vocalist and songwriter.



aka The Only Leon / The Great Leon

Leon, Francis 1 [HTC](1844-ca. 1913) American female impersonator, singer, dancer, troupe proprietor. [Born Patrick Francis Glass]

Francis Leon made his professional stage debut in 1858 and quickly established himself as a soprano-singing prima donna and danseuse. It was with Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels (1863-1880) that he is best remembered, however. When the company came to Australia in 1878 Leon was one of the first female impersonators to appear on the Australasian stage. he is also among the most revered. The company remained a single entity until August 1880. Thereafter Leon toured Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels (aka Mastodon Minstrels), while Kelly operated Kelly and Leon’s Comedy Opera Co. Leon returned to the USA in September 1881 but came back to tour Australia with Cushman and Leon’s Minstrels (1885-86). He retired in 1900 after briefly reviving Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels in Chicago.

Shortly after arriving back in the USA in late-1881 Leon secured a two year contract with Tom Haverley (touring with Haverley’s Mastodon Minstrels and Haverley’s European Mastodon Minstrels). He and fellow-performer Frank Cushman left the company in acrimonious circumstances in February 1883, however, when money owed them was not forthcoming. During his time back in the USA Leon also spent time with Billy Birch’s ‘Frisco Minstrels (ca. 1883/84).
Image source: Houghton Library, Harvard University.



(ca. 1882-) Dancer, singer, choreographer, producer, actor.

Fred Leslie first appeared on the stage with his father and uncle (the Leslie Brothers). After establishing his reputation as dancer in vaudeville he joined J.C. Williamson‘s in 1901 appearing in musical comedies, revues and pantomimes. He later formed a dance partnership with Ivy Shilling that was a hit in both Australia and Britain. Leslie continued to work in Britain as a dancer/ choreographer up until the late 1940s.



aka Win Leslie

Singer (baritone), interlocutor, sketch artist, actor.

Little is yet known about Wyn Leslie’s life and career apart from the ten years that he appears to have been active in Australia as an entertainer (1905-1915). His name has first been identified as a member of Frank Smith‘s minstrel and variety company at the Queen’s Hall, Sydney in early November 1905. His role in the company was as the interlocutor. In March 1906 he joined Harry Primrose’s London Pierrots and remained with the troupe until mid-1907 (touring regional New South Wales, Brisbane (twice) and regional Queensland (twice). He soon afterwards formed his own pierrot troupe. Known as Wyn Leslie’s Pierrots, it remained semi-active in Queensland until late-1910. From December 1908 until his last known stage appearance in January 1915, Leslie alternated Pierrot tours with solo work in Brisbane as a singer.

Leslie’s given name is more often recorded as Win during the years 1914 and 1915.
Image: Truth (Brisbane) 12 Jan. 1908, 5.



(-1918) Juggler, equilibrist, strongman, comedian.

Tom Lesso gained his stage experience as a Melbourne amateur before turning professional in 1906. He soon afterwards put together a comedy act with comedian Andy Roberts that saw them tour New Zealand for John Fuller, and then worked a popular double juggling act with Charles Griffin (as Lesso and Rexo) from 1907 to 1909. He and his wife toured America for three years as The Lessos (1909-1912), and went back in 1913. The couple returned to Australia in October 1914 and toured the country for almost 18 months. Having enlisted in the  Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F.) in 1915 Lesso was then sent overseas for active service. He came home in early-1918 suffering from the effects of gas and shell-shock but made a stage return in mid-August. Some three months later he died from influenza while touring New Zealand for the Fullers.

  • See also: Lesso and Rexo [below]
  • Research notes PDF coming soon.
1: Lesso claims to have taken up juggling after he saw W.C. Fields perform. The American comic juggler first toured Australia in 1903 under the management of Harry Rickards.
2. Regarded by many vaudeville observers as a gifted athlete, Lesso appears to have been equally proficient at juggling, balancing, and performing feats of strength. He was also noted for his comedic timing. His specialty involved balancing a cannonball on his chin via two brass rods then transferring it on to one brass rod balancing on his forehead. Another popular turn appears to have involved a dummy.
3: During their first three years overseas Lesso and his wife, otherwise known as Nellie Duckworth, briefly toured England (under contract to European agent H.B. Marrivilli). She eventually incorporated sharp-shooting into their act.
4: Lesso’s first recorded professional engagement was with J.C. Bain in Hobart in July 1906. Although his last performances were in Christchurch, New Zealand, he reportedly died in Auckland (sometime around mid to late-November 1918). It is presently unclear if Lesso was his true family name or a nickname.
Image source: Critic (Adelaide) 2 Dec. 1914, 17.



Charles Griffin (Rexo) and Thomas Lesso

(1907-1908) Jugglers, globe walkers, equilibrists, and comedians.

Rexo (left) and Lesso (right)

Charles Griffin and Thomas Lesso came together as a vaudeville juggling act in March 1907. The older and more experienced Griffin had been working solo as Rexo for some ten years. Lesso, who started his professional career in 1906, had recently returned from New Zealand, where he worked with comedian Andy Roberts. Despite the differences in their age and experience Lesso and Rexo clearly established an original and popular act – with Rexo bringing to it his globe balancing and Lesso his cannonball juggling and “dummy.” In Australia they worked for Ted Holland, James Brennan, and Dix-Baker among others, and in New Zealand appeared mostly on John Fuller’s circuit. The partnership appears to have ended sometime around October/November 1908.

  • See also: Rexo [2][Thomas] Lesso [above] • The Rexos [coming soon]
1: Rexo established a new act (The Rexos) with his sister in early 1909.
2: Tom Lesso and his wife, Nellie, left Australia in mid-1909 for the USA. For further details on their careers see the [Thomas] Lesso entry above.
3. Interestingly, both men died in 1918 – Rexo in March (from an unknown cause), and Lesso in November (from influenza).
Image: Rexo, 1903. Courtesy of Zoe Bianchi; Lesso. Critic (Adelaide) 2 Dec. 1914, 17.



aka Les Thiers

(ca. 1890-1903) Juvenile acrobatic, dance, contortion, trick cycling act.

Initially comprising siblings Ada, Maud and George Thyer, the act known as Les Thieres began performing in Brisbane during the early 1890s. By 1894 they were appearing with Lawton and Leslie’s All Nations Co (Theatre Royal) and York and Jones Empire Minstrels (Gaiety Theatre), and in Williamson and Musgrove‘s Sydney pantomime Cinderella. The Thyers continued to perform around Australia throughout the 1890s and early 1900s, eventually becoming a quartet (with the addition of Charlie), and securing engagements with Harry Rickards and Percy Dix (New Zealand) among others. Known as the Thieres Quintette in 1901 their last known performances were in 1903.

  • For further details see: Claire Marshall’s blog page “Theatrical Family History” at Claire Marshall Choreographer (sighted 6/08/2013)
Source: Claire Marshall. Image: Les Theires at the Sydney Tivoli (1899). Courtesy of Claire Marshall and Lucas Thyer.



aka Levant / Les Cole / Magician Cole

(1892-1978) Magician.

Levante 1 - cu [SLV]Regarded as one of the world’s greatest magicians, Les Cole began learning magic in his early teens before touring an escapology act as Levante. In 1927 he and his wife and daughter left Australia to tour the east and Europe before moving to Great Britain where he gradually expanded his show into a revue extravaganza. He returned to Australia in 1940 and continued touring until the late 1950s.



aka The Linn Smith Jazz Band

Smith, Lynn [STS 7 FEb 1926, 23](1923-1929)

Linn Smith debuted his Royal Jazz Band at the Majestic Theatre (Newtown, Sydney) with musicians Dave Meredith (trombone), Paul Jeacle (sax), Sammy Cope (drums) and Arthur Curnick (violin). Although largely associated with Fullers’ Theatres during the 1920s, and mostly as a vaudeville act, the band featured in J.C. Williamson’s 1924 production of the US musical Good Morning Dearie, and in 1925 secured an engagement at Adelaide’s Palais Royal as a dance band. Smith briefly disbanded the ensemble in 1926 to work a vaudeville act then put together the Linn Smith Jazz Band the following year. It toured the Fullers’ circuit up until late-1929.

1: Smith’s first name is sometimes spelled Lynn.
2: During the 1930s and early 1940s Smith was mostly involved in presenting dance music with his Trocadero Dance Band – both on stage and on radio. The years 1940 and 1941 included regular appearances in cinemas, often in association with comedian Joe Lawman [above].
3: Smith’s last known performance (to date) was on 13 November 1943 when his orchestra featured in the Dalwood Cabaret Dance (Market Street, Sydney).


Image: Linn Smith. Source: Sunday Times (Sydney) 7 Feb. 1926, 23.



(1877-1906) Eccentric comedian, singer, dancer, actor, animal impersonator. [Born John Robert Rumbelow at White Hills, near Bendigo, Victoria]

Invariably billed as the “pocket” or “midget” comedian, Little Gulliver spent much of his early life in Geelong, Victoria. After his family relocated to Melbourne Rumbelow pursued a career on the stage, finding much success as a comedian and animal impersonator. He likely adopted his professional name when he joined the cast of Williamson and Musgrove‘s 1896 revival of Djin Djin: The Japanese Bogie Man (1895) at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne. A critic for the Punch newspaper records that the diminutive comedian “fairly electrified the house with his singing and dancing” (5 Nov. 1896, 8). Little Gulliver later worked in musical comedy, pantomime and vaudeville. He died of pneumonia in Dunedin, New Zealand on 11 January 1906, while a member of John F. Sheridan‘s company.

1: The Rumbelow family’s connection with Geelong came about when his father secured employment at a local foundry. Although delicate in his infancy, Johnny (as he was known to locals), became stronger in his youth and was well-known throughout the district. He reportedly grew to be only 3 feet, 4 inches (101 cm). Both his parents were said to be of normal height, while a brother was over six feet tall (182 cm).
2: The Little Gulliver stage name is clearly a reference to Jonathan Swift’s famous character Lemuel Gulliver and the small people of Lilliput.
3: Among his career highlights were feature appearances in Williamson and Musgrove’s Matsa; Queen of Fire (1896), Babes in the Woods (1898), and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1898); as well as Charles Harper’s New Tivoli Co (1897); The American Girl (1898, musical comedy), Harry Rickards (1899/1901), and J.C. Williamson‘s Australia; Or the City of Zero (1900), Alice in Wonderland (1901) and Dick Whittington (1902).
4: Rumbelow’s death came only three days before his twenty-ninth birthday. He had been with Sheridan’s company for some two years.
Image source: Critic (Adelaide) 8 Apr. 1899, 8



(ca. 1904-1991) Child acrobat, contortionist, balance and pose artist.

The adopted child of Lillian Ross, a leading teacher of juvenile vaudeville performers, Little Verlie became one Australia’s premiere contortion and posing acts during the 1910s and early 1920s. With another of Ross’s adopted children, Wee Darrell, she also toured South Africa in 1917/18. She also worked under the names La Petite Verlie and Little Winsome.


PEARL LIVINGSTONE: New entry coming soon



(ca. 1899-) Comedienne, dancer, singer. [Born Claire Brady in Sydney]

Although perhaps better known from the mid-1920s onwards as Mrs Billy Maloney, Claire Lloyd was in fact a variety star in own right, having started out as a juvenile professional in the early-1900s. With her family being former Ipswich locals, Lloyd was naturally a big favourite in Brisbane. Indeed, a complimentary matinee given to her in 1921 while a member of the Town Topics attracted the biggest crowd ever assembled at the Cremorne Theatre and raised more money than any previous testimonial. Lloyd retired from performing in late-1924 due to ill health. In reflecting on her career more than 10 years later, several newspapers from around the country fondly recall her performances as both a child and adult.

1: Lloyd’s earliest known professional stage appearance was with W.G. Lester’s Medoras company in 1910 (the line-up included comedian/actor Walter Cornock). That same year she secured engagements with Ted Holland (Brisbane) and the touring English Gaiety Entertainers, and during the mid-1910s formed a popular double act with Dolly Dormer
2: Her 1921 testimonial reportedly raised in the vicinity of £500, an astonishing amount at the time. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s pre-decimal inflation calculator indicates that this amount could have been as high as $37,000 in today’s currency.
3. At her marriage to Billy Maloney in December 1921 Lloyd was given away by Cremorne Theatre-owner John N. McCallum in place of her father. Lloyd and Maloney had begun working together in 1917. When not appearing in musical comedy or pantomime they often worked as a vaudeville double act.
4: Among the other firms to secure Lloyd’s services as an entertainer during the 1910s were James Brennan and Fullers’ Theatres.
Image source: News (Adelaide) 10 Apr. 1924, 10.



(ca. 1905-) Comedian, character impersonator, singer, dancer, actress. [Born in West Maitland, New South Wales]

Billee Lockwood got her first career break touring Australasia as a member of the chorus in the musical comedy Irene (1920-ca.1922). She then appeared in vaudeville with the Arrivals of 1922, and reportedly in revue for the Tivoli organisation, before joining Lee White and Clay Smith‘s New Zealand touring party. By the time she returned to Australia a few months later Lockwood had been elevated from the chorus to the principle cast, and remained with the company until 1926. This engagement included extensive overseas touring (ca. 1923-1925). Between 1926 and her departure for England in 1929, Lockwood was heard around Australasia on radio, released two records, appeared on the Tivoli circuit in vaudeville, and for J.C. Williamson’s in musical comedy and pantomime. She returned to Australia in 1947 and three years later toured with Williamson’s stage-adaptation of Gwen Meredith’s popular radio play, The Lawsons.

NB: Lockwood’s given name is sometimes incorrectly spelled “Billie” in newspapers and magazines



aka Czerny

Magician, mentalist, prestidigitateur, dramatist/ librettist, songwriter, poet, recitationist.

Starting out as an amateur illusionist/mentalist in the early-1890s, Alfred Lumsden made his name in regional Victoria for his act Mysteria. He briefly used the name Czerny in the early-1900s, and between late-1905 and 1907 toured New Zealand and Australia for William Anderson. Lumsden turned to management in 1908, initially as representative at the Bijou Theatre (Melbourne) and as tour manager for Beaumont Smith and Allan Hamilton among others. He also wrote the libretti and songs for two pantomimes – Babes in the Wood (1909) and Sinbad the Sailor (1914), as well as the four-act comedy Bill Adams (1915).

Image Source: State Library of Victoria.


Image citation details for entries without expanded biographies are noted at the bottom of the overview. All other image details are provided in the expanded PDF biographies.
For information concerning copyright issues see “Copyright” attachment in the AVTA “About” page.
Published on April 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm  Comments Off on Practitioners [L]