Practitioners [M]

McAllister to Merritt ……. p.1
Mintons to Murray ……. p.2

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KYRLE McALLISTER

(ca. 1896-1929) Sydney-born actor, singer [Born: Kyrle Wilcox]

McAllister, Kyrle [QF 1 Dec. 1928, 7]Kyrle McAllister spent much of his youth in South Africa involved in his family’s theatrical activities and eventually studied engineering at the University of Capetown. After returning to the stage he toured South Africa, Great Britain, the USA and Far East in “legitimate” theatre, variety and musical comedy, then returned to Australia in 1927 to play vaudeville for Fullers’ Theatres. McAllister later played ‘juvenile’ leads with Nellie Bramley’s company (1928-29), appeared on radio in 1927, and presented his “Novelties of 1929” at Brisbane’s Bohemia Theatre. He and Arthur Aldridge were killed in a car accident in Brisbane on 3 November that year.

McAllister’s father was known professionally as Sylvaney, as was his sister – Elsa Sylvaney (aka Elsa Chauvel). Another sibling was actor/stage manager, Gilbert Terrance.
Image source: Queensland Figaro 1 Dec. (1928), 7.

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EDNA McCALL

Singer, dancer, actor. [Born: Edna Jane Hayes]

First identified with Paul Stanhope‘s revusical company in 1917, along with her husband George McCall (Grafter’s Quartet), Edna McCall became a hit with audiences working out front of the Ginger Girls chorus. Following George’s death from flu in January 1919 Edna took almost a year off before returning to the stage. She secured work with J.C. Williamson’s, including the pantomimes Sleeping Beauty (1920), and Aladdin (1923); and with Fullers’ Theatres – notably its 1921 revival of Bluebeard (1918). She also appeared in plays (notably Lightning, with Maggie Moore, 1925) and toured with troupes like the Tivoli‘s Barnstormers. McCall retired in the late 1920s following her marriage to Hope Wallace.

The McCalls were married in 1914. There is no record of Edna performing professionally prior to 1917, either as Edna Hayes or Edna McCall.

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GEORGE McCALL

(-1919) Singer, actor.

Melbourne basso George James McCall was actively involved an official and entertainer in various community associations during the early twentieth century. In 1911 he joined the Melba Grand Opera Company in Sydney and two years was invited to co-found the Grafters Quartet, one of the features of the American Burlesque Company’s Australasian tour (1913-14). When the company disbanded one if its principal comedians Paul Stanhope formed his own burlesque company, taking the Grafters with him. McCall was largely associated with Stanhope up until his death from the Spanish Flu in late-January 1919. He was survived by his variety-artist wife, Edna.

McCall’s official positions in Melbourne included serving as secretary for the Clifton Private Assembly Cathedral Hall, O’Reilly Musical Club, Victorian Junior Cricket Association, and as a member of the executive council of the Victorian League Umpires Association.

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JAKE MACK

aka Morris Levy

Mack, Jake [AV 7 June 1916]Comedian, actor. [Born Jacob Snoek in Amsterdam)

Jacob Snoek immigrated to the United States as a child in 1886. While it is unclear how and when he became involved in the entertainment industry, family research indicates that he came to Australia in 1913. This suggests the possibility that (as Jake Mack) he was a minor member of the American Burlesque Company which also came to the country that year and included among its stars Bert Le Blanc. As Morris Levy, opposite Le Blanc’s Ike Cohen, Mack became one of the best known Australian revusical stars of the 1910s and 1920s. He is known to have been performing here as late as 1932.

1: The Snoek family settled in San Francisco. Following the death of his mother in 1889, Jacob and his siblings (Amelia, David, and Abe) were placed in the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum by their father.
2: Mack was reportedly held in high esteem as a builder of conjuring contrivances. Sydney’s Truth newspaper indicates in this regard that he had “constructed magical outfits” for many celebrity magicians (“Footlight Flashes.” 15 Oct. 1922, 2).
3: Mack’s last known whereabouts were near Mudgee, New South Wales in 1936. At the time he was goldmining, and according to the Mudgee Guardian, “not without some success” (“Goldmining Comedian.” 5 Mar. 1936, 6).
Image: Australian Variety 7 June (1916). Additional information courtesy of Mack’s great-niece, Susan Group

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VAL MACK

aka John McKenzie

Comedian, singer, music director, manager, producer, radio host. [Born: Harold McLellan Mathers]

Mack, Val [Sunday Mail Mag 21 Aug 1988, 61]Val Mack’s career in entertainment possibly began as a singer (billed as John McKenzie) and later advance agent in the late 1920s. His name has first been identified in the latter role with Humphrey Bishop‘s touring company in 1928. He was involved in both theatre and radio in Queensland during the 1930s and, at one stage touring his own show, Mack’s Comedy Players. Before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F.) during World War II Mack worked for several radio stations, including 4KQ (Brisbane), 4MB (Maryborough) and 4BU (Bundaberg), conducting community singers, acting in radio plays and hosting his own radio shows.

While in command of the Eighth Division’s Concert Party in Malaya, Mack was captured by the Japanese and spent the years 1942 to 1944 as a prisoner of war. During his internment at Changi he conducted prison camp concerts.
Image source and bio details: Sunday Mail Magazine 21 Aug. (1988), 61. Courtesy of Richard Fotheringham.

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ALBERT McKISSON: New entry coming soon

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McKISSON & KEARNS

(1892- ca.1902) American acrobat/comedian Albert McKisson and Australian comedian Jack Kearns were individually engaged by Alfred Damper to appear as Spirits in his 1891 Christmas pantomime, Jack the Giant Killer. After concluding this engagement in early 1892 the pair joined forces, spending the next ten years touring Australasia and becoming in the process one of the region’s most popular knockabout comedy acts. McKisson and Kearns were associated with J.C. Williamson, George Coppin, Bland Holt, Dan Tracey, John Fuller Snr, Harry Rickards and Tommy Hudson before parting ways in the early 190s. During that time they also undertook at least two tours of the East with Hudson’s Surprise Party.

1: Everyone’s describes McKisson and Kearns as “the greatest knockabout turn of the last century,” in its 24 November 1924 issue (page 36).
2: The two comedians briefly reformed their act in mid-1905 for a tour of the Sydney suburbs with Knights Entertainers (ctd. Otago Witness 12 July 1905, 61). How long the reunion lasted is presently unknown, although it was likely short-term.

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POLLY McLAREN

McLaren, Polly - Bluebeard 1922[SLV]Scottish-born dancer, choreographer, variety entertainer.

Polly McLaren came to prominence in Australia with the Paul Stanhope Revue Company (1917) and later toured with the Walter George Sunshine Players. In 1922 she became a founding member of the Jim Gerald Revue Company, appearing as a performer and directing the choreography for Gerald’s revusicals and pantomimes up until 1927. Her last engagements in Australia included the O’Donnell and Ray pantomime Beauty and the Beast (1928) and a season of vaudeville in Perth (1929). She moved to Burma in 1929 with her fiancée Harry (Tom) Taylor, a rubber planter.

Image: Polly McLaren in Bluebeard (1922). Source: State Library of Victoria.

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EDDIE AND DECIMA McLEAN

(aka The Australian Dartos)

Dancers.

McLeans, Eddie and Decima [WM 13 July 1907, 30]While appearing in J.C. Williamson’s Alice in Wonderland (1901), siblings Eddie and Decima McLean became the subject of public debate when it was revealed that Decima was under the allowed age for child performers. They appeared in Williamson’s Dick Whittington in 1902 and then worked an act for several years that copied French dancers The Dartos. The pair later helped launch at least two dance crazes in Australia – the Apache (1910) and the Charleston (1925). They worked abroad for five years (1926-1930) and made their last known stage appearance in Ernest C. RollsStep this Way in 1931.

Decima McLean was married to actor/entertainer Eric Masters [below].
Image source: Western Mail (Perth) 13 July (1907), 30.

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ESMEE McLENNAN

(ca. 1891-) Soubrette, principle boy, musician (piano)

Hailing from Brungle, New South Wales, Esmee McLennan was educated at the Convent of Mercy, Goulburn, and excelled in music. Between 1910 and 1916 she toured the Australasian region with Stanley McKay’s Royal Pantomime Company, invariably cast as principal boy. Of historical interest, McLennan had the distinction of being the first woman to make a successful aeroplane flight in New Zealand while touring there in 1914. Little is known of her life or career following the disbanding of the troupe in 1916 apart from her marriage to Tivoli conductor William Quintrell in August 1919.

McLennan’s surname was sometimes spelled McLennon and/or McLellan

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ISABEL MAHON

aka Isabelle Mahon

Mahon, Isabel [SMH 12 July 1934, Supp 8](1917) Variety entertainer, stage/film actress

The youngest of seven children, Isabel Mahon made her professional debut in Melbourne in 1924 as a member of the children’s chorus in the Fuller-Ward London pantomime Cinderella. The following year she travelled to the East with a guardian to tour with a vaudeville show, returning home two years later. While completing her schooling she studied dance under Jennie Brennan which eventually led to a contract with J.C. Williamson’s. After appearing in small juvenile roles – notably in The House that Jack Built (1931),  Lilac Time, Our Miss Gibbs and The Quaker Girl), Mahon began her professional adult career in The Gay Divorce. Her career in the 1930s also included vaudeville and pantomime work on the Tivoli circuit and a feature role in the Beaumont Smith film Splendid Fellows (1934).

In a 1939 article title “Histrionic Success,” the Coffs Harbour Advocate identifies Mahon’s father as “Uncle Bert” Holt, and further records that the actress had moved to the USA and was appearing Hal Roach comedies in Hollywood. Her cousin, 13 year-old Melva Doney was also in Hollywood and was making her film debut in Underpup (4 Aug. 1939, 3).
Image source: Sydney Morning Herald 12 July (1934), Supp. 8.

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BILLY MALONEY

(1895-1957) Comedian, writer, songwriter, producer/director, troupe proprietor. [Born in Melbourne]

Maloney, Billy [SLQ]Regarded as one of Australia’s most popular comedians of the 1920s and 1930s, Billy Maloney was known as “the man in red” during his early career and as the “man with the silver stick,” from 1921. He started out as a juvenile touring with Maurice Bandmann (India) and William Anderson before turning to vaudeville in 1913. During his long career he was a headline artist on the Tivoli and Fullers circuits and worked as both comedian and producer for John N. McCallum‘s Town Topics (revived by Maloney and Elton Black, 1923-24) and his own Scandals and New Ideas companies. He was also associated with Tom Haverley, Frank Neil, George Wallace, J.C. Williamson’s, Graham Mitchell and Ella Shields among others. Maloney was also heard regularly on Australian radio from 1924. After moving to Britain in 1936 he worked in television and on radio for the BBC, produced revues, toured his own comedy company, and managed a theatre in Edinburgh.

1: Not to be confused with William “Billy” Moloney (1901-1978), author of Memoirs of an Abominible Showman (1968).
2: Maloney married fellow entertainer Claire Lloyd in 1921.
Image source: State Library of Queensland.

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DURHAM MARCEL

aka Durham Marcelle

Fallon & Marcel [TBT 8 JUly 1915, 22]American-born singer, dancer, manager, stage director, producer.

Durham Marcel came to Australia in 1913 with the American Burlesque Company billed as specialty ragtime singer and between 1915 and 1918 toured with Bert Le Blanc’s Travesty Stars. After deciding to settle in the country he went on to carve out a career that saw him manage venues, including Perth’s Melrose Theatre (1918-20) and Sydney’s Grand Opera House (ca. 1923) and tour with both variety and dramatic companies – notably his own Vogues troupe, Moon and Morris Revue Company, and De Tisne-Reynolds [see Edward De Tisne]. He also worked variously as a stage, tour manager and director for various firms, including Hugh D. McIntosh, Charles Dearden, an Ice Follies show (1950s) and the Tivoli circuit. His last known employment was stage manager at the Tivoli Theatre, Sydney, in 1963.

1: Marcel’s American Burlesque Company, and subsequent Bert Le Blanc engagements were undertaken with his then partner, Nellie Fallon.
2: In the early 1920s Marcel also operated his own bookmaking business in Melbourne. During WWII he served in the Middle East as a corporal in the 2nd A.I.F.’s entertainment corps (as producer/manager).
3: Marcel is known to have been married to performer Nell Fleming (ca. 1920s/30s) and Tivoli dancer Pauline Stewart (ca. 1940s/50s).
Image: Marcel and Fallon. Source: Table Talk 8 July (1915), 22.

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A.E. MARTIN

(1885-1955) Librettist/novelist, journalist, editor, newspaper and magazine publisher, promoter/producer. [Born Edward Archibald Martin, in North Adelaide]

Edward Martin, known professionally as A.E. Martin, met C.J. Dennis while working for Adelaide’s Critic newspaper and soon afterwards the pair founded the Gadfly newspaper (1906-09). After it folded Martin left for Europe where he met and was mentored by Harry Houdini. After returning to Australia he promoted circus and vaudeville for a number of years and wrote at least two pantomimes – Aladdin (1913) and Little Bo-Peep (1922). In later years he established a travel agency, wrote radio plays and serials for George Edwards Productions, and published magazines and comics. He also wrote several novels – notably Common People (1942).

  • For further details see: Clay Djubal. “A. E. Martin.” AustLit: The Australian Literature Resource (2015)

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GEORGIE MARTIN

English comedienne, actress, singer

Martin, Georgie - cu [TT Dec 1914, 52]Georgie Martin and Walter George founded the Light Opera Singers in London in the early 1890s. As the Smart Set the troupe came to Australia in 1912, disbanding in 1915 when she and George were engaged by Edward Branscombe for his Scarlet Dandies company. They reformed the Smart Set in 1917 and in 1921 founded the Sunshine Players with Jim Gerald and Essie Jennings (1921-27). In the late-1920s she and George also appeared on radio together. Martin possibly retired when George moved into radio in 1930 as an ABC producer.

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J. MARTINI

Martini, J. [R 10 July 1907, 12](1867-1907)  Acrobat, entrepreneur  [Born Martin Breheney]

The proprietor of Australia’s most famous under-canvas buckjumping show, J. Martini initially established himself as a circus acrobat, eventually being recognised as the country’s greatest triple bar performer. His early career saw him work with the Fillis and Harmston circuses. He also worked on the variety stage – notably for Harry Rickards and J.C. Williamson, and toured with an American Wild West show. Martini formed his buckjumping show in 1902, touring it with much success until his accidental death in Armidale, New South Wales, in June 1907. His wife continued touring the show thereafter.

Sources: Referee 1o July (1907), 12 • NZ Truth 27 July (1907), 1 • Clarence and Richmond Examiner 6 July (1907), 2. Thanks also to Jim McJannett for historical corrections.

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MURRAY MASCULIN

aka Murray Lampino / Phil Murray

(1920-1995) Yo-Yo manipulator/equilibrist.

Murray, PhilThe son of Romanian-born magician Moritz Hechter (known professionally as Prince Masculin/Prince Lampini etc) and his Australian wife Lily (aka Madam Lampini/Madam Masculin), Maurice Masculin was born in New York (USA). He spent his formative years travelling the world and made his Australian stage debut in 1934 with George Sorlie‘s Musical Revue doing a yo-yo demonstration. He left Australia with his parents the following year and did not return until 1938. His solo vaudeville career, which appears to have been confined 1940 and 1941, included engagements with George Sorlie (1940 – as Phil Murray), and the New York Follies (1941). He again performed yo-yo tricks as well as balancing routines.

1: During their later careers Prince and Lily used the name Lampino rather than Lampini, which is where their son acquired his stage name.
2: The 1940 George Sorlie engagement included Brisbane’s Cremorne Theatre. The New York Follies company, which played Western Australia (including Perth) in 1941 was headlined by leading Australian comedian George Wallace. For that engagement Murray returned to using the name Lampino.
3: Much of his later career, as Phil Murray, was linked to yo-yo entrepreneur, Donald F. Duncan. He briefly worked for Fortune Advertising in Bangkok in the early 1960s, and remained in Thailand after the position ended. He passed away there in 1995.
Thanks to Lester Hechter for the above information. Image: “Phil Murray.” Source: Frances Masculin

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PRINCE MASCULIN

aka Prince Lampini / P.P. Lampini / Prof. Lampino

Masculin, Prince(1888-1947) Magician, musician, comedian, escapologist [Born in Pitesti, Romania. Masculin’s birth name was possibly Moritz Hechter]

Moritz Hechter immigrated to the U.S.A. in 1904 and quickly established himself as a comedy magician. From 1907 he became known professionally as Prince Masculin, and in 1913 put together an act known as Prince Masculin and Roy. The pair toured Australasia for Fullers’ Theatres as The Lampini Brothers (1916-1917) and returned again in mid-1918. He married Australian Lily Woolfe that same year. After ending the Lampini partnership in early 1919 Masculin worked Lily into his show and she eventually developed her own mind-reading act. They toured internationally, with several return visits to Australia, until settling here permanently in 1938. The Australian tours included engagements with the Fullers and the Tivoli circuit among other firms. Their last known performances were in 1943 billed as The Lampinos. Masculin died in Brisbane on 26 March 1947.

1: Masculin’s given birth name is yet to be ascertained. In his early U.S. career he is identified as Martinus Hechter, Mauritius Hechter, and Maurice Hechter. His decision to travel to the USA was an attempt to collect 40,000 from the Romanian Touring Club for walking from Bucharest to the St Louis Exhibition (apart from sea voyages). He missed out on the prize by two weeks.
2: Prince and Lily (aka Madam Lampino) toured with George Sorlie in 1934. That engagement also saw the debut of their only child, Maurice (aka Murray), aged 15. His act was demonstrating the yo-yo. He later worked in his own right as Murray Lampino but was best known to Australians in later years as Phil Murry, one of the world’s best yo-yo exponents.
3: Interestingly, Prince and Roy gave a stage demonstration of a new wireless telephone while touring the Pantages US circuit in 1917. Details regarding the Orpheum Theatre event are recorded in the Utah’s Ogen Standard (12 Oct. 1917, 10).
Thanks to Lester Hechter for the above details and image location. Image source: State Library of Victoria.

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C. POST MASON

aka Charles Post Mason

(ca. 1878-1918) American singer (baritone), director (stage/film), producer, manager, troupe proprietor, businessman/company director. [Born Charles Post Doutney in Vermont]

mason-c-post-ttfeb-1906-25Post Mason’s early career as a singer began in the 1890s and saw him tour America and England before coming to Australia for Harry Rickards in late-1905. His popularity led to him remaining in the country for a decade, and during that time he transitioned from headline act to prominent theatrical producer, troupe manager/proprietor, entrepreneur and film director. Following the release of the hit film The Martyrdom of Nurse Cavell (1916), producer and co-director, John Gavin (Australian Famous Feature Company) commissioned Mason to exploit the film in American and Canada (which he succeed in doing). He contracted the Spanish Flu shortly before returning to Australia and died in San Francisco on 4 December 1918.

1. Mason’s many achievements and successes during his time in Australia included creating and producing the 1913 Glory Girl sensation. That same year he directed and produced The Telephone Girls, reportedly the first tabloid musical comedy to be written and produced in the country. The work was co-created by Wilton Welch and Charlie Vaude.
2. In 1906 Mason married Queensland girl Rose Moran. The couple went on to have four children. Their son Charles Doutney (1908-1957), took up painting while recuperating from a rare blood disease that he contracted while serving in New Guinea during WWI, and went on to became a became a prominent and prize-winning artists during the 1950s. (See “Winner of Portrait Prize Dies at 49.” Australian Women’s Weekly 7 Aug. 1957. 2.). Their daughter, Sylvia Post Mason, carved out a career as a variety artist and actress from the late-1920s.
3. Mason remained with Harry Rickards off and on until at least 1908. His Australian career also saw him work for and with Harry Clay, Ted Holland, Edward Carroll and Hugh D. McIntosh (Harry Rickards Tivoli Theatres) among others. Carroll also employed him as business manager, while Hugh D. McIntosh secured his services as a producer. Mason’s own entrepreneurial endeavours included the Post Mason Company (1907), Post Mason’s Record Breakers (1913) and co-directorship in Brisbane Entertainments Ltd (ca. 1914). His strong association with Queensland, and Brisbane in particular, was possibly due to his wife’s links with the region.
4: Please note. Most secondary sources record Mason’s arrival in Australia as 1904. However Harry Rickards, in an interview conducted upon his return to Australia at Fremantle, Western Australa, in early November 1905, records that Mason was one of several artists who was accompanying him from London. The interview was widely published around Australia in November that year. See for example “Music, Art and Drama.” Daily Telegraph (Launceston) 3 Nov. (1905), 4. Mason made his Australian debut at Melbourne’s Opera House on 11 November 1905.
Image source: Theatre Magazine Feb 1906, 25.

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ERIC MASTERS

Masters, Eric [STP 15 May 1927, 15](ca. 1891-1939) English-born actor, character vocalist (baritone), society entertainer, writer, troupe leader, radio producer.

Eric Masters started out his career at age 14 in pantomime and later joined the March Hares Concert Party before establishing himself in London as a musical comedy and revue actor in the 1910s (notably with George Edwardes). He made his Australian debut with the Tivoli Frolics (Brisbane) in 1922, having spent three years touring the East for Maurice Bandmann. He later worked for Fullers’ Theatres, J.C. Williamson’s, Hugh J. Ward, Tivoli circuit and Frank Neil among others. Masters also toured his own companies, appeared regularly on radio as a singer/actor from 1935, and featured in the 1934 film Strike Me Lucky. A long time member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s dramatic staff, his operatic fantasy, Motley, was produced for radio in 1931 by the ABC Players.

1: Masters was the eldest son of long-time D’Oyley Carte Opera Company baritone Helier le Maistre (1866-1915) and his wife, contralto Nellie Wyatt. Masters died in a private hospital in Springwood, Sydney, on 1 March 1939. He was survived by his wife, Decima. See Eddie and Decima McLean [above]
2: The variety companies he appeared with incl. The Frivolities (1925), Snap Co (1925-26), Con Moreni‘s Ideals (1927), Stud Foley’s Follies (1927), and Mo’s Merrymakers (1929).
Image source: Sunday Times (Perth) 15 May (1927), 15.

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JOHNNY MATLOCK

(1839-1904) African-American comedian, endman, baritone.

Born into slavery Johnny R. Matlock came to Australia in 1877 with C.B. HicksGeorgia Minstrels and remained for the rest of his life. During his career he was associated with Frank Smith, F.M. Clark, J. Billin, Dan Tracey and Charles and Harry Cogill, and played a significant role in helping develop the skills of local artists. Matlock operated his own troupe around Melbourne and nearby centres from the late 1890s. Following his death on 14 June 1904 his wife continued to tour the company up until at least 1915.

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MAUD COURTNEY & MR C

(ca. 1906-1930) Songs, comedy, and recitation act.

As “the conquerors of fun” and the “dainty girl and talented tenor,” Maud Courtney and Finlay Currie (aka Mr C) established an act comprising songs (solo and duos), Currie’s piano playing, repartee, storytelling and comedy routines that went on to entertain audiences around the world for more than 25 years. The pair came together sometime prior to making their Australasian debut in 1911. After touring the international variety circuits (including Great Britain and USA), for some five years they returned to the region, remaining here almost ten years (1917-26). During this time they worked almost exclusively for Fullers’ Theatres. Their last known engagements were in Britain in late-1929.

Brief Australian engagements were also played under the auspices of Harry Clay (1923) and the Tivoli circuit (1924).
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CLEMENT MAY

May, Clement [Ballarat Hist Soc](1874-1964) Actor/impressionist (especially Dickens’ characters), elocutionist, director. [Born: Sydney George Devine]

Born in Sydney and raised in Bendigo, Clement May toured Australia during his early career with the London Gaiety Company, and under actor/managers such as Maggie Moore and Alfred Dampier. In 1913 he developed a solo act for the vaudeville stage, specialising in character sketches from Charles Dickens’ stories. During the mid-1910s he operated his own company (Clement May’s Entertainers) and later undertook several international tours. May was also in great demand on radio in Australia between 1924 and 1927. While living in Wellington, New Zealand (1927-1934) he taught elocution and directed the Little Theatre. He then spent much of the late 1930s and early 1940s touring (primarily in America) before settling in Sidney, British Columbia for many years. May died in Sydney, Australia, however.

Image source: Ballarat Historical Society.

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CARL MEHDEN

(ca. 1890-) Musician (drums), band leader [Born in Sydney]

Mehden, CarlCarl Mehden moved to the USA with his family in 1905 but was back in Australia by 1914 with his older brother, Harry (trombone) as members of the FullersNational Orchestra (1914-1918). Carl then returned to America, securing work with the California Theatre among other companies and in 1920 toured for eight months with the orchestra supporting D.W. Griffith’s film, Way Down East. Medhen was brought back home in 1922 to direct the orchestra at T. Carlyon’s Esplanade Ballroom in Melbourne. In later years he toured New Zealand with J.C. Williamon’s Ballet Russes company (1939) and was a musician with Sydney’s Phillip Street Theatre in the late 1950s.

Mehden’s Phillip Street revues included Peter Sculthorpe’s Cross Section (1957) and The Birthday Show (1959). His wife, Letty (nee Pattern) was a member of Bert Le Blanc’s Travesty Stars in the mid-1910s.
Image: With the National Orchestra, 1915. Source: Clay Djubal.

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HARRY MEHDEN

Mehden, Harry(-1945) Musician (trombone/cornet)

The son of Carl von der Mehden, a cornettist who was associated with the Australasian region between 1883 and 1905, Harry Mehden began performing in Australia in the early1890s before moving to the USA with his parents and siblings in 1905. He and his brother Carl (drums) came back to Australia around 1914 and secured positions in FullersNational Orchestra (1914-18). Harry then toured the Fullers circuit with The Jazz Band, the first band to perform jazz in Australia (1918). His career in Australia included an engagement with Bert Ralton and His Havana Band (1923-25) and many radio broadcasts. Mehden also performed overseas at various times up until at least the late 1930s.

Image: With the National Orchestra, 1915. Source: Clay Djubal.

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DON G. MERLE

(1886-1946) Magician, ventriloquist, hypnotist, escapologist, high diver. [Born: George Henry Peter Armstrong in Ararat, Victoria]

Don Merle began performing in Melbourne in 1905 and the following year undertook a tour of New Zealand. By 1910 he was touring Australasia as “the world’s only Spanish conjurer” with his assistant Madame Merle in an act called “A Night in Spain.” The couple left Australia in 1913 and were in the Dutch East Indies when war broke out in 1914. They returned home in 1923 having spent much of the previous ten years playing the East and Far East. After an extensive regional Queensland tour (1923-24) the act was signed up by Fullers Theatres and later by Clay’s Bridge Theatre Company before Merle established his own regional touring venture in 1928. The “Mystic Marvel” remained active as a professional entertainer before semi-retiring in 1938.

1: Merle was born on 18 November 1886.
2: His publicity in 1910 claimed two performances for the King and Queen of Spain, and royal performances for the King of Portugal and the Prince of Wales (by then the King of England).
3: During the 1930s Merle also worked for other firms, including Alf Sylvester at the Luxor Theatre, Perth (1936-38). Suffering from indifferent health for some time, reportedly the result of alcoholism, Merle hanged himself at his Ararat home on July 13, 1946.
Image source: Daily News (Perth) 19 Nov. (1936), 4.

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DAISY MERRITT

(ca. 1871-1934) Variety singer, dancer, actor, comedian.

Adept at comedy work, dancing, singing and acting, Daisy Merritt started out as a dancer, and then dance teacher before teaming up with Nat Phillips. The pair then spent almost eight years touring the international variety circuits before returning to Australia 1912. Over the next four years they presented a sketch act which saw gradually develop his famous “Stiffy” character. Merritt subsequently became a principle member of his Stiffy and Mo and Whirligigs companies.

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Published on April 13, 2011 at 12:13 am  Comments Off on Practitioners [M]