Practitioners [M]

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



Musical act (banjos), dancers, singers.

Hugh and Gertrude Minton’s first known professional engagement was with Wybert Reeve at Adelaide’s Theatre Royal in 1897. The following year the siblings appeared with Harry Rickards‘ company in Perth, and over the next few years alternated engagements with him while also working for other firms. Prior to their last known engagement, with Brandon Cremar’s Novelty All-Star Co in 1908, the Minton’s worked for Tommy Hudson, J.C. Bain, Percy St John, Fullers’ Theatres, Walter Sanford, James Brennan, Ted Holland and Williamson, Lee and Rial‘s World Entertainers [1]. They also undertook tours of New Zealand in 1901 (Percy Dix), 1903 (Fullers) and Manila (1905).

1: Hugh Minton is sometimes identified as Herbert or Hubert, while Gertrude (better known as Gertie) has also been referred to as Ada on at least one occasion.
2: No information about the Minton’s movements between September 1905 (close to their departure for Manila) and early 1908 has yet been located. It is possible that the two performers were working overseas.
3: In its report on a 1915 Scottish Thistle Society concert, the Williamstown Chronicle records that “The Musical Mintons (the ‘Bush Harmonists’) gave a popular turn with their bush ‘humpy’ erected on the stage, and pleased the audience with their popular turns on violin and banjo.” (6 Mar. 1915, 2). It is unclear if this was Hugh and Gertie Minton or a similarly-named and unrelated double-act.



(ca. 1893/1894-) Soubrettes.

Trained in dance at Mrs William Green and Miss Florrie Green’s academy in Fitzroy, Melbourne, during the early 1900s, Eileen Maloney and her younger sister Gwen are yet to be firmly identified within the Australasian variety industry prior to June 1918. At that time they were members of Paul Stanhope‘s “Ginger Girls” ballet. The sisters may have started with his revue company as early as 1917, however. Their final engagement with Stanhope was in Wellington, New Zealand in April 1920. No further reference to Eileen Moloney has yet been found after that date. Gwen is recorded as having appeared with the Famous Diggers during its 1921 Melbourne season, but after that engagement her name also disappears from industry records. The Moloneys were highly regarded for their versatility as dancers.

1: Although the their family name is sometimes spelled Maloney in advertising and reviews, the more common spelling is Moloney.
2. Educated at the Academy of Mary Immaculate in Nicholson Street, Fitzroy, Eileen and Gwen excelled in several academic areas, and in 1908 each completed entrance examinations to the University of Melbourne. Eileen was also awarded Junior Public Dux. Both are identified as finalists in the English Group, with Eileen also recorded in the Mathematics Group and Gwen in the French Group. Gwen additionally placed third with her English essay.
3. The Moloneys, as with the vast majority of revusical ballet/chorus performers, were seldom given individual coverage in newspapers, either through advertising or reviews. Unless these women later established themselves as principal ensemble actors, as independent variety acts and/or as ancillary practitioners (e.g. choreographers), their careers are exceedingly difficult to trace.



(-1954) English-born singer (baritone), songwriter, teacher (singing), entertainer, radio host, stage and musical director, character actor, film prologue specialist. [Born at Wood Green, London]

Trained as a concert singer, Fred Monument came to Australia in 1912 via America and over the next eight years secured engagements with Edward Branscombe, J. and N. Tait, and Harry Rickards Tivoli Theatres Ltd. He toured the East with Athol Tier (1919) and in 1920 co-founded the internationally-touring Futurists. He later toured Australasia with Ada Reeve (Aladdin, 1923-24), and New Zealand with George Storey (1924). As a resident of Brisbane from 1925 Monument worked in both radio and on stage. He made his broadcasting debut in 1926, and later announced for 4BK (1930-33) and 4QG (1933-35). Although he retired from the professional stage in 1936, Monument continued to be active as an entertainer, emcee and actor (radio and theatre) until the late-1940s.

Image source: Western Mail (Perth) 1 Dec. 1916, 28.



Comedian, film and television actor

George Moon Jnr came to Australia in the late 1920s to tour with his father (including the Moon and Morris Revue Co). He later toured with Jim Gerald‘s company and worked in musical comedy and revue (notably for J.C. Williamson’s and Ernest C. Rolls). One of his more significant musicals Blue Mountain’s Melody (1934). After returning to England, Moon carved out a successful career in Britain as a film and television actor



Regarded as the greatest-ever back-to-back dancers of their era, Englishmen George Moon and Dan Morris came to Australia in 1918 under contract to J. and N. Tait. Over the next decade they were engaged on the Tivoli, J.C. Williamson’s and Fullers circuits, and also toured their own revue company. When Morris retired in 1929 Moon toured with his son, George Jnr [above], and played feature roles in two of Pat Hanna’s films – Diggers (1931) and Diggers in Blighty (1933).



(1882-1956) Theatre and film actress, singer, entertainer. [Born Caroline Ellen Moore]

Moore, Carrie [NLA]After making her professional debut in Djin-Djin (1895) Carrie Moore secured engagements with Williamson and Musgrove‘s Royal Comic Opera Company before accepting a contract in 1903 with English producer George Edwardes. Her high profile career in British musicals, pantomimes and variety was broken in 1908 when she starred in the Australia tour of The Merry Widow. Moore returned to Australia several times for work prior, securing work in vaudeville (with Bert Le Blanc’s Travesty Stars) and in musical comedy. Although she retired several times Moore continued to make stage and radio appearances in Australian and Britain up until her death. She also appeared on US television in 1949 and that same year featured in Charles Chauvel’s Australian film The Sons of Matthew (1949).

1: Moore married John Wyatt (aka Vernon Bartlett) in 1918. They were divorced in 1933.
2: She is believed to have made her first Australian radio appearance in 1932 and was heard over the country’s airwaves as late as 1953. Her appearances ranged from recitals, reminiscences, and interviews to community singing events, and roles in radio plays and musicals.
Image source: National Library of Australia.



(aka Con Moreni Jnr)

Moreni, Con [WA 18 June 1938, 16]Comedian, troupe manager, producer/director.

The son of acrobat Con Moreni (Snr), Con Moreni’s career as an Australasian variety entertainer was carried out between ca. 1905 and the late-1940s, and included two years in the USA (1910-12) and eight years in Britain (1930-38). Initially known for his Italian characterisations he worked for Harry Rickards, James Brennan, Fullers’ Theatres, Dix-Baker, Holland and St John, Harry Clay and Harry Borradale among others during the 1910s and 1920s. He also toured his own troupes for the Fullers. Moreni’s final working years involved both stage and radio appearances.

Image source: West Australian (Perth) 18 June 1938, 16.



Morgan, Mabelle [TT Oct 1918, 26]Singer, musical comedy and revusical actress. [aka Maybelle Ada Rebecca Gardiner Taylor

Mabelle Morgan performed around Melbourne, regional Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia beginning ca. 1899 before joining George Stephenson‘s Musical Comedy Company in 1905. She was later engaged by J.C. Williamson and in 1907 toured Australasia as principal boy in Mother Goose. She worked in variety and pantomime in Great Britain and America (1908-11), starred in pantomime for Williamson’s “Firm” after returning home, and in 1918 briefly fronted Australia’s first professional jazz ensemble (known as The Jazz Band). Between 1920 and 1930 she worked revusicals and revues for Paul Stanhope, Ward and Sherman, and Frank O’Brien etc, before returning to Britain where she ended her career.

Image source: Theatre Magazine (Sydney) Oct. 1918, 26



Morley, ArthurComic, singer, writer, songwriter, poet, revue company leader, director, producer.

Arthur Morley came to prominence in 1915 as the originator of several pioneering revusicals. He directed shows for Harry Clay, the Fullers and Harry Sadler but his involvement in the infamous 1918 Sadler/Phyllis Faye incident (and subsequent court case) led to a breakdown. He restarted his career in 1922 and was later associated with Bert Howard and George Sorlie before carving out a career in radio. Well-known as a songwriter, poet, Morley was married to variety artist Elsie Bates.



Knockabout comedy and specialty act.

Joe Morris and Alf “Redhead” Wilson teamed up in 1902, and over the next ten years played engagements throughout Australasia for John F. Sheridan, Harry Rickards, J.C. Bain, John Fuller, F.M. Clark, William Anderson, James Brennan, Holland and St John, and J.C. Williamson among others. They left Australia in 1912 to tour internationally. Wilson returned in 1916 and quickly re-established himself as both a performer and a feature writer for Australian Variety.



Later Peggy Toppano

(1927-2003) Musician (piano/violin/banjo/mandolin), dancer, singer (soprano), principal girl, composer, lyricist, television host. [Born: Margaret Joan Mortimer]

From an early age Peggy Mortimer trained in song and dance while also studying classical piano and violin. She appeared in her first Eisteddfod in 1933 (with Brooks’ “Babies”) and continued to win these competitions as a solo musician (piano and violin) throughout most of the decade. By age sixteen, Mortimer was working professionally in the variety industry as a multi-instrumentalist/singer, and on several occasions was cast as a pantomime principal girl. She undertook engagements in Brisbane every year between 1943 and 1947, and also appeared in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Tasmania. Regarded as Australia’s brightest young star she worked for the Tivoli circuit, Harry Wren, Bob Geraghty and John Dobbie, but was perhaps best known for her association with Will Mahoney (and Evie Hayes) at the Cremorne Theatre (Brisbane) and on tour around Australia.

While still in her teens, Mortimer worked alongside some of the biggest variety stars in Australia – including George Wallace, Ike Delavale, Jim Gerald, Amy Rochelle, George Sorlie, Mike Connors, Queenie Paul, Syd Beck, Alec Kellaway, Claude Holland, and Joe Lawman.
Image: Truth (Brisbane) 8 Aug. 1948, 5.



(-1893) Comedian, endman, clown, dancer, singer, troupe leader.

African-American comedian Alf Moynham first came to Australia in 1881 as an eccentric dancer and clown with Wilson’s World Circus. Two years later he and Sam Keenan toured with Bachelder’s Anglo-American Christy’s Minstrels. The pair became huge stars with Hiscocks’ Federal Minstrels, reportedly Australia’s greatest-ever minstrel troupe. The late 1880s and early 1890s saw Moynham (often in partnership with Keenan) tour with Frank Clark‘s Follies, Ashton’s Federal Minstrels, Bent and Moynham’s Bijou Minstrels and Moynham’s American Minstrels. He died in Batavia, Java (now Jakarta), while touring with Clare and Abel’s Circus.

Moynham’s Christian name in the early 1880s is often billed as Albert. He also reportedly spelled his surname Moynan.



(1860-1884) Actress, dancer, and variety entertainer.

A daughter of writer Archibald Murray, Blanche Murray was born in Sydney and during her brief career was largely associated with the Queen’s Theatre, Royal Victoria Theatre and Theatre Royal. At these venues she appeared in a wide range of theatrical entertainments, especially making her name as a dancer. Her last known appearance was in Oliver Twist in early 1884. Murray died tragically young of cardiac disease and congestion of the lungs.



(1869-1935)  Singer, serio/soubrette, actress.

Flo Murray began appearing on the stage in the late 1870s with her two sisters, Blanche and Ida. Later as a solo artist she appeared on bills for such organisations and people as Cottiers’ People Concerts and Billy Speed. She eventually teamed up with (and married) English comedian Ernest Pitcher (aka Sam Wilson), and were members of Harry Clay‘s first Queensland tour (1901). Murray is believed to have retired from the stage in the early 1900s to raise their family.



(1859-1913) Comedian/descriptive singer, songwriter, actor, producer/director.

Slade Murray began his professional career in Great Britain in the early-1880s. He toured Australia in 1889 for F.M. Clark and later found engagements as a burlesque and pantomime actor with Williamson, Garner and Musgrove, Harry Rickards and the Cogill Brothers. He returned home in the mid-1890s but came back in 1905 for Harry Rickards. Up until his death in 1913 he was also largely associated with John Fuller, Ted Holland, Harry Clay and James Brennan.


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.

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