Practitioners [O]



Singer, character impersonations, actress. [Born Frances Octavia Adelaide Beatrice Malley]

Lily Octavia appeared with the Montague-Turner Opera Company in England in the late 1880s before coming to Australia in 1890. By 1893 she had established her reputation as a character impersonator, singer and actress, and over the next ten years worked as both a solo variety entertainer and dramatic actress. Sometime around 1903/04 Octavia teamed up with comedian Dave Warne to a present a comedy sketch act. The pair toured Australia for various managements until at least 1912. After the partnership ended Octavia performed largely in Melbourne. Her whereabouts from 1915 onwards are unknown.

  • See also: Octavia & Warne [below]
Octavia was married at least twice – first to William Green (1887-1894). Her second married name is believed to have been Poole (ca. 1910s).



(1904-1912) Society and comedy sketch act.

Shortly after his stage partnership with Alice Davenport ended in late 1903 or early 1904, minstrel comedian Dave Warne (bones) put together another eccentric musical comedy sketch act with singer/character impersonator Lily Octavia. The pair has been associated with such managers/firms as F.M. Clark and Harry Shine, Harry Rickards, Tom Perman, Leonard Davis (Perth), Ted Holland (Brisbane), A. Brandon-Cremer, Marino Lucas (Tasmania) and James Brennan until at least 1912. After the partnership ended Octavia performed as a solo entertainer in Melbourne for several years. Warne continued his involvement with the variety industry up until the mid-1920s.



Odiva's Seals [FN 11 Feb 1922, 9](1914-1915, 1922-1924) Aquatic act.

US animal trainer, Captain Adams, brought English-born, Samoan-raised swimmer Odiva and her seals and sea lions to Australia for the Tivoli circuit in December 1914. The hugely popular act comprised a short lecture by Adams, a demonstration of various tricks performed in a sea shore setting, and a water tank performance by Odiva and the seals. The pair returned to the Australasian  region in 1922 for Fullers’ Theatres, initially touring New Zealand before making their Australian debut in the company’s 1922 revival of Dick Whittington and His Cat (see 1921). The Odiva show continued touring the region until 1924.

Odiva [U of Washington]

Images: Top – Fuller News (Sydney) 11 Feb. 1922, 9; Bottom – ca. 1911, University of Washington Library.



New Zealand-born singer, comedian, actor, compere, manager, writer, music arranger, radio personality

okeefe-cliff-cuckoo-court-slnswBest known as a member of the Big Four (1923-1933), one of Australia’s greatest lyric male quartets, and as the Judge in 2SM’s long-running quiz show Cuckoo Court (between 1938-1948), Clifford O’Keefe came to Australia in 1910 under contract to J.C. Williamson’s (Grand Opera Company). By 1916, however, he was on the vaudeville stage. Over the next five decades O’Keefe secured work with such firms as Fullers’ Theatres (including Nat Phillips’ Stiffy and Mo Revue Co), Tivoli Celebrity Vaudeville, Clem Dawe, Graham Mitchell, Bert Lennon, and the Tivoli circuit. He moved into radio in 1935, joining the staff of Sydney station 2SM, but remained active on stage well into the 1950s. In 1953 he toured with Stanley McKay’s Gaieties.

See also: The Big Four (aka Cliff O’Keefe’s Big Four)

1: During his career O’Keefe’s vocal range has been described in various newspapers and magazines as tenor, baritone and basso. The most common appears to be baritone. It is possible that bass-baritone would have been the most apt descriptive.
2: O’Keefe’s association with 2SM appears to have been largely carried out between 1935 and 1948. He rejoined the station in 1954 and returned to Cuckoo Court (it is presently unclear for how long, though). His name has also been linked to 2CH (as a performer in The Big Parade musical revue series, 1944). The National Film and Sound Archive also identifies him as the compare of 2UE’s Stairway to the Stars series in 1944 (see Australian Radio Series: 1930s–1970s).
3: O’Keefe’s late-career stage work also included performing in Japan in 1948 with an entertainment unit.
Image source: Hood Collection, State Library of New South Wales


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Published on June 2, 2013 at 3:10 am  Comments Off on Practitioners [O]