Page Lang Entertainers to Prince ……. p.1
Quarterly to Quine ……. p.2
Comedian, writer, musician, composer, lyricist, agent, manager
Best known for his long partnership with Kitty Stanley, George Pagden also carved out a high profile reputation as a solo artist and with other comedians, including Will Gilbert and Ern Delavale. During his career of more than 30 years, Pagden was active in other areas, too, notably as theatrical agent, troupe manager, revusical author/director and song writer. He built his reputation touring for many years with Fullers’ Theatres and Harry Clay‘s company, while also securing engagements with numerous smaller variety firms. Although his earliest professional engagement identified to date was in 1904 with Tom Perman’s Gaiety Entertainers (Melbourne), Pagden had clearly been active as a performer for some time by then.
1: The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Qld) records that Pagden “had a run of eight consecutive years with Sir Ben Fullers’ companies” (18 May 1926, 9). A review of Pagden’s career movements between 1912 and 1919 indicates that he was never employed exclusively by the Fullers for an eight year period, and thus he likely alternated engagements with other firms during his association with the firm.
2: Considered a “large” man, one of Pagden’s stage personas was “Bulky” (see Lanky and Bulky). He was also often billed in later years as the “funny fat fellow.”
3: George Pagden’s original revusicals include The New Stenographer (1917); Captain Kettle, Lanky and Bulky at the Fair, Lanky and Bulky as Farmers, Lanky and Bulky in Paris (1918); and Cafe de Jazz (1924).
PAGDEN & STANLEY
(ca. 1904-1926) Comedy sketch, song and dance, patterology act.
A prominent act around Australia and New Zealand during the 1910s and 1920s, George Pagden and Kitty Stanley formed their comedy sketch partnership shortly after marrying in 1902. Although best known for their long association with the Fullers and Harry Clay circuits during the 1910s and 1920, the pair also worked for Harry Rickards, Joe Solomons, J.C. Bain, Ted Holland, Dix-Baker and Ike Beck among other firms. They also toured their own companies at various times. In addition to their vaudeville act Pagden and Stanley also specialised in creating and producing one act musical comedies. Some of these were written by Pagden. The couple’s last known engagements together were with Ike Beck in 1926.
- See also: Kitty Stanley • George Pagden [above]
Prior to her partnership with Pagden, Kitty Stanley worked under her birth name, Madge Bracey. At various time during their career together Pagden also operated his own booking agency.
PAGE LANG ENTERTAINERS
(ca. 1914) Variety trio.
Comprising Page Lang (ventriloquist, magician), Vera Carew (singer) and Bert Ralph, the Page Lange Entertainers appears to have been active in regional Victoria and southern New South Wales in early 1914. Although the only known engagement was a four nights season at Mildura’s Olympic Theatre in late March (with two changes of program), it is likely that the trio performed elsewhere around this period.
The Mildura shows included lightning sketch artist J. S. Glasson. The shows were also accompanied by the Olympic Orchestra.
THE PARAGON TRIO
(1893-1900) Musical act.
Multi-instrumentalists William Busch, A. Lelliott and H. Lelliott formed the Paragon Trio in 1893 as a feature act within the Paragon Bellringers troupe. Their performances comprised musical selections played on a variety of instruments, including mandolins, guitars, xylophones, and cornets. By the end of 1894 the trio were touring independently, securing engagements with Abell and Klaer’s European Circus, the Cogill Bros, Burton’s Circus, Percy St John‘s Cambridge Specialty Co, and the Montague-Fredo Co. Along with Busch’s wife and baby daughter, the trio travelled to the USA via New Zealand in 1896, performing there for a number of years as Lelliott Busch and Lelliott.
- See also: William Busch
- For further details see: David R. Noakes. “Life’s a Stage: The Life and Times of Frederick William Busch and Elizabeth Maria Lay” and “Newspaper Articles.” Mae Busch Facts Feb. 2013 [sighted 11/12/2014]
1: After parting with Frederick Busch in 1900 the Lelliotts quickly formed a new act with Ethel Clerice (billed as Lelliott, Clerice and Lelliott).
2: An acrobatic musical trio billed as the Famous Paragon Trio is recorded as touring parts of regional Australia with the Fredos’ Variety and Dramatic Co circa 1910-11. Although there was a connection between both acts and the Fredo’s, it is unlikely that the two acts were related, apart from sharing the same name.
Sourced from David R. Noakes. Additional details by Clay Djubal.
JACK “DINKS” PATERSON
Comedian, singer, dancer, writer, director.
In 1919 Jack Paterson teamed up George Wallace as Dinks and Oncus – with the partnership becoming one of Harry Clay‘s most popular acts. After they split in 1923, Paterson and Trixie Ireland spent several years working in Britain (as Dinks and Trixie). They came home briefly in 1929 to play the Tivoli circuit before returning to the UK, where they became one of the earliest performers to work in the television medium. Paterson and Ireland retired from the stage in Australia in the mid to late-1950s
aka Norman “Banjo” Patterson
NB: Not to be confused with Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson.
Singer (tenor), whistler.
Norman “Banjo” Patterson was a well-known North Queensland entertainer during the 1910s. Initially based at Charters Towers, and later at Townsville, he came to prominence as a member of the Charters Towers minstrel company (T.O.M.C.A.T.S.) during the years 1909-1911. Often billed during this period as the “Human Canary,” Patterson also developed a singing and whistling act that proved popular as “between-films” entertainment. After moving to Townsville in the early 1910s he continued to perform with local minstrel companies, at concerts and at picture houses – including those at Cairns and Charters Towers. Patterson also occasionally performed further afield, including Rockhampton (1918). His last known performances were in Townsville in 1922.
- More details (research notes)
Queenie Paul joined a J. C. Williamson chorus at age 15, and in 1916 she was cast as principal boy in the Fullers‘ Bunyip pantomime, and the following year met her future husband and business partner Mike Connors while touring with Bert Le Blanc’s Travesty Stars. She and Connors worked together almost continuously for the Fullers up until the late 1920s (including several years with Stiffy and Mo), before turning to production and management in the 1930s. After her husband’s death in 1949 Paul continued performing well into the 1970s. She also remained active as a producer up until at least 1959.
- See also: Con-Paul Theatres • Connors and Paul
- For further details see: Jennie Lees. “Paul, Eveline Pauline (1893-1982)” Australian Dictionary of Biography 18 (2012) • Frank Van Straten “Queenie Paul OAM 1893-1982” Live Performance Australia Hall of Fame (2007)
In 1982 Paul was awarded an OAM and made her last stage appearance on 29 July at the Newtown Leagues Club. She died two days later in her home at Dulwich Hill.
Image Source: Green Room Mar (1922), 7
(1895–1966) Variety entertainer, dancer, stage and film actress.
Born in Broken Hill (New South Wales), Vera Pearce spent much of her youth in Adelaide. After making her stage debut at age five with the World’s Entertainers, she trained as a juvenile performer in J.C. Williamson‘s pantomimes and musicals, and scored much acclaim for her role in the Firm’s 1910 hit Our Miss Gibbs. Between 1914 and 1922 (with Hugh D. McIntosh‘s guidance) she became a huge Tivoli star and also featured in two films. Pearce moved to the UK in 1922 and went on to work consistently on the London stage in musicals and pantomimes until her death. She also appeared in at least 16 films between 1931 and 1966.
Pearce won two beauty contests in Australia. The first was promoted by Wests Pictures in Sydney in 1911. The second event, the 1916 White City Beauty Competition, created controversy when it became known that the judges were linked to the vaudeville industry. The revelation also led to a number of 100-1 bets being placed by well-known “sporting gentlemen” for Pearce to win. When she was announced the winner the huge audience reportedly went “frigidly silent [being] too astounded to take the result seriously” (Theatre June 1916, 42).
Image source: Green Room Apr. (1919), 3.
Twin sisters Pearlina and Rubina began their professional careers in variety working the Sydney suburban circuits before finding opportunities in city venues such as the Oxford Hall. By December 1910 their act was proficient enough to be featured as a headline act by Ted Holland in Brisbane and when they returned to tour Queensland the following year one regional critic considered them to be the stars of company. Over the next four years the sisters worked largely in Sydney for Harry Clay. Their whereabouts after 1914 is yet to be established.
Image and additional research contributions courtesy of Sue Davies.
(1841-1869) Dancer, comedian, entertainer. [Born: Thomas Jefferson O’Reilly in Albany, New York USA]
Although Tommy Peel’s time in Australasia was relatively short (only four years), he nevertheless established a considerable reputation in the region through his association with such troupes as Wilson’s World Circus (New Zealand, 1865), the Christy Minstrels (1866), Nish’s Christy Minstrels (1866) and the Weston, Kelly, Holly and Hussey Minstrels (1869). The years 1867 to mid-1869 were spent in New Zealand. Prior to leaving the USA Peel had worked with numerous companies, including The Sable Brothers, Schook’s Minstrels, Campbell’s Minstrels,* Bryant’s Minstrels, Anderson’s Minstrels, Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels and Frank Hussey’s Minstrels. Peel died in Melbourne on 31 July 1869 after a brief illness.
- For further details see “A Sketch of Late Thomas Peel.” West Coast Times (NZ) 28 Aug. (1869), 3.
* Peel took his stage surname in honour of Matt Peel, the Campbell’s Minstrels noted “Ethiopian” comedian. That troupe was also known at one time as Murphy, West and Peel’s Campbell Minstrels.
Soubrette, comedienne, balladist, coon impersonator.
Olga Pennington established herself as a juvenile performer with small-time Sydney vaudeville managers as early as 1904. Following her Tivoli debut in 1905 she secured engagements in Australia and New Zealand with all the leading firms – including James Brennan, Fullers’ Theatres, Harry Clay, Dix-Baker, Ted Holland, J. C. Bain. With Lily Rockley (as the Australian Sapphires) she went to the USA in 1916 but the act ended soon after Pennington married. She returned home in 1918 to continue her career. Her last known engagement was as principal boy with Taylor-Coleman in 1921.
- See also: The Australian Sapphires
Image: 1906. Source: Linc Tasmania.
W. S. PERCY
(aka Willie Percy)
Will Percy came to fame as the star comedian with Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company. An original member of the reformed juvenile troupe, he toured Australasia, the East and South Africa until it disbanded in 1905. He then went on to star with Williamson’s Comic Opera Company and featured in three local films (one of which he wrote). Percy moved to the USA in 1913 and later lived in England. By the early-1920s , when he undertook an Australian tour he had become an acclaimed artist (specializing in etchings and painting) and in his later life wrote travel books.
- See also: Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Co .
Image source: Theatre Magazine Nov. (1907), 6.
aka Frank Perrin
English humourist, singer, actor, manager, radio producer.
Frank Perryn got his big break with London musical comedy producer George Edwarde’s. After touring New Zealand in 1922 with the Famous N.Z Diggers he came to Australia in 1923 as a character comedian for the Fullers and later appeared with F. Gayle Wyer’s Band Box Revue Co (1924) before joining Stanley McKay‘s pantomime company (1925). A return to the Fullers circuit saw him tour as a vaudeville comedian and in various revue companies, including Tubby Steven’s Tit-Bits and George Storey’s Storeyettes. Other prominent engagements were with Lionel Walsh (Opera Co), Stanley McKay’s Gaieties, George Sorlie, Allies Follies, Barton’s Follies, and Bruce Carroll (Perth Tivoli). Perryn’s Australian career, which continued well into the 1950s, included radio work as both performer and producer.
- For further details see: “Mr Frank Perryn’s Experience.” Advertiser (Adelaide) 9 July (1927), 7 • “Radio Personalities: Frank Perrin of 4QG.” Daily Standard (Brisbane) 8 Nov. (1930), 15.
1: In a 1927 interview Perryn records that his early career engagements included tours with companies led by Adeline Sutton (comedy company) and Leslie Hansen and as understudy to G. P. Huntley. He also toured the USA for George Edwardes (1917-18) in productions such as The Marriage Market, The Count of Luxembourg and Betty.
2: Perryn began his radio career in partnership with Vera Benson in 1928. His last known stage appearance identified to date was for a 4KQ live concert broadcast in 1954.
3: It is unclear which spelling of his name is correct. Perrin and Perryn are used in reviews, advertisements and articles throughout his Australian career.
4: The Famous N.Z. Diggers is believed to have been put together by Pat Hanna as a second touring company (specifically for New Zealand). Hanna’s Famous Diggers meanwhile toured Australia.
Image Source: Saturday Journal (Adelaide) 7 Jan. (1928), 4.
(ca. 1882-1932) Comedian, producer, director, manager, writer, revue company leader, singer, songwriter, musician, sketch artist, acrobat.
Nat Phillips had early career success with partnership Tommy Armstrong. After they toured the USA (ca. 1903-04) Phillips formed a sketch act with Daisy Merritt. They toured internationally until returning to Australia in 1912 where Phillips was engaged by Fullers’ Theatres as a producer/ performer. In 1916 he and Roy Rene began their famous Stiffy and Mo partnership. Phillips later had success with his Whirligigs Company. As one of the Fullers’ senior producers he wrote and produced a string of hit pantomimes and revusicals (most of which he wrote himself).
- More details
- See also: Phillips & Merritt [below] • Armstrong & Phillips
- To listen to sound recordings of Nat Phillips see Stiffy and Mo entry.
PHILLIPS & MERRITT
(ca. 1904-1916) Sketch artists, song, dance and comedy patter act.
Nat Phillips began a personal relationship with Daisy Merritt prior to leaving for the USA with Tommy Armstrong in 1903. Although older than Phillips by almost a decade years and married with several children, she left Australia to join him when Armstrong and Phillips act ended (ca. 1904). The couple, who later married, toured the USA, Europe and UK until 1912, when they returned home and secured a contract with Fullers’ Theatres. In 1914 Phillips began developing his Stiffy character through their sketches and shortly after returning from a tour of the East (1915-1916) he began his highly popular partnership with Roy Rene (as Stiffy and Mo).
Daisy Merritt continued working with her husband as a principle member of both Nat Phillips Stiffy and Mo Revue Company (1916-1925, 1927-1928) and his Whirligigs Company (1925-27, 1928-32). However, her roles were consigned to the ensemble cast, with Phillips taking on the lead roles in partnership with other comedians, notably Rene, but also Jack Kellaway, Syd Beck, and Stan “Stud” Foley.
Image source: Nat Phillips Collection, Fryer Library (University of Queensland)
Sisters Eileen and Bessie Phillips started their careers as professional entertainers in Brisbane sometime around 1911. Following a tour of New Zealand a few years later they began their association with Harry Clay, touring Queensland in 1914 and eventually spending some seven years with his company. They also secured regular engagements with other leading variety firms during this period, too. The sisters toured with James Caldwell (Bessie’s husband) in the early 1920s on the Fullers and Clay circuits through until the mid-to-late 1920s.
THE PICCANNINNY CONGO MINSTREL
(1849-1950) Blackface minstrel act (presented by Master Chambers)
Master Chamber presented his Picaninny Congo Minstrel act in Geelong, Victoria, as early as October 1849, and revived it on numerous occasions in the town until April 1851. While briefly in Tasmania with his family in 1850 he also performed it in Launceston (ca. June). After the family left Geelong in April 1851 for Adelaide he performed the act, possibly for the last time, at the city’s Royal Victoria Theatre during May. Among the songs he is known to have sung were “Old Joe Kicking Up Behind and Before” and “Old Dan Tucker.” Chambers accompanied himself on bone castanets, but was also sometimes supported by a musician, among them Troy Knight (banjo).
Peter Piccini emigrated from Italy to Australia in 1922 and two years later began his music career in this country touring Queensland, making connections through the strong Italian community that had grown around the mining and sugar cane industries. He later found opportunities in Sydney and Melbourne as a vaudeville act (including the Tivoli circuit), silent film accompanist and feature musician in various bands and orchestras – notably those led by Isidor Goodman’s Orchestra and Jim Davidson. Piccini also made numerous radio broadcasts (including Jack Davey’s radio quiz shows), sound recordings (for Regal Zonophone and Columbia Records), and appeared in the 1934 film Strike Me Lucky.
Piccini moved to Perth in the early 1950s and established a music shop that specialised in piano accordions. His son Peter Piccini Jnr (1936-2011), also a well-known Perth-based musician (piano accordion), composer, arranger, and conductor, spent a number of years working overseas, primarily in Europe, as an accompanist and member of various orchestras.
Details sourced from Colin Nichol (members.iinet.net.au) and Ken Mckay (WA TV History). Image source: Colin Nichol.
aka Sam Wilson / Sam Pitcher
English-born comedian, musician, raconteur.
Ernest Pitcher came to Australia in the mid-1890s as Sam Wilson, a “plantation melodist,” cornerman and “Negroistic comedian.” Between 1900 and 1908 he was largely associated with the Clay, Rickards and Fullers‘ circuits, reverting to his real name in 1907. As “the Big Mug,” Pitcher developed a saxophone, concertina, banjo and comic stories act which he toured on the Fullers’ circuit until 1926. His last known engagement was at the Embassy Theatre, Parramatta (New South Wales) in 1934 with the 2UE Minstrels. Pitcher died in Sydney in 1940.
aka incl. Abdul Khan / Darky Deering / C. A. Livingstone
Alexander Marion Poe came to Australia as a teenager in 1900. He left the country in 1908, having married, and when he returned in 1913 had reportedly spent time in Britain and toured the East as a vaudeville performer. He is known to have worked as a magician and all-round variety entertainer well into the 1940s, and at one stage toured for Fullers’ Theatres. During his career Poe worked under various stage names – including Abdul Khan (“The Hindoo Mystic”) and Darky Deering (blackface singer). He also used the name C. A. Livingstone for his entrepreneurial and business activities. Poe died in Melbourne aged 72.
- More details (contributed by Leon Lyell)
The information in this overview and image contributed by Leon Lyell (grandson).
(1891-1978) Actress, singer, dancer, acrobat, entertainer. [Born Daphne Trott, in Fitzroy (Melb)]
Daphne Pollard joined Tom Pollard‘s Lilliputian Opera Company at age six, touring Australasia and South Africa until the troupe disbanded in 1905. Two years later, having taken Pollard as her professional name, she travelled to the USA, remaining there until her death in Los Angeles. Between 1907 and 1943 she appeared in some 60 films, including comedies produced by Max Sennett and later Hal Roach (notably several Laurel and Hardy features). Pollard also worked on Broadway in musical comedies and dramas, appeared in the Ziegfield Follies and toured the Keith Vaudeville Circuit (1924). Her final film was Kid Dynamite (1943).
- For further details see “Daphne Pollard.” Internet Movie Database (IMDb) • “Daphne Pollard.” Wikipedia [sighted 9/05/2014]
Image source: Nitrateville
A number of secondary sources incorrectly claim that Daphne Pollard and Harry Snub Pollard were brother and sister. There was no familial connection between the two. Their professional stage names were adopted during their time with Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company.
HARRY “SNUB” POLLARD
Discovered as a child by Tom Pollard, Harry Fraser toured with Pollard’s Lilliputians until ca. 1904 and then established himself as a comedian/song and dance man. After moving to the USA he appeared in vaudeville, musicals and in Hollywood, finding small opportunities (at one stage he was a Keystone Kop) until being spotted in 1918 by film producer Hal Roach. Pollard appeared opposite Harold Lloyd (as Lonesome Luke’s sidekick) in more than 50 films and went on to star in his own series of features. His career credits comprise more than 500 films and television episodes.
- For further details see “Snub Pollard.” Internet Movie Database (IMDb) • “Snub Pollard.” Wikipedia [sighted 9/05/2014]
Perhaps best known as “Snub,” and for his trademark upside-down Kaiser Wilhelm mustache, Pollard has been acknowledged with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also continued to work in vaudeville sporadically throughout his career, including an Australian tour in 1930/31.
Image source: icollector.com
(aka Pollard Family)
The Pollard family was almost an industry in itself. In all 18 children were born to James Joseph Pollard and his two wives – fifteen with Mary (1831-1874) and three with her younger sister Corunna (1846-1906). All of children who survived infancy were given strict musical training and could invariably play several instruments as well as sing and act. They initially performed in and around Launceston before touring Australia and overseas with their father’s Lilliputian Opera Company (1881-1886). Some of the children later established careers in their own rights as either performers or as managers/entrepreneurs.
L-R: James Joseph Pollard, Mary Eleanor (1st wife), Corunna Elizabeth (2nd wife), Corunna Louisa, Olive and May, Emily (Teny)
Children of James and Mary Pollard: Mary Elizabeth (6 July 1854-) • Emma Sarah (2 Aug. 1855-23 Mar. 1856) • James (Jim) Joseph (15 July 1856-14 Sept 1883) • Henry John (15 July 1857 – 27 Oct. 1931) • Charles Albert (4 Aug. 1858 – 28 Feb. 1942) • Corunna Louisa (1 Feb. 1860 – 7 July 1936) • Eleanor (Nellie) Jane (7 Aug. 1861 – 18 May 1944) • Alice Mary (19 May 1863 – 19 Aug. 1950) • Frederick Nelson (30 Aug. 1864 – 9 July 1933) • Emily (Teny) Albertina (9 Sept. 1865 – 3 Sept. 1937) • Violet Maud (8 Jan. 1867 -) • May Charlotte (1 May 1868 – 26 Mar. 1970) • Olive Pauline (18 Jan. 1870 – 13 Feb. 1952) • William Thomas (17 July 1871- 15 Feb. 1945) • Arthur Hayden (16 Oct. 1873 – 6 Oct. 1940). Children of James and Corunna Pollard: Ernest James Mozart (18 Nov. 1876 – 1 Jan. 1936) • Alfred Charles Beethoven (17 May 1879 – 27 July 1881) • Lillian Florence Elsie (24 June 1882 – 30 Aug. 1975).
L-R: Charles Albert, Eleanor (Nellie), William Thomas, Violet Maud, Henry John
- See also: Charles Pollard • James Pollard • Tom Pollard • Nellie Chester • Pollards Lilliputian Opera Companies
A number of performers and other people associated with the various Pollard companies also took the family name as their own, including Tom Pollard (aka O’Sullivan), Daphne Pollard (aka Trott), and Harry “Snub” Pollard (aka Fraser).
African-American comedian Charlie Pope first toured Australasia with Hicks-Sawyer Minstrels – later the American Coloured Minstrels (1888-91). He later worked with fellow endman Irving Sayles in an act that became a Tivoli institution. After parting with Sayles in 1903 Pope toured with Sandford’s American Players, returning to vaudeville in 1906 with James Brennan. He later toured for the Fullers (at one stage joining the Era Comedy Four), maintaining an association until at least 1918. Pope’s last known public performances were in1928. He died later that same year aged 60.
POPE & SAYLES
African-American comedians Charlie Pope and Irving Sayles first toured the Australasian region between 1888 and 1891 with the Hicks-Sawyer Minstrels (later the American Coloured Minstrels). After the company folded they worked briefly for the Cogill Bros, F. M. Clark, Frank Smith, and also leased a Melbourne theatre themselves, before signing with Harry Rickards in 1893. Pope and Sayles remained on the Tivoli circuit until 1902 but not before establishing themselves as the most popular Australian-based duo to ever work for Rickards. They briefly toured New Zealand for Percy Dix and then formed their own comp0any in 1903 before ending their partnership.
- See also Charlie Pope [above] • Irving Salyes
(ca. 1868-1947) Actor, comedian, writer, composer, lyricist, director, troupe proprietor. [Born Victor Vernon]
Victor Prince spent much of his early career specialising in Gilbert and Sullivan roles for J. C. Williamson. In 1914 he founded the Australian New Comic Opera Co planning to produce locally-written like D. H. Souter and Wynn Jones’ Australian First but the following year began touring his own revusical comedy troupe for Fullers’ Theatres. For several years he also teamed up with comedian Charles Zoli. After writing and directing Robinson Crusoe (1917) Prince toured his own comic opera troupe, and in the 1920s worked primarily as an actor/director in legitimate theatre. He emigrated to South Africa ca. 1932 but returned home in 1946.
A son of eminent Australian music theatre actor Howard Vernon (1848-1921), Prince spent much of his early career touring with his father. One of his brothers became a prominent Melbourne picture show manager. Prince died in Melbourne on 2 July 1947 after a long illness.
Image source: Theatre Magazine Mar. (1916), 4.
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