(1877-1933) Endman, comic, singer, acrobat, film actor.
Best remembered today as the star of the classic Australian silent movie, The Sentimental Bloke (1919), Arthur Tauchert’s career as an entertainer began in the early 1900s as a vaudeville comedian, with a particular bent towards acrobatic comedy work. Over the next two decades he was associated with most of the leading managements firms of that era, including John Fuller, James Brennan, Ted Holland, Harry Clay, Bert Howard, J.C. Bain and Lennon, Hyman and Lennon. Tauchert appeared in eleven more films, including the Ginger Mick (1920) and continued to perform on the vaudeville stage during the remainder of the 1920s and also appeared on radio. He died of cancer in 1933.
- More details
- “Arthur Tauchert“ (a selection of film clips available at Australian Screen)
- See also: Ida Tauchert [below]
(aka Ida Rosslyn)
The older sister of Arthur Tauchert, Ida Tauchert made her professional debut with Cottier’s Minstrels in 1886 at age 11. Between 1888 and 1893 she worked almost exclusively for Dan Tracey as “Australia’s champion lady dancer and singer” often in partnership with Anetta Bodin. In later years (as Ida Rosslyn), Tauchert worked a comedy sketch act with her husband, Jack Kearns, while also appearing as a principle boy in various pantomimes. The couple were largely associated Harry Rickards, Tommy Hudson’s Surprise Party and Percy Dix.
- For further details see Jack Kearns‘ entry.
- See also Arthur Tauchert [above]
(ca. 1872-1923) Librettist, writer, troupe-owner.
A prolific writer of vaudeville sketches and pantomimes, Harry Taylor was responsible for at least 14 complete pantomimes staged between 1902 and 1923, including Bo Peep (1910), Old Mother Hubbard (1912), Hey Diddle Diddle (1913), Humpty Dumpty (1914), and Bluebeard (1917). Most of these also contained Taylor’s original music. His musical comedy The Jam of Cathay premiered in 1913. Taylor’s shows were toured around Australia and New Zealand by companies run by Stanley McKay, Edward Jasper, Taylor and Coleman, and Stephenson and Linley among others. He died in Sydney of pneumonia, aged 51.
THOMAS HILHOUSE TAYLOR
aka Toso Talor
(1861-1925) Writer, lyricist, librettist.
The Rev. Thomas Hilhouse Taylor was well known in colonial Australia for collaborating on adaptations of old-world pantomimes. He has been credited with assisting E.W. Royce as librettist for Sinbad the Sailor (1888) and Aladdin (1889) and writing other pantomimes such as Beauty and the Beast (1893) and Cinderella (1894). Taylor also wrote the three-act musical comedy Fairy (1891) and collaborated with composer Christian Hellemann on Parsifal (1906). In addition to his music theatre works, Taylor contributed lyrics to a number of patriotic songs and wrote several books.
(ca. 1878-) English-born variety performer, pantomime dame/librettist, songwriter.
Dan Thomas carved out a successful career in Britain as a Hebrew comedian and pantomime dame before coming to Australia for the Fullers in 1914. He travelled to South Africa in 1917 and soon afterwards took over control of the London Gaiety Company there. He returned to Australia in 1922 to play the dame role for George Marlow‘s Little Bo-Peep. In the 1930s he appeared in three of George Wallace‘s films and continued to work in Australian variety theatre and on radio up until at least 1954.
Scottish-born baritone, light comedian, actor.
Jock Thompson came to Australian in 1910 and established himself in Brisbane as both a singer and concert promoter. While serving with Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F.) during World War I he was transferred from the infantry to the Coo-ees concert party and later became a prominent member of Charles Holt‘s Smart Set Diggers. Thompson continued performing professionally in both Australia and Great Britain well into the 1940s, with his Australian engagements also including radio broadcasts. As a resident of Melbourne in his later years he was active in many locally-organised concerts, fundraisers and social events.
Serio, comic singer, actor.
Lyla Thompson began her career as a child artist in the early 1890s, and soon afterwards appeared with Hiscocks’ Federal Minstrels. She went on to establish herself as one of Australia’s hardest working variety performers, finding almost continuous work with most of the leading organisations of the era. One of the first artists in Australia to sing the popular comic song “Bull and Bush,” Thompson spent considerable time touring the East (notably India) and was still performing in the late-1940s.
REG “KANGAROOSTA” THORNTON
Born in Sydney and educated at Sydney Grammar, Reginald Milton Thornton has first been located in connection with Harry Clay in 1918. The following year he began operating his own circuit in New South Wales – including shows in Manly and Katoomba – and in 1920 founded the K-Nuts, a revolving troupe of performers (it initially included comedians Harry Little, Nat Hanley, Ern Crawford and Les Shipp). Between 1922 and 1925 Thornton toured mostly with his wife Doris and her on-stage partner Tilly Menzies, working for various leading Australasian firms such as the Tivoli Circuit, Fullers’ Theatres and Harry Clay. They also undertook a tour South Africa. Thornton died in July 1929 of heart failure.
- See also: The K-Nuts
Image source: Truth (Sydney) 28 July (1929), 16.
THE THREE STARRS
(ca. 1905-1921) Singers, dancers, acrobats.
Sisters Stella, Vera and Rita worked a song/dance and acrobatic act around Australian and New Zealand between ca. 1905 and 1920 and reportedly toured India ca. 1915/16. Rita Starr was also engaged in leading roles for several Fullers’ pantomimes – notably Cinderella (1918) and Red Riding Hood (1919).
(ca. 1889-1940) Stage and radio comedian
Adelaide-born comedian Athol Tier got his big break with Edward Branscombe’s Dandies. By 1915 was working the Tivoli circuit and in 1919 he starred in The Sentimental Bloke. He later spent several years in England playing the London and provincial variety halls before touring the Keith-Albee US circuit. Following a period in New York City, Tier returned to Australia in the early 1930s to play J.C. Williamson’s Tivoli Celebrity Vaudeville circuit. After appearing in Blue Mountains Melody (1934), he turned to radio, becoming a national star through shows like Mrs ‘Arris and Mrs ‘Igggs and How the Other Half Lives.
- “Athol Tier as Napoleon” (ca. 1931). Extract. Australian Screen. [sighted 3/3/2015]
Image: Athol Tier as Artie in The Sentimental Bloke (1919). Source: OzMovies.
Launceston-born Len “Tassie” Tole spent 20 years travelling throughout Australasia as principal clown with Wirth’s Circus. He also worked for Soles and toured America three times for Ringlings. His six decades-long career, which started out with a Launceston vaudeville troupe in the late-1890s, continued in that line of work when he moved to Sydney in the early 1900s. Tole even appeared at Wonderland City as a rollerskating exhibitionist, before turning to clowning in the 1910s. After retiring from circus life Tole worked as a jazz musician and circus roundsman for the Entertainer. He was still performing and touring at age 88.
- For further details see: “I Don’t Know any Circus Man Who’s Ever Left It.” Lorraine Hickman’s interview with Tassie Tole. Australian Women’s Weekly (1972).
Image source: Australian Women’s Weekly 14 June (1972), 37.
TOM KATZ & HIS SAXOPHONE BAND
aka Tom Katz Saxophone Six
(1927-1936)* While employed by J.C. Williamson’s as its Sydney Tivoli orchestra leader, Sam Babicci formed Tom Katz and His Saxophone Band. Dressed in bellboy uniforms and wearing blackface, the band made its debut on debut on 28 November 1927 with a highly energetic and humorous jazz performance. After some seven years touring various Australasian variety circuits and appearing in numerous radio broadcasts Babicci took the band to Great Britain where it maintained a similar schedule (including European tours). After Babicci returned home the band continued under the leadership of Ted Case before splitting into two separate ensembles in 1936 – the Kit Kat Saxophone Rascals and Tom Katz Saxophone Six (with four English musicians).
- See also: Sam Babicci
1: The bellboy uniforms, blackface and comedy routines remained the Tom Katz signature act throughout its lifetime. The band did not play only jazz, however. Classical selections (including pieces from opera) were also part of its repertoire.
2: Tom Katz and His Saxophone Band feature in the 1934 Cinesound Varieties film. After returning home in the mid-1930s Babicci continued to work live and on radio under the name Tom Katz (his billing was usually Tom Katz & His Orchestra).
3: * The Bassic Sax Blog records that both the Tom Katz and Kit Kat ensembles had broken up for good by 1940. However, a number of newspapers and other sources indicate that a band billed as Tom Katz Saxophone Six was still active in Britain as late as 1947. No details of the line-up have yet been ascertained. See this entry’s “Research Notes” for further details (as well as a list of known personnel)
Image: Sunday Times (Perth) 4 June (1933), 9.
Winnie Trevail began appearing on the stage in Sydney as a child and by 1916 was working in vaudeville as a juvenile serio. After developing her act on Harry Clay‘s circuit, “Winsome Winnie” was primarily associated with Fullers’ Theatres up until 1923. During that time she appeared in pantomimes and with the Fullers’ American Revue Company (1921) and Jim Gerald’s Miniature Musical Comedy Company (1922-23). Trevail abandoned her own career in 1924 to travel with her husband, Con Colleano (the “Wizard of the Wire”).
- See also: Con Colleano.
(1876-1951) Comedian, singer.
Ted Tutty worked for every major variety organisation in Australia between 1905 and the mid to late-1920s. It was through his association with Harry Clay‘s company, however (including seven Queensland tours) that his reputation was largely built. Indeed, his peers considered him to be as important to Harry Clay as Will Whitburn and Pope and Sayles were to Harry Rickards. Tutty worked both as a solo comedian or in several partnerships, including one with his wife Kate (aka Muriel Esbank) as The Two Tuttys. He also operated his own companies in the late-1910s and early-1920s (including a 1922 tour of Queensland).
aka The Dancing Tyrells / The Flying Tyrells
Ned (aka Edward) Tyrell began performing in Melbourne and regional Victoria as a solo comedian in the early 1900s. By 1912 he and his sister were working an act that comprised character comedy, mimicry (from Ned), dancing and songs. Between 1914 and ca. 1920 the Tyrells largely worked in the USA, notably for the Levey, Pantages, Orpheum, and Weller & Vasconcellos circuits. Well-received by both audiences and critics, they are recorded as having headlined bills during their US sojourn. Following Maisie’s death (ca. 1920), Ned returned to Australia and went on to carve out a career as one of the country’s pioneering jazz musicians (banjo) and as a band leader.
- See also: Bert Ralton & His Havana Band
1: The Tyrells returned to Australia in 1915 to work the Tivoli circuit between ca. July-December.
2: Maisie Tyrell, who has been referred to as Marjorie in the USA, was reported in 1917 to be shortly marrying. After this she planned to retire from the stage. However the Tyrells are recorded as still working together up until at least July 1920. Her death details are yet to be located.
3: Ned was also heard leading his various bands on radio from 1928 (with the Radi-o-Aces) through until at least 1937. During the late-1930s and early-1940s he led the orchestra at Melbourne’s Regent cinema.
Image: Punch (Melbourne) 1 July (1915), 28.