Mr Donald MacDonald-Referee 25 July 1900

Mr Donald MacDonald, who opens at the Centenary Hall on Saturday night, is undoubtedly one of the finest journalists in Australia, and his interesting and graphic letters concerning the siege of Ladysmith earned for him such a world wide reputation that a leading English firm made him a generous offer to bring out a book, which it may be remarked, will be ready shortly. Considering the great number of brilliant English journalists who have been at the front during the present campaign, the offer was not only a compliment  to the popular press man but to Australia. In view of these facts a few remarks concerning Mr Macdonald's career should be read with interest.

The neighbourhood of Kellor and Essendon a few miles out of Melbourne, was the scene of his school days, and in 1879 he occupied the position of teacher in a Catholic school there, but, developing a taste for journalism by acting as a local correspondent  for a newspaper published in Bacchus Marsh, the next year found him serving an apprenticeship to the calling which he now graces, in the office of the Corowa 'Free Press' under his first editor, Mr James C Leslie.

From the 'Free Press' he went to the 'Evening Mail' (an unsuccessful half penny venture of the 'Argus') and was then taken onto the staff of the parent paper, on which he has remained ever since.  When  the war broke out he was selected by that journal to act as its representative with what success everyone knows. When he returned to Melbourne broken in health, after his bitter experience of the siege, he was entertained at a smoke night in  the Masonic Hall  at which nearly 500  representative citizens assembled. It was at that concert in consequence of the gift of language  which he displayed ,that his friends persuaded him to go a lecturing and the ' Argus' proprietary granted him leave of absence for the purpose.

One of the best traits in Mr MacDonald's character is his unassumed modesty, which is as natural to the man as his gift of anecdote and keen sense of humour. A couple of years ago, at Lorne, he courageously rescued a young lady from death from drowning while bathing in the surf. His power of enduring fatigue may be estimated from the fact that he ran fully clothed (discarding portions of his raiment as he ran) 200 yards then swam a considerable distance to the scene of the disaster and rescued the young lady from the hungry sea just as she was being swept away by the undertow. Then he returned unostentatiously to his hotel and the affair would have passed unnoted but for the action of his friends in reporting it. In South Africa too, he was slightly wounded, but he characteristically forbears any mention of it in his lectures.

Little Baby Parkes- Referee 25 July 1900

Little Baby Parkes who made such a successful debut at the Tivoli on Saturday is only 7 and a half years of age, and a very firm friend of that other child wonder, Fanny Powers. Baby Parkes, who, it might be mentioned is a pupil of Mr Harry Leston, beyond a doubt the most successful child teacher we have, shows a strong dramatic art in all her movements, while her dancing is the poetry of motion. She is possessed of a most expressive face, and suits the action to the word in a manner which would be creditable to any adult. On  the stage, in fact, she is a perfect artist, while off it,  she is quite a baby. The little dot's father plays the trombone in the Tivoli orchestra.

Death of Mr McAdoo-Referee July 18 1900

By the death of Mr McAdoo, which occurred yesterday, Australia has lost one of the finest and most popular entrepreneurs it has ever had. The deceased gentleman, who was proprietor of the celebrated Jubilee Singers and the Georgia Minstrels and Alabama Cakewalkers, had by his manliness and ability as a caterer of public amusement endeared himself in a remarkable fashion to all theatregoers. His name everywhere was accepted as a guarantee of excellence. Mr McAdoo had for some time been in very poor health and so far as his friends are concerned his death will not come as a surprise. While in Melbourne he underwent a very serious operation, after which he temporarily improved, but during the season of his minstrel company at the palace a few months ago, he was persuaded to take to his bed for a few days. Gradually growing worse , however, he left his hotel and went into a private hospital, where, unfortunately his life came to a close yesterday.  For the past five weeks he was so low that no one was allowed to see him-not even his wife or bright little son , to both of whom he was passionately attached. The funeral will take place tomorrow afternoon.

Mr Ernest Hogan-Referee July 5 1899

Mr Ernest Hogan, 'the unbleached American' who made a hit at the Criterion on Saturday night claims that he has not a drop of white blood in his veins. The comedian was born in Bowling Green Ky a little more than 30 years ago. his father was the only colored Sheriff that they had in that State. He died when the boy was very young. The actor's grandfather had been educated by a wealthy southern family to go as a missionary to Africa. He there married a native African the comedian's grandmother. His mother is living now in Bowling Green Ky, where "she is happy in having a pretty home with nothing to do but to be proud of her son and go to all the camp meetings in the State." During his career, Mr Hogan has appeared at every theatre of importance in the United States and claims that he receives the biggest salary ever paid a colored artist. He writes his own songs , and some six years ago he wrote a legitimate drama ' In Old Tennessee" in which he appeared as the hero himself. Mr Hogan's ambition is to be 'the colored Nat Goodwin' and judging by the work he does in the duel scene at the Criterion one which might have been lifted bodily out of 'The Rivals' there does not appear to be any reason why he should not succeed.

Miss Florence Perry- Referee Feb 15 1899

Miss Florence Perry, 'The Firms' new prima donna, who made her first appearance with the Comic Opera Company on Thursday Night made her debut in 'Dorothy' at the London Prince of Wales in 1888, her famous brother in law, Mr Ben Davis also being in the cast. After several other good engagements she went to the Savoy in 1893 and remained there until the date of her departure to Australia. During that time she appeared in a very extensive and varied repertoire and the experience thus gained should stand her in good stead during her stay in Australia.

Mr Jerry Mills- Referee Jan 18 1899

Mr Jerry Mills, who is responsible for ten minutes genuine fun at the Palace every evening has had a pretty extensive career.

"I made my first appearance as a dancer with the original Georgia Minstrels 22 years ago," he said in the course of a chat with the 'Referee' yesterday, ' and while with them toured the whole of America."

'Next I joined a comedy company as a ballad singer prior to becoming associated with Moore's Jubilee Company. While with this combination I lost my voice and decided to take up acrobatic work and high kicking as well as a comedian's business" 'With W H McCann's company I went all over the western parts remaining with it for four years. " Then I went to the Family Theatre New York City, where I made a great hit as a female impersonator, prior to opening at Koster and Bial's where I did my cake walk for which I hold the Championship of America. It was while there that I signed a three year contract with Mr McAdoo, the best manager I have ever worked for in my life"

'You claim to be the Champion Highkicker of America?'

Yes my record stands at at 10 ft and I should very much like to get on a  match here before I leave for any amount which any opponent may wish.'

American artists pay great attention to advertising themselves and the headings on their private notepaper often is rather amusing. That on Mr Jerry Mills runs;-

'High Class comedian Jerry Mills. I am no star, no drunkard not hard to please in any way. I can be used for less than 1000 per week. I am an all round performer with novelty acts. If you want something good for your house or show you will find me open for engagements.' Which is rather neat.

Howard and St Clair Referee November 22 1899

Mr James Howard and Miss Fanny St Clair the American sketch artists appearing at he Palace with Mr Harry Rickards company have travelled all the world with the exception of the Continent and have everywhere met with considerable success. Mr Howard who was born in New York City at the age of twelve years became call boy at the Grand Opera House where Mr J C Williamson and Miss Maggie Moore were appearing in 'Stuck Oil" and " the Chinese Question. There he met and became acquainted with a great many professional people and being naturally bright and witty soon began to map our a career for himself on the stage. After becoming proficient in various stage arts, Mr Howard finally joined bands in 1885? with William Williams, the team being Howard and Williams. In their act entitled 'Get together Bill' they toured the country playing in all the principal vaudeville theatres. Later Mr Howard joined forces with Miss Fanny St Clair.

Miss St Clair was born in Boston Mass and was educated at the convent of Notre Dame in her native city. Miss St Clair made her first appearance on the stage in 1885, playing Josephine in the children's 'Pinafore' at the Boston Theatre. After studying music for several years she was engaged to sing ain the Marion Manola Opera Company and later with the Camille De Arville Company, Fay Templeton Company, Mc Fee of Dublin Company and numerous others. After concluding their engagement here the clever couple go to London.

Miss Beatrice Lamb- Referee 27 April 1898

Miss Beatrice Lamb, leading lady for Mr Charles Cartwright has had considerable experience. After having appeared for a couple of performances with amateurs she decided to take tot he stage professionally, her first engagement being with Mr Beerbohm Tree on his first night of management in "The Bed Lamp" Leaving Mr Tree, she joined Mr John Hare for ' The Profligate' also on that manager's first managerial venture. Several others more or less important engagements followed , after which she appeared in the name part of "Niobe' in the original production but she did not like the part. 'My comedy was a dismal failure' she said ' and you are quite at liberty to say so". Numerous other London and provincial engagements followed after which she returned to Drury Lane for the production of "the White Heather" one of the most successful melodramas produced in London for several years. It was while fulfilling that engagement that her services were secured for the present tour.

Mr Charles Thursby- Referee 20 April 1898

Mr Charles Thursby is one of the most promising young actors who has visited Australia for some considerable time. His portrayal of the Comte in 'A Marriage of Convenience'  was thoroughly artistic even tot he smallest detail and now he is doing equally good work in a totally dissimilar part , that of Brian Hollingwood in 'The Tree of Knowledge'. The young actor was educated at Halleybury College and was originally intended for the army , but abandoned that for his present calling. He had done a good deal of work as an amateur before finally taking to the stage as a profession. His first engagement was with Mr Ben Greets well known touring company followed by a provincial tour with miss Annie Hughes/ A long engagement with Miss Sarah Thorne followed. during which he played a round of parts with the greatest success. During this engagement his first attempt at playwrighting saw the light and a duologue entitled "Lady Di's Visit" was produced by Mr Thorne, the author appearing as Sir Harry Trevayne. Mr Thursby then appeared as Correze in 'Moths' after which he went to London to produce his one act play, "Broken Fetters" at the Matinee Theatre (St Georges Hall).

"It was immediately after this performance" said Mr Thursby, "that Mr Cartwright slapped me on the back with the remark "I'll take you to Australia with me as leading man." "Right you are" I replied "and it was settled."

"My favourite parts? I like character plays and it is my ambition to play Romeo. So far the Comte in "A Marriage of Convenience" is my favourite and I should like to add that Miss Edith Morley who appeared as the Comtesse is a most sympathetic actress. with whom it is quite a pleasure to play."

Before departing from London, Mr Cartwright was tendered a farewells upper at the Hotel Cecil when Mr Charles Wyndham who presided remarked at length upon the assistance which Mr Cartwright always gives to young actors. " I should like very much to pay a tribute to Mr Cartwright for any success which I might have attained in Australia has been entirely due to his kindness and assistance" said Mr Thursby in conclusion.

Mr Gregan McMahon-The New Zealand Illustrated Magazine- April 1903

Mr Gregan McMahon like many other actors, originally intended to devote himself to the bar. He graduated with honours in classics at the Sydney University and spent some time in the Faculty of Law at the same place, but the glamour of the footlights was upon him. He had been prominently connected with the University Dramatic Society and on the completion of his law course in 1900 he accepted an offer from Mr Brough and played with the company during the ensuring Australian tour, and then subsequently accompanied them to the Far East, appearing in the long line of comedies played by that best of companies. On returning to Australia in 1901, Mr Hawtrey secured Mr McMahon's services. by arrangement with Mr Brough, in place of Mr Herbert Ross. Since his connection with the Hawtrey company, Mr McMahon has played leading roles with increasing success , and has won a recognised place on the Colonial stage. His versatility , approximates to that of his chief, and in the matter of make up he is a veritable Proteus.

Mr G H Wood and Miss Marian Ainsworth-Referee 1898

Mr G H Wood "the somewhat different comedian" and Miss Marian Ainsworth are making their reappearances at the Tivoli. the comedian has paid us two previous visits. On th e first occasion he brought to these shores a minstrel company in conjunction with Billy Emmerson and subsequently returned and did a 6 months engagement with Mr Rickards. Mr Wood comes of a theatrical stock . as his people were all professionals. He has had experience on the "legitimate' but the greater proportion of his career has been absorbed in the variety business.

 Miss Ainsworth will be best remembered as "Ginger" the idol of the Tivoli gods, when she was one of the ballerinas." When I got to America " she said in the course of a chat with the "Referee" Mr Wood met me and wanted to marry me right away, but I said "No, just you wait two or three days. After the ceremony we went on a month's honeymoon. At the end of that time my husband said "Well my dear, it's time you were thinking of work'. We then went back to New York and I received instruction in dancing. My first appearance in America was made at Tony Pastor's Theatre New York and subsequently we toured the East.

"After finishing that we went to London and joined the Moore and Burgess Minstrels. Next we went back to America and appeared at the Roof Gardens in New York. " It was soon after that that Mr Wood negotiated with Mr Rickards for another season and here we are."

Miss Ainsworth expressed herself as being delighted at once again being in her native country.

Mr Harry Plimmer- The New Zealand Illustrated Magazine May 1903

Mr Harry Plimmer is a Maorilander of the third generation. He is a grandson of that excellent old colonist, Mr John Plimmer, a nonagenarian who claims to be the Father of Wellington. Young Harry, who was born in the Empire City just thirty four years ago, had a keen longing for the stage in his teens, and as an amateur attracted the notice of the veteran actor, Mr John Hall, familiarly known as "Johnny" Hall , who advised him to take to the profession seriously. The advice was accepted, and Mr Plimmer began his career with Miss Ada Ward , in Sydney in 1887, in a play called "Bright Hope". The title was delusive so far as the members of the company were concerned, as no salaries were forthcoming, and the young actor transferred his services to Mr H.C. Sidney and Miss Alice Norton, who were producing "The Mystery of the Hansom Cab' in the Sydney Royal Standard. Here again the prospects were not bright, and an up country tour with the Taylor-Carrington Company was eagerly jumped at. So far the progress made was slow and Mr Plimmer had hardly got rid of his amateurish hobbles, when his real chance came with Mr Bland Holt, a the old Alexandra (Now His Majesty's) Theatre Melbourne. A year with this fine organisation at Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide transformed the youngster and when he went with Mr Dampier for a six months season at the Sydney Royal , he had found his place. After the Dampier season , came a tour through New Zealand with Miss Myra Kemble; followed by a turn with Mr George Rignold in Sydney , and one with Mr Westmacott's Company, which was not so successful as it deserved to be. But Mr Plimmer at least, was in luck's way as he had the good fortune to step into the Brough and Boucicault Company. With this, the best comedy combination the Colonies have seen, Mr Plimmer did the grand tour of Australia, New Zealand and the Far East, playing the parts made memorable by Mr George Titheradge, in no less than sixteen plays. Here was a rich education indeed. On his return to Australia, Mr Plimmer accepted an engagement with Mr J C Williamson, and opened in "The SIlver King' as Wilfred Denver, in 1898. He remained with the company until eighteen months ago, when he resolved to take a trip to America, where he remained for eleven months , during which time he toured the whole of the States with the "La Tosca" Company under the management of Miss Davenport. He was back again in Australia in time to take up the leading roles in the "Sherlock Holmes" Company pending the arrival of Cuyler Hastings. As "Holmes" and as "Lewis Dumont' n "Secret Service" he appeared with distinction in Perth and Adelaide and amongst the kindliest of his critics is Mr Hastings himself, who joined the company professionally at Melbourne. Immediately after his Adelaide success , Mr Plimmer joined the company with which he is now touring this Colony. No other actor of his years knows more the of the inside of melodrama then he knows. WIlliamson, Holt, Dampier and Anderson. What names to conjure with! But Mr Plimmer also appeared with credit in Shakespeare with Mr Williamson and Mr Dampier, playing MacDuff to the last named Macbeth, and in romantic drama with Miss Nance O Neill, to say nothing of his achievements in the finest school of comedy. It is strange how the glamour of Anthony Hope holds the average actor. Mr Hawtrey's favourite part is Colonel Sapt in "the Prisoner of Zenda" and Mr Pllimmers first affection is for the role of "Rassendyl" in the same play. In melodrama he invariably impersonates the persecuted hero. During the  Rignold season Mr Plimmer was married to Miss Josephine Thynne, who accompanies him as a member of the Anderson Company. Miss Thynne will be remembered as "Stephanus" in the "Sign of the Cross" and in the name part in "Oliver Twist" with Miss Nance O Neill.

Rose Hamilton- The Referee Wednesday March 5 1902

Miss Rose Hamilton, the "Aladdin" principal boy, commenced her stage career as a young girl twelve years ago and since that time has appeared in eight pantomimes. These were at Sheffield (3) Liverpool, Belfast, London (2) and Glasgow. In the Liverpool production Miss Hamilton was second boy, the principal boy being the Hon Mrs Dunscombe, one of the sisters Leamar. Miss Hamilton who has gained many admirers here by her clever work does a season at the London Syndicate Halls after her Australian engagement with Mr Musgrove.

Mr John Bennetts Death in Sydney- Famous Old manager's Career- Referee 1914

Upon a quiet climax, peaceful and serene after weeks of suffering the great final curtain of death descended upon the drama of the veteran manager Mr John Bennett at his Sydney home last Sunday morning. As he had lived-kindly patient and cheerful-this fine old patriarch of the Australian Theatre crossed the Great Divide from which there is no returning to enjoy in the ineffable peace of eternity that perfect rest which he had so well and truly earned  during his long and faithful service in this workaday world of ours.

Mr Bennetts career as a manager was an illustrious one and around his name in theatrical history cluster those famous stars of the early 60s  and 70s many of whom have long preceded him to that last final performance on the stage of life for which there is no rehearsing. From 1866 to 1885 he honourably conducted his business under the trying conditions of those early days and it was in a large measure to his efforts that the foundations of the modern Australian stage were laid. At the outset of his career he built several theatres in various places including one at Lamplough at Talbot, at Inglewood at Newcastle where he opened the Victoria Theatre with a California actress and the Thames Theatre New Zealand the first performance in which was given by Mrs Robert Heir and Miss Rose Evans. Mrs Robert Heir was a sister of J F Cathcart both artists having come to Australia with Mr and Mrs Charles Kean Later he opened the Talbot and Inglewood theatres with Gustavus Brooke and Avonla Jones.

In Sydney from 1871 Mr Bennett ran the Victoria Theatre that occupied the ground in which the premises of Hordern Bros now stand in Pitt Street. IN 1875 he introduced to Australian audiences the famous Madame Ristori and her fine Italian company of which Signor Majeroni was leading man. Amongst the long list of great players who appeared under his banner were Miss Anna Bishop Arabella Goddard, Joseph Jefferson, Bland Holt, Horace and ALice Creswick Rose Hersee, Julia Matthews and Amy Sherwin. Mr Bennett was a fine old gentleman and sportsman and his prowess as a swimmer was well known , During his life he saved no fewer than twenty four persons from drowning at various times. He was publicly presented with both the gold bronze medals of the Royal Humane Society by Lady Robinson, wife of the Governor of the State and in 1874 on a stormy night he jumped from a ferry boat with all his clothes on and saved the life of Alexander Reeve.


The Career of Vaude and Verne-Referee 1914

Clever Australian Patter artists

Whenever my critical duties take me to the Sydney Tivoli- at least once a week generally more- I always wait to see the number on the programme against which appears the title

'Vaude and Verne'. I suppose if I have seen these 'patteringists' once I have seen them nearly a hundred times, yet still I linger to hear them once again.. Why? Simply because their work is so refreshingly spontaneous, their patter so original and fresh and their methods so sharp and incisive that I never grow tired of it. One can never tell at what moment some totally new gag will be sprung with the suddenness of a Mc Goorty left hook and in consequence their advent on the stage is greeted with a feeling of amused expectation.

Vaude is not Australian born, but came to this country as a boy. Before facing the footlights he was an auctioneer in West Australia, afterwards taking to the vaudeville stage. A short spell of moving picture touring followed but he landed in Broken Hill and there met Charlie Verde an Australian born artist. A combination of forces followed and since then they have been together.

FOr the last five years they have been on the Rickards circuit and when Mr McIntosh took over the Tivoli circuit theirs was the first Australian act he engaged by contract first for 52 weeks with an option of another 52 weeks at an increased salary. They are now starting upon a third contract at a further increase of salary. In view of the clever work these two local performers have always given the public it is to be hoped that they will  be called upon to sign their names to many more documents of the same character- W

Henry E White- Greatest theatrical architect. Australia's Foremost builder

From Australian Variety January 19 1916

The remodelled Adelphi Theatre in this city is beyond a doubt Australia's finest show house at the present moment and when one takes into consideration the fact that this has been accomplished in the marvellously short space of six weeks it becomes a very proud achievement indeed. There is only one man in this country, however, today who is capable of such a wonderful task and that is Mr Henry E White, NZIA, who is justly regarded as Australasia's only and most distinguished theatrical architect. What he has done along that line in New Zealand for the Fuller's vaudeville firm is too well known to necessitate enumeration, suffice it to say that the edifices he has erected for them in the Dominion will for ever constitute monuments to his genius and skill.

In this country he has built for the Tivoli Theatres LTD, the incomparably beautiful Tivoli Theatre at Brisbane, the first playhouse in the Southern Hemisphere boasting of a roof garden which even New York and Paris could not equal for poetic beauty and classical purity of its architectural design. The same city holds also the fine Majestic and splendid Strand Theatres built to the order of Messrs E J and Dan Carroll and Senora Spencer respectively while Ipswich can lay claim now to possessing the finest theatrical building outside of any of the metropolitan areas.

Mr White is only a young man and he combines with the genius of a born architectural artist the rare talent of administrative execution and supervision and it is only fair to predict that the next decade will see him erect throughout the length and breadth of  Australasia new edifices that will be second to none in Europe and America in splendour of design and faultlessness of construction.



More biographies

Article index