BEAUTIFUL STAGE ACTRESS JOHAN WITTMAN (PUBLICITY PHOTO)

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Beautiful stage actress Johan Wittman posed for this publicity photograph for her appearance  in “The Perfect Fool”, a play that appeared at the George M. Cohan Theatre” in New York City (Broadway). Ed Wynn provided the book, lyrics, and music. The revue played in 1921 and 1922 and ran for 275 performances. Miss Wittman looks elegant in her “to the floor” beaded dress. The previous owner of this photograph hypothesized that the dress was modeled after a peacock feather. I agree with his observation. Miss Wittman is holding a feather fan behind her head. She truly is representative of the flapper era. According to Broadwayworld.com, Miss Wittman’s Broadway experience was confined to her role in “The Perfect Fool”. The photographer of this lovely portrait was Ira Daniel Schwarz (1878-1946) who was based on West 48th Street in New York City. Schwarz was a Brooklynite and one of the first New York portrait artists to work in the movie industry. He began his career as a pictorialist art photographer and during World War I he went to work for Screencraft Pictures (located in New York) as Cinematographer and Stillman. He displayed a lot of talent as a Stillman and in 1919 became the chief portrait photographer for the company. The website “Broadway Photographs” reports that Schwarz was fascinated with shade and that his images were often recognized for their “plummy blacks”. In 1924 he left Photocraft and established his own studio. In regard to his skill as a portrait photographer “Broadway Photographs” assert that Schwarz was considered “a photographic psychologist” by his colleagues because he was excellent at “capturing the mentality of his sitter”. During World War II he closed his studio due to the silver shortage.

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PORTRAIT OF LILY ELSIE: BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED STAGE ACTRESS (VINTAGE RPPC)

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This vintage real photo postcard features celebrated stage actress Miss Lily Elsie (1886-1962). At the time of her portrait sitting for this image, Miss Elsie was also known as “Mrs. Ian Bullugh”. More about that later. Lily Elsie was a very popular English actress and singer. She was most known for her starring role in the London production of “The Merry Widow (1907)”. The show ran for 778 performances. A critic for The Pelican (1907) wrote that “the youthfulness, the dainty charm and grace, the prettiness and the exquisite dancing with which Miss Elsie invests the part…. I share the opinion of most of the first-nighters, who considered it could not have been in better hands, and could not have been better handled…. The night was a genuine triumph for Miss Elsie, and she well deserved all the calls she received”. She began as a child actress and before her big break had appeared in a number of Edwardian musical comedies. She was charming and beautiful and became one of the most photographed actresses of her time. Lily Elsie’s dad was a theater worker and her aunt was well known actress Ada Reeve. Shortly after the turn of the century she joined George Edwardes’ company at the Daly Theater. Some of her early appearances included “A Chinese Honeymoon”, “Lady Madcap”, “The Little Michus (1905)”. In the years between 1900 and 1906 she appeared in 14 shows. After the “Merry Widow” she appeared in  26 more shows including “The Dollar Princess” (1909) and “A Waltz Dream” (1911). She clearly was an actress who was in demand. Men paid her much attention but apparently she did not enjoy the attention. Lucile, her costume designer for “The Merry Widow” stated that Elsie was “absolutely indifferent to men and had once said that she disliked “the male character”. She added that men would only behave well if a woman “treated them coldly”. Now, some words about her marriage. In 1911 she he left the cast of a play in which she was performing to marry Major John Ian Bullough (1885–1936). Major Bullough was the son of a wealthy textile manufacturer. He was formerly married to actress Maude Darrell who only survived one year after their 1909 marriage. The marriage between Elsie and Bullough was reported to be very unhappy. Elsie’s health began to deteriorate and her husband pressured her to quit the stage and she was ready to do so. She returned to the stage during the war years (World War I) and was active in fund raising for the war effort. She next took a ten year break from the stage only to return once again. Her final performance took place in the Daly Theater in the play “The Truth Game” (1929). In addition to her theater career, Elsie made recordings, and appeared in two films, including D. W. Griffith’s “The Great Love” (1918). Also appearing in that film was Lillian Gish. In 1930 Elsie’s marriage ended in divorce. Her health began to deteriorate more and she developed hypochondriasis causing her to spend much time in nursing homes and sanitariums. Due to her psychological problems she had brain surgery. Her final years were spent at St. Andrews hospital in London. This postcard is part of a series (Arcadian no. A 26). The photographer of this image of this beautiful actress is the well known celebrity photographer, Rita Martin. She was considered one of the best British photographers of her time. She opened her studio in 1906. Martin’s sister, Lallie Charles was an esteemed society photographer. Many of Rita’s photographs can be found in the National Portrait Gallery. To view more photographs by Rita Martin in the cabinet card gallery, click on the category “Photographer: Martin”.

The second postcard of Miss Elsie provides a terrific close-up photograph of the beautiful Miss Elsie. She is wearing a dark jacket, a frilly high collared blouse and a ribbon bow tie. Her accessories include a long necklace, a pin low on her blouse, and a corsage. The postcard is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 4159 J) published by Rotary Photo. The photograph was taken by the Foulsham & Banfield Studio. Foulsham & Banfield were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio in the 1900’s through the 1920’s.

                                              

                                                       Wedding Photo (1911)

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MISS JOSE COLLINS: BEAUTIFUL STAGE AND FILM STAR (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARDS)

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The pretty woman featured in this vintage real photo postcard is Miss Jose Collins (1887-1958). The name “Jose” was a shortening of her given name “Josephine”. She was an English actress and singer known for her appearances in musical comedies and early movies. She was born in London. Her mother was a music hall performer and comedian named Lottie Collins. Interestingly, she was the singer who popularized the song “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay”. Jose Collins father was Stephen Patrick Cooney, her mother’s music coach. Collins began as a child actress and as a teenager had already appeared in both pantomine and music hall performances as a singer and actress. Her debut performance in the West End was a major role in “The Antelope” (1908). She also appeared on Broadway  in the production of “Vera Violetta (1911), “The Merry Countess (1912), “The Whirl of Society” (1912), and other shows. In the later production, she sang a duet with Al Jolson. She also appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies (1913). In 1917 she appeared in the hit musical “The Maid of the Mountains”, a role for which she received much acclaim. She actually earned a nickname from the show; she was known as “The Maid of the Mountains”. She appeared in a number of shows through 1925. One of these productions was “A Southern Maid”  (at Daly’s Theatre) and this postcard portrait captures her in that role. The show was an operetta and her costar was Bertram Wallis. The production ran for 306 performances. The remainder of her career was spent acting in revues, variety and non-musical roles. She also appeared in films. The IMDB reports that she appeared in thirteen movies between 1915 and 1933. Miss Collins was married three times and these unions produced no children. The link below will take you to a Ziegfeld Follies performance by Jose Collins. She is singing “Just You and I and the Moon” (1913). This postcard was published by J. Beagles & Co. of London, England. The postcard is part of a series (no. 222 U). The photograph of Miss Collins is by Reville Studios.

The second vintage real photo postcard presents Miss Collins in a relatively short frilly dress. She looks very pretty as she flashes a nice smile. The postcard was produced by Rotary Photo and is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 4004 D)

 

 

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ENGLISH STAGE ACTRESS: MISS MILLIE LINDEN

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This vintage real photo postcard features English stage actress Miss Millie Linden. The actress was a popular photo postcard model judging by the number of postcards that display her portrait. However, research yielded little information about her. The New York Times (1907) reported that she had a supporting role in a show opening at the Colonial Theatre. The newspaper described Miss Linden as “an English singer who makes her debut in this country in songs”. This postcard was published by the Philco Publishing Company of London, England. Philco published postcards between 1905 and 1934. The postcard is part of the Philco Series (no. 3161 D). The postcard has a 1907 postmark from Folkestone which is a port town on the English Channel in Kent, England.

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Published in: on November 19, 2016 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

MEET THE VOKES FAMILY: JESSIE, VICTORIA, AND ROSINA VOKES WERE TALENTED SISTERS OF THE BRITISH STAGE

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The top photograph in this grouping features stage actress Rosina Vokes (1854-1894). She was the daughter of a London costumer. She came to America with her two older siblings and Fawdon Vokes to make a career in the theatre. Interestingly, Fawdon Vokes was not a member of the Vokes family. His name was actually Walter Fawdon, but the name change was necessary for him to join the family troupe. The group made their New York debut in 1872 in “The Belles of the Kitchen“. They played in a number of shows over time and from the beginning, Rosina was considered “infinitely the cleverest, the most bewitching” of the group. When she reappeared in America in 1885 with her own company, she was warmly welcomed. One paper wrote “she is still young, agile, slender and graceful; the piquant prettiness of her face and the droll charm of her manner still exert a strong influence on the susceptible spectator”. She toured with made-to-order productions, until shortly before her early death, at about, forty years of age. The New York Times (1893) published an article entitled “Rosina Voke’s Serious Illness: It Deprives the Anglo-American Stage of One of its Brightest Ornaments”. The article favorably compares her to her other acting family members and reveals that Vokes had embarked on a voyage from America to England whose purpose was to allow her to die in her home country. The young actress was terminally ill with consumption (pulmonary disease). Judging by the content of the many obituaries that appeared in American newspapers after Rosina Vokes succumbed to her illness, the actress was a well respected and loved performer of the American stage. It is important to note that the Vokes theatrical family included a brother named Fred Vokes (1846-1888). He was an actor and a dancer. This cabinet card comes from the studio of famed celebrity photographer, Napoleon Sarony. To view other photographs by Sarony, click on Cabinet Card Gallery’s category, “Photographer: Sarony”.

The second photograph captures Rosina and her two sisters posing for an unidentified photographer. The sisters have been identified as Jessie (1851=1884) and Victoria (1853-1894). The reverse of the photograph indicates that the image was formerly part of the “Harold Seton Collection”. Who is Harold Seton? Research reveals that Harold Seton was best known for his work as a journalist, author and collector. He wrote about theatre and society in his column, Theatre Thoughts”, which appeared in Theatre Magazine. He accumulated over ten thousand theatrical photographs of actors and actresses who performed between 1870 and 1900. He donated some of his collection to the New York Historical Society and some are  located at the Wake Forest University library, as well as a number of other institutions. A Harold Seton was a theatre actor who performed in eight plays between 1919 and 1935. Although I doubt that the two Harold Setons’ are the same men; no evidence could be found to determine if they were one and the same man.

The third image in this group is a carte de visite portrait of Victoria Vokes. The photograph was taken at the Broadway studio of Napoleon Sarony. Victoria was born in London and began her career at the Royal Surrey Theatre at just two years of age. Over time she played a variety of children’s roles in London theatres. In 1861 she appeared with her brothers and sisters at the Operetta House in Edinburgh as one of the “Vokes Children” (later changed to “The Vokes Family”. Victoria earned her early popularity with her voice but soon she was gathering acclaim via her acting. Her performance in “Amy Robsart” (1871) at Drury Lane Theatre is an example of one of her excellent exhibitions on stage. “The Cornell Daily Sun” (1890) wrote about an appearance by Victoria Vokes and her Company. The reviewer asserted that “Few actresses have appeared in Montreal whose genius is so versatile as that of Miss Yokes. She sings with a fine contralto of great power, dances like zephyr and acts in comedy — well, like one of the Yokes”.

MISS GERTIE MILLAR: BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED BRITISH STAGE ACTRESS

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This vintage real photo postcard features beautiful English actress and singer Gertrude (Gertie) Millar (1879-1952). She was well known for her performances in Edwardian musical comedies. She began acting as a child (age 13) and was a well known star of musical comedies for two decades. Her first husband, Lionel Monckton, was the composer of many of her shows and songs. Monckton died in 1924 and Millar later married the 2nd Earl of Dudley, making her the Countess of Dudley. Some of Millar’s earlier appearances involved roles in “A Game of Cards” (1897), “Cinderella” (1899), “The Messenger Boy” (1900), and “The Toreador” (1901) at the Gaiety Theatre. By this time some of the songs she performedad become big hits. Gertie Millar was quite beautiful and was one of the most photographed women of the Edwardian period. Evidence of her popularity is the fact that there are 88 photographs of Miss Millar in England’s National Portrait Gallery. Many of these images appeared on postcards which became a popular collectors item.Gertie Millar was tall, thin and attractive with dark hair and large and very clear eyes. In addition she has been described as tough, determined and ambitious. Miss Millar appeared in many theatrical productions as the twentieth century progressed. In fact, between 1901 and 1910 Millar was the leading star of the Gaiety Theatre. Millar’s appearances included “The Orchid” (1903), “The Girls of Gottenberg” (1907), and “Our Miss Gibbs” (1909), “Gipsy Love” (1912). Gertie Millar went to the United States to star in the “Girls of Gottenberg” (1908) on Broadway. In 1914 she appeared in a film entitled “The House of Bondage”. After appearing in a number of less successful theatrical productions, Gertie Millar left the stage in 1918. Her husband died in 1924 and two months later she married the 2nd Earl of Dudley. The speed at which she remarried may reflect the unhappy state of her relationship with Mr. Monckton. The website “Stage Beauty” informs us that this theatrical couple had problems for many years. In fact the couple had unfortunate theatrics in their personal life. Mr Monckton was a jealous man and Miss Millar was a woman who attracted lots of male attention. This was a bad combination. A major dramatic incident occurred in  1905 when a young German nobleman who was infatuated with Gertie, broke into her marital residence and committed suicide by shooting himself in the head  at her dressing table. Gertie denied any involvement with the obsessed man but her husband refused to believe her denial. In 1910 her romantic life was in the news again because of speculation about her involvement with the Duke of Westminister. This publicity was considered a major cause of the Duke’s estrangement from his wife. This postcard portrait was taken by celebrity photographer, Rita Martin. She is considered one of the best British photographers of her time. Rita had a specialty in photographing actresses. Her sister was celebrated society photographer Lallie Charles. To learn more about Rita Martin and to view more of her photographs, click on the category “Photographer: Rita Martin”. This postcard portrait is part of the “Lilywhite Series” (no. L 22). The postcard has a postmark from Shipley, England (1918) and is addressed to someone in Penrith, England. The postcard has an interesting message which includes the following first line; “Hope you have not got this one (postcard) of Gertie …..”. Click on the you tube video below to hear Gertie Millar sing “Moonstruck” from the musical comedy “Our Miss Gibbs” (1909).

 

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JOAN OF ARC: READY FOR BATTLE (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This vintage real photo postcard features a pretty actress portraying “Joan of Arc”. She is wearing armor, and holding a flag in one hand and a shield in the other. Her medieval costume includes breastplates and a helmet. She has a sword hanging at her side and is wearing boots that almost look “space age”. Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was nick named “The Maid of Orleans” and is a heroine of France for her role in the Hundred Years’ War. She was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. After being captured, she was tried and burned at the stake. The life of Joan of Arc became a popular subject in literature, theater, and film. Even Mark Twain wrote about her in the novel “Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896) as did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in “The Mystery of Joan of Arc” (1924).

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PORTRAIT OF ACTRESS MISS ETHEL ERSKINE APPEARING IN “GIPSY LOVE” (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

 

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This vintage real photo postcard features theater actress Miss Ethel Erskine as she appeared in the role of Ilona in the production of “Gipsy Love”. Miss Erskine was a beautiful woman with dazzling and engaging eyes. Preliminary research discovered little about her biographical history. However, some information was found about the production of “Gipsy Love”. The show was a romantic operetta in three acts. The production played at the Carltheater in Vienna (1910), the Globe Theatre on Broadway (1911), and Daly’s Theatre in London (1912). This postcard was printed in Britain and produced by Rotary Photo as part of a series (11476 D).

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“LITTLE MAY SABRINI”: PORTRAIT OF A CHILD ACTRESS IN ESCANABA, MICHIGAN

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This cabinet card portrait features a poised little girl posing behind a chair. She appears to be wearing a costume and is standing on a prop to gain some extra height. She appears to be an actress and an inscription on the reverse of the photograph supports that hypotheses. The inscription states “Little May Sabrini as Eva” and lists the girl’s age as 7 years old. The Stewart & Lokke (Oscar) studio produced this photograph and The Directory of Early Michigan Photographers lists the pair as conducting their photography business in Escanaba in 1890. The town of Escanaba was involved in some pretty interesting protective business practices focused on helping local photographers. The Bulletin of Photography (1913) reports on an interesting law passed by the city council in Escanaba. The politicians decided to charge itinerant photographers for coming to town and conducting business. Traveling photographers who took pictures in the town’s street were charged 1 dollar for their first days work and fifty cents each day thereafter. Photographers who used tents or temporary quarters were charged two dollars for the first day and a dollar for each successive day. If a traveling photographer used flash photography, a fee of five dollars for the first day and two dollars for each day thereafter was required. Any photographer that did not comply with the law would be subject to at least a hundred dollar fine or up to sixty days in the county jail. I wonder what it cost the local photographers to encourage city council to pass such an unfair trade law to discourage visits from itinerant photographers.

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Published in: on October 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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BEAUTIFUL STAGE ACTRESS: JULIA JAMES

julia-jamesThis vintage real photo postcard features Julia James (1890-1964), a beautiful stage actress. She sat in 76 portraits that are part of England’s National Portrait Gallery. She is considered by one theatrical writer to be among the top fifteen most beautiful actresses of the 1900’s Edwardian era. She was born in London, England and began her career as a chorus girl at the Aldwych Theatre under Seymour Hicks. She played in “Blue Belle” in 1905. She appeared in productions at the Gaiety Theatre. These plays included “The Girls of Gottenburg”, “Havana”, and  “Our Miss Gibbs”. She performed in Paris in “The Arcadians” (1913). This “Rotophot” postcard was printed in Berlin, Germany. It was published by Giesen Brothers of London. It is postmarked in Cathorpe in 1907. The village is located beside the Avon River in Leicestershire, England. The postcard is part of a series (no. 0858). The photographer of this image is the fabulous celebrity photographer, Rita Martin. She is considered one of the best British photographers of her time.Her studio was in an exclusive neighborhood  She was born Margareta Weir Martin in Ireland.  Margareta “Rita” Martin started her career in photography in 1897 by assisting her elder sister Lallie Charles in running her studio. In 1906 Rita opened her own studio.  Rita had a specialty in photographing actresses including Lily Elsie and Lily Brayton. She was also well known for her child studies which often involved children of well known actresses. Lily’s sister, Lallie Charles was more known as an excellent society photographer.

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