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

vokes

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

millar

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).

 

millar-1

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

joan-of-arc

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).

joan-of-arc-2

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

 

pretty-actress-4

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).

pretty-actress-2

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

escanaba

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.

escanaba-1

Published in: on October 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

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.

julia-james-1

BEAUTIFUL STAGE ACTRESS DENISE ORME (THREE VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARDS)

orme

orme 2

orme-2

The top vintage real photo postcard features stage actress Miss Denise Orme. She is very attractive and beautifully dressed. She is wearing a fur stole and and fur muffs. She has a lovely hat and wonderful smile. Miss Orme’s given name was Jessie Smither, and was later known as Duchess of Leinster. Denise Orme (1885-1960) was an English music hall singer, actress and musician who was a regular performeer at the Alhambra and Gaiety Theatres in London during the early years of the twentieth century. Her mother was a professor of music. She trained for her theatrical career at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music. Her stage debut was in 1906 in the chorus at Daly’s Theatre in London. Later that same year she appeared in the title role of “See See” at the Prince of Wales Theatre. In 1906 she participated in gramophone recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”. Her marital history reveals that she had a predilection to choosing husbands that were “rich and famous”. She was married to an English Baron, A Danish millionaire, and an Irish duke. She was the maternal grandmother of Aga Khan IV.who is the current Imam of Nizari Ismailism which is a denomination of of Ismailism within Shia Islam with 15 million adherents. He is also a British business magnate. Miss Orme’s photographic portrait was taken by the Foulsham and 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. The postcard was published by Rotary Photo and is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (#4098 Q). The postcard has a postmark from London, England, and dated 1907. The postmark date reveals that this portrait of Miss Orme was taken at the beginning of her stage career. In the message section of the postcard, the sender asks the receiver, “What do you think of Denise?”. In addition, the sender asserts on the front of the postcard “Nice hat, isn’t it?”. I have to agree; not only is Miss Orme lovely, so is her hat…….  The second postcard shows the beautiful and well dressed Miss Orme peeking out from behind a curtain. The photographer is Alexander Bassano (1829-1913) who was a leading royal and high society photographer located in London. This postcard, like the first was published by Rotary Photo and is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 1933 I)……. The third photo postcard portrait of Miss Orme presents a close-up profile view of this stunningly pretty young actress. Like the first two photo postcards, this one is also published by the Rotary Photo company and is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 4098 M). The photograph was taken by “Play Pictorial” which was an English theatre magazine published in London between 1902 and 1939. The publication provided a pictorial presentation of West End theatrical productions with each issue focusing on just one play.

orme 2

REVERSE OF FIRST POSTCARD

orme 2 1

REVERSE OF SECOND POSTCARD

orme-1

REVERSE OF THIRD POSTCARD

MARIE WAINWRIGHT: PORTRAIT OF A THEATRE ACTRESS (PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARONY)

 

wainwright

These cabinet cards feature Marie Wainwright (1853-1923), an American stage actress and singer. She also appeared in three silent films between 1918  and 1920. Most of her fame came from the Victorian stage. She was born in Philadelphia and as educated in Paris, France. She received her acting training in Paris. Her first stage appearance was in New York in “Romeo and Juliette (1877)”. Her career flourished afterward. She spent many years in the Boston Museum company and later on, operated her own theatre company. During her career, she was the leading lady for Edwin Booth, Lawrence Barrett, and other well known actors. She appeared primarily in classics and high dramas until the turn of the century. She then appeared in more contemporary productions. Her resume includes roles in “H. M. S. Pinafore” and “Diplomacy”. When asked why she entered the acting profession, in a New York Times interview (1878), she stated that she did it for her children’s sake. Wainwright claimed that she was married before the age of fifteen, and had three kids before she turned twenty-one years of age. She stated that her husband was not supporting her and the children, and she needed to work for financial reasons. It appears that the breakup of Wainwright’s marriage was a hot news item. The marital conflict was quite dramatic and there were some questions about Ms. Wainwright’s character. The top  photographic portrait is by Sarony’s New York City  studio. Sarony was a famous celebrity photographer and other examples of his work can be seen by clicking on the category labelled “Photographer: Sarony”. This image shows Wainwright wearing a white gown and bonnet. She is holding a book and rosary beads.

The second cabinet card was also photographed by Sarony. Miss Wainwright certainly was a pretty woman. The reverse of the cabinet card has an inscription describing some aspects of her career. There is also a stamp from a photographic supply dealer on the photo’s reverse. The dealer is C. E. Hopkins whose business was located in Brooklyn, New York. Mr Hopkins was an excellent self promoter as illustrated by mention of his name and business in several photographic journals of his time. For example, “Photographic Times” (1890) recounts that one of Mr Hopkins’s amateur customers produced a series of photographs pertaining to a duel, that Mr Hopkins had shared with the publication. It is likely that this cabinet card portrait of Miss Wainwright once could be found “for sale” in C. E. Hopkins’s shop.

wainwright-1

PRETTY STAGE ACTRESS: MISS DOROTHY CHARD (1909 REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

actress

This vintage real photo postcard features Edwardian theater actress Miss Dorothy Chard. Preliminary research yielded little information about her life and her career. More intensive research is required to uncover biographical information. The Internet Broadway Data Base (IBDB) notes that Miss Chard appeared in eleven Broadway shows from 1926 through 1930. She played in musicals but she primarily appeared in comedies. Among her credits are “Merry-Go-Round” (1927) and “Cinderelative” (1930). The dearth of information about Miss Chard reveals that she certainly was not a leading actress of her time but she certainly was beautiful and well known enough to merit the publishing of a photo postcard by the Rotary Postcard company. This postcard was part of the Rotary Photographic series (no. 4353 A). The photograph of Dorothy Chard appearing on this postcard was taken by the Foulsham & Banfield Studio.The pair were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio from the 1900’s through the 1920’s. The postcard is postmarked 1909 from Edinburg, Scotland. Edinburg is Scotland’s capital city. The content of the message on this postcard mentions “fresh cards” referring to newly released photo postcards. Collecting such cards was a popular hobby during this era. I guess this hobby was a precursor to collecting pokemon. I prefer collecting photo portraits. Call me “old school”.

actress-1

BEAUTIFUL BUT NOT SO TALENTED THEATER ACTRESS: NORA KERIN

kerin 10

kerin

kerin

The top vintage real photo postcard features actress Miss Nora Kerin (1883-1970) as she appeared in the theatrical production of “The Prince and the Beggar Maid”. The actress is absolutely beautiful as is her costume. The play opened at the Lyceum in June of  1908 and ran for 82 performances. Miss Kerin played Princess Monica. The actress was born in London and her family was chock full of actresses including sister, Eileen Kerin and cousing Julia Neilson, Lily Hanbury, and Hilda Hanbury. Photographs of Miss Neilson and Mis Lily Hanbury can be found elsewhere in the Cabinet Card Gallery. Nora Kerin made her stage debut in 1899. In conducting my preliminary research about Nora Kerin, I was struck by the number of negative reviews of her acting that I encountered. One review concerned her performance as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet”. The production was at the Lyceum Theater in 1908 and the review appeared in London’s “Daily Mail”.  The reviewer wrote “‘Oh, Juliet. Juliet, wherefore art thou Juliet?’ This is, of course, an inversion and a parody; but, seriously, the Juliet of Miss Nora Kerin cannot be taken so. She declaims in the conventional old-fashioned style. She somehow destroys – on the stage – her own personality, and instead of looking the pink of charm and youth (as she is when “taking a call”) she manages to conceal both. Many of her lines were badly spoken, falsely intonated and punctuated. She had moments … melodramatic outbursts … but she is not the personality … she has not the witching simplicity of the real Juliet”. Clearly, Miss Kerin was not a luminary actress of her time. However, she was quite pretty and fifteen portraits of her can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery. The photographer of this postcard image was Rita Martin, a celebrated female photographer. She is considered one of the best British photographers of her time.Her studio was in an exclusive neighborhood at  at 74 Baker Street, Marylebone. 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. She had a style of photographing subjects in pale colors against a pure white background and she tended to avoid photographing men and older boys.  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. Many of Rita Martin’s photographs can be found in the National Portrait Gallery. A photograph of Rita Martin, by Rita Martin can be seen below. This vintage real photo postcard was produced by the Rotary Photo Company and was part of a series (no. 1796 Z).                                                                                                                 The second postcard portrait of Miss Kerin is also a good representation of her beauty. In addition she is wearing a beautiful lace dress and an extraordinary hat. The photographers of this terrific image, Foulsham & Banfield were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio in the 1900’s through the 1920’s. This postcard is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 1796 H) and is of English origin and is postmarked 1907.                                                                                                        The third postcard features Nora Kerin in her role as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet”. Unlike the first two portraits, in this image she is wering her hair down and is projecting an air of innocence through the placement of her hands and her vulnerable expression. Just like the top postcard, this image was photographed by Rita Martin and the postcard was part of the Rotary Photographic Series (1796 S) by the Rotary Photo Company. 

kerin 11

REVERSE OF TOP POSTCARD

kerin 2REVERSE OF SECOND POSTCARD
                                                                                                                                                            by Rita Martin, sepia-toned matte postcard print, 1900s

 PORTRAIT OF RITA MARTIN BY RITA MARTIN