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.

The third postcard features Lily Elsie clutching a bouquet of flowers and glancing sideways at the photographer. She looks absolutely beautiful. She is wearing a fancy beaded dress and a bracelet. She stands in front of a window. This photograph, like the second postcard’s photo, was taken by the Foulsham & Banfield studio. The portrait postcard was published by Rotary Photo and is part of a series (11840 F). The postcard was printed in Britain.

                                              

                                                       Wedding Photo (1911)

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TWO PORTRAITS OF BEAUTIFUL BRITISH ACTRESS/SINGER: WINIFRED BARNES (PHOTOS BY RITA MARTIN)

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These vintage real photo postcards feature British actress Winifred Barnes. She is absolutely beautiful and photographer, Rita Martin did a fine job of capturing both her beauty and personality in these photographs. It is not surprising that Rita Martin produced such fine photo postcards. Miss Martin was well known for her expertise in taking portraits of theater stars and other celebrities. Other images by Rita Martin can be seen by clicking on the Cabinet Card Gallery’s category “Photographer: Rita Martin”. Barnes made her theatrical debut in a minor role in “Our Miss Gibbs” at the Gaiety Theater in 1909. Great Britain’s National Portrait Gallery has ten portraits of Winifred Barnes including one by Rita Martin. Her obituary appears in the New York Times (1935). The article describes her as a former chorus girl who became a star. She was one of George Edwardes’s leading actresses. Edwardes (1855-1915) was an English theatre manager and producer who received much credit for his contribution to British musical theatre. Many of Barnes’s major roles occurred during the first World War. She scored a huge success in the production of “Betty” (1915) at Daly’s Theatre. After her 1924 marriage to barrister, Roy Faulkner, she became a successful poultry farmer. She also became widely known for her cooking expertise. Both of these photo postcards were produced by Rotary Photo of London. The two postcards are part of a series (A. 1123-1) and (11867 A).

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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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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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BEAUTIFUL BUT NOT SO TALENTED THEATER ACTRESS: NORA KERIN

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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. 

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REVERSE OF TOP POSTCARD

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                                                                                                                                                            by Rita Martin, sepia-toned matte postcard print, 1900s

 PORTRAIT OF RITA MARTIN BY RITA MARTIN