Tag Archives: vaudeville

Vaudeville – Documenting John A. Kelly Ventriloquist — Like Father Like Son

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Vaudeville – Documenting John A. Kelly Ventriloquist — Like Father Like Son
CLIPPED FROM
The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
17 Feb 1909, Wed  •  Page 1
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The Winnipeg Tribune
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
01 Sep 1926, Wed  •  Page 5
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The Times
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
21 Apr 1911, Fri  •  Page 1

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The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
13 Apr 1912, Sat  •  Page 5
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The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
03 Mar 1909, Wed  •  Page 1
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The Brantford Daily Expositor
Brantford, Ontario, Canada
19 May 1910, Thu  •  Page 2

Although extremely popular the night J.H. Anderson died, his name was everywhere as he had performed that night at J. H. Anderson’s the public hallhe had just performed in.

CLIPPED FROMThe Weekly British WhigKingston, Ontario, Canada31 Dec 1908, Thu  •  Page 1

CLIPPED FROMThe Weekly British WhigKingston, Ontario, Canada31 Dec 1908, Thu  •  Page 1


Born in York, Ontario, Canada on 23 Apr 1896 to John Alexander Kelly and Matilda Ostrom. Nelson Alfred Arthur Kelly had 4 children. He passed away on 11 Apr 1958 in Toronto, York, Ontario.

HIS SON


Most families have historic photographs of their ancestors either in albums, frames or stored in boxes. Some photographs are more striking than others. Take for example our latest digital donation – images of Nelson A Kelly and his collection of puppets! From- CLICK HERE


Nelson was born in 1896 in Toronto and grew up there attending Dewson St. School. He serve in WW1 as a member of the 48th Highlanders. Mr Kelly learned the art of ventriloquism from his father John A. Kelly.  He had a large collections of puppets of all types and sizes and enjoyed rebuilding damaged puppets in his workshop. He was generous in entertaining friends and organizations. Kelly often entertained at Post 59, Canadian Legion where he was a member and president.  He also was a member of the Hat and Rabbit Club in Toronto. These photographs are dated by the family around 1955. Mr. Kelly died in 1958 at the age of 62.

CHPF thanks the Reusch family for this colourful addition to the Foundation. Our archivists encourage that historic photographs such as these be kept in a cool, dry space, away from direct sunlight. Ideally it is best to remove them from albums with glue or smelly plastic as these can damage delicate photographs over time. As always if you are ever unsure of how to preserve your historic images bring them in or contact us. We are happy to help! from- CLICK HERE

also read-

Mrs. Jarley’s Wax Works -Creepy Entertainment

Hocus Pocus —Untangling The Sutherland Sisters

So Who Was Miss Livingstone? Burlesque

I Just Followed Baker Bob – PuppetsUp! Parade August 7th

I’m Your Puppet! — Hi Diddle Day and Uncle Chichimus

Was Wayne Rostad’s Puppet Ever Found?

The Hi- Diddle-Day House of Carleton Place – Puppets on a String

Isn’t Life Really Just One Big Puppet Show? A Photo Essay about Puppets and more

Did you Know Nick is not a Millionaire?

Jane Austen and Linda Comment on the Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers

So What Happened to Laird Keller and His Ventriloquist Dummy Woody?

I Will See You at PuppetsUp! Today

So Who Was Miss Livingstone? Burlesque

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So Who Was Miss Livingstone? Burlesque

Madame Rentz’s Female Minstrels was a blackface minstrel troupe composed completely of women. M. B. Leavitt founded the company in 1870. Unlike mainstream minstrelsy at the time, Leavitt’s cast was entirely made up of women, whose primary role was to showcase their scantily clad bodies and tights, not the traditional role of comedy routines or song and dance numbers. The women still performed a basic minstrel show, but they added new pieces that titillated the audience. John E. Henshaw, who began his career as a stage hand with Madame Rentz’s Female Minstrels, recalled, In San Francisco , we had advertised that we were going to put on the can-can . Mabel Santley did this number and when the music came to the dum-de-dum, she raised her foot just about twelve inches; whereupon the entire audience hollored [sic] “Whooooo!” It set them crazy. The company was a success, and by 1871, at least eleven rival troupes of female minstrels had sprung up, one of which did away with blackface altogether.

Ottawa Daily Citizen

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 08 May 1875, Sat  •  Page 4

That spring of 1875 the Rink Music Hall, down on Slater Street by the Canal, temporarily became Ottawa’s only theatre. It was far too cold in winter, and sweltering in summer, but until Feb. 1, 1875, it brought both “the Bard” and burlesque, to the rapidly growing city. On that date “The Music Hall” was relegated to the background with the reopening of the Grand Opera House, on Albert Street. A fiasco — Despite the attendance of a vice-regal party from Government House, the opening night at $5 a seat, was a fiasco. Management quickly adjusted the price scale and the opening week ended to packed houses and loud applause.

The roof was a slanting one, broken In two parts, the lower part covering the curling rink. It was Just a step from the ground to the lower roof, and at the comer of the building stood a large puncheon, half filled with water. Five little girls. “Divllsklns”‘ an Irishman called them, determined to hear the -opera of “La Sonnambula” in the music hall.

They climbed upon the roof, where they hung by their hands from the window sills. The sleep walking scene was on, and the thrills were great, but suddenly the atentorian voice of Chief Langrell was heard, saying, “Down out of this, every one of you; I put the boys down, and down you will have to go, too.” Great was the scrambling, and one could imagine the noise inside the theater. All cleared the roof, with nimble steps, but slow Sally Hurd, who, never looking, plunged heavily into the water puncheon while the rest, never waiting to haul her out, ran for their lives. The good natured constable had to stop and laugh, but be helped the sobbing, sopping little maid out.

There is no report that these pioneer leg-shows, played Ottawa but our citizens were not denied the excitement for long. By the summer of 1870 the reporter for the Ottawa Times wrote that Miss Lisa Weber and her girls offered the best burlesque show that he had ever seen, indicating that even at that early date Miss Weber had been preceded by other similar travelling beauties. The Queen of Burlesque, as she was billed, opened at the Ottawa Music Hall on July 21, 1870. It was an old skating rink on Slater Street at the canal and if there, was any ice left, it melted when Lisa and her girls sang and danced “The Grecian Bend.” The gentleman of the press noted, unforgettably, “you never saw such exquisite ankles.” For three nights the old rink was filled to the very rafters as the town ‘dudes’ caught up with this form of entertainment.

In 1875, on May 10, Madame Rente’s “Female Minstrels” appeared at the Music Hall and for the occasion as a special added attraction Mile Marie Delacour presented her “French Can-Can Dancers.” The two-day engagement must have been something! The local press contented itself with reviewing a production of ‘Macbeth’ at the new Opera House, merely mentioning in passing that the show at the Music Hall was very good if you liked that sort of thing. The photograph of Miss Livingston above is probably a souvenir of the event. It turned up in the 1971 exhibitions of pbotograpni ; “Reflections on a Capital”, that was such a success earlier this year at the Public Archives Building on Wellington Street The only details available considering the actual photograph are that it was taken about 187S. If so, then Miss Livingston must have been one of those female minstrels that beguiled the community for two evenings in May. The photo of Miss Annie Blake is equally mysterious. In the Canada of 1870, the year “the picture was taken, her costume would have been considered daring in the extreme. The permissiveness of the 1870’s rapidly disappeared as Victorian manners and morals took hold. Burlesque entertainment vanished from the Ottawa scene and it was not until 1912 that lusty Ottawans had an opportunity to once more ogle the chorus girls. It was quite an occasion. To make up for lost time the mob carried the doors away trying to gain admittance to the old Colonial Theatre on Albert street. The show was considered to be pretty Trot stuff and although The Journal found no fault with the songs and dances they decidedly drew the line at the jokes and at the flashes of near-nudity. 

On the front page the paper called for the Chief of Police to see to it that the show was cleaned up, and quickly. In a matter of days the promoters changed their plans, wisely, and quietly left town. Nickel-movies returned to the theatre. After that withering blast the belles of burlesque remained out of sight and out of town for nearly a decade. But by 1920 the girls were back in “one-act musical comedies” at the little Casino Theatre on Sussex Street, right across the street from the present Grand Hotel., Fred Leduc, a pioneer Ottawa showman brought the ladies back to town in September, 1920. The newspaper ads for the adventure were cautious but the audience knew the real thing when they saw it, and “Ben Rosenberg’s Rip Roaring Girls” quickly caught on with the Ottawa public. In fact they were such a hit that they stayed all that fall, winning the audience with “Yes, We Have No Bananas” and other-vintage songs of the period.

In the spring of 1921, Graham and Randall’s Rainbow Girls moved in, complete with their famous “beauty chorus,” if the ads are to be believed. And all for 10, and 20 cents in the afternoon; 15 cents in the balcony at night! The girls were a ‘hit’, and, in fact that delightful spring a chorus line danced out on the stage of no less than five local theatres. The ultimate seal of approval on this type of enter tainment came in May, 1921, when the Shubert organization in New York brought “The Follies” to the old Russell Theatre, then the town’s leading legitimate ‘house.’ The Ottawa Journal attended, and the headline read “Stand ing Room Only.” “While the average girl show is still frowned upon by many, this reporter came away greatly pleased with the performance. The showgirls were above average in appearance and the audience expressed their keen appreciation each time they appeared.” . Meanwhile, burlesque continued, at the Casino throughout the decade, with occasionally a season of French-Canadian vaudeville.

But as time went on the novelty wore off; the management and even the name of the theatre, changed they called it the Capital and by the end they were showing silent films only. The ‘talkies’ arriving in 1929, brought the era to an end and the little theatre reluctantly closed its doors. The building was converted to a hotel. This, in turn, has now been demolished. ( In this permissive age ‘burlesque’ has become a lost art. A century ago, when Lisa Weber and her London Blondes came to the Music Hall, the press raved, concentrating, for the sake of modesty, on her ankles! Fifty years later, in 1920, burlesque was still ‘hot stuff.’ Today, however, although the heat has long since cooled, many an old Ottawan well-remembers those Rip-Roaring Girls of the Casino Theatre of 1920.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
14 Mar 1925, Sat  •  Page 2
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
13 Mar 1926, Sat  •  Page 2

David Jeanes12 hours
The Rink Music Hall existed in 1875 and 1878, 30 years before the 3rd Dey’s Arena. It was on the site of the later Roxborough Apartments, while Dey’s arena was built in 1907 further east, close to the canal. The first two Dey’s Arenas were in other locations.

Memories of Pandora’s Box

Travelling Shows on the Rural Stage

Flash Cadilac -Sex Lies and Video Tape?

Everyone Needs a little “Devil Wears Prada” in their Life– Even Towns

And So They Danced in Carleton Place

Cool Burgess — Minstrel Shows at Reilly’s Hotel

They Left the Girls Behind… Harry Drake Re: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

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They Left the Girls Behind… Harry Drake Re: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

 - March 1924

 

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The illustrious Harry Drake was…

-Harry Drake, formerly of Frederick Bros

-Theatrical agents of New England elected Henry Cogeri prexy, Harry Drake,

-Harry Drake, former Boston indie agent

 

So when I saw there was an agent called Harry Drake in Mrs Maisel.. I wondered where they got that name from LOL

Susie nags an established agent, Harry Drake in season one ep 7 and 8–

Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte

  1. relatedreading

Ontario’s Version of the Marks Bros-Tales of the Queen’s Hotel

Cool Burgess — Minstrel Shows at Reilly’s Hotel

Peg O My Heart — Gracie Mark’s Belt

What’s Happening at Christie Lake June 23, 1899

The Killarney of Canada in Lanark County

Carleton Place

The Story of Ms. Kitty Marks

part 10-John Sparrow’s Royal Parilion – Chatterton House Hotel Carleton Place

And So They Danced in Carleton Place

Travelling Shows on the Rural Stage

Susie’s Kitchen Band– Names Names Names

He Said-and– He Said! Oh Let the Song of Words Play!

Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Carleton Place

Weird and Thrilling Concert in Carleton Place? The Fisk Jubilee Singers of Tennessee University

Did Blind Tom Play in Carleton Place?

Peg O My Heart — Gracie Mark’s Belt — Mark’s Brothers

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Peg O My Heart — Gracie Mark’s Belt — Mark’s Brothers

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Doris Blackburn/ Karen Blackburn Chenier gave me this beaded belt from the 1920s. What is the story behind it?

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This very unusual beaded sash belonged to Vaudevillian Joe Mark’s wife Gracie. They were part of the illustrious Marks Brothers. From Perth, Ontario they toured North America from the 1870s into the 1920s.

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As the Marks Brothers had grown up near Christie Lake they often returned there for a summer vacation. The rest of the year was spent travelling or performing in New York City. Read all about the Marks Bros. here..  CLICK

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One day when Sophia accompanied Arden on his mail route, Gracie happened to meet them at their mail box. After a short chat she offered Sophia this belt to keep as a souvenir of their appreciation of Arden’s mail service to the Mark’s family.

Doris Blackburn 2008

Sophia was my Grandma Blackburn, *Arden’s wife who used to do the mail route every day with him. There is a book about my Grandpa Blackburn and his mail route stories His route ran from the Perth post office to Christie Lake and back. He delivered mail, groceries and even people. Quite the characters I met including a “hermit” named Dickie Peters who never came out of his little shack except to wave to Grandpa. As I often say to people “I can’t make this shit up.”  Karen Blackburn Chenier

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historicalnotes

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Arden Blackburn’s Mail Route: The Early Days at Christie Lake

Theirs was a bond born in nature. United by water, the early inhabitants at Christie Lake were drawn into a community that came to transcend politics, religion and sometimes even family. Over time they gathered to work, to play and to celebrate the beauty that was around them. Located approximately 15 kilometres southwest of Perth, Ontario, Christie Lake is the third largest lake in what is known as the Tay Watershed. Follow the community’s mailman as he uses the North Shore Road to weave a thread that brings together this unlikely blend of permanent residents and summer vacationers

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A staged promo shot for the Marks’s production of Bringing Up Father, with Tom as Jiggs and Gracie as Martha. 1920s

relatedreading

Ontario’s Version of the Marks Bros-Tales of the Queen’s Hotel

What’s Happening at Christie Lake June 23, 1899

The Killarney of Canada in Lanark County

The Killarney of Canada in Lanark County

And So They Danced in 

The Story of Ms. Kitty Marks

Entertainment in Rural Towns–Dancing Bears and Monkeys?

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Entertainment in Rural Towns–Dancing Bears and Monkeys?

 

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The Middle class Victorian families were at always happy at leisure in their drawing rooms or parlours playing chess backgammon or some other game board singing around their expensive upright pianos.

The Victorians had an appetite for the exotic and the strange, no doubt about it. They wanted novelty like the strange vaudevillian shows and feature presentations. They found joy in strolling entertainers around town such as dancing bears, *monkeys, the fire eaters and the jugglers. I have read many times that sometimes the Vaudevillian shows staying in our towns would provide a free street show at lunchtime… or some even sat in windows demonstrating their talents.

In October of 1887 a performing bear was listed as causing chaos in Lanark County. The postmaster of Perth shared his home with a travelling performer with his dancing bear. The postmaster accommodated the Bruin with a bed in the barn being careful to make sure he was chained at the stake.

In the small hours the bear got loose and went on a foraging expedition killing hens, skimming milk pans, and eating butter on the host’s supper table. The postmaster hearing a noise came down the stairs in his robe de nuit to see what was going on. When the two met face to face the Bruin hit down after feasting on the milk and butter. The postmaster escaped but his garment was rent. The bear’s owner was  made to leave quickly after that and the postmaster demanded  he had to pay $10.

 

 

historicalnotes

Lewis and Wardrobe Hippolympian appeared many times at The Chatterton House Hotel.  They performed songs and choruses, acrobatic and gymnastic feats, contortions etc. The Carleton Place Herald reported that Lewis and Wardrobe also  formed themselves into a brass band and performed in the town streets wherever they went. Nothing but talented, unique, and beautiful people.–Part 6-The First Mosh Pits in Carleton Place — The Opera House of the Chatterton House Hotel

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

 

 

relatedreading

Monkeys Create Chaos in Carleton Place

The Day the Hypnotist Came to Carleton Place

Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Carleton Place

Mrs. Jarley’s Wax Works -Creepy Entertainment

Mrs Jarley and her Waxworks Hits Lanark– and they call me strange:)

The Killarney of Canada in Lanark County

John Sparrow’s Royal Parilion – Chatterton House Hotel Carleton Place

Ontario’s Version of the Marks Bros-Tales of the Queen’s Hotel

 

 

 

The Marks Bros-Tales of the Queen’s Hotel

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Original Marks Brothers Poster – now in the third floor exhibit at the Perth Museum.    From left to right: Back – Joseph, Thomas, Robert, Alex, Earnest : Front – John, McIntyre

Did you know we had our very own version of the Marks brothers? Not Harpo, Groucho and Chico. I mean Joseph, Thomas, Robert, Alex, Earnest, John and McIntyre  a dapper looking dramatic company of Perth, Ontario-based brothers and their wives who travelled across North America bringing Vaudeville-style shows to entertainment-starved towns, both small and large. Ernie’s wife Kitty also performed with the group but the main attraction was Robert’s wife, May Bell Marks. Most of them stayed at the Queen’s hotel in Carleton Place and if you have followed my other blogs see related reading below) I have written about several of them.

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina from the Queen’s Hotel Registrar at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

According to Amazon. com The Marks Brothers  formerly known as The Emma Wells Co. may well have been the most remarkable theatrical family in Canadian history. A phenomenon on the vaudeville circuit, the seven brothers left the farm and took to the boards and the footlights throughout the latter part of the 19th century and into the 1920s.

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina from the Queen’s Hotel Registrar at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

 

From 1870- to the 1920 the brothers from Christie Lake, near Perth played to an estimated eight million Canadians, as well as to sizeable audiences in the United States. Their road shows, largely melodramas and comedy, kept audiences crying, booing, laughing and cheering until movies sounded the death knell for touring repertory companies. They played at our local Opera hall which was inside the Carleton Place Town Hall. It used to be a one week;s stand in most towns that they played with May A. Bell Marks playing the heroine’s role.

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina from the Queen’s Hotel Registrar at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

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From all about Perth— Dec 27, 1923, Toronto – The Marks Bros Dramatic company presenting ‘The Sleeping Beauty’, an old English pantomime.

 

historicalnotes

Marks Family of Christies Lake

The early history of Christies Lake is lost to posterity.  “The Killarney of Canada” was the name given to it by the late Thomas Marks, the little bit of heaven set in the heart of Lanark County.  It is situated 12 miles southwest of Perth in S. Sherbrooke.  If there is a “Christie” who settled there and perpetrated his name in this lake no information is obtainable.  The earlier known settlers in the area were the Thomas Marks family and theWilliam H. Patterson family.  Thomas Marks was the father of the seven Marks Brothers who became known from one end of America to the other in the theatrical world.  Robert Marks, the eldest brother, was the founder and manager of their enterprise which varied from solo tours and duos, trios and troupe entertainment all of which was in great demand by theatrical managers during the great era of vaudeville.  One of the most outstanding landmarks on the shores of the lake is the old Marks homestead which is still in fairly good shape and as one ambles through the rooms one can visualize the Marks brothers practicing for a winter tour.  This homestead is a great tribute to Canada’s greatest contribution to the vaudeville stage and the Marks brothers.

 

At the Queens and Leland hotel yards, agents were hiring teams of horses in December for winter work at Ottawa Valley lumber shanties.

1893 Almonte Gazette

Comedy Company Coming. “ The Marks Bros’. Musical Comedy Co. opened a week’s engagement in the opera house Tuesday night to a good audience. Tom Marks does not change, but is the same funny Tom as of yore, and his spontaneous wit as Dan McGinty in McGinty’s T.*oubles produces the laughter which ripplos unceasingly from curtain rise until its fall. Miss Emma Gertrude, who played the part of Ward No. 1, is a very pretty girl with a remarkably good controlled voice. The rest of the company are very good, and the show went with a snap and vim that is pleasant to see.”—Smith’s Falls News. The Marks Co. will play in the Town Hall, Almonte, for one week—Sept. 19 to 25—under the auspices of the Citizens’ Band

 

 

Perth Remembered–ARLIEDALE INN, CHRISTIE LAKE–This building was the original family farm house of the famous Marks Brothers of Christie Lake. When one of the brothers, Tom retired from the theatre he returned to Christie Lake and renovated the farm house into a hotel and named it Arliedale Inn, after his daughter Arlie.

Travelling Shows on the Rural Stage

Peg O My Heart — Gracie Mark’s Belt

What’s Happening at Christie Lake June 23, 1899

The Killarney of Canada in Lanark County

And So They Danced in 

The Story of Ms. Kitty Marks