Skip to main content

Full text of "The Gaiety stage door; thirty years' reminiscences of the the theatre by James Jupp. With an introduction by Mabel Russell Philipson"

See other formats


The Gaiety Stage Door 



The Gaiety Stage Door 

Thirty Years' Reminiscences of the Theatre 

by James Jupp 

With an Introduction 6y 
Mabel Russell Philipson, M.P. 

Jonathan Cape 

Eleven Gower Street, London 

First published in 1923 
All rights reserved 

A 5" 



Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner Ltd.. Frome and London 


IT is with great pleasure that I write this brief Introduc- 
tion to Jupp's book. If the more intimate memories 
of the Gaiety in its palmy days, the life behind the scenes, 
the characteristics of the late Mr. George Edwardes and 
the world-famous artistes whom he gathered around him, 
are not to become blurred by the passing of years, it is 
time some one recorded his impressions of the men and 
women who made the Gaiety a name to conjure with 
wherever the mother tongue is spoken. I know no one 
better qualified for the task than Jupp. For more than 
thirty years he was stage door-keeper at the old and the 
new Gaiety, and not only George Edwardes but many of 
the artistes came to trust him as a confidant and welcome 
him as a friend. Within his knowledge must be many 
secrets, scores of romances, and not a few tragedies. The 
stories he sees fit to tell will appeal to a wide public and 
not least to those of whom he writes. 

















NAMES 77~9 X 





























payne's fly, the long-haired cabby, the " guv'nor's " 
games, a bridge party, jupp up late, would-be blackmail, 
mistaken identity, the butler-cook, race thieves, getting 
things back, kindly advice and a slit coat, a first bet, 
the young blood in the bar, supper for twelve, the link- 










irving's butler, gracie lane's interviewer, florence 
Lloyd's compliment, the fiver on the wheel, an actor 
in pawn, w. s. gilbert's lesson 281-29o 














































1 1 



SIR JAMES BARRIE has said that by far the most 
romantic figure in any theatre is the stage-doorkeeper. 
To that I would add that by far the most romantic theatre 
in the world is the Gaiety Theatre, London. 

I have been stage-doorkeeper of the Gaiety for thirty 
years. I suppose I have taken round to stars and chorus 
girls more chocolates, bouquets, and presents from admirers 
than have all the other stage-doorkeepers in Great Britain. 
I was the connecting link between the patron and the 
players who made the Gaiety. 

Conjure up the old names ! Nellie Farren, Olive 
May, Kate Seymour, Constance Collier, May Yohe, Marie 
Lohr, Phyllis Dare, Connie Ediss, Ada Belmore, Maudi 
Darrell, Gaynor Rowlands, Isobel Elsom, Avice Kelham, 
Rosie Boote, Cissie Loftus, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, 
Gladys Cooper, Marie Studholme, Mabel Russell, Ruby 
Miller, Ada Reeve, Ellaline Terriss, Blanche Massey, 
Kitty Gordon, Gaby Deslys, Evie Greene, Gertie Millar, 
Edith Kelly Gould, Birdie Sutherland ! I have known 
them all. 

In 1892 I left the Army, in which I served with the 
8th King's Royal Irish Hussars, and came home from 
India. I had an introduction to the late Mr. George 
Edwardes, the " Guv'nor " beloved of the profession. 
He engaged me as his clerk on May 1. 

The Gaiety Theatre then stood on the ground now 
occupied by the offices of the Morning Post, and Mr. 
Edwardes' premises were on the northern side, nearly 
facing the front entrance of the Lyceum Theatre, then 
the home of Sir Henry Irving. The first time I saw 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

Irving was on that May I, and the last time I saw him 
was on the last night of the old Gaiety in 1903. 

In India I had had some experience with the stage. 
Visiting theatrical companies would be short of choristers, 
and soldiers with voices would be allowed to fill those 
parts. I appeared thus in the chorus in " Dorothy," 
"The Pirates of Penzance," and " H.M.S. Pinafore" 
So I had some experience to offer to Mr. Edwardes. 

I soon discovered that I was not intended to be an office 
clerk, but a confidential clerk. 

An ideal stage-doorkeeper needs to be very shrewd. 
Money is not the Open Sesame. Money may, perhaps, 
be the means whereby a note or card is delivered more 
promptly, but not for passing anyone through the sacred 

I had strict instructions, and was responsible for every- 
body who went behind. Therefore I got the artistes to 
share that responsibility, and if a man or woman should 
be asked for, I sent up to inquire if the visitor should 
be admitted. 

There is no such thing, and never was such a thing, in 
any well-conducted theatre, as being able to go round and 
have a " lark with the jolly girls " by the mere passing 
of a coin. The Gaiety was conducted on the lines of the 
most rigid institution. The ladies dressed on one side, 
which was approached by its own staircase, and the men 
on the opposite side. Courtesy prompted one to pass 
the compliment to the stage-manager if he or she wished 
to visit the other side, even though it may have been on 
business connected with a play. 

Don't think for a moment this is a tall story. It is true. 
Even such well-known Pressmen as Messrs. Chance-New- 
ton, G. R. Sims (Referee), " Jimmy " Waters (Daily Mail) 


Midgley Asquith. 


face p. 14 

Producing a Piece 

Charles Hands (the war correspondent) would never have 
dreamed of attempting to pass through the swing door of 
the stage without permission, although I knew them all and 
was aware that they were personal friends of the " Guv'nor." 

Even Baron de Rothschild and his brother, Sir Alfred, 
who rented the Royal Box by the year, never went 
behind without permission. 

I will give you an idea of the production of a Gaiety 
piece. Say a play has been written by J. T. Tanner or 
" Jimmy " Davies, with music by Meyer Lutz, Ivan Caryll, 
or Lionel Monckton, and accepted by Mr. Edwardes. 
The first thing is that the author reads his play to the 
principal artistes, who sit round him on the stage. Then 
the different parts are handed out, and the next two days 
are devoted to a little study at home. 

During those two days the producer arranges his 
puppets on a miniature stage with an exact model of the 
stage-settings and scenery to be used in the production, 
and when the first call is made there is no hesitation as to 
where one enters and the rehearsals start in earnest, 
the artistes having an idea of their lines in the first 
act at least. The stage-manager also has been busy 
getting his choristers into formation. 

Do not think choristers are nobodies — they play very 
important parts even if they are only thinking parts, 
because each one has his or her place on the stage, and 
regular crosses and movements to be thoroughly mastered, 
so that there won't be any ungainly grouping. 

For instance, an inexperienced or inefficient chorister 
might easily cause the grace of a dance to be entirely lost. 
Hence the long rehearsals. The most apparently trivial 
movement is gone through over and over again until it 
is correct. 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

Well, principals and choristers having become au f<iit, 
there is what is known as the first general call. That 
means everybody concerned — artistes, author, producer, 
and even the stage-carpenter and property-master, known 
as " props," who is now in a position to chalk out on the 
stage where the scenery will be and the amount of room 
provided for the actors ; doors, entrances, archways, and 
such like being all indicated in chalk. 

No doubt you have all heard the story of Mr. Seymour 
Hicks producing a scene with the chorus, and there hap- 
pened to be a pond in the scene. He was giving the 
rhythm to them as they moved about, and singing any 
old words so long as the tune was correct. Some of the 
girls got a little off the allotted space, and Mr. Hicks, 
still singing, rushed up to the girls and led them back, 
singing, " You're walking in the water." 

Before any real action can take place the chorus-master 
has to teach the choristers their parts in all the music in 
which they are concerned. This is sometimes a very 
laborious undertaking, because it is rather the exception 
to find choristers who read music at sight, and their parts 
have to be strummed over and over on the piano until 
Tenors, Basses, Sopranos, and Contraltos have all thor- 
oughly learned them. The composer as a rule does not 
do this work ; there is always a pianist on the theatre 
staff, and that is his job. 

Having made a start at the first general call, we begin to 
see a little light and to have an idea of what it is all about. 
The dialogue and situations are dove-tailed little by little, 
until the first episode in the play is reached. So it goes 
on, day after day, until the first act is fairly straight. Then 
the second (very seldom a third). An artist such as Percy 
Anderson has been designing the dresses and costumes 


Fitting the Costumes 

to be worn, and the colour scheme has been gone into 
with the scenic artist and the producer. Why the pro- 
ducer ? Little do the majority of people think, when they 
go to see a play, of the work and pains that have been 
spent on the effects. 

Another little army of workers is hard at it, the copyists 
writing out the orchestral parts from the composer's score. 

The property-master and his little staff make hundreds 
of " hand props " such as apples, pears, and other fruits, 
rustic seats and other moveable articles, all of which are 
specially made for each production. You will never see 
in a new London production the smallest article that has 
ever been used before. 

Then the costumes have to be fitted and made specially 
for each person, and this is perhaps the worst and busiest 
time of the whole business. From my point it certainly 
is. M. Cornelli must see Mr. Edwardes. Willie Clark- 
son also must see him at the very same moment. But 
what can be done when I am equally aware that there are 
half a dozen other people waiting in some part of the 
building, ready to snatch a word with him, while all the 
time they are waiting he is closely engaged with some 
city magnate going into colossal figures ? 

To cater for the wants of all these people, and to let 
them down as lightly as possible without giving offence, 
is no easy matter, and it was very hard work at first. 

Things have not changed at all in this respect. From 
the old days of Nellie Farren, Fred Leslie, E. W. Royce, 
Senr., Sylvia Grey, Arthur Roberts, Constance Collier, 
Rosie Boote (Marchioness of Headford), to this present 
moment, the only difference is as between the chignon and 
bustle and the bobbed-hair and knee-short skirts, the 
bell-shaped " topper " and the velour. Public taste has 

17 b 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

changed, but the atmosphere of the theatre and the 
Bohemianism remain. 

In spite of the hard work the artistes do during rehear- 
sals, they are always a merry and seemingly light-hearted 
crowd. My stage-door was a sight when there was a 
" break" in the proceedings for either lunch or half an 
hour for refreshments and a smoke. 

Scores of young bloods would be waiting to take their 
own particular ladies out to Romano's or Gatti's, while 
others would go farther afield to the Cafe Royal or 
Oddenino's. On the other hand, I remember once Mr. 
Edwardes spoke to one of the chorus ladies and asked her 
if it was she he had seen coming out of a humble cafe in 
the Strand. 

11 Why go there, my dear ? Why don't you get a 
good lunch at Romano's ? " 

" But, Mr. Edwardes, I can't afford to go there ! " 

This had evidently not occurred to him. The next 
day he made arrangements with Mr. Purefoy of Romano's 
to let all his company have lunch at half-price on present- 
ing his or her professional card. 

Life was never dull. If I was not being told the latest 
story by Arthur Roberts, George Grossmith, or Teddy 
Payne, there was always something new and interesting 
from lovely Marie Studholme or Maud Hobson (niece 
of John Hollingshead, who was at that time still actively 
connected with the Gaiety). Then Connie Ediss was 
always " Merry and Bright," as Alf Lester used to sing. 
She was as funny off the stage as on it, and dull care always 
kept at a very respectful distance when she was about. 
How she kept her wonderful spirits up to such a pitch is 
a mystery, but she is just the same delightful woman 
to-day. Perhaps it is the result of the operation on her 


Ellis & Waltry. 

p. 18 

Dodging a Writ 

glands (thyroid) she was telling me about, but I think 
she was only giving my leg a bit of a pull, and that it is 
simply her natural don't-care-a-continental way of going 
through life. 

There is a cry from below : " All down on the stage, 
please," and the rehearsal is resumed, Arthur Roberts 
reluctantly throwing away a newly lit cigar (about the 
twentieth that day). 

On one occasion I had to be more than usually on the 
qui vive, because Mr. Edwardes knew that he was being 
subpoenaed by Mr. Seymour Hicks to bear witness in some 
case or other, and I was on the look-out for anybody who 
looked like having the writ, as Mr. Edwardes wanted to 
get out of attending if possible. The man turned up 
on the very day that the " Guv'nor " had a horse named 
Fairyfield running at Hurst Park. I managed to let 
him know that the man was waiting at the door, and 
unfortunately at that time it was the only door. Mr. 
Edwardes with Mr. Mike Levenstone was very concerned 
as to how to dodge the fellow, and appealed to me. 

" Jupp ! what am I to do ? I must go down to see my 
horse run. I simply must go. Can't you get rid of 
him ? " 

I told him to be as close to the door as possible without 
being seen, and as soon as I came back to make straight 
for a hansom which I should have waiting for him. If 
he and Mr. Levenstone would do that, he could leave 
the rest to me. I went out, got the hansom, and was care- 
ful to have the flap-doors already wide open. I had it 
brought exactly in front of the stage-door, and then went 
in. Mr. Edwardes and Mr. Levenstone came hurrying 
out and the man made a rush for them, but I happened to 
be in between. That cabby knew his business, because 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

it seemed the cab was over Waterloo Bridge and out of 
sight before the minion of the law realized his lost oppor- 
tunity. He was furious, and threatened to summon me 
for obstructing him in the execution of his duty. I pre- 
tended to be very innocent, and told him if he wanted to 
solicit alms he might do it decently and write. He was 
furious before, but this seemed to make him worse. 

" Solicit alms ! Solicit alms ! ! I've got a writ to 
serve on him, and you've prevented me." 

" A writ ! Why on earth didn't you say so ? " 

He did his best to say something, but the words failed 

When the " Guv'nor " got back, he asked : " Well, Jupp, 
how did you get on with that fellow ? " I told him what 
happened, and all he said was, " Ah, Jupp, you'll be hanged 
one of these days. Never mind, Fairyfield won at 8 to i 
against, and I was on it." 

Mr. Edwardes was essentially a sporting man, and in 
partnership with his brother the Major took the greatest 
interest in all kinds of sports ; racing and the training of 
racehorses were uppermost, but he was extremely good 
at that quietest of all games, chess. 




NO manager of a popular London theatre ever began 
business under more eccentric conditions than the 
first lessee of the first Gaiety Theatre, Mr. John Hollings- 
head. The building, as a building, had been designed, 
its position chosen, and even its title had been selected. 
The architects and directors had been commissioned before 
he came upon the scene. He met Mr. Lionel Lawson in 
the street one day accidentally, and the following duologue 
took place. 

Mr. Hollingshead : " I hear you are building a theatre." 

Mr. Lawson : " Quite true." 

" I should like to take it ! " 

" All right ! Got any money ? " 

" Not much, about £200." 

" No matter, you can get more." 

So the lease was settled. 

About a fortnight before the theatre was due to open, 
the painting-room of Messrs. Grieve and Son, off Drury 
Lane, was burned down, and with it went the bulk of the 
finished scenery for the Gaiety show. It had all to be 

The first plays (there were three) to be presented on 
the opening night — Monday, December 21, 1868 — were 
" The Two Harlequins," an operetta by M. E. Jonas, in 
which the principal parts were played by Mr. C. Lyall 
and Miss Constance Loseby ; " On the Cards," a comedy- 
drama in three acts by Alfred Thompson, the principals 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

being Alfred Wigan, M. Stuart, Madge Robertson (after- 
wards Mrs. Kendal), and Nellie Farren, who then went 
by the more dignified name of Miss E. Farren, but the 
gallery boys and pit-ites soon got on friendly terms; and 
" Robert le Diable," an operatic extravaganza by W. S. 
Gilbert, " which will be supported by the whole comic, 
vocal, and pantomimic strength of the company." 

The first musical director was M. Kettenus, from Her 
Majesty's Opera ; but he soon returned to the Italian 
school, and Herr Meyer Lutz began his long connection 
with the Gaiety, which lasted over a full generation. 

Born in Germany, Meyer Lutz spent practically the 
whole of his life in England. He was an organist at 
Birmingham ; leaving there he went to Leeds, and then, 
through the influence of Cardinal Wiseman, he became 
organist at St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, for forty 
years. But he was chiefly known to the public as the 
conductor at the Gaiety. 

It was there that his talent as a composer found greater 
scope, for the musical arrangements of " Columbus " — in 
which Nellie Farren made such a name for herself — were 
to his credit ; and he was responsible for much of the success 
of the " Princess of Trebizonde," which was produced in 
1870 with John L. Toole as the principal comedian. 

He composed the music for that great favourite " Black- 
eyed Susan " ; and the " Pas-de-Quatre," in " Faust up-to- 
date," lives still, although people may not know what it 
is they are humming. He was appointed Grand Organist 
to the Grand Lodge of Freemasons by King Edward in 
1890. He died in 1903 at his residence in Edith Road, 
West Kensington, where a few days previously his brother- 
in-law, Furneaux Cook, also breathed his last. 

While I am mentioning the deaths of old Gaiety favour- 


Katie Seymour 

ites, let me mention that in the quartette known as the 
" Merry Family ' were Kate Vaughan, Nellie Farren, 
E. W. Royce, and Edward Terry; and by a coincidence 
Kate Vaughan died on the same day that memories of the 
past were being revived in " The Linkman " — the last 
piece, together with " The Toreador," to be played at the 
old Gaiety. In this Gertie Millar recalled some of the 
characteristic graces of the " Morgiana " of more than 
twenty years before. Kate Vaughan played for the last 
time at the Gaiety Theatre, Johannesburg, and at her burial 
in the cemetery at Braamfontein, one of the pall-bearers 
was one of that " Merry Family " quartette — Edward 
Terry, who was also playing in Johannesburg at the time 
of her death. 

That was also in 1903; and that same year, almost at 
the same time, poor little Katie Seymour — another famous 
dancer — had just arrived home from South Africa, and 
died at thirty-three. Catherine Phoebe Mary Athol (Katie 
Seymour's married name) was a most fascinating little 
artiste, and she and Edmund Payne used to enter into 
their duets wholeheartedly, and seemed to enjoy their work 
quite as much as the delighted audiences. She began her 
stage career at the age of twelve, and travelled in the pro- 
vinces for a long time with the Brothers Home, but clever 
and amusing as they were, their " turn ' was greatly 
enhanced by the inclusion of that delightful little dancer. 

She afterwards went into a pantomime, and it was there 
that George Edwardes saw her and offered her an engage- 
ment in London. She appeared in " The Shop Girl," 
" The Circus Girl," " The Runaway Girl," and last of 
all — as far as the Gaiety was concerned — in " The Mes- 
senger Boy." Then she went to America to play in " The 
Casino Girl." 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

There is a time when it is possible for almost anyone 
to pass my door without a challenge, and that is when 
there is a voice trial — officially called an " Audition." 
Then anyone with a roll of music or a song need just 
show this to me to be at once sent below. 

Nowadays a voice trial is a pathetic affair. Only the other 
week there was an audition at a well-known musical-comedy 
house, and twenty people were wanted. For those twenty 
vacancies no fewer than fourteen hundred people turned up. 

In the old days the extraordinary variety of people who 
applied would supply an inventive mind with characters 
enough to write a dozen plays ; but I am inclined to think 
that a good many of them only came as an excuse to have 
a look at the theatre from behind. This was proved im- 
mediately they were called upon to sing. The extraordinary 
noises and uncanny sounds some of the people made were 
too weird to call for annoyance at one's time being wasted, 
but rather made one regard them with a curious interest. 

An actor might be on his way to attend one of the audi- 
tions and, meeting a pal, would drop in and have a Guinness 
to tune his voice up. Then the friend would ask him 
where he was going, and on being told, the sudden desire 
to satisfy his curiosity overcame him. " Can't you get 
me in with you, old man ? " The actor, knowing the 
ropes, would say : " Certainly ! Here, just take one of 
these songs — that's all you want." 

On the other hand, there are many well-known people 
playing leading parts who took up the profession on the 
spur of the moment. In the case of the Gaiety Theatre, 
we seldom wanted anyone because it was the policy to 
keep the company together as much as possible, and that 
was how the authors and composers knew almost exactly 
whom to write for and the class of music most suitable. 


Teddy Payne's Lisp 

Then the chorus were so thoroughly used to each other 
that their work became quite as much a feature of the 
show as the principals'. 

But we always had vacancies when our touring com- 
panies were being sent out. Sinclair Mantell was the 
chorus-master at one time, and although it might have 
been a source of much amusement to others, it must have 
been frightfully monotonous for him. Nearly every one 
seemed to choose the same song to sing, and although it 
might have been of great interest to a psychologist to study 
the many different renditions of one particular song, I have 
known Mantell pathetically ask : " Oh, my dear young 
lady, don't you know any other song — you are about the 
twentieth, so far ! " If she hadn't any other with her, 
he would say : " Never mind, just let me hear you sing 
up the scale." 

These auditions were always attended by one or two of 
the chiefs, in case any unsuspected talent should be dis- 
covered. George Edwardes and J. A. E. Malone would 
be there if they were looking out for anyone in a particular 
line, and on those occasions Sydney Ellison and Ivan Caryll 
usually came. 

I remember one voice trial particularly. There was a 
little man who brought a vocal score of one of our pieces, 
and when his turn came to show what he could do, he 
said he would give an imitation of Teddy Payne. " Very 
well, let's hear it," said the " Guv'nor." I was down on the 
stage at the time and heard him. For the benefit of those 
who have never heard Edmund Payne, and in order to 
accentuate the point of my story, I must mention that he 
had a lisp — one of those nice little lisps which, in the case 
of a girl, would be called a decidedly pretty lisp. 

This man was going through his turn when Teddy 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

Payne's head and shoulders appeared through the door, 
and he listened to the imitation of himself right through 
to the end. When he had finished, I remarked : " Well, 
for an amateur I think that was quite good, don't you ? " 
Teddy Payne looked at me in an incredulous manner and 
almost gasped. At last he managed to get out " Good ? 
Good ? How can you say he ith good ; why, the fellow 
can't pronounth hith ethith." 

During this exchange of opinions the next man was 
called, and he started ' ; The Last Watch," but when he 
got as far as " This is the last — last time we meet," he 
was interrupted by a voice from the rostrum : " That will 
do, thank you ! Next one, please." It was a prophetic 
sentence he had sung. 

The next man was a tenor with one of those voices that 
hurt the listener. W. S. Gilbert used to say that the 
tenor was not a voice but a disease. He must have heard 
this man sing when he came to that conclusion. His 
chosen item was " Lend Me Your Aid," a very ambitious 
solo for an amateur to attempt. Sydney Ellison had come 
over to speak to me, and this misguided tenor started off : 
" Lend Me Your Aid," which is repeated. He was also 
stopped. Sydney looked at me as if he were about to 
visit the dentist and said : ' That man has every right to 
cry out for assistance ; what he really wants is a step- 
ladder to reach the top notes." But perhaps the most 
graphic description was when Ivan Caryll put his hand up 
to his neck and whispered : " Take your hand away 
from my throat, can't you ? " 

There was one woman there who had come in with 
the others, and whom I had admitted because I thought 
she was acting as chaperon to one of her grand-daughters ; 
but when she came up to me on the stage and asked my 


The Parson Chorister 

advice as to what she should sing, I was dumbfounded. 
She had no music with her, and was quite alone. She 
had a fairly thick veil on, but on close inspection the grey 
hairs were distinctly visible. I told her that Mr. Mantell 
would be able to accompany her to something without any 
music, and when the cry : " Next, please," rang out, she 
stepped forward and, standing in front of Mr. Edwardes, 
sang the hymn " Abide with me." 

Now, even in our long and varied experience we had 
never come across anything like this before, but I have never 
seen the " Guv'nor " behave in a more courteous manner. 
He had a long chat with her. She had come all the way 
from Rhyl to try and get something to do, as she was now 
all alone, and she thought the life on the stage might help 
her to forget a lot of painful memories. The " Guv'nor ' : 
must have found this one of his chances to do somebody a 
good turn, for when he had seen her as far as the stage- 
door and said " Good-bye ! " to her, I know she went 
away with a piece of crisp paper which she had not pos- 
sessed previously. 

A clergyman came to one of these trials, and, not dream- 
ing that he wanted to have his talents put to the test, I 
asked him what I could do for him. " Well, perhaps you 
would kindly inform me how I can best get to see the 
manager of the theatre." 

I told him that I would send his card down to Mr. 
Mantell if he thought he would be able to be of any service, 
and then he informed me that he had decided to leave 
the Church and take up the profession. I sent him down 
with the rest of the crowd, and getting one of the stage- 
hands to relieve me on the door, went down to see a bit 
more of this parson. I told Sinclair Mantell that a clergy- 
man had called to see him. 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

" A what ! A clergyman ! I don't know one," he 

" Well, here's your chance to make amends," was my 
rejoinder, and I called the reverend backslider over to us. 
Poor Sinclair was positively nervous. " You wish to see 
me ? " he asked. 

" Yes ! er — the — er — fact is," said this up-to-date Rev. 
Robert Spalding, " I have come to the conclusion that I 
am much more fitted for the stage than I am for the Church. 
You see, I have had quite a lot of experience as an amateur, 
and have met with most encouraging successes time after 
time at our many gatherings. I have weighed the matter 
in a most sober and reasonable manner, and after a time 
of careful reflection have decided to take this step." 

Sinclair Mantell was himself again, and asked him what 
his pet song was, or if he had any particular line he wanted 
to go in for. The parson beamed upon him : " Oh ! I 
thank you so much. Yes, I have a decided leaning towards 
the humorous side, and have always scored top-hole with 
Huntley Wright's song from ' The Country Girl ' — Yoho ! 
little girl, Yoho ! ' This was too good to waste, so Mantell 
asked him to sit down and wait while he heard the few 
remaining aspirants. When they had gone he said : 

" Now, let us hear you. Can you give us the dance 
that follows the song ? " What a question to ask ! Could 
he ? Could he not ! Now, if Arthur Helmore — the 
original Rev. Robert Spalding in " The Private Secretary " — 
had come along and told us he would caricature Huntley 
Wright as a parson it would have been excruciatingly 
funny, but here was this man in clerical garb making him- 
self grotesque, and it was more than we could stand. I 
went up to the stage-door again, followed a few moments 
afterwards by one or two of the stage-hands. One of 


" A little Spirituous Liquor ! " 

them didn't even smile, but with a nod of the head merely 
grunted : " Blimey ! " and went out for a drink. 

Later on Sinclair came up and said : " I couldn't stick 
it any longer, Jimmy. You'll find him downstairs still 
singing and dancing to himself, unless you will come round 
to Short's. I think I've earned a little stimulant." He 
wouldn't even wait for me to accompany him — his one 
aim seemed to be to get as far out of reach as possible, 
and I was just about to follow him and help him recover, 
when the perspiring parson came up. I asked him how 
he had got on, and he told me he did not quite know 
because the music suddenly stopped and he found himself 
alone. Did I know what had become of the accompanist ? 
I told him that Mr. Mantell had been hard at it all day, 
playing song after song and dance after dance for scores 
and scores of people, and he had suddenly come over faint 
and had just rushed out to Short's for a drop of brandy 
before he collapsed entirely. 

4 Dear, dear. That is very distressing, is it not ? Do 
you think he will be there now ? Perhaps a little spirituous 
liquor might invigorate me ! Will you join me ? " 

I took him round to Short's, and as soon as Mantell 
saw us approaching, he fled. I advised this parson to go 
up to Daly's Theatre and ask to see Stanley Wade. I 
told him he would very likely get a job to understudy Mr. 
Freddie Kay. He said he would go, but I never heard 
anything more of him. 

But he was not the only misguided person who had it 
in his mind that he could make a success on the stage, for 
I remember a man who really ought to have known better. 
He was one of our own staff. How he ever came to get 
such an erroneous idea is inconceivable, but one day he 
asked Sinclair Mantell if he would hear him sing when- 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

ever he could spare a moment. Naturally he said he 
would hear him whenever he liked, but he asked him if 
he seriously thought of giving up a good position like his 
for the very uncertain one of a chorister. That somewhat 

offended . Wait until he had heard him sing ! 

There would not be any talk of " chorister." 

Now was a fellow with whom we all got on well, 

and it was a pity to see a man like this losing his mental 
balance. He was very short, in fact " tubby." His face 
was quite a nice one for the box office or the saloon bar, 
but not quite up to the standard required for a Jeune 
Premier. The merest suggestion of it could not be enter- 
tained, so as he had evidently been stuffed with this non- 
sense by some professional leg-pullers, the only thing to 
be done to save him was to unstuff him again, and to do it 
in no uncertain manner. 

It was arranged that he should sing on the stage at a 
private audition all on his little own. Everybody connected 
with the theatre knew about it, but when our friend went 
down below to the stage, the place was apparently deserted. 
The safety-curtain had been taken up so that his voice 
could he heard to its fullest advantage all over the theatre, 
and Sinclair Mantell sat at the piano, while the stage- 
manager, Mr. A. E. Dodson, went down to the stalls. 

The opening bars of " Let me like a Soldier fall " were 

heard. Now to sing one needs a voice. Friend had 

evidently left his elsewhere, for nothing escaped his lips 
except a faint meow, suggestive of a kitten that had been 
out in the rain all night. That was the only sound that 
broke the silence of the theatre. 

He piped out : " Yes — let me like a soldier fall," and 
then on the word " fall " there was a soul-shaking crash 
of battens, weights, buckets, etc., and somebody started 


Marie Tempest's Joke 

the iron-curtain down. is still a very highly respected 

member of the theatrical profession, but he is not on the 

Miss Marie Tempest once played a trick at one of these 
voice trials, and she did it to avenge a friend of hers. This 
lady friend had been down with Marie Tempest's card, 
which got her a hearing immediately. This lady had a 
beautiful voice, worthy of any West End theatre, but unfor- 
tunately her face was not in keeping — it was decidedly on 
the plain side. She was not engaged. 

When Marie Tempest heard of her friend's failure she 
went down herself the next day, dressed in a very quiet 
manner. She also presented a card of introduction — her 
own — and was sent down on to the stage. She sang as 
well as she ever did, but was not engaged. 

Whoever those people were, they could not have been 
very well acquainted with the personal appearance of Lon- 
don stars, for they did not recognize her. " It is very 
kind of Miss Tempest to send you Royal Academicians 
to us, but unfortunately you are not quite the type required 
for the stage. The Queen's Hall, or any other concert 
platform, is more suitable for you." 

Marie Tempest knew what was to be inferred, and got 
her own back by saying : " You misunderstand — Miss 
Marie Tempest did not send me. I am Marie Tempest, 
and if you don't think my friend and I are quite the type 
required for the stage, come to Daly's Theatre to-night 
and hear me." 

Another trick was played by Ellaline Terriss, and it 
was intended as a joke on her husband, Seymour Hicks ; 
but it was not quite a success. A carriage drove up to 
the stage-door, and an apparently old lady alighted. She 
was deeply veiled, but there was a certain something about 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

her that seemed familiar, so I looked at her rather closely. 
She said : " Don't give me away, Jupp. I only want to 
play a joke on Seymour — I am going to get my voice 
tried." Thinking there might be some fun, I followed 
her down to the stage. Seymour Hicks was in charge of 
this audition, and seeing the old lady enter, followed by 
me, he called out : " Jupp, give that old lady a chair ; is 
she waiting for anyone ? Ask her to sit down." When 
one or two people had sung, and the request for " Next, 
please " was made, Miss Terriss got up and walked 
towards the piano. She placed a copy of " A Little Bit of 
String " in front of Maudie Thornton (the chorus mistress) 
and the music began. 

Now, I don't think the person who can successfully fool 
Seymour Hicks is born yet. The old lady started the 
song, but instead of being stopped after a few bars, as is 
the custom, she was allowed to sing the first verse right 
through. When it was over Seymour Hicks called out, 
" Please go on — I want to hear the next verse." The 
old lady asked : " Do you really, Mr. Hicks ? " 

" Yes," he thundered. " My wife used to sing that 
song, but you sing it a thousand times better than she 
ever did. Sing the next verse, please, and then come down 
into the stalls. I want to speak to you." 

That was enough for her. She made a hurried exit. 
When Mr. Hicks came up, I asked him if he knew who 
the old lady was. Much can be conveyed by a wink ! 

Personality is a great attribute in the profession. Sey- 
mour Hicks' enormous activity has always been an essential 
of his performances. I believe that his propensity for 
throwing chairs and tables aside when he was on the stage 
provoked the late William Terriss to say to his daughter, 
Ellaline Terriss, when she told him that Seymour Hicks 

3 2 

The Ballet Class 

had proposed marriage : " What ! You want to marry 
that furniture remover ? " 

When I began to understand things at the Gaiety, I 
appreciated the enormous " factory " (if I may call it so) 
it really was. I had seen the chorus girls and the ballet 
dancers come on the stage and do their business in the 
usual easy and graceful way, and like the ordinary playgoer 
thought their efforts excellent ; but I never dreamed that 
it was the result of hard and strict training. This training 
reminded me of the Army I had just left, but our " physical 
jerks," as they are irreverently termed nowadays, were not 
nearly so strenuous as the leg exercises that our ballet girls 
had to go through. 

Dressed up in their ballet skirts they would spend a 
whole morning under Katti Lanner's instruction, and per- 
haps even then only one particular movement had been 
perfected. Talk about discipline ! Although it was 
pleasurable, it was conducted on very strict lines, and each 
one knew that she had to be the same as her sister artiste, 
otherwise it would cease to be a combination. 




IN my capacity as stage-doorkeeper I have come into 
contact with every class of man and woman, and known 
people right from the first day they came to sing at an 
audition (voice trial) to the day when their names appeared 
in letters as high as themselves. The " stage-struck " 
are the most interesting lot, if one is observant enough to 
notice the different forms this fascination takes. Some 
are extremely funny, while others are equally sad. The 
more common type is the young man who has made some 
sort of success with amateurs, and his friends will tell him 
that he reminds them very much of Hayden Coffin, except 
that, if anything, he is better-looking, and this kind of thing 
gets into the poor young fellow's head with the result that 
he wants to give up a good job in the City and go on the 
real stage. 

He is most indignant when he is told that his voice is 
good but wants training, and if he comes back in a year's 
time he may get a chance in the chorus. Then there is 
the girl who has read so much about actresses in novels 
— or perhaps sensational magazines — that she has made 
up her mind to become an actress without asking herself 
anything about qualifications. That is the type which is 
the most pathetic of all, because nothing will daunt it. 

This is the story I have to tell of the wife of a bank- 
manager. He held an excellent position in the City and 
there was nothing within reason that his wife could not 
have. They had a lovely home in the neighbourhood of 
Surbiton, and among their pleasurable possessions was 
a house-boat on the river and a beautifully appointed 
yacht, which was kept at Southsea. Gowns, jewellery, 


A Stage-struck Tragedy 

and all the good things that a woman could desire, were 
hers, and yet she was unhappy. She had the fever for 
the stage. Her husband was a most indulgent man and, 
at first, made no attempt to interfere with her beautiful 

He even wrote to Richard Temple, the Savoyard, and 
asked him if he would take his wife as a singing pupil. 
Mr. Temple interviewed them both, and after hearing 
the would-be prima donna, said he did not care to take 
pupils unless he could see some real promise of success. 
He thought it would be a waste of money, and did his best 
to let her down as lightly as possible. But so terribly 
eager was she, and the husband so anxious to please her, 
that in the end he was persuaded to take her. He told 
me about her one day when the husband's name cropped 
up during conversation, and he said it was hopeless trying 
to teach her ; she had no voice. 

She took lessons for three years, and during this time 
she appeared to be comparatively content. This she 
looked upon as the beginning of her great career to come. 
When Dick Temple could stand it no longer he told her 
she had got as far as he could instruct her and the lessons 
must cease. From that time the happiness of her home 
began to fade, because she started on a heart-breaking 
search for an engagement. At least it would have been 
heart-breaking to anybody of less tenacity of spirit. 

It was not conceit — it could not have been, for that 
would soon have been taken out of her by the awful rebuffs 
she met with from different managers and agents she inter- 
viewed. Then one day a mutual friend came along to me, 
and he told me that he wanted me to do a great favour 
for him. He said that this mad infatuation had become 
an obsession, nobody could do anything with her, and his 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

great friend (the husband) was in despair about her. She 
had long ceased to be even so much as a companion to 
him, and everything was neglected in this vain endeavour 
to get on the stage. As soon as her husband had gone to 
his bank she would be off, and spend the day seeking an 
engagement. She would sit up half the night trying her 
voice until the strain on the poor chap's nerves became 
almost too much to bear. Then the thought came to 
him that " Jupp of the Gaiety may be able to do some- 

" What can you do, Jimmy ? Do your best, old man, 
because, apart from this infernal mania, she is an awfully 
decent little woman, and you know what a good chap he 
is. Can I bring her along to you ? If there is no chance 
of getting her a job, will you give her a good talking-to ? 
Surely you have met this type before and know how to 
deal with them." 

There was nothing for it but to agree, so the following 
morning he brought her along. I rang up Blackmore's 
agency and told them who was speaking, because I knew 
that would carry weight. I asked them if they would 
spare me a few minutes if I brought a lady along. They 
knew that I was a busy man and could not afford to wait. 
" Yes, come along now, and I will see her at once." This 
was indeed a concession, because in the ordinary way one 
might call at Blackmore's for months and never see the 
inside of the office proper. When I got there I gave Mr. 
Blackmore a brief outline of the case, and knowing this 
class very well, he promised to send her back to me cured. 
But he was wrong — nothing could cure her. As a matter 
of fact nothing ever did. She came back and thanked 
me, and then I realized whom I had to deal with. " They 
are all the same — they all say the same thing— so much 


A Home Broken-up 

so that I believe my husband must have put them up to it. 
I know he never wanted me to go on the stage, but I will^ 
I will, I tell you, in spite of him. Mr. Jupp, I am sure 
you could do something to help me, if you only tried. 
Will you, please ? " 

What on earth could I do ? If I asked the " Guv'nor " to 
see her, he would think I was taking an undue liberty 
owing to my confidential position with him — or perhaps 
worse still, far worse, he might think I was having a joke 
at his expense. Yet here was this pathetic little woman, 
pretty and prepossessing enough, but with this mad desire. 
I promised that I would let her know the moment an 
opportunity came, and with that she went away. 

It was only to be expected that a woman like this would 
fall into the hands of bogus managers and agents, of whom 
there are hundreds about on the look-out for stage 
aspirants. On the promise of getting her an engagement 
they got pounds and pounds out of her ; and then began 
the deception at home. Money had to be got in some 
way or another to satisfy the gluttony of these wolves, and 
her jewellery began to disappear. She was almost entirely 
estranged from her husband, but occasionally the clouds 
would clear and they would be on almost affectionate terms 
for a brief period ; but he noticed that it ceased imme- 
diately she had got more money out of him. This money, 
of course, went in the same way as all the rest. The home 
was neglected and he became nothing more than a lodger, 
and all happiness was gone from it. Still she persisted, 
and the sad finish was told me by the man who had come 
to me on her behalf. 

It appears that one of these bogus managers had given 
her an engagement in a touring pantomime, and under 
an assumed name she had left her husband, home, position, 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

and all that was worth having for what she thought would 
be the realization of her fondest dreams, and one day the 
friend came and told me what we thought was the last 
chapter of a very sad and miserable story. The bank- 
manager, being deserted in this cruel manner by the woman 
he had always loved, had gradually become broken down 
— not in worldly position, but in spirit. All interest in 
life had departed with the flight of his wife, and his friends 
noticed the terrible change that came over him. Then, 
one morning, he failed to put in an appearance at the bank. 
For several days he was absent, and inquiries being made 
at his house, it was found that he had also gone away, and 
had left no message with a soul. The bankers becoming 
somewhat alarmed, auditors were called in, and after an 
exhaustive search of the accounts everything was found 
to be in perfect order. There was nothing wrong else- 
where. The tradesmen had all been settled up with 
almost to the last, and there were no outstanding debts 
of any kind. It was therefore very strange that he should 
go off in this manner without drawing any money from 
his own banking account. There was no trace of him, 
and nothing was heard of him until about two months after 
the day of his going away. 

The irony of the last act in this drama was that a party 
of theatrical girls were up the river for an outing, and as 
they were about to land on Tagg's Island the body of this 
unhappy man was found. He must have been there for a long 
time, according to the coroner, but he was easily recognized. 

So ended this pitiful story. What became of the woman 
I never knew, but as there was no possibility of her ever 
making good on the stage, the only conclusion one can 
arrive at in such very unusual circumstances is that she 
came to no good off the stage. 


A Tale of Gold 

The daily round, the common task of a stage-door- 
keeper is by no means a monotonous one. The variety of 
people one meets lends interest to almost every minute, 
and all sorts of things are happening both grave and gay, 
as no doubt the reader will acknowledge if he follows 
these stories and reminiscences of mine to the end. 

I remember one morning — it was a Monday — I wa9 
talking to the linkman when a gentleman came in. He 
was evidently of the wealthy country type, and I thought 
perhaps he had come on business from out Bracknall way 
in connection with the " Guv'nor's " horses. He said that 
he had occupied a stall on Saturday night, and had left 
something behind. He would not say what it was, so 
the linkman took him round to the housekeeper to make 
inquiries. She said that seven umbrellas, two ladies' 
bags, and one pair of opera-glasses had been found. 
" Nothing else ? " inquired the man. " No, there was 
nothing else. The cleaners have been round and finished 
their work, and they only brought these things up to my 
room." The man seemed a bit perturbed, and in a very 
anxious voice asked if he might be allowed to go down 
into the stalls and look. He knew exactly where he had 
left it. 

The housekeeper said he could go down by all means, 
and the linkman should show him the way. Down they 
went, and going straight to the stall he had been sitting 
in he felt in front of it, and there, hanging round the patent 
box holding opera-glasses, was a small leather bag. It 
would not have been noticed in the semi-darkness, but 
this man knew what he was looking for, and exactly where 
to find it. Giving the bag a slight shake, the musical 
sound of gold clinking against gold told its own tale. 
" Thank goodness, that's all right. Let us go back to 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

the stage-door for a moment." He thanked the house- 
keeper for her courtesy, and then he and the linkman 
came back to me. He loosened the strings of the little 
leather bag and poured out a heap of gold on to my desk. 
Then he counted it. There were eighty pounds in 
sovereigns. He gave one to the linkman, one to me, and 
putting the remainder into the bag, dropped them into 
his pocket, and with a smile thanked us and went out. 

The linkman's face was a study. He was several 
shades paler, and his eyes were dimmed with moisture 
as he said : " Blimey, Jupp ! fancy that lot hanging in the 
stalls since Saturday night, and us not knowing a word 
about it." Then, looking at the bright coin he had just 
been given, sadly said : " An eighty to one chance gone 
west ! " That was his way of viewing the golden incident. 

Talking of chances missed recalls one night when the 
theatre policeman came into the stage-door and, placing 
some pearl beads on my desk, said : " Here you are, 
Jimmy — some beads for your little daughter." They 
rolled off the desk, and I picked them all up — as I thought, 
and handed them back to him, telling him that my daughter 
had got past the penny-prize-packet stage, " Oh, they'll 
do for my youngsters," he said, and put them into his 

The next day the story came out as to how he came by 
these supposed beads. A wealthy lady had been to the 
theatre that same night and had worn a valuable necklace 
of perfectly matched pearls. This had unfortunately got 
broken and the pearls had fallen off loose on to the pave- 
ment outside, but in the crowd of people coming out of 
the theatre the accident had not been noticed. This 
policeman, who was attached to the theatre, found quite a 
lot of them when the crowd had gone off to their several 


Scorned Pearls 

homes. He evidently had no idea of their value, because 
he told me afterwards that when he saw some of his com- 
rades marching down from Bow Street to go on duty he 
had thrown one at the leader in fun, saying : " Hurry 
up, you fellows, you'll be late ! " Little did he dream 
that in that one shot he was throwing away a pearl worth 
anything from thirty to a hundred pounds (according to 
its size). He had taken the pearls home after I had 
scorned to take them, and had given them to his two young 
children. They played a game of marbles with them for 
a couple of days, but when the notice of the loss of the 
pearls was sent round to the police stations he very quickly 
recovered them. When he told me of this I thought I 
would have another look round in case I had not picked 
them all up when they rolled off my desk. Although the 
office is swept out regularly I did find two. I handed 
them to him, and he added them to his own and took them 
up to the station. 

There was a big reward offered for the finding of 
these pearls, but as they were found by a policeman, and 
the police are not allowed to take a reward unless granted in 
special cases, there was nothing more heard about it. I 
believe there were only ten pearls missing, and of course 
the wealthy owner was only too glad to get the others 
back and the missing ten could be replaced. The point 
of this story and a chance being missed is this : If I had 
had the slightest idea of their value and had accepted the 
pearls, I should have been eligible for the reward, being 
a civilian, and the substantial sum offered would have 
been — but oh ! don't let us talk any more on such a painful 

Much more fortunate was one of our cleaners. She 
had only been in our employ a fortnight when one morning 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

in sweeping up inside one of the boxes she saw something 
glittering under the light of the electric lamp. She picked 
up a beautiful single diamond earring. This was inquired 
for later on in the day, and her lucky find resulted in the 
reward of ten pounds. 

I don't like telling tales out of school, but I must just 
mention an artful bit on the part of one of our staff. In 
order not to give him away I will say it was the linkman, 
but it wasn't. 

A cab of the ordinary type drove up one evening to the 
front of the theatre. The passenger jumped out, paid 
his fare, and went into the vestibule to book his seat. The 
linkman went to close the flap-doors of the hansom, but 
noticing a golden sovereign lying just underneath the seat, 
jumped in, and calling out to the cabby, " Go to Charing 
Cross," was driven off. He got out at the station, which 
is only a few hundred yards away, gave the cabby a shilling, 
and walked back to the theatre nineteen shillings to the 
good. I won't dwell on the merits or demerits of his 
action, but he could not be accused of being in any way 

But in the case of a contemporary of mine the same 
cannot be said. In this case I am sure he won't mind 
my mentioning his name, because he has so often told 
the story against himself. He was the stage-doorkeeper 
of the Lyceum, and one morning a man came along with a 
ladder and said he wanted to see the clock on the stage. 
There was nobody about just then, so Barry (that was the 
stage-doorkeeper's name) asked him if he knew his way 
down. Of course he did ! He was the official who 
looked after the theatre timepieces. Right-o ! Down he 
went. In a few minutes he came up with his ladder and 
the clock under his arm. " I shall have to take it back 


II 'indow i - Grove. 

face p. 42 

The Obliging Clockmaker 

to the shop, but I won't inconvenience them for the show 
to-night. I'll let you have it back in good time." 

The guileless Barry consented, and then called him 
back. " Look here," he said, " I've got a gold watch 
which was presented to me by my "guv'nor," Sir Henry 
Irving. I wish you'd have a look at it and see what's 
wrong. And while you are at it, the swivel on the gold 
chain is loose. Can you fix those up and let me have 
them when you bring the clock back ? " This man was 
of a very obliging nature, and said he would give them his 
own special and undivided attention. 

He evidently did, for Barry never saw either of the 
things again. 

George Edwardes nearly always came to the theatre in 
his own private brougham, which was driven by the ever- 
faithful Turner. He would never wait for Turner to get 
down and open the carriage door for him, but would jump 
out like a man in a hurry, and with a brief, " Same time 
to-night, Turner ! " would come in and go straight to his 
office. This must have got Turner into a negligent way, 
and is the reason for the following little incident. 

One night Turner drove up at the appointed hour to 
take the " Guv'nor " home, and seeing Mr. Edwardes stand- 
ing talking to a friend, got down and opened the brougham 
door. Then he got up into his seat again and waited. 
Mr. Edwardes shook hands with his friend, and bidding 
him good night, approached the brougham. There was 
a bit of a wind up that night, and before the "Guv'nor" got 
to the vehicle the door banged to. At the same moment 
Mr. Edwardes turned back and came to me with some 
final instructions for me. The banging of the carriage 
door was evidently taken as a signal by Turner that Mr. 
Edwardes had got in, so he drove off at a good rate. The 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

instructions he had to give me took a couple of minutes, 
so that when the " Guv'nor " went outside again, Turner 
was a long way off and well on his way home. A hansom 
had to be got — not an easy thing to do when the theatres 
are being emptied of their patrons — and the " Guv'nor ' : 
drove off wondering who had spirited his brougham, horse, 
and coachman away. 

When Turner explained how he had fully thought that 
Mr. Edwardes was inside through the banging of the door 
he only laughed, but advised him to make sure in future 
that the occupant was of a more tangible nature. 

The instructions Mr. Edwardes had turned back to 
give me were that, the next day being Friday — the day 
on which salaries are paid — he wanted me to take the 
cheques and other documents down to Ascot and I would 
find him in Tattersall's Ring, where he would sign them. 
This could not be done overnight, as they were not made 
up. The next day I told Mr. Marshall of the " Guv'nor's " 
instructions, and off I started with my cheques, etc. I 
saw him on the course talking with some friends, and 
there was a gipsy begging them to cross her palm with a 
coin and let her tell their fortunes. When Mr. Edwardes 
saw me approaching, he moved towards me. " Here you 
are, Jupp " ; and taking the packet off me, produced 
his fountain-pen. He laid the papers on a seat of the 
coach which he invariably had at the Ascot meetings and 
was about to sign them when the gipsy came up. " Do 
let me tell your fortune, gentleman — you've got a pretty 
hand — and a pretty foot. Let me read your hand for you, 
kind gentleman." Mr. Edwardes had indeed nice hands 
and feet, but being above such flattery, he only smiled 
and asked her to go away. " Can't you see I'm busy ? 
Go away, there's a good woman." Then, as an after- 


The Murder of Terriss 

thought he said, " Tell Jupp's fortune." " No, not 
him, he has no money." The " Guv'nor " laughed, 
and said : " Bless my soul, I do believe you can tell 
fortunes, for that's true enough — Jupp never has any 

When he had finished signing the papers, he humoured 
the gipsy and let her read his hand. It may or may not 
be anything more than a most extraordinary coincidence, 
but that gipsy said : " I see you in a very large building 
with hundreds of people in it — there are ladies and gentle- 
men dancing and singing. See ! look here, kind gentle- 
man ! There is another very big building. It isn't 
yours, but you will buy it later on. There are hundreds 
of people, and more gentlemen and ladies dancing and 
singing. This other building has a name beginning with 
A. Oh ! look here, gentleman — there is trouble, but 
not for you. There is blood, much blood — but that will 
be before you buy it." 

Mr. Edwardes thought that was quite enough, so giving 
her a few shillings went and rejoined his party. 

Not very long afterwards poor William Terriss was 
murdered at the stage-door of the Adelphi Theatre, and 
he was carried on to the stage, where he died. There was 
indeed blood — much blood — as the gipsy had foretold, 
and that theatre, the name of which begins with A, shortly 
afterwards became the property of Mr. Edwardes. 

William Terriss got his nickname, not from his deport- 
ment on the stage, as most people thought, but from the 
fact that he was for a long time an officer in the Navy. He 
was also a chess enthusiast, and on the afternoon of the 
tragedy I was sent round to the Adelphi Theatre with a 
verbal message from Mr. Edwardes for a return game 
with him. 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

I was told that Mr. Terriss would not arrive until about 
half an hour before the performance that evening, so I 
went back in what I thought was good time. I was just 
getting into Maiden Lane, where the stage-door of the 
Adelphi is, and happening to meet an old friend, stood 
for a few moments talking to him, when the murder took 

The assassin — named Prince — was hiding in a nook 
awaiting the arrival of Terriss, and when the actor was 
fitting his key into the lock of the private entrance, darted 
swiftly across the narrow road and plunged the knife into 
him. The theatre was crowded with an enthusiastic 
audience, for William Terriss was one of the most popular 
of actors of his day, looking forward to seeing their hero 
in one of his latest plays. 

Little dreaming of the awful thing, I continued on my 
errand, and arrived at the stage-door just as he was being- 
carried down the steps. Imagine my horror — nay ! 
terror, because I ran back like one demented to the 
Gaiety to tell Mr. Edwardes, but he had just left with 
some friends and gone to dinner. I took a hansom 
and drove to the first place where I thought he would 
be, and eventually found him and his friends at the 
Cafe* Royal. With my mind in such a state I forgot 
all about decorum and etiquette, and went straight to 
his table and told him the awful news as quietly as I 

But his friends must have overheard me, for, with looks 
of understanding, they rose as one man, and without a 
word or even a sign, left the building, and, as I learned 
afterwards, went straight to the Adelphi. 

Richard Le Gallienne, one of Terriss* dearest friends, 
wrote the following poem : — 


Lc Gallicnne's Poem 

To murder Terriss 'twas as though one said, 

" Come ! let us murder manhood, let us slay 

" The bravest face of beauty in our day, 

" Courage and honour find, and strike them dead, 

" Yonder young hero with the shining head — 

" Come ! let us smite him into senseless clay." 

Surely the very steel had leapt astray 

Ere it one drop of that kind blood had shed ! 

To murder Terriss ! quench that gallant light 

Of dauntless life, London's young Galahad. 

Of simple courage, honour, beauty, truth ; 

Romance's own proud image of a lad, 

Love's very vision of victorious youth. 

Terriss, good-bye 1 There is no play to-night ! 

To this day William Terriss' two sons, " Bill " and 
" Tom," who are in America running their own companies, 
producing films, never fail to write to me on the anniversary 
of their father's death. As I write, poor Breezy Bill seems 
to be looking at me from a very fine portrait painted by 
Mr. Shirley Fox, which is hanging on the wall in front of 

So ended the career of one of the handsomest and most 
popular actors that ever trod the stage, through the fevered 
imagination of a madman — for Prince was proved to be 

Mr. Edwardes liked others to participate in his pleasures. 
There never was a big race meeting at a get-at-able distance 
but he invited friends and members of his companies to 
coach down to the course. Ascot for preference, as one 
of his country resorts, Wingfield Lodge, was quite close. 
One of his successful horses was named after this house, 
Wingfield's Pride. Ascot is a four-day meeting, and 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

there was always the " Stationary " Coach reserved for his 
party. This was composed of the stars of the day. What 
an array of talent on one coach ! Lily Langtry, Nellie 
Farren, Birdie Sutherland, Letty Lind, Katie Seymour, 
Sylvia Gray, Ellaline Terriss, May Yohe, Grace Palotta, 
Maud Hobson, Marie Studholme, Evie Greene, and Julia 
Gwynne (Mrs. George Edwardes) ; but in addition to 
talent, what beauty ! 

But they were only a few of the party, for gallant as he 
was, Mr. Edwardes was not quite so selfish as to keep the 
less attractive opposite sex out of the festivities. Hayden 
Coffin, " Pat " Malone (the " Guv'nor's " right-hand man, 
without whom Mr. Edwardes is untruthfully supposed to 
have been unable to breathe, such was his indefatigability), 
Huntley Wright, " Teddy " Payne, Harry Monkhouse, 
Arthur Williams, Fred Leslie, Willie Ward, and Arthur 

Once the " Guv'nor " came out of the paddock ! Smiling 
radiantly, he told his guests that he had a nice little winner 
for them. " Now I want you all to back a winner. Just 
have a little bit on So-and-so. But don't you bother, I'll 
do it for you, and if anything goes wrong and it should 
happen to lose, I'll get Jupp to come round and collect 
the money." Which, of course, he never did, because my 
memory is very good, and being with him on all such occa- 
sions, I know he never allowed guests to be out of pocket. 

The next day was Saturday, and we coached down to 
Windsor Races. For some unknown reason he asked me 
if I had any money, and I said, " No." " What on earth 
do you do with your money ? You never seem to have 
any. Just take these two pounds and go over to the half- 
crown ring and put a bit on (he mentioned the name of a 
horse) and do yourself a bit of good." 

King Edward 

I consulted the race-card, but there was no such name. 
I took the hint and guessed that he did not want to 
encourage me to back horses, and I found out later that, 
although he gambled himself, he disliked leading others to 
do so. 

As stage-doorkeeper at the Gaiety I had the honour of 
coming into personal touch with the late beloved Peace- 
Maker of the World, King Edward VII. His Majesty 
arrived a little earlier than the appointed time, and, although 
attended by people who should have known the Royal 
entrance next to the stage-door, came to me. I conducted 
him, and shall always remember his amusement when he 
discovered his mistake. 






I COME to Show Girls. They are chosen not only on 
account of their figures,' height, and beauty — necessary 
attributes, it is true — but chiefly on account of their draw- 
ing power. Brains are not asked for so long as the show 
girl knows how to wear the beautiful gowns provided for 
her ; but the most important question is : how many stalls 
and boxes can she fill, with whom is she well acquainted ? 
If she is a woman of great personal attraction and boasts a 
lover or two of the aristocracy, she is certain of a position. 

She is then the means of attracting to the theatre nightly 
thrice or four times her weekly salary. She is paid a good 
one too, because, don't forget, she usually has a beautiful 
flat or a house which has to be kept. 

Some show girls, in addition, are really clever, and hav- 
ing once been entrusted with a few showy lines, come 
speedily to the front and turn out to be very fine actresses 
of a grand and statuesque order. The majority, though, 
retire, and I cannot recall one case of any being deserted 
and left in poverty. There have been other cases, of 
course, where a woman has merely used the stage career 
as a cloak, and when she has managed to land a good 
catch, has ruthlessly chucked the profession as something 
which, having served its purpose, is no longer of any use 
to her. 

There was a very beautiful young girl who came to us 
when she was about twenty-two years of age. I won't 
say she used the Gaiety to find a husband, but I remember 
she left the stage because she believed she was in love, 
and afterwards regretted the fact. She was a tall, fine- 


The Tall Fair Mannequin 

looking girl, with a lot of fair hair and a soft, sweet voice, 
and was a mannequin in a West End establishment. 

If I gave you its name you would all know it, and most 
of you would remember the name of the girl too. The 
establishment is patronized by people of great wealth, and 
naturally the mannequin came into contact with them. 
She was a sweet, unspoiled girl, but so remarkable was 
her beauty and so vivid her personality, that my Lady This 
and my Lady That would talk of her, and at one period, 
if the subject of beauty cropped up in the West End, one 
would be sure to cite the mannequin as the most beautiful 
girl in London. 

She became the topic of smart clubs and Park Lane 
drawing-rooms, and it was not surprising that her fame 
reached the ears of theatrical agents. At last one of them 
went to her and said that he could get her a job at the 
Gaiety. It was a long time before she could be persuaded 
that the offer was made in earnest, and when she agreed, 
she looked upon it more as a joke than anything else, and 
stipulated that she would still follow her employment. 

George Edwardes, upon the application of the agent, 
agreed to see her, and after one look offered her a position. 
He was amazed when she stated that she still wanted to 
follow her employment during the daytime, but thinking 
that the whim would soon pass, he consented. 

So this young girl, who could have become one of George 
Edwardes' greatest stars, paraded exclusive creations before 
aristocratic West End ladies in the daytime, and at night 
appeared in yet more gorgeous gowns at the Gaiety. 

George Edwardes watched her that night with the eye 
of an expert. For a little while success did not affect her- 
She would come quietly and go quietly, but soon my little 
office swarmed with floral tributes for her and invitations 

5 1 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

to supper. She seemed amazed at the furore she had 

created, and at first refused to have anything to do with 
her admirers. Of course her reserve attracted them the 
more, and one evening she drove up to the theatre with 
an enormously wealthy Italian Count. This gentleman 
had haunted the stage-door for days and days, until at last 
he had found a mutual friend, who introduced him to our 
new girl. 

I think the Count swept her off her feet. I heard that 
she had relinquished her post in the West End, and soon 
one of our Gaiety girls told me that the fair-haired enchan- 
tress had become engaged to the foreigner. Very soon 
she was literally covered with the most costly jewels, and 
her gowns were equal to any of the wonderful creations 
she had worn on the stage or up West. 

There was a sensation over a magnificent ermine coat 
she had been seen wearing on one or two occasions, and 
there was a lot of discussion in the girls' dressing-rooms 
as to what it had cost. Various guesses were made, until 
it became a topic all over the theatre. I made a guess, 
and backed my judgment with a small stake. Eventually 
there were quite a number of bets resting upon the price 
of this coat, and I was deputed to get the matter settled. 

I was very friendly with her, and the next time she 
arrived wearing the ermine coat I told her about the bets 
we had made regarding the cost and asked her to settle 
the point. For a moment she looked amazed, but then 
burst out into laughter, and said : " Of course I will tell 
you, Jupp. There is no secret about it, and as I am going 
to marry the Count, and am very much in love with him, 
I am sure he won't mind. The coat cost three thousand 
guineas." It was a much larger sum than I had estimated, 
but I won my bet. 

5 2 

face p. ?2 

Off in a Yacht 

That incident led to a further conversation, and I could 
tell that the girl was deeply in love with the man who 
professed so great an admiration for her and loaded her 
with presents. I really believe that she knew very little 
of the world when she first came to the Gaiety, and I ask 
you whether one girl in a thousand, suddenly transformed 
from a mannequin to a Gaiety favourite, would have kept 
her head any more than she ? The car she rode in, also a 
present from the reputed wealthy Count, was a perfect 
wonder. Although the girl never got beyond the ranks 
of the show girls at the Gaiety, I have seen Gaiety stars 
whose names were blazoned outside the theatre look with 
astonishment and envy as the one-time mannequin stepped 
from her royal car and passed to her humble dressing- 

One evening she did not check in at her usual time, and 
we had given her up when she dashed in excited and out 
of breath. There was no time for explanations then, and 
thanks to the dexterity of the dresser, her gowns were 
thrust on her rather than fitted, and she got on to the stage 
just in time. Before the show was over, word went round 
that she was not coming back. That night I missed her 
as she went out, but next day I heard that she had can- 
celled her contract at the Gaiety, and, although she had 
not actually broken off all connection with the West End 
establishment, she sent them word that she had now finally 
severed her agreement with them. 

I learned that the Italian Count had persuaded her to 
go on a yachting trip with him, and, loving and trustful 
as she was, the one-time mannequin had thrown up every- 
thing at his behest. The next time I heard from her she 
had landed at a fashionable Italian watering-place, and then 
there was a long silence. I often used to think of her, 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

and sometimes the " Guv'nor," who had been very dis- 
appointed at her suddenly relinquishing her stage career, 
asked me if I had any news. 

One morning I was taking down a telephone message 
when a girl walked into my office and quietly stood while 
I completed my business. As I replaced the receiver I 
looked at her, and my mind was stirred by vague memories. 
She was quietly dressed in a serge costume which had lost 
its smartness, and as I looked at her I saw that the girl 
was haggard and worn. 

She did not speak for a moment, and I vainly tried to 
place her. Then she smiled, and in a moment I knew 
her. Here, stripped of all her finery, and her once spark- 
ling eyes dimmed with weariness, was the beautiful manne- 
quin who might have been a Gaiety star. 

" Yes, Jupp, I have come back," she said in the quiet 
voice I knew so well, " and I want you to help me." Then 
she sat down, and without any hysteria or passionate tears, 
but with a pained note in her voice, which hurt me more 
than anything else, she told me what had occurred. " I 
suppose I was too simple and believed too readily," she 
said simply. Then she told me how, on arrival in Italy, 
the Count had turned out to be not so generous as every 
one in London believed him to be. " That would not 
have mattered to me," she went on, " but other things 
occurred, and I saw him in his true light. It was the 
shock of my life, and I thought my heart was broken when 
I discovered that his love for me had been pretence." 

Gradually I learned the full facts, and it turned out that 
the man who had loaded her with costly presents and whom 
she expected to marry, had left her stranded in one of the 
fashionable Italian resorts. She was in a swell hotel when 
she discovered the desertion, and to her consternation 


A Fresh Start 

discovered that practically all her valuable jewellery had 
gone, although some of it was in every legal sense her own 
property. It may have been the work of some hotel thief, 
but, be that as it may, nothing was recovered, and with 
only a few pounds in her pocket she returned to London. 

She was too depressed to go back to the exclusive estab- 
lishment in the West End where she had been so great a 
favourite, and asked me if I thought Mr. George Edwardes 
would give her another chance. I knew that the " Guv'- 
nor " was furious at the way the contract had been ruth- 
lessly thrust aside, but I also knew that he was one of the 
most kindly men in the world, and I told her I would see 

The M Guv'nor " always had a high regard for her, and 
under another name she took up an engagement in one of 
his touring companies. For the first time she gave her 
mind seriously to the stage as a career, acquiring the tech- 
nique and experience without which even such rare beauty 
as hers could not carry very far, and in the provinces at 
any rate most of you know her as one of your favourites ; 
and many a chorus girl on tour has told me that anyone 
in trouble or in doubt has no surer friend than the fair- 
haired leading lady who dances and sings as though she 
had never known a care in her life. 

Although show girls get excellent salaries and hobnob 
with the male members of the aristocracy, they are by no 
means allowed to play fast and loose with their theatrical 
obligations. They are paid to appear at the theatre and 
their regular attendance is enforced. If they are absent 
it is obvious that they must be spending the evening in 
company with a party of people, many of whom would 
otherwise be at the theatre. 

I remember Teddy Royce, Junr., when stage-manager, 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

making an example of one of these undependable girls. 
Miss J. H. sent a telegram one night to say that she would 
not be able to appear that night as she had burned a lot 
of her hair whilst curling it. What on earth prompted 
her to send that wire beats me. Three nights later she 
turned up, and I told her Mr. Royce wanted to see her 
before she went up to her dressing-room. She went down 
to him. 

" Let me see where you burned your hair off, Miss 

She took her hat off and made some sort of show as to 
where it was much shorter than it should be, and did her 
best to carry off the matter convincingly. 

But Mr. Royce merely said : " Well, Miss H., I am 
quite certain it cannot have grown very much in three 
nights, so you had better go home for the remainder of 
the run of this show. Perhaps it may be quite right again 
by the time we are ready to produce another." 

Another equally stately and attractive girl instantly took 
her place. There were always plenty of show girls on 
the waiting-list, and the fast and loose game was not worth 
the candle, especially if an engagement meant supplying a 
satisfactory " means of support " to any representative of 
the law who might suddenly take it into his head to make 

Miss Gertie Millar is an example of what talent and 
personality will do on the stage. There was a time when 
police had to marshal the crowds that gathered round the 
theatre to catch even a fleeting glimpse of her, as, with 
her Pekingese, she darted from stage-door to motor- 

She quickly proved that she was one of those who could 
never be kept in the ranks, and, forging ahead, she took 


Gertie Millar 

a leading part in a string of very successful musical come- 
dies, each one running into hundreds of performances, and 
in a short time Gertie Millar's name was boosted in the 
same large type as those of Edmund Payne, George Gros- 
smith, and Connie Ediss. She became the rage of 

Gertie Millar's name is as well known to-day as ever 
were such famous names as Jenny Lee, Jenny Hill, Nellie 
Farren, and Millie Hylton, and, needless to say, she had 
her admirers in the thousands. For quite a long period 
Gertie Millar was regarded as the biggest actress in 
London, and yet, with all her popularity, she never 

She married the composer, Mr. Lionel Monckton, and 
most of the plays in which she scintillated as a Gaiety star 
v/ere either composed by him alone or in collaboration with 
Ivan Caryll. It is a coincidence that one of the greatest 
successes she ever made was in the part of a Yorkshire girl, 
Mary, the heroine of that delightful play, " Our Miss 

Upon one occasion, when she had been spending a part 
of her summer holiday with her parents in Bradford, taking 
them about with her for trips here and there, I happened 
to be in Blackpool. In the evening I took a seat in a 
music hall in the Tower, and in front of me sat Gertie 
Millar and her husband, Lionel Monckton. 

On the bill was Mendel, the blind pianist, and part of 
his programme was to invite any member of the audience 
to come on the stage and play something, preferably a 
composition which had never been heard in public, and 
he would endeavour to reproduce it note for note. For a 
time no one seemed able to accept the invitation, and the 
turn looked in danger of falling flat, when Gertie Millar, 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

ever generous to help a fellow-artiste, persuaded her 
husband to go on the stage and play a test piece. 

Every life has its light and shade, and when she was 
the most famous woman in London, and her life seemed 
one continual round of sunshine and success, there hap- 
pened in the experience of Gertie Millar an episode which, 
quite unavoidable as far as she was concerned, necessarily 
caused her considerable pain and worry. 

In the early days of her Gaiety triumph Gertie Millar 
was one of the most courted women in London, and every 
night the theatre staff were kept busy dealing with floral 
tributes and other kinds of gifts. It meant a lot of work, 
but no one minded that, for Gertie Millar always had a 
cheery smile and kindly word for the most humble of the 
theatre attendants, and, indeed, we came in for a share of 
reflected glory. Whenever she went to her car Miss Millar 
made her way through an avenue of admiring crowds. 
Her admirers ranged from the highest to the lowest in 
the social scale, and there were many disappointed suitors 
when her engagement to Mr. Lionel Monckton was 

One of her most ardent worshippers was a young foreign 
nobleman. I often used to see him hanging around the 
stage-door, a tall young man about twenty-four years of 
age and of light colouring. Miss Millar avoided him 
every time she came through the stage-door. 

At last he secured an introduction to her, and offered 
her all sorts of valuable gifts if she would extend her friend- 
ship to him. Miss Millar gracefully declined any offer of 
friendship, and finally was distressed at the frequency with 
which he took to hanging around the theatre, and I did 
what I could to prevent any unpleasantness. 

I think this was just a case where a young fellow, rich 


The Infatuated Nobleman 

and impulsive, had fallen head over heels in love with the 
Gaiety actress, while she, on her part, refused him encour- 
agement and desired nothing better than to be left alone. 
I thought the young fellow looked a trifle pathetic as he 
hung around the stage-door waiting hours just to get a 
glimpse of the star as she hurried in ; but I was used to 
his sort, and none of us anticipated what was going to 
happen. I thought that the passing of time would cure 
the young man's hopeless infatuation; but instead of that 
he came and stood there every night, and very often went 
into the theatre and sat moodily in the stalls, having no 
eyes or ears for anyone but the woman who had so definitely 
rejected his advances. 

At last he became such a nuisance and upset Miss Millar 
so much that we had to put a stop to his visits. For quite 
a week he did not put in an appearance, and Miss Millar 
was rejoiced to think that there was an end to his unwelcome 

Miss Millar lived in Russell Square, and one night this 
foreign nobleman, whose reason must have given way, 
broke into the house. He was discovered, but before any- 
one could grapple with him, he shot himself dead. It 
was frightful for Miss Millar to be subjected to such an 
experience, and her nerves were badly shaken. When the 
police inquiry was held, nothing was brought to light to 
show what his motive could have been, beyond the fact 
of his hopeless infatuation for the Gaiety star, and the only 
presumption is that, through morbidly dwelling upon his 
disappointment, he lost his reason. 

Every one at the Gaiety was very much distressed on 
Miss Millar's account, for it was a nerve-racking ordeal 
for a woman of her kindly and vivacious temperament, 
and we were all glad when at last her nerves seemed to 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

recover from the consequent depression and shock, and 
she was once more the laughter-loving actress whom we 
knew so well. It says much for the affection with which 
the public regarded her, the undisputed queen in her own 
particular line, that, generous as they had been to her 
always, they should simply shower tributes upon her after 
this incident. 

I don't suppose her jewellery could be surpassed by any 
other living artiste, and the floral gifts I have known her 
to receive during the week would easily stock the largest 
florist's shop in the West End of London. For some time 
after the distressing affair in Russell Square she was over- 
whelmed with floral gifts, and I know how greatly she 
appreciated this method of the public in showing her their 
sympathy and affection. She deserved the popularity she 
won at the Gaiety with the public and staff alike, for she 
was very faithful to her old friends. 

All the time she had a dresser named Mrs. Williams, 
and no matter where she went she would not change her. 
At this present moment, when it looks as if the Gaiety 
star has finally retired from the stage, her old dresser, 
and I have it on direct authority from the dresser herself, 
is living in a nice house at Maidenhead, with an annuity 
of £150, both the gift of Miss Millar. 





AN instance of the rise from chorus girl to an exalted 
position is that of Sylvia Storey, the daughter of that 
very versatile man Fred Storey. She was not long upon 
the stage — at least she was quite young when she married 
Earl Poulett. 

Again, we have Rosie Boote, also one of our chorus 
girls who quickly came to the front, not only as an actress, 
but the singer of many songs which still live in the 
memory of middle-aged theatre-goers. She is now the 
Marchioness of Headfort. 

Going farther back, there is the romantic career of 
Connie Gilchrist, now the Countess of Orkney. She 
started her stage life at twelve, and could easily claim 
honours against the Infant Phenomenon of Charles 
Dickens' imagination, as she was a very excellent actress 
at that age ; but unlike the great majority of child 
actresses, who seldom fulfil their youthful promise, she 
remained at the Gaiety until she grew into a woman, and 
each year saw her adding to her laurels. She was the 
rage at the time of her first appearance at our theatre, and 
there were many managers trying to get her to sign on 
with them for their own productions, but she remained 
faithful to her first love. She had had some previous 
experience on the halls, but her real professional career 
started and finished with the Gaiety. After her marriage 
she was never seen again on any stage, but is a very 
prominent and beautiful personage in the hunting-field, 
especially in the neighbourhood of Melton Mowbray. 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

The famous Mrs. Stirling was at the Gaiety, and in the 
ranks of the show girls whose parts were chiefly of the 
" thinking ' order — but in her case her very silence was 
eloquent, for was she not the talk of London for a long 
time ? Her divorce case was the sensation of the day, and 
the chief topic. Why people should have thronged about 
the stage-door to see her go in or come out, I cannot conceive, 
but they did, all the same, and the radiance of our 
star artistes was momentarily obscured. She was a Miss 
Clara Taylor, hailing from New York, but when she came 
to our theatre in " Our Miss Gibbs " she had been married 
to Mr. John Alexander Stirling, a lieutenant in the 3rd 
Scots Guards, and divorced by him at the early age of 
twenty-four. He was only twenty-eight himself. 

This divorce case started in January, 1909, before Lord 
Guthrie in Edinburgh, and there were cross-petitions be- 
tween the husband and wife. Mr. Stirling cited Viscount 
Northland as co-respondent, a man of twenty-six, the son 
and heir of Earl Ranfurley. 

And in her cross-petition Mrs. Stirling cited Mrs. 
Mabel Louise Atherton, the daughter of Sir Edward 
Dean-Paul, Bart., as co-respondent. That brought Mrs. 
Atherton into notorious prominence once more, because 
she had previously gone through the divorce court in 
an action by her husband, Colonel T. J. Atherton. In 
this case the co-respondent was Captain the Hon. J. R. L. 
Yarde-Buller. She had volunteered to go as a nurse dur- 
ing the South African War, and it was out there that she 
met Yarde-Buller. At the end of her case — which she 
lost — she sued Yarde-Buller for breach of promise, but he 
did not marry her. 

He married Miss Denise Orme, who was playing at 
the Gaiety in " Our Miss Gibbs " at the time when Mrs. 


The Count who was Shot 

Stirling came upon the scene. The close of Mrs. Ather- 
ton's troubled career came in 1 919, at the end of the war. 
The echo of the two long divorce suits fell upon the ears 
of the public as a revolver shot. Mrs. Atherton had 
committed suicide. 

Olive May was another girl who sprang into prominence 
at the Gaiety. It was in " Our Miss Gibbs," and she 
understudied Gertie Millar, and during the latter's absence 
in Manchester played the principal part very successfully 
indeed. Lord Victor Paget came upon the scene, and was 
to be found nightly in his usual stall feasting his youthful 
eyes on the graceful dancer. He obtained an introduction 
to her, and then divided his time between stalls and stage- 
door. He was a very persistent lover, and I remember 
one occasion when he got behind the scenes in spite of 
my refusal to admit him. 

On that night it was very inconvenient for Olive May 
to see him, and I told him that she was busy studying a 
new scene with the stage manager, and asked him to excuse 
her for not seeing him just then. He went away from 
my door and somehow or other made an entrance, because 
not much later in the evening our manager, Mr. W. H. 
Dawes, came to me and asked why Lord Paget had been 
admitted when Miss May had particularly requested that 
she should not be disturbed. 

I told him that he had not come through my door, so 
the only solution to the situation was that some of our 
attendants could not have been too superior in the matter 
of bribery. A golden coin has been known to work 
wonders and there is no doubt that the private door in the 
Strand leading to the gentlemen's dressing-rooms had been 
opened by a golden key. Olive May and Lord Paget 
were married shortly afterwards, but their happiness was 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

not of long duration, and the finish of their brief romance 
was in the divorce court, where she regained her name of 
Olive May. 

Another marriage into the peerage from the lesser lights 
of our theatre was that of Miss Irene Richards. She was 
not long with us before she became acquainted with Lord 
Drumlanrig, and his wooing was so ardent that the mar- 
riage took place very shortly, and so far theirs has fulfilled 
the happy ending which should belong to all such stories. 

A dramatic story of love and war is that of Miss Chloe 
O'Hara and a Russian Count. She was playing in " Yes, 
Uncle " in Birmingham, and her part was a prominent 
one originated by Miss Julia James. This brought her 
sufficiently to the front to be noticed by the Count. It 
was during the Great War, and people had too much on 
their minds to take heed of their love romance. They 
were married, and things seemed to be perfectly all right 
between them, but her prominence as an actress brought 
her husband under the vigilant eyes of the military author- 
ities, and he was asked to give an account of himself and 
his presence in England. His replies being extremely 
unsatisfactory, and our officers very rightly suspicious, 
he was interned and the Russian authorities communicated 

The result of our inquiries was a request for him to be 
deported and delivered into their hands. This was done, 
and when he was taken over and tried in Russia he was 
proved a Bolshevik and put up against a wall and shot. 

One sometimes reads in the newspapers of princely 
gifts made to popular actresses, and there is no reason in 
my mind to doubt the veracity of these reports, because 
I happen to know of numerous cases which have never 
been acknowledged. 

6 4 

Lillian Russell and Maud Hobson 

The Maharaja of Cooch Behar thought as little of pre- 
senting a lady with a Rolls-Royce, a diamond tiara, or 
even a furnished villa in the country or up the river as I 
should of standing a pal a cup of tea. 

I mention Cooch Behar's name because on each of his 
visits to London some one would be the richer, and his 
generosity was not confined to ladies. This fabulously 
wealthy Indian Prince was one of the most generous men 
I have come across, and those people who know nothing 
of theatrical life and always imagine that there must be 
an ulterior motive behind every gift, would but need to 
know Cooch Behar for a short time to realize that his 
presents were only the outcome of a generous nature. 

My stage-door was a miniature Covent Garden on the 
occasion of a First Night. Baskets of the most exquisite 
flowers from Bond Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly, and 
other quarters filled the hall, and as they were taken into 
the dressing-rooms of the ladies to whom they were sent, 
so their places were filled by another consignment. These 
flowers were not always of the " cut " variety, but growing 
in huge pots and in full bloom. 

The most beautiful present I ever saw was one sent to 
Miss Gabrielle Ray. It was a complete grape vine, which 
had been trained to grow in the shape of a half-hoop, and 
when it stood inside the hall looked like the handle of a 
gigantic fruit basket. It stood about ten feet high, and 
there were twenty bunches of beautiful black grapes 
suspended from the vine. I was told that it was first 
started to train in this manner purely as an experiment, 
and after eight years this was the result. It was certainly 
a thing of beauty, but an extraordinary one to deposit at 
the stage-door of a theatre as a gift. It was conveyed in 
a cart, and took four men to carry it. 

65 E 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

The death of Miss Lillian Russell reminds me that 
she could be included in the list of Gaiety stars, inasmuch 
as she appeared at the old theatre in 1883 in a musical 
play entitled " Virginia and Paul," composed by her 
husband, Mr. Edward Solomon, who afterwards was 
famous for much more successful plays than that. The 
beauty of Lillian Russell was comparable to that of our 
own lovely Maud Hobson, and the likeness between the 
two was remarkable. 

The last time Maud went to America to play was in 
1903, and she played Lady St. Mallory in " Three Little 
Maids," that delightful one-man piece, book, lyrics, and 
music by the late Paul Reubens. Lillian Russell was 
in New York, playing at Webber and Fields' on 29th 
Street and Broadway, and Maud Hobson was next door 
at Daly's Theatre, Broadway. Then the resemblance was 
instantly noticed, and when these two beautiful stars walked 
out together they presented a picture such as only twin 
sisters could. Maud Hobson was very well known in the 
States, and was sometimes referred to as the English Lillian 

Maud Hobson was the niece of John Hollingshead, 
who was the first manager of the Gaiety, and naturally 
became acquainted with his chosen friends. Her jewellery 
was exquisite and valuable, but she never made an 
unbecoming display of it. She used jokingly to say that 
she was saving it up for her old age. As a matter of fact 
she had a magnificent diamond tiara safely lodged in her 
bank which would have provided for a dozen old ages. 
She never needed it, for it remained with her, along with 
her still lovely face, until her death. 

Talking of presents and the play " Three Little Maids ' 
reminds me of a slice of luck that befell the diminutive 


Johnst m II "»niiin. 

face p. 66 

The Making of Stars 

George Carrol, who played the part of the Caddy in that 
piece. The " Maids " made their entrance in a governess 
car, drawn by a fine little donkey, and when the run of the 
piece was drawing to a close, George Edwardes one day met 
George Carrol with his little daughter. The " Guv'nor ' : 
was so taken with the little one, that when the last night 
arrived he told Carrol that he could take the donkey and 
car as a present for his little girl. Some present ! It 
would have been a bit awkward if he had lived in a flat 
in Brixton, but fortunately he had a nice place out some- 
where in the neighbourhood of Barnes. As no one is 
supposed to have ever seen a dead donkey, perhaps it is 
still alive and doing service for his grandchild. 

The reader must not be carried away with the idea that 
the life of an actress is one long round of gaiety, with just 
sufficient breathing time to attend to her professional 
duties. She is not always holding court and either accept- 
ing or rejecting the hearts of princely lovers. Stars are 
made by the public alone. Outside influence, or inside 
influence, if it comes to that, can certainly put a person 
into a prominent position, and cause their names to be writ 
large on the outside of the theatre ; but these influences 
cannot keep these people in such prominent positions with- 
out the approval of the public. Over and over again 
attempts have been made to thrust the alleged ability of a 
woman down the throats of the man and woman in the street, 
but when they have paid their shillings and half-crowns, 
they give their own verdict, and that is the true one. 

But when a star is discovered, and all London has his 
or her name on their lips, and the success made in 
one night proves to be a permanent one, then, in ninety- 
nine cases out of a hundred, that fortunate girl has had a 
sound training either in the provinces or as an understudy, 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

and being given a chance, her gifts have been imme- 
diately recognized by the public, and nothing can take 
away the fact that she has arrived. That is the person 
who worthily has her name in large type and whom the 
public pay to see. 

There are several places known as the " comedian's 
grave," but it is only because the public's is a sense of 
humour so keen that more than a red nose is required to 
amuse them. A better name for those cities would be 
" The Alleged Comedian's Grave." Take two cases of 
sudden leaps into fame — Miss Irene Vanbrugh and G. P. 
Huntley, the most lovable of all the " silly ass " types we 
have ever had. 

In each case there was sound experience and great 
ability, but they had to wait for that wonderful day to arrive 
when their chance would come and the tide in their affairs 
take a turn. It was said of Miss Vanbrugh, when she 
made such an enormous success as Sophie Fulgarney in 
" The Gay Lord Quex," that the curtain rose on an eight- 
pound artiste and fell on an eighty-pound artiste. She 
was not a pampered pet, but was and is an actress of 
rare gifts, and the success she made has proved to be 

So in the case of G. P. Huntley. He had been known 
for years in the provinces, but after his first performance 
in London in " Kitty Gray " he was famous all over the 
world. To the present day there is only one G. P., as 
his personality is essentially one apart and inimitable. 

Another name which was once in very small type, but 
suddenly grew into prominence and is now known the 
world over, is Gladys Cooper. She had been in the chorus 
on tour, and later played small parts, and when she came 
to the Gaiety understudied Miss Denise Orme (now Lady 


Mabel Russell 

Churston) in " Our Miss Gibbs." When Miss Orme 
left, Gladys Cooper played her part of Lady Betty, and 
made a great success in it. 

I need scarcely mention her beauty, because picture 
post-cards of her can be seen in the shop windows any- 
where from Tooting to Timbuctoo, or Yarmouth to 
Yokohama. She abandoned musical comedy and went 
into the legit., which was evidently her real metier, because 
she is now one of our foremost actress-managers, and 
along with Mr. Frank Curzon has produced some very 
fine plays. 

Constance Collier was also at one time a show girl at 
the Gaiety, but speedily proved that she was a very gifted 

One of the most romantic stories of the Gaiety stage is 
that of the still popular and lovely Marie Studholme. 
Some ten or fifteen years ago Marie was a great musical 
comedy favourite, and whenever she appeared at the famous 
old theatre one could be certain that the stalls and boxes 
would be crowded out. 

Marie was a kind-hearted girl, and deserved her popu- 
larity. She was among the prettiest of all Gaiety stars, 
and certainly one of the most successful. I can offer my 
assurance that her wonderful smile was in no way an affec- 
tation, because she was nearly always so jolly that the smile 
was merely in keeping with her spirits. Her first husband 
she divorced, and then remained single for quite a time, 
until one day a young gentleman came into her life, whom 
she eventually married. This was Mr. Harold Borrett, 
a son of General Borrett. 

A tall, smart, military man, Mr. Borrett was a fine 
fellow. His devotion to the lovely Marie was such that 
he actually obtained an engagement in " Lady Madcap " 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

to be near her. He had a good voice, so was quite worthy 
of his contract, and was not regarded by the rest of the cast 
as an interloper. 

In her riverside bungalow at Laleham she still likes to 
entertain her friends of former days, and the possession or 
absence of wealth on the part of her guests makes very 
little difference to her. 

What a romantic career, too, is that of Miss Mabel 
Russell, who, ten years ago, made such a name for herself 
in London at Wyndham's Theatre with Sir Gerald Du 
Maurier. There was no influence behind that delightful 
little actress, and although she rose to great heights, she 
never forgot the days of her humble beginning. 

To-day she lives in an exquisite corner of Mayfair, 
but success has not robbed her of one little bit of womanly 
grace and charm. A sweetly pretty girl, and a dancer 
of airy grace, she was the sort of girl every one loved 
at first sight. George Edwardes found her, and with his 
unerring instinct for talent knew that here he had a great 
star in the making. 

I remember her when she was a pretty chorus girl about 
eighteen years of age. For some time it must have seemed 
to her that she was destined for the chorus and the chorus 
only, but the beloved " Guv'nor " watched her very care- 
fully, and she got her chance in one of the George Edwardes' 
provincial tours. 

She quickly won the heart of the provincial audiences, 
and if she had been less clever I believe she would still 
have been successful, by reason of her perfectly delightful 
personality. On tour she made many friends, and nearly 
every week entertained millhands to tea without fuss or 
publicity. These girls literally worshipped her, and out 
of their love for her used to send her tributes in the shape 


A Motor Tragedy 

of dress lengths, pieces of silk, etc., and would wait for 
hours around the stage-door if they could get just a glimpse 
of their idol. 

It was just the same inside the theatre. I have seen 
the rest of the girls gather together in the wings when 
Mabel Russell was making her d^but in a new role, and 
watch her fate with as keen and nervous an interest as 
though it were their own. If Mabel won success, every 
individual in the company rejoiced over the fact. 

When she came to town she became our foremost 

Romance came to Mabel early, but it was a romance 
short-lived, ending in tragedy. When she was over- 
whelmed with gifts and almost deafened by applause, she 
would smile and say in her whimsical way, " I can hardly 
believe all this is meant for me," and it was in some such 
spirit that she realized that Stanley Rhodes, a nephew of 
the great financier, Cecil Rhodes, had lost his heart to her. 

Mabel was about nineteen when this joy came to her, 
and as I write I can see the two lovers now as I used to see 
them driving up to the stage-door. He was a tall, fair, 
handsome man, about twenty-three, quiet and self-com- 
posed, and she, a smiling, radiant vision, appreciating the 
joy of it all in the memory of the struggle of her youth. 

Stanley Rhodes would bring her to the Gaiety in his 
car, and take her away after the show, while several times a 
week he would shower bouquets upon her. There is no 
shadow of doubt that it was a real love-match. Other 
people showered wonderful bouquets upon her, some of 
them worth £20 at least, but although she received them 
with a grateful smile, she always looked for her lover's 
tribute, a bunch of orchids, which were her favourite 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

There was great excitement in the Gaiety company 
when the marriage was announced, and it was just in keep- 
ing with her kindness and comradeship to invite every 
one to the wedding. George Edwardes was very cut 
up at losing her from the stage, for her position with the 
public was absolutely secure, but he got over his dis- 
appointment in time to wish her the greatest happi- 

When Stanley Rhodes led his beautiful bride to the 
altar we all anticipated a happy journey along the primrose 
path of joy and contentment for both of them, but within 
a few months the dream was shattered. Rhodes idolized 
his wife, and rarely went anywhere without her. They 
had great plans for the future, when death intervened. 
They were out motoring together, when there was collision. 
The husband was driving the car, and was killed, and 
Mabel, who was by his side, was thrown out and badly 

" It was a shocking thing, Jupp," she said to me when 
I saw her some time after the accident, and for a long time 
we wondered whether the happy-spirited star we knew 
so well would ever recover her spirits. Time, however, 
heals the deepest wounds, and eventually she came back 
to the stage, and after a long interval we rejoiced in the 
knowledge that romance had again come into her life. 
She is now very happily married to Mr. Hylton Phillipson, 
and is a proud mother of two children, a boy and a girl. 
The girl was born during the two minutes' silence on the 
first Armistice Day, and there is no prouder mother in 
London than the former Gaiety star. 

While on the subject of individual admirers I must 
tell you of one of the most remarkable episodes during my 
period of service at the Gaiety. Perhaps the reader will 


The Infatuated Sultan 

think that in some details I am imaginative, but the story 
is true in every detail. 

A Sultan of Zanzibar became infatuated with Madge 
Saunders, the beautiful Gaiety actress who is now Mrs. 
Leslie Henson. The Sultan was on a visit to London, and 
several times came to the Gaiety. He was a Nubian, 
blacker than night, and I should imagine that if his ances- 
tors were anything like him, they must have been the 
origin of Nubian Black. 

Nowadays the customs and conventionalities of civilized 
countries are understood if not appreciated by even the 
nomads of the desert, but this Sultan had evidently not 
been initiated into the rules governing London Society. 
One night he was in the Royal Box with two or three of 
his suite, when he decided that Madge Saunders would 
be a great capture. His plenipotentiary came to me and 
said that he wished to convey a message from the Sultan 
to Miss Saunders, acquainting her of the Monarch's con- 
descension and pleasure. 

I said I would send down to the artiste and ask if she 
would see him. This surprised him greatly, and he told 
me that it was the Sultan's command that he should go 
straight away and deliver his message, and it must be 
obeyed instantly. I am sure that I would have been taken 
out and knobkerried if I had been in Zanzibar, but feeling 
secure in the Gaiety I told him that I was in command, and 
that he must wait until I received an answer from Madge 

The reply came to the effect that she regretted that she 
could not receive the Sultan, as all her spare time would be 
fully taken up that evening. That was enough for me, 
and, having received my cue, I soon convinced the Ambas- 
sador that his request was a hopeless one. The intimation 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

was followed by a scene which would have been considered 
too absurd and ludicrous for even the wildest burlesque. 
The Sultan, when he heard of Miss Saunders' answer, 
became furious, and, stamping out of the box, went down 
to the vestibule and demanded to see the manager, Mr. 

He said that he had decided to buy Miss Saunders, and 
that she was to be delivered up to him as soon as the per- 
formance was over. It took a long time to make him 
understand that such purchases were not allowed in this 
country, and he was not mollified for a long time. The 
Royal party left the theatre eventually, one member of the 
suite at least threatening all sorts of things, and great care 
was taken to see that nothing untoward befell Miss 
Saunders until the Sultan had left the country. 

Madge Saunders was a great favourite while she was at 
the Gaiety, and the success she made in one night has 
proved to be a permanent one. 

Occasionally a Gaiety artiste would have a faithful 
follower who kept aloof from the usual circle of perfervid 
admirers, and I shall never forget how one man worshipped 
Violet Lloyd, one of the Gaiety stars in " The Shop Girl." 
While this popular artiste was playing at the Gaiety she 
was the means of bringing in at least one shilling nightly 
which would not have been paid over if she had been 
absent. This nightly payment was made by a man who 
earned a humble living in the waste-paper line. A humble 
sort of business, it is true, but his devotion to Violet Lloyd 
was comparable to that of a sinner for his patron saint. 

Every night this man would take up a position outside 
the stage-door and wait for Miss Lloyd to arrive. When 
she approached he would go down on his knees, and, with 
hands clasped as if in prayer, reverently follow her with 


An Admirer on his Knees 

his eyes. As soon as Miss Lloyd had disappeared through 
the stage-door he would go straight to the gallery and pay 
his shilling. This nightly procedure was remarked upon, 
and the attendant in the gallery kept a sharp eye on the 

The fellow would always have a newspaper with him, 
which he perused during the show, but the moment Violet 
Lloyd came on the stage down went the paper, and he 
would watch her with rapture. On her exit up went the 
paper again until she reappeared. This happened at 
every performance, and after a few nights of it the girl 
became rather nervous, although the man did not obtrude 
himself in any way. 

As the poor old fellow was not the least bit offensive, I 
just mentioned the matter to a detective friend at Bow 
Street Police Station, and the next night a couple of 
detectives came along and watched him perform his rites 
of silent adoration, and then pay his shilling as usual. 
They followed him after the show was over, and reported 
to me the next day that they had found out who and what 
he was, and where he lived. They were satisfied that, 
although humble, he was quite respectable. One of the 
detectives gave him a hint that his behaviour was rather 
disconcerting to Miss Lloyd, and it was noticed that from 
that night he took up a position on the opposite side of the 
street, but from where he still commanded a full view of 
the stage-door. 

All through the long run of " The Shop Girl " he kept 
up this procedure, and paid his shilling for the gallery with 
unfailing regularity, until Miss Lloyd went away with 
one of the principal Gaiety touring companies for the open- 
ing night of a new show at the Prince's Theatre, Man- 
chester. When she arrived at the Manchester stage-door 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

she found her devoted waste-paper man standing on the 
opposite side of the little back street. 

She noticed this, and felt grateful to the man for sparing 
her further embarrassment. He followed the company 
all along its provincial tour, going into the gallery armed 
with the evening paper every night, and apparently follow- 
ing his humble calling in each town where the play was 
produced. Every night Miss Lloyd saw him in the 
gallery until, just about a fortnight before the tour ended, 
he failed to put in an appearance on the Monday night. 

The star, with whom he had never sought to exchange 
a single word, missed him, and when his disappearance 
was related to me, we wondered what had become of him. 
About a month later he pulled up his barrow outside my 
stage-door at the Gaiety and came in to see me. 

He related how he had gone after the company, as I 
have told you, but his money being exhausted, had been 
forced to tramp back from Nottingham to London, sleeping 
under hedges at night and picking up a bit of work here 
and there so as to get sufficient food to keep going. The 
poor fellow had spent all his savings, a little over £60, and 
had gone back to his business of buying old newspapers, 

He told me that as soon as he had saved up a little money 
again he would follow Miss Lloyd about until he died. 
All he desired was that he could see her once each day, 
and then his day would be crowned with happiness. I 
told Miss Lloyd of our conversation, and, kind-hearted 
now as always, she said that if the man was in distress I 
was to help him, but not to let him know that she was the 
good Samaritan. 

As it happened, the old fellow never came near the 

Gaiety again. 






IT is extraordinary the extremes to which people can be 
driven by their so-called love for another. The weekly 
papers generally devote several pages to stories of crimes 
— murders and suicides, all of which are committed through 
desperation of some kind, and which is put down to love, 
but which is nothing more nor less than jealousy, that 
jaundiced state of mind which distorts one's mental vision. 
Jealousy is born of an overwhelming selfishness, and has 
no more relation to love than a cesspool has to a running 

The uncanny effect that some women have upon the 
sensibilities of certain men is incredible, and the lengths to 
which the men go are almost unbelievable. I have men- 
tioned a few cases in this respect, but I think for downright 
hysteria the one concerning Mile. Gaby Deslys is unequalled. 

This man had followed her all over the Continent, and 
wherever she happened to be performing, he could always 
be found. He begged and implored for her favour, he 
bribed people to get him an introduction, but she would 
have nothing to do with him. None of his numerous 
offerings ever reached her, but still he persisted. When 
she came to London this man followed her, never giving 
up hope that one day he would succeed in winning her 
favour. He became such a nuisance to her that he was 
warned about his behaviour, and told that if he persisted 
in pressing his unwelcome attentions upon her, more 
drastic measures would have to be taken. In his case it 
could not have been love, for he had never spoken to her 
in his life, and knew nothing of her character or disposition. 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

It was purely— or rather impurely — an overwhelming 
desire, and the failure of all his efforts to satisfy it gradually 
drove him into a state of hysteria. 

One night she was going through one of her dancing 
turns with her partner, Harry Pilcer, when suddenly a 
wild-eyed man jumped up from his seat in the front row 
of the stalls and caused great consternation by throwing 
handfuls of gold and silver at her. Then he whipped out 
his gold watch and chain, gold cigarette-case, and a pocket- 
book and threw all of them at Gaby Deslys' feet, and all 
the time making most passionate avowals of his love for 
her. He was led out by a couple of the attendants, and 
taken to the stage-door. His property, and as much of 
the money as could be recovered, were all restored to him, 
and then he was given the choice either to promise never 
to molest Mile. Deslys again or be given into charge, in 
which case matters would be made pretty black against 

On giving his solemn word not to offend again he was 
allowed to go. A careful watch was kept so that he should 
not manage to gain admission to the theatre, but he never 
turned up again. Perhaps the climax was reached when 
he suddenly lost all control over himself and made such 
an exhibition of his insanity, and then the spell was broken, 
his reason returned to him, and he had become a normal 
being once more. 

I remember another case of even a stranger attitude. 
Stranger, because the man was a clever, perfectly level- 
minded man. He was a wealthy man, hailing from Syd- 
ney, Australia, and during a visit " Home " he paid a 
visit to the Gaiety. He fell in love with our then leading 
lady, Miss Evelyn Laye, but in that passive way in which 
true lovers of flowers can wander through a garden with- 


The Silent Lover 

out the least desire to pluck a rose for his own personal 
possession. From the moment he saw her on the stage 
no other woman had any more than the ordinary attraction 
that a nice man responds to. Yet he never sought to 
know her. 

He would sit in his stall nearly every night just for the 
pleasure of looking upon her fresh young beauty — for she 
was a lovely girl — and it was well known that the bouquets 
and dainty boxes of chocolates sent anonymously were 
really at his expense. It was really a most novel and 
interesting case of unselfish devotion. 

It happened that there was a vacancy for an electrician 
to work on one of the limelight perches, and the man who 
successfully applied for the job was this extremely unde- 
monstrative lover. His name was Sam Worthington, and 
he proved to be a thoroughly sound and practical man 
with a good all-round knowledge of the possibilities of 
electricity, so that he was quite worthy of his hire. This 
Mr. Sam Worthington was perfectly content to throw the 
limelight on to the artistes during the show so long as 
Evelyn Laye was one of them. 

The flowers and chocolates still continued to arrive, but 
he never gave the slightest indication of having any know- 
ledge of them, but there was no possible doubt that he 
was the sender. He never spoke to Miss Laye, never 
made a business excuse to do so, and when she left the 
Gaiety to play the leading part at another theatre, he sud- 
denly found that the job didn't suit him, and promptly 
gave it up. 

There was another case of quite a different character to 
either of the foregoing, and the ending to it was quite a 
fitting one. As far as my personal knowledge was con- 
cerned it only lasted a fortnight, and I used to call it " Billy's 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

little love affair." The girl's name was Billy K , and 

a very nice, quiet, almost sedate little girl she was. She 
used to come nearly every night unattended, and she would 
never give the slightest encouragement to would-be fol- 
lowers. The only exceptions were when she came in the 
company of her fiance, and on those occasions he would 
take a seat in the circle and wait for the show to finish. 
Then he would come round and have a chat with me until 
" Billy " was ready to be taken home. 

I didn't like the attitude of the man at all. He did 
not seem to trust the girl out of his sight, and his questions 
as to what she did and who met her on the nights he was 
away made me thoroughly disgusted. 

It was thus that I got to know the man's voice quite 
well, and hence this little story. One night Billy 
came to the theatre alone, and went straight up to her 
dressing-room. Very shortly afterwards the 'phone rang, 
and taking up the receiver, I heard a voice which sounded 
somewhat familiar, asking if he could speak to Mr. 
Jupp. I answered that Jupp was speaking. " Oh, is 
that you, Mr. Jupp ? Well, could you tell me if Miss 

Billy K has arrived yet ? " I told him that she had ; 

then he asked me if I would give her a message. It was 
a request that she would go out to supper with him that 
night. " She might not exactly remember him, but it 
was quite all right. He had had the pleasure of meeting 
her a few nights ago, and would be greatly indebted to 
me if I could get her to go out with him." 

That rather put me off, because I thought I knew who 
was speaking. I sent up the message, and gave him the 
answer, which was a polite but most decided refusal. 
This happened for four nights, and she said it was an 
extraordinary thing that this rush of invitations should 


"Billy's Little Love Affair 


come so unexpectedly. She had no recollection of having 
met any strange young men lately, and had no idea who 
they could possibly be. 

I have remarked that I resented the way her fiance had 
questioned me, and her remarks made me somewhat sus- 
picious. I thought I would give her a little assistance, as 
she was such a thoroughly nice girl, and worthy of a far 
better man than this poor-spirited fellow. 

" Well, to be quite frank with you, Billy, I first thought 
it was your fiance's voice. A trifle hoarser, but his all 
the same." She couldn't see my drift, so I left it at that, 
but I intended to take a sort of paternal attitude. The 
next night her fiance came along with her, and I purposely 
broached the subject before the girl had left him. 

" I think your young friend must have given up asking 
you out to supper with him. It is past his usual time for 
ringing me up." 

I knew at once that my remark had hit home by the 
sly, sidelong glance he gave me. " Has some one been 
asking you to go out with him, dear ? " he asked. " Who 
is he ? " 

She reassured him with a slight pressure on his arm, 
and answered : " I haven't the least idea who he is — he 
never gives any name — merely states that we met a few 
nights ago, but I don't remember anyone at all. Anyhow, 
he can stop asking me, for I don't intend to go, whoever 
he is." 

With that she left him, and went inside and up to her 
dressing-room. I said nothing, and he also went away. 

The next night I was rung up again, and the same 
request was made, with the usual refusal. It went on for 
a few more nights — then another vacant one — he was 
accompanying her. This rotter couldn't trust the girl, 

8 1 F 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

and his mean jealousy of her made me angry, so one night 
I persuaded her to let me promise that she would go out 
with him if he would call after the show. 

She said she would do nothing of the kind, so I told 
her that I firmly believed it was her fiance all the time, 
and he was only playing a cowardly game to find out what 
she did in his absence. I asked : " What is he doing 
to-night ? Can he possibly come to take you home ? " 

" No, this is one of his late nights. He can only spare 
about two nights a week — to-night he is too busy." 

Now that was just what I wanted. " Well, look here, 
Billy — let me make the appointment for you to go to supper 
with this alleged new acquaintance, and I'll bet you what 
you like you will find your jealous young fiance* will be 
here to tax you with infidelity." 

Then the light dawned, and with an incredulous stare 
she asked me if I really thought that such was the case. 
" If I thought he would behave like that to me, I would 
never forgive him 1 Why, I never go out with anybody, 
and that is why I have been so puzzled as to who it could 
be so persistently asking me to go out with him ! Oh ! 
Jupp, do you really think it is he ? " 

" Well, let me give the answer, and we shall soon know. 
After all, you will at least know where you stand, won't 
you ? " 

At this she consented. Sure enough, the 'phone rang, 
and I was urged to do my utmost to get Billy to say " Yes." 

I told him that Miss K had left a message to the effect 

that if that same gentleman rang up and asked her to go 
to supper, I was to say that she would accept if he would 
bring a friend with him who could entertain a girl she 
would bring. He answered that he would do so, and 
would call just after eleven o'clock. 


A Malicious Young Skunk 

Shortly after the show was over, who should march into 
the stage-door but Billy's fiance. 1 le had a triumphant 
sneer as he asked me if Billy had gone yet. I said, " No, 
she has not come down yet — but she is going out to supper 
with a friend. She is not expecting you to-night." 

The malicious young skunk said : " I know all about 
that, thank you. But you are mistaken in one point. She 
is not going out to supper. I am here waiting for her." 

That put " paid " to the bill, and I only said, " Very 
well, you can wait for her — but not in my hall. Get out 
— and get out quickly before I lose my temper." 

When Billy came down I told her what had occurred, 
and she asked me to let her call him in again. She did 
so, and he came. 

She said very quietly, but quite firmly : " For a fort- 
night you have been ringing up, pretending to be some 
one else, and trying to find out what sort of girl I am. I 
didn't suspect you until to-night, so I decided to put my 
doubts at an end. I am not in the habit of going about 
with chance acquaintances, and that is why I have been 
refusing you all this time ; little dreaming that I was 
being spied upon. I now refuse you yourself, and further- 
more, I forbid you ever to seek my company again. I 
have finished with you for ever." 

She said " Good night " to me, and without a glance 
at her late fiance, went out. He was about to follow her, 
but I quickly stepped in front and said : " Oh ! no, you 
don't. I ordered you out of my hall a few minutes ago, 
but now I've changed my mind. You shall stop here 
until that dear little girl has time to get away. Then you 
can go, and understand, you are not to come here again." 

So ended what I call " Billy's little love affair." 

Talking about the telephone reminds me of an occasion 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

when I was rung up in error which turned out a profitable 
mistake for me. It was about two-fifteen in the afternoon, 
when a ring came. A voice asked : " Is that you, 
Jimmy ? " " Yes," I answered, just as I do to scores of 
people who ask the same question by way of preface. 
" Right-o ! Take this down, will you ? For the two- 
thirty — ten bob each way on Box-of-Tricks, and ten bob 
each way Sweet Katie for the three-fifteen." I stopped 
him when he had got so far. " I say, you've made a mis- 
take. I'm not a bookmaker. My name certainly is 
Jimmy, but I'm not the man you want. You'd better 
buck up and get the right number if you want to be in 
time for the two-thirty race." 

He rang off, and from what happened to me I sincerely 
hope he got on in time. I looked up the horses named, 
and asked our stage-manager, who was a sort of racing 
expert, what he thought of them. He said as the tips 
had come in such an accidental way I might just as well 
have a small flutter on them. 

I rang up a man we had occasional transactions with, 
and had half a sovereign each way on those two horses. 
They both won, and at a good price too ; but such is the 
awful greed of man that I regretted not putting more on. 
However, I am extremely obliged to my unknown tipster, 
but should he happen to be numbered among my readers 
I hope he will believe me that all my winnings were spent 
long ago. 

George Edwardes used to cross the Channel so fre- 
quently, either on business or pleasure bent, that he found 
it less bother to take a season ticket between Folkestone 
and Boulogne than to book a passage each time he went, 
and in course of time he became quite well known on each 
side of the water as well as on board the steam-packets. 


Pangs of Conscience at Sea 

I suddenly had a great desire to cross the water and 
make acquaintance with the casinos at Boulogne and 
Wimereux. But the expense was a little bit above my 
limit, so, being by way of confidential man to the " Guv'- 
nor," I told him that I should like to spend part of my 
holiday over there, but the expenses were too high for my 
small savings. 

I asked him if he would be using his season ticket about 
that time, and that was quite as much a hint as he needed. 
He chuckled a bit — at my cheek, I suppose — but said if 
I didn't mind taking the risk of being found out, he had 
no objection. He warned me, though, that it might mean 
having to pay double fare and possibly a heavy fine into 
the bargain. 

A little excitement of that kind only added to my plea- 
sure, so off I went, armed with the all-important season 
ticket, and without the slightest qualms. Not until I got 
to Folkestone did I fully realize what I was doing. I 
was impersonating a man who was well known to practically 
all the officials, and it would be a marvel if I got through 
all right. Then again there was the return journey. I 
began to funk it, and had almost decided to pay my own 
fare ; but it suddenly crossed my mind that I could pre- 
tend that I had taken the wrong season out of the office 
drawer in my hurry. Anyhow, I would chance my luck. 

Everything went on famously, because at the pier and 
at the foot of the gangway they merely glanced at the ticket 
and I was allowed to pass. 

But on board it was different. They thoroughly examined 
each one in turn. 

When the examiner approached me, my heart jumped 
into my throat, but swallowing it again I presented the 
ticket with my thumb over the name. That did not 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

succeed — he wanted to hold the beastly thing in his own 
hands and have a good look at it. His first remark made 
me feel sick. " You have got very much thinner, Mr. 
Edwardes. Have you been ill ? And if I may make a 
personal remark, I think you look much better with your 
nice fair hair and moustache. What on earth made you 
dye them ? " 

He said all this with an amused little smile. He was 
considerate enough to say it all very quietly, so that no 
one else could hear, and shortly afterwards I learned the 
reason for this clemency on his part. " But perhaps I 
am anticipating, eh, Jupp ? Perhaps you are only taking 
charge of the dear old Guv'nor's ticket, eh, my old friend 

J«PP ? " 

What a relief ! He knew me. So taking a good look 
at him — a thing I had not dared to do before, in case he 
read my guilty conscience in my face — I recognized a one- 
time box-office keeper at the Vaudeville Theatre in the 
Strand. We shook hands, and he said it would be quite 
all right, but he would advise me to make sure that I 
travelled in his boat when returning, as every one knew 
Mr. Edwardes and I was sure to fall. 

I did not enjoy my little trip a bit, and was heartily 
glad to get back again at the end of a few days. I have 
been over many times since, but the ticket was always my 
own, and paid for by myself. It is only too true that 
conscience makes cowards of us all, and rain and storm, 
mud and slush, or even seasickness, are not in it as a down- 
right spoil-sport with a guilty conscience. I felt that 
every one I met knew all about it, and were whispering 
the fact to one another. 

Devotion to duty, no matter whether the task before us 
be of no particular importance, or one upon which the 


A Trip to Windsor 

fortunes of an Empire may rise or fall, is a most ennobling 
attribute to one's character, and greatly to be encouraged, 
especially in the young ; but we had an office-boy once 
who rather overdid it. He took things too literally. One 
morning the " Guv'nor " came to the office a shade earlier 
than usual and hastily wrote a note. He addressed the 
envelope and then told me to send the boy out with it at 
once, as it was about a matter that should have been attended 
to on the previous night. 

I had not finished going through the morning letters, 
so, just opening the office door, I called the boy and gave 
him the note. " Take this note straight away, Alf, and 
get back as soon as you can." The boy departed, and I 
returned to my work. It is a pity that I neglected to look 
at the address to which that note was directed. A penny 
stamp would have solved the whole thing. Half an hour 
went by, then an hour, and still no Alf. What on earth 
had become of the youngster ? Fortunately we had 
plenty of people to call upon to do any small jobs that an 
office-boy generally does. He had not been seen since 
the morning by anyone, although we made inquiries of all 
the stafF, and I began to get a bit anxious. 

I told the " Guv'nor " of the boy's long absence, and asked 
him if he had enclosed any money in the note. " No, 
Jupp, there was nothing in it. It was to tell my saddler 
to have some new harness ready by the time I get to Wing- 
field to-night, as I particularly want it for to-morrow." 

That boy turned up at six o'clock that evening, hungry 
and tired. I asked him what he had been doing all day. 
He looked very injured at being asked such a question. 
" You told me to take that note straight away and get 
back as soon as I could, but you did not give me my fare, 
so I had to go all the way home to Walthamstow first and 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

get the money off my mother, and it was some time before 
she came back to dinner. I took the note, and the man 
says I am to tell Mr. Edwardes it will be all right." 

I knew he was too young to have been drinking, but I 
couldn't grasp the facts of the case yet, and asked : " Money 
for your fare ? What fare ? Where have you been ? ' 
" Windsor ! " was the astonishing reply. The poor lad 
had obeyed my instructions too literally. 

When I told the " Guv'nor " about it, he said : " Well, 
whatever else one may think about it, he cannot be accused 
of being lazy or unwilling. Keep an eye on him, Jupp. 
We may make a good man of him. And here, give him 
this sovereign for his expenses." 

That boy remained in our employ until long after his 
first shave, and I often meet him in the West End, where 
he is a very prosperous transport agent. On the last 
occasion I met him he invited me into the Queen's Hotel, 
and during a chat about some of the old times, he sud- 
denly said : " By Jove, Jupp, this is a coincidence," and 
produced a letter from a saddler in Windsor respecting 
some harness which he had ordered. " Do you remember 
my famous journey to Windsor ? Well, that is the same 


Brilliant man of business and great artist that he was, 
George Edwardes had an appalling lack of memory for 
names, and would mix them up into an astonishing tangle. 
Sometimes I have had to guess whom he was talking about 
by means of associating the trend of his remarks with the 
profession of the man in question. For instance, he would 
say : " Jupp, remind me to tell Mr. Barket about those 
tables and chairs in the last act. They are spread out 
too much and block up the entrances." I knew by that 
that it was Mr. Burcher he meant. But he would not 


Confusing Names 

consistently call him Barket — sometimes it was Baker, and 
once it was Plucker. Where he got that name from I 
cannot imagine. 

We were in the thick of the final rehearsals of a new 
show, and every one was hard at it, when the "Guvnor" 
suddenly stopped the artistes who were on at the moment, 
and calling Teddy Payne and Katie Seymour to him, sug- 
gested that it seemed to be a very excellent place to work 
in a duet for the two of them. He gave them his idea 
of the duet, and the two artistes agreed with him. Right ! 
it should be arranged for at once. 

' Get on with what you are doing in the meantime. 
This duet will not interfere with any of the lines — it will 
only make a little break. Here, Mr. Wilson " — (his real 
name was Dodson, but that didn't matter) — " I want you 
to send for Eustace Miles at once. And tell whoever you 
send that he is not to come back without him. Find him 
as soon as possible, and bring him back with him." 

Mr. Dodson looked curiously at Mr. Edwardes, and 
asked : " Eustace Miles, sir ? Do you really want me 
to send for him ? " 

" Certainly I do, and at once — it's in connection with 
this restaurant scene, and a letter may not get to him until 
to-morrow morning — I want him at once ! " 

The mention of restaurant reconciled Dodson to the 
name of Eustace Miles, who is the proprietor of the famous 
Vegetarian Restaurant in Chandos Street, so the assistant 
stage-manager was dispatched at once. W T hen he arrived 
at the restaurant he asked if he could speak to Mr. Miles. 
" Mr. Miles is in his office — what name shall I say ? " 

' Say I have a message from Mr. George Edwardes, of 
the Gaiety Theatre, please." 

That promptly brought the famous ex-Tennis Champion, 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

and now Champion of the Vegetarian Cause, out of his 
private office. 

" You wish to see me, sir ? " 

"Yes, sir; Mr. Edwardes is very busy rehearsing at 
the moment, and he wishes to see you immediately." 

Mr. Miles looked puzzled. " Wants to see me- I 
don't know the gentleman. Are you sure there is no 
mistake ? " 

" There is no mistake if you are Mr. Eustace Miles, 
and this is certainly where our Mr. Dodson said I would 
most probably find you." 

Still in doubt, Mr. Miles asked : " But have you any 
idea what it is about, because I am very busy at present." 

" Oh, yes," he answered. " It is about a scene in a 
restaurant where a duet is to be introduced." 

Mr. Miles' brow cleared. " Oh, well, now I think I 
understand. If it's anything to do with a restaurant he 
may want some advice on technical details." 

In a very little while he presented himself before the 
"Guv'nor" and asked: "You want to see me, Mr. 
Edwardes ? What can I do for you ? " 

It was the " Guv'nor's " turn now to look puzzled. 

" Not that I know of, sir ! What is your name ? " 

" I am Mr. Eustace Miles, and your messenger has 
just come for me, saying it was on urgent business." 

The " Guv'nor's " face was a study, and it was the only 
time I ever saw him embarrassed. He got out of it very 
cleverly, and without letting Mr. Miles suspect that a 
mistake had been made. He kept him talking for a little 
while, and then they shook hands and parted. 

When he had gone the " Guv'nor " called Dodson over 
and said : " What on earth did you let me send for him 
for ? You must have known perfectly well that I meant 



face p. 90 


Eustace Ponsonby, and Leslie Stuart can compose the 


I suppose the great amount of work he was getting 
through made him confuse the name of the author with 
that of the restaurant-keeper, as the scene was all to do 
with a party at a restaurant. 

I never knew the " Guv'nor " to get ruffled over his work, 
and he never allowed himself to fret over it. M It had to 
be done," was sufficient for him, and he saw that it was 
done. The famous comedian G. P. Huntley has his own 
views on the subject of " Work." He once said to me, 
' D'you know, Jupp, old sport, my favourite hobby is 
fretwork. Yes, that's it — fretwork. I work on Monday, 
and fret all the rest of the week." 





IN my collection of photographs is one beautiful girl } 
dainty of build, vivacious of manner, and of a fascinat- 
ing personality, Maudi Darrell. She was about seventeen 
when she first came to the Gaiety. Like Mabel Russell 
and many other girls who won success under George 
Edwardes, Maudi Darrell was practically unknown when 
the " Guv'nor " gave her the first contract. There never 
was a theatrical man equal to George Edwardes in divining 
the possibilities of a little-known or obscure artist. 

Maudi Darrell was the daughter of the music-hall and 
theatrical agent, Hugh J. Didcott, but although for the 
sake of an old friend the " Guv'nor " consented to see and 
hear Maudi, he would never have given her an engage- 
ment at the Gaiety if he had not been convinced that she 
was talented. Maudi Darrell was born for the stage. She 
could dance as well as sing, and it was not long after I 
had checked her through for the first time that I realized 
the new-comer was to be the rage of the season. I never 
knew a girl more full of life. Laughter and she were 
twin sisters. Maudi was bubbling over with gaiety and 
high spirits as much after a long, wearisome rehearsal as 
when she passed by the stage-door on her way in. Rather 
dark, Maudi was always neat and smart, and after her pro- 
motion from show girl to song and solo dance, she became 
the talk of the town. 

The box office was crowded out with West End swells, 
eager to buy stalls where they could come within range of 
her sparkling eyes and under the witchery of her twinkling 
feet. Every night my office was packed with floral tributes 
and gifts representing a small fortune. I remember hand- 


Maudi Darrell 

ing over to her one night a huge floral tribute principally 
composed of orchids, at that season most expensive, built 
up like a castle, and as she knelt down to read the card 
which bore the signature of a Duke, I thought what a 
pretty picture she made. 

I packed this magnificent gift and a score of others into 
her motor-car that night, and as she sang out in that bright 
manner which made her beloved by so many, " Good 
night, Jupp," and threw a kiss, I wished that I were an 
artist to paint the lovely picture she presented. 

I did not imagine then, and she did not imagine, that 
the time would come when, knowing that her end was 
near, the incomparable Maudi Darrell, the one-time darl- 
ing of the stage, would leave her husband's estate in Scot- 
land, and broken and ill as she was, would travel down to 
London, and that I should carry her from her carriage, 
drawn up outside the stage-door, to a private box, that she 
might look for the last time upon that Gaiety stage where 
no star in the theatrical firmament had shone more brightly 
than she. 

I did not see Miss Darrell for a long time after she was 
married to Ian Bullough. One day we heard that the 
former Gaiety favourite was ill. Weeks went by, and the 
reports concerning her became more serious. 

I was standing at the stage-door one afternoon some 
time before the evening performance was due, thinking of 
nothing in particular, when a car drove up and stopped a 
few yards away. I walked towards it, and saw that the 
occupant was none other than Maudi Darrell — but what a 
change ! Maudi the vivacious, the actress who had set 
all London alight, and had once been the brightest star 
in the theatrical firmament, was lying full length in the 
car, and upon her face had crept shadows of impending 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

death. She must have been very weak and in pain ; but 
when she saw me she smiled, and even in her agony the 
smile had not lost its sweetness. 

" This is the last time I shall come to the old theatre, 
Jupp," she said. 

We carried her from her carriage to a box, and although 
very few members of the audience recognized in the invalid 
woman the star of other days, the members of the company 
knew of her presence, and the show that night was played 
for the benefit of Maudi Darrell. 

She remained to the end, and then with one long last 
lingering look she bade farewell to the scenes of her former 

One of the most exciting hours I ever spent during my 
career as the stage-doorkeeper of the Gaiety was during 
the War, when the theatres were doing more business than 
they had ever done before. During that time we had 
many popular actresses at the Gaiety, so that when I relate 
this story it will not be easy for you to identify the lady 
in the case. She was one of the most beautiful women 
who had ever charmed a London audience. I will call 
her Molly, because that is not her name. Molly was a 
nice sort of girl, and had reached the topmost rung of the 
ladder of success in one leap. I would not deny her rare 
gifts and beauty, but all the same she was lucky in getting 
the early chance she did, and to be perfectly frank I think 
that for a time her success went to her head. 

At any rate, while she had been a chorus girl, she was 
quiet and studious. In a single night she became a star. 
Crowds of women waited for her after the matinee, and 
in the evening I kept my messengers busy with bouquets 
and invitations for the new principal. 

I do not suppose that one girl in a thousand could have 



maintained her mental balance. Molly was literally over- 
whelmed with popularity, and presently I noticed that, 
instead of the quiet smile, was a loud theatrical laugh, and 
that, instead of the quiet greeting, was a hail-fellow-well- 
met sort of shout as she shook off her group of admirers 
and dashed up the stairs. Molly could have had a dozen 
expensive dinners every evening had she so desired, and 
most of the little plush cases we took to her dressing-room 
contained jewels. 

The bouquets were so numerous that every evening she 
would send a cab packed full of flowers to one or other of 
the hospitals, and it seemed to me that every third officer 
home on leave called at the stage-door to leave his card. 

Then Molly's chief pal in the days of the chorus told 
me one day that all the fine fellows who came home on 
ten days' leave had no chance of winning the popular 
actress. Long ago Molly had confessed to her that her 
sweetheart was a humble fellow who had gone to the War 
in the early days, and that, although they were not married, 
there was a perfect understanding between them, and that 
success or failure could not rob them of the affection they 
bore for each other. Poor little Molly. She did not 
know the world very well then, and did not realize that 
success is sometimes more difficult than failure. 

I hoped that the romance of youth would stand the test. 
As month succeeded month, and one admirer succeeded 
another, it seemed probable that Molly was not to be 
caught in the whirlwind after all, but one day the chorus 
girl who had been a close friend in the former days told 
me that Molly's sweetheart was missing, and that it seemed 
probable that he was killed. I looked for a tell-tale tear 
or a sigh of sorrow, but that night Molly seemed to be 
in her happiest mood, and stepped into the luxurious 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

motor-car with a gentleman occupying a big position in 
the City, who, for some reason, was not called into uni- 

Presently it became obvious that he was the favoured 
suitor, and that her spasms of friendship with the officers 
home on leave had mostly arisen, as in scores of other cases, 
from a desire to brighten their holiday and to give them 
the joy of bright companionship. Soon the engagement 
of the popular actress to the City man was a secret no 
longer, and I wondered what the future had in store for 
them. I was uneasy. I wondered whether it had been 
merely a coincidence that Molly had not accepted the offers 
of any suitor until after there had come the rumour of the 
death of her girlhood's sweetheart, or whether she had in 
reality always kept a warm spot in her heart for the boy 
of her first romance. 

Other business drove the beautiful little girl and her 
love affairs out of my mind until one night, as I stood 
smoking a cigarette at the stage-door, a soldier approached 

He was not in officer's uniform, but he looked a fine, 
clean-souled sort of fellow, and at the second glance I 
remembered that I had seen him in the old days once or 
twice when he had come along after the show and had 
escorted Molly away from the theatre. Like every old 
soldier, I had a warm spot for the boys who were standing 
up for the old country, and I offered him my hand. He 
took it as one in a dream, and then I saw that there was a 
strange look in his eyes. "Where's Molly?' he said 
hoarsely, and, wondering for a moment whether he had 
been drinking, I temporized with him. 

A little farther along the street I noticed a luxurious 
limousine, and knew that in half an hour or so Mollv 

9 6 

The Rich and Poor Suitors 

would come out of the theatre in the company of the man 
who was to be her husband and step into the car. 

Molly is on the stage just now," I said, " and I can- 
not send her any message for some time. Why do you 
want to see her ? " 

There was a pause, and then, so quietly as to rob the 
statement of all melodrama, the young soldier pulled a 
revolver out of his pocket, saying, " I mean to see her, 
Jupp, and when I see her I shall shoot her." I saw that 
he had not been drinking, but was nearly off his head with 
mental anxiety of some kind, and, telling him not to be a 
fool, I got him into my little office and shut the door. 
Then I went out to the motor-car and asked the chauffeur 
if he would pull up round the corner. Apparently he 
thought that I was acting under instructions, for he obeyed 

Then I sent up a message to Molly telling her of my 
visitor, and adding that I thought she should be careful 
how she treated him. Almost immediately she sent down 
her dresser to say that on no account would she see him, 
and it did not take me long to come to the conclusion that 
her nerves had been very badly upset by the intelligence 
I had conveyed to her. 

Realizing that I was in something of a quandary, I went 
back to my visitor, and thinking the direct way was the 
wiser, I told him plainly that Molly did not want to see 
him. Without a word, and so suddenly as to take me by 
surprise, he dashed past and along to the dressing-rooms. 
Like some wild creature he tore along, but fortunately he 
had never explored the passages before and was unable 
to find the girl whom he sought. Before he could re- 
trieve his mistake I had got hold of him and dragged him 

97 ° 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

" I will have none of that sort of thing here," I said 
sternly, " and the best thing you can do is to tell me 
the whole story and then I will see what I can do for 

For a moment it looked as though I were to be faced 
by a tough situation, but under my guidance he quietened 
down, and I took him across to the Waldorf Hotel. There 
we had a glass of champagne, and I kept him as long as I 
could, hoping against hope that Molly would be able to 
leave the theatre and get away before her old sweetheart 
got out of hand again. It was a pitiful story the lad 
(for so he seemed to me) told me in the lounge of the 

It appears that Molly and he had been sweethearts from 
childhood, and I have no doubt that he had loved her as 
well as any man could. Everything had gone smoothly 
up to the time of her sensational success, but that and the 
War had forced her to face an entirely new set of circum- 
stances, and she had not been able to stand the test of 
fidelity to her old love. As I have said, one must urge 
the War as an excuse, for it is probable that if the com- 
panion of her childhood had stayed at home instead of 
going to fight, they would have remained companions. 

I told him that, although Molly had been overwhelmed 
with admirers, she had never pledged herself to anyone 
until there came the report that he was missing and prob- 
ably dead. At that he became furious, and with the 
vehemence of a man who was almost beside himself with 
mental anguish, he swore that it was a lie. He said that 
he had never been reported missing, but that suddenly 
the letters of his former sweetheart had ceased altogether, 
following upon a period during which the intervals between 
them had gradually lengthened. 


I Play Mentor 

Working himself into a fury, he declared that the stories 
of his disappearance had been invented, and that soon after 
her letters had ceased, he received word that she was 
engaged to a rich man. I tried to head him off, but he 
was stronger in his rage than two men, and somehow I 
could not find it in my heart to call a policeman. Stand- 
ing outside the stage-door was the man to whom Molly 
was engaged. 

Apparently the soldier knew him quite well at sight, 
for he made a dash at him. To do the City man justice 
he held his ground, and it was not until I whispered to 
him that the poor fellow was beside himself and urged 
him to go away for a time that he consented to move. I 
told him that his car was round the corner, and while the 
infuriated soldier was out of earshot I suggested that he 
should take a taxi and pretend to drive away in another 

He was unwilling to take my advice until I pointed 
out to him that while the two men stood there it was impos- 
sible for Molly to leave the theatre without there being a 
dreadful scene, and that in any case within a moment or 
two a crowd would collect, attracted by a dispute between 
the two men. Suddenly he darted into a passing taxi, 
and just as quickly the soldier, from whom I had 
managed to take the revolver, darted after him and 
jumped into another car. While this pursuit was in 
progress I got Molly out of the theatre by another 
door, and took her to the waiting car. Within a short 
time the poor soldier boy was back again at the theatre, 
infuriated at having missed his quarry in the traffic and 
demanding to see the girl with whom he had been in 

I told him plainly that she had gone, and, dragging him 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

into my office, I talked with him for a long time, until I 
made him see sense, and convinced him that if he really 
loved the beautiful little actress, he was behaving in alto- 
gether the wrong fashion. 

He told me that he had secured special leave from the 
trenches immediately he had heard that Molly was about 
to be married to another man, and that he was due to 
return the following day. He was so depressed and 
broken-spirited now that his passion had spent itself, that 
I was afraid to leave him alone. 

I arranged for him not to make any other attempt to 
see the actress during the few hours left to him, but to 
return to his duty, and then, when he was calmer, to write 
to her and ask if he could see her on his next leave. I 
did not like to leave him alone during the night, and per- 
suaded him to go home with some one whom I knew, 
and the next day I was told that he had left by the 
early morning train and was on his way back to his regi- 

To tell the truth I had feared that, if left alone during 
the night, he would have done some harm to himself, and 
when I knew that he had gone back to duty, I rejoiced that 
the tragedy had been averted. Alas ! it had only been 

Within a few weeks they had news that he had fallen 
in action, and although it saddened me considerably, for 
somehow I had liked the young fellow, I was glad that he 
had gone back with his mind cleansed of all frenzy and 
that instead of the hatred there had come to him a more 
worthy regard for the sweetheart who once had been. 
Molly told me, when news of his death came, that a few 
weeks earlier she had received from him a sane, well- 
reasoned letter, in which he acknowledged that perhaps 


Sweet Memories 

he had judged her harshly, and after assuring her that he 
would ever cling to some of the sweet memories of other 
days, he wished her every happiness in the new life she 
had chosen. 






I REMEMBER a young lady being engaged at the 
Gaiety Theatre for a little while, and whom I knew 
quite well. She was a most prepossessing girl with a 
beautiful figure, which showed off to great advantage the 
lovely costumes she had to wear. At that time she did 
not hold a high position on the stage because she was 
practically a beginner. She was the widow of a City man, 
and finding herself left with a young son to educate and 
provide for, thought she would turn her musical abilities 
to advantage. She was a fine-looking young woman of 
about twenty-four when I knew her, and had a splendid 
voice in addition to being an accomplished pianist. She 
got an offer to go on the music-hall stage as a single turn, 
giving songs at the piano, which she accepted. It was 
some little time afterwards that I again saw her, and she 
told me that she was getting on very well indeed. She 
had played "Principal Boy " in pantomime, and her music- 
hall contracts extended for years. 

It was during a visit to Manchester — at the Tivoli to 
be precise — that she was introduced to a Mr. Hopwood. 
He was represented as a very wealthy man. He paid 
her especial attention and gradually insinuated himself 
into her good opinion. He spent plenty of money on her 
and gave her valuable presents, at the same time protesting 
his love for her and begging her to marry him. Poor 
Flo Dudley thought it was an excellent match to make, 
and as her boy would not only be well provided for but 
well educated, and his future career cared for, she accepted 
his offer of marriage. 

1 02 

Flo Dudley and her Engagement 

The theatrical agent who had got her all her engagements 
and arranged her contracts for her was very astonished 
and much put out when one morning he received a letter 
from a Mr. E. G. Hopwood telling him that he and Miss 
Flo Dudley were about to be married, and that he wished 
all of her theatrical contracts to be cancelled. He went 
on further, saying that he would call in person and pay 
up whatever was due in the way of commission on these 
contracts. There was a postscript asking that their mar- 
riage should be kept strictly secret at present. When this 
Mr. Hopwood went in accordance with his appointment, 
the agent pointed out that the marriage would have to be 
made known, as otherwise the contracts could not be can- 
celled. Mr. Hopwood told him that he would not allow 
Miss Dudley to go on the stage again, and that even her 
engagements for the following week must be broken. 
He left the office, and nothing was heard of either of them 
for some time, until a letter came to that same agent saying 
that she wanted to return to the stage and asking him if 
he would act on her behalf as he had previously done. 
The agent replied, asking her to come to his office. She 
arrived, and he had only put one or two questions to her 
when she suddenly burst into a passionate fit of weeping. 
Then the truth dawned upon him. " I know what is 
the matter. That postscript to the letter Mr. Hopwood 
wrote me gives the whole game away ! You are not 
married ! ' Between her sobs she said : " You are quite 
right. I was introduced to him in Manchester and under- 
stood that he was a wealthy man, so as I had my boy to 
consider I consented to marry him." 

Then she told how her son had been placed at a boarding 
school, and she and Hopwood had gone away to Brussels, 
where they had spent a very happy time. She had only 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

been back a few days, and was stopping with her sister in 
Ilford when, to her great dismay, she discovered that 
Hopwood was a married man with three children. She 
determined to have nothing more to do with him — hence 
her desire to get back on the stage. The agent said he 
had seen Hopwood at a theatre and Flo Dudley said : " I 
don't want to see him again," and begged him to get her 
an engagement as soon as possible. He said he thought 
he could get some of her old contracts to stand good, and 
made an appointment for her to come along another day 
and sign the agreements. 

Now, it appears that this man Hopwood persevered in 
his attempts to get Flo Dudley to go back to him, but she 
was too horrified at his cowardly deception and would 
have no communication of any kind with him. Hopwood 
had somehow or other got to know of a man named 
J. Kelly with whom Flo Dudley was very friendly, and he 
made use of this man's name by sending a bogus telegram 
asking her to meet him at a restaurant in Holborn. Little 
dreaming of the trick that had been played upon her she 
went in answer to the telegram, and on arrival at the cafe 
was confronted by Hopwood. 

He must have pleaded very earnestly, for she allowed 
him to entertain her and then take her in a taxi-cab to 
Fenchurch Street to catch the 11.55 P- m - tram back t0 
Ilford. When they were very close to the station the 
taxi-cab driver heard three loud reports, and thinking 
something had gone wrong with the tyres stopped the cab 
and got out. On examination he found there was nothing 
wrong ; and then the awful truth came to him. He opened 
the near side door, and the unfortunate woman nearly 
fell out on top of him. She was bleeding profusely, but 
was quite conscious. 


A Taxi-cab Tragedy 

She said : " Mind, Cabby, he has got a revolver and 
has shot me ; take me to a hospital ! " A policeman 
who had also heard the shots, and had run after the cab, 
now arrived upon the scene, followed by a lot of civilians. 
The poor woman collapsed as soon as she had managed to 
warn the cabby. Just then another shot was heard, and 
two other policemen who had arrived, arranged to attract 
the attention of the other occupant of the cab while he could 
be seized from the opposite door. They had no sooner 
decided upon this plan of action than a fifth shot was 
heard. Upon entering the cab they found Hopwood 
lying across the seat with blood pouring from wounds in 
the head and a smoking revolver in his hand. He was 
carried out and laid at the side of poor Flo Dudley. When 
an electric ambulance arrived they were both taken away 
to Guy's Hospital, where it was found that she had three 
wounds and was sinking fast. She regained consciousness, 
and realizing that her end was near, asked for a priest from 
the church of SS. Peter and Paul of Ilford to be sent for. 
The priest came as quickly as he possibly could, but too 
late to administer extreme unction. 

Hopwood was in the hospital for about a week before 
he could be charged with the crime, but he was " taken 
over " by the authorities until such time when he could 
be discharged from Guy's and taken into official custody. 

When the news of the awful affair reached Hopwood's 
wife she made straightway to the hospital, but he abso- 
lutely refused to see her. 

He was soon well enough to be discharged, and then 
the proceedings against him began. He was first taken 
before the magistrate at the Mansion House, whence he 
was sent for trial at the Old Bailey. I shall never forget 
that trial. It was the first murder trial I had ever been 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

to, and I am certain it will be the last. I suppose it was 
because I knew the poor murdered girl and had liked and 
admired her, that the trial had an irresistible attraction for 
me. It was no morbid desire that needed satisfying, but 
I could not have kept away until I had seen it through. 
And I did ! It was terrible in the extreme, and even the 
most sober of the newspapers had long accounts of the 
hysterical scenes in the Court. The way that man wept 
and moaned was too awful to witness for long. One 
moment he would protest his innocence of any intent to 
do any injury to the poor girl, and he would pour forth 
long declarations of his passionate love for her ; the next 
he would be explaining in a detailed manner the exact 
manner in which the shots had been fired, and swearing 
that Flo Dudley had fought and struggled with him, and 
that this was the cause of the revolver going off. This 
would be followed by another flood of burning tears and 
heartrending moans. During an interval when the Court 
had adjourned for lunch, one of the most gruesome of all 
the incidents occurred. 

I was in company with one of the firemen from our 
theatre and he introduced me to a Mr. Pierpoint (and 
then in a whisper I was told — " The hangman, you 
know ! "). I wondered why this man should come to 
hear a murder trial, and thought he would get a sufficiency 
of such fearful things when it came to his professional part 
in the tragedy. When the question was put to him he 
calmly answered that he was up on the case to have a look 
at Hopwood in order to make arrangements. 

I protested that, although there could only be one 
end to the trial, he might not get to the scaffold. The 
executioner merely said : "I know what will become of 
him." I asked no more questions. 


Sequel on the Scaffold 

Mr. Justice Avory did not appear to be the least little 
bit affected by Hopwood's tears and grief — in fact in his 
summing up he pointed out the vast difference between 
his outburst of strong emotion and the precise manner in 
which he had questioned different witnesses on very trivial 

When the jury had tested the pistol in order to find if 
it worked as easily as Hopwood had made out, and there 
could be any possibility of the wounds having been made 
accidentally, they retired to consider their verdict. They 
only took a quarter of an hour, and were unanimous in a 
verdict of " Guilty." The manner in which Hopwood 
listened to the final address of the Judge and the passing 
of the death sentence was more suggestive of a perfectly 
indifferent spectator than that of a man hearing his dreadful 
doom. Hopwood appealed against the sentence, but with- 
out avail, for the appeal was dismissed. 

He was hanged at Pentonville on Wednesday, January 
29, 1913. 

He spent a very restless night before his execution, and 
occupied most of the time in writing farewell letters to 
former friends. The following letter was written by 
Hopwood when he had only a few hours left to live : — 

" My dear , — I cannot go to my long rest without 

writing to thank you for the many kind actions I have 
received at your hands, and to ask you to believe me when 
I tell you that it was not my nature to be unkind to anyone 
in the world, and more particularly to this poor girl of 
whom I was very fond and did my best for. I know every- 
thing looks very black against me, but believe me, I would 
not have hurt her for all the world — but in my desperation 
that night, having all my hopes completely crushed and 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

wrecked through those I trusted — believe me, I must 
have been driven insane, and madly and wickedly decided 
to shoot myself to get out of my troubles. My brain 
was on fire and my heart was crushed. I got deeper 
and deeper into trouble. Believe me, I shall be very 
pleased indeed to go to my rest, as I am utterly heart- 
broken and crushed, the only source now of sorrow to me 
being that I must leave such a stigma upon my poor, inno- 
cent little children, which breaks my heart. You know 
the many hard fights and struggles I have had against 
adversity in my short life, and I trust that in time to come 
you and I may be permitted to meet again where Peace may 
reign and where there are no more bitter struggles." 

Hopwood must have been in financial difficulties, as the 
notice of liquidation of one concern in which he was inter- 
ested was filed at Somerset House on September 30, 19 12, 
two days after the tragedy in the taxi-cab occurred. His 
final instructions regarding money were that he had hoped 
to collect sums of money amounting to between seven and 
eight thousand pounds due to him, and this should be 
secured and devoted to his family. 

Whenever there is trouble afield, no matter whether it 
be great or small, there is always supposed to be a woman 
at the bottom of it ; but I have known of some contemptible 
tricks played upon girls by men. 

I remember a charming girl who made a fool of herself 
over a young fellow who had pretended to be a member of 
a good old English family, and got this girl to trust her 
happiness to him — temporarily. How he got his money 
to take her about no one knows, but one can surmise in 
view of what happened in her case. 

Upon one pretext or another he would profess to be 


Tricking Girls 

disappointed over a cheque, and to pay the hotel bill and 
other incidental expenses incurred during a holiday he 
would get the loan of some of her jewellery and get cash 
advanced upon it. She thoroughly believed all that he 
told her, and kept on letting him have her valuables until 
their holiday was up and he could straighten matters up 
when they returned to London. 

She told me all about it one morning at the theatre, and 
the meanest part of the story was that he had not only 
pawned the property, but had sold the tickets so that there 
was not the remotest chance of recovering anything, as 
she had no idea where the transactions had taken place. 

But I think one of the meanest and, to my mind, one of 
the most purposeless tricks ever played was in the case of 
two of our chorus girls. It was quite a usual thing for 
young men about town to get a sort of scratch introduction 
to a girl and without any preamble to ask her to supper and 
to bring two or three friends along with her. That was a 
nightly thing and there was no harm in it, and meant a 
nice, pleasant supper and possibly a visit to a night club 
before being driven home in the waiting Rolls-Royce. The 
occasion I am referring to was just on similar lines, but 
without the pleasant ending. One night two alleged 
young gentlemen drove up in a car to the stage-door, but 
they did not come in to ask me for anyone. 

The company were just arriving, and I was too busy 
to take any particular notice, but when the crowd of artistes, 
stage-hands, and the usual " followers " of the girls had 
thinned a bit, I saw these two young fellows talking to one 
of our girls. 

She was saying : " Very well, about twenty past eleven. 
Thanks very much. Yes ; I'll bring a friend with me ! " 
Then she came and signed the book and went inside. 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

The young fellows drove away again. There was nothing 
unusual in that, so I was in no way surprised to see that 
girl and another of our choristers join those two young 
men at the end of the show and drive off with them. 

What happened afterwards was this : The four went 
to a well-known hotel at Kingston, where they had a nice 
little supper, after which there was the usual jollification 
to the accompaniment of wines and liqueurs. The time 
slipped by and the girls suggested that, as it was so late, 
they had better get home. Then they were told that the 
car had been dismissed until the morning and bedrooms 
had been engaged. 

There were no trains at that early hour, so the only 
thing to do was to remain there. After more wine had 
been disposed of the girls consented, and the night was 
spent at the hotel. In the morning the two young men 
got up, and went to have a morning bath. When they 
had finished the girls followed suit, but on their return 
they found the rooms empty. Thinking their young 
gallants would be down in the morning-room awaiting 
them, they went below. No one was there ! They 
waited for some little time, and then made inquiries : 
" Had breakfast been ordered ? Did they know where 
their gentlemen friends were ? " and similar questions. 
The men did not turn up again, so the girls ordered 
breakfast, thinking they had gone to see about the car, 
but when the bill was brought to them and an examination 
of it showed that nothing had been paid for, the truth 
flashed across them that there was something wrong. It 
was a heavy bill — wines and liqueurs, supper and bed- 
rooms- — even the baths were all down on it, and not a 
shilling had been paid. 

As the morning went on and luncheon time approached 

1 10 

A Girl as Hostage 

the situation became rather desperate, so one of the girls 
remained in the hotel as hostage while the other hurried 
up to town. She came to the theatre and told me all 
about it. 

I had not anything like sufficient money on me to meet 
such a bill, and told her the best way out of the difficulty 
was to confide in Mr. Marshall, our manager. I knew 
he was not the kind of man to see any of our people in such 
a difficulty, nor yet would he begin any of those entirely 
unnecessary lectures, but would see her through. She 
took my advice, and the poor girl had to go back to King- 
ston, pay the bill, and get her friend out of " pawn " so to 

I think those girls preferred to take their supper in 
the security of their own flat for a long time afterwards. 
Of course only Mr. Marshall and I knew the story, 
and he did not know that I was aware of it, so it was in 
safe keeping, and the girls were spared any humiliation 
and thoughtless jokes at their expense. I am still on the 
look-out for those two young men, but have had no luck 
in running across them as yet. 

Jokes of all kinds are continually being played by 
actors and actresses, but they are always of a humorous 
nature, never unkind. I remember the case of a 
conceited young fellow and a joke being played upon 
him which took a good bit out of him. He was ever- 
lastingly telling of his conquests in relation to the fair 
sex, and if there is anything that is more objectionable 
than another in a man it is conceit. One morning one of 
our girls handed me a note and asked me to give it to this 
twentieth-century Don Juan. " Don't say who sent it, 
Jimmy, will you ? We are only going to have a bit of 
fun with the silly young coxcomb." 

1 1 1 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

This girl stopped chatting with me for some time, and 
then I guessed that she wanted to be present when the 
note was delivered. The young blood came for his morn- 
ing letters, of which he certainly had a few, and I gave him 
the note as well. He read it, and it was quite evident that 
he was greatly pleased with it and with himself. He 
bombarded me with questions as to who had left it ; what 
she was like ; young and pretty, no doubt ; and so on. 
The girl gave me a wink which encouraged me to join in 
the conspiracy, and if there is a girl in the world such as I 
described I should think she would have to be kept in a 
gilded cage and fed on the fruit of the gods. He took it 
all in. The next morning another note was handed to 
me. I merely told him, and with perfect truth, that 
the same young lady had brought it. This went on for a 
few days until, in addition to the note, there was a lovely 
red rose made up into a buttonhole. He read the note, 
and with a very self-satisfied air pinned the rose in his 
coat and went off. 

My fellow-conspirator said : " Now, Jupp, you will 
see some fun, because, we have arranged the denouement 
to take place when you are free to get your lunch, so you 
will see what it is all about." 

She told me that he was to wear that rose and be at 
Lincoln's Inn Fields bandstand at 12.30 that day, but 
only on condition that he was a single man and not engaged 
to any other girl. He would find the writer of the notes 
wearing a pale blue dress with a black picture hat. In 
her waistband she would have three red roses similar to 
the one sent to him. I went with her, but of course kept 
out of view, although I could see all that took place. There 
he was waiting, but instead of the wonderful vision of 
loveliness I had described being there to cast herself at his 


Apples on a Plane Tree 

feet, the whole lot of our chorus girls at a given signal came 
trooping up from one of the avenues on the farther side 
and affected great surprise at meeting him there. They 
chaffed that poor young fellow unmercifully, and I think 
it did him good, for I never heard any more about his 
wonderful conquests. 

On each side of Aldwych, and right up to the top of 

Kingsway, young trees were planted at regular distances 

apart. One of them stands in front of my stage-door. 

One night, after the show was over, and I was preparing 

to go home, one of the stage-hands brought up a large 

box containing a few score of " property apples " which 

had been left over after the production of a new piece. 

These he deposited in the hall. Shortly afterwards he 

reappeared, dragging a long ladder after him. I asked 

him what he was going to do at that time of night, but he 

only told me that he had been instructed to bring them up. 

Then he went home. The fireman came on duty and I 

also left. The next morning when I arrived I saw a crowd 

of people standing outside the stage-door gazing up at 

my own particular tree in great wonderment. As I got 

nearer I noticed a policeman cross the road and heard him 

say : " Now move along there, please ; you mustn't 

block up the way like that. Pass along there, please." 

Then he also followed the intent gaze of the bewildered 

people, and he stopped his orders to " move along," 

his eyes riveted on the extraordinary sight. Could he 

believe the evidence of his own eyes ? Here was an 

ordinary plane-tree, similar to a hundred or so all along 

the pavements, and yet so entirely different. It was laden 

with the rosiest and most tempting-looking apples ever 

seen. I also had a look at them, and at once recognized 

the " props " of the previous night. I added to the 

113 H 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

mystery by casually remarking to the policeman : " They 
are coming along splendidly, aren't they ? " and then went 
into the theatre. 

One night a van was driven up to the stage-door and a 
carter came towards me with several large cardboard 
boxes. They were addressed to a man named Howard 
Fothergill, c/o Stage-door, Gaiety Theatre, Strand. These 
were sent along with a bill for £3 is. 6d. I told the man 
that I did not know anyone of that name. The only 
thing he could do was to take them back and make in- 
quiries. Even if I had known such a person I certainly 
should not have paid the bill without some information 
about the transaction. 

I got on the 'phone and spoke to the Strand hosiery 
firm whence the things had been sent, and told them there 
must be a mistake, as we had no Mr. Howard Fothergill, 
and I did not know of one anywhere else. The next 
morning there was a rehearsal for one of our touring com- 
panies, and I mentioned the name of Howard Fothergill 
to the touring manager. There were several others 
present, but not one of them knew the name. Later, the 
comedian of the company came up and asked me what had 
happened about the things sent from the Strand hosiery, 
so I told him. Then he enlightened me on the subject. 

" Do you remember that awful rainstorm we had in the 
afternoon ?," he asked. I remembered it quite well, and 
a young deluge it was. " Well, it was like this," he went 
on to explain. " I only had a very thin light suit on, and 
was wearing a straw hat when that downpour came, so I 
took shelter in the doorway of the Strand hosiery stores. 
I gradually got farther into the shop as more people took 
refuge, and the storm showing no sign of abating, I thought 
I might as well go right in. I did so. 


Maud Hobson's Name 

" I couldn't very well take refuge inside the place with- 
out making some purchase, so the only thing to do was 
to make a good job of it. I ordered a lot of things, and 
told them to send them here to Mr. Howard Fothergill. 
I am awfully glad you mentioned it this morning, because 
it had slipped my memory for the time being. Thank 
goodness we go away on Sunday ! " 

Then, evidently expecting me to sympathize with him, 
he said : " Hang it all, Jupp, old sport, I couldn't get 
drenched to the skin, could I now ? " 

In the death of Miss Maud Hobson not very long ago 
theatrical circles lost one of its most beautiful figures, and 
her life-story was one of an extremely romantic character. 
She was a native of Australia, being born at St. Kilda — a 
lovely little watering-place just a short distance from Mel- 
bourne. When quite young she was brought to London. 
She was a niece of " Honest " John Hollingshead, and at 
that time he was the manager of the Gaiety Theatre. 
Nowadays the term " manager " almost invariably means 
a paid servant, but not so in those days. The theatre 
was his, and he managed everything connected with it. 
So it was not surprising that Maud Hobson, when old 
enough, was given a start in the profession, if only on 
account of her fresh young beauty. 

Her real name was Jeanne Maud Manson, and the 
name of Hobson was given to her by accident. There 
was a well-known City man, a great friend of Honest 
John's, and his name was Hobson. One day they were 
chatting in the offices of the theatre when young Maud 
came in to visit her uncle. This was before she had 
started on the boards, and Mr. Hobson was fascinated by 
such a vision of youth and beauty. When she had taken 
her departure, he declared that there wasn't a girl in the 

ri 5 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

company who could compare with her, and for a first prize 
in a beauty competition she would undoubtedly be his 
choice. She was jokingly called " Hobson's Choice " 
ever afterwards, and when she was at last included in the 
Gaiety Company her name appeared as Maud Hobson as 
if by common consent. 

Her chief claim to prominence in the memory of theatre- 
goers is that she was the original " Gaiety Girl " in the 
piece of that name. The part was that of Alma Somerset, 
and Maud was the first to play it. 

Her stage career was very brief at the first, for she was 
only eighteen when she met Captain W. B. Haley, of the 
nth Hussars, a gentleman in a very high position in 
Queen Victoria's Government. Their attachment soon 
became so great that she gave up the stage and they were 
married, and Captain Haley was sent out to Honolulu, 
where he took the position of Commander-in-Chief to the 
late King Kalakana of Hawaii. He became Prime Minister, 
and his lovely wife was the idol of the island and the chosen 
friend of Queen Lillukelarni. 

It was during their sojourn in the Samoan Islands that 
Maud made the acquaintance and afterwards became the 
firm friend of that romantic figure and brilliant author, 
Robert Louis Stevenson. 

In later years, after Captain Haley died, Maud returned 
to her uncle, Honest John, and her old love, the stage. 
She had by then matured into a strikingly beautiful woman, 
but this was not her only asset, for she also proved an 
excellent actress and held a prominent position almost up 
to the day of her death. 

After a lapse of about fifteen years she went for a tour 
of the world with the Gaiety Company. When they were 
in San Francisco the news got about that the boat in which 


Honolulu's White Queen 

they would go to Sydney would stop at Honolulu for 
about eighteen hours, and a message was sent to the island. 
When the boat arrived there was an enormous crowd 
assembled, and the members of the Court and Ministry, 
as well as the military of the island, were arranged in proper 
form, and an address of welcome was presented to the 
White Queen — Mrs. Haley. 

All the members of the Gaiety Company were decorated 
with a sort of long boa of smilax, which was worn round 
the shoulders and reached nearly to the ground. They 
were entertained to lunch, and afterwards driven round 
the island. At Weikiki they saw the surf-riding which 
is a favourite pastime of the natives, but the members of 
the company let it go at that, declining an invitation to 
try their skill. It is by no means a simple thing, but it 
will no doubt be remembered that the Prince of W r ales 
successfully accomplished it there not so very long ago. 

Before the company left the island for Sydney they were 
entertained by the Court musicians and dancers. Their 
send-off was a fitting end to their splendid reception, and a 
personal triumph for the central figure — beautiful Maud 




BOGUS managers and agents have always been a 
menace to the theatrical profession, yet never have 
sufficiently drastic measures been taken to render their 
trade not worth while. Nothing prevents a man from 
calling himself a theatrical agent, and charging aspirants 
five or ten shillings to have their names placed upon his 
worthless register, in return for which they are promised 
an engagement. 

One of the most daring examples of out-and-out bogus 
management that I have heard of was the case of a man 
who carried on business as the head of the " Edwardes' 
Theatrical Syndicate," and posed as an agent under the 
name of George Edwardes, in rooms in High Holborn. 
He went a step too far when he put the following adver- 
tisement in the Daily Telegraph : 

"D EQUIRED — assistant manager for one of George 
•*-^- Edwardes' touring companies ; also manager of office. 
Address, stating age, salary, and all particulars to George Edwardes, 
Postal Department, " Daily Telegraph," Fleet Street. 

A great number of applications from persons who would 
have been glad to serve under my " Guv'nor " were received. 
It became evident that the somebody who was using his 
name without authority was also ordering goods in his 
name without paying for them, and steps had to be taken. 
Cheques were also drawn in the same way, and they were 
subsequently dishonoured. A large quantity of silk wear- 
ing apparel, which had never been paid for, had been 
obtained from a shopkeeper in Edinburgh. But the limit 
was reached when the man applied to the Lyceum Theatre, 


A Disappointed Busybody 

Edinburgh, for a date for one of George Edwardes' touring 
companies. This would have been given under the assump- 
tion that he was the real person, but it was not done in 
the usual way. 

In any case, how did he expect to fulfil the engagement ? 
What was his idea about it all ? Whatever it was, it was 
soon put an end to, for the " Guv'nor " applied for an injunc- 
tion " restraining him from announcing or advertising any 
theatrical companies under the name of George Edwardes, 
or under any name or title of which the name of George 
Edwardes formed a part." Needless to say it was instantly 

I often wonder what puts it into certain people's heads 
that girls travelling about the country in theatrical com- 
panies are to be pitied, and think that one of their missions 
in life is to look after their morals. Nobody is more wel- 
come behind the scenes than the curate or priest when he 
pays his weekly visit to the company visiting the town in 
which he ministers, but there are others who are by no 
means welcome. Take, for instance, the following. 

In the Daily News was this report : — 

1 Mr. William Forbes began his meetings for Pantomime 
women in the Provinces at Sheffield on Christmas Day. 
Tea was provided by friends in Nether Chapel Lecture 
Hall. After tea, sacred songs and addresses were given. 
Mr. Forbes gave to each guest a copy of the Marked New 
Testament. He is now in Leeds." 

I do not know whether the Daily News or Mr. Forbes 
was responsible for the delicacy in the reference to " Pan- 
tomime women in the Provinces," but the gratuitous 
impudence of the affair was very well met. The tea never 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

happened at all, and Mr. Forbes' invitations were treated 
with the contempt they deserved, as the following extract 
from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph shows : — 

" The tea which was arranged for yesterday in the 
Nether Chapel Schoolroom for those engaged in the ballet 
at the Sheffield theatres had to be postponed in consequence 
of the absence of the guests." 

So that the paragraph, although it was a day late, was quite 
untrue. Perhaps Mr. Forbes was his own Press Agent. 

As stage-doorkeeper I naturally came into touch with 
all sorts of characters and had to be on terms of a certain 
intimacy with some very weird and wonderful people. 
We had, in addition to our permanent staff, a band of 
what we call night hands, men who help the staff in all 
sorts of ways during the show. These men were generally 
recruited from workers who only earned a small salary at 
their daily employment, and found this night job a great 
help. One night one of these fellows, who had been doing 
night work for a long time, and whom I knew as well as 
any of the staff, came to me very much earlier than usual, 
and during a quiet hour before the business of the evening 
started, handed me a small packet and asked me if I would 
take care of it for him. I scribbled his name on the packet 
and put it in a drawer of my desk. 

He did not ask me to return it when he came out after 
the show, so I reminded him about it. 

" Oh ! that's all right, thanks ; do you mind keeping 
it for me ? " 

I had no objection, and let it remain in the drawer, but 
a couple of days later I asked him again if he wanted it, 
but he said he would like me to take care of it a little longer. 

1 20 

The Bookmaker's Loss 

About a week later, on the following Saturday to be precise 
after he had given me the packet, and I had ceased to bother 
either him or myself about it, a bookmaker whom I knew 
very well called. As a matter of fact it was almost an 
understood thing that he should call and see me about 
noon every Saturday possible. 

He came at the usual hour and we adjourned round the 
corner to Short's (I am afraid you will begin to wonder 
which was my place of business — the Gaiety or Short's), and 
during the usual recital of the week's doings he said : 

" But I must tell you what happened to me last Monday 
night, Jimmy. I certainly didn't think there was one of 
the boys smart enough to dip me. Well, I didn't think 
there was one of them who would have done me down, 
but nevertheless, I lost a cool two hundred and ten of 
the best in notes last Monday night. The worst of it is 
that, puzzle my head as I may, and have, I can't remember 
exactly what I did nor where I went in the evening. 

" I had the money all right up to about six in the even- 
ing and thought no more about it until the next morning. 
It had gone then. I had not been drinking much, but 
was not feeling any too grand ; still, it's an absolute mystery 
to me. Ah ! well, I suppose it's gone for good now, so 
why worry? Let's have another; I've had a good week 
and can't grumble." 

Now the sequel to this is, that after the matinee that 
same day, the man who had left the packet with me, instead 
of going away in the usual manner, waited about outside 
the stage-door until I was going out for my tea. When 
I had got a few yards up the Strand, he joined me and said 
he had waited on purpose, as he had something on his 
mind which he wanted to tell me. When I looked at 
him he certainly looked very upset and worried. He 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

started off by telling me that he was employed in the day- 
time in the public baths, wash-houses, etc., quite close 
to the theatre, and that although he was not actually the 
manager of the place, he was really in charge, though 
unofficially. Then the story proper came out. 

He said that on the preceding Monday evening, when 
going his round of inspection before closing up, he noticed 
a little roll of paper which had slipped into a corner. On 
examining it he found it to be a packet of one-pound notes 
— two hundred and ten in all. It was his duty to return 
them to the office at once, but the temptation was too 
strong for him, and he kept them. He thought he would 
wait until his excitement had calmed down and he could 
think what to do before he parted with them. Those 
were the notes locked up in my desk. 

He said he had been too afraid to ask for them back 
yet, and his plan had been to wait long enough for some 
inquiries to be made, and if nothing was heard he would 
keep the money. The reason he had confided in me 
instead of taking it without saying a word, was that he 
had changed his mind, and now begged me to advise him 
what to do. 

It was far too late to hand them over to the office because 
they might, in time, get to know that he had kept them 
for a week, and that would show that he must have had 
thoughts of stealing them, and he might lose his job. He 
said that he had told his wife about the notes as soon as he 
got home on the Monday night. At first she appeared 
to be quite indifferent about the whole thing, but soon 
he saw that she was beginning to look anxious, then she 
worried and fretted until she could neither eat nor sleep, 
and in the end had begged and implored him to give the 
money back to the office. This he was ready to do, but 



he was so afraid of being suspected, and eventually found 
out. Would I advise him what was the best thing to 

I really felt very sorry indeed for him, as it was quite 
evident that he was not a thief at heart. Of course, it 
would be quite a simple thing for me to put the whole 
matter straight, and I told him not to worry any more 
about it, but particularly to go and put his wife's mind 
at rest. Then I told him how I had accidentally come to 
know of the loss of that exact amount in notes on that 
same night, and I would write and tell the man who had 
lost them that they were safe. I told him that I would 
say that he had found them and had been looking in the 
papers to see if they were advertised for, and he need 
never say where he was employed, nor where he found 
them. I wrote and told my pal all I thought was necessary, 
and the next Saturday he came to see me. 

I had then decided that it would be best to keep the 
bath attendant in the background, although he could be 
present to hear what took place, and his mind be made 
easy as to the result. 

It was quite a dramatic situation — the three of us in 
the hall — one of whom had to pretend to know nothing 
at all about it while I told the tale. 

" The chap that found the money is very poor, but a 
thoroughly honest man, as this proves. Now, what do 
you think it's worth ? How about the odd tenner ? " 

The bookmaker went better than that. " Tenner be 

d d ! Here, give him a pony. Now, how about a 

spot ? " 

The most difficult class of visitor I had to deal with 
was the sponger. Even to the present day it is still an 
impossibility to scent him with accuracy, but I never give 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

the artistes who may be inquired for a chance of reproach- 
ing me with " What on earth did you let that awful blighter 
in for ? " Nobody goes through that door until I have 
received the consent of the party concerned. I have often 
gone so far as to scribble a gentle hint when sending up a 
name, and the reply always gave me the tip as to what to 
do. On the other hand, a girl like, say, Jean Aylwin was 
an easy victim. Generous to a fault — almost culpably so 
— she hated to turn anyone away, and especially if he or 
she happened to come from Scotland. 

On one occasion a well-spoken, nicely dressed man 
asked to see her, and she sent a message to let him come 
up. He borrowed his fare to Edinburgh, and of course 
dear Jean added something substantial to the bare fare. 
The next night he called again. " Two of the sovereigns " 
(we used gold in those happy days) " had been unaccount- 
ably lost. How, he had no idea, but his journey couldn't be 
taken ; could she possibly make it up, only until he arrived, 
when, of course, the money would be refunded together 
with his everlasting gratitude." 

She did it. Dear old Jean (I mean " old " merely 
as a term of endearment) ! I wonder if she is still so easy, 
or if somebody has stung her so badly as to make her sit 
up and take notice at last. I sincerely hope so. 

There used to be a broken-down solicitor who frequented 
a common lodging-house close by and offered to write 
begging letters at so much a time. He evidently got 
clients because on Friday nights (always Friday, that being 
treasury or pay night), with brazen regularity, some one or 
other of these needy gentry would ask me if I would kindly 
ask Mr. X or Miss Z if there was any answer to his note. 
Then he would whisper his name. 

In the case of a stranger to me, as soon as I had sent up 



to make the inquiry for him, I got one of the theatre staff 
to relieve me off the door on some pretext or other, and 
going out, would watch from a safe distance to see if any- 
thing happened. I was also aware of the fact that if he 
was a worthless sponger he would have some pals waiting 
nearby, so I had to be wary. 

If any money was forthcoming I watched as far as I 
could, and if he turned into a public house, without actually 
following him in, I quickly learned whether his was a 
genuine case and he had gone in legitimately for a much- 
needed drink, or was waiting for his pals to join him and 
receive their congratulations. It was worth while doing, 
as I have been the means of saving a lot of jolly good sorts 
from being victimized by this class of damned wasters. 

Before long they gave up trying it on with our people, 
as I took it upon myself to tell them straight that there 
was " nothing doing." I always added sagely, " and there 
won't be anything doing next Friday either, so don't bother 
to write." If a case turned out to be thoroughly genuine 
I was the last man to wish to stand in his way. 

The young bloods were a bit of a nuisance, but much 
more amusing on the whole. It was always easy to put 
them off with " Good evening, sir. No, I haven't noticed 
Miss A go in to-night. I don't think she can be coming, 
as it's quite time she was here." If later on he discovered 
that she had been in all the time, he could not accuse me 
of lying. 

Actors and actresses are, as a body, very super- 
stitious. If not in the same respect, each one has 
his or her pet superstition, such as passing on the stairs, 
putting shoes or umbrellas on a table, whistling in the 
wings, and peacock's feathers. But one thing you will 
never get an old experienced actor or actress to do, and 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

that is to speak the very last line of a new play until the 
night of production. At rehearsals, when that last line 
(known professionally as the " Tag ") is reached, the usual 
thing is " God save the King." Whoever has the last line 
to speak does not always know what it is because the author 
may have it secreted in his own breast. 

With regard to the number 13 the superstition is fairly 
general with all people, so that it is by no means a monopoly 
of the profession. Yet I only remember one theatre that 
had a room 13 and that was the Waldorf Theatre in 
Aldwych, now known as the Strand Theatre. There may 
be nothing at all in the connection between this fact and 
the story I am about to relate, yet it is a curious coincidence. 

A well-known actor, Mr. , dressed in Room 13 

and one night very shortly after the production of  he 

became suddenly ill during the show, and soon after being 
taken to his room died. For nights afterwards the artistes 
in the rooms on either side swore that they could hear 
poor — — groaning. I was invited to go over and listen 
for myself ; I had been sceptical about it, and I confess 
that I heard a voice moaning, and was sure it was no hoax 
because they were all far too serious about the uncanny 

About a week later the fireman who had been on duty 
all night went to the manager and told him that he could 
stand the strain no longer. On being asked to explain, 
he described his experiences of the few preceding nights, 
and declared that he felt the presence of some one at his 
side every time he reached No. 1 3 Room, and that he was 
accompanied by this weird companion during his hourly 
round of visits. The fireman was insistent on his being 
relieved of his job and he left. 

There was a room at the Gaiety which of course should 


No. 13 

have been No. 13, according to the rules of arithmetic, 
but was numbered 12a. The theatre was closed, pend- 
ing the production of a new show, and all the rooms were 
locked and the keys in my possession at the stage-door, 
with the exception of one office on the third floor which 
was used by our Press representative. One night a 
gentleman called to see him, and I told the caller he would 
find him in the room at the end of the passage on the 
third floor. He went up. When the two came down 
about an hour later our Pressman quite unconcernedly 
asked me who was working in 12a to-night. I told him 
that he was the only one in the theatre and that 12a was 
locked up. 

" But," said he, " my friend here mistook the corridor 
and went along to the end room and tapped at the door. 
Some one inside called out, ' Go back along the passage, 
up the stairs, and you will find your friend in the room 
above this.' Who was that, Jupp ? There must have 
been some one there and some one who knew that I was 

" But I tell you there is no one at all in the theatre, and 
No. I2A is locked. Why, there is the key," and I pointed 
to it hanging up. " Wait a minute," I said, and, taking 
the key, I went up, unlocked the door, switched on the 
light, and there was only a solitary chair in the room. I 
went down again and told them they were having a joke, 
but he declared that what he told me was perfectly true. 
He still adheres to his story. 

Just one more story about No. 13 and there is no pos- 
sible doubt about this one, not even superstition. It was 
on July 13, in the year 1 9 1 3, that a party of the theatre 
staff and friends (including Ora, the Russian dancer) went 
for a motor trip from the theatre to Margate. There were 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

three Wolseley cars, and with the chauffeurs we numbered 
exactly 13. We had breakfast at Maidstone, and were 
going on right merrily when, rounding a corner in a little 
country village, our middle car went smash into another 
car coming from Ramsgate with two ladies and a gentle- 
man. It was a bad smash and the occupants of both cars 
were badly injured, one or two seriously, and had to be 
taken to hospital. At the corner of the road there was a 
signpost bearing the words " To Margate 13 miles." 

George Edwardes was almost as well known in certain 
cities on the Continent as he was in London, for he spent 
a great deal of time abroad, either on business or pleasure. 

I remember one occasion when he returned, talking 
about theatrical matters to Arthur Cohen, and suddenly 
broke off and said he must tell of an extraordinary thing 
that happened at the Porte St. Martin Theatre in Paris. 

It appears that the play-goer in France is no more punctual 
than we are in England, and on the night in question the 
curtain had been up a little while, but the play was greatly 
disturbed by the awful noise made by late-comers into the 
gallery. A cry of " Au rideau " was raised, and one of 
the actors, looking very astonished, came down to the foot- 
lights and asked what was meant. A lady sitting in the 
stalls undertook to reply by saying : 

" We were unable to hear the beginning, for the people 
in the gallery are talking too loudly." With ready wit 
the actor retorted : " You will own, madame, that it is 
not quite our fault. It is surely customary in the theatre 
for conversations to be carried on on the stage rather than 
in the house." 

The incredible part is that two scenes were gone through 
again, much to the delight of the audience, who, after a 
hearty outburst of applause, settled down to the play. 



The late George R. Sims was always pleased if he could 
trace a coincidence, and he was very fond of pointing 
them out to his friends in the club. From a theatrical 
point of view he could not have found a more remarkable 
one than the following, which is pointed out by the late 
Weedon Grossmith. 

It was during one of his usually successful tours in the 
United States that he sent the following to the Stage : — 

"The paragraph from an American paper, announcing 
that I am bringing an action against Mr. Barrie (now Sir 
J. M. Barrie), is absolutely without foundation. All I said 
was that there seemed to be a great similarity between 
Mr. Barrie's play,' The Admirable Crichton,' and my play, 
4 The Night of the Party.' In ' The Night of the Party ' 
the chief character, Crosbie (the butler), compels the master 
to wait on him. In ' The Admirable Crichton ' the chief 
character (the butler) compels the master and mistress to 
wait on him. At the end of the play in ' The Night of 
the Party ' the butler announces the fact that he is going 
to marry the housemaid and take a public-house in the 
country. At the end of the play in ' The Admirable 
Crichton ' the butler announces the fact that he is going 
to marry the housemaid and take a public-house in the 
Harrow Road. It's the long arm — that's all." 

There is a good story about Edna May which shows 
what a sweet little woman she was, and also how ready- 
witted she was when on the stage. During the early days 
of a new production of ours at a West End Theatre, one 
of our leading baritones was suddenly recalled from the 
provinces to take up the principal part in this new piece. 
It was a long part, and he was greatly put to it to get the 

129 1 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

lines and songs into his head by the night arranged and 
announced for his taking up the part. He paid more 
attention to the dialogue and situations than to the music, 
thinking that they would take little or no time to learn. 

When it came to the night of his first appearance he 
felt very nervous, as it was his initial bow to a London 
audience. Everything went quite well, and he was doing 
splendidly until it came to a love-song which he had to 
sing to his sweetheart (Edna May). The first verse was 
quite all right, but during the symphony he leaned over 
the table and whispered, " What's the beginning of the 
next verse ? " But by the time he had asked the question, 
it was his cue to commence the second verse. Edna May 
sang it for him and then let him carry on with the refrain. 

I think the audience must have guessed what had hap- 
pened, for they greeted the end of the song with thunderous 



teddy payne's sirloin, and betting, an embezzler's luck, practical 

jokes, an original stunt. 

I CAN remember a beautiful young girl who came to 
the Gaiety and soon became possessed of little trifles 
and other gee-jaws as well. This was Miss Norah Hislop, 
a native of Warwick. She had not been with us long 
enough to get any higher than the chorus and understudy 
when she was the centre of a romance and was loaded 
with presents. Her gowns at the Auteuil meetings or on 
the Champs-Elysees were the choicest creations of Paquin 
or Worth, and whether they became her more than she 
became them was difficult to decide. 

She had one quite modest-looking necklet which cost 
two thousand guineas, a beautiful Mors car, and a fine 
freehold house at Maidenhead. Then her furs must have 
cost a small fortune. Oh ! I should not forget to mention 
her river launch, Lorna Doone, because I had the pleasure 
of spending a happy Sunday in it in company with several 
other guests. She did not give up the stage entirely, but 
would occasionally go on a tour of the provinces, and it 
was during one of these that she met the gentleman who 
is now her husband. His business takes him all over the 
world, and as travelling is a passion with her, she always 
bears him company. This may seem an uneventful career 
in comparison with others I have described, but it has the 
great merit of being a happy one. 

As a contrast to it, let me tell you about one of our girls 
who started under an equally favourable star, but fickle 
Fortune played her false, or she had failed to charm the 
goddess, because one day when " Doddy " (the stage- 
manager) was talking to me at the stage-door, he suddenly 

I 3 I 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

stopped and stared at a very poorly clad woman who was 
passing by with matches in her hand. Quickly he went 
out, beckoning me to follow him, and as the woman was 
only a few yards ahead, he caught up with her. Touching 
her gently on the shoulder, he said, " Lillian ! " The 
poor soul, looking at him in alarm, and in a choking voice 
just managing to exclaim " Doddy," turned and fled. It 

was Lillian P , a one-time Gaiety beauty. I am glad 

to say that hers is the only case of poverty I ever 

Of course there have been scores of the begging-letter 
type, and others who have had the effrontery to come in 
person with tales of woe, but I have reason to know that 
they were far from deserving cases. For instance, a 
woman came one night with two children. She told me 
who she was, and then I recognized her ; but she had 
never been of much consequence or I should never have 
forgotten her face. However, she had a very pitiful tale 
to tell, and she told me it very well — so well, indeed, that 
I collected £2 I 5 S - m aD0Ut half an hour and gave it to 
her in the name of the different artistes I had asked on 
her behalf. She spoilt the whole thing by going into 
Short's wine lodge and joining a man who was evidently 
her husband and calling for two jolly good drinks. I 
can't always go to that extent myself, especially on a Friday 
evening, before the ghost has walked. 

But for colossal impudence I never knew a case to equal 
that of a man who once held a position of trust under Mr. 
Edwardes' management. He had access to the firm's 
cash, because he managed to appropriate £500 and 
cleared off. About a year afterwards a woman came 
and asked me if she could see Mr. Edwardes, but I told 
her that was almost impossible without an appointment. 


Colossal Impudence 

But when she told me she was Mrs. I thought it 

just as well to let the "Guv'nor" know she was there. I 
went in and told him. He told me to find out what she 
wanted, and then I heard such a miserable tale of poverty 
and illness that Mr. Edwardes allowed her to go in to 
him. She said that her husband was ill in bed, and that 
the real cause of his illness was because they were starving. 

She herself had had nothing to eat that day, and very 
little the day before, and so on, until Mr. Edwardes said : 

" All right, Mrs. , I will send some money to you. 

I have scarcely anything on me at present, but you shall 
have some by the next post." As soon as she had gone, 
Mr. Edwardes called me in, and giving me a " fiver ' 
and some small change, said, " Here, Jupp, jump into a 

hansom and drive over to " Here he gave me Mr9. 

's address in Kennington. " Ask for , and see 

him. If this is true, send for a doctor, and get in what- 
ever he says he may eat. Leave the rest of the fiver and 
I'll see that they are looked after." 

Here was the " Guv'nor's " real self coming out. Fancy 
doing a thing like this for a man who had robbed him ! 

I drove to Kennington, and arriving at the house, gave 
an important kind of knock at the door. When the land- 
lady came I said, " I am Dr. Jupp of the Gaiety Theatre, 
and Mr. George Edwardes has asked me to call and see a 

Mr. , who is reported to be lying here seriously ill." 

The landlady shook her head. " Must be a mistake, 

doctor. There is a Mr. as lives 'ere with 'is wife, 

but he ain't ill by any means. They've gone out to a 
music 'all." I couldn't very well rush off, so kept it up a 
little longer. 

" This is the right number. I wonder where the mis- 
take is. You see, madam, I am the theatre doctor, and 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

Mr. Edwardes has just had a visit from Mrs. , who 

says her husband is dying — chiefly from starvation." 
" Well, it's a funny thing, doctor, because this is the address, 

and we 'ave a Mr. and Mrs. , but starvin ! Oh ! 

no, doctor." 

That was enough ! I hurried back to the dear old 

" Guv'nor," and when I told him what had transpired 

Well — he very seldom used bad language, but he did 
help himself to a bit on that occasion ! 

When help is needed the first two people in the whole 
world to be sought are the actor and the actress. I have 
known of some humorous stunts got up in the name of 
charity. For instance, I remember one morning about 
1 1.30 a lady came to the stage-door and told me that she 
was acting on behalf of the " Poor Children's Outings," 
and asked if I would speak to our people about it. She 
couldn't have come to a better place, because if there is 
anybody with a real love for children it is the man or woman 
whose life is spent in the studies of human characters and 
their sympathies are always with the weak. 

I told her that I would mention it to all the artistes 
when they arrived (we had a matinee that day), and she 
was just going out when Lily Belmore arrived with a well- 
known City man whom I knew very well. Here was a 
chance to keep my promise, so I called them back. I told 
him of the object of her charitable visit, and asked him 
if he would give her a start. He was a good sort, and 
would have done so at once, but Lily suggested that he 
should give the proceeds of a wager he had made to this 
fund. He couldn't very well give the amount, as he 
hadn't won it yet, but thought the idea an excellent one 
for some amusement. It appears that he had dared Teddy 
Payne to go from the Gaiety without his coat and waist- 


./■ I 

face p. i 

Teddy Payne's Sirloin 

coat in daylight, carrying a sirloin of beef without paper or 
covering of any kind, and he was to go along the Strand, 
up to Leicester Square and turn down from Piccadilly 
Circus on the return journey by way of the Haymarket. 
This was for £10, and being, as I have said, a matinee 
day, he told the lady representative that if she called later 
she would be the richer either from himself or Mr. Payne. 
She was delighted, of course, and arranged to be back at 
one o'clock. 

1 Look here, Jupp, when Mr. Payne arrives, will you 
tell him that we are over at Simpson's, and that I want 
to see him particularly ? " 

With that he and Lily Belmore went off, and Teddy 
Payne came in very shortly afterwards for his letters, and 
I gave him the message. He said, " Thanks, Jupp. If 
he wants to see me so very particularly, it must be about a 
bet I made with him, and it will cost him a tenner." 

I didn't say anything in reply, but thought of the kiddies 
who would benefit by his tomfoolery. 

Half an hour later a butcher's boy arrived with a huge 
sirloin of beef and said it was for Mr. Edmund Payne, 
and it was very shortly afterwards followed by that gentle- 
man himself in company with Miss Belmore and Mr. X, 
the other party to the bet. There were not many people 
waiting for the matinde as yet, being only a little after 
noon, and the beginning of the affair was quite tame. 
Teddy Payne took his coat and waistcoat off as per agree- 
ment, and, tucking the sirloin under his arm, went off — 
followed at a respectful distance by the members of the 
company, who had nearly all called for letters and whom 
I had told about the wager. 

As soon as he got outside the door he was recognized, 
and his extraordinary appearance naturally attracted much 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

attention. The Iinkman stared at him and the policeman 
on special duty, for the theatre had an idea of running 
after him in case he had forgotten his identity and had 
gone back to the days of his famous ancestors, the clowns 
who nightly stole beef sausages, etc., from the butchers; 
but was checked by seeing the small crowd of the company 

From there his progress must have been of a very mixed 
nature, from the incorrigible street arab with his extremely 
original remarks to the sympathetic lady who told him 
that the blood from the beef was running down his trousers. 
However, he managed to get back in about forty minutes — 
but by no means as quietly, for a huge crowd followed 
him, laughing and joking, and when he reached the stage- 
door he flung the sirloin at me and bolted through the 
swing doors up the stairs and got straight into a bath. 
What a mess he was in ! But that didn't matter. It 
was a bit of sport, and he had won the bet. 

The finish of the story is that the sirloin was raffled at a 
shilling a ticket to add to the j£io for the charity, and I 
won it. I can truthfully say that for once it was Payne 
that brought me pleasure. 

There were not many occasions on which I had a chance 
of getting away for a holiday, but sometimes the " Guv'nor " 
would send me up to one of his touring companies on 
business, which naturally came as a change from the daily 
routine of the Gaiety. 

I remember going to Manchester in the winter of 1897 
to see " The Circus Girl," and, as luck would have it, the 
Great Lancashire Steeplechase was being run that week. 
George Edwardes' horse Wavelet's Pride was entered, and 
we all went along to see the race and backed our horse 
at the nice price of 20 to 1. It won easily, and we had a 


More Wagers 

good time over it. That night after the show a lot of us 
foregathered up in the circle bar and the conversation 
turned on eccentric wagers and bets. " Doddy ' was 
with the company at the time, and he said he had to run 
up to Town, and would accompany me if I would wait a 
couple of days longer. 

Then George Gregory asked him how he was going to 
manage to get back in time for the show, and Dodson 
scornfully told him that that was an easy proposition. He 
went farther and said he would wager that he would go 
to London, report to me at the Gaiety, and get back in 
time for the evening performance, and all without a penny 
in his pocket. 

George Gregory asked: " How on earth are you going 
to get there without money ? " " Never you mind ! 
That's my look-out. Will you bet me that I don't do 
it ? " 

" You say you will travel to Town, report to Jimmy 
(meaning me), .and get back in time for the show, and 
without a bean on you ? " 

" I do ! ' " Very well, then, I'll bet you a fiver you 

I had to return to Town the next morning, and Dodson 
told me to expect him about midday on the following 

He won his bet hands down, and this was how he did 
it. He was lodging at the house of a railway porter, and 
he told him that he wanted to borrow a suit of uniform 
for a day, as there was a bit of fun going on at the theatre. 
The unsuspecting porter good-humouredly let him have 
the suit. 

On the morning arranged he busied himself with luggage, 
etc., just a few moments before the express left, and nobody 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

took any particular notice of him. If he hadn't been artful 
enough to leave it until the last few seconds he might have 
been found out, but he carried it off quite successfully. 
As the train was on the point of starting he jumped into 
the rear luggage van, and was well away on his journey 
before the other porter spoke to him. Now was the critical 
moment. " Hello, mate, what department do you come 
from ? " " York Road ! I've been up guarding some 
valuable stuff and am just off back again." The fellow 
seemed to swallow that yarn all right, and "Doddy" felt 

Sure enough, at noon he turned up in his porter's uniform 
and reported to me. He had walked from Euston, and I 
took him round to Short's and bought him " one." As a 
matter of fact we had two or three, but he had kept his 
word and come without a penny, so I played host all the 
time. He got back to Manchester in good time, changed 
his clothes, and delivered a note from me to George Gregory, 
proving that he had duly reported as arranged ; but I 
didn't mention his uniform, and unless George reads this, 
I don't suppose he can know yet how the trick was done. 

Talking about wagers and bets reminds me of a bit of 
very bad luck which befell one of our touring managers 
and led him to do a very dishonourable thing, but for which 

he made full atonement later on. This was the late W 

M , a very well-known man, especially in the provinces. 

He was familiarly known as " Eyeglass." He had been 
known to go swimming with the glass firmly stuck in his 
eye, so used had he become to wearing it. 

He had run up to Town to see the " Guv'nor " on business, 
and came to see me. I had previously had a tip given 
to me by my friend Danny Maher, the jockey, but I was 
to wait for further information about the horse. I told 


An Embezzler's Luek 

W. M. about it, and he asked me to let him know if I 
got anything really good. Danny Maher came in later 
and said I could back his mount without any fear. 

I told " Eyeglass," and that was the beginning of the 
wretched business. " Eyeglass " was the manager of one of 
our principal companies, and naturally had a lot of money 
through his hands. When I told him of this dead cer- 
tainty, he was so sorely tempted that he " borrowed " a 
hundred pounds out of the takings and backed the horse. 
It was stupid as well as dishonest, but at the same time 
it was very hard luck, for the horse lost by only the shortest 
of short heads. 

Now poor " Eyeglass " was fairly in the mire, and as he 
couldn't raise the hundred anywhere and he was sure to 
be found out at the end of the week when the accounts 
were made up, he, in sheer desperation, bolted off with 
the remainder of the takings, which must have been a 
good sum. He disappeared for about three weeks, until 
I went down to Windsor races one Saturday and ran into 
him in Tattersall's Ring. I spoke to him, and he seemed 
very conscience-stricken. 

He still had a good bit of money left, and he intended 
to try and pull off a good winner and refund the stolen 
money, showing that he was by no means an absolute 
rotter. I was very well in with Jack Arnold, the trainer 
at the time, and he told me that if Stanley Wootton rode 
his horse Peridelle I was to back it for all I was worth. 

I felt afraid to tell " Eyeglass," especially as I had in- 
directly been the originator of his downfall, but still Jack 
Arnold was so confident that perhaps this might be " Eye- 
glass's " chance to redeem his character. I told him, and he 
had a heavy plunge on it. That man's anxiety was pitiful to 
see, and if the horse had lost I am sure it would have been 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

his finish ; but fortunately it romped home, 5 to 2 against. 
But " Eyeglass " and I had managed to get " fives " about it 
before the price shortened. I shall never forget that day. 
It meant everything to poor " Eyeglass." 

He had gone off with about £350 of the "Guv'nor's" 
money, but now he could repay it in full and still have a 
good bit left. He squared up, but didn't ask to be rein- 
stated, as he didn't want to have to face all the theatrical 
managers, who naturally knew of his little lapse. He went 
to South Africa, where he died. 

Of all the practical jokers I ever came across perhaps 
the most incorrigible was Billy Stevens, who was with our 
management for many years. There is a tale told about 
him when he was playing in Sheffield. He was out shop- 
ping one morning, and after buying a leg of mutton met two 
or three of the boys in the company. They suggested a 
morning drink, so Billy asked the butcher to keep the leg 
for him until he returned, and then the mischief in his 
composition suggested a joke. He asked him not to wrap 
the mutton up, but leave it on the slab just by the door, 
and he would take it on his way back. He paid for it, 
and then went with the boys. When they had imbibed, 
Billy asked the others to come with him and see a bit of 
comedy played — but he didn't let them into the joke. All 
they had to do was to look on. When almost next door 
to the butcher's, he stopped and waited for a few seconds, 
glancing round in all directions until they got curious and 
asked what on earth he was looking for. 

" A policeman ! ' was all the answer he vouchsafed. 
" A policeman ! What the dickens do you want a police- 
man for ? " " Ah, just you wait and see." 

Before long the man in blue came sauntering along on 
that side of the street, and when he was nearly up to them 


Practical Jokes 

Billy made a sudden movement up to the butcher's shop, 
collared the leg of mutton and ran off with it. The police- 
man saw him and started off in pursuit, and Billy's friends, 
not being aware of the fact that the leg was paid for, thought 
he had really stolen it, as a joke, of course, but stolen it 
nevertheless. This was going too far, and thinking he 
might get into some trouble, they also ran after him. The 
chase was not a long one, as Billy only lived a couple of 
streets away. Arriving at his lodgings, he knocked quickly 
at the door, but before the landlady could let him in the 
policeman ran up and arrested him. 

11 What are you arresting me for ? " asked Billy. " I 
saw you steal that leg of mutton, and you must come with 
me to the shop where you took it from." " Oh, very 
well, I'll come all right." The whole lot of them went 
together, and arriving at the shop the policeman told the 
butcher what had occurred. Then Billy started laughing, 
much to the amazement of his pals ; but the butcher 
quickly saw why he had been asked not to wrap the mutton 
up, and to leave it in such a conspicuous place. 

Billy thought it was time to put matters right, or the 
man of law might make it unpleasant for him when he 
found that he had done it deliberately to fool him. He 
made an excuse about being out too long, as he had promised 
to return at once, and when he saw the butcher was busy 
serving some one else, thought it would save time to take 
it as it was, especially as he lived so nearby. 

An invitation to come to the theatre when off duty, 
and bring his wife, put things in a better light, but that 
policeman had his suspicions that the affair had been done 
for his special benefit. 

On another occasion Billy was out on a morning round 
of calls at the different houses where he knew the pro- 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

prietors, and when he got to one where he was particularly 
well known, there was a whole gang of navvies in the bars 
having their midday meal and the usual pint. The road 
was under repair, and the " No thoroughfare " boards up. 
This was just the opportunity he revelled in, and he waited 
until the dinner hour was up. Then he found out who 
was the foreman and invited him to have a drink, and got 
two of the boys to keep him in conversation while he went 
out for a few minutes. They guessed that there was more 
mischief brewing, and did as he had requested. Billy went 
out in search of trouble. 

About half-way up the street, and where the navvies 
were taking up the road, was a cabman's shelter, one of 
those old-fashioned wooden structures they used to have 
at all of the hackney-carriage ranks. Having been seen 
in company with the foreman gave colour to what he said 
to the workmen. " This position is not going to be used 
as a cab rank any more, and that shelter has to come down. 
I've just come along to give instructions to your foreman 
about it. You six men there set to work and get it out 
of the way." He went back to the hostelry and kept that 
foreman for quite a little while longer. When they came 
out, one glance was quite sufficient to tell him that they 
had actually started on the work — so that was his cue to 
get away in the opposite direction. The extraordinary 
part is that the shelter was really taken down entirely 
before the false instructions were discovered. It was a 
good thing that it happened towards the end of the week 
or there might have been trouble. 

Touring companies in the old days always had their 
own specials reserved for them, and the travelling was 
done in comfort. On one occasion I was going with one 
of our companies for a couple of days on business, and I 


Practical Jokes 

got to the station in good time, and was given a place in a 
carriage with Billy Stevens and two others. Just before 
the train started Billy brought in a little man of the Jewish 
persuasion and invited him to travel with us as far as Crewe, 
which was his destination. No one ever had tickets given 
to them in those days, the manager booking the whole 
company and just receiving one special ticket for the lot. 
When the guard came round in the usual way to check 
the numbers, all we said was " Company " and he would 
pass along to the next compartment. 

Billy had told his Hebraic acquaintance of this custom, 
but also told the guard to ask him what company he belonged 
to. Soon we heard him coming, and the usual " Com- 
pany ! Company ! ' all along the carriages. When he 
got to ours we gave the same response. Then the guard 
said, " And you, sir ! " " Company," said the little Jew. 

" What company ? " asked the guard. 

" East End Clothing Company," innocently answered 
the man. 

Talking of touring reminds me of an American company 
which came over and played for about six weeks at the 
Gaiety. It was a musical comedy called " Adele," and I 
believe the visit was made purely as an excuse to have a 
look round London. They didn't seem to care whether 
their show was a success or not, so long as they covered 
expenses, but what they did care about was sight-seeing. 
I took them round as much as I was able in my spare time, 
and they all had plenty of money to spend and bought 
heaps of things to be treasured afterwards as souvenirs of 
their trip. 

In the Caledonian Market they got an absolute craze 
for cameo brooches, and bought about twenty-five or thirty. 
They knew what they were about, because they distin- 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

guished between the genuine article and the inferior stuff, 
and got some good bargains. I arranged to take four of 
them, two ladies and two gentlemen, to see Petticoat Lane 
one Sunday morning. I advised them not to wear any 
valuables, but they scoffed at the idea of anyone doing 
them down. They had been on the Bowery and to Coney 
Island. Surely Petticoat Lane couldn't be worse than 
those places ! 

I took them down to Houndsditch and Middlesex 
Street, where the Petticoat Lane fair is held, and started 
on a tour of inspection of all the various stalls and shops. 
One of the girls had a valuable necklet and several rings, 
while the men had gold watches, fobs, rings, and tie-pins. 
I didn't like it, and told them to be very careful of getting 
into a crowd. When we were well down in the " Lane " 
I heard a soft whistle in front of us, and then one in response 
from behind. I kept very wide awake, and noticed two 
fellows come together and with a hurried whisper separate 
again. One soon reappeared in company with a couple 
more men and a woman. 

They were joined by the other chap, and one or two 
more, and they gradually closed in on us. As luck would 
have it, I saw a plain-clothes man whom I knew, and I 
made a show of my acquaintance with him, in case they 
knew who he was and would take a hint. He accompanied 
us until we got to a turning, and then he said in a loud 
voice : " That's your nearest way, sir," and making way 
for us to slip up the narrow street he let those others see 
that he was quite aware of their game. 

It was a near thing, because I know only too well 
that they would have been all over us in another few 

The theatrical Press agent is always on the look-out for 


An Original Stunt 

an original advertising stunt. The most daring I have 
known was the work of a gentleman who was a sort of 
Pooh Bah inasmuch he was manager, stage-manager, 
Press agent, and lots of other things all rolled into one. 
This was Mr. Albert Gilmer. 

Although he was on the staff of the Gaiety, he lent his 
brains in assisting and looking after the welfare of other 
theatres with which he was actively concerned, but naturally 
not to a rival firm. 

A hundred men were given instructions to spread them- 
selves out in twos along Oxford Street and down Regent 
Street. Each couple at half-past ten o'clock that morning 
would choose a shop where a lot of people were looking 
in at the windows or go into a public bar, the fuller it was 
the better, and the advertising would begin. 

In a voice loud enough to be heard by his neighbours 
one would say, " What time is she supposed to pass along, 
Bill ? ' " Oh, almost any time now. I think she's due 
at the Agricultural Hall at a quarter to twelve." " Well, 
I'm going to stop here and wait ; do you know, I have 
never seen the Queen since I was a kid." 

Now, it doesn't matter where you may be, nor among 
what kind of company, but the mention of Royalty, and 
the chance of seeing one of the Royal Family pass along 
the street, will excite the curiosity of every true Britisher 
and none more so than your Londoner. So this conversa- 
tion, being repeated in fifty places along the same street, 
must naturally spread the news, and it was not long before 
the people began to ask what the little crowd was gathering 
tor. Each couple spread the news, and of course other 
people spread it too, so that the work was quite easily 
done. They had only to make a good beginning, and the 
public did the rest. Before long the policemen on duty 

H5 K 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

noticed a most unusual thickening of the crowd and people 
actually taking up positions on the kerb. 

11 Come along there, don't block up the path ; move 
along, please." But the people were not to be done out 
of their places ; they intended to have a look at the Queen 
before getting on with their usual shopping and what not. 

One policeman was asked what time the Queen would 
pass and he went quickly to ask his pal on the next beat, 
and so it spread. One policeman telephoned to Scotland 
Yard, telling them that Oxford Street and Regent Street 
was a seething mass of people waiting to see the Queen 
pass. Had they any instructions about it, as the crowd 
was too enormous^ for the usual dozen or so policemen 
to cope with. 

The answer was that they had received no news, but 
there must be something in it, and would send up a body 
of police and some mounted to keep order and regulate 
the traffic. Of course that did it. The very fact of a 
large body of police arriving made a few more thousand 
stop and look until at last the streets were as crowded as 
if the news that all the crowned heads of Europe would 
pass had been advertised on all the walls. 

Scotland Yard meanwhile telephoned Buckingham Palace, 
and were informed that the Queen was not going out that 
day. That did not matter to Mr. Albert Gilmer, for his 
work was nearly accomplished. 

At a quarter to twelve, and just before the police knew 
that there was no foundation in the rumour, and could 
disperse this enormous crowd, a loud fanfare was heard 
coming from the direction of Glasshouse Street at the 
Piccadilly Circus end of Regent Street. 

44 What's that ? " 

11 Here she comes ! " 


A Delighted Public 

M Here she comes ! " 

Up went the cry, and it echoed and re-echoed all along 
the dense throng. More fanfares! and then behold about 
fifty horsemen gorgeously attired in costumes of different 
European periods came galloping from a side street into 
Piccadilly Circus, thence at a trot up Regent Street and 
so along to the Princess Theatre in Oxford Street. They 
made a fine show — not a cheap tinselled affair, but a really 
brilliant spectacle — and the only actual advertisement was a 
large banner carried by the horseman in the centre bearing 

the simple announcement : " To-night at 7.30 


It was wonderfully effective, and the simplicity of the 
whole thing makes the idea so almost childish that only a 
daring man would have undertaken such a stunt, but there 
it was, and what a result ! And the funny thing about it 
is that the public were delighted. 




THERE is no possible doubt that the best-known 
theatre in the world is the Gaiety, London. Perhaps 
one reason is that for over fifty years companies have paid 
visits round the world with just that one announcement — 
" The Gaiety Company." The names of the artistes and 
the pieces to be presented were of secondary importance. 
These companies never returned with their full strength, 
for some of the girls got married to wealthy men and 
remained out abroad, and several unhappily died on 

The only tragedy I can remember in connection with a 
Gaiety company abroad was in Johannesburg. One of 
the small-part ladies, an extremely pretty girl named 

R T , got mixed up with some of the wealthy 

men there, but not a reputable set. She was living with 
one of them at one of the leading hotels, and towards the 
end of the visit of the company — which generally lasted 
anything from sixteen to twenty weeks — found that she 
was in trouble. She told the man with whom she was 
living and who was responsible for her condition, and 
asked him to save her from disgrace and marry her. 

She was only nineteen, and this was her first trip 
abroad ; and to return home in such a condition was im- 
possible. The man put her off evasively, but as the 
tour drew very close to its conclusion, she begged him 
to do the right thing and make her his wife. There was 
a scene, and the poor girl vowed that if he did not do so 
she would do away with herself. 

He flatly refused to marry her, and then she told some 
of her girl friends in the company about her awful state, 


The Shortest Tour 

and that she would poison herself sooner than go home. 
She couldn't face her parents. 

Some of the men got into touch with this callous scoun- 
drel, but knowing that threats would only make matters 
worse, they tried to appeal to his sense of honour ; but 
what a hopeless attempt ! He hadn't such a grace in his 
whole composition, for although he practically gave them 
his word that he would see Rosie through, he must have 
told her again, and finally, that she could go to the devil ; 
because next morning the poor little thing was found dead 
in bed in the hotel. 

One of the most revolting parts of this shameful story 
is that the man had ridden out in the night and caught one 
of the coaches to the nearest station, and taken all her 
jewellery with him. He had even taken the rings off her 
fingers before the body was cold. What a hue and cry 
there was after that scoundrel ! The whole place was 
up in arms, and search parties went in all directions — 
from Natal to Cape Town — in the hope of capturing him; 
but no trace of him was found. 

One fact that greatly helped to keep his identity unknown 
was that he went under an assumed name in Johannesburg. 
That is the only sad fate any of our girls have ever met 

These tours generally lasted about fifteen or eighteen 
months. The longest tour we ever had was close on two 
years, but the record for the shortest is held by Miss Maggie 
May. She went out with the Gaiety Company and the 
tour was to open at Daly's Theatre in New York. When 
they arrived, Mr. Charles Frohman met them, as usual, 
and some time during the day Maggie got a loan of a 
thousand dollars — about two hundred pounds. The next 
thing we heard of her was that she had left for home. I 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

suppose that record could be beaten nowadays, but we 
had no airships in those days. 

Fred Storey, the famous actor, artist, and dancer (by 
the by, the father of Sylvia Storey, who is now Countess 
Poulett), caused some consternation among the first-class 
passengers, the night before their ship entered Sydney 
Harbour, by doing the " splits " right the full length of 
one of the dining tables which was all ready laid for dinner. 
What a commotion — crockery, glasses, cutlery, and all the 
paraphernalia of the table scattered on all sides, the stewards 
recovering the bits and pieces as they flew about, while 
others tried to stop him ; but it was all done with such 
rapidity that it seemed scarcely a second between his 
appearance and disappearance. 

When found, he was entertaining a few of the passengers 
in the deck saloon with one of his funny stories. He was 
a most extraordinary man — a genius in fact, which perhaps 
explains ; and when brought to account before the captain 
the next morning, appeared to be very contrite, and when 
the interview was over and they were once more out on 
the deck, he suddenly leapt overboard (they were close in 
by now) and swam ashore. Sydney Harbour is well 
known to be a-swarm with sharks, and they thought that, 
in his remorse, he had deliberately committed suicide. 

He told us afterwards that it is an acknowledged fact 
that sharks are by no means as ferocious as they are sup- 
posed to be, and are very timid in the proximity of anything 
splashing ; and he purposely swam with what is known 
as the " dog stroke." I don't know how much it cost 
him for the breakages on board, but the whole thing was 
soon regarded as rather more humorous than serious, 
especially as he had become a great favourite with all the 
passengers and officers. 


A Night in a Vault 

On the way back from New Zealand a call was made at 
Colombo for coal, and as the passengers were told that it 
would be a two days' job, parties were made up, and those 
who had been there before and knew the " ropes " were 
put in charge, so that the time could be spent in the most 
advantageous manner. 

Some went out to the Galle Face, others to Mount 
Lavinia; while the rest elected to go to Kandy, a rather 
long distance into the beautiful country of Ceylon. The 
party which had gone to Mount Lavinia got split up a 
bit, but as each one had his separate rickshaw they arranged 
to be back at the hotel on the quayside in time for dinner. 
When dinner was about to be served, it was discovered 
that four of their number were missing — two men and 
two gi r ls. They gave them half an hour's grace, then 
started with their meal. Fred Storey had been one 
of the Mount Lavinia party, and it suddenly occurred to 
him that he had last seen the missing four inspecting some 
old tombs which lay on the road between the Cinnamon 
Groves and the Galle Face Hotel. They all went aboard 
about midnight — the boat was lying out about half a mile 
away — and hoped to find their missing comrades safely 
on board, but they had not been seen since that morning. 

After breakfast, no news having reached the company 
as to what had become of them, they decided to go back 
to where Fred Storey had last seen them, making inquiries 
on the way. 

On approaching the place, which looked like an ancient 
burial ground, one of the girls suddenly stopped and told 
them all to " hush ! " Sure enough a faint voice was 
calling out. It sounded like a ventriloquist calling from 
a cellar to the people above. Quick investigation settled 
their minds that their pals had been discovered, and an 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

attempt was made to force a stout old door which evidently 
led into a vault. It was far too strong, and help had to 
be obtained from a native village near by. The party 
were eventually rescued, little the worse for their rather 
gruesome experience, as a healthy appetite and a far more 
precious thirst went to prove. The natives made a lot of 
fuss about what they considered the desecration of their 
holy ground, but a few bright English coins took all their 
prejudices away, and all was " gas and gaiters " once more. 

Later they told their tale about just looking into the 
vault out of curiosity, and somehow or other the door 
banged to and shut them in. It was a very hot and almost 
breathless day, and the wind could not have blown it to. 
It would have required a hurricane to move that massive 
door, and yet it did get shut. 

I wonder if Fred Storey could have thrown any light 
on the subject ? 

There was an exciting finish to that voyage home. In 
addition to the principal members of the Gaiety Company 
travelling on the saloon deck, were a good number of 
wealthy ladies and gentlemen who were either returning 
Home or paying a visit to England. At Colombo a 
few more were taken on board, and the complement was a 
fairly large one. There used to be the usual card parties 
late at night, and all went well until one morning a lady 
told the purser that she missed some valuable rings. 

This alarmed the other first-class passengers, and on 
examination three other people found that some of their 
property was missing, including large amounts in bank- 
notes. All the berths were carefully searched, but without 
any result. A careful watch was kept on every one from 
that moment, and a trifle led to the discovery of the thief. 

Early one morning a steward happening to look over- 


A Thief Cornered 

board saw a collar being flung out of a porthole next to 
where he was standing. This porthole belonged to the 
gentlemen's lavatory, and it struck the steward as strange 
that a first-class passenger should get rid of his collars in 
such a manner. Even if he wanted to put on a clean one, 
why not do it in his cabin ? He went into the lavatory 
and saw a man who was a regular player at one of the card 
tables at night, but now it flashed across his mind that he 
never noticed him during the daytime. 

He pretended to be going about some ordinary duty, 
but as soon as the passenger had departed, made his way 
round to the purser's bunk and told him what had occurred. 

The purser acted very promptly, and, finding the man, 
asked him if he would let him see his passage ticket. That 
cornered him. 

How he had managed to escape detection might be 
explained, but where had he slept and how did he get 
food ? He had been nearly a week on board since leaving 
Colombo and must have got food somewhere. The only 
logical conclusion was that he must have a confederate in 
the ship's company. 

He was taken in front of the captain, and, on being thor- 
oughly searched, the stolen property was found, and nearly 
all the money. He was placed in a cabin and locked in, 
but great was the excitement when the cry suddenly went 
up that he had escaped. When the door was examined 
all the screws on the bolt had been removed, but by what 
means there was nothing to show. After a systematic 
search of the ship it was concluded that he had jumped 
overboard. The day before the ship arrived he was dis- 
covered inside one of the air-shafts. He had made a 
plucky bid for his freedom, but was taken good care 
of this time. 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

He was a thief, but he certainly was loyal to his con- 
federate, for neither on board ship nor at the subsequent 
proceedings against him, would he so much as admit that 
he had any help of any kind. 

George Edwardes was as well known on the Continent 
as in London, for he used to go very frequently to Berlin, 
Vienna, and Paris in search of new musical plays, but he 
only went to the United States once, and that was after a 
lot of persuasion. He went to see his friend Charles 
Frohman, who held pretty much the same position in New 
York as the " Guv'nor " held in London. His chief of 
staff and absolutely indispensable right-hand man was 
Mr. J. A. E. Malone, and it was often quite a joke in 
the inner circles if George Edwardes did anything at all 
without so much as conferring with Pat Malone, as he was 
familiarly known. 

Therefore, when he went to America, leaving Mr. Ma- 
lone behind, they all inquired what the dear old " Guv'nor ,: 
would do without him. The day after he sailed one of 
our artistes, Mr. Hope-Johnson, arrived at Liverpool 
from New York, and when he came to Town and asked me 
if he could go in and report progress to Mr. Edwardes, 
I told him that he must have passed him on the water. 
' Oh ! I remember now," said he. " As we were crossing 
the bar in very rough weather, I saw the figure of a man, 
which I thought was very familiar, leaning over the side, 
and, in a voice remarkably like his, groaning : ' Where's 
Malone ? Oh, dear ! Where's Malone ? ' " 

r 54 






I HAVE mentioned before that no one was allowed 
behind the scenes without permission. Now there was 
an Army officer who became an almost nightly caller, 
attracted by Miss D B . 

His name was Sir M B , and a very fine, smart, 

typical young officer he was too. He asked me on several 

occasions if he could go in to speak to Miss B just 

for a minute — he only wanted to give her a private message 
— but I was adamant. On no consideration could he go 
in. He got tired of trying to persuade me, and said no 
more for a fortnight. Then one night he asked me if I 
had not belonged to the 8th Hussars, and I told him that 
that was so. " I thought so, Jupp, because I was talking 
about you the other night, and one or two of the officers 
of the 8th said they knew you in the old days and had often 
been up to see you here. Do you know, Jupp, that I 
have made a nice little bet which concerns you." 

I asked him what it was. " Ah ! " said he with a wise 
and knowing wink, " that's a secret, but you'll know all 
about it before long. You'll be all right, though, whether 
I win or lose. We've arranged all that." 

Two or three nights later Sir M came with two 

other gentlemen, one of whom I knew well as one of the 
8th Hussars. " Good evening, Sergeant-major," was 
their greeting. " How are you going along, eh ? ' Then 

Sir M asked again if he might go in for just one 

moment — only the shortest of moments ; but I said, " Now 
look here, Sir M , you know perfectly well that it's 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

not allowed, so why will you persist in asking?" 
' Oh, all right, my dear Sergeant-major, don't upset 

He strolled to the street door, and I was having a chat 
with my Hussar friend about old times in India when 

Sir M came marching in, followed by six others, all 

officers whom I knew. They filed past me in a moment, 
and passed through the swing-doors. I tried to get out 
of my little office, but the man I was talking to held the 
door firmly until they had all gone in, and then he let go 
and followed himself. Eight of them ! They were half- 
way up the first flight of stairs when I reached them, and I 
shouted : " Come down there, all the lot of you. Come 
down at once. How dare you force yourselves into the 
theatre in this manner ? " 

The only response I got was : "All right, Sergeant- 
major, don't upset yourself. Right wheel, there ! For- 
ward ! ' And along the corridor they tramped in file. 

At the end of the first passage Sir M called 

out : " About turn ! One — two — three — four — Forward ! 
Pick your feet up there, Reynolds ! " Back they came, 
and at the foot of the next corridor : " Left wheel ! For- 
ward ! " rang out. 

At first I was very angry about the whole thing, and 
thought of sending to Bow Street ; but as some of the 
girls put their heads out of their dressing-rooms (they 
were only just making up at the time) and laughed at the 
eight men tramping along, I thought better of it, especially 
as they had not offered the slightest offence to anybody. 
On the next flight the girls had evidently heard the unusual 
tramping and the military commands, and were also looking 
out of their room doors. The eight officers took not the 
slightest notice of any of them, but went along in file as 


Stage- Door Rules and a Wager 

before. Then again came the order : " About turn ! 
One — two — three — four — Forward ! " " Pick 'em up, 
pick 'em up, there ! Can't you see the Sergeant-major's 
got his eye on you. My word ! What an eye ! Don't 
upset yourself, Sergeant-major, we'll be back in a minute ! 
Left wheel — Forward ! " And up they went to the next 

I gave in then, and had to laugh with the others. They 
simply went through exactly the same thing upstairs, 
taking no notice of the laughing girls, and when they could 
go no farther they about-turned again and came down to 

the stage-door. Then Sir M said : " Well, Jupp, 

I don't mind telling you now that that was the wager which 
concerned you. You are so infernally strict that I thought 
of this plan to get in. I'll admit that I would not attempt 
it on my own, for I know you would have chucked me 
out into the street without any ceremony. So, although it 
took eight of us to do it, / have been behind and without your 
august consent. Here's a quid for you, Jupp. Good 

This was all done in a very few minutes, and they had 
conducted themselves in such an excellent manner, although 
a bit on the noisy side, that there was no real provocation 
to be an absolute boor and make a fuss ; so it passed off 
as any such bit of devilment should. But that story 
reminds me of another which was by no means pleasant, 
and made me appear in the light of a tyrant. 

I may point out that this strict rule only applied in the 
case of the sexes being opposite ; but there was no objection 
to a lady visiting a girl friend, or a man going up to see his 
gentleman friend, and that was the awkward part of the 
incident I am about to relate. 

One night a fashionably dressed lady called and asked 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

to see Miss Evie Greene, and I was just about to send her 
card up for Miss Greene's permission to admit her when 
Mr. Arthur Cohen came in. He was a man of great in- 
fluence and authority in the theatre, so I paid attention 
to him, with the lady's card still in my hand. I had asked 
her to take a seat, and he gave her a quick glance and then, 
with his back to her, signalled to me to let him look at the 
card. I did so, and he said : " I want to speak to you a 
moment, Jupp ; will you come inside ? " I went through 
the swing-doors, and then he asked : " Who does she 
want to see ? " I told him she had asked for Evie Greene. 
" Well, on no account let her in. She must not be allowed 
in the theatre to see anybody — do you understand ? If 
Mr. Edwardes came he would tell you the same, so you 
can take it as an order from me." I pointed out that 
there was no rule against one woman seeing another, and 
it made things very awkward. He said : " Send her 
card in, but you must give her to understand that no one 
at all is allowed to go to the dressing-rooms during the 
show." Then he left me to do the rest. 

I got one of the dressers to take the card up and told 
her to say that I had been given instructions not to admit 
her. When I got back to the hall I told the lady that I 
had sent her card up, but I was afraid I could not let her 
up as it was against the rules during the show. She frowned 
a little, but only for a moment, for with a very friendly 
smile she said : " That's all right, Mr. Jupp ! I quite 
understand, and I know perfectly well where this new 
order has so suddenly come from. I will wait until I see 
what answer Miss Greene sends down." I felt very 
guilty, especially as she was so nice about it as far as I was 
concerned. Then I heard Evie Greene's rich voice speak- 
ing in an unusually vexed tone, and drawing nearer, she 

i 5 8 

Evie Greene's Flat 

appeared herself, half made up and a dressing-gown thrown 
about her. 

" What's the meaning of this, Jupp ? What authority 
have you for saying this lady cannot come up to my room ? ' 
M Well, Miss Greene," I answered, " I have had instructions 
to admit no one at all while the curtain is up." 

She knew quite well that I was not telling the truth, 
and, knowing me so well, she knew I would not behave like 
this on my own initiative. She said : " I know it isn't 
you, Jimmy, but understand this. If this lady does not 
come to my room in five minutes from now, I will put on 
my things again and my understudy will have to play. I 
mean it, Jupp — so you know what to do." With that 
she went up to her room. 

I knew she was the sort of girl who would not say such 
a thing as an idle threat, and I hurried up to Arthur Cohen 
and told him what she had said. He could not go in the 
face of that, and reluctantly said: " Oh, well, I suppose she 
will have to be let in." When I got back again I held the 
doors open, and said : " Will you come this way, madam. 
I will direct you to Miss Greene's room." She was an 
extremely gracious woman, and as she got up said with a 
sympathetic smile : " Poor Mr. Jupp, they do get you 
to do some dirty things, don't they, and let you bear the 
whole brunt of it. But I quite understand." 

With a significant touch of her nose she intimated that 
she knew who had given the order. I never found out 
why he so particularly wished to prevent her from 
going into the theatre, and I don't think it matters now, 
but he didn't interfere with the artistes' privileges after 

In a big theatre like the Gaiety, where a small army of 
men are employed, one has to be very vigilant, especially a 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

man in my position, because it frequently happens that 
players in the orchestra send deputies when they have 
permission to play at some outside concert, and then stage- 
hands are very often away and send a man along to take 
his place for the night. To anyone conversant with the 
theatre and knowing these things, it would be worth trying 
to get through when all the others are going in and carry 
out any nefarious plans they may have formed. But I 
have only had it tried on twice. 

On the first occasion the orchestra were outside smoking 
during the interval, and as usual one or two of them were' 
having a chat with me. When the bell rang for them to 
go in again, I noticed a strange face among them. He 
didn't look at me, but went through the swing-doors in a 
casual manner. I asked Jacques Grebe" if there were any 
deputies playing that night, as I had not been notified about 
it, and a stranger had just gone in. He said there were 
not any, so I went after this man very quickly. 

If he had any designs in his mind, I knew he would not 
be fool enough to go down into the band-room, because 
there he would have instantly been detected and questioned, 
so I went on to the stage. I found him up at the back just 
in front of the backcloth, apparently examining one of the 
calcium lights. I asked him what he was doing there and 
if he had signed on in my book. Without the least sign 
of embarrassment he said he had been in the pit and during 
the interval had gone out for a smoke. Seeing a crowd 
of men going back into the theatre, he followed and found 
himself down there on the stage. I asked him for his 
pass-out check, and he calmly showed me one. 

It was genuine enough, so I took him up to the stage- 
door and then I told him what my opinion was. If he had 
only shown some signs of embarrassment or even amuse- 


Trying to Dodge Behind 

ment on finding himself in this strictly private place, it 
would have been different, but I was convinced that it was 
a try on. 

If he could have remained there until the curtain was up, 
the coast would have been clear for him. The whole 
company and the stage-manager would be actively employed 
quite long enough for him to slip up the staircase to the 
gentlemen's dressing-rooms unobserved, and after appro- 
priating anything of value, could have got out of the private 
door. I told him to get back to the pit, and to be thankful 
I had not given him in charge for trespassing. 

The other case was when one of the messenger boys 
from Raynes', the theatrical costumiers and bootmakers, 
called. He had the usual familiar cardboard box under 
his arm, and asked if he could go up with his box to see 
Miss Maisie Gay. Now, all of these people are aware 
that such things are always delivered in the first instance 
to the wardrobe mistress of the theatre, and she looks after 
the artistes' wants. 

" Miss Gay is on the stage at present ; what do you 
want with her ? " I said. He said he had a pair of shoes 
which she wanted to wear that night, and he was to take 
them up to her at once. That was his undoing. No 
one would have sent him with such a message, especially 
to me, so I told him I would take the parcel and sign for 
it, but he could not go in. Then he tried to induce 
me to let him take them up as he had strict orders to 
give them immediately into the hands of Maisie Gay her- 

You give those shoes to me, my young lad ; Miss 
Gay will get them just as quickly. You can go back to 
Raynes, and tell them you left the shoes with me, that will 
be quite sufficient." 

I 6 I L 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

At that moment one of the dressers returned from an 
errand, and I stopped her. I stepped out of my little office, 
and going to the boy, said : " Just take these shoes up to 
Miss Gay, will you, Alice ? " I went to get hold of the 
box, but the boy refused to let me have it. This was too 
much for me, so I took it from him by force, and when he 
saw it in my hands he turned and fled. 

His unwillingness to part with it, his sudden flight, and, 
now that I had possession of the box, its unusual weight, 
made me suspicious. On opening it I found it contained 
nothing more than a brick and some paper packing. Know- 
ing that Raynes would still be on the premises although 
the shop was closed, I rang them up. They said that no 
one had been sent on such an errand, and when I told them 
it was one of their boys whom I had seen for about two 
years in their employ, they told me he had been discharged 
a fortnight before. If that boy had asked if he might take 
the shoes up to the wardrobe mistress I should not have 
stopped him. There are conventions to be observed even 
in the delivery of a parcel. 

Talking of parcels reminds me of one occasion when I 
was fairly " had." There is a certain amount of excuse for 
me, because his message was so plausible and perfectly 
reasonable, but still it doesn't alter the fact that he took 
me in beautifully. A man came to the stage-door with a 
flat paper parcel and said it was for Mr. Ivan Caryll. He 
had ordered some new music, and there was three and 
sixpence to pay. This fellow evidently knew his business 
because new music is always sent out flat. I looked at 
the open ends, and seeing it was music right enough, told 
him that Mr. Caryll was in the orchestra then and would 
not be up until the interval. 

The way he put it to me made me feel that it was not 


The Best Violin 

quite fair to make him spend an hour of his own time fool- 
ing about, so I paid the money and away he went. When 
Mr. Caryll came up I said : " A parcel of music for you, 
Mr. Caryll ; there was three and sixpence to pay." He 
opened the parcel, and it was nothing but some old stuff 
with a few front pages here and there. 

Ivan Caryll had a sense of humour and merely asked 
me not to pay for anything at all in future, as that was the 
third time he had been had in the same way. No doubt 
this fellow overdid it and was caught later on, just the same 
as a musician who had once belonged to our orchestra 
came to grief. He had been in our theatre for some time 
and was quite well known to all of the staff, but the trick 
he played was not attempted during the week. He waited 
until one Sunday morning, and only the fireman was on 
duty. I knew he had left us and his story would have 
been a failure with me, but with the fireman it was different. 
He rang the bell just about midday, and when the fireman 
came, apologized for bringing him down, and asked if he 
might get his violin from the band-room, as he had a job 
of deputizing at Queen's Hall that afternoon. There 
was no one to consult on the matter and, thinking he 
still played in the theatre, the fireman consented. That 
fellow took the best violin and bow in the orchestra 
and got away with it. This was reported confidentially to 
the A.M.U. (Associated Musicians' Union) and all the 
theatres warned. It was done so quietly that only the 
officials knew about it and the thief was easily trapped and 

He was given six months to think out some other pas 
seul for future performance. 

One of the most brazen attempts at making a claim for 
loss of property was made by a woman who evidently had 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

not studied the extent to which a manager of a theatre can 
be made responsible. According to her story she came 
in company with a gentleman and occupied a seat in the 
dress circle. When she arrived she was wearing a very 
expensive opera cloak, which she threw on to the back of 
her tip-up chair. It was quite all right during the first 
act of the show, and she went with her friend to get some 
coffee in the lounge. When she returned she saw what 
she presumed was her cloak still lying in its place, and 
thought no more of the matter until just before the curtain 
fell on the last act. 

Then to her astonishment and alarm she discovered 
that a very old and worthless cloak had been substituted 
for her own. She sought the manager at once and told 
him of her loss. Naturally he asked her if she had left 
it in the cloak-room, and she had to confess that she had 
not done so. To try and see a little more into the matter, 
he went with her to the cloak-room, but there was nothing 
answering to the description given. 

The curtain having descended for the last time, the 
manager invited her to watch all the people who came 
with cloak-room tickets, while her gentleman friend could 
take up a position in the vestibule and command a view of 
all the people as they^passed out of the theatre. Nothing 
happened of course, but she said she would go no farther 
in the matter if we gave her twenty pounds compensation. 
She generously promised not to prosecute the management, 
nor bring our theatre into disrepute by mentioning the 
unfortunate occurrence to a soul. 

Mr. Marshall did not seem quite to appreciate her 
magnanimity, for his last remarks were : " Madam, if 
you could have shown me a cloak-room ticket I might 
have considered your suggestions, but as you cannot, and 


A Found Purse 

I am in no way responsible, I can only wish you good 

He was not quite finished though, for he drew her 
gentleman aside, and speaking in a quiet voice, so that 
there should be no "second evidence," said: "I should 
advise you to try it on at some other place, but I don't 
recommend the West End of London ! " 

They say that " Finding's keeping," but I remember one 
of our people coming to the theatre and asking me if I 
had any money I could let him have until the next day, 
and explaining that he had lost his purse containing nine 
pounds in gold and some papers, including an invitation 
to a Masonic Installation. The only thing he could think 
of to explain its disappearance was that he kept his season 
ticket on the suburban Waterloo line in the same pocket as 
his purse, and that he must have pulled it out by accident. 

I usually kept some money aside for emergency cases, 
so let him have what he wanted. That was just before 
the matinee. In the evening a gentleman came along and 
I recognized him as a member of my lodge, and wondered 
what he wanted, as he had never been to the stage-door 

He said he wanted to see Mr. Ellis for a moment if it 
were possible, so I sent his name up. While he was wait- 
ing, he told me that he was one of the managers of the Army 
and Navy Stores in Victoria Street, and that on coming up 
to business that morning, he had found something on the 
seat of the carriage which made him think it belonged to 
Mr. Ellis, of the Gaiety Theatre. Then I remembered 
the purse and gold he had lost, so I asked him if it was a 
purse he had found. " Yes," he answered. " Oh, so 
he has mentioned it ! Could you recognize it if I showed 
it to you ? " " No, I couldn't," I told him. " Mr. Ellis 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

told me this morning that he had lost his purse with nine 
pounds in it." " Anything else ? " he asked. " Yes, 
an invitation to a Masonic Installation." " That's it ! " 
he said. He went in to Mr. Ellis, and they must have 
made friends at once, for he remained up in the dressing- 
room for nearly the whole of the evening. No doubt it 
was a new experience for him, and I am not surprised at 
Mr. Ellis making him so welcome. Who would not 
show hospitality to a man who, finding your purse, brings 
it back to you intact ? 

George Edwardes was not by any means an excitable 
man, and could always keep his mental balance no matter 
how business affairs might be affecting his co-directors, 
so that the following .episode is all the more extraordinary 
on that account. After all, it was a trivial thing, and yet 
it made him completely forget himself. 

He went into the provinces to see one of his touring com- 
panies, about which he had had some disquieting reports, 
and he wanted to verify them for himself. He didn't 
announce his visit, but went away from the office without 
telling me or anyone that he was going up to Sheffield. 
There were three of them, and they arrived nicely in time 
to have dinner, and then 'phoned up and booked three 
seats in the dress circle. The other two went in and 
occupied their seats, but Mr. Edwardes waited until the 
manager was out of the way before he went in himself. 
He did not want anyone to know that he was there, so 
that no warning message could be sent round to the back. 
He had heard that they were doing pretty well as they 
liked and not keeping up the reputation of the Gaiety as 
it should be. 

When the orchestra came in and they were about half- 
way through the overture, he turned to Frank Tours, who 


George Edwardes' Unrehearsed Scene 

was one of the three present, and asked : " Who is that 
young fellow conducting ? I don't know his face ; where 
did he come from ? " Frank Tours was in a position to 
know all of our musical directors, but he didn't know this 
one, and said that perhaps it was the resident conductor de- 
putizing. That seemed to get on the " Guv'nor's " nerves. 
His own conductor missing to begin with. Looking at 
the programme for his name, he asked Tours where this 
conductor had previously been engaged. Tours told him 
that he had brought him from a number two company, 
but beyond that he knew nothing about him. " Well, 
he evidently doesn't care to look after his job, so even 
if you don't know where he comes from, I can tell you 
where he's going to ! " 

That was the beginning of it. He had to be asked 
several times to be quiet, and was " shooshed " by his 

The climax was reached when one of the principals 
made an entrance in a very quiet scene and was just about 
to sing the opening notes of his solo, when Mr. Edwardes 
jumped up and, to the astonishment of the whole house, 
shouted out : M Go back — go back — it's all wrong — all 

Then of course there was nothing for it but to take him 
gently but firmly out. He could never explain how he 
came to lose all sense of his surroundings. His mind 
must have been so fixed upon having this matter put right 
and seeing that things were done properly that he became 
oblivious to the audience. 

He left all provincial matters alone after that. 

All actors and actresses love touring Great Britain, and 
although the highest aim of one and all is to get a London 
engagement so that they can put the name of a London 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

theatre on their cards and advertise in the Stage and Era 
that they are appearing in the West End, there is always a 
secret longing to be on tour again. 

One meets with such kindly and hospitable people 
wherever one goes, and the weekly change from town to 
town brings such great variety into their lives that a pro- 
vincial engagement comes like the famous advertisement 
for pens — " a boon and a blessing to men." A visit to the 
Potteries is full of interest, and a George Edwardes com- 
pany never leaves Hanley without some charming souvenir 
from the world-renowned firm of Wedgewood's. This 
firm always sends an invitation for the whole company to 
pay them a visit, and a most delightful and instructive 
afternoon is spent in seeing the different processes. 
Nothing delights one of our girls more than to watch her 
own bit of clay being formed right from the very start 
until it has been baked and finally presented to her in the 
shape of some little ornament, jug or cup. 

A visit to a brewery or distillery is equally interesting 
but more risky. I remember going with a party from one 
of our companies over Dunville's, and it would have been 
well if they had not been quite so keen in their endeavours 
to entertain us. It was only a small party of about twenty, 
so we took a coach and drove out to the distillery. On our 
arrival we were met by several of the managers, under- 
managers, and still lesser managers, and we soon found 
ourselves split up into little parties. 

We started our tour of inspection with a glass (or two) 
of champagne in the manager's office. Then we were 
told that we would be shown the whole process of distilling, 
and would be invited to taste the spirit in its different 
stages and qualities. We had only been about a quarter 
of an hour on this sampling business when one of our 


Lost — Mothers' Advice 

girls confided in me that if she had another spot she would 
not be answerable for her actions. To use her own lan- 
guage, she said : "Jimmy, if I have just one more glass of 
this, away goes mother's advice, so I warn you." This 
did not sound very encouraging for the show at night, 
and I was very glad to find that we had a " halt " for sand- 
wiches and fruit. 

I think they must have forgotten that they were enter- 
taining guests who had to entertain the general public 
afterwards, for no sooner had one glass been emptied than 
another of the officials would say: " Now I just want you to 
taste this, and notice the great difference in the ' bouquet.' 
For myself it didn't much matter, but the others had 
their work at the theatre to attend to, so it was decided 
that the " tasting " of any further qualities be left to the 
experts and we would take their word for it. 

A final glass of champagne, and then the return to the 
theatre. What a demand there was for cafe noir, and 
how necessary it was ! I suppose coming out into the 
fresh air had its effect upon the party as much as the sam- 
ples ; and mothers could have gone round with hampers 
collecting their discarded advice. 

That night the name of Dunville was mentioned quite 
a lot during the show, and the next day a case of whisky 
was sent round for the artistes. This form of advertising 
is nearly always used — especially in provincial towns — and 
the person who cracks the gag is sure to be the lucky 
recipient of some of the stuff he has mentioned on the 

There was one night I remember in this relation. A 
carter came to the stage-door and asked if Mr. Charles 
Brown was in. It was a little early yet, so I told him he 
would have to come back later. He said he had a case of 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

champagne to deliver, so I said : " Well, bring it in here, 
and I'll sign for it." He left it, and when Charlie Brown 
turned up I told him about it. "A case of champagne 
for me ? Let's have a look at it ! Well, I'm hanged 
if I know who could have sent it." I asked him if he 
had been mentioning " Mumm " at any time during the 
show, and he recalled that one night in a scene in which 
they were supposed to be taking a sly glass of wine, he had 
said : " Mum's the word." I suggested that that was 
most probably the explanation of this present from the 
champagne firm. He didn't need much convincing as to 
the right of ownership, and my suggestion was enough. 
He said : " Send some one for half a dozen Guinnesses 
from next door, and three or four glasses. We'll have a 
right royal shandy." I soon got the things, and we enjoyed 
a couple of quarts of fizz mixed with the stout among four 
or five of us. The remainder of the champagne was taken 
up to his dressing-room to be discussed later. 

The next day a representative of the firm called and 
asked me if a case of champagne had been left for Mr. 
Charles Brown. " Yes, there was one came last night," 
I answered. Then he told me that it had been left in 
error. It was intended for the manager of the restaurant 
next door, whose name happened to be Charles Brown. I 
said: "That's a bit awkward, because Mr. Brown took 
it for granted that it was a present from the firm as an 
acknowledgment of his advertising the wine every night 
in the show." " Does he ? Does he make mention of 
our wine in the piece ? " He bit it like a trout at a fly, 
and I rubbed it thoroughly in. " Of course he does. 
Why, there has been a little bit of disagreement between 
him and the stage-manager over it. Mr. Dodson doesn't 
mind a passing reference to anything, but he says Mr. 


A Barrel of Oysters 

Brown is overdoing it, and thinks he must have shares in 
the firm the way he advertises your wine." He beamed 
on me, and said : " Well, will you give Mr. Brown my 
compliments and tell him that the mistake will be rectified 
and he may keep the rest of the wine." 

When Charlie came that night and I had told him about 
the mistake, he said : " Well done, Jupp ; but I think 
I'd better mention it again to-night in case the fellow comes 
in to hear for himself, and who knows, there might be 
another lot sent, not in error. How about a glass of Royal 
Shandy before we start ? Come on up to my room." 

The mention of champagne always suggests oysters 
as a fitting accompaniment, and reminds me of a barrel 
coming from New York addressed to the " Guv'nor." It 
appears that the late Charles Frohman had been drawing 
comparisons between the oysters they get on the other 
side and ours, and Mr. Edwardes challenged him to pro- 
duce any more succulent bivalve than we had to offer. 
Hence the barrel from New York. 

I went in and told the " Guv'nor." " A barrel of oysters ! 
Oh ! I suppose they are from Mr. Frohman, but I should 
think it's a bit risky to eat them after that long journey." 
I have mentioned elsewhere how very careful he was in 
all matters where health was concerned. Appealing to 
Arthur Cohen he asked : " What do you think, Arthur 
— a bit risky, isn't it ? " " Well, I don't know. I sup- 
pose they've been in cold storage all the way. Besides, 
they have them on board all the voyage and they have to 
be kept in good condition. Let us try a few ! " 

The " Guv'nor " was too nervous about them and finally 
had them sent round to Gow's in the Strand. I was given 
permission to have a couple of dozen if I cared, and could 
then give my verdict. I kept on for days having a few 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

and with the same report as to their excellence, but he 
never touched one and I became the sole possessor of the 
lot. I never knew the " Guv'nor " so solicitous about my 
health. At least twice a day he would ask me how I felt. 
I don't know if he had been studying the symptoms of 
oyster poisoning and was trying to diagnose any complaint I 
might have — but as I was as fit as a fiddle there was nothing 
to discover. 

Actors and actresses are very fond of animals, and nearly 
every one has a pet of some kind. Dogs predominate, 
and many hundreds of pounds would be carried under 
the arm of, say, Gertie Millar, Marie Studholme, or Gladys 
Homfrey in the small body of a prize Pekingese or Pom. 
Miss Homfrey used to breed dogs, and was a fine judge 
of a thoroughbred. One or two girls have had monkeys 
as pets, but they were stopped from bringing them into 
the theatre for obvious reasons. Mr. Reginald Crompton 
always carried a squirrel in his breast pocket, and Fred 
Walton had much fun with his chameleons. How it is 
that the London Zoological Gardens have only a few 
small specimens of this quick change animal, or whatever 
category this little thing comes under, I don't know. Fred 
had several big ones. I don't believe they lived very long 
here, but as he frequently visited South Africa, he always 
brought a few back, and seemed to understand quite a lot 
about them and how to take care of them. 

The strangest and, in my opinion, least desirable pet 

was one of Miss P H 's. The first time I saw it 

was when she leaned on the window-ledge of my little 
office while I was getting her letters for her. I put them 
down close to her muff, and before I could draw my hand 
away, the flat head of a big snake popped out. I 
instinctively gave it a chop at the back of the head (having 



seen this done at close quarters in India) and beat a hasty 

The awful fuss P H made ! How dare I 

strike her beautiful darling ! She would report me to 
Mr. Marshall ; she would see that I was severely punished 
for my cruelty to her pet. 

Needless to say, the only result of her complaint was 
that she was told that I had not gone far enough, and that 
I should have forbidden her to bring the reptile into the 
theatre. So she had a row with Mr. Marshall, who said 
that if she ever came to the theatre with it again, I was to 
refuse her admittance. 

I couldn't very well search the girl, and she would keep 
it well hidden in her muff until other girls complained 
about it. Then she was given the choice of leaving the 
beastly thing at home or stopping at home permanently 
as far as we were concerned. She chose the latter, and 
actually left the next day. 

Stage costumes are very expensive, and are a serious 
consideration in the expenditure on a Gaiety production. 
I particularly mention our theatre because only the leading 
artists were employed to design the costumes, and they 
wore made by the very best makers of the day. Modern 
clothes and hats and boots came from West End firms of 
high repute, and you could depend upon seeing le dernier 
cri on the boards of the Gaiety. George Grossmith was 
always the most correctly dressed man, and to this day 
no man turns out with a finer sense of good taste than he. 
He is an acknowledged fashion leader. 

But, expensive as a modern suit worn in a Gaiety piece 
was, the one worn by the late Teddy Payne in " Our Miss 
Gibbs ' proved ultimately the top of all. He played a 
Yorkshireman who had come up to London, and as he was 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

not supposed to be a dandy, he tried to get a suit which he 
considered looked the part. Several tailors were tried, 
but as each suit was finished (and paid for) it was turned 
down. There was a certain something missing. 

Eventually Mr. Edwardes suggested a run up to York- 
shire one Saturday so as to study the type of man in his 
Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. This was done, and the 
result was a ready-made suit costing £2 i$s., and gave 
the exact idea he wanted to convey. In all, that fifty-five 
shilling suit cost more than fifty-five pounds — but it was 
worth it. 

Some of the chorus men and small-part merchants (as 
they are irreverently called) often were allowed to take 
their stage clothes for private wear when the piece had 
come to an end, until at last these gifts would be referred 
to as a " God bless," an abbreviation of the familiar 
saying, " God bless George Edwardes " ; but I vow that 
Teddy Payne never included that particular suit in his 
own wardrobe ! 

Talking about wardrobes reminds me about one of 
our artistes who had an absolute mania for boots. This 
was Arthur Hatherton, who, when taxed on the subject, 
admitted that he wore a different pair of boots every day 
in the month, and would start again on the first day of 
the next month with number one pair, and so on again 
through each month ; but even then his stock was not 
exhausted, as he had always a few extra pairs for special 
occasions. I may add that his collection were not God 





ALL patrons of the theatre will remember that beautiful 
and brilliant vocalist and actress, Miss Evie Greene, 
for, having once seen and heard her, who could forget her 
representations of such characters as Nan in " The Country 
Girl " or Mme. Sans G£ne in " The Duchess of Dantzig," to 
mention two only ? But she was an established favourite 
in the provincial towns, where she played for a long time 
before she made her initial bow to a West End audience. 
Wherever such musical plays as " The Gay Parisienne " 
or " The New Barmaid " appeared with the name of Evie 
Greene at the head of the company, the " House Full " 
boards were displayed at every performance. 

Her first appearance in London was in " L'Amour 
Mouilley and there is rather an amusing story about her 
first appearance at the rehearsals of that piece. She was 
sitting in the stalls by herself, waiting to be called upon, 
and feeling somewhat anxious. She was in a plain costume 
and her appearance called for no particular attention. 
She had no previous knowledge of the magnificence of 
some of the London chorus girls, much less of the show 
girls, and became very interested in a gorgeously gowned 
lady in silks, laces, and diamonds who was floundering 
about the stalls gangway, and who looked as if she had 
found the money for the show and had just looked in to see 
if they wanted another thousand or two. This magnificent 
lady, catching sight of the pale, anxious-looking girl sitting 
all alone, approached her with a magnificence matching her 
appearance. She spoke. 

' I suppose you have been on the stage before ? " she 
asked in her grandest manner. 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

" Oh, yes," said Evie, " but only in the provinces." 

" Oh, indeed ! I hear that is where they fetched the 
new principal from — she is a Miss Evie Greene. Has she 
really a good voice ? " Somewhat embarrassed, Evie 
could only answer, " I really don't quite know — perhaps 
I am not exactly in a position to judge." 

The magnificent one was about to question her further 
when she was abruptly interrupted by the voice of the 
composer : " Now then, Miss Greene, if you will be so 

good " And Evie, rising and smiling kindly at the 

magnificent one, passed from the stalls to the stage and 
sang a solo. 

Later the stage-manager said he wanted all the chorus 
ladies to come forward, and to Evie Greene's utter astonish- 
ment, among them was the magnificent lady in all the 
glory of her silks and laces and diamonds. 

I think I have been long enough on this old earth 
to be sufficiently sophisticated to listen to a ghost story 
without being really nervous or having that creepy sen- 
sation come over me, but I must confess that when an 
actual experience is related by a man who has that rare 
gift of being able to impart to another something of his 
own feelings, then I am liable to be very impressed. And 
I certainly was in the story told to me by one of our pro- 
vincial actors, Mr. Frank Durning. It was the begin- 
ning of a new tour. The company were booked to leave 
London by the usual special train, but when it came to 
the time of departure, Mr. Durning had not turned up, 
so the manager of the company left word at the booking 
office that he was to be allowed to travel by the ordinary 
train, as his fare was paid. As this story has something 
to do with an offence against the law, I will not mention 
the provincial town the company were to appear in. 


One Stormy Night 

Mr. Durning fully intended to travel with the company, 
but owing to a breakdown on the Underground Railway he 
arrived at Euston too late. He had arranged to share 
rooms in the town they were visiting with another member 
of the company, who was under the impression that Mr. 
Durning knew the address. But he had not made a note 
of it, and had no idea where to send a telegram to. It 
would be no use sending to the theatre, as no one ever 
calls at a theatre on a Sunday, so the only thing for him to 
do was to trust to luck when he arrived and try to find his 
friend in one of the " professional houses of call." It 
was rather late at night, and it was bitterly cold, with a 
driving sleet almost blinding. Not a sign of his friend 
anywhere could he find, so when it got close upon " Time, 
gentlemen — please ! " he made inquiries about apart- 
ments. He was given several addresses, and it being such 
a wretched night, he was prepared to put up anywhere, 
so made his way to the nearest one. He was tramping 
about for nearly an hour before he at last got settled in a 
little inn, evidently of great age, and under more favourable 
conditions, of much interest, but for the time being its 
attractions were chiefly centred in a warm fire and the 
prospect of a comfortable bed. 

The landlord was a kindly sort, and made Mr. Durning 
as welcome as possible, so that all the discomfort and annoy- 
ances of the past few hours were soon forgotten over a 
bumper of hot " toddy." When it came to time for retiring 
he was shown to his bedroom, and the landlord's last 
words to him were : " Don't forget to turn the key in 
your door before you get into bed." 

He scarcely paid any attention to this advice, and not 
being in the habit of locking himself in, he did not do so. 
The rain, half sleet, was beating against the window-panes, 

177 M 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

and being accompanied by a low moaning of the wind, 
there was very good reason to be thankful to be indoors on 
what was evidently going to be a stormy night. 

When he had put his light out, he noticed that there 
was a sort of fanlight connecting his room with another 
on his left, and a faint light shone through it. Thinking 
that it merely meant that somebody was reading in the next 
apartment, he settled down to sleep. What the time was, 
or what caused him to wake up, he had no idea, because 
he had not heard a sound ; but it must have been very 
near to break of day, because there was just sufficient light 
to be able slightly to distinguish different objects. Not 
that he had time to look around him— he was only con- 
scious of these facts, for, upon opening his eyes, he found 
himself gazing into another pair of eyes not more than a 
foot away from his own. These eyes looked at him in a 
curious and rather puzzled sort of way, as if trying to settle 
some debatable point. 

Frank was more asleep than awake when he first 
encountered this gaze, and closed his eyes again. A few 
seconds later he felt a hot breath upon his face, and heard 
the stertorous breathing of some one very close to him. 
Opening his eyes again, he was startled to meet the gaze 
of those two eyes once more, but this time only about three 
inches away. They had lost that questioning look now, 
and seemed to be full of horror, which gradually turned 
to an expression of terror. 

Durning found himself utterly powerless either to move 
or speak. All he could do was to stare into those terror- 
stricken eyes. He felt himself go suddenly cold, and all 
his strength seemed to leave him. He knew that he was 
entirely at the mercy of the possessor of those two eyes 
which were piercing him through, and the hot breath upon 


The Door Handle 

his face was scorching. He did try to move, struggled in 
his spirit to make an effort to shake off this terrible paralysis, 
but in vain. He was completely helpless. And then he 
began to realize that the terror in his own mind was reflected 
in the face of this ghastly visitor. 

He could only keep his eyes riveted on those two others 
in a devilish fascination. At last they slowly withdrew, 
and the hot breath became fainter, until at last, in the gloom 
of that weird light which comes before the actual break of 
day, he lost all sense of their presence, and the slight sound 
of a footstep outside his door told him that his fearsome 
visitor had gone. 

His bonds were instantly loosened, and springing out 
of bed, he hastily closed the door and locked it. That 
settled any doubt there may have been in his mind as to 
the reality of this uncanny experience, for he certainly had 
shut the door before getting into bed, but he found it wide 

All hope of rest was abandoned, for this proof of its 
being no imagination had a very startling effect upon him. 
He thought of calling for the landlord of the inn, but he 
found he hadn't the courage to open the door again. Then 
he heard again the sound of something close to the door 
— the sound of some one cautiously turning the handle. 
Yes ! there was the knob turning very slowly, and then a 
slight pressure on the door, as if to open it. How devoutly 
thankful he was that he had locked it this time ! The 
pressure on the door became firmer and more determined, 
but it was securely locked. Poor Durning felt all the 
old terror coming back to him again, and he stood motion- 
less, with his eyes fixed on the handle of his door, help- 
lessly wondering what would happen next. 

There was dead silence for a few moments, and then 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

he began to wonder if it was not really all a hideous night- 
mare, and he would wake up to find all was well, when sud- 
denly he was startled out of his speculations by a hoarse 
whisper coming through the keyhole. Oh ! the horror of 
it ! It was more the hiss of suppressed passion amounting 
to frenzy than a whisper, and he distinctly heard : " Open 
the door — let me in — curse you ! " Durning couldn't 
speak, couldn't move. He could only stand there in a 
daze, yet with a brain on fire. Again it came — a little 
louder and with fiercer emphasis. " Open the door — 
curse you ! Let me in, curse you ! " 

Again there was silence for what seemed hours, but in 
reality of only a few moments' duration. A third time 
the harsh tones came to his ears, only with something of 
a despairing sob in it. " Open the door and let me in ! ' 
Then a soul-revolting shriek rang out, and the man on the 
other side of the door began to beat with his fists upon it 
in a frenzy of madness. 

Suddenly the sounds of doors opening and a scurrying 
of feet along the passage were heard. There was a brief 
struggle and the madman was overpowered and taken 
into the room next to Mr. Durning's, from whence the 
light had shone through the fanlight. 

This seemed to break the terrible spell which had held 
him in its thrall, and he opened the door and went out to 
inquire into the fearful doings of the night. The landlord 
was terribly upset, and implored Mr. Durning not to 
report the matter, as he had kept it a secret from everybody 
that he was harbouring his brother, his only brother, who 
had lost his reason through a terrible misfortune. He 
vowed that he would have him removed to an asylum after 
the occurrence of that night, if only 'Mr. Durning would 
promise not to betray him. 

1 80 


fact />. 180 

A Poor, Witless Man 

It was a serious offence to have hidden the demented 
condition of his brother from the proper authorities, but 
he would do so no longer. 

Rest being entirely out of the question, there was nothing 
to do but get dressed and wait until it was day ; but it 
had such an extraordinary effect upon Durning that he 
had to look upon the face of the poor demented man when 
he was restored to a tranquil state before he would leave. 
He said that that look of terror on the man's face would 
have remained with him and have haunted him had he 
not done so and been able to carry away with him the 
expression of nothing worse than that of a poor, witless, 
broken man. 




MISS FLORENCE ST. JOHN was without doubt 
one of the most distinguished artistes who ever graced 
the stage of the Gaiety Theatre, or any other theatre, for, 
in addition to having a glorious voice, she was a most accom- 
plished actress, and her meteoric leap into fame meant 
not merely a successful appearance in one particular part, 
but a permanent reputation. 

Even when her voice began to fail and she took to 
legitimate drama, she made as great a success as she had 
of old. 

In my opinion, all actresses are kind and sympathetic, 
but these virtues positively oozed out of dear Florence St. 
John. Her maiden name was Margaret Greig, and she 
was born at Tavistock, in Devonshire, in 1854. Hers 
was a most adventurous life, and the trials and tribulations 
she had to contend with at a tender age would have daunted 
the courage of many a grown-up woman. She was natur- 
ally musical and as a child she quickly learned to read at 
sight, and it was this early practice that not only stood 
her in such good stead in later years, but practically saved 
her from the hard study which is usually the lot of a would- 
be prima donna. 

Even as a child she used to sing in public at " Penny 
Readings," and her vocal abilities and musical aptitude 
were undoubted. A well-known tradesman in her native 
town gave her what might be called her first real start in 
the theatrical profession. He acquired, in exchange for a 
bad debt, a panorama, and this work of art he sent out 
on a tour. Little Florence (or Margaret I suppose then) 


A Husband's Support at 1 5 

used to sing ballads in front of the picture to vary the 
entertainment. How long this lasted I cannot say, 
but it could not have been of any great duration, for at 
fourteen years and nine months she eloped with a Mr. 
St. John and her parents refused to allow her to return 

It was then that the awful struggles began, for her hus- 
band fell ill, and she was forced through sheer necessity 
to try and get work on the stage, but failed to do so. She 
could not get even any concert engagements, but somehow 
or other she managed to get up to London, but with no 
better luck. Fate seemed entirely against the poor young 
girl-wife. Things became so terribly desperate that in 
order to support herself and her dying husband, she was 
reduced to singing outside public-houses to the accom- 
paniment of an old wheezy organ. She travelled a long 
and hard road before her time of triumph at last came. 
Yet, as regards the actual length of time, it was compara- 
tively short, because the manager of the London Oxford 
heard her singing and gave her a three months' contract 
to appear at his Music Hall. She then went by the name 
of Florence Leslie. 

Owing to her exceptional musical ability and her pure 
young voice she made enormous strides, and in just one 
year after appearing at the Oxford she secured an engage- 
ment to sing in Opera. She played in no less than thirty- 
two distinct operas, and in less than three years from the 
time she first went on the stage she was recognized as an 
operatic star. Then came an offer to play in that lovely 
old comic opera " Les Cloches de Corneville." She played 
the part of Germaine and scored an immense success. 

She used to tell a good story about how she got unde- 
served credit for what was described as " the most merry 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

and natural laughter ever heard on the stage." It hap- 
pened thus. 

Mr. H. B. Farnie was a very difficult man to please 
when he was producing a new play, and sometimes he 
has been known to get into such fits of rage that he would 
dash his silk hat down on the stage and jump on it. As 
regards Florence St. John he was never really satisfied 
with a laugh she had at a certain cue, and he did his utmost 
to get her to try to improve it and acquire the natural 
ring that he wanted. 

On the first night of the new production he was watching 
every one very anxiously from the wings, and at the crucial 
moment when this laugh had to come his artificial teeth fell 
right out, and the sight of him groping for them sent her 
into peals of genuine laughter at precisely the right moment. 

Mr. Farnie was delighted with her, and when the papers 
made special notice of that wonderful laughter of hers, he 
overwhelmed her with his congratulations and compli- 
ments. She was too honest though, and admitted that he 
himself had inspired it in the wings. One would have 
thought that the ludicrous situation would very quickly 
have lost its appeal to her sense of humour, and the natural 
laugh have fallen back into the artificial laugh which had 
been such a bone of contention, and so it did, but by the 
time it had worn off the ability to maintain the happy, 
merry ring still remained with her. 

She was at one time the wife of the well-known French 
actor and singer Claude Marius (he was always known as 
M. Marius), who also made a name for himself at the Gaiety 
Theatre. He was first married to another operatic star, 
but she evidently had lost all her love for him when she 
gave the following details of him : — 

" A masculine masher — young and beautiful, and slender, 


The Silent Singer 

sleek and sly, and so elegant. How clever he was, and how 
he used to manage what he was pleased to call ' his voice.' 
In an opera called ' Chilperic ' at the Gaiety he had a solo 
in the second act with a top ' A ' natural, and this is how 
he would do it. To see with what grace and energy he 
worked up to the climax and then, at the supreme moment, 
rushed up to the front of the stage, opened his mouth (such 
a pretty one, with a tiny, soft, dark line above it masquer- 
ading as a moustache) as wide as he could, lifted his right 
arm to Heaven, looked the gallery full in the face, and 
sang straight from the chest. What ? Nothing ! Not a 
sound ! and the orchestra sustained him with a tremen- 
dously big, long tremolando chord, which would have 
entirely drowned him even if he had really sung the note, 
and the public always encored him with great acclamation, 
and he — well, he always did it again ! " 

Considering the many thousands of actors and actresses, 
to say nothing of musicians and general staff, employed by 
George Edwardes, and for the matter of that by other 
theatrical managers, it is remarkable how free the pro- 
fession has been from tragedy. 

I remember the extremely sad case of one of our ladies, 
Miss Kitty Melrose. A sweetly pretty woman and one 
who would have made a big name for herself had her life 
been mapped out differently and led on happier lines. It 
was noticed that Kitty was gradually changing from a 
jolly, light-hearted girl into one whose manner became 
suggestive of a secret trouble, and eventually she fell 
very ill. 

The doctor who attended her elicited the confession 
from her that she had been taking veronal, as she suffered 
so much from insomnia, and had taken an overdose. With 
careful nursing she got better, but not for long. She 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

became very ill again, and this time she told the doctor 
that she thought she had taken enough to end it all, as 
life was not worth living. Again she was nursed and 
brought back to health, and she went for a holiday to 
Paris with a friend of hers, another actress named Mabel 
Bryce. It was noticed in Paris that she suddenly became 
very depressed, and she actually returned to London alone. 
Her friend suspected that there must be some love affair 
at the bottom of Kitty's melancholia, but no matter how 
the subject was broached she would always avoid it, and 
never admitted that that was causing her such distress, but 
it was true all the same. 

The caretaker in London was surprised to see some of 
Kitty Melrose's luggage in the front-room. Some of it 
had been opened, and as further proof of the actress' 
return a bottle of champagne was on the table, and she 
noticed that a little of it had been consumed. There was 
only one glass on the table. There was nobody in the 
flat then, so the caretaker went about her usual duties and 
departed. The following morning she applied her pass 
key to the door and opened it, but found that it had been 
secured on the chain. This aroused her suspicions and 
she got into the flat by way of one of the windows. The 
room seemed to be just as she had left it, but when she 
opened the bedroom door there was a rush of gas, and it 
was some time after opening the windows that she was 
able to venture in. 

She saw Kitty Melrose lying on her back with her head 
on the edge of an ordinary gas stove in the kitchen. The 
poor girl was fully dressed except for her hat and jacket. 
Another bottle of champagne was on the table along with 
some letters which had evidently been written since her 
return. The bedroom flue had been carefully blocked up 


A Love Tragedy 

with a dressing-gown, a skirt and jacket, and all the win- 
dows closed down. One of the letters was addressed to 
the caretaker. It thanked her for her kindness, and 
enclosed a five-pound note. There were two other letters 
addressed to a gentleman. 

At the inquest the whole story could easily be read 
from those two letters, and the whole was made complete 
when a letter was found in his handwriting. It was to 
the effect that it would be quite impossible for them to 
be married, as his people strongly opposed the union and 
his duty was towards his people. He explained that his 
mother was very ill, and he was afraid that his marriage 
to Kitty would have a very serious effect upon her. 

He admitted that he had done a wrong thing in letting 
her think he had intended to marry her, and then went 
on to excuse himself by saying that he had suffered very 
much, and his nerves had been sorely tried by her several 
illnesses. It was a very long letter, and pointed out how 
they could both benefit by being apart and each could 
start and lead better lives in the future. Although he 
gave her definitely to understand that this was the end, 
and all was over between them, he concluded " With best 

love, yours, " The two letters the miserable girl had 

left finished the sad story. One read : — 

" My dear one, — 

" I cannot bear it any more. Every one has told me 
that you have done with me, and I am heart-broken and 
cannot bear it any longer. Please forgive me, but as I 
know you do not love me, you will soon forget. All my 

love, and good luck to you. 

"Yours, Kit. 

M P.S. It was wrong for every one to keep you from 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

me. I cannot fight alone. I did believe in you, and did 
not think you would fail me, but God's will, and I know 
you thought you were doing right." 

The other letter was as follows : — 

" By leaving me alone you thought you were doing right, 
but it was all wrong and cruel. God forgive you, as I 
hope He will forgive me. 

« Kit." 

The coroner expressed the opinion that Kitty Melrose 
had taken so much to heart that the man she loved was 
not going to marry her, that she had determined to take 
her life. There was very strong evidence of real insanity, 
and it was not one of those cases in which juries some- 
times, out of kindness of heart, say that a person was 
insane, her mind was evidently in a very unstable condi- 

That very sad story was brought back to my memory 
when I chanced to meet a great friend of hers in the person 
of another of our Gaiety girls — another Kitty — Miss Kitty 
Sexton. She was just about to enter the chambers where 
her flat is when I met her, and of course our greeting was 
mutually cordial. Kitty Sexton had a most romantic story 
to tell me, or rather finish, for I had known the first part 
of it before she left the Gaiety to join one of our other 

The romance concerns a Captain U and herself. 

He was one of the first officers to be sent out to France. 
His regiment were taking over from another battalion at 
midnight, and one of the officers being relieved recognized 

Captain U and suggested that his dug-out would be 


A Post-card Romance 

found a very convenient one from which to get round the 
trenches and look after his men. If they had not met, this 
story would most probably never have been written. 

Stuck up on the rough walls of the dug-out were some 
post-cards of actresses, and when he had time to look about 

him, Captain U— noticed one of a strikingly beautiful 

girl. It was one of the ordinary picture post-cards which 
could have been found in every Tommy's barrack-room, 
but this particular one had a peculiar fascination for him. 
Printed underneath he read " Miss Kitty Sexton, Gaiety 
Theatre," and that was the beginning of it all. 

When he and his comrades were " relieved " in their 
turn and fell back upon a village behind the reserves for a 
rest, he made up his mind to write to Miss Sexton. It 
was not a time to consider conventionalities (who did in 
those days ?), but not knowing whether the lady might 
have a sweetheart at the front, or perhaps a husband, he 
had carefully to consider how best to approach her by letter 
and what excuse he could offer for writing to her. How 
he surmounted that difficulty I do not know, but I do 
know that he wrote to her ; and furthermore, he got one 
in return from her. She did not care whether he was an 
officer or a bugler so long as he was out there doing his 
bit, and her first thought was to show her " sisterliness " 
to one and all. 

In her answer she had naturally asked if there was any- 
thing she could do and let her feel that she was also doing 

what little bit she could, and Captain U from the 

moment he received her letter looked upon his mission 
out in France as something more than a matter of 
duty. There was joy in his heart when, after reading 
the letter over and over again, he realized that it gave 
not the slightest hint of either husband or lover, but in a 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

perfectly natural and womanly way had mentioned other 

friends who were out, and wondered if Captain U 

might meet them — and so forth. 

These letters came quite as regularly as could be expected, 
and whenever I saw the much- treasured " blue envelope " 
I always kept it until I could give it to Kitty myself. I 
was taking a very unusual interest in this little war romance, 
and the expression upon her face changed from week to 
week as the letters arrived. From an expression of pleasur- 
able interest it gradually became more intense, until at last 
she would be positively upset if by any mischance, which 
frequently happened, there was a delay in the delivery of 
her now precious letter. 

I did not need to cloak whatever I said to any of our 
girls — we were all pals — and so on one of these delayed 
occasions I said, " Kitty, you have fallen in love with this 
young officer — now, don't deny it, why even now your 
looks are a confession — cheer up, my dear, there's nothing 
wrong with him ; nothing's happened, or you would have 
very soon heard." She tried to look as if she believed me, 
but all the same I knew she had that sickening doubt 
which we all felt when our precious letters did not arrive 
for long intervals. 

One evening she came to the theatre absolutely radiant 
with joy and pride. She said, " Look, Jimmy — look at 
this — but don't let anybody see it, you are the only one 
who knows." And then she showed me a photo of a 
young and handsome young gentleman — I say gentleman 
advisedly, because he not only looked it, but there was 
every indication of it in the mould of his head, and even 
the way he held himself. Kitty was one of the proudest 
and happiest girls in the world that night. 

So this went on for a long time — several months — and 


A Telegram 

she and I kept her delightful little secret all to ourselves. 
There were times when it took a lot of romancing (and 
even downright lying) to bring back the semblance of a 
smile to her pretty face and make her believe that all was 

I shall always remember one night in particular when 
she came to me for her letter. There was a man friend 
talking to me, so I just handed her her little pile with the 
beloved blue one on top, and then went on with whatever 
he and I were talking about. I was watching her all the 
time, though, as I was as interested in her and her soldier 
lover as I had ever been in anybody. She tore it open 
and read it. Her face lit up, and I thought she would 
have shouted out for very joy — what happiness was beam- 
ing from her eyes ! She signalled to me frantically to get 
rid of my man friend, and every second he remained she 
seemed to have less and less control of herself. I think 
for the time being she almost hated that chap. 

" Why doesn't he go ? Why don't you get rid of him ? " 
I could read it in her excited eyes. It was really amusing 
to me, and I told the chap that he would have to excuse 
me and like a sensible man he went. Then she told me 
that her soldier had got special leave, and that he would 
arrive a couple of days after that letter. He gave the 
date, and that letter must have been delayed for two days 
because he was due to arrive that very day. No wonder 
the dear little girl was so excited. There was only the 
theatre he could come to, as she had never thought of 
giving her private address, and this added to her excite- 
ment. By the time she should be going in to make up 
and get dressed for the show he had not put in an appear- 
ance, and I had a hard job to get her to go in at all. 

About a quarter to eight a telegram came for Kitty, 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

and I did a thing I had never done before and have never 
done since, and that is to open a telegram addressed to some 
one else. I couldn't help it. This wire was to the effect 
that he would call during the evening, and if convenient 
to her, he would be glad to speak to her. Now it was no 
use telling her just at present, because I knew she would 
have taken off her make-up, got dressed, and come down 
to wait for him, so I left it until she had made her first 
appearance, after which no sincere artiste would ever leave 
a show unfinished. 

I got an opportunity later on, and told her I had read 
the telegram- — for which she forgave me (I believe she 
thought I had a right to open it) — and it was arranged that 
he was to wait until after the show. He came about nine 
and I instantly approved of him — a really splendid young- 
fellow, typically English, and undoubtedly a gentleman. 
I told him the strict rules of the theatre about visitors, 
and noted with pleasure that he was glad to hear of them, 
but that Miss Sexton would be glad if he would meet her 
immediately after the show. Neither of us being teetotal- 
lers I introduced him to my special haunt round the corner, 
and we toasted each other in wine. 

His wooing of Kitty Sexton did not take much doing. 
He had won her long before, and it came as a matter of 
course that they became engaged that very night. His 
special leave was not for long, and this happy young couple 
decided that there was no reason for delaying the com- 
pletion of their happiness. A special licence was obtained 
and Kitty Sexton became his wife. Two days after their 

marriage Captain U was recalled to France. That 

same week he was killed. 

That splendid old comedian, Mr. William Blakeley, 
father of the late Jimmy Blakeley, used to tell how, 


W. Blakeley and the Vine 

many years ago, he had occasion to call on Irving — then 
a struggling actor — at his lodgings in a provincial town. 
He opened the door and saw Irving sitting in a chair 
with a bright-looking little fellow on his knee, to whom 
he was giving large spoonfuls of black-currant jam out 
of a jam-pot. It seems that the youngster had expressed 
himself as being particularly partial to black-currant jam, 
and Irving had told the boy he should have a whole 
pot to himself. Irving was keeping his promise, and the 
youngster swallowed every bit of it. That little fellow 
eventually became Mr. Frank Cooper, who distinguished 
himself so greatly in Sir Henry Irving's company at the 
Lyceum Theatre, and became his leading man. 

William Blakeley was a great comedian in his day, and 
was the favourite actor of the Duchess of Teck (mother of 
Queen Mary), and she rarely missed one of his performances. 
He was fond of springing little jokes on the management 
as well as " gagging " to the audience, and in a piece in 
which he was supposed to be a landowner who wanted to 
dispose of certain of his property there was, in a corner 
of this supposed property, a grape-vine. Blakeley got two 
bunches of grapes — one black and the other white — and 
pointed out to the would-be purchaser how prolific the 
vine was. When he was asked if the neighbourhood was a 
healthy one — " Healthy ! " exclaimed Blakeley — " Why, 
the cemetery is a perfect failure ! " 

Mr. Blakeley was of a genial disposition and very fond 
of children. He was generous and charitable and extended 
a helping hand in time of need to many of his less successful 
brother and sister artistes. The last time I saw him play 
was when he appeared as Smoggins in " An Artist's Model." 

Jimmy Blakeley followed in his father's footsteps and 
became a very popular comedian, and he also was royally 

193 N 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

favoured, for he was one of Queen Alexandra's favourite 
comedians. Even before he became a West End Star, 
when he was with Clifford Essex's Pierrots at Southsea, he 
had several commands to sing on board the Royal Yacht 
Osborne. On one occasion Jimmy sang Albert Cheva- 
lier's " Future Mrs. 'Awkins," and when he got to the 
refrain King Edward (who was then Prince of Wales) rose 
from his chair and, taking his cigar from his mouth, used 
it as a conductor's baton and led the entire company — 
crew and all — in the chorus. Poor Jimmy had made a 
succession of successes in the West End under George 
Edwardes' banner, and his untimely death at a compara- 
tively early age was undoubtedly caused by shock during 
the cowardly air-raids. 

Mention of King Edward VII (when he was still Prince 
of Wales) reminds me of a story about him. It is not 
generally accepted as being true, but as it chiefly concerns 
a London hansom cabby, one of the good old witty type, 
which now seems to be extinct, there is nothing difficult 
in believing it to be perfectly true. 

It was soon after the Prince had won his first Derby 
and he, in company with a friend, hailed a hansom and 
gave instructions to drive to Whitehall. When they 
arrived ther and had alighted, the friend, in presenting 
the driver i ith his fare, asked him whether he was aware 
whom he ha a been driving. " Now don't come it, mister," 
pleaded the cabby, " there ain't a day passes but not some- 
body tries to kid me as 'ow the Shah of Persia or the Presi- 
dent of the United States 'as bin a-drivin' in my keb— 
don't come it, please, mister ! " 

" I am not joking,/eally," was the smiling reply. " The 
gentleman who just alighted is the Prince of Wales." 

" Wot ho ! " chuckled the cabby with a knowing wink. 


Dan Leno's Narrow Shave 

44 Well, you can just tell the gentleman wot's just alighted 
as ow the 'orse wot's been a-pulling 'im along is Persimmon. 
Gee-up, Persie ! " 

The Gaiety actor, Fred Leslie, and Dan Leno were 
never formally introduced to one another, and their meet- 
ing was unconventional to say the least. It was in a 
Lancashire town, and Fred had just had a shave and was 
waiting in the shop while the barber went next door to 
get some change. Dan Leno, who had never met Leslie, 
came in and said he wanted a haircut. Leslie recognized 
the great little comedian and thought he would have a 

44 Certainly, Mr. Leno," said he, and promptly thrust 
Dan into a chair, covered him with a towel, and started 
to lather his chin. 

44 I want a haircut, not a shave," said Dan, starting up. 
Fortunately the barber returned with the change just as 
Dan was about to 44 go for " Fred. They were great 
friends for many years afterwards. 

A very devout lover used to be heard morning, noon, 
and night singing, 44 Kind, kind and gentle is she." Even- 
tually he married the kind one. Eighteen months or 
so later he could still be heard humming it, but with 
this significant variation, 44 Kind, kind and gentle — is 
she ? " 

Every man who has been a patient in a hospital in France 
will understand the following little incident far better than 
my poor attempt to describe it : — 

Frank Fraser (brother of our leading baritone, whom I 
have mentioned before) was the first actor to be invalided 
home from France. He joined up at the very beginning 
of the war, and was seriously wounded at Festubert 
during the first 44 scrap " there. When he was lying in 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

hospital, where he had been quickly dispatched from the 
dressing-station, he noticed one of the nurses come into 
the ward and tie a white ribbon into a bow on the bed-rail 
of the man next to him. He asked the nurse what signifi- 
cance that had, and she replied, " Oh ! that means that 
he is to be sent back to England for treatment." The 
poor chap whose bed was so adorned cheered up at the 
good news. " Blighty ! that's what it means, chum. 
Blighty ! " 

Frank congratulated him and wished him good luck. 
This led up to " Where is your home ? " and they found 
that they knew many places in London where it was quite 
possible that they had both been without knowing one 
another, and then, naturally, Frank's comrade said how 
heartily thankful he was to know that he was to be sent 
back. Just as he was expressing his delight, the door of 
the ward opened, and the same nurse came back consulting 
a Medical History Sheet. She went to the man's bed 
and compared the cards, and then — -the poor girl must 
have felt pretty unhappy at having to do it — she took 
the white bow off the one bed and tied it on to Frank 
Fraser's. She had made a mistake. She didn't speak 
and neither did the two men, but Frank told me that 
he felt more sorry over that incident than if it had been 

James Sinclair was another of our Gaiety boys who 
joined up in the early days of the war. He was a fine 
handsome young man, well over six foot and a good all- 
round athlete. He belonged to a very wealthy family, but 
he would not apply for a commission, preferring to join 
up as a Tommy in the 3rd Dragoon Guards. When on 
leave he always paid me a visit and told me what he knew 
of things " over the road." One day he came with the 


A Last Celebration 

joyful news that he had come into a fortune of £50,000. 
We duly celebrated what was considered his great good 
luck, and I regret to say that that was perhaps the last 
celebration of it that he ever knew, for the very next day 
on his return to France, he was killed. 




IT was not so much luck which enabled George Edwardes 
to become a most successful theatrical manager as 
a capacity for understanding exactly what the public 
wanted ; and his vision had to extend far beyond 
London, because his provincial audiences were of the 
most vital importance to him, and that was where his 
wonderful judgment came in. He spared neither effort 
nor money to provide his public with the fare they wanted, 
but it cost a lot in the beginning to find out their exact 

I remember the " Guv'nor " talking to a friend of his who 
was evidently going into management. He had come 
along like a sensible man, and honestly confessed that he 
was in search of some truths about the business which 
could only be known through long practical experience. 
He had come to the right man indeed, for was not George 
Edwardes the " Daddy " of them all ? 

" It is like this," the " Guv'nor " said. " I regard the 
members of an audience as the real critics. It is no use 
defying them as so many managers I know have done. 
That's altogether wrong ! It is certainly very galling to 
spend many thousands of pounds upon a piece only to be 
rewarded with hisses ; but when there is dissatisfaction 
my plan is carefully to examine the cause and see if there 
is really anything to complain about. Take, for instance, 
' The Artist's Model.' The first-night reception was far 
from flattering. No expense had been spared in the pro- 
duction, but it did not seem to appeal to a certain section 
of the audience. 


Making a Success 

" On the full of the curtuin there were culls for 
1 Edwurdes.' I went in front und usked : ' Whut is 
wrong ? Don't you like it ? ' ' No ! ' came the response. 
1 All right,' I suid, ' come uguin in five or six weeks. You 
will like it then.' 

11 Vurious ulterations were mude which I thought would 
improve the piece, und the result wus thut it becume one 
of my greutest successes. I believe in trying to muke un 
uudience like u piece, und I knew thut they trusted me 
to do my best, und I huve ulwuys found the public very 
uppreciutive us well us very loyul. 

11 It is reully ustonishing how muny people visit the 
Guiety und Duly's yeur ufter yeur. As un illustrution of 
how considerute they ure, I might mention the first night 
of ' The Country Girl.' The curtuin did not ring up until 
nine o'clock, owing to unforeseen circumstunces. There 
were yells und cries und stumping of feet. At five minutes 
to nine I went before the curtuin und upologized for the 
deluy, und expluined thut u series of uccidents hud occurred. 
I uppeuled for their indulgence, und instuntly their imputient 
cries chunged to cheers, und u rousing reception greeted 
the first scene." 

George Edwurdes' tuct und diplomucy were proverbiul 
in the profession. They helped him enormously in the 
successful munugement of certuin exucting und excituble 

When George Edwurdes took over the Lyric Theutre 
his ideu wus to produce u piece which would in no wuy 
clush with his other ulreudy estublished successes ut the 
Guiety und Duly's — to suy nothing of his bullets ut the 
Empire — but it wus to be something quite apart from his 
accustomed policy, und he udmitted that he wus muking 
something of u leup in the durk. But such wus his couruge 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

that he tried the experiment " off his own bat " and stood 
to lose £10,000 at one fell swoop. 

It all depended upon the verdict of the public on the 
first night. The piece he chose to open with was " The 
Duchess of Dantzig." It was an experiment, and he 
frankly admitted that he did not know how the public 
would accept it. But he said he had made up his mind 
to find out. I remember him saying in that quiet, even 
tone : " If the public receive it favourably, it means a 
fortune for everybody concerned ; but if the reverse, 
well ! I shall have enjoyed spending £10,000 to satisfy 
my curiosity." 

As everybody knows, " The Duchess of Dantzig " was 
an enormous success, and the late Evie Greene touched 
the height of brilliance both vocally and histrionically as 
the washerwoman " Sans G&ne." 

I have remarked that the " Guv'nor " could persuade a 
person to do almost anything, but he used to tell a story 
against himself which is the exception. When he was 
getting a company together to do a tour of the world 
there was one lady whom it was most necessary to star. 
Unfortunately for the " Guv'nor,' ' this lady knew of her 
importance. She knew that her name had been particularly 
mentioned by the managers in America, Australia, Africa, 
and other places to be visited. He made her the same 
offer that he had made to Nellie Farren, which the latter 
had accepted and was perfectly satisfied with — £100 a 
week and all expenses paid. He enlarged upon the 
great benefit it would be to her health, and the rest 
her voice would get during the voyage, and he empha- 
sized the numerous presents of diamonds reported to 
be given by Indian Rajas. She stuck out for £200 and 
all expenses. Ultimately he asked her to think the matter 


The Shorn Moustaches 

over. The very next morning he received the following 
note : — 

" Dear Mr. Edwardes, — If you accept my terms, you 
can have all the Rajas' presents." 

There is another story, the humour of which had to be 
explained to him before it was appreciated. I have men- 
tioned that the production of a new show was left almost 
entirely to the stage-director, such as J. A. E. Malone or 
Sydney Ellison, and the stage-manager, and between 
them the work would be done ; but George Edwardes 
kept a watchful eye, and when it came to the final rehearsals 
he would take them in hand and give the show the finishing 
touch, which was without doubt the touch of a master. 
There is always a dress parade before a dress rehearsal, 
so that if any alterations have to be made in costumes or 
make-up, there will be plenty of time for them. 

Mr. Edwardes came along w r ith his monocle in his 
critical eye. When it came to an inspection of the chorus 
gentlemen's costumes and make-up, he noticed three or 
four of them had moustaches, and the piece being the 
" Greek Slave," he did not think it quite in keeping with 
the period. 

" It doesn't matter now, but don't wear them at the 
dress rehearsal. Let it go for to-day." Now it appears 
that these men had asked permission to grow their own 
face decorations, and the stage-manager had said that he 
saw no reason why they should not do so. After Mr. 
Edwardes' objection to them they had no choice but to 
become clean-shaven. The dress rehearsal was begun (not 
the one to which the public are invited) and he noticed 
that these men had to carry a Greek god (Mr. Hayden 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

Coffin) on to the stage, standing on a platform, and that 
they stood out very prominently from all the other chor- 
isters. He called out : " Just one minute, please. Aren't 
you the four gentlemen who were wearing moustaches ? " 
They told him that they were. " Well, I did not quite 
realize what you had to do, and IVe changed my mind. 
I think perhaps it will be better if you put them on 

The roar of laughter that greeted this made him stare ; 
but when it was explained, he joined in the laugh against 

Cyril Clensy, the mimic and actor, and a man who could 
be equally famous as a 'cellist if he but chose to let the 
public know what a master of that instrument he is, told 
me a story the other day which, considered from a pro- 
fessional point of view, shows the awful type of man who 
nowadays has it in his power to engage an artiste. 

A man was wanted for a dramatic sketch, somewhat 
after the style of Auguste van Bieni's " Master Musician," 
in which he had to play a solo on the 'cello, and of course, 
as the character was that of a great musician, this solo 
had necessarily to be well rendered. An agent was applied 
to, and he thought of Cyril Clensy. He wrote to him, 
asking him to call. 

Needless to say, a contract was made out and signed, 
as it was left to the agent to get the right man, and there 
was no necessity to refer Clensy to the manager. The 
agent knew his abilities as an actor and musician. When 
the agent told the manager that he had secured the very 
man he wanted, and mentioned Cyril Clensy's name, he 
said : 

" Oh, that's good, very good indeed ! He will be 
splendid, I know. But you had better get him to set to 


Clensy and his Dresser 

work on the 'cello and learn to -play it, because we open in 
three weeks." 

There is also a human story about Cyril. It was during 
the war, when he was a sergeant. 

One night, when they were mounting guard, Clensy 
was in charge. The officer came along and inspected the 
new guard, and having occasion to find some slight fault 
with one of the men's rifles, called Sergeant Clensy and 
asked him to examine it for himself. As soon as Cyril 
spoke the officer turned to him and looked very intently 
into his face. " What is your name, Sergeant ? Is it 
Clensy ? " " Yes, sir, that is my name ! " Fortunately 
for the man whose rifle had caused this interruption, his 
offence was forgotten. " I should very much like to see 
you when you come off guard, Sergeant. Come to my 
quarters, will you ? " 

When the time came, Cyril cleaned up and presented 
himself at the officer's private room. " Come in, Ser- 
geant ! Sit right down and make yourself comfy. I 
won't ask you what you will have because I remember 
only too well what you like, and I've got it here for 

Then he turned to Clensy, and asked him quite 
seriously : " Don't you recognize me, or are you still 
proving what a good actor you are ? Come, tell me the 

Cyril admitted that he could not place him, although 
there was something familiar about his voice and he seemed 
to remember the name. The officer laughed. " Well, 
I suppose it is our meeting under the very altered con- 
ditions. My rank, to begin with, would naturally put 
you off the scent ; but if you will recall the time when 
you were giving your mimicry at Wyndham's Theatre in 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

place of the usual curtain raiser, you might be able to 
recognize your dresser." It was the man who had dressed 
him for six months. Cyril promptly sprang up, saluted, 
and then, shaking hands with him, congratulated him 
upon his position. They spent many happy hours to- 

The comedian, G. P. Huntley, with his ever ready wit 
got in a beautiful dig at a particularly objectionable 
American the last time he came across from New York 
The boat had not got quite far enough for it to be legal to 
open the bar, and G. P. was whiling the time away amusing 
some of his English friends with stories and anecdotes! 
Inis unpleasant man kept chipping in with irrelevant 

G. P. noticed that draped round the clock in the saloon 
was a large American flag, so he remarked that, as they 
were all waiting for a drink which is not permitted under 
that flag, it should be replaced by the Union Jack. That 
set the American going. He began a long eulogy of 
the Stars and Stripes, when G. P. interrupted with an 
apology, and asked him if he would kindly explain 
exactly why stars and stripes were chosen for their national 

" Wal, sir, each star in that glorious flag represents a 
city or place of importance which we Americans have 

"Oh>deed,"saidG.P. "Is that it? Quiteabrainv 

idea. Thanks for enlightening me. But, are you sure all 

tte stars are there ? I have an idea there's one missing." 

No, sir, there is nothing lacking on that flag, 

sir J" °' 

m G. P. looked a little bit more sternly than is his wont. 
You are wrong, you are one star short." 



With amused indulgence the American asked : " What 
star is that, sir ? " 

" The Mons Star," quietly returned the comedian. 
This racing story happened in Ireland and is 


Major Edwardes, my "Guv'nor's" brother and part- 
ner in the ownership and training of racehorses, was 
in Dublin to look after some horses of theirs that were 
undergoing their final training before being entered 
for races. A friend of his, an Irishman, took a great 
fancy to one of the horses which had been given the 
curious name Guilty. He asked the Major if it was for 


As a matter of fact it was, and after a little while a bargain 
was struck ; but it was decided to leave Guilty where 
it was to finish its training. At the time Pat was delighted 
with his purchase. Imagine Major Edwardes' surprise 
when, about a fortnight later, he received notice to the 
effect that Pat had instituted proceedings against him for 
the return of his money on the grounds that the Major had 
sold him the horse under false pretences. 

Not one word of complaint had reached him, and the 
matter had not been referred to in any correspondence, 
so he went to Dublin to answer the charge at the Four 
Courts. The case for the prosecution was, briefly, that 
Major Edwardes had represented the horse as being per- 
fectly sound and as coming of a good stock, and on that 
representation Pat had paid £500 for it. Pat had been 
closely watching the horse ever since, and was prepared 
to swear that the horse was of very inferior breed and in 
his opinion was not class enough to enter into any kind 
of race, let alone a race of any standing. 

When the Judge asked the Major to give his ver- 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

sion of the transaction, he said that he was prepared to 
stand by all he had claimed for the horse. Then he 
said : "As a matter of fact, my lord, the horse is en- 
tered for a ^500 race to-day, and I am confident he will 
win it." 

The Judge looked at him for a moment, and then, taking 
a slip of paper, he dipped his pen in the ink, and asked : 
" And what did you say the name of the horse is ? " Major 
Edwardes answered : " Guilty, my lord." " And what 
time is the race to-day ? " " It is the two-forty-five race, 
my lord." 

There was a hush in the Court as the Judge nodded, said 
" Thank you ! " and wrote something down on the slip of 
paper. He carefully blotted it, and signalled to the usher. 
When that important personage approached, the Judge 
handed him the slip, and the usher departed. It was 
noticeable that many people had suddenly found it necessary 
to make a note about something on slips of paper and 
hurry out of Court. 

The case went on until the luncheon interval. After 
lunch the chief evidence was on behalf of Pat, who wanted 
to get his money back and also claimed damages. They 
were in the thick of a very heated discussion when the door 
opened and a boy handed a telegram to the policeman 
stationed there. The voices suddenly ceased, and there 
was dead silence in Court as the policeman handed the 
telegram to the usher, who, in turn, took it up to the 
Judge. It was really wonderful the amount of interest 
every one took in that wire. One might have thought 
they all had a personal interest in it. 

They held their breath as the Judge tore open the enve- 
lope and read the contents. Then an astonishing change 

came over the Judge. " Mr. ," he shouted, " how 


The Judge's Betting Slip 

dare you come here into the Court and accuse an honour- 
able gentleman of lying to you. You say it's not a good 
horse ! You say it's not fit to run in a race ! I tell you 
you are wrong. Not fit to run in a race, indeed ! It's 
won ! " 




MR. EDWARDES was very careful about his health — 
and that of others, I may add ; and if there was a man 
in the world whose word was law to him, it was his doctor. 
He happened to have some slight ailment once, and the 
doctor told him it was nothing, and that if he would eat a 
green apple every morning he would have no more trouble 
in that direction. This was a command to him, and 
every morning I got a supply of fresh green apples from 
Covent Garden and put them on his desk. One day he 
was very deep in thought, and the stage-manager of Daly's 
Theatre, Mr. Stanley Wade, came and said he wanted 
to see Mr. Edwardes on urgent business. Some hitch 
had occurred in connection with one of the touring com- 
panies, and he must be consulted at once. 

The " Guv'nor " said he couldn't be disturbed, but when 
I told him that Mr. Wade said it was very urgent, he said : 
" Very well, then ; show him in, Jupp." He came in, 
and went straight away into the important business — some- 
thing or other had gone wrong and the company had to 
open in the Midlands on the following Monday. Would 
he tell him what he would advise in the matter, and so on. 
Not a word did Mr. Edwardes offer, but went on poring 
over his papers. 

Mr. Wade started again : " You see, Mr. Edwardes, 
what an awful fix this will put us in ; we must open, 

and ! " Here he was cut short with a short " That's 


The "Awful Smell" 

all right, Stanley. Have an apple ! it will do you good." 
However, he put the business to rights and Stanley Wade 
went out greatly relieved in his mind, but he forgot to take 
the apple. 

Anything in the nature of a smell would send the 
" Guv'nor " into a state of alarm, and I remember the 
awful fuss he made one morning when he arrived. The 
instant he entered he started back and called me. M Open 
all the windows, Jupp — wide open. We'll all be poisoned. 
What is that dreadful smell ? It must be the drains — 
that's it, the drains. Send for Love " (a plumber in Exeter 
Street) " at once. Open all the windows first, and then go 
and fetch him." He wouldn't go near the office until 
Love had been found. 

" Examine all the drains, Love — there's a terrible smell 
and we'll all be killed. Find out where it is and set about 
it at once." Love spent a long time in a thorough examin- 
ation of the whole floor and reported that he could find 
nothing wrong anywhere. M But there is something 
terribly wrong and you've got to find it. Make an estimate 
of what it will cost to take up the drains and we will move 
out until it is done." Mr. Love said it would cost at least 
j£ioo, and tried to convince him that there was nothing 
really wrong. No ! it had to be done, and he must start 
on it the next morning. 

A great pal of mine, Walter Warner by name, called 
on me that evening : he always came to see me in the 
morning and evening, and was a very privileged person, 
inasmuch as he could come into the office where others 
would not dare. I told him of the fuss, and the prospect 
of being stuck in some strange offices until the job 
was finished. Walter sniffed and asked : " Is this the 
smell he complains of ? " I told him that it was, but it 

209 o 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

was nothing now compared with what it had been in the 

" Well, you can tell your Guv'nor that it was my fault, 
I dropped a eucalyptus bean and accidentally trod on it 
just as I was leaving you and forgot the awful smell these 
raw beans create. That is the cause, sure enough ; I 
know it only too well, and am awfully sorry, Jimmy ! " 

When I told Mr. Edwardes he was greatly relieved, but 
asked me to be very careful in future. " If you must have 
your pals call on you here, don't let them bring any of 
these eucalyptus beans with them, or any kind of beans ; 
do you understand ? " He saw the humour of the thing 
later on. 

Another occasion which shows how nervous he was 
about anything wrong with him was when he had a slight 
touch of cold and began to sneeze. When he got to the 
office he told Mr. " Pat " Malone that he was afraid he 
was in for a bad attack of influenza. " Well, nip it in the 
bud ; take my advice and send Jupp for a bottle of C.B.Q.'s. 
They'll put you right in no time ! " 

No sooner had I got back with this patent medicine 
than in came William Terriss, and when he heard the 
" Guv'nor " sneeze, strongly recommended ammoniated 
quinine. This was also procured. 

Then Mr. Arthur Cohen (the husband of Florence St. 
John) popped in, and he had a go at being amateur doctor. 
His prescription was Owbridge's Lung Tonic. That 
was another thing I had to get. 

Then Mr. Chance Newton arrived, and told him the 
finest thing in the world was a boiled Spanish onion taken 
at night. There was scarcely any business done that morn- 
ing ; the great question was how to save the " Guv'nor ' 
from the 'flu. I think they must have discussed the dread 


A "Walk" to the Office 

complaint to such lengths that the germ got frightened and 
flew away to a better subject, for the next morning all trace 
of it had gone, and without any of the remedies having 
been tried. 

He was always worrying about putting on weight, and 
as nothing seemed to reduce him, he asked the doctor if he 
would give him some advice. The medico told him not 
to worry, but gave him a good talking to about always 
taking cabs, even for the shortest distance. " Now, will 
you promise to walk from your house in Park Square down 
to your office every morning for a month ? " Mr. 
Edwardes dared not refuse his doctor anything, so gave 
his promise. 

The next morning a cablegram came about an hour 
before the " Guv'nor " was due, so I jumped with it into a 
hansom, and took it to the house. He was about to leave, 
and said : " I'm going to walk down to the office, Jupp ; 
the doctor says it will take my weight down for me, so you 
get off and don't expect me for another hour." 

When we reached the end of the square he looked at 
the crowded Marylebone Road, and calling a cab said : 
11 I've just remembered an important engagement, Jupp ; 
I must get off ; but I advise you to walk, it will do you 
good ! " When I got back to the office there he was, 
seated in his easy chair, toying with a green apple. 

Connie Ediss came in soon afterwards, and the greeting 
was very comical to my mind. " Hullo, my dear, how 
are you ? " " Oh ! I'm quite well, Mr. Edwardes, thank 
you ; but, oh ! I do wish I could get my weight down a 
bit." " Well, my dear ; do as I do. I walk down to 
the office every morning, and it's wonderful the amount of 
good it does ! Have an apple, my dear ! " 

I have remarked that he was not only greatly concerned 

21 I 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

about his own health, but that of others, and he was 
extremely kind in cases of illness, but on the other hand 
he was an unconscious humorist. He never seemed to 
realize the disparity between his own position and that of 
some of the people he offered advice to. One morning he 
was a little bit late, and his great friend William Terriss 
was waiting for him. When he came in, he noticed that 
I did not look quite up to the mark. " What is it, Jupp — 
a touch of liver ? You look a bit yellow about the eyes. 
Perhaps you are too much in the office and don't get enough 
exercise. Now, I know what would be a splendid thing 
for you : Get a horse and ride up to business in the morn- 
ing ; you could stable it at Aldridge's during the day, and 
have a good ride home to Mitcham." William Terriss 
laughed, and asked : " How the dickens can Jupp afford 
a horse on his salary ? If you are so keen on him having 
one, you've got several broken-down racing hacks, give 
him one of yours ! " " Well, I'll think about it. Yes, I 
might give him old Dorothy, she'll shake him up, for she 
runs away with everybody." 

He would recommend the most expensive of remedies 
to people who could scarcely afford to buy Epsom Salts. 
For instance : He was driving with some friends from 
Windsor Station to his home, Wingfield Lodge, and on 
reaching a rather steep hill they all got out to relieve the 
horse. There was an old man working on the side of the 
road, and now and then he would rest on his pick, and 
putting his hand on his side, give a slight moan as if in 
pain. George Edwardes, the sympathetic, asked him 
what was the matter. " I think I've got lumbago, sir." 
"Do you drink beer?" asked the " Guv'nor." "Yes, 
sir," replied the man. " Well, then, don't. Don't do it ! 
It's bad for lumbago. What you want is Mattoni Gies- 


The "Guvnor's" Generosity 

hubbler Water — that's the thing to clear your system. 
Here, Jupp, write it down for him." 

This was really the limit, and I just hinted that it was 
an awfully expensive remedy for the old man. Then the 
ludicrous side dawned on the " Guv'nor," and all he 
said was : " Well, write it down, and give him this half- 
sovereign." I suppose the old fellow had an extra pint 
for dinner instead. I know I should have. 

That incident must have put the monetary side of the 
question into his mind, and made him more practical in 
his advice, for that evening we got to the theatre a long 
time before the show started, and there was one of our 
chorus girls sitting in the hall. Mr. Edwardes asked her 
why she was so early, and she said she was going to take 
it quietly, as she didn't feel quite well. " You want fresh 
air, my dear. Here ! you've plenty of time ; get into a 
hansom and drive up and down the Embankment for 
half an hour, that will give you an appetite." He promptly 
took two sovereigns and gave them to her. 

These things are mere trifles, I admit, but they were 
of very frequent occurrence, and he never tired of attending 
to the welfare of members of his company. There are 
several cases which incurred great expense. 

The late Barter Johns, who was the conductor at Daly's 
Theatre, fell very ill, and the doctor said he needed a rest 
and advised a sea trip. Mr. Edwardes booked a return 
trip in one of the P. & O. liners, and sent him to New 
Zealand. He had a berth on the upper saloon deck and 
no expense was spared, and his salary in full was going on 
all the time he was away. 

It is no wonder that people remained under his manage- 
ment for such a long time. I could mention scores of 
artistes who have been with him for periods lasting any- 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

thing between fifteen and thirty years. Some had been 
with him all their theatrical lives, and only his death broke 
the contract. 

The late Edmund Payne met with an accident during 
the run of " The Shop Girl," and one of his legs snapped 
like a carrot. He was laid up for such a long time with 
it that the inactivity (for he was a well-known athlete and 
cycling gold-medallist) made him seriously ill, and he 
very nearly succumbed. His doctor's bill came to over 
£500, which was paid for him. Teddy Payne left £24,000, 
so you see that Mr. Edwardes was not kind to the poor 

Speaking of Teddy Payne recalls one morning when he 
drove up to the theatre in a fly, and you never saw such a 
thing outside a museum before. I have seen quaint 
vehicles inside museums, but never one like this in the 
Strand. And if the fly was a curiosity, the driver was 
even more so. The Biblical Joseph famed for his coat of 
many colours would have regarded this man's coat as a 
curiosity in variegated raiment. As for the horse, it 
reminded me of Jerome K. Jerome's description of the 
cab-horse in " Three Men in a Boat " as a " knock-kneed, 
broken- winded somnambulist." The " Guv 'nor " happen- 
ing along at the moment stared in amazement at this strange 
sight, and seeing Teddy Payne about to alight, said : 
' Hullo, Teddy ! What have you got there ? I've never 
seen anything like that before ! " 

Teddy Payne in an injured tone told him that it was a 
fly, and was good enough to bring him to and from Stoke 
Newington, where he lived. 

" Well, now, what do you say, Teddy, to a little coat of 
paint for the butterfly, a wash and brush-up for the Derby 
candidate, and then a trot down Rotten Row as a bit of a 


The Long-haired Cabby 

change ? " I really believe Payne had bought the weird 
turn-out, but it was never seen at the stage-door again. 

One morning the " Guv'nor " said he wanted a hansom 
cab to be at the door in five minutes, so I went to the rank 
at the Victoria Club and chose the nicest-looking one there, 
as Mr. Edwardes wouldn't ride in anything shabby-look- 
ing ; but I didn't notice that the cabby had very long 
hair at the back. I told him to come to the stage-door at 
once. When the " Guv'nor " came out he asked : " Did 
you get the cab, Jupp ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" All right ! Where is it ? " 

As the thing was only a few yards away and right in 
front of him, I merely pointed and said : " There it is, 



He looked at it, and shaking his head said : " I can't 
ride in that, Jupp — look at it — and look at the cabby. It 
makes me think of Van Biene and the Broken Melody. 
Give him a shilling and I'll get another." 

I really think it was the horse that put him off. He was 
so fond of animals, and horses in particular, that if he 
were riding in a hansom and they came to ever such a slight 
incline he would always stand forward on the footboard to 
ease the weight. 

He did not often ride in hired vehicles, except in cases 
of great emergency, for he had one of the smartest phaetons 
to be seen in the West End. It was a picture to see him 
driving his perfectly matched bays, and Turner, the tiger, 
sitting with arms folded and looking as smart as the 
crimson paint on the delicately proportioned wheels of the 

One morning there was a narrow escape from a serious 
accident, not only to himself but to many others. He was 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

turning into Oxford Street when something happened to 
startle one of the bays. This set the other going, and the 
result was that they took fright, and only the " Guv'nor's " 
splendid horsemanship saved a catastrophe. He and his 
brother, Major Edwardes, were well known as trainers, 
and for their perfect management of saddle or harness 

One might be inclined to think that a man whose life 
was spent in the affairs of the theatre combined with horse- 
racing would of necessity be rather loose in the conduct 
of his general life, but this was not so, for he did not 
drink much, and he never used much more than the 
big — big D, denied by Captain Corcoran in " H.M.S. 

There were two games he was very fond of, and they 
happened to be the very extremes. No one except a great 
enthusiast could possibly find anything exciting in chess, 
and yet he loved it, and he and his great opponent, William 
Terriss, would sit for hours after the show, and play a game 
in dead silence ; and if anyone came at such a late hour I 
was never to admit them. 

The other game was Auction Bridge, and then it didn't 
matter ; any of his real friends were welcome, and the 
night would be turned into the next day before they thought 
of breaking up. 

When a card party was arranged for, it was always done 
in a manner to the entire satisfaction of every one — refresh- 
ments, etc., being provided, and they could settle down to 
a night of complete enjoyment. But the one I am about 
to tell of was an impromptu affair. 

It was just after the curtain had fallen, and Mr. Edwardes 
was about to go home, when Mr. Mike Lemier, a City 
financier, rang me up and asked if he could get on to Mr. 


A Bridge Party 

Edwardes. The " Guv'nor " came, and after speaking to 
him, he told me to ring up Mr. Terriss and ask him to 
come over as soon as his show was finished. He said : 
" Don't go home, Jupp, we are going to have a game of 
Bridge, and I might want something. Have we anything 
to drink in the office ? " I told him we had about half a 
dozen bottles of whisky and some sodas, so he thought 
that would do. I saw all the company take their departure, 
and closing the outer doors waited for the arrival of his 
friends. They soon rattled up in their cabs : William 
Terriss was the first, as the Adelphi Theatre at which he 
was playing was very close by, and then Arthur Cohen, 
Mike Lemier, Walter Pallant — another well-known City 
man, Mr. Braberg, and Leslie Stuart, the composer of 
' Florodora," "The Silver Slipper," "Soldiers of the 
Queen," etc. These were too many for a Bridge party, 
but they arranged to take sides of three, and each take a 
hand alternately. 

They played for high stakes, and I was not the least 
interested of the party, for I was allowed in the room and, 
knowing the game, was comparing the difference between 
the calls they made and what I should have made. I soon 
came to the conclusion that I was safer serving them with 
a Scotch and soda now and then, and looking on, than 
taking part in the game. They were all splendid players, 
and it was for all the world like a huge gamble on the 
Stock Exchange. The risks they ran ! 

This went on until about four o'clock in the morning, 
and Mr. Edwardes, who had stuck to his Mattoni Geis- 
hubbler Water as usual, suddenly discovered that he 
felt hungry. Then the others joined in. " Ah, yes, 
George ! a nice chicken sandwich will go very well." 
' Jupp ! What have you got to eat ? " I had to confess 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

that we had nothing at all : he had only asked about the 
drink, and I had been too busy seeing the company off the 
premises to think of it. " Never mind ! It won't take 
you long ; go and get us some chicken sandwiches, and 
anything else you can." I reminded him of the lateness — 
or rather earliness — of the hour, but that didn't seem to 
make any difference ; he simply said : " Well, get any- 
thing you can for us ; now, don't be long ! " 

This was a nice errand to be sent on at four o'clock in 
the morning, but there it was : he was the best " Guv'nor " 
in the world, and if anything could be done it should be 
done. But where to go for such things at that time ? It 
was a bit too early for any of the hotels or restaurants, and 
I knew they wouldn't have anything from a coffee-stall. 
But wait ! Why not a coffee-stall ! Hard-boiled eggs 
and fresh bread and butter would make some nice sand- 
wiches, and I had almost decided on this plan when I 
thought of the Press Club, which provides for the members 
of the Press at any hour after midnight, because that is 
when they can best spare the time. I was well known to 
them all — for who had not been on some occasion or other 
round to see me ? — and soon got a nice selection of sand- 
wiches in the shape of sardines, eggs, ham and tongue, 
and hurried back with an armful. I think I spent about 
a sovereign on them, and you could get a good lot for £i 
in those days ; but a quarter of an hour after I set them 
down on the sideboard there wasn't a crumb left big enough 
to swear by. They finished the lot, and with another 
whisky and soda resumed their game. 

The time was getting on, and I had had no rest since 
coming to business the previous morning, so retired to my 
own little office downstairs ready to let them out when 
they had had enough of it. The first to leave was Mr. 


A Fruitless Search 

Brabcrg, and merely for the sake of saying something, 

I asked him how he had got on at the game. He said : 
" Well, they've touched me for three figures, and your 
Guv'nor has sold me that theatre in Croydon which he 
gave to his wife. I am afraid it's a white elephant, but 
I've bought it. You can come as manager, if you like, 
Jupp ! " He put a sovereign down on my desk and said : 

II Here's a cab fare home. Good night ! " When the 
others came down — it was well after five in the morning — 
the " Guv'nor " said : " Oh ! not gone, Jupp ! I thought 
you had gone home. Well, never mind ; these gentle- 
men will give you a sovereign each, I am sure. Take a 
cab right home, and you needn't be early in the morning." 
Arthur Cohen was the only one who didn't actually give 
me anything tangible : he only gave me a rather lengthy 
and fruitless search, for he said : "I've dropped a sovereign 
upstairs in the office, Jupp, so you can keep it." I never 
found it ! 

I didn't turn up until midday and still felt very far from 
work, but the " Guv'nor " was there, as fit and fresh as ever. 

You are very late, Jupp ! What's the matter ? " I 
reminded him that I hadn't had any rest for over twenty- 
four hours, and even now had only managed to get about 
three hours in. " Oh ! of course, we were up late, 
weren't we ! You had better goto lunch — it is just about 
time. You must have made a good bit in tips last night, 
and that pound Arthur Cohen dropped will pay for a nice 
lunch at Romano's." I don't know whether the expression 
on my face conveyed anything to his mind, but he laughed. 
Romano's indeed ! That was the " Guv'nor " all over. 
Never, or seldom, thought about one's position, but 
looked at everything of that nature from his own stand- 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

A man in his public position had a very large mail every 
morning, and I had the job of sorting them out for his 
perusal when he arrived. The number of begging letters 
he received was appalling ; most of them only found their 
way as far as the wastepaper basket, but others he would 
reply to with an enclosure, and, at the risk of seeming 
uncharitable, I must say it was not a wise thing to do, for 
in a few days another letter in the same handwriting would 
arrive with another plea. No one ever seemed to benefit 
by his benevolence, for, like Oliver Twist, they asked for 

There was the case of a woman who had once been at 
the theatre in some capacity, and her begging letters had 
been responded to on several occasions. She must have 
got it into her head that this was a source of income and 
that she had a right to ask for money. A courteous letter 
told her that Mr. Edwardes could do no more, and then 
she wrote in such a manner that at last the " Guv'nor " saw 
the real danger of having let her have money almost weekly. 
It might appear to others that she had a claim upon him. 
She was evidently deep enough to have foreseen this, and 
one morning she wrote a letter almost amounting to black- 
mail. I was sorting the letters out as usual, and in came 
a woman whom I did not know ; I asked her what I could 
do for her. She said she would wait until I had finished 
what I was engaged on, and came close up to the desk. 
She looked searchingly at the letters, and quick as 
thought caught one up and made for the door. 

I am by no means a weakling, but the struggle I had 
with her was a long and fierce one. I first of all demanded 
the return of the letter, but she said it was hers and she 
wanted it back as she had sent it in mistake to Mr. 
Edwardes. I told her she couldn't leave the office until 


Rough and Tumble 

she had given it back. Then the struggle began. If it 
had been a man it would have been fairly easy, but one 
cannot very well fight a woman, and yet I was determined 
to get that letter. She was equally determined on getting 
away with it before Mr. Edwardes arrived — hence the 
struggle. It developed into a rough and tumble, because 
she fought desperately for the door, and I had to use con- 
siderable force to keep her back, until at last there was 
nothing for it but to tackle her in real earnest. We slipped 
and fell, and the struggle continued on the floor — thank 
goodness there was a good thick carpet. In the end I 
forced the letter from her clenched fist, and that made 
her more furious than ever. 

Talk about the ferocity of a mountain cat that guards 
her young ! I think she could give the fiercest of the 
whole tribe chalks and beat it. I was in a deuce of a mess 
when I at last managed to get her out of the door and lock 
it on my side. When the " Guv'nor " came I told him all 
about it, and then he read the letter. It was from the 
woman he had befriended, and this was the beginning of 
what might have been a nasty blackmailing affair, but thank 
goodness that fight with me had spoiled all her plans, for 
she had sent the wrong one. It was to a friend of hers 
telling of how she proposed to extort money from George 
Edwardes under threats. 

Nothing more was ever heard of her ; but it was a 
caution to the " Guv'nor," and perhaps some really deserving 
cases have been neglected through the rotten behaviour of 
that woman. 

A man called at the office one morning and asked to see 
Mr. Edwardes. I told him that he had not arrived, and 
asked him if he had an appointment. He was nicely 
dressed enough, but not quite the sort of man the 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

" Guv'nor " would make a bosom pal of, so imagine my 
surprise when he said : " Appointment ! Why, your 
boss and I don't need to make any appointments — we 
are great pals ! " 

I was a bit taken aback at that, because, although I have 
written this grammatically, he did not speak it so. I thought 
perhaps it was some racing friend, and told him that if 
he cared to wait I would send his name in. Then he told 
me some things that astonished me : How the " Guv'nor " 
and he went to the Fleur-de-lis public-house every morning 
when he happened to be down at Wingfleld Lodge, and 
have a pint of beer before breakfast. It always gave them 
a good beginning for the day. They would get the stable 
boys round and treat them, but after breakfast they never 
touched beer. " George only has his pint in the morning, 
no more, and after that he never drinks anything else but 
cherry brandy." 

Now this was indeed news, for of all things the 
" Guv'nor " never touched it was beer. Cherry brandy I 
couldn't say anything about ; but beer ! Never ! 

" He told me he was coming up this morning about 
some horses, and as I have business also, I just want 
to make a time to meet, so that we can go back to- 

A few moments later Mr. Edwardes came in, but, 
evidently not recognizing his bosom friend (and strange 
enough the other allowed him to pass without any greeting), 
went straight into his office and began looking over his 
letters. I asked : " Shall I send your name in now, sir ? ' 
" Has he come, then ? " asked he. " That was Mr. 
Edwardes who just went in," I told him. " Well, that's 
not the one I want. I want Mr. George Edwardes." I 
had started to explain to him that there was only one other, 


Mistaken Identity 

Major Edwardes, and that he was at Ogbourne, when in 
came George Conway. 

Their greeting was very cordial, and the whole thing 
was clear to me. Conway was Mr. Edwardes' valet, and 
was always spoken of as George, and being a somewhat 
important person in the neighbourhood of Bracknall, 
where Wingfield Lodge is, this man had quite taken it for 
granted that the surname was Edwardes. Conway asked 
me if Mr. Edwardes had come yet, and I told him he had, 
and as he did not need any permission, he went through 
the swing-doors and disappeared into the private office. 
The " bosom friend " stared at me as if he couldn't quite 
grasp the situation, and finally, with a very bewildered, 
yet injured, air, went out ! 

He would have been still more injured if he had heard 
what the " Guv'nor " said to me a few moments afterwards : 

Who is that man I saw waiting in the hall, Jupp — is he 
a friend of yours ? " " No, sir ! I don't know him." 
Before I could explain any further he said : " I'm glad 
of that, because I wanted you to get rid of him : he makes 
the place look quite untidy." 

Now that I have mentioned one of the " Guv'nor's " 
servants, I might as well tell of an Irish butler named 
Michael Queeney. 

One night the " Guv'nor " returned to Park Square a little 
bit earlier than usual, and told Queeney to be sure and call 
him at five o'clock the next morning, as he had to be 
in Newmarket early. When five o'clock came Queeney 
knocked at the bedroom door several times, and getting no 
answer went in. Mr. Edwardes was fast asleep, so he 
gently shook him, saying : " Ye've got to get to New- 
market, sorr. It's toime ye wus up ! " 

there was scarcely any response, he kept on shaking 

22 3 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

and repeating : " Sure, and it's Newmarket ye're after, 
sorr ! D'ye hear now ? Newmarket it is, sorr ! " He 
managed to arouse him sufficiently to say " All right, 
Queeney ! I'll be up in a moment." He left him — but 
in a quarter of an hour returned again, and finding his 
master still asleep, steeped a bath sponge in cold water, and 
putting it on the " Guv'nor's " face, shouted: " Is it New- 
market ye're after ? Sure it's the first race ye've missed. 
Now, will ye get up ! " 

This same Queeney had some shamrock sent to him for 
St. Patrick's Day, and he desired to adorn the " Guv'nor " 
with some of the emblematic leaves, so he placed some in 
the hat-band of one of his hats, and left it in readiness for 
when Mr. Edwardes was coming out. Conway came 
into the hall just as Queeney was putting the final touches 
to the sprig, and asked him what the devil he was doing 
with his master's hat. " Sure, an' isn't it St. Patrick's 
Day? The master's got to have a bit of the leaf." "That's 
all right enough, but don't put it in his hat. Damn it all, 
man, look at the band ! you'll put it all out of shape ! " 

Then they had a row about it, and Queeney became 
very abusive, so the very superior valet ordered him to go 
below and not interfere with his master's attire in such a 
manner again. That made Queeney wild, and there was 
a bit of a scuffle, when Mr. Edwardes came upon the 
scene. He had overheard some of the abuse, and thinking 
Queeney was entirely in the wrong, ordered him out of 
the house, telling him he would not have such a disgraceful 
scene happen again in his house. 

Queeney went out of the front entrance, down the area 
steps, and so into the servants' quarters. When the 
c< Guv'nor " returned that night Queeney was there as usual, 
and the " Guv'nor " asked him : " Who told you to come 


The Butler-Cook 

back here ? Didn't I send you away this morning ? " 
11 You did indeed, sorr ! an' very sorry I was too, sorr ! 
If you don't know when you have a good servant, I know 
when I have a good master — d'ye mind that now ! ' 
Afterwards the whole cause of the trouble was explained, 
and peace was restored. 

The trouble mistresses have nowadays in getting ser- 
vants to remain with them is not a new grievance, and when 
it comes to cooks it is an old, old story, and Mrs. George 
Edwardes, in spite of her great charm, one morning found 
her household minus that dictatorial but necessary person, 
the Cook. Oueeney came to the rescue with an offer to 
serve in her stead until another could be found. " But 
can you cook, Oueeney, really ? " " Cook, ma'am, of 
course I can cook ! " " But can you manage a brace of 
pheasants ? " " Is it pheasants ye want ? Just give 'em 
to me, ma'am, and don't ye go misbelievin'. I'll cook 
'em so as you'll say ye niver tasted anything like 'em, 
ma'am ! " 

He was entrusted with the delicate operation. He set 
about the business in a most masterly manner, and when 
the time came he basted them with butter until they were 
ready to be served. Proudly he carried them up himself, 
resuming his duties as butler ; but as soon as Mrs. 
Edwardes put the fork into one of the birds — ugh ! 
Queeney was quite right. She had never tasted anything 
like it — nor yet had she smelled anything like it. 

He had cooked the birds without drawing them ! He 
was allowed to confine his attentions to " buttling " for the 
future, and the Edwardes family had to dine at some 
hotel or other until the household was complete in number 

The " Guv'nor " never wore much in the way of jewellery. 

225 p 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

but the little he ever displayed was of a costly nature, 
remember a black pearl pin worth fully £500. He was 
particularly fond of that pin, and I am inclined to thinl 
that he regarded it as a sort of mascot, for he never went 
to a race meeting without it stuck in his tie. Perhaps 
wearing it so frequently brought it to the notice of some 
of the sporting " heads," because one morning he was 
going to Gatwick and at Victoria Station, when about tc 
book his ticket, he felt a touch on his right shoulder. 
Turning in that direction he could not recognize anyone 
he knew in the crowd, nor yet on his left. He remembere( 
the touch on the shoulder, because in a few seconds aftei 
securing his ticket he missed the pin. He was very upset, 
but not being of a hysterical nature, went down to the 
meeting, and I believe he had a very good day. 

On the course he met a bookmaker, a Mr. Atherton, 
who was a member of the Victoria Club, to which Mr. 
Edwardes also belonged. He told him of his loss of the 
pin, and Mr. Atherton promised he would make inquiries 
among the boys. A little later in the day Athertoi 
reported that it was not any of the English gang, and was 
most probably one of the Continental set, and he would trj 
to find out more about it and recover the pin if possible. 

Perhaps the reader will not quite understand this pro- 
cedure, but among themselves race-gangs will tell oi 
the day's doings and stolen property can be recovered 
providing the owner is willing to pay for its return, 
but it would be no use attempting to give a man into 
custody and accuse him with even a slight knowledge of 
your loss. You would not stand an earthly chance, for 
" honour among thieves " is by no means an empty phrase. 
Therefore the only thing to do was to trust to Atherton 
and luck. 


The Patent Watch Chain 

Two or three days later he came to the theatre and told 
me he wanted to see Mr. Edwardes on private business, 
so I sent in his name. The " Guv'nor " told me to admit 
him, and to stop there myself so that no one could get in 
from either direction. I, of course, heard what took place. 
Mr. Atherton said : " I can get your pin back, George, 
but it will cost you £100, and you are to ask no questions." 
The "Guv'nor" agreed, and the pin was restored. 

After that experience a safety screw was attached at the 
bottom of the pin. 

On another occasion he was travelling with a friend who 
was wearing a gold watch attached to a heavy gold chain, 
and Mr. Edwardes warned him about it. " Be careful of 
your watch and chain, Arthur — they will have it as sure 
as you're alive." His friend assured him there was no 
fear of losing it, as he had a patent attachment inside the 
pocket, and it would be impossible so much as to touch 
it without his knowledge. " All right, Arthur, if you are 
sure, but I thought the same about my pin, but they had 
it off me, sure enough." Later in the day he wanted to 
back a fancy, and unbuttoned his coat. His watch and 
chain had gone. " George ! " he said quietly, " you 
were right ! They've been over me and got my watch." 
11 Come with me," was all the "Guv'nor" said, and taking 
him to one of the bookmakers, told what had happened. 
The bookie promised to see about it, and after that race 
was over beckoned to them both to come over. He said 
he knew who had the watch and chain, and he could get it 
back in a few minutes for a fiver. 

The owner of the property knew something about the 
freemasonry among these people and agreed to pay the 
money. He went farther, by offering to give the thief 
another fiver if he would come and show him how he had 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

managed to do what he had thought was an impossibility. 
" Don't be afraid ! It's quite all right ! I understand 
he's one of the boys, and I won't give him in charge ! I 
only want to know how he did it." The man came, and 
after returning the watch and chain, and the safety appliance 
had been properly applied, deliberately took it off him 
while he was speaking, and before the other thought he 
had begun to demonstrate. That was enough ! He 
vowed he would never wear anything of value again on a 
race-course. He replaced the things and buttoned up 
his coat. When they were returning home that evening 
he had occasion to unbutton his great-coat and under-coat 
to look at his watch. It was gone ! 

There was one incident I shall never forget, which was 
perhaps cleverer than the foregoing one, and thinking it 
over afterwards, I could see how the whole thing had 
been mapped out. The Gatwick races were starting that day, 
and the " Guv'nor " had a coaching party down, but I was 
sent back for the racing colours, which had been left behind, 
so I hurried to the office and took a hansom to Victoria 
only just in time to catch the train. As I ran along the 
platform in search of a third-class carriage, the whistle 
went — the flag was waved, and the train began to move. 
I couldn't afford to miss that train, and seeing a gentleman 
hurriedly open a first-class compartment door and jump 
in, I followed suit. I don't mind spending money, but I 
do object to giving it away to the railway companies. Still, 
I would travel first class this time. 

There were only three others in the carriage, a lady and 
gentleman on the left, facing the engine, and the other 
gentleman, who had so nearly missed the train, sitting on 
the right. I took the remaining corner seat. 

The lady and gentleman were obviously visitors to Eng- 


Kindly Advice and a Slit Coat 

land — the cut of their clothes told me that, and the unusual 
display of jewellery on the part of the lady was quite suffi- 
cient. No one would go to a race meeting, unless with a 
party of friends, so adorned. He began to make a few 
general remarks to the late-comer on my right. 

He asked all sorts of questions about Gatwick, and the 
best place to go to in order to see the races, and so on. 
As they got on more friendly terms, the gentleman on my 
right said : " I hope you will pardon me if I make a per- 
sonal remark, but I should certainly warn you about the 
lady's jewellery, and also that pin of yours. Gatwick is 
quite a nice meeting and is frequented by a fashionable 
crowd, but there are others, you know." " But surely 
there can be no danger from thieves in such a public place, 
and in daylight ? " 

The other laughed and said : " My dear sir, some of 
the cleverest rogues in the world visit these meetings, and 
it is only people like yourselves that they pay any attention 
to. They could get a good day's work from you and that 
lady alone. I really should advise you to put the more 
conspicuous of it away." Here he pulled out a gold 
watch. " You see, I have the time on me, but I don't 
advertise the fact by wearing a chain — it is unwise." 

The other thanked him and thought it would be wise 
to take his advice, and I quite agreed with him. A valuable 
cameo and diamond brooch was removed and a bijou 
watch ; also a necklet of beautifully matched pearls. The 
gentleman unfastened his fob from his watch, and putting 
all these into a wallet placed the lot in his hip pocket, which 
he buttoned up. The man who had offered the advice 
smiled, and thanked them for the compliment they had 
paid him in taking his advice. 

He was a fine-looking man, and gave me the impression 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

of being an officer on the retired list. When we arrived 
at Gatwick he was the first to rise, and opening the door got 
out. But he stood there politely holding the door wide 
open, ready to assist the lady out. Most courteously he 
did so. 

At the same moment he was greeted by several other 
well-dressed gentlemen. " Hullo, old man, glad you came 
down ! We thought you had missed the train." There 
were about half a dozen of them, and there was very little 
room for the lady and gentleman to pass, so he smilingly 
reproved them for their impoliteness and asked them to 
make way, at the same time getting very close to the stranger, 
as if guiding him along the crowded platform. 

In a few moments he was allowed to go on his own, for 
the others called to their friend, saying they were not going 
straight on the course yet. He excused himself, and after 
suggesting a couple of horses which he fancied would win, 
politely wished them an enjoyable day and went off with 
his friends. 

This seemed all right, and even I, who had mixed up 
with all sorts of crowds and conditions of men, thought it 
merely the exchange of courtesies between them. 

The lady and gentleman followed the stream of race- 
goers and I was just a little behind them. Just for a second 
I happened to catch full sight of his back, and I saw a great 
slit down his dust-coat. Then the whole thing flashed 
before my mind. The man's lateness in catching the train ; 
yet with half a dozen pals in the next carriage he had chosen 
that one in which the lady and gentleman were. Then 
his anxiety for the safety of their jewellery, the crowding 
of his friends round them on the platform, and finally this 
long slit in the dust-coat. No one else knew the jewellery 
was in his hip pocket. Very clear indeed, but as the deed 


A First Bet 

was done I did not want to be mixed up with the affair, so 
got off to the " Guv'nor's " coach as soon as possible and 
gave him his racing colours. 

There was another incident that day, and the finish of 
it was very funny indeed. 

I had been looking after the party of actresses and their 
friends who had come down on the coach with Mr. 
Edwardes, and was quietly enjoying a leg of chicken and 
some wine, when I saw one of the " Gov'nor's " oldest 
servants approaching me. He was an old chap who did all 
sorts of odd jobs about the stables and the garden, and 
assisted generally with light work. 

He used to tell people that, although he had been associ- 
ated with horses all his life, he had never been to a race 
meeting. I was surprised to see the old chap on the course, 
but applauded his loyalty when he said that he had come 
especially because the " master " had entered one of his 
horses, and he thought he would like to see it run. He 
told me that he had brought £2 with him, as he wanted 
to back Mr. Edwardes' horse. I had no beer to offer 
him, so I gave him a drop of wine, and then showed him a 
reliable bookmaker to deal with. I even had to instruct 
him as to what to pay. I would have put it on for him 
myself, but some of the party would always be asking me 
for something or other, so I told him to go along and just 
say : ' A pound each way, Bird on the Wing." 

I told him to be sure and get his ticket for the bet, and 
come back and I would find room for him with me where 
he could have a good view of the race. He managed it 
all right, and I told him to be careful and not fool around in 
the crowd if he had much more money on him. He pulled 
out some coins and counted them — exactly two and nine 
was all he had left, so that didn't matter, and I let him go 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

off and see the sights. When he came back I got him a 
place, and he saw the race quite as well as if he had been 
in the Royal Box. 

Bird on the Wing won, and I told him to go and 
get his money. He searched all his pockets, but he 
could not find the ticket. It was nowhere to be found. 
1 knew it was a hopeless case, but as he had jotted the 
number of the ticket down, went to the bookie on the off- 
chance, but the ticket had been presented and the money 

L I™! u ^ ^ WaS Hght en ° U S h > entered in h^ book, 
lie had been dipped while having a look round 

Poor old chap ! he was very upset about it, and I tried 
to console him, and I would have tried to make it up to 
him on a later race if he had waited, but just at that moment 
the bookie shouted out his list for the next race : " All gone 
but 2 and 9." The old man jumped away and hurriedly 
saying to me : " Do you hear that ? He said all's gone 
but 2 and 9 I How does he know that ? I'll take damn 
good care he doesn't get that," and he went quickly out of 
the ring and hurried straight home. 

I laughed so much that the bookie, whom I knew, 
asked what the joke was, and when I told him he 

As it happened, I could have done the old chap some 
good, because the "Guv'nor's" other horse, Clon-FIynn 
romped home, and we all had a really good day : we had 
not only backed two of his winners, but had a tip about 
another, which made three for the day. 

We got back to the theatre in plenty of time for the 
show and everybody feeling very pleased with themselves 
and the world in general. 

During the evening one of the popular young bloods of 
the time came and called to see Olive May. He was an 


face p. 2}Z 

The Young Blood in the Bar 

awfully nice chap, but his devil-may-care way of looking 
upon life got him the nickname of Reckless Reggie — his 

re;il name being Reginald R . He had become almost 

a nightly visitor, and although he used to ask to see one of 
the gentlemen artistes at first, it was soon apparent that the 
attraction was little Olive May, and he gave up all 
pretence afterwards and asked quite openly for her. In 
parenthesis, I may mention that nothing came of it, for 
she married Lord Victor Paget. However, that is beside 
my story. 

That night, when he called, I sent his name up to Miss 
May as usual, and the reply courteous coming back, which 
pleased him, he said : " Can't you get away for a bit, 
Jupp ? The show won't be over for nearly two hours 
yet. I know it's against the rules to see any of the girls 
during the show : let's go somewhere for a drink." There 
was nothing to prevent me, because once the curtain was 
up I was master of my own actions, and so long as I left 
somebody to attend to the needs of any callers, I could 
always take a little recreation. So we went out, and it was 
then that I learned how he deserved the name of Reckless 
Reggie. He led me through the back streets until we got 
to the Black Horse, in Bedfordbury, just alongside the 
Coliseum, and in we went. This was a house I had not 
been to much, as it is a bit too out of the way from our 
theatre, but evidently Reggie was well known there, for 
the greeting he got was most cordial. I thought it very 
strange, and especially as we were not in the saloon bar 
even. The proprietor shook hands, and then asked : 
11 Well, what devilment are you up to to-night, eh ? It 
always means something when you come in this bar." 
M Well, my friend here doesn't know I've got a job here 
with you as barman, and although it's my night off, I'll 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

do a bit of work," and he straightway lifted up the counter- 
flap and went behind. He took his coat off and rolled 
back his shirt sleeves, and pretending to hear an order 
given, said : 

" Half a dozen quarts of fizz, Guv'nor ; hurry up, they 
seem to be thirsty. — What for you gents there ? Stout ! 
Bottle or draught ? Draught, eh ! All right, pint of 
stout here. — Now you, sir : What's yours ? Scotch ? 
Yes, sir, double Scotch here ; no soda, sir ? Very well 
then, another drop of Scotch to make up. — And now yours, 
sir ? " And so he went on, serving as fast as he could, but 
his chief delight seemed to be in pumping the beer or 
stout. All I can say is, that if he ever had to work for a 
living, he could do far worse than apply for a job as barman, 
He treated the whole house, and it's a pretty big place, 
and when one drink had been consumed the glasses were 
replenished. He asked for a box of cigars and handed 
them round to everybody. 

It only took about half an hour the whole thing, and 
after quietly settling up his account, put his coat on and 
said to me : " Come on, Jupp ; we don't seem to be 
popular here : let's go somewhere where we can get a 
drink ! " And out we went. 

This was just one of his little bits of enjoyment, for we 
went straight down to Romano's, and he had his first drink 
in the shape of a Martini cocktail with a cherry in it, so 
that I reckoned that little wineglass of gin and water must 
have cost about ten pounds. 

From there we went to the Savoy, and he ordered supper 
for twelve people, and when I asked him if he had a party 
on, he carelessly said : 

" No ; but I'll invite some of the girls to come after 
the show." He gave the order for some chicken sand- 


A Handsome Present 

wiches to be sent over to the stage-door of the Gaiety, and 
said : " That's your supper, Jupp ! " 

I thought it was time I got back, so left him ordering 
flowers and chocolates for the girls. He evidently felt 
quite sure of his ground, and he proved to be right, for his 
little supper party consisted of Olive May, Florrie Ward, 
Doris Dewar, Rosie Brady, Kitty Mason, Maie Saqui, 
Violet Lloyd, Gertie Millar, Connie Ediss, Ethel Sydney, 
and Daisy Roche. I remember them well, because I had 
a list made out and went round to the dressing-rooms to 
invite them. 

I have mentioned before that the " Guv'nor " had a coach- 
ing party whenever the Ascot Races were on, and his guests 
were chosen from the theatre, and their intimate friends. 
But there was one occasion when, in addition to these, 
there was a party made up of the theatre staff. The famous 
horse Santoi, belonging to Mr. Edwardes and his brother, 
was running in the Royal Hunt Cup, and of course 
we wouldn't hear of any other horse. Mr. Michael 
Morton, who rejoiced in the nickname of " Monkey 
Morton," after whose enormously successful play " San 
Toy " the horse was named, was among the coach- 
ing party. He came to me and asked if we had backed 
anything yet, and I told him that we intended doing 

" That's the one, Jupp ! It will win right enough. 
Now I will stand treat for you four boys " (meaning myself, 
the butler, valet, and the theatre linkman). " Here's £20 
— that's a fiver each — put it on Santoi and it will be a nice 
little present for you. I'll get Mr. Levenstone to lend 
you his ticket for Tattersall's Ring, and you can go over 
there and put it on." 

I was too busy to go myself, having all the guests to 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

look after on the other coach, so we deputed the link- 
man to stake the money. He went to Mr. Mike 
Levenstone, and having got the loan of his ticket, went 
into the big ring. When he returned, Mr. " Monkey 
Morton " asked him if he got the money on all right. 
" I got it on, sir ! " " What did you get about it ? " 
he asked. " Well, I managed to get 2 to I about 
it, but it has shortened now to 6 to 4." " Oh, well, 
that's good ! " said " Monkey," and left us to join the 

Just before the race we all had our own little side bets, 
and then took up our stands on the top of the coach. The 
bell rang, and that electrifying cry rang out : " They're 
off ! " There they were, and how easy it was to pick out 
the " Guv'nor's " colours — turquoise jacket with white 
chevrons and turquoise cap. The linkman was standing 
next to me, and he said in an excited voice : " Kilmarnock 
is going to win this race." " Is it ! You wait ! " was all 
I answered. 

Our linkman was like a madman, and nearly knocked 
me off the coach in his excitement. " Kilmarnock ! 
Kilmarnock wins ! " I shouted out, " Shut up, you 

idiot ! What the h are you so excited about ! We've 

backed Santoi, you d d fool ! Shut up ! " 

Suddenly something wonderful happened. The link- 
man was still screaming like a lunatic that " Kilmarnock 
wins by a street ! " when he became strangely quiet, and 
so did everybody on the course. There was an ominous 
silence, and then a mighty shout went up as Santoi leapt 
forth, and like a flash passed the leader and won a mag- 
nificent race. 

I turned to the now silent linkman. " Now where's 
your infernal Kilmarnock, eh ? " Then I saw his face. 


A Rotten Turn 

He was deathly white, and I thought he would fall oft' the 
coach, so I supported him and asked if he felt ill. " It's 
the excitement, I suppose. It always upsets me," was 
all he said ; but I had a job to get him down on to the 

Everybody in our two parties were congratulating one 
another and the " Guv'nor " in particular, when Mr. Morton 
came to us and said : " Good luck to you, boys ! I'm very 
glad you've won ! Mr. Levenstone will let you have his 
ticket again, and you can go and draw your money, and 
cut it up between you." 

The linkman got the ticket and remained away for quite 
a long time, and when at last he returned he was very 
agitated and said he couldn't find the bookie anywhere. 
Mr. Levenstone cried : " That's all rot ! They don't 
have any men of that description in Tattersall's Ring. 
Come with me. I'll soon find him for you. What's his 
name ? Give me your voucher ! ' "I didn't get 
one, there was no need — I have known him for some 
time ! " 

" Oh, have you ! " exclaimed Mr. Levenstone, and yet 
you don't know his name. Come on, we must look into 
this ! " 

He took him round the different bookies, none of whom 
had a bet for £20. There were many twenty-fives, fifties, 
and so on, but not one for twenty, and no bookie was missing 
from his place. So there was only one conclusion to arrive 
at. No wonder he was so excited about Kilmarnock. It 
was a rotten thing to do on his pals, and the " Guv'nor " 
sacked him on the spot. 

During all my long experience at the Gaiety Theatre I 
am glad to say that we have been remarkably free from theft. 
I don't remember more than one case, and the thief was 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

eventually discovered, and since then there has been no 

For several days artistes reported losses from their 
dressing-rooms, money and rings being missed. As a rule 
the artistes hand their purses or wallets to their dressers, 
and he or she is responsible for them ; but in these cases' 
they evidently had not done so, and the dressers felt very 
uncomfortable about the matter. 

They insisted on being given the custody of all valuables 
afterwards, and the pilfering ceased ; but the matter was 
not dropped, for I got a couple of my friends from Bow 
Street, and gave them a full description of all the rings and 
trinkets which had been stolen. The money, of course, 
was gone for good, as it was nearly all in gold and silver! 
Whoever had taken the things must have been acquainted 
with the play and the times the artistes would be down on 
the stage, so it must have been an employee. The call- 
boy was too busy a person to have time for such pilferings, 
even if he were capable of them— which he was not, for 
Alf Cockell was chiefly instrumental in getting the first 
clue. Naturally every possible person was suspected, but 
all was done in secret, no one dreaming that a couple of 
extra stage-hands were really detectives. One night the 
call-boy was on his round giving calls to artistes, and the 
chorus were likely to be late for the finale of the first act, so 
he jumped into the lift, which was not supposed to be used 
by him, and told the lift-boy to take him up to the top 

When he got to the top he only stepped out and shouted : 

' Chorus ladies down quickly, please. You'll be late ! " 

and turned back to the lift. Now the boy who worked the 

lift evidently thought the other would be going along the 

corridor and did not expect such a hasty return, and the 



call-boy noticed something glittering in his hand which 
he hurriedly put back into his trousers pocket and turned 
very red. It was only a day or two afterwards that this 
came into his mind again, because, as I have said, he 
was a very busy young man when the show was on, 
and had all his work cut out to attend to his duties with- 
out thinking of other affairs. It was not until he was 
questioned by one of the detectives that he mentioned 
the matter, and this set the " splits " on the scent 

All had been very quiet for a few days, and nothing 
further had happened, so it looked as if there was an end 
to the business. The lift-boy came to me about a quarter 
of an hour before the show finished, and asked if he 
might go to the other side of the theatre. There was 
no reason why I should not give him permission, so I 
told him to hurry up and get back to his lift for the 
curtain-fall. When he came back all seemed well, and 
having brought the " Guv'nor " down, he went home. 
Then the electrician came and reported that his wallet 
containing £4. and several private papers had been taken 
out of his pocket during the last half-hour. I told my 
Bow Street friends that the lift-boy had been over on that 
side, but I felt rather guilty in putting them on to a 
bit of a boy. 

Yet there it was — the thefts were going on again, and 
money doesn't evaporate. They got his address off me, 
and went to investigate. The sequel was that the wallet 
containing the money and papers was found on him, and 
then he confessed to the other affairs. He had watched 
until he saw the dresser go out on some errand or other, 
and knowing that the artiste was down on the stage, that 
was his opportunity. I don't think I should have attached 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

any importance to his asking to cross over to the other 
side, if the call-boy had not told about seeing the glitter 
of some object that night when he went up to call the chorus 
girls. Pawn tickets for all the jewellery were recovered, 
but the money had been spent. 

The boy was sentenced to three months' hard 

Before the arrest of the boy an episode happened. Maisie 
Gay was playing at the theatre and took it into her head 
to have a nice hot bath before going home. She had only 
to step out of her dressing-room into the bath-room, so 
conveniently is everything arranged. She didn't take the 
precaution to tell anybody except her dresser, who always 
waited until she was fully dressed and then locked up after 
her mistress had gone, but this night she merely told her 
not to wait, as she would have a bath first. No one men- 
tioned it to me, and as all final instructions to the fireman 
on night duty came from me, he was ignorant of the fact 
that she was there. When the theatre was locked up and 
he was going on his first round to see that all the lights 
were out and things in general were in a proper condition, 
he heard a soft rustling noise up above him. These thefts 
were still in everybody's minds, and this sound in an empty 
theatre put him on the qui vive. Softly he crept upstairs 
and listened. Yes ! there it was again, a gentle rustling 
sound and then a soft footfall. There was a glimmer of 
light just visible from under the door. More of the rustle 
and more soft footfalls, and the door was cautiously opened. 
The fireman whipped out his revolver and cried : " Who's 
that ? " A slight startled exclamation and then he 
shouted : " Answer, or I'll shoot ! " " It's me — 
M-m-maisie Gay. I've been having a bath ! How you 


Maisie Gay's Escape 

startled me, Stone ! " (that was the fireman's name). He 
was the one to be somewhat unnerved afterwards, because, 
as he told her, he really meant what he said and would 
have fired if she had not spoken. 




IT is of deep interest to me to know that there was a 
close relation between the Gaiety Theatre and the late 
Sir Charles Santley. How few journalists have mentioned 
the fact that he was one of the Gaiety stars and played in 
company with the famous Nellie Farren. In this connec- 
tion it is also worthy of note that four of the greatest men 
ever associated with the stage, and whose lives were spent 
entirely in its service, belonged to the Gaiety Company. 

Mr. Henry Irving was the first actor to be honoured 
by the Crown with a knighthood, thus removing that 
term " Rogues and Vagabonds " for ever. Then as regards 
music, surely no more representative name can be men- 
tioned than Arthur Sullivan — another Knight — Doctor of 
Music, and decorated with the M.V.O. He also belonged 
to the wonderful list of Gaiety celebrities. 

If one were asked to give the name of the greatest of 
all librettists, would not the name of W. S. Gilbert occur 
to one's mind ? Well, his first play was produced at the 
Gaiety Theatre, and he also was knighted. 

Then the fourth great name is that of Sir Charles Santley, 
who at that time was by far the greatest English baritone 
singer. In fact, it was acknowledged that as a vocalist he 
was one of the most scholarly interpreters of either opera 
or oratorio in the world. Gounod was so impressed by 
his glorious singing — not only by his voice, but by the 
depth of true sympathy he expressed — that he wrote the 
famous solo " Dio Possenti " (you remember the first line 
of it — " Even bravest heart may swell ") for him, and it 
was introduced into " Faust." Whenever you go to hear 


First Opinion of Melba 

that glorious opera and fail to hear M Dio Possenti " sung, 
remember that it is because they are giving a strictly correct 
interpretation of " Faust." Not by any means because 
there is no one to sing it. 

At one time Santley studied under Garcia, and he was 
very proud of the fact that he was one of the very few 
pupils at whose head the hot-tempered professor had not 
aimed books. 

It is curious that, when Mme. Nellie Melba arrived in 
this country in 1886 preparatory to entering on her studies 
for Grand Opera, Sir Arthur Sullivan, after hearing her 
sing, said that he did not consider her vocal attainments 
sufficiently good to justify him in including her in the 
Savoy Opera Company. He added, though, that if she 
worked hard, he might be able to give her an engagement 
in " The Mikado " after a year's further study. One had 
to be indeed a real singer in those days. Was not the 
Savoy Chorus known as the " Choir " of London ? Sir 
Arthur was not alone in his opinion, for Signor Alberto 
Randegger, after an interview with Melba, wrote saying 
that he did not feel warranted in accepting her as a pupil. 

In after years Sir Arthur and Randegger were numbered 
among Melba's warmest friends and admirers, and on 
many occasions she teased them both for their early want 
of confidence in her powers. It was left to Mme. Marchesi 
to realize the power of Melba's voice. 

I had an amusing experience with Mr. McKenna, the 
racehorse owner and trainer — he himself supplying the 
amusement. He used to train at Epsom as well as in 
Ireland, and although George Edwardes and his brother 
the Major went in for training horses at Ogbourne it was 
Mr. McKenna who bought nearly all of their best horses 
for them, among them being San Toy (Santoi), Wavelet's 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

Pride, Bird on the Wing, Wingfield's Pride, and many 
other winning horses whose names I cannot recall. 

Mr. McKenna called at the theatre one afternoon to 
see the " Guv'nor " about one of his horses which was entered 
for the next day's racing at Warwick. They had had a 
successful time at The Curragh, but Mr. McKenna was 
particularly keen on winning a certain race at Warwick on 
account of some side wagers which had been made. 

These wagers were really between them as to the com- 
parative merits of a horse called Floral Maid and George 
Edwardes' horse Patron Saint. I told Mr. McKenna that 
the " Guv'nor " was not in the theatre just then, so he stopped 
with me for a little time and I took the opportunity to ask 
him if he knew of " anything good " that I might have a 
little " flutter " on. He said he could not give me any 
decided opinion at the time, as he must find out the weights 
first, and see how Patron Saint was handicapped in com- 
parison with the rival horse Floral Maid. 

" Come and see me at Haxell's Hotel in the morning, 
Jupp. I'll be able to tell you then. You'd better come 
fairly early, as I shall be off" soon after breakfast." The 
next morning I went along to the hotel and inquired for 
him — I had taken his advice and called early — too early 
in fact, because they said he had not had his bath as yet. 
They sent up word that I was below. A message was 
brought back saying that I was to go right up, which I 

He was still in bed, but sitting up with half a dozen 
papers littered about. He asked me to sit down while he 
helped me to a large whisky and soda. Then he turned 
to his papers, hurriedly turning over the pages of each 
until at last he found what he had been searching for — 
the weights the horses would be carrying that day at War- 


A Racing Tip from Ripped Pyjamas 

wick. There was a moment's complete silence, and his 
eves were riveted on the racing columns. Then he started 
muttering in a low suppressed manner, and I saw his hand 
go up to the top button of his pyjama jacket. He ripped 
it off with a growl. He read a bit more and off came 
another button and flung across the room. The third 
button was treated to the same thing, but the fourth resisted. 
This made him angry, so he tore at it so viciously that he 
brought away a good strip of cloth as well. He was still 
reading and muttering to himself. His hands disappeared 
underneath the clothes, and I heard another vicious rip, 
so I thought I would inquire into the matter. 

11 What's wrong, Mr. McKenna ? You seem to be a 
bit upset." 

" Upset is it ? Upset. To think (rip) that the handi — 
(rip)^-cappers (rip) should give my (rip) horse (rip) ten 
pounds more than (a fearful tear) Floral Maid (surely he 
must be tearing the sheets up) and he's never won a race ! " 
Then came the final. " They must be raving mad." 
That did it. 

With a last and fiercer rip than all the others put together 
he jumped out of bed, and I could not help laughing. His 
pyjamas were in ribbons. It struck me that I might 
glean a little information from his behaviour without ask- 
ing him to volunteer to give me any. He evidently thought 
his chances of winning were nil, so the logical conclusion 
for me to arrive at was that he had evidently considered 
that the race lay between those two horses. He had con- 
veyed his opinion very forcibly indeed, and I took it as a 
tip. I backed the rival horse, although I felt it was almost 
disloyal on my part to do so. Floral Maid just managed 
to finish in front of Patron Saint by a very short head. 

This little story is one by no means flattering as far as 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

our theatre was concerned, but I think it was a witty example 
of the retort courteous — or should I say discourteous ? 
One night the linkman came round to me and he was 
roaring with laughter. When he had gained control over 
himself he told me that about half an hour after the curtain 
had been up, a man in dress clothes staggered up to the 
box office and asked, " Is this the ' Pictures ' ? " He was 
in a condition which would have broken the heart of a 
stanch Pussyfoot. " No, sir, this is not the Pictures, this 
is the Gaiety Theatre," answered the box-office manager. 

" Well, whatever it is, have you got any seats left ? I 
want to go in." The manager had decided against this 

" I am sorry, sir, but you can't go in, there's not a seat 
in the house left." 

" But I am going in. I insist upon going in. Where's 
the manager ? I want to see him." The linkman having 
overheard this conversation thought he had better keep 
close by. The box-office manager left his stool and came 
out to the front. 

" You can't go in, sir ! I tell you it is impossible 

" But why ? " persisted the inebriated one. 

" Well, if you really want to know the truth, sir, to be 
quite frank with you, you are drunk." The man looked 
very indignant for a brief moment, and then burst into 
loud laughter. 

" Drunk ! Why, of course I'm drunk, you silly ass ! 
Do you think I should want to see your rotten show if I 
were sober ? " 

Anyone who has been to Nottingham and is fond of 
real genuine ancient history will no doubt have paid a 
visit to the curious old hostelry known as The Trip to 


The Trip to Jerusalem 

Jerusalem. It is an ancient house which has been hewn 
out of — or rather into — the solid rock at the foot of the 
castle. During the visit of one of our companies, a member 
met a friend, who was down for the day on business. The 
actor wanted to have a friendly chat with him, but as it was 
a day on which he had a matinee, they agreed to meet at 
9.30 p.m., when he would be free (he appeared in the first 
act). The only thing remaining was to fix a rendezvous. 
The actor said, " Let us meet at The Trip to Jerusalem. 

The other did not appear to have heard of the place, 
so the necessary directions were given and they parted. 

When the actor had finished in the evening, he made 
his way to the meeting-place. He waited for half an 
hour, but his friend did not appear, so he decided to go 
back to the theatre and join the other members of the 
company when the show was over. Lo and behold ! in 
the hotel next door to the theatre was the friend who had 
failed to turn up. He was far from sober and said he 
had been searching all over Nottingham, trying to find 
the place, but nobody had ever heard of it. 

He had asked policemen, postmen and publicans, but 
one and all denied any knowledge of such a place. " You've 
been pulling my leg, and I thought you were a pal of 
mine. What on earth made you play such a tomfool 
game on me ? " The actor told him that he was not 
making a fool of him, and there must be something wrong, 
because as far as The Trip to Jerusalem was concerned 
he had only just left after waiting for over half an hour. 

11 What did you say ? What is the name of the place ? ' 

" The Trip to Jerusalem. Why, I told you quite dis- 
tinctly this morning and you remarked upon the unusual 


' Well, no wonder I couldn't find it and no one had 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

ever heard of the place — I've been asking all the Notting- 
ham publicans where I could find The Pilgrim's Progress." 

On that same tour two of the girls had a gruesome 
experience. They were to play in Oldham and arrived 
rather late on the Sunday evening. These two girls in 
question had not made any arrangements about apartments 
for the week, and thought there would be little difficulty 
in securing a suitable place ; but after searching about 
for a couple of hours they began to realize that their posi- 
tion was getting somewhat desperate. Chorus girls are 
not usually in a position to put up at hotels even for one 
night, and something had to be done, and quickly at that. 
They had been to one place where they had been refused, 
although the landlady admitted that she had not let her 
rooms, so they decided to go back and try to induce her 
to take them if only for that one night. They were very 
nice girls, and although the woman seemed to have a strong 
reason for keeping her apartments empty that week, they 
prevailed upon her. 

All the excuses she made were brushed aside — they would 
sleep anywhere so long as she would take them in. Even- 
tually they were told that if they would come back in an 
hour's time she would have prepared a room for them to 
sleep in. They wanted to do the work themselves, so 
greatly relieved were they, but the landlady would not 
hear of it. She would not let them sit down in the kitchen 
until the preparations were made. No, they had to go 
out and return in an hour. Fortunately the girls ran into 
some other members of the company and they all kept 
together until it was time to return. 

The woman seemed very agitated and had every appear- 
ance of having done some heavy work during their absence. 
It was a good thing that the girls had brought some pro- 


A Gruesome Experience 

visions with them, including the remains of the Sunday's 
dinner, because it turned out that there was scarcely a 
thing in the house. The woman was evidently very poor, 
and that made it all the more mysterious why she had been 
so loath to let her rooms. The girls retired, but although 
they were fagged out with the journey and the long search 
for apartments, they could not sleep. In the middle of the 
night one remarked to the other that she could detect a 
very strange and unusual odour in the room and asked 
her companion if she noticed it also, or if it was only her 
imagination. The other girl also had noticed it. 

In the morning when dressing one of them had occasion 
to open her travelling-bag, and found that it had been 
pushed far under the bed when her friend had put her 
own there, so going on her knees she peered underneath 
and stretched out her hand, which instead of meeting with 
the bag came into contact with something cold and clammy. 

She was startled, but as it was daylight and she had the 
company of her girl friend, she investigated farther, and 
then to her horror found that there was somebody lying 
dead in a coffin there. 

They hurried down to the landlady and told her of their 
discovery, and then the poor woman broke down. She 
said that it was her husband who lay dead there, and she 
would not have the lid of the coffin screwed down until 
the undertaker came on the day of the funeral. She had 
not intended to let the rooms, but as the girls seemed to be 
in such a desperate plight, and she sorely needed the money, 
she had decided to hide the coffin under the bed. That 
was why she had sent them out of the house for an hour 
in order to give her time to do it. No wonder the poor 
soul looked as if she had been working hard when they 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

That was a dramatic beginning for their week at Oldham, 
but more was yet to come. In those days at the old theatre 
there was a very dark passage leading from the stage-door 
to the steps which led to the dressing-rooms and then on 
to the stage. A member of the company went down to 
the theatre rather early to get something he had left in 
his dressing-room overnight, and groping his way along 
this dark passage, he knocked into an obstacle. Thinking 
he had got too close to the wall, he stretched out his hands 
to feel his way. He came into contact with it again, and 
this time he noticed that the obstacle, whatever it was, 
moved away at his touch. He was about to follow it up, 
thinking it might be an opening, when it swung back 
again and his hands touched it once more. He felt for 
his matches and struck one, and to his horror the light 
showed the dangling form of a man. It proved to be the 
stage-carpenter of the theatre, and he had hanged himself 
that morning. 

I remember long ago, when I lived in the neighbourhood 
of Camberwell Green, meeting with members of the pro- 
fession every Sunday morning at the popular house of call 

in Coldharbour Lane — Messrs. . Little did I think 

then that one of the members of Mr. Fred Karno's com- 
panies would one day convulse the whole picture-going 
world with his antics, and instead of counting the shillings 
left "to go the week on," would have to employ accoun- 
tants to count up how much he had " to go the week on." 
We were friends when Charlie Chaplin was in obscurity, 
and I am glad to say that we are still friends now that the 
limelight is focused upon him with its most brilliant light. 

When he came over not long ago from California, he 
called to see Miss Edie Kelly and Mr. de Courville when 
we were playing " Pins and Needles." We had a right 


face p. 250 

Charlie Chaplin 

good old yarn about the old times up at Messrs. 

(which is still the popular rendezvous of the profession as 
of old), and then he left me, as he had seats for the show. 
I know that he left somewhere after one o'clock in the 
morning, having thoroughly enjoyed the evening with old 
friends, and he walked along the Embankment with a set 
purpose in his mind. He gave a treasury note for one 
pound to every one he found sleeping or resting on the 
seats as far up as Blackfriars Bridge, where of course it 
comes to an end. 




DURING the run of the Gaiety burlesque, " Ruy 
Bias," or the " Blase" Roud," there was introduced a 
grotesque pas-de-quatre, danced by Fred Leslie, Charles 
Danby, Ben Nathan, and Fred Storey, dressed as 
ballet girls, and their heads and shoulders made up 
to represent Irving, Toole, Terry, and Wilson Barrett 
respectively. This gave offence to Mr. Henry Irving 
(as^ he was then) and he protested. His protest had 

This was a very important incident in George Edwardes' 
management. He said : " Nothing could be farther from 
my wishes than to wound any man, least of all a brother 
manager, and an artist of Mr. Irving's position in the pro- 
fession, but he should have written to me in the first place 
and not to Mr. Leslie. I am the manager of this theatre, 
and perfectly willing to take the responsibility of anything 
done on my own stage." 

Fred Leslie joined in, saying : " Why, he has been 
burlesqued times out of number, and has never objected 
before. The man who first travestied him, Edward Righ- 
ton, is now a member of his company, and opens with him 
to-morrow night in the ' Dead Heart.' People like imita- 
tions of him : it's one of the penalties of his fame, and 
not a very heavy one. I am sure that if ever I should 
rise to his heights of tragedy, and Mr. Irving should sink 
to my position, I shan't have the faintest objection to his 
burlesquing me." The incident was closed, and the 
offending make-up cut out, but as Fred Leslie pointed out, 


Daisy Markham's Breach of Promise Damages 

the great tragedian should have remembered that he was 
once a burlesque actor himself. 

A very remarkable romance of the peerage and the stage 

was that of the Marquis of N , who succeeded to the 

title in June, 1 913, by then aged twenty-eight, and Daisy 
Markham, who was practically the originator of " The 
Glad Eye." 

A romantic friendship quickly sprang up between the 
noble young Guards officer and the pretty, dainty Daisy 
Markham. The Marquis occupied his box in the theatre 
with increasing frequency, and when he did not see the 
play, he would call for her and take her home in his car. 
The attraction was mutual, and they became engaged to 
be married. Miss Markham then asked to be released 
from her theatrical contract, and she has not appeared on 
the stage since ; but very shortly she became still more 
prominently in the public eye, on account of the breach 
of promise action which followed her engagement. 

It was really a very sad affair, as it turned out, because 
(he young Marquis was truly in love with her and she 
with him ; but, bound by a vow solemnly given to his 
dying father, he had, against his own wishes and the dic- 
tates of his heart, to break his promise to marry her. An 
extract from one of his letters will prove this : — 

" I have always, and do at this present moment, love 
and respect you more than any one in the world. But, 
Daisy, the ways of the world arc hard, and I want you to 
believe that what I am now doing is from a sense of duty, 
genuinely believing that it is the best for both of us. You 
will always be my ideal, and you will always be my beautiful 

That letter was written under evident great stress of 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

emotion because his fondest hopes were irretrievably 
dashed to the ground. He placed his position before the 
girl he had asked to be his wife, and he consented to settle 
£50,000 upon her when the suit was called on. The 
proceedings only lasted thirty minutes. These were the 
highest damages ever awarded in a breach of promise case. 

Miss Fortescue brought an action against Viscount 
Garmoyle and was awarded £10,000. Phyllis Broughton 
obtained a handsome sum from Lord Dangan, and Birdie 
Sutherland was awarded a large sum from the Hon. Dudley 
Marjoribanks, afterwards Lord Tweedmouth. 

Many people will remember the sensational end of Babs 
Taylor, a Gaiety girl, who was shot dead in her West 
End flat after several hectic love affairs. Babs was one of 
the belles of even our bevy of beauty, and I remember 
how shamefully she treated one of her most ardent admirers. 

He was a wealthy young man about town who had just 
added to his already large banking account a legacy of 
£160,000. He worshipped at the shrine of Babs, and 
became her absolute slave. He really fell in love with 
her, and spent thousands and thousands on her adornment 
and the gratification of her vanity. She did not give up 
her job at the Gaiety, but when the " off " season came 
round and every one who was any one had deserted Lon- 
don, the time for holiday-making was opportune, and she 
went off with her then wealthy young lover on a lengthy 
yachting trip. Something went wrong in their absence, 
and on arrival back the smash came. He had to sell his 
yacht, then his property, and finally everything was swal- 
lowed up, so hopelessly had his affairs become involved. 
Well, for a time he was non est and Babs continued at the 

One night about 10.30 a private of some Highland 


"Hullo, jack!" 

regiment came to me at the stage-door. It was he ! I 
always liked him and thought him a thoroughly decent 
fair and square young man. 

" Do you think Babs will speak to me, Jupp — now that 
I am broke ? " 

" I'll send your name in if you like, but the show will 
be over very soon now — why not wait until she comes 
out ? " 

" Perhaps that would be best," said he; and lighting a 
cigarette strolled out. 

I could see that he didn't want to get into conversation, 
as it could only be embarrassing, to say the least, after his 
short-lived affluence. 

As the company came out he strolled in again and waited 
until Babs appeared. He offered his hand, saying in a 
quiet voice which suggested hope and yet fear as to what 
reception he would get, " Hullo, Babs. How are you ? 
I hope you are well." 

She ignored the proffered hand, and with a little laugh, 
merely said : " Hullo, Jack," in exactly the same tone she 
would have used to me, passed him by, and, stepping into 
an expensive Rolls-Royce, drove off with another gentle- 

His eyes followed her all the while, and when the car 
turned into the Strand and out of sight, returned his gaze 
to me. There was no show of anger, but what a look he 
gave me ! He was suddenly broken-hearted, for he truly 
loved that woman. Sadly he said : 

" There you are, Jupp ! I'm broke and she has no 
further use for me. Isn't that enough to make a man 
shoot a woman ? Ah, well ! Good night, Jupp ! " 

There have been times when, in my capacity of stage- 
doorkeeper I have refused admission to people of great 

The Gaiety Stage Door j 

business importance, but fortunately they were generous 
enough to admit that I was on the safe side personally 
and that the " door " was well guarded. On the other 
hand, I have saved Mr. Edwardes from a lot of boredom, 
because he was such a very kindly and considerate man 
that if he were allowed the time he would see anyone and 
consult, comfort, or cajole. 

There was one lady who had the idea that she wrote 
plays. Unfortunately for her the " Guv'nor " was not of 
the same opinion, and he had allowed her to be shown in 
so frequently with always the same wearisome result that 
he told me never to allow her in again. " But don't be 
unkind, Jupp ! Just say that I am out." 

Shortly after this injunction she called again with the 
usual formidable bundle of manuscript under her arm. I 
don't know exactly what had happened on her previous 
visit, but guessed enough after Mr. Edwardes' instruc- 
tions; but on this morning she seemed to be particularly 
determined, and fixing me with her keen eyes, said, " Good 
morning ! ' and made as if to pass through the door. 
' Pardon me, madam ! Do you wish to see Mr. 
Edwardes ? " I asked. 

Yes, I do, on very important business; and I have no 
time to wait." 

Well, I am sorry, but you will have to wait until 
to-morrow because he won't be here to-day." 
' Oh, is that so ? Are you quite sure ? " 
' Quite, madam ; he has gone to Ogbourne to see his 
brother about a racehorse." 

I did not like the look she gave me when, at that very 
moment, an inner door opened and a well-known voice 
said : ' Give it to Jupp ; he'll attend to it." 
" Who's that ? " asked the authoress. 


A Determined Woman 

" That is Mr. Arthur Cohen, who also wants to see 
Mr. Edwardes, and I suppose is writing a note to him." 
I could see she didn't believe me, and had evidently no 
intention of leaving, so now my difficulty was how to get 
rid of her and still obey the instruction — " Don't be 
unkind, Jupp." 

I made a pretence of consulting the telephone book 
and rang up the " Guv'nor," who had no idea of what 
was taking place, and I not only wanted to warn him, but 
also to get a little advice. Of such experiences are learned 
the evasions of the truth. 

" Hullo ! This is Jupp speaking — Yes ! Yes ! Could 
you tell me if Mr. Edwardes has arrived at Ogbourne yet ? 
He has ! Oh, thank you ! There is a lady here who 
has seen Mr. Edwardes several times before, and has 
brought a new play for him. Would you be kind enough 
to find out if I can make any appointment ? " 

Evidently I met with understanding, for there was a 
judicious pause which would give the impression to the 
uninitiated that a search party had been sent out for Mr. 
Edwardes. Then came the reply. I did my utmost to 
look very businesslike, and even sympathetic, but happen- 
ing to catch the gleaming eyes of the lady, I closed mine 
and listened as if in great concern on her behalf. 

Now for it ! "I am sorry, but Mr. Edwardes won't be 
back this week, but may be here on Monday evening." 
" Before you put that receiver back let me speak to 
him ! " 

At that moment a man I had previously rather disliked 
rushed in, and I thought would give the whole show away, 
but, oh ! how I loved him a second after, when he demanded 
the telephone immediately. I loved him and she hated 
him. She sat down with a terribly determined air, and I 

257 R 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

scented trouble. One thing I was thankful for was that I 
had given the timely warning, and the dear old " Guv'nor ' 
could either make his escape or remain quiet until I let 
him know the coast was clear. When my newly found 
friend had finished his betting transactions on the telephone 
(for he never used our 'phone for anything else), I knew 
it was most imperative that he should understand the situa- 
tion, so I quickly said (with an accompanying wink of 
warning) : 

" I thought you were going to Ogbourne with Mr. 
Edwardes this morning. I was hoping you would put 
me on to a winner when you came back." 

How my heart was beating, hoping that he would under- 
stand. But I need not have been so perturbed had I 
known the astute person I was dealing with. 

" You're too young to bet, my lad ; but perhaps I will 
give you a really good thing after I've seen your chief. 
Have you a guide here ? Find out a train for me about 


Not having a guide I couldn't oblige him, which was 
of no consequence to either of us. He played his part 
splendidly, and instead of going into the Sanctum of Sanc- 
torums, as was his wont, he made a hurried exit. 

Still she sat there, unbelieving as ever. Would nothing 
convince her ? Would nothing calm that menacing brow ? 
Oh, how she looked at me ! I have often wondered what 
she really thought of me during that quarter of an hour ; 
much worse I should think than her expressed opinion 
on a post-card two days later. Her expression was really 
vindictive. After all, I was paid to do this kind of thing, 
and legitimately prevent people from hindering a busy 
man from carrying on his work ; because even in those 
early days the Gaiety was only one of his concerns. There 


A Hansom Eyrie 

were also Daly's and the Empire, to say nothing of half a 
dozen touring companies, and the time spent on this 
woman during another useless interview would be hope- 
lessly wasted. I must get rid of her — but how ? 

It was becoming a personal matter now, and I told her 
it was no use her waiting. She became abusive, which 
finished up in my conducting her firmly to the door. I 
hope I still remembered not to be unkind, but her manu- 
scripts were strewn about the floor, which rather suggests 
a struggle, but it was not quite as bad as that. 

I thought that was the end of a very unpleasant and 
distasteful episode, but there was a second act. Now, it 
is extremely funny, but it was not then. I saw her approach 
the driver of a cab (there were no taxis in those days), 
and thought she had accepted defeat and would make a 
" hansom " retreat. 

But no ! After a few mysterious signs and whispering 
on her part, and a comprehending grin on the part of the 
cabby, I saw that vehicle slowly but surely wheeled from 
the rank opposite over to our side and placed directly 
under the window of the " Guv'nor's " office. With a 
look of defiance, not only at me but at the little bit of the 
world in general which happened to be in sight, she 
mounted the "dickey" (the grinning cabby holding the 
horse's head), and so on to the driver's seat, which brought 
her vision into line with a party of four seated at a table 
in the office — George Edwardes, Arthur Cohen, William 
Terriss, and Mike Levenstone. 

I was fascinated, rooted to the door-step, and might 
have remained there until this moment if I had not been 
suddenly called back to the grim reality of the affair by a 
shrill shriek of triumph from the petticoated Shakespeare 
who descended to the pavement, but not nearly so quickly 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

as I went to keep an appointment somewhere at a safe 
distance and yet near enough to observe her next move. 

A post- card was sent openly to me at the theatre two 
days later. It was one of those printed cards which make 
one a member of " The Amalgamated Society of Liars." 

I have been instrumental in getting lots of people on 
the stage, and have naturally taken a sort of paternal interest 
in their careers. In the ordinary course, it would have 
been a very difficult thing to get an interview with a man 
like George Edwardes, but he never refused to see anyone 
I introduced. 

I remember being at a friend's house one Sunday even- 
ing, and there was the usual little impromptu concert one 
hears at suburban villas on such occasions. There was 
one girl there who sang a song in such a natural manner, 
and with such a clear enunciation, that I became interested 
in her. She was an ingenuous young thing, and told me 
that she worked as agent for a photographer. She had 
to go from house to house soliciting orders, and received 
commission on all she got. She was only about eighteen, 
and had a sweetly pretty face in addition to a natural grace. 
She was well educated and accomplished. I asked her if 
she would sing again for my special benefit. After she 
had complied, I told her of my connection with the stage, 
and pointed out to her that she could get a far better chance 
of advancement if she adopted the theatrical profession. 

Now most girls of her age would have been fired with 
enthusiasm and gone into ecstasies of delight at the prospect, 
but this little lady only said that she would be glad to get 
an opportunity of trying, but she feared she was not talented 
enough. She had no exalted opinion of herself, and that 
pleased me far more than if she had jumped at the offer 
and eagerly pressed for an appointment. 


A Quick Rise 

I arranged for her to come down to the Gaiety and 
bring the last song she had sung. She came, and I spoke 
to Mr. Malone about her. He was just as considerate 
as Mr. Edwardes in anything I asked, and he told me to 
take her down on to the stage and he would hear her sing. 

Her name was Amy J , but I suggested that she 

should change it to Amy Gray. She did so, and as Amy 
Gray she was instantly engaged. She started where all wise 
young people should make a beginning — in the chorus. 

A girl possessed of any real talent can pick up tuition 
from the chorus, and especially as an understudy, which 
is invaluable. The man or woman who is given a leading 
part on account of a good voice backed up by influence 
always shows those awful signs of the untrained amateur; 
but a good, sound groundwork obtained in the chorus 
work, and the instruction received as an understudy, make 
them thoroughly presentable whenever called upon to take 
up a principal part, even at a moment's notice. 

So it was with Amy Gray. She was sent into the pro- 
vinces with one of our touring companies and understudied 
Agnes Fraser. It was not long before her chance came, 
and she played Miss Fraser's part with such success that 
when the next tour was being arranged and Miss Fraser 
had been allotted a part in a London production, Amy 
Gray's name figured on the play bill as a principal. 

From that time on she made enormous strides, and was 
acknowledged as a provincial star. I was naturally very 
proud of my " find," and we were great friends. If she 
had not married and retired from the stage, she would 
have been one of our foremost musical comedy artistes 
to this day. 

I have suggested that people should adopt a stage name 
only on two occasions — the first I have just mentioned, 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

and the second was in the case of a young man, and Gray 
having proved so successful, I got him to take the name 
of Reggie Gray. It happened thus. 

One morning a young man of about twenty came along 
to the stage-door and asked me if I could get him an intro- 
duction to anyone who would give him a chance to go on 
the stage. He said : " If you can get anyone to play a 
song for me, I will give him a sovereign." 

Jacques Grebe was down on the stage, so I 'phoned 
down and told him of this young man's offer. He came 
up and spoke to him, asking the usual questions as to 
what he had done theatrically and where he had sung. 
He admitted that he had had no previous experience, but 
would give him a sovereign if he would play a song over 
and give him his opinion. 

When this young man came up again he said he would 
like to have a chat with me, if I would join him at lunch. 
We went into the Dutch Bar next door, and I had a good 
look at him. He was well dressed. He had an easy way 
of lounging, rather than standing, and gave one the impres- 
sion of an easy-going, good-natured " Johnny " or " Dude." 
He said he had a great desire to get on the stage, and 
promised that if I would help him to that end his father 
would see that I was recompensed for my trouble. 

He had come up from Birkenhead with this idea fixed 
in his mind, and with the full consent of his father, who 
was a wealthy man and was not at all dictatorial as to what 
calling he adopted, so long as it was one in which he could 
take a serious interest. 

I asked him what Jacques Grebe had said about his 

" Oh ! he was very nice, and all that, but I know I am 
not a singer ; I only wanted to get my foot in, so to speak ! ' 


A Silly-Ass Young Man 

I asked him if he could dance. 

II No ! I know nothing about stage-dancing ! ' 

" Well, have you ever played any parts with amateur 
theatricals ? " I asked. 

" Not much — only very small bits of the silly-ass order." 

Now that was just what was in my mind. 

' How did you get on with those parts ? " I asked. 

Then I began to see some real hope when he modestly 
said : 

' Oh ! I suppose it was all right — I made them laugh 
right enough — I suppose that is why they never offered 
me any other kind of part ; but that is not what I call 
acting — I didn't have to act at all — it was perfectly simple 
and easy." 

He did not know that he was proving to me that that 
was his natural beat. Not what he called acting ! Simple 
and easy ! Was it indeed ! I have known excellent actors 
who have tried to understudy similar parts, but with all 
their knowledge the best they could make of them was a 
forced and unnatural humour. 

I promised that I would do my best to help him, and 
asked him to call and see me the next day. In the mean- 
time I went over to the Strand Theatre and spoke to my 
friend, Walter Dagnall. He was sending out a touring 
company in which Aubrey FitzGerald was playing one of 
his usual " silly-ass " parts. I explained the case to Dag- 
nall and said that if he had not yet engaged his entire 
company he might give this young Reggie Gray (as I had 
christened him) a chance. Would he let him understudy 
FitzGerald, and, who knows ? he might turn out to be pos- 
sessed of an original personality. As a matter of fact I 
really thought he did, and that was why I took the trouble 
— not on account of his promise of reward. I think 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

Dagnall must have seen that I was more than usually 
interested, and he said : 

" Very well, send him over to me in the morning and 
let's have a look at him." 

The next day I took him over to the Strand Theatre 
(by the by, the Aldwych Station of the Underground Rail- 
way is on the exact site of the old Strand Theatre). Walter 
Dagnall asked him several questions, to all of which young 
Gray answered quite truthfully, and made no pretence of 
having any accomplishments. However, Dagnall said : 

" All right, Jupp ; I'll fix Mr. Gray up for this tour." 

With that I returned to the office and awaited events. 

During the tour the understudies were rehearsed every 
morning until they were thoroughly well up in their parts, 
and thus it is that one learns the art of stage-craft. They 
had been playing for about fourteen or fifteen weeks, when 
Aubrey FitzGerald suddenly fell ill, and was kept away 
from the theatre for four or five nights. Reggie Gray 
had had a thorough grinding in the part and knew it per- 
fectly. He played during the principal's absence, and I 
was told later by Walter Dagnall that his success was 
instantaneous, and it was just as young Gray had said- 
he didn't have to act — it was all so " simple and easy." 
Of course it was ! He just went on in that good-natured, 
lounging manner and spoke his lines naturally. He had a 
personality and did not need to act. His tuition in stage- 
craft had taken the rough edges of the novice and amateur 
off and he presented a clean-cut figure of the " silly ass." 

He never looked back after that, and has always held a 
prominent position under whatever management he has 
engaged. I got the best reward for my services that a 
man could wish for in the shape of a sincere and loyal friend. 
Whenever he returned from a tour I was the first man he 


A Pavement Baritone 

called upon, and it was always a pleasure to hear him tell 
of his experiences in the provinces, where he was well 
known and exceedingly popular. He was always the same 
kindly, good-natured young fellow as when I first met 
him, but with one slight difference : he was now a first- 
class actor. 

There was one occasion when a man came round singing 
to the people waiting for our theatre doors to open for the 
matinee. Mr. Edwardes was in his office and suddenly 
stopped in his work. He listened intently. The singer 
was a tall, good-looking young man with a pure baritone 
voice of exquisite " timbre " and of great range. He was 
singing one of the popular ballads of the day and was 
accompanied on a portable harmonium. It was a very 
exceptional voice and he sang well, but to the trained ear 
it was uncultivated. Mr. Edwardes went to the window 
and had a long look at this young fellow, and when the 
song was over and the hat was being passed round, the 
" Guv'nor " said : 

" Jupp, go out, will you, and tell that young man I 
would like to speak to him ! " 

I went out and waited until he had made his collection, 
and then signalled to him. When he came up I told him 
that Mr. George Edwardes wished to speak to him for a 
moment. He did not seem to attach much importance 
to this intelligence and said : 

II Well — this is my busy time — I've got several pitches 
to go to yet — I'll come in the morning before I begin 
going my rounds." 

I did not give that answer to the " Guv'nor," but told him 
that he seemed a bit nervous, and that I had arranged for 
him to come in the morning. 

Judging from the result of the following morning's 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

interview I might have saved my pains. He called and I 
showed him in to the " Guv'nor." He put several questions 
to him in a delicate manner, as to why he was singing in 
the street — if he had any parents and so forth. Then he 
made an offer which any right-minded young man would 
have been everlastingly grateful for. It was that he 
should be put under a master and be thoroughly trained for 
opera, comic-opera, or musical comedy, whichever his voice 
proved to be most suitable for. He would be clothed and 
have board and lodging found for him, and during the 
time he was studying (perhaps two or three years) he would 
be paid £$ per week. At the end of his studies he was 
to enter into a contract with Mr. Edwardes, who would 
put him on the stage in London, and if he (Mr. Edwardes) 
had any judgment, he would be assured of a very suc- 
cessful career. 

What an opportunity ! How many young men would 
have given their ears to have had such a chance ! It was 
practically a guarantee for life, and yet, incredible as it 
may seem, this offer was rejected. 

The young man did not seem to be capable of seeing 
it in its true and wonderful light, but rather regarded it 
as an attempt to interfere with his liberty and force work 
upon him. His final remark showed his point of view. 

" Do you know that I rake in as much as £20 a week 
at this game ? Sometimes more, and I am my own boss. 
I sing when and where I like, and not at all if I don't feel 
in the mood. Study ! Me study ! No, thanks ! ' 

Then I suppose some glimmer of decency must have 
come to him, although it was but a dim one, for he said : 

11 But I suppose you mean well right enough. Well, 
I'll be off now, as it is time my mate came along with the 
* strill ' ready to start business." 


A Lifetime's Opportunity Scorned 

That happened many years ago, but that man still sings 
about the West End of London, chiefly at street corners, 
where there is a public-house. I often see him and wonder 
if he remembers me and ever regrets the folly of his youth. 
I don't know whether there was any truth in his estimate 
of his weekly takings, or whether it was a defiant boast in 
order to put an end to the interview, but I can only say 
that, judging by his appearance, he neither looked like 
a £1,000 a >' ear man nor even a happy one. 







THE great advantage from a sporting point of view of 
having practically a permanent staff and company at 
the theatre was that we were able to form clubs and go in 
for all sorts of sports and games. The same conditions 
obtaining at other theatres, it was a great source of amuse- 
ment, and a splendid chance to get a Sunday's outing. 
We used to go down to Walthamstow, Stratford, Croydon, 
Upton Park, or another place where there was a ground, 
and spend a most enjoyable day. 

We had an excellent cricket team and an almost unbeat- 
able football team (we also had a team of lady footballers), 
but in addition to these we had a rowing club which won 
the Daily Telegraph Shield — swimming, cycling, and hockey 
clubs. Edmund Payne was a well-known figure on the 
track at Heme Hill, and the winner of several gold and 
silver medals. 

Whenever we went far enough to play a match we went 
down in coaches, inviting members of the company and 
friends to accompany us, and if the match happened to 
be football, naturally one of our girls would be called upon 
to kick off. I remember an occasion when we were to 
play against a team of footballers who rejoiced in the name 
of " Anchor and Hope." These people were reputed to 
be very hot stuff, and as there were no hard and fast con- 
ditions that our team must consist of members of the 
Gaiety Company and Staff only, I spoke to my friend— 
the famous Essex and All-England Captain, J. W. H. T. 
Douglas, or Alphabet Douglas as he is called by the 


Landing a Tartar 

" crowd " in England. The Australians gave him another 
name, taking his initials to form it — " Johnny Won't Hit 
To-Day." I can't quite see the application, but never 
mind ! I told him that we were up against the hottest 
team we had met as yet, and asked him to play for us. 
He agreed, and said he would bring two others with him. 
I had to make it quite clear to him that there was nothing 
unfair about his playing with us, because he was too thorough 
a sportsman to do anything that could not be considered 
the " clean game." I told him that there were no restric- 
tions on either side, and I had no idea whom we were 
meeting, except that they were very " mustard " indeed. 

The team we had on that occasion included, in addition 
to Mr. Douglas, the popular comedian Robert Hale (goal- 
keeper), and the two friends J. W. H. T. had promised 
to bring along — Messrs. Gordon Tabernacle and Johnny 
Campbell. It must be remembered that Mr. Douglas 
was about that time the Amateur Middle- Weight Champion 
of England, which adds zest to the following incident 
during the match. 

Douglas happened to collide with one of the opposing 
team and sent him sprawling ; it was purely an accident, 
but the other fellow took it very badly and threatened 
Douglas with condign punishment when the match was 
over. Unfortunately they came together again a little 
later on in the game ; there was another collision, and 
again the angry man was sent sprawling on the ground. 
" You wait until this game is over — I'll give you bumping 
into me ! ' Douglas told him that it was a perfectly fair 
charge, and he had no intention of deliberately knocking 
him over, but such things occurred in all games of football. 
It was no use. He was going to teach Douglas a lesson — 
and " learn him " as he put it. I thought I had better give 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

this aggressive fellow a friendly hint that Douglas might 
be more difficult to " learn " than he thought ; so when 
an opportunity presented itself I said : " I shouldn't pick 
a quarrel with that man if I were you ; you'll find out 
you've made a great mistake if you do. He doesn't go in 
for vulgar brawls, he is a very well-known gentleman, but 
take it from me — he can box when he's put to it." 

" I don't care an adjective who the adjective he is, I'll 
learn him not to come barging into me ; he's got to go 
through it," he shouted. 

I thought I had better tell him, although I did not 
want Mr. Douglas' name to have been mentioned, but 
such an unsavoury incident had to be put an end to. " Very 
well, have it your own way, but all I can tell you is that 
if you do give him a thrashing you will have beaten the 
Amateur Middle-Weight Champion, Mr. Douglas." 

He looked at me thoughtfully for a moment, and then 
turned away, still sucking the slice of lemon with which 
he was refreshing himself. The second half went off with- 
out any further upset. When the match was over Mr, 
Douglas thought he would go and put matters right with 
his antagonist, so finding the dressing-room in which the 
Anchor and Hope-ites were, he knocked at the door and 
went in. 

" Where is the man who is so anxious to get my blood ? " 
he asked. There was no response. " Well, if he's not 
in here, I wish you'd tell him that it was purely an accident 
and I'd like to see him when he's dressed. Tell him he'll 
find me with Mr. Jupp, and if he's not a teetotaller and 
is not still angry, I'll be pleased if he'll ' have one ' with 


The late Maharaja of Cooch Behar was a frequent visitor 
at our theatre whenever he was visiting England, and I 


The Maharaja's Generosity 

think it must have been his favourite place of amusement, 
for he was always giving some sort of entertainment to 
small parties of the company, each in turn. He took an 
interest in all our doings, and when he heard of our different 
clubs, he expressed a desire to attend the next match. He 
provided us with motors to go down to the ground at 
Farnham and gave a sumptuous feast to every one concerned. 
I invited him to become President of the Club, and he 
readily accepted the position. 

This feast took place on a Good Friday, and we arranged 
for two matches against the Royal Air Force — one match 
against the men, and the other was " Gaiety Girls " versus 
1 Farnham Aircraft Girls." The men beat us by six goals 
to five, but our girls won their match by five goals to nil, 
so on the aggregate we won the day by four goals. 

The Dolman Sisters especially distinguished themselves. 
They were fine all-round athletes, and had won several 
swimming championships. The only unpleasant incident 
was when Harry Burcher, who was stage-manager at that 
time, received a ball full in the face from one of the backs 
and was completely knocked out. 

Our cricket matches were of perhaps more public interest 
because the team would be made up from all the theatres, 
and each player would be a London star and have his 
own following. These matches were generally played at 
the Oval, to which the public were admitted and the same 
prices charged. The most attractive match of the season 
was " London Actors " versus " Jockeys," Challoner 
captaining the latter. 

Nearly all of them were sound cricketers, and the public 
had the double pleasure of seeing a really excellent game 
between their favourite actors and the leading jockeys of 
the day. It was also a chance for the " wits " of the Surrey 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

" crowd " to expand themselves, and the sallies that greeted 
all in turn as they came out to bat, or went on to bowl, 
at a good or bad stroke, caused much amusement to players 
and spectators, so that it was usually a happy gathering. 
The public opinion of each was openly expressed, but 
Connie Ediss overheard something about herself which 
pleased and amused her. She took a seat in the Pavilion 
just behind some young women who were comparing notes 
about the actors and actresses present, but they had not 
seen Connie enter. She heard her name mentioned and 
couldn't very well help hearing what was said about her. 

" I'd love to see Connie Ediss off the stage ; I suppose 
she'll be here somewhere. Isn't she a scream ? What a 
dear, fat old thing she looks — I love her — she makes me 
die — but I suppose all that fat is just put on for the part, 
because you can see what a pretty face she's got — and isn't 
she funny ? I must have a look at her." 

Connie made as silent an exit as she ever did in her life, 
but she repeated what she had overheard, expressing the 
opinion that it " bucked her up more than all the compli- 
mentary Press notices ever did." 

That girl's criticism was a very sincere one, and she 
was perfectly right when she called her a " scream." I 
remember when she was going over to America, she had 
to make out an identification form, and after giving all 
the details required she arrived at one space reserved for 
" Birthmarks if any." In this space she wrote " Ashamed 
to say." I don't know what the official thought when he 
read that, but I hope he had a sense of humour. 

In the way of receiving gifts of money, jewellery, and 
even property, there can be no doubt that an actress is 
far more fortunate than her sisters following any other 
path in life. Take a girl in any other calling you choose, 


Actresses' Jewellery 

and inquire if she is the recipient of promiscuous gifts to 
the great extent that a popular actress is. You will some- 
times read in the papers, or see the placards announcing 
41 Actress's jewels stolen," and when you have read it, it 
will probably be the first time you have ever heard her 
name. Some sceptical person will remark that it is only 
a bluff to advertise her ; where would she get such valuable 
jewellery, as he had never heard of her before ! He may 
not have heard of her, and perhaps her name has never 
been of sufficient importance to be given a place in a play 
bill, but the jewels are hers nevertheless, and nine times 
out of ten they have been given to her by an admirer. 

Some of our chorus girls — not to mention show girls — 
have jewels that are comparable with any worn by the 
richest women. The society of an actress is sought only 
by men who are prepared, and expect to find it a somewhat 
expensive luxury. 

There was one girl in our chorus named Edna Loftus, 
who was given jewellery worth ^2,000 to make her first 
appearance on the stage with, and every night afterwards a 
quart bottle of champagne was sent up to her dressing- 
room, which no doubt was shared among the other girls 
in the room. 

If that jewellery had been stolen I suppose some one 
would have said it was all rot, and done for advertisement. 

Edie Kelly (afterwards Edith Kelly Gould) was dancing 
on the stage one night, and when she came off she found 
that she had lost one of her ear-rings. What became of 
it no one ever knew, but to show the value of that one 
ring a reward of £100 was offered in all the papers. It 
was a three-diamond ornament with an emerald drop as 
big as a filbert nut. She valued the pair at ,£2,000. She 
used to give her rings into the safe keeping of her dresser, 

273 s 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

and it was rather an incongruous sight to see this ordinary 
working woman standing in the " Bell " public-house taking 
a glass of stout while on her fingers she had two or three 
thousand pounds' worth of rings. 

But of all the women either on or off the stage who have 
been famous for jewellery, no one has surpassed Mile. Gaby 
Deslys. She had amassed a fortune amounting to millions, 
and her love of self-adornment was made manifest by the 
exquisite gems on her fingers and neck, in her ears and 
hair. When she was playing in the " New Aladdin " at 
the Gaiety, her dressing-table would have on it trinkets 
worth a king's ransom, and beautiful as were the posses- 
sions of the other girls in the company, those of Gaby 
Deslys represented a far' larger sum than all the others put 

There was an incident during the rehearsals of the 
" New Aladdin " which rather disconcerted the "Guv'nor," 
Mr. George Edwardes. Gaby Deslys was a spectacular 
dancer, and she was rehearsing a special feature with the 
Ju-Jitsu expert, Yuko-Tani. He would just touch her 
hand and over she would go, spinning like a top : an easy 
thing for him to do to her, but the operation had to be 
reversed, and that was where the rehearsals came in. One 
morning Mr. Edwardes was looking on, and Gaby could 
not get the knack of Ju-Jitsu sufficiently to throw Yuko- 
Tani as he had thrown her, and only a master of dancing 
could have faked it, so they had to keep on trying until 
she improved in the grip. Mr. Edwardes was so inter- 
ested in the magic of Ju-Jitsu that he asked Yuko-Tani 
to show him how it was he could so easily throw a person 

Now George Edwardes was anything between sixteen 
and eighteen stone, but that was of no consequence to 


George Edwardes and Ju-Jitsu 

Yuko-Tani. Instead of explaining how and where to grip 
a person, he took the " Guv'nor " literally. He said : 
" Come, I will show you." He took him quite gently by 
the hand and then — whirr ! up in the air, one spin round, 
and the " Guv'nor " landed safely on his feet again, but he 
was very startled and bewildered. That this midget of a man 
should throw eighteen stone about like a shuttlecock! He 
managed to gasp out : " How on earth did you do that ? ' 
but before he could ask anything further Yuko-Tani said, 
" Like this," and whirr ! up in the air again — another 
turn in the flight and down once more — but unfortunately 
this time, instead of landing on his feet, he came down on 
his back. 

More bewildered than ever, he rose to his feet saying : 
" Don't do it — I don't like it — I'm too old for that sort 
of thing. Now you two get on with your rehearsal like 
good people. I'm sure it will look very effective — very 
effective indeed." He was always very nice to Yuko-Tani, 
as indeed he was to everybody, but I don't believe he ever 
shook hands with him again, in case — well, who knows 
what his reason was, but it is easy to guess. 

We had a girl at the theatre who caused a sensation 
once or twice a week, and the ever-crowded Strand would 
pause in its tracks to gaze at the sight. Her name was 
Queenie Guest, who was understood to be the wife of a 
wealthy German banker, Baron von Stein. She used to 
go for a ride in Rotten Row every morning, and there she 
was in her element. A very beautiful woman and a splen- 
did horsewoman, she presented a fine picture there, but 
one does not expect to see a woman mounted on a magni- 
ficent thoroughbred bay mare, followed by four pedigree 
greyhounds, taking the air in the Strand. She would 
come along for her letters, but I think chiefly to let me have 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

a look at her mounts (of which she had several), knowing 
my love of horses and dogs. As she passed along the 
Strand the omnibus-drivers and cabbies, the hawkers of 
toys standing at the edge of the kerb, the shopkeepers and 
even the blase policemen on duty, would make way for her 
to pass along, and by the time she reached the stage-door 
she had always collected quite a crowd of the curious folk 
who always seem to find time to put their own affairs aside 
and take up a personal interest in such matters as these. 

One morning she came on a splendid creature which 
she had only just bought. " What do you think of this, 
Jupp ? Beauty, isn't she, eh ? " 

" Look here, Miss Guest, it isn't quite fair for you to 
bring these lovely animals along — it takes me back to my 
old cavalry days. I should love to have a turn in Rotten 
Row astride her. Take her away, there's a good girl — - 
you make me quite envious." 

She laughed and said : " Rotten Row ! that's just 
where I am going ; it's the first time I have been on her 
back, and she's a wee bit difficult to handle, but we'll soon 
get to understand each other in the Park." Off she went, 
followed as usual by her four dogs. 

I never saw that beautiful mare again, for early that 
afternoon the papers came out with the news that Miss 
Queenie Guest had met with an accident while riding in 
the Row. An unexpected flight of birds startled the mare, 
and the beast dashed pell-mell down the Row, and crashed 
into an iron gate and dropped stone dead underneath her. 
Fortunately the accident was not more serious, for beyond 
a shaking and her distress at the death of her beautiful 
new pet, she sustained no injuries. 

Rotten Row was by no means the only place where she 
and her animals were a familiar sight, for she used to ride 


Malcolm Scott's Coffee Stall 

out to Wimbledon whenever the Yeomanry were going out 
and would ride in front of them. She did this so fre- 
quently that there was a keen sense of disappointment if 
anything (such as a matinee or rehearsal) prevented her 
from joining them and taking up her gratuitous position 
at their head. 

Whenever and wherever the fair name of Charity is 
used, you will always find the name of its most whole- 
hearted champion — the theatrical profession. I have 
known many a man and woman who have given regular 
subscriptions to several charities in which they had no 
more personal interest than that it was for a good cause. 
The homeless and the wanderer who find their way on 
to the Thames Embankment used to look forward to a 
certain figure dressed in evening clothes and opera hat. 
Whenever he appeared, accompanied by one or two friends, 
they knew that their hunger would be appeased for at least 
that night. That gentleman was the famous music-hall 
star, Malcolm Scott. 

How I got to know of these visits was from one of our 
leading singers, who was one of the accompanying friends. 
He, Malcolm Scott, and George Mudie had rooms in a 
large house just over Waterloo Bridge, and when they 
arrived home from their different theatres Scott would say : 
" Well, boys, to-night is Embankment night ; I want a 
pound each, please." He didn't always come down on 
the same men for the pound subscription, but would inti- 
mate to other friends in different houses to call, for " to- 
night is Embankment night." They knew what that 
meant, and the pounds were always produced. 

He did not go about his charitable business in the glare 
of the limelight so that all might see and approve, but 
waited until it was well after midnight. Then they would 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

journey forth in search of the coffee stall. Everybody 
knew who he was and what his errand was. " Good night, 
Mr. Scott ! Come to buy me out again ? I rather thought 
it was about your night, so I laid in a good stock." 

Then Malcolm would get inside that little coffee stall 
and, assisted by the owner, would serve out hot coffee, 
tea, or bovril with sandwiches, cakes, hard-boiled eggs, 
cigarettes, tobacco, and anything else that there happened 
to be, until nothing was left. Then he would pay the 
reckoning and retire with his friends to their rooms. 

This happened every week while he was in Town. He 
thoroughly enjoyed these nocturnal visits, but not more so 
than the poor devils who had no rooms to retire to, but 
had to find a convenient seat or sheltered corner where 
there might be a chance of sleep. 

If Malcolm Scott had been an older man, so that his 
kindly visits would have dated back another fifteen years 
from that date, he might — nay, undoubtedly would — have 
earned the gratitude of a man who became a very famous 

I was having a chat with Mr. J. T. Tanner one night 
when the curtain had been up for some time, and the stage- 
door was quiet. He was in a confidential mood. He 
said : " You only know me as I am now, Jupp ; but not 
very long ago my only address was ' The Embankment, 
Charing Cross, London.' I have very painful memories 
of nights spent there, without a copper. How I used to 
envy the less unfortunate ones who had enough to be able 
to patronize the coffee stall near by, and still have sufficient 
left to purchase a little breakfast. It was there that I fell 
in with a man — or rather he forced his conversation upon 
me, for I was in no mood to exchange confidences with 
anyone, much less with this fellow who was manifestly 


J. T. Tanner's Fire 

an habitue of the Embankment. Yet it was during that 
fellow's chatter that I got an idea which was to change 
my path in life and lead me to where I am now." 

J. T. Tanner was one of the most brilliant authors of 
the lyrical stage, and among his great successes which 
brought in thousands upon thousands of pounds are such 
well-known pieces as " The Messenger Boy," " The Circus 
Girl," " The Toreador," " My Girl," " Our Miss Gibbs," 
and many others too numerous to mention. 

He was for some time actively employed at the theatre 
as producer. One evening, during a rehearsal of " The 
Orchid," he was talking to me, and some men were still 
working on the new building, when we heard one shout 
out : " Here, come back you ! Come and put this fire 
out ! " Mr. Tanner, quickly on the alert, hurried inside 
and inquired: "Fire! Where's the fire ? " "Upstairs," 
was the answer, " and it's got to be put out at once ! " 
Without inquiring further Mr. Tanner rushed back to the 
stage-door, and, smashing the glass of the fire extinguisher 
case, pulled the handle which lowered the safety-curtain, 
and then turned on the sprinkler. The water poured 
down on to the stage, and into the orchestra, giving Ivan 
Caryll and the instrumentalists a good ducking before 
they had time to escape. 

If Mr. Tanner had only stopped to inquire he would 
have found that it was only the foreman giving orders 
for a fire which had been burning in a brazier upstairs to 
be put out before the men knocked off for the day. I 
could not have prevented him from doing what he did, 
because I had stepped out of the office to ask what it was 
all about, and during my few moments' absence the mischief 
was done. 

Our orchestra was a cosmopolitan crowd — French, 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

German, Belgian, Italian, Swiss, and Russian, and I had 
never before heard the effect of solid out-and-out cockney 
curses rendered into seven different languages. It was more 
instructive as regards profanity in foreign countries than a 
whole course of Hugo or a week-end in Billingsgate. 

If J. T. had not been such a highly popular man he 
stood a chance of getting himself thoroughly disliked by 
all and sundry — including the cleaners, who had an awful 
job after the deluge. 






ONE of the prettiest stories I ever heard concerns a 
lady who was then our principal dancer and became 
the rage of London. It was very close to the Christmas 
holidays (for other people that is, not for actors and 
actresses), and down in the East End the poor urchins 
were gathered round the shop windows, gazing hungrily 
.it all the toys displayed. There was a dazzling array of 
dolls in the window of one, while in the next sweets were 
temptingly displayed. The poor, ragged little girls were 
feasting their eyes upon the dolls, while the boys were 
feasting, in their imagination, upon the sweets. 

While they were thus gazing and lounging, a cab, con- 
taining an evidently well-to-do young lady, came along. 
It stopped near the group of children, and this young lady 
leaned out of the cab window and watched for a moment 
or so. Then she beckoned to one of the kiddies to come 
to her. After a few words with him, she descended from 
the cab. 

The group of human flotsam and jetsam must have 
thought a fairy had really come into their midst, for she 
took them into the shop and treated them all to dolls, 
penknives, sweets, and other things dear to the hearts of 
children ; and then a very touching incident occurred. 
One child, more wan and starved-looking than the rest, 
asked if he might have the money instead of the good things, 
and a question or two brought from him the explanation : 

" I want to take it home to my mother because she has 
nothing to eat, and she's crying ! " The lady took the 
little chap into her cab and drove to his home to see if his 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

story were true. Alas ! it was. The boy's father was 
dead — the poor woman was ill with bronchitis and was 
absolutely starving. Is it necessary to say that very soon 
a doctor was summoned, the larder filled, and that for one 
little den in the land of slums despair made place for com- 
parative happiness ? 

This fairy in real life was Miss Loie Fuller, one of the 
daintiest dancers that ever graced the stage ; but beautiful 
as she was in herself, and in the spectacular dances she pre- 
sented on the stage, nothing can eclipse the beauty of her 
that evening when she played Lady Bountiful way down 

Maurice Farkoa, who was known for his distinctly 
original style both on the stage and concert platform, and 
whose laughing songs were a perfect joy, was born in 
Smyrna, but he used to say that he had not the slightest 
idea as to what he really could be called. His father was 
French, his mother was English, and he was born in 
Turkey. It does not much matter what was his nation- 
ality, for he was undoubtedly a brilliant performer, and he 
claimed England — and particularly London — as his home. 

It was George Grossmith who got him his first theatrical 
engagement, and that was with my dear old " Guv'nor," 
George Edwardes. He was engaged to play a part in 
" The Artist's Model," but it was a near thing whether 
he ever played in it or not. 

He knew little English, and at one rehearsal he made a 
terrible faux pas. Quite innocently he said an appalling 
thing, so appalling indeed that I cannot repeat it here. 
George Edwardes and Mr. Tanner, when they had done 
trying not to laugh, looked rather serious and said they 
were afraid that he would not do yet, as his English was 
really too bad, in more senses than one. However, they 


A Duct Spoiled 

decided to make his part as plain and simple as possible, 
and to give him a chance, because his singing, or rather 
his rendering of a song — half sung, half spoken — was 
truly delightful. He made a very big success right away 
from the first night onward. 

I am sorry not to be able to tell what his awful mistake 
was, but here is an example of Maurice's mistakes in 
English which is printable. One day he went into a shop 
to buy something for one of his nieces. As a guidance, 
the polite shopman asked : " How old is the little lady, 
sir ? ' Maurice meant to say : " Five and a half," but 
what he did say was " half-past five." 

Maurice Farkoa rejoiced in laughing songs, and he 
literally laughed his way through life. 

Writing about slips of the tongue reminds me of a 
humorous incident. One evening the two singers Ada 
Crossley and Andrew Black were singing a duet, and one 
of the lines allotted to Mr. Black ran : " With thy hand 
within my arm." Mr. Black duly sang it (or thought he 
had), but to his great surprise Miss Crossley did not pro- 
ceed with her part. On the contrary, she stood there 
apparently labouring under strong emotion. " Go — on. 
Go — on ! What's the matter ? " said he, sotto voce ; 
but Miss Crossley could neither " Go on " nor reply ; and 
there was no disguising the fact that she was giggling 

To save the situation Mr. Black sang her lines for her. 
Then it came to a part where they had to harmonize, and 
gifted artiste that he was, he could not manage both. Still 
she stood giggling, and presently losing all control of 
herself, she rushed off the stage followed by the utterly 
bewildered Mr. Black. 

With some justifiable heat he demanded to know " What 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

on earth was the matter ? " It was some time before she 
could reply, owing to her own unrestrained laughter. 
The explanation was that Mr. Black had inadvertently 
rendered the line " With thy hand within my arm " as 
" With thy head within my arm," and the picture this 
conjured up in Miss Crossley's mind of herself with her 
head " in Chancery " being vigorously pummelled by Mr. 
Black had been altogether too much for her equanimity. 

Now that I am on the subject of intimate stories about 
some of our great people, I must mention a few concerning 
Sir Henry Irving. There was one occasion when he 
rather seriously hurt his knee, and the doctor told him 
that it was essential that he should lie up for a time, and 
take plenty of rest, and be as quiet as possible. Shortly 
after the doctor had gone, a visitor called. The faithful 
butler had his instructions, and said that his master was 
not at home. " Not at home ! " said the visitor in great 
surprise. " No, sir ! He has gone to Brighton," said 
the butler at random. The well-dressed visitor pulled 
out his watch and considered for a moment : " Brighton ! 
I have just time to catch the next train down ; I know his 
hotel there." Away he went upon his fruitless errand. 

The visitor was Sir Edward Ponsonby, and his message 
was from King Edward VII, who was then Prince of Wales. 

Sir Henry Irving's handwriting was execrable, and 
only people who were very intimate with it after long 
experience or an expert graphologist could decipher it. 
When he was on one of his American tours he sent some 
friends a piece of notepaper on which were found some 
indecipherable hieroglyphics. After long struggles with 
it his friends sent the paper to a chemist, and he, like a 
true Yankee, unwilling to lose a money-making oppor- 
tunity, " made up " the prescription in more senses than 


Gracie Lane's Interviewer 

one. It was not until Sir Henry asked them how they 
had enjoyed the play that his friends discovered that the 
strange writing was meant to be an invitation to the theatre. 

Rising stars in the profession naturally love to see their 
names in print as often as possible, and the ordeal of the 
photographer and the interviewer is a very pleasant one — 
there is no difficulty in getting just what they want, but 
this wears off in time, and the interviewer becomes less 
and less welcome, until at last he is avoided as much as 

Miss Gracie Lane made a mistake once in this respect, 
and she confessed to feeling very embarrassed when she 
discovered it. She was playing in " The Little Minister " 
in the provinces. One night a mild, pale-looking gentle- 
man called at the theatre and asked to see Miss Lane, and 
as she was just going on the stage she invited him to sit in 
her dressing-room for a little while until she returned. 
She meant to give him just a moment or two and get rid of 

When she came back she started straight away without 

giving the visitor an opportunity of introducing himself. 

' I suppose you have seen ' The Little Minister ' before. 

I hope you enjoyed it ? ' " Oh, yes — very much indeed," 

replied the gentleman. 

4 Don't you think it is an awfully pretty piece ? " she 
asked. l Well, yes, I do," was all he would say. Then 
she asked : ' I suppose you saw it at the Haymarkct ? " 

With just a touch of amusement in his face he replied : 
" Oh, yes ; you see, I wrote it." It was Sir J. M. Barrie 
who had come to offer his congratulations, and whom she 
had never met before. 

Without wishing to make any comparison between two 
such artistes as Vesta Tilleyand Florence Lloyd, there is no 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

doubt that the latter was exceedingly skilful in the art of 
making up, and she looked for all the world like a swagger 
young blood when giving her male impersonations. 

Just before one of our companies was being sent on a 
tour of the States and Colonies they — or rather all the 
ladies of the company — went to be photographed. 

They retired to the dressing-room and changed into 
their stage costumes, Miss Lloyd, of course, into her 
young Johnny's. Then they all went into the studio, and 
the photographer took them in turn, singly and in small 
groups ; until at last, after a solid two hours' work, one 
of the ladies asked : " What about Florence Lloyd ? 
When are you going to take her ? " The photographer 
did not understand what she meant. " I thought I had 
taken all the ladies. Whom have I left out ? ' 

Florence Lloyd answered in rather a hurt voice i 
" Me ! " — " You ! " exclaimed the astonished operator, 
and then his remark made ample compensation for the 
artiste's wounded feelings : " A thousand pardons," he 
said apologetically as he approached her in wonderment : 
" I thought you were some young swell who had come 
in with the ladies." Surely no one could take offence 
at such a compliment ! 

I remember an occasion when one of the most extra- 
ordinary bits of luck happened to one of the members of 
our orchestra. Their " Ghost " (or pay) does not v/alk 
in the night time as is the case with actors and actresses ; 
it is a daylight ghost, and the hour for it to walk is noon. 
The incident I refer to happened during " treasury call," 
and Johnny Reinders was busy handing out the packets. 

It was my usual time to depart for lunch, and one of 
the men, a cornet player named Hicks, was just coming 
out, so he invited me to join him in a little refreshment. 


The Fiver on the Wheel 

Instead of going " round the corner " to my usual haunt, 
he had to meet a man, and we crossed over the road to the 
11 Bell." Mr. Hicks was examining his packet to see 
if, by any wonderful mischance, he had been over-paid, 
and among his money was a five-pound note. 

By some mischance — one which I am certain would 
never happen to me — he threw the fiver away, and started 
to fold up the envelope, when the driver of a lorry just 
behind us shouted to us to get out of the way. We jumped 
aside, and he drew the lorry up at the corner, where we 
were making for the Morning Post building. 

Hicks having discovered his mistake said quickly : 
11 Jupp, I've thrown a fiver away ; it must be just about 
here ! " We had only got as far as the corner, and as the 
traffic was being held up by the policeman on point-duty, 
we went back in search of the note, but it was nowhere 
to be found. Nobody had crossed the road immediately 
behind us, and as it was a quiet, rather still day, it ought 
to be somewhere on the road close by. We enlisted the 
services of some of the other members of the orchestra, 
and we spread out in extended order, and made a syste- 
matic search from the stage-door right across the road, 
but in vain. 

The note had completely vanished. This was a very 
distressing thing to happen, because, in any case, no matter 
how well one may be paid, it is not a thing calculated to 
cheer one up. He took the affair in the only way possible, 
philosophically ; although he called himself some very 
pretty names — not exactly drawing-room language but 
ingenious, and we continued our way to the " Bell." 

Now it was a good hour afterwards when we returned 
from lunch, and I met Hicks again, who was on his way 
back to the theatre, still hoping that the note might have 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

been found inside the hall or passages. When we got to 
the corner of Exeter Street, we were held up for a few 
moments by the heavy traffic coming from Kingsway. I 
noticed that that same lorry was standing at the corner of 
Exeter Street and being loaded up with papers. What 
ever it was that inspired me to connect that lorry with the 
five-pound note I cannot tell, but something impelled 
me to inspect the wheels. The note had been thrown 
down in the road, and this lorry had come up immediately 
behind us. 

The wheels must have passed right over the note, and 
there being some remains of wet tar still in patches on them, 
the note had been picked up, for there it was, sticking on 
to the front wheel. Those men had been working at that 
cart for all that time, not dreaming that a fiver was staring 
them in the face. 

There is a story I should like to tell, and for which I can 
vouch, although, like many another good story, it has been 
attributed to dozens of actors ; yet I know that this is the 
genuine one, and no doubt the foundation of the others 
so closely resembling it. It has to do with our old friend 
" Uncle," of the Pawnbrokers' Union ; but the chief 
actor in it was a man who at one time had the whole 
theatrical world before him with every possibility of fame 
and fortune. 

Now, we have all heard of extraordinary dealings with 
" Uncle," such as borrowing money on pet dogs, cats, and 
parrots — it has even been declared that babies and their 
nurses have been " pledged " during a run of bad luck at 
Monte Carlo, only to be redeemed of course when the 
marvellous change in the luck came. 

The actor I am writing about is still playing in the West 
End. He was, and always will be, a brilliant actor ; but 


An Actor in Pawn 

certain little idiosyncrasies have prevented him from scaling 
the topmost rung of the ladder, and he still remains " nearly 

The time I am writing about saw him a young, handsome, 
and extremely popular actor in the provinces, but such was 
his extravagance that about the middle of the week he was 
always " broke " and had to apply to the manager for a 
" sub." This became so regular with him that the manage- 
ment decided that a stop must be put to it. 

When next he asked for the loan of a fiver he was 
politely but firmly refused. Arguments, appeals, and 
even threats were equally unavailing. He swore that if 
the fiver was not forthcoming in ten minutes he would 
refuse to play that night. This had no effect though, 
because the manager knew that with all his faults the 
actor was a gentleman and too good a sportsman to do 
anything so contemptible. He went away. Passing along 
the street he came to a big pawnbroker's, and then the idea 
came to him which gives rise to this story. He entered 
the shop and the proprietor was there. Recognizing the 
popular young actor, he greeted him most affably. 

" Ah ! I am glad you know me," said the young hero, 
" because I want to ask you a question, and this makes it 
easier. Tell me ; do you think I am worth five pounds ? ' 

The pawnbroker laughingly confessed that he didn't 
quite understand the question. 

" It is simple enough. Do you consider that I am 
worth five pounds ? because if you do I wish to pawn myself 
for that amount. All you have to do is to make out a 
ticket, pin it on to the lapel of my coat, and send your boy 
with the duplicate over to the manager of our company 
and tell him that if he wants me to play to-night he will 
have to come and redeem me." 

289 t 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

The pawnbroker, who evidently had a sense of humour, 
did as suggested. 

It certainly was successful, but the manager got a bit of 
his own back, because he didn't redeem his leading man 
until the very last moment, and that trick was never played 
again. To spend about seven hours in a pawnshop was 
worth more than a wretched five pounds ! 

W. S. Gilbert used to tell that his first short play, called 
" Dulcamara," was written for Mr. T. W. Robertson, 
brother of Mrs. Kendal (Madge Robertson), and he took 
it to Mr. Emden, who was then Mr. Robertson's manager. 
He was naturally very anxious to know what his opinion of 
the playlet would be, and was greatly relieved when Mr. 
Emden said : " This will do. How much do you want 
for it ? " This was indeed sudden and Gilbert could 
only stammer out, " Thirty guineas." Mr. Emden closed 
the leaves of the play and said : " Make it pounds and I 
will take it. Gilbert eagerly assented to this proposal. 
" Now," said Mr. Emden, as he handed the cheque for 
thirty pounds over, " let me give you a piece of advice. 
Never sell such good stuff for thirty pounds again." 


Ii D. Downey. 


face p. 290 





FAREWELLS are always sad functions, even if it be 
only to one's cook, and the farewell performance at the 
old Gaiety Theatre was twofold. It was not only the 
last night of a very popular and exceedingly successful 
play, " The Toreador," but the absolute farewell to the 
best-loved theatre in the whole world. " The Toreador ' 
could be revived, but the theatre was to be demolished, and 
that was what was in the minds of all in that building that 
Saturday night, July 4, 1903. 

And not only in their minds but in the minds of the 
thousands of play-goers who had striven in vain to gain 
admission on that last night. Those who were fortunate 
enough to be there had thoroughly earned their reward, 
for the great majority — gallery-ites and pit-ites — had taken 
up their positions on the previous night after the show was 
over, and waited patiently all through the long hours until 
daybreak, and still on through the long day until the 

George Edwardes knew this would be the case, and 
with his usual thoughtfulness and kindly consideration 
had arranged with Lyons' to have waiters supply them 
with whatever was wanted. Free, of course. There was 
an excellent trade done by out-of-works taking up a person's 
position and holding it while the owner went for a wash and 
brush-up, or a drink, or any old thing to relieve the strain 
of waiting. 

What a sight it was all that day. That part of the 
Strand and Wellington Street looked as if it had suddenly 
organized a special holiday on its own account, for there 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

were amusements of one kind or other going on all day 
long, and if the patient and happy devotees gave a coin 
to every itinerant musician or acrobat who came round with 
the hat, it must have been an expensive day— but there 
you are ! They were out on a holiday and they meant 
to enjoy themselves. It was to be a day of memories — a 
day to dwell on in the future when their beloved theatre 
was no more. 

When the doors were at last opened in the afternoon 
(several hours before the show was timed to begin) the 
people went in, in a very orderly manner — no crowding 
or hustling — each one recognizing that his neighbour 
had waited as long as himself. An orchestra played 
all the tunes of former successes and the audience sang 
them lustily. These songs represented a succession 
of plays stretching over thirty-five years — from the old 
burlesque to the advent of the now popular musical 

It will be of interest to recall some of the great people 
who had made fame and fortune at that grand old theatre. 
There was Nellie Farren, the brightest boy-girl or girl-boy 
that ever graced the stage since the opening of the theatre 
in 1868. She remained with Mr. John Hollingshead 
for eighteen years — and when Mr. George Edwardes 
came upon the scene signed a contract to continue with 

The one and only W. S. Gilbert had his first comedy 
played at the Gaiety, and its one fault was that it was pro- 
nounced to be " too clever by half." Then in 1869 that 
fine comedian Mr. J. L. Toole made his appearance at the 
Gaiety, and he played there, on and off, for many years. 
With him was his lifelong friend, Henry Irving. 

Those are only four of the famous names associated 


The Programme 

with the first days of the historic house — Meyer Lutz was 
the musical director and Robert Soutar (husband of Nellie 
Farren) the stage-manager. Mr. Farren-Soutar, the well- 
known actor of the present day, is their son. Mr. Charles 
Santley (later Sir), the great English baritone, sang in Opera 
there ; and the very first combined work of Gilbert and 
Sullivan was played there. 

Later on we get Edward Terry, Kate Vaughan, E. W. 
Royce, Marian West, and Alma Stanley all in one caste. 
Also a young lady who was the subject of more gossip, more 
paragraphs, and more discussion than any other person of 
that day. This was Connie Gilchrist— a girl of sixteen 
ac the time, and later the Countess of Orkney. 

Then came John Dallas, Willie YVarde, Arthur Williams, 
Harry Monkhouse, and the great Fred Leslie. These 
were all associated with George Edwardes ; and Maud 
Hobson and Hayden Coffin remained for many years 
under his management. Fanny Leslie, Marion Hood, 
Letty Lind, Ada Blanche, E. J. Linnen, Cyril Maude — 
what names to be included in one caste ! 

Such were the associations to be severed on that last 

The programme arranged for this farewell performance 
was Act 2 of " The Toreador," by J. T. Tanner and 
Harry Nicholls, with music by Ivan Caryll and Lionel 
Monckton ; to be followed by " The Linkman or Gaiety 
Memories," written by George Grossmith. The intro- 
duction of " The Linkman " as a supplement or postscript 
was a happy idea, cleverly carried out. Its Gaiety memories 
enlightened the younger members of the vast audience 
and brought back fond memories to the older ones. 

The auditorium had been decorated lavishly and gar- 
landed with beautiful flowers which hung in baskets all 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

round the theatre, their perfume filling the whole building. 
There were no late-comers, for who would miss a moment 
of that farewell ? 

The house was packed to overflowing, but the London 
County Council did not interfere or forbid it on such an 
exceptional occasion. The musicians begin tapping on 
their instruments. 

This is the moment the audience have been waiting 
for. Mr. Ivan Caryll comes through that little door and 
is greeted with a thunderous outburst of cheering. Picking 
up his baton, he starts the opening music of the second 
act of " The Toreador." 

As the play went on an unusual lack of enthusiasm was 
somewhat noticeable. The explanation was soon manifest. 
The audience were too full of emotion to demand encores. 

The first half of the programme passed amid a sort of 
sorrowful composure, but as soon as the curtain went up 
on " The Linkman " and Fred Wright, junior, started 
by pasting a bill on Teddy Payne's back, bearing that 
comedian's name in large letters, that awful feeling of not 
knowing whether to laugh or cry was dispelled by a roar 
of laughter, and from that moment the whole house gave 
itself up to a night of wild enjoyment. 

George Grossmith had written " The Linkman ' in 
such a manner as to introduce the leading characters from 
all the former successes, but his lines were not strictly 
adhered to, as artistes would come on the stage and say 
pretty well what they liked so long as it was in keeping 
with the scene. And then again, the heartiness of the 
reception they got, as each one made his or her entrance, 
was quite enough to drive any " lines " they may have 
hurriedly studied out of their heads. 

The first scene was the Stage-door of the Gaiety Theatre, 


"The Linkman" 

and Robert Nainby for the nonce was Stage-doorkeeper, and 
if ever I had behaved as he did, I should have been pro- 
moted to principal comedian instead of guardian-in-chief 
of the magic door. And Connie Ediss, as the wardrobe 
mistress, would have got the sack on the spot, for she 
seemed to have forgotten the duties of that important lady, 
and instead of being staid and strict, made the house roar 
with her gags. 

The second scene was the Green Room of the Gaiety 
Theatre, and in this were to be met all the celebrities of 
former as well as present days. Phyllis Broughton and 
Alma Stanley only appeared for a moment, but they were 
determined to be there at the last, as they had no intention 
of being forgotten. What a reception they received ! 

It was almost royal in its heartiness. A thing that gave 
great delight was the " Merry Family " quartet — Nellie 
Farren, Kate Vaughan, Edward Terry, and E. W. Royce 
— which brought back recollections of twenty-five years 
before, when it was all the rage. Royce made a brief 
speech at the end, and when speaking personally said : 
" It is just thirty-one years come October 2 since I first 
trod these boards. You cheered my faltering footsteps 
then : you receive me in the same way now." 

Letty Lind and Charles Danby sang the well-known 
duet, " Listen to my tale of woe," out of " Cinderella up 
too late," and it seemed just as fresh as ever. Florence 
St. John sang, and for this very special occasion Miss 
Florence Collingbourne and Ethel Hayden (Mrs. George 
Robey) emerged from private life to say good-bye to their 
dear old home. Lionel Brough told some stories in his 
inimitable style ; and Connie Ediss, with Arthur Williams, 
gave a scene from " The Shop Girl." Hayden Coffin 
sang the song that made him famous, " Queen of my 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

Heart" ; and Seymour Hicks, "Her Golden Hair was 
hanging down her Back." 

The climax of the fun was reached when the famous 
" Pas-de-Quatre " was performed — only doubled — by 
Misses Evie Greene, Edna May, Ethel Irving, and Hilda 
Moody, who had arrived from their different theatres and 
were partnered by Teddy Payne, George Grossmith, 
Harry Grattan, and Fred Wright, junior. They were 
all attired in imitation of the originals. This was greeted 
with the utmost enthusiasm, and their weird and wonderful 
antics caused uproarious laughter. 

' The Linkman ' ' being concluded, the audience knew 
that the more serious part of the evening had arrived, 
especially when the whole company — greatly swelled by 
artistes from other theatres — stood massed upon the stage, 
evidently expectant of the next movement. An instant 
later Sir Henry Irving, accompanied by George Edwardes, 
appeared, and amid perfect silence Sir Henry made a speech 
deeply touched with feeling, and John Hollingshead came 
just in time to hear the kindly allusions to himself and 
receive a hearty handshake from the illustrious actor who 
had once been a member of his own company. " Auld 
Lang Syne " was sung — the solos being taken by Florence 
St. John and Charles Hayden Coffin, the whole house 
standing and joining in the repeat. 

Then began the demand for a last word from all the 
popular folk on the stage, and it was with the utmost 
difficulty that the audience could be induced even to move, 
much less go out. The attendants felt awkward in trying 
to get the people away — it seemed like telling one's brothers 
and sisters to go home after a family gathering. The 
electricians effectually did it by gradually lowering all the 
house lights and then putting them out one by one, so that 




The Final Supper 

in semi-darkness there was a general move and before 
long the old house was empty. 

But only as far as the auditorium was concerned, for 
behind the scenes all was activity. The stage-hands had 
struck the scene, and were putting the final touches 
to another " set " preparatory to the supper and dance 
which were given to artistes, staff, and guests. 

The company took all sorts of trifles as souvenirs of the 
old home, but George Graves, G. P. Huntley, and Jack 
Fraser, who had arrived from the Prince of Wales' Theatre, 
where they were playing in " The Schoolgirl," thought of 
the baskets of flowers adorning the house, and they were 
soon at work getting them down and presenting them to the 
delighted girls. I know that some of those baskets are 
in use now, and are regarded as the most valuable possession 
in flats or villas. 

It was a beautiful morning when we broke up and went 
home, and coming out into the broad daylight made the 
happenings of the previous night seem more like a dream, 
but putting my hand into my great-coat pocket and grasp- 
ing the neck of a quart bottle of the "bubbly stuff" 
reminded me that I had been presented with a souvenir. 

The mention of "bubbly stuff" reminds me that the 
term originated from M The Shop Girl " and was used by 
Miss Connie Ediss, who, as a sort of Mrs. Malaprop, 
referred to champagne by that name, and a Dalmatian dog 
as a damnation dog. A brooch she described as being 
composed of Hammersmiths and Samfires. 

From that time onward we had a very busy month 
connected with the disposal of all the goods and chattels, 
furniture and fixings of the old theatre, and the New 
Gaiety being almost finished, every hour was fully occupied. 

I remember an incident at the Auction Sale, and an 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

attempt to do us down, which didn't come off. The stair 
carpets had been sold, and the buyer's men were taking 
them up and rolling them down each stair as they were 
released. I happened to come out of the general office 
which was on the Dress Circle level, and saw one of these 
men wrench off a brass gas-bracket and place it inside 
the carpet. With another turn it was concealed. This 
rather interested me, and I thought it worth while to look 
on. When the carpet came in line with the next gas- 
bracket, that was also wrenched from the wall and put 
inside the carpet. On reaching the landing half-way 
down I thought it time to join him, and went straight 
down. Just at the bottom I pretended to slip and collided 
with the roll of carpet. Straightway down the stairs 
tumbled the lot, and out came half a dozen brackets. 

I don't remember apologizing for giving him the extra 
bother of re-rolling his carpet, but I do remember gathering 
the gas-brackets up and taking them into the office. It 
was not worth while making a scene, and I just let him 
get his carpets up, which he did in double-quick time, 
and clear off. 

They were selling the wardrobe on the stage when I 
went down, and I looked on as a few lots of skirts and things 
were being sold. One lot was a bundle of sixty white 
petticoats, and the bidding was awful. Somebody had 
the temerity to start it at two shillings, and it went up in 
sixpences. At five shillings they only represented one 
penny a garment, so somebody was getting a bargain. 
The lot was knocked down for ten shillings, and the 
auctioneer asking as usual " W'hat name ? " great was 
my astonishment when a voice said " Jupp ! " 

I hadn't made a bid, and had no thought of making one, 
and certainly not for a bundle of petticoats ; but George 


A Vanished Carpet 

Edwardes, who was standing by, said : " Well, I'll be 

d- d ! Fancy Jupp buying that lot. What on earth 

is he going to do with all those ? Up against Morris 
Angel, I suppose." Whether it was a joke or a mistake 
1 didn't know then, but I promptly paid the ten shillings 
and that made the buyer disclose his identity. 

I said : " Give me fifteen shillings and they are yours." 
1 [c paid the quickest five-shilling turnover I ever made. 

But I had a commission to bid for one of the pianos — 
there were three, but somehow or other they were missing 
from the building, and were never traced. Perhaps the 
carpet merchant knew something about them ! Which 
reminds me that when the New Gaiety was being furnished, 
an enormous crush-room carpet was brought one day. 
It took six men to carry it, and they must have taken it in 
through one door and out of another, because, although it 
was signed for, it was never seen again. How careless 
some workmen are ! Yet it w r as rather a big thing to 

I had strange emotions on the first day I took up my 
duties at the stage-door in the New Gaiety. I had such 
fond memories of the old house that a certain resentment 
filled me for a little while. 

A story comes to my mind about a well-known song 
writer, Joseph Tabrar, author and composer of " Daddy 
wouldn't buy me a Bow-wow," " Ting-ting," etc. One 
day he called at the stage-door and said : " They've done 
it on me, Jupp. They've taken my living away from me 
— taken my piano for a paltry debt of five pounds. Could 
I see Mr. Edwardes ? " I told him the " Guv'nor " 
hadn't arrived yet, so he sat down in the hall and 
started his lamentations again. 

Just then a barrel-organ started outside, and he became 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

thoughtful. When the grinding ceased, he asked me if 
I minded him writing in my office, and pulling out a sheet 
of music paper rattled off note after note on it. About 
half an hour afterwards he stopped and, looking up, said : 
1 When Mr. Edwardes comes, tell him I want to see him 
about a new song — one that will fetch all London ! " I 
did as he asked, and the " Guv'nor " told me to show him 
in. ^ He bought the song, and gave it to Connie Ediss 
to sing. It was indeed a winner. " That's what I want 
to know " was the title of it, and was encored nightly. 
Joe Tabrar got his piano back ! 

Speaking of authors, I don't suppose there are many 
people who know that the famous play " One of the Best," 
which was one of William Terriss' great successes, was 
written by George Edwardes and Seymour Hicks. I 
remember them discussing it in the office, and my being 
there gave them the name of the humorous character 
"Private Jupp," played by Harry Nicholls. My name 
brought me a nice present in the shape of a heavy gold 
ring. Mr. Hicks said : " We're going to christen one 
of our characters after you, Jupp — hope you won't mind 
— and I want to make you a present. What about a gold 
ring as a memento ? " Of course I accepted and went 
to Lewis and Salome in Cranbourne Street and got a beauty, 
which I wear to the present day. 

It was not only on the last night of the old Gaiety that 
Mr. Edwardes gave a supper on the stage followed by a 
dance. This was done at the end of the run of every piece, 
and was attended by all the company and their chosen 
friends. The stage was cleared by the stage-hands (who 
were also guests at the supper), and in a few moments 
presented the appearance of as inviting a dining-room as 
could be found in any of the leading hotels. With appro- 


Last-Night Suppers 

priate scenery and the lighting effects which can be obtained 
in any well-appointed theatre, the result was most pictur- 
esque, especially with the last final touch which flowers 
and ferns always lend. 

During these preparations the artistes would don their 
evening dress, for that was always worn on such occasions, 
and very soon the festivities began. 

It was by no means a bread and cheese and beer repast, 
but champagne and quail on toast, with everything that 
was in season, and preferably expensive luxuries that were 
not in season, for George Edwardes was a connoisseur 
and gourmand with a reputation that even Col. Newnham 
Davies might be proud of. This happening on a Saturday 
night, as a matter of course, and the majority of the com- 
pany living somewhere outside of London, arrangements 
were generally made for their accommodation at hotels ; 
but I don't know how many availed themselves of the 
opportunity to sleep in the beds provided, for I never 
remember any of these functions finishing up until about 
six or seven in the morning, and even then card parties 
would be in full swing. 

There was no occasion for a tearful farewell, because 
we were just like one rather big family and we should most 
probably all be together in the next production, which 
was generally all ready for rehearsal before the old one 
was taken off. 

I remember a Monday morning after one of these occa- 
sions. I was at my usual post — the stage-door; for no 
matter whether the theatre be closed or not, that door is 
never closed and I carry on just the same. Two very 
washed-out-looking members of the company appeared 
and in a very weak and soulless tone asked if there were 
any letters. 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

" What's the matter ? You don't seem very chirpy 
this morning," I said to one whose expression would 
scarcely give credence to his reputation as a comedian. 

" Chirpy ? Look here, Jupp, when we left the party 
about 4.30 yesterday morning we drove over to Waterloo 
to catch the first train up to Wimbledon, but what with 
the excitement of the last night of the show and then the 
supper party we must have been dead beat, because the 
next thing we knew was that we had passed Wimbledon 
and been taken on to Windsor, where we were backed on 
to a siding still fast asleep. 

" Fancy being stranded on a Sunday afternoon in Wind- 
sor of all places and in evening dress ! We were dying 
for a drink, but we dared not show ourselves in such a 
get-up. Imagine it ! I wish it had been only imagin- 
ation, but when I looked at Arthur it was only too true. 
You never saw such a sketch in your life. Oh ! Arthur, 
I never thought you particularly good-looking, but yester- 
day you looked the limit. 

" Well, Jupp, we had to stick in that infernal railway 
carriage until it got dark, and then of course we were free 
and able to walk into the nearest hotel without any 
embarrassment. I have never tasted nectar, but if it is 
anything like that first whisky and soda last night, then 
the gods must be happy indeed. Now do you wonder 
why we are not feeling quite the real thing this morn- 
ing ? Come on, Arthur. Let's go to Short's and have 


The Gaiety Restaurant, which was next door to the 
theatre and looked like a part of the building, was famous 
in those days for its grill-room. At the luncheon hour 
you could see dozens of the famous men connected with 
the arts and professions gathered together in little groups 


In the Gaiety Restaurant 

at their own favourite tables. It seemed to be such a 
perfectly kept place and so scrupulously clean that one 
would never have suspected what afterwards proved to be 
its real condition. When it was finally closed up and 
there were no caretakers on the premises the truth came 

Our stage-manager, Mr. Dodson, who was popularly 
known as " Doddy," told me that he had seen two or three 
big rats running across a beam close to one of the windows 
as he passed. There was nothing particularly startling 
in this, but he thought there might be some fun to be got 
out of it with a good dog. He and I went along to the 
side door and quietly unlocked it. Passing through, we 
made our way to the grill-room. 

We could hear the rats squealing and scampering about, 
so as noiselessly as possible we crept towards the folding- 
doors and gently opened them. The room had been 
originally covered with an enormous green carpet, but 
what we saw was a living mass of dark brown, and scarcely 
believing our eyes, on closer observation this brown mass 
proved to be not hundreds but thousands of rats. 

The building had been closed up for over a fortnight, 
and these verminous rodents were ravenous and the green 
carpet had almost disappeared. It was an appalling sight, 
and an involuntary cry from " Doddy " startled this horde. 
There was a mighty stampede, and it was miraculous how 
they disappeared so quickly. So quickly indeed that 
when they were gone and the room left bare it seemed like 
some hideous dream, but the condition of the carpet brought 
us to realize that we were wide awake. 

Now comes the sequel. Our fireman's dog was at the 
stage-door with me, and when " Doddy " and I went to the 
grill-room poor old u Rags " must have followed us, because 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

it was missing all that day and night, and when we paid 
another visit the next morning, as soon as we opened the 
door, there in the passage was what remained of the poor 
dog — only two hind legs. Around him lay between 
thirty and forty dead rats, so he must have had a severe 
fight before they finally overcame him. 





THERE are many brilliant people who believe in 
spiritualism, in fortune-telling, thought-reading, and 
the occult in general, and every one is permitted to have 
his or her opinion provided always that they allow 
others an equal right to their own opinions ; so I will 
say nothing about the following story except that it is 

There was a man who called himself Professor Kahn, 
Thought Reader, who had become a celebrity among that 
class. He called at the stage-door one morning, and 
presenting his card, asked me if he could see Mr. George 
Edwardes. I took the card in to the " Guv'nor," and he 
instantly stopped in his work and said : " Oh, yes ! Show 
him in, Jupp." Then he spoke to our manager, Mr. 
Marshall, who was going through some papers with him, 
and said that he would like him to remain and hear Pro- 
fessor Kahn, whom he had met a few evenings previously. 
He said that this man had performed some really astonish- 
ing feats of thought-reading, but now he was going to 
put him to a test. 

I showed the wizard in, and was about to leave, when 
the " Guv'nor " said : ' All right, Jupp ; you may stop 
here." So I remained and heard what took place. The 
" Guv'nor " invited him to demonstrate his powers. Pro- 
fessor Kahn said : " If you will think quite seriously on 
one subject, and not let your thoughts wander from it, 
I think I shall convince you that your thoughts are laid 
bare to me." This was an interesting beginning, and the 
"Guv'nor," smiling, agreed to do so. We were requested 

305 u 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

to suspend work in order not to distract the " Guv'nor's " 
mind in any way, and the business began. 

For a few minutes it was stupid, sitting there quite still, 
while the dear old " Guv'nor " kept his mind on the one 
subject he had selected, but that feeling of foolishness was 
quickly cast off when the Professor noiselessly rose from his 
seat and, approaching Mr. Edwardes, gazing intently into 
his eyes all the while, said : " Yes, Mr. Edwardes, I will 
tell you what will become of her, if you will write the lady's 
name on a slip of paper and keep it in your closed hand. 
I don't wish to see the name — I will read that for myself 
from your own thoughts; and when I know whom you 
are thinking about I will tell you what will become of her, 
for that is what you were wondering in your mind." 

Greatly astonished, Mr. Edwardes hesitated to write the 
name, but Professor Kahn reassured him by saying : 
" Please write it, Mr. Edwardes — I promise you that I 
shall be discreet. I will also write it down as soon as I 
know it, and then you will believe in my powers." 

Mr. Edwardes wrote down the name of a lady in whose 
career he was taking a very great interest and whom 
he esteemed highly. Then he closed the paper in his 
hand and looked at the Professor. There can be no 
possible doubt that, up to that moment, the latter had not 
the slightest knowledge of the written name, yet after a 
long gaze into Mr. Edwardes' eyes he said : " I know 
the name, sir — I will write it for you." 

He hastily scribbled on a slip of paper and handed it 
to Mr. Edwardes. " I will not ask you if that is the name 
because I am sure it is, and you might think that I felt in 
doubt if I did ask you." He was perfectly correct. Mr. 
Edwardes' expression had changed from quiet amusement 
into one of almost fearful wonder. 


The "Guv'nor" Astonished 

" This is marvellous, Professor. It seems unnatural 
that one should be gifted as you are, but there is one thing 
of which you cannot be sure, because it is not an accom- 
plished fact yet, and that is the lady's future. You were 
quite right when you said that I was wondering what 
would become of her, and now you have correctly written 
her name down. Now then, What will become of her ? " 

The extraordinary part of this story is that Professor 
Kahn not only said that she would marry a military man 
but gave the name, and his prophecy has since come true. 

When Mr. Edwardes had said good-bye to the Professor, 
the manager and I went out of the office. The Thought 
Reader said to Mr. Marshall : " You don't believe in me, 
sir — I can tell that ; but if you will allow me, I will con- 
vince you also that I am no charlatan. Tell me, Mr. 
Marshall, do you remember what the takings were last 
night ? " 

Mr. Marshall smiled superciliously and replied : " Since 
I am manager of the theatre, of course I know ! " The 
Professor smiled also, but with confidence. " Will you 
be so kind as to just let your mind dwell upon those takings 
and I will tell you what they were." This was indeed a 
test of his powers, and Mr. Marshall said : " Go ahead : 
I will think of the exact amount and give you a fair chance." 
The reader may think that I am romancing when I say 
that Professor Kahn told him the exact amount, but it is 

I was the only one remaining with him; and as he had 
made me very interested, to say the least of it, I asked 
him if he could tell me what I was thinking about if I 
concentrated in the same way that the others had. 

His reply was very much to the point : " No, I could 
not read your thoughts because you have not the slightest 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

faith in me ; but I will tell you also that I would not attempt 
to read your thoughts for the all-important reason that I 
am sure you have no money." I wonder why they all 
seem to know that ? 

Men who come from the provinces to London and 
become successful in whatever walk of life they may have 
chosen, always have a secret corner in their hearts for the 
town or village in which they first saw the light of day. 
Is it not made quite a feature in the papers that " Lord 
So-and-so " visited his native town and laid the foundation 
stone to a building, or unveiled a new pump in somebody's 
honour ? And then is given a verbatim report of his speech 
in which he tells all the inhabitants how proud he is to 
know that he is one of them — that he can claim relation, 
as it were, with every one of them. 

So it was with George Edwardes. His native place 
was Grimsby, where his father held a high position in the 
Custom House, and anyone coming from there who had 
even so much as spoken to one of the " Guv'nor's " family 
was made welcome. 

I remember one occasion, and I don't think the two 
gentlemen concerned will have forgotten it. It was one 
Saturday when a big football match was being played at 
the Crystal Palace, and all the world and his wife were 
up for a week-end. 

About six o'clock that evening, just as I was preparing 
to go out for an hour between the matinee and evening 
show, these two men presented themselves at the stage- 
door and asked if Mr. Edwardes was anywhere about, and 
if so, would I let him know that two friends from Grimsby 
would like to see him. I told them that he had been gone 
some time, but was sure he would be pleased if they would 
come back about half an hour before the evening perform- 


A Quiet Tea 

ance began. You will wonder why I am giving all these 
seemingly small details, and I hasten to explain that these, 
and one more small item, led to all the trouble that was 
to follow. 

The other small item was that they asked me if I could 
recommend them to a quiet place where they could get a 
light tea. I thought the best place they could go to was 
Lyons' Caf£, which was just round the corner in the Strand, 
and as I was all ready to go out, I offered to conduct them. 

As I do not frequent tea shops unless by doctor's orders, 
I was unaware of their hours for closing, nor did I know 
that they were earlier on a Saturday than on any other 
day. However, I took the men round and left them there. 
From that day to this I have never seen either of them, 
but I have heard what became of them. 

I told Mr. Edwardes of his two friends from Grimsby 
coming to see him, and that I had taken it upon myself 
to invite them back. He said he was pleased that I had 
done so, and finding that a private box would not be in 
use that night, he reserved it for them. But, as I have 
let it be inferred, they did not put in an appearance. 
What happened was this. 

They ordered tea and eggs on toast, and the waitress 
said she did not think there was time for that order, but 
she would inquire. While she was away they thought a 
wash-up would fill in the time, and they went below. It 
appears that one of them slipped and turned his ankle 
under him. By the time they had washed and brushed 
up, the man who had slipped found that he could not walk, 
and then did a very unwise thing in the circumstances. 
He took his boot off and bathed his foot, which, of course, 
swelled up very quickly. While all this was taking place 
the waitress had returned to tell them that it was too late 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

to get eggs on toast, and finding them gone thought they 
had gone elsewhere. 

Ten minutes later the place was closed, and in darkness ; 
but the two visitors from Grimsby were still down below. 
The injured man found that he could not possibly get his 
boot on again, so the other one said he would send for a 
taxi-cab. When he opened the lavatory door he was 
greatly astonished to find the place in darkness. Think- 
ing it might be only the light in the passage that had gone 
wrong, he struck a match, and seeing the stairs, groped 
his way up. The match went out, and then he began to 
realize that the whole place was in darkness. Then his 
mind recalled the waitress saying that she didn't think 
there was time to get their tea ready, and the truth of their 
predicament dawned upon him. 

' Hi, Horace ! Do you know we are locked in ? 
They've all gone home, and the whole place is in darkness. 
Come up ! Oh, blazes ! Of course you can't come up. 
Now what's to be done ? " 

He went below again and the situation was discussed. 
The front windows were not accessible on account of high 
glass partitions, and there was a gate about nine feet away 
from the front entrance, but it was securely locked, so 
there was not much chance of attracting the attention of 
passers-by. It was bad enough in any case, but when 
one was practically a cripple the outlook was not promising. 

The only thing to do was to keep on striking matches 
as near to the windows as possible, and in that way attract 
somebody's attention, even if it happened to be a police- 
man. Then the horrible thought came to them that if it 
did happen to be a guardian of the peace, they would 
undoubtedly be mistaken for burglars, and more than 
likely spend their week-end in a cell. Well ! as they were 


Out at Last 

quite innocent of any felonious intent and could easily 
clear their characters, they decided to run the risk, and 
the very fact of their deliberately making their presence 
known would go to prove their bona fides. 

The uninjured man climbed over the iron gate, and 
stood close to the door, keeping out of sight until a police- 
man came along ; then he knocked loudly on the door and 
struck a match. The policeman saw him at once, and 
went up. Signalling that he wanted to speak through 
the letter box, he told his tale in as few words as possible, 
and asked if there was any possibility of getting out 

The policeman passed word from beat to beat, until it 
reached the station, and from there the inspector came 
down to investigate. With the assistance of the sound man 
an entrance was effected from the back of the premises, 
and then the whole thing was explained. 

They had to spend the whole of Sunday in London, not 
exactly under arrest, but certainly without complete free- 
dom, and it was not until they had made an appearance, 
in camera, before the magistrate, that they were allowed 
to return to Grimsby. 

They enlisted the services of a solicitor, and by his aid 
succeeded in getting compensation for the inconvenience 
and loss of working time through the negligence on the 
part of the restaurant staff in not making sure there was 
nobody left on the premises before locking up. 

As I have said before, I have never seen either of those 
two men since, so I presume their interest in football played 
in London is confined to what they can read about it in 
the papers ! 

Much publicity has been given of late, exposing the 
iniquities in connection with " Dope," and the terrible case 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

of poor little Billy Carleton will no doubt be fresh in every- 
body's memory. In her case there were no signs at all 
of this most pernicious habit, and she used to go about 
her professional business as if she were still hanging on 
to her mother's apron-strings. It is very difficult to detect 
the effects of cocaine until a post-mortem examination is 
made, and then of course it is too late. There are many 
prominent men in the scientific world, as well as legal 
lights, who believe in the innocence of Mrs. Maybrick. 
There are women who drink Eau-de-Cologne and are 
seldom suspected. It is well known that a wee nip of 
methylated spirits has quite an exhilarating effect upon 
people who know its qualities and the amount to take, 
and its effects are less injurious than two or three whiskies 
taken in different houses. 

In respect of this taking of drugs, I remember a sad 
case. She was a young and beautiful girl in the chorus. 
She had a splendid voice, and was evidently possessed of 
natural histrionic ability, so much so that she was given 
the position of understudy to our then leading lady. She 
rehearsed the part for a week, and the stage-manager was 
delighted with her, and expressed the opinion that if any- 
thing went wrong with the principal lady, he would put 
this young girl on with the greatest confidence. 

One morning during the understudy rehearsals the 
stage-manager — Mr. Dodson, whom I have frequently 
mentioned — called her aside and asked her if she were 
feeling ill. In a dazed sort of way she admitted that she 
was not quite up to the mark and thought it would be 
better if she were excused for that morning. He naturally 
let her go. 

In the evening she seemed to be quite well again, but 
when it came to rehearsal on the following morning, she 



appeared to be worse. She was half dazed again, but her 
articulation was far less distinct. Mr. Dodson let her off 
again; but as it happened every morning afterwards for at 
least a week, and yet she always appeared quite herself at 
night, he began to have his doubts about her illness, and 
wondered if it were not the after-effects of a late night. 

It was only natural that he should wonder at such a 
promising girl suddenly falling in this extraordinary 
manner. He and I were great friends, both in and out of 

business, and he asked me if I had noticed Miss C 

lately ; in short, if 1 thought she was a girl who had taken 
to drink. This suggestion of his brought back to my 
mind a morning when this unfortunate young girl had 
told me a secret. 

She had suffered for a long time with internal pains, 
and had started taking just a little drop of laudanum every 
now and then to ease them. This proved to be so effectual 
for temporary relief that she had continued it, and although 
the pains returned with greater force, she managed to dull 
them by greater doses of the drug, until at last, she avowed, 
she could take sufficient laudanum to kill ten people. I 
wondered if I ought to tell this to " Doddy." I decided 
not to, and simply said that as far as I knew she was never 
likely to give way to drink in the common vulgar way. 
1 Perhaps the girl is seriously ill and won't tell anybody. 
Why don't you talk to her and ask her to tell you straight 
what is wrong ? " 

That same night she came to the theatre in a far worse 
state than she had ever been in — intoxicated in the real 
meaning of the term, for she knew quite well what she 
had to do but couldn't do it. 

Ker friends in the dressing-room did their utmost to 
get her dressed in her stage costume and make her face 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

up, but by then she was too far gone to go upon the stage, 
so she was left in the care of the dresser. She had not 
the slightest appearance of being in a drunken condition, 
and yet she was incapable of behaving in a sober manner 
as far as her actions were concerned. A doctor was sent 
for. He said that she must be sent home at once, as she 
was suffering from the effects of some kind of poisoning 
which at that moment he could not determine. The 
doctor's orders had to be obeyed, especially as he was our 
own theatre doctor and had the interests of all our artistes 
at heart. 

She protested in as forcible a manner as she was capable 
of, and seemed to have a very strong reason for not going 
to her home. However, she was taken to the address we 
were in possession of, and then her real identity became 
known. She was a lady of title, and had given the address 
of an old nurse of hers. She was taken in and attended 
to, but as the place was not suitable for such a case, she 
was sent away to a real nursing home. There she died. 
You remember Basil Hallam, the light comedian who 
became popularly known as " Gilbert the Filbert, the 
Colonel of the Knuts." After the War had started, 
letters and post-cards he received by almost every post 
from young women and others urging him to join up, 
were such as would disturb even a conscientious objector, 
but as he had done his very utmost to join up, it was painful. 
The Army did not want him, but the Stage did, and he had 
been told that he would be of more service at his profession 
than in khaki. If those misguided young women had only 
taken the trouble to inquire about a man before attacking 
him, a tremendous lot of injustice would not now be 
recorded to their discredit. 

Basil Hallam was positively driven into active service, 


Basil Hallam 

for he succeeded in getting into the Balloon Service and 
went out to France as an observer. An eye-witness, Mr. 
J. Edward Fraser, who was for a great number of years 
principal baritone at the Gaiety, Prince of Wales, and other 
theatres under my "Guv'nor," George Edwardes, has told 
one how he died. He was in charge of the guard attached 
to General Walker at a little village named Bus, in the 
neighbourhood of Arras, and on the evening of the tragedy 
the" guard reported that an observation balloon had got 
loose and was drifting towards the German lines. It was 
true; but it was too late to arrest its progress, and then it 
was that Basil Hallam did the splendid thing that was his 
last act. He quickly gathered up all the documents that 
were in the basket attached to the balloon and threw them 
overboard so that they would land in our lines, and then, 
while there was still time for him to escape, he jumped 


In ordinary circumstances he would have landed in 
safety, but the parachute failed to open, and poor Basil 
Hallam crashed down to earth and was killed instantly. 
He was buried at Couin, and when Jack Fraser visited the 
grave he read the correct name on the little wooden cross : 
"Captain Basil Hallam Radford." 

Next to him lies the body of a private soldier, and the 
grave still farther on is that of Lieut. Kellett, son of the 
General in Command of the Sportsmen's Battalion, 24th 
R.F., to which Jack Fraser belonged. 

Basil Hallam's death was witnessed by members of his 
own profession, for the Sportsmen's Battalion were stationed 
at Bus, and included in the guard, in addition to Jack 
Fraser, were several other actors. Leigh-Ellis, brother of 
that brilliant musical comedy artist, Gracie Leigh, was 
one, and Edward Dunstan, well known as a Shakespearian 

3 l 5 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

actor, was also present. Little Teddy Rutherford, Gerald 
Ashford, and several other actors were the unhappy eye- 
witnesses of the fate of " Gilbert the Filbert." 

The Sportsmen's Battalion was well named, for in 
addition to actors there were many prominent men in the 
sporting world. Members of the Surrey, Middlesex, and 
Essex County Cricket clubs joined it, and it would have 
been a simple matter to call out an English eleven from 
the rank and file. There was also an International team 
at either " Soccer " or " Rugger," and their transport 
officer was no less a horseman than Stanley Wootton. 

One of the greatest aerial feats of the war was the work 
of a gallant young man who first joined the Sportsmen's 
Battalion as a private, and afterwards went into the Flying 
Corps. This was young Lieut. Warneford, V.C., who 
attacked a Zeppelin on his own initiative and succeeded in 
bringing it to grief. He went up single-handed to a 
height of 6,000 feet in the neighbourhood of Bruges and 
Ghent on June 7, 19 15, at early dawn, and fired at it 
until he had set it ablaze. For this he was awarded the 
Victoria Cross and the Croix de la Legion d'Honneur. He 
met a glorious death through his victory. When he was 
buried with full military honours the firing party was 
supplied by the Sportsmen's Battalion. 

The first actor to be killed in the war was that splendid 
character-comedian, Lionel MacKinder, husband of Gracie 
Leigh. He died singing. It is generally understood that 
he was the life and soul of his comrades, and when they 
were " up the line " his cheery disposition had a stimulating 
effect upon all near and around him. The man with a 
ready wit and the courage to exercise it during a hail of 
fire from the enemy could inspire his comrades with an 
optimism that was practically the equal in effect as sheer 


Meeting Death with a Song 

bravery It is not the man who knows no fear that is the 
truly brave man— it is he who, in his secret heart, is honestly 
afraid but has sufficient pluck in him to retuse to turn 
back and goes forward until the end. Lionel Mackinder 
was singing a cheerful song to enliven not only his com- 
rades but himself, when suddenly the song came to an 

3 T 7 




OF all the gifts that have been laid, figuratively speaking, 
at the feet of an actress, surely the famous Parisienne 
dancer Mile. Regine Flory can boast of being the recipient 
of the most unique. 

One who is the happy possessor of numerous motor- 
cars does not find much novelty in the acquisition of yet 
another one — nor does a much-bejewelled lady attach 
much value to an additional diamond pendant or so. But 
something extremely rare and very difficult to get, such 
as a bunch of genuine four-leaf shamrock or the eidelweiss, 
is prized, and held in much higher esteem, no matter what 
its intrinsic value may be. 

So it was with Mile. Regine Flory. The time I am 
writing of was during the early days of the War, and the 
French dancer was appearing at the Gaiety in a piece called 
1 The Beauty Spot." One night there came to the stage- 
door a long, lean, cafd-au-lait coloured man, but without 
any of those distinguishing marks on the forehead which 
denote the Indian of rank. He was just an ordinary man 
without the least pretension to any particular caste, so I 
wondered when he asked if he might be permitted to see 
Mile. Flory. 

I told him that I would send his name in to her if he 
would give me his card, but he didn't possess such a thing, 
1 She does not know me, but will you tell her that I have 
been sitting in the theatre every night since I arrived with 
my ship, and to-night I have brought her a present if she 
will see me ? " 

Of course I did as he wished, but I wrote a short note 


A Rare Gift 

letting her know what sort of man her visitor was. She 
sent down word by her dresser that she could not possibly 
see anybody unless by arrangement. He said: WiU 
you tell her that I want to see her very much indeed f 1 
have watched her dance every night and I must know her. 
Will you give her this present from me and ask her when 

she will speak ? " , 

The dresser said she could not take any present to her 
mistress without permission, and left him without any 

further parley. 

He evidently could not understand that he was not 
wanted, because he merely smiled at me, and, placing a 
large cardboard box about the size of one to hold a pair 
of boots on my desk, said : « You keep him safe-much 
big present for Ray-Sheene. Ali Shon bring him again 

to-morrow." , , 

I felt the box and found it was very heavy. 1 shook 
it but it appeared to be solid. When Regine Flory was 
goine out of the theatre that night I showed her the box, 
and told her that this Ali John would bring another for 
her on the following night. " But Meester Zhupp, I 
not know eem— I not know any Indian man. I no want 
present. Maybe it no good." 

The next night the swarthy gallant presented hunseli 
and placed another heavy box on my desk. I told him 
that I did not think it was of much use trying to see Mile. 
Flory unless he got a proper introduction, and even then 
he must have a justifiable reason for seeking her acquaint- 


1 le called every ni C ht for over a week, and at last he said 
that this would be the last visit, as he was sailing for the 
River Plate on the morrow. How that chap pleaded for 
her to come and speak to him, even if only for one moment ! 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

Knowing that strange things have happened through a 
want of just a little care, I had made up my mind that 
nothing should happen in this case. I told him he would 
have to go away and not bother any more. Then, remem- 
bering his offerings, I took them from under my desk and 
told him to take them away with him. He glanced in 
open-mouthed astonishment. 

" She has not taken my presents ? Oh, I have run 
such risks to get that for her, and she has not even looked 
at it. Oh, send her that one I brought to-night — it is 
very special, and tell her, if she will not come to speak to 
me, to please give me a photograph to keep me company 
when I am away at sea." 

I persuaded him to go away for an hour, and in the 
meantime I would do what I could for him. 

He had not been gone long when Regine Flory's dresser 
came down on an errand. I told her to take that last 
box up and ask her mistress to open it and examine the 
contents, as I felt sure it was intended to bring her great 

I told her that AH John seemed genuinely upset when 
he found that she had ignored his gifts, and that he declared 
that he had risked a lot to get it for her. I must confess 
that he had made me feel quite curious about it, and I did 
not forget to mention the request for a photograph, as this 
would be his last visit. 

A very few moments afterwards the dresser came 
down in a very excited state, and said that Regine had 
changed her mind and would see Ali John for a moment 
after the show. 

When I told him that he was to be rewarded at last for 
all his patient perseverance he positively swelled with pride. 
" Ah ! " he exclaimed, " then she has accepted my present, 


(ace p. 320 

Reward at Last 

eh ? If she had done so at first I should have been happy 
many days ago." 

When Regine came out that night I could not refrain 
from asking what all those boxes had contained, and what 
wonderful magic they possessed to make her so suddenly 
break down all the barriers of convention. With a new 
and brighter light in her ever beautiful eyes she replied, as 
she waved a large photo of herself in the air : " Oh, Meester 
Zhupp, it ees too wander-fool — wanderfool ! Sugaire — 
how you say ? — sugar ! — eeps of sugaire ! Vraiment ! 
Where is thees Meester Alee Shon ? " 

So that was it ! Well, it certainly was something to 
get excited over in those bitter days when an all-wise and 
discerning Government rationed each person to about an 
egg-cupful for a week. 

Ali John got his desire in the shape of a signed photo 
and the memory of a lovely woman's smiles and words of 
gratitude to keep him company, while Regine Flory, with 
all her costly jewels and other possessions, gave one the 
impression that she had suddenly awakened from a wonder- 
fully sweet dream and found it had all come true. In one 
sense it had. 

During the run of " The Sunshine Girl " we had a 
charming girl whose name was May Sarony. She was a 
real type of the thoroughly decent girl to be met with on 
the English stage. When her husband elected to give 
up his position in the City and "join up," she applauded 
and made him feel that she would always be at his side 
wherever he might be sent, Flanders or Far East. 

As time went on his letters became fewer and fewer, and 
instead of the weekly account of his doings would come 
the aggravating field post-card; but she always kept up 
her spirits, and so long as these conventional tidings arrived 

321 x 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

she knew that he was still carrying on and doing his real 

There came a silence for quite a few weeks, and the brave 
little woman began to ask me what I thought was the 
matter. I told her that in my opinion nothing was wrong, 
otherwise she would hear about it without so long a delay. 
There was no other reply to give, and as an old soldier I 
gave her the benefit of long experience. 

She took heart once more, and waited patiently. At 
last there came another field card with everything scratched 
out except what had to be taken as a message. " Have 
been wounded. Have been in hospital. Have been 
discharged. Am coming home." I may say that there 
was a very happy (if somewhat tearful) reunion between 
May Sarony and her husband. He was a Captain in one 
of the London infantry battalions and had got his wounds 
at Carnoy on the Somme during the taking of the second 
line of the German trenches in September, 1916. He 
was no longer fit for active service, and eventually got his 
discharge from the Army. 

Upon his return to civilian life he found there was no 
occupation for him in the City with the firm he had been 
formerly with and for which he had done his best. It 
was a fortunate thing that his wife, May Sarony, still 
remained at the Gaiety, but even that rankled in his mind. 
His wife keeping him when he should have been given his 
old job back again ! It was intolerable. Yet, what could 
he do ? He confided in me. 

" Jupp, old man, I can't stand this any longer. I'm 
going to get a taxi-cab of my own with the little money 
I've got left, and you can easily put me on to some of your 
wealthy clients during the day. May need not know 
anything about it. I'll tell her I've got back into the City, 


The Officer's Taxi-cab 

and that will explain my absence during the day. Will 
you do this for me, old man ? " 

Naturally I agreed, and as he truly said, I could always 
put him in for the best jobs that were going. He started 
in business with his well-appointed taxi-cab ; neat little 
curtains in the windows, and a small bowl of flowers hang- 
ing on each side gave the vehicle a distingue appearance. 
As time went on he grew bolder, and when May Sarony 
had come into the theatre he would resume his business, 
always waiting in the vicinity of the stage-door for one of 
my " specials." May never suspected what her husband 
was really doing for a living, and I enjoyed being in the 
innocent deception. 

One night two of our girls had special permission to go 
to a charity concert to give an original turn, and they asked 
me to get them a nice turn-out to take them along. I 
did so. It was my fellow-conspirator of course, but 
unfortunately one of the girls could not go, as she had 
suddenly fallen ill, and in her place May Sarony elected 
to go. I told him quickly about the alteration, and said 
he had only a few seconds to make up his mind what should 
be done. As it happened there was an old friend who 
also had a taxi plying for hire, and seeing him standing 
outside, I hurried out to him, dragging my friend with me. 
" Here, Val, I want you to change cars with this gentle- 
man for a little while — there's no time to explain now. 
I'll tell you about it when you get back. Do as I ask 

I knew that my word would be good enough for him, 
so the change over was made, and when the ladies came 
out all was nicely arranged. 

They got back about an hour before our show finished, 
and were able to go on with their usual business. Sufficient 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

explanation was made to Val, and my officer friend took 
his car back to the garage with evident relief. 

It was not to finish there, though. May Sarony and 
her friend came to me after the show and asked if I could 
find the man who had driven them to the concert, as it was 
most important that he should search his car immediately. 
The other girl had lost a diamond hoop, and she felt sure 
it was in the car because she had pinned a few flowers in 
her blouse with it just before getting in, but it was missing 
when she got up to her dressing-room. I told them that 
I would find him without any doubt, and was relieved 
when they went. I telephoned up to the garage where 
my friend put up his taxi and was fortunate enough to find 
him there. He had just arrived. Upon searching the 
car he found the hoop, which he brought down to me the 
next day. The girl was so delighted to get her jewel back 
that she said that I was to send the driver in to her and she 
would reward him. She never could understand why that 
reward was never claimed. 

There have been hundreds of extremely dramatic inci- 
dents related in connection with the War, but the one of 
which I am writing now would supply enough material 
for a first-class melodrama. The first act of it took place 
at the Gaiety Theatre in the year before the War. We had 
among our choristers a young man who had a particularly 
distinguished bearing and manner. He spoke and behaved 
like a man of gentle birth and good breeding. At that time 
we thought the world was at peace, and certainly to all 
appearances it was, so that no one outside the Secret Service 
would have suspected his neighbour of anything sinister 
in any of his actions. This immaculate young man was 
an accomplished linguist, and in addition to five Continental 
languages, which he spoke fluently, he would have a long 


A Piece of Melodrama 

yarn with me in Hindustani. He was a most entertaining 
young man. 

When the Tango dance was at its worst and making the 
witless prove to the world how bankrupt they were as 
regards brains, this young fellow took it up as an additional 
source of income, and in company with one of our girl 
choristers obtained engagements for week-end visits to 
Brighton, Folkestone, and other seaside places on very 
excellent terms. His favourite place was Folkestone. 
He became very well known there. 

There was one thing that I did notice, and that was 
that regularly every week-end a letter came from Germany 
for him. There was nothing unusual in letters arriving 
from the Continent or abroad, but it seemed curious that 
he should receive these so regularly, because there was 
not the slightest noticeable trace of anything un-English 
about him, neither in his speech, appearance, nor general 
behaviour. He used to have such long yarns with me 
that I took the liberty of asking him about his German 
letters. He said they came from his wife, who was also 
on the stage and doing a tour of the Continent. I asked 
him if she was an Englishwoman, and he gave me a look 
which I didn't understand then, but now of course is quite 
understandable. He said she was Scotch, and had a very 
strong accent which was not easily understood by people 
even of her own nation unless they came from the 
same Highland district. This entirely unnecessary and 
extremely elaborate explanation only made me curious to 
meet her. 

A few weeks afterwards he said that his wife was return- 
ing to England, and he would try to get her into the chorus 
along with him. Eventually tivo ladies came along with 
him, and if ever two typical German women were in demand 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

there would be no necessity to seek farther than those 

A curious thing was that that same week-end a letter 
arrived from Germany in exactly the same handwriting, 
so I twitted him on the fact that his wife was still writing 
to him although she was back again with him. Then he 
told me that the letters came from his people, who were 
very wealthy, and that he himself was a German Count. 

He took an empty flat in Brixton, and furnished it on 
the hire system. He succeeded in getting one of the 
girls, whom he introduced as his wife, into the chorus, and 
things went on all right until the rumours of war began. 
Without any word of warning or notice of leaving, his wife 
suddenly absented herself from the theatre. At first he 
said that she was ill, but as no doctor's certificate was 
forthcoming in accordance with the usual contract, her 
name was removed from the company. I asked him why 
he didn't get a doctor to certify as to her illness, and then 
he said that the truth of the matter was that his wife had 
run away with another man and, as he believed they had 
gone to Germany again, he intended to follow her, declaring 
that he would shoot her as soon as he met her. 

I did not believe a word he said, and told him so. I 
went farther and accused him of being a spy, and after 
weighing different facts and contradictions, I had come to 
the conclusion that the two women were also spies. 

The very next day he was missing from the theatre, and 
at night I had a visit from a detective, who wanted to 
know all I could tell him about this man. It appears that 
he had sold all of the furniture which he had hired, and 
left the flat owing the rent. I told the detective all I knew, 
and furnished him with the German name he alleged was 
his correct one — Count Rysbach. That same night 


The Suspicious Return 

Charles Russ, who was the stage-manager of the Apollo 
Theatre, rang up and asked me if I could get hold of 
Rysbach, as he wanted to speak to him on a matter 
of importance. 

I told him of Rysbach's disappearance, and then learned 
that Russ had lent one of his evening-dress suits and a 
leather trunk to him about three weeks previous to then, 
and although Rysbach had promised to return them within 
the week, he had not done so, and Russ particularly wanted 

War broke out a week later, and all the world knows 
what took place then. 

I had forgotten all about Rysbach and his two women 
friends until one day, towards the end of 191 6, he presented 
himself at the stage-door. All my old suspicions came 
back to me, only much more so, when I noticed how 
immaculately he was dressed. Shining silk hat with a 
perfectly fitting morning suit and yellow gloves, he pre- 
sented a picture of Peace in Piccadilly. Instantly I felt 
up against this man, not really on account of what I knew 
against him, nor because of my former suspicions, but 
because of some instinctive dislike. 

He was most affable, and pressed me to go out to lunch 
with him. Now, greatly as I disliked the man, something 
within me prompted me to accept his invitation. I asked 
him, during lunch, how he had managed to get over here, 
if it were true that he was a German Count. I wanted to 
know why he was not serving his own country, instead of 
being here in the midst of the enemy. This he tried to 
pass off with another lie, declaring that he was only fooling 
when he said he was a German Count. 

" I have just come over from Switzerland, where I have 
been doing some writing, and when the war is over I hope 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

to get a play of my own produced. I have really come 
back to try and get into the dear old theatre again." 

He told me that, owing to the War, he had not put any 
money in the bank, but had kept it about him. As proof 
of this he showed me a huge roll of notes, and in his trousers 
pockets he had literally handfuls of gold. Gold had been 
called in then, and yet this fellow had this great quantity 
on him. I asked him if he remembered what I used to 
call him in the year before the War. He smiled in a grim 

" Yes, Jupp, I remember ; but you must drop all that 
nonsense now that we have this terrible war on. You know 
it is a very serious thing to accuse a man of being a spy." 

I told him straight that I felt convinced that it was true ; 
that I had suspected him long before a whisper of war had 
disturbed the public mind, but now I was sure, although I 
confessed that I could not furnish any proof. I think that 
must have been why I accepted his invitation to lunch. I 
wanted to talk to him. I wanted to hear what he had to 
say about himself, but most of all I wanted to tell him 
what my real opinion of him was, and it came out in no 
unmistakable manner. 

" I know it is a serious matter to accuse a man of being 
an enemy spy, but you will find it to be a damned sight 
more serious to have it proved against you, and I intend 
to do my utmost." 

He was livid with suppressed rage, and said that if I 
dared to repeat such an unfounded accusation he would 
prosecute me. 

Prosecute me ! I was willing to take all chances, and 
said : 

" Shall I call a policeman now ? I am perfectly willing 
to face the music, if you are. Even supposing that you 


A Tip to the Police 

are not a German, you have told the most infernal lies ; 
and don't forget that the police would like to have a chat 
with you about that furnished flat which you skipped away 
from. And now I come to think of it, if you have the least 
bit of decency in you, go to Charlie Russ and recompense 
him for the dress clothes and portmanteau he lent you, 
but which you never thought of returning." 

Then he tried the soft soap game. 

' Oh, my dear old boy, I'm so glad you have mentioned 
that. Do you know, I had forgotten all about it. It 
quite passed out of my memory. If I still had those things 
in my possession they would have kept my memory fresh, 
but they were stolen from the hotel at Folkestone the day 
after I had used them. I've plenty of money, and will 
call on Charlie and ask him how much I owe him." 

I told him that I should have a little better opinion if 
he did so, and added : " When you have done that, go 
straight away to the nearest recruiting office and join up. 
If you do that, I will make a handsome apology for all I 
have said." 

I was determined to follow the matter up, and pretending 
to admit that my accusations were unjust, I got him to go 
back with me to the stage-door. Arrived there, I got on 
the 'phone and rang up the Apollo Theatre. As luck 
would have it, Charlie Russ was on the premises, and I 
told him that an old friend of his would like to say " how 
d'you do " to him. Then I handed the receiver to Rysbach 
and said : " Now is your chance to put that matter right 
with him. Tell him you will go up right away and square 

\\ hile he was on the 'phone I went out and told the 
special policeman who did duty at the theatre, in as few 
words as possible, exactly what the position was, but 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

impressed upon him the necessity of preventing him from 
getting away again. If he would just follow him and 
make sure that he really did go to the Apollo, I would 
guarantee that the rest of the business was properly 
attended to. 

This only took a few seconds, and when I returned to 
the stage-door Rysbach was still talking to Charlie Russ. 
I heard him promise that he would be up at the Apollo 
within half an hour. " Our friend Jupp and I are just 
going into Short's to get whatever our obliging Govern- 
ment will permit, and I will come straight away." 

Then he rang off. We went round to Short's wine 
lodge, and there I pretended that I had left my money in 
my other coat and went quickly back, but taking good 
care that our own special policeman kept a watch over 
him. I telephoned to the police station in Bow Street, 
and reminded them of the Brixton flat incident. I told 
them that the man was with me and under observation, 
and that they had a case against him even if my suspicions 
could not materialize into a more serious charge. I also 
informed them about his debt to Charlie Russ, and that 
he was going up to the Apollo Theatre to discharge it. 

I was told afterwards what took place when he got to 
the Apollo Theatre. 

" Mr. Rysbach, aren't you the man who had a furnished 
flat in Brixton in 19 14, when you were engaged at the 
Gaiety Theatre ? " 

That was sufficient ! He was taken to the station and 
detained there while the police went to his lodgings in 
the neighbourhood of Russell Square. After a thorough 
search had been made a quantity of valuable papers were 
discovered which went to prove beyond all doubt that he 
was indeed acting on behalf of the German Secret Service. 


Air Raids 

Then he was formally charged on that count, the other 
matter being waived. 

There were a great many cases of espionage then, and 
what with the war news and my own occupations I did 
not notice what the result of his trial was, but one day an 
old friend of mine came to see me. He was in khaki and 
had just come over on leave from France. Tom Bashford 
was his name, and he had the rank of quartermaster- 

He had a Daily Mail, which he had been reading, and 
asked : " Do you remember this chap, Jimmy ? It says 
he was once employed at the Gaiety Theatre." Then he 
showed me a photograph on the back page, along with 
half a dozen others, all convicted of espionage. They had 
been found guilty, and some had already been shot. Count 
Rysbach had been sentenced to death, but the sentence 
was commuted to penal servitude for life. The two 
women whom he had brought over were proved to be 
in the Secret Service also, but they were safely out of 
reach. All the mystery of his letters from Germany and 
his weekly cheque was cleared up, and I was thankful that, 
although too old to join up, I had done a little bit for the 
old flag. 

The first air raid I experienced was in 1 9 1 5. The 
actress, Miss Gladys Ffolliott, used to come now and then 
and sit in my own particular office at the stage-door " to 
have a chat with Shamus," as she always calls me. On 
this occasion we were discussing the War, and Gladys said 
that that was just the sort of night the Germans loved for 
an air raid — moonlight. 

It could not have been more than about a quarter of an 
hour later when — Bang ! — a bomb exploded outside the 
Lyceum Theatre, wrecking some of the dressing-rooms, 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

while almost simultaneously another bomb crashed down 
outside the " Old Bell " public-house at the corner of Exeter 
and Wellington Streets. This second one burst a main 
gas-pipe underground and caused a tremendous fire. A 
young girl who was walking towards the " Old Bell " at the 
time was blown to atoms. There were a great many 
people killed at that corner — fourteen of whom were carried 
into the public-house — but the poor girl's body was scat- 
tered far and wide. The " Old Bell," the Victoria Club, 
and Lister's barber's shop were in ruins. 

One of our electricians, Dave Patton, was blown from 
the saloon-bar entrance right down to the front entrance of 
the Lyceum Theatre and was killed, and one of our errand 
boys, whom I had sent over to Shortland's for a sandwich, 
was also killed. 

This all happened in a few seconds. Our cellarman, 
named Withers, who was with Patton at the "Bell," had his 
left leg and right heel blown off, and his left arm, which 
was merely hanging by a bit of sinew, had to be cut off as 
soon as he was taken to Charing Cross Hospital. His was 
a miraculous escape from death, and the doctors said they 
had never met such a plucky young man before. He is 
now driving a milk cart at Bristol. 

Our call-boy, young Jimmy Wickham, had a narrow 
escape. He was going on an errand, and had just reached 
the Strand Theatre, which is opposite the Gaiety, when a 
third bomb fell (the three fell in quick succession), and the 
concussion absolutely threw him into the vestibule of the 
theatre. He was also taken to Charing Cross Hospital, 
where a piece of shrapnel as big as a florin was found to 
be lodging over his heart. He was in hospital for a long 
time, and when King George heard of the cases, he visited 
the hospital and gave instructions that, with the doctor's 


The Bombs in Wellington Street and Aldwych 

consent, young Wickham was to be served with whatever 

he wanted. 

George Grossmith sent a very substantial cheque to the 
hospital. Wickham still wears that piece of shrapnel, 
mounted in gold, on his watch-chain ; why, I don't know. 

Now let me come back to where Gladys Ffolliott is 
sitting in a chair at the stage-door. As soon as the first 
explosion was heard I told her she had better get inside 
the theatre. No sooner had she disappeared than the 
door was blown open, and a huge piece of shrapnel lodged 
itself in the wall just behind the chair in which she had 
been sitting. I was thrown back, and the hall was filled 

with smoke. 

The bombs were still falling and crashing around, but 
I had to let the awful smoke out, so opening the door 
again I found Harry Powell— another of the Gaiety staff- 
outside in an exhausted condition with blood pouring out 
of his leg. Fortunately a rescue party had arrived upon 
the scene, and they took him to Charing Cross Hospital, 
where he remained for twelve months. 

What a marvellous escape for Gladys and me ! The 
shrapnel riddled the wall exactly where we had been, and 
if I had not moved when persuading her to go inside, it 
must have got me. 







ONE morning as I was going through the letters, I 
found one was from Fred Raynham, who is now a 
well-known cinema actor. He had been engaged at the 
Gaiety for many years, but when the film business became 
an established calling worth following, he took it up and 
soon got his foot firmly planted on the ladder of fame. 
This letter was an intimation that he would call on me 
that morning and asking me to luncheon with him, as he 
had a proposal to make. 

He came about noon, and we went round to Short's and 
afterwards to luncheon. Then he asked me if I could 
manage to get away in the afternoons to do some film 

I told him that I could always manage a few hours, but 
must be back for the theatre in the evenings. I knew 
that I could do anything in the way of horsemanship or 
swimming stunts, and rather hoped that that was what he 
wanted, but when he told me he would get me to play 
the character of Lord Kitchener I thought less of my 

Although I had had well over thirty years of close 
connection with the stage, I had never actually appeared 
in any of the plays, and as for using grease paint I knew 
as little about it as a jelly-fish knows about snipe-shooting. 
He soon laughed away my hesitation, and in the end it 
was arranged that I should be at Waterloo Station the 
following afternoon. When I got there Fred Raynham 
took me into one of the side streets and said: " You'll see 


Film Work 

a bit of the film taken from here, but for goodness' sake 
don't get in front of the camera. You are not in this 

Then a few instructions to the operator, the blowing 
of a whistle, and the show started. It was an episode of 
the War. A window near the roof of one of the houses 
was thrown open, and the head of a most palpable and 
unmistakable German spy appeared. His eyes searched 
the sky, and then with a very exultant expression on his 
diabolical face the window was closed again. 

In a few seconds the man reappeared on the roof. Again 
he searched the sky. He began to signal with one hand 
as if calling somebody to approach. Shortly afterwards a 
carrier pigeon flew towards him and settled down on the 
roof. He began unfastening the message which was 
attached to the pigeon's leg. 

Then a British officer came in front of the camera and 
so took part in the scene. He looked up, and seeing the 
man and pigeon with an expression which plainly showed 
that he had expected it, went hurriedly into the house. 

Looking up again towards the roof, I saw him reappear 
and go stealthily towards the German spy. He pounced 
upon him, and then began a really wonderful struggle, 
and I began to get that sickly feeling as they fought and 
wrestled dangerously near the coping. 

Every second I thought they would crash down to the 
pavement below. As they fought on and had just got to 
the very brink, the whistle blew and the operator stopped 
turning the handle of the camera. Then one of the tricks 
of the trade was shown to me. The British officer remained 
in exactly the same position he was in when the whistle 
blew, but the German spy rose and went away. In a 
couple of seconds he came back and placed a dummy figure 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

made up and dressed exactly as he was in the arms of the 

The whistle blew again, and the handle was turned once 
more. The struggle was continued, and it looked exactly 
the same as before. Then came the thrilling part. Nearer 
and nearer to the edge of the roof came the struggle, and 
just as it appeared that the two must inevitably topple 
over, the Britisher with a last mighty effort got a grip on 
the dummy figure and threw it crashing to the ground 
below. Now you know how it is done ! It was a fine 
bit of work, and Fred Raynham told me that it had taken 
a lot of rehearsing in the studio before it was ready to 
" take." 

The next morning Fred called at the stage-door, and 
said he would wait for me as we had to go down to Esher 
and we might as well go together. A few moments later 
a man drove up in a motor-car and came to see me. I 
had known him for a long time, and always thought he 
was a German. He had only called to take me round for 
an appetiser. So he, Fred Raynham, and I adjourned. 

When this man learned that we were going to Esher 
he offered to drive us out there in his car, and then the 
idea struck Fred that he might be able to make use of 
both him and his car. We were going down to the studio 
at Esher, and he could easily fix him up with the uniform 
of a British officer, and the part he would have to take in 
the picture would only be a trivial one. Yet it would be 
one that would stand out very prominently. 

He was both amused and interested at the suggestion, 
and being a man of independent means and his time being 
his own, accepted the offer. 

When we arrived at the studio he was soon dressed 
up in full uniform, and then a short rehearsal followed of 

33 6 


upp as Lord Kitchener 

the scene he was to take part in. Edmund Payne's son 
was to be a German spy escaping on a motor-cycle, and 
all the other had to do was to chase after him in his car. 
This spy had to be taken alive so that valuable information 
could be got out of him. A well-directed shot had to 
burst the back tyre of his cycle and then under cover 
of a revolver the arrest would take place. It struck me 
as being rather a Gilbertian situation. 

Here was a German playing the part of a British officer, 
and an out-and-out English youth acting as a German 
spy. Still, it didn't matter, it was carried out successfully, 
and then Fred Raynham called me and said: " Now, Jupp, 
old man, I shall want you. Come with me and I'll fix 
you up as Lord Kitchener, and where's Richards ? Oh, 
there you are, Richards ; you come also. I want you to 
be Lord Grey ! " 

It was surprising the resemblance I had to the great 
Field Marshal. Just a few touches here and there with a 
lining pencil, a dab of powder to tone it down, and when 
I was dressed in the uniform I very nearly saluted myself 
when I looked in the mirror. It was supposed to be the 
trial of the spy of the roof episode, and the other of the 
motor-cycle incident. I remember that the chief thing I 
was told not to do was to look at the camera, and I wish 
they had left that bit of advice out. 

Until they mentioned it I never thought of doing so — 
I was far too interested in the scene — but the moment he 
had said, " Now, pay attention to the evidence that is being 
given, and take a keen interest in it, but whatever you do, 
don't look at the camera," that did it. 

I understood that all was done correctly, but I had a 
fearful job to keep my eyes from taking a stealthy glance, 
and I learned afterwards that this added to my expression 

337 v 

The Gaiety Stage Door 

and made it turn out well. As a matter of fact I was 
complimented on my acting and accused of being a good 
understudy to Ananias when I declared that it was my 
first experience on the films. 

After this scene there was a bit of an interval while the 
" floor " was set for another scene, and as there was no- 
thing in the shape of spirituous liquor to be had on the 
premises, I asked where the nearest hostelry was. It was 
about a quarter of a mile down the road, so Lord Grey 
and I went off in search. It was a very quiet and almost 
lonely part, so we didn't trouble to change, and went off 
just as we were. Arriving at the inn, the thought of money 
came into our heads. I had left all mine in my private 
clothes, and all Lord Grey had was twopence in his waist- 
coat pocket which he had kept on to fill out his tunic. To 
go back was too much fag, so Lord Grey and Lord Kitchener 
had to content themselves with a half of " four ale " each, 
much to the amusement of the locals. 

When we got back to the studio there was a genuine 
military officer talking seriously to Fred Raynham, and I 
heard him say, " I am sorry — but it cannot be permitted. 
You will have to cut that part of your film out ! " 

It appeared that they had been " tapping " the wires 
and intercepting messages under the guidance of an expert 
and the military authorities had got to hear of it. They 
said that this action being shown on the screen to the public 
in such a masterly manner might easily teach some genuine 
spy how it was done. From that point of view they were 
quite right, and the " tapping " was promptly cut out. 

The next time I appeared in a film was quite impromptu 
as far as I was concerned, and I didn't even know any- 
thing about it until it was all over. It happened on George 
Edwardes' birthday, and some fellows had made arrange- 


A Film on the Race-course 

meats with a firm of film producers to " take " an adver- 
tising stunt. The part I appeared in was the last bit of 
all. It was an advertisement for a newspaper, and a tall 
girl from the Gaiety, Miss Prudence O'Shea, had been 
got up most elaborately in a costume made up entirely 
out of copies of the paper. The effect was very striking 
and most original. They had taken her in a taxi-cab to 
the post office in Oxford Street near Tottenham Court 
Road, and " posted " her to Mr. George Edwardes, care 
of the Gaiety Theatre, Strand. The only thing I knew 
was that a special messenger arrived with this Miss O'Shea 
and delivered her to me. She had an enormous label with 
the name and address on it. This was stamped and marked 
" express " just as an ordinary parcel would be. 

There was a large crowd collected round the stage-door 
curious to see what it was all about. There was nothing 
for me to do but accept this human parcel, and as I knew 
her well, I let her come in. Then I noticed that several 
operators were turning their handles of the cameras and 
guessed that it was some advertising business. I suppose 
it had its effect, and it certainly caused some amusement 
when I took her in to the " Guvnor's " office and told him 
I had a " parcel " for him. She said, " I've been sent to 
wish you Many Happy Returns of your Birthday, Mr. 
Edwardes," and promptly kissed him. 

He did the only thing a nice man could do — he took her 
out to luncheon, but not until she had changed her paper 
costume for another one less conspicuous. 

The most enjoyable time I ever had in film work was a 
three days' visit to Lingficld race-course. There were 400 
people taken down, all experienced men and women in 
film work, and they had to represent different types to be 
found at all such race meetings. There were ten horses 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

already on the course, and jockeys had been engaged to 
take part in the jumping which had to be filmed. 

I ought to explain that there were no real races on, and 
apart from the company there was no one else. A real 
race would not be anything like so effective as those arranged 
for film purposes. In this particular play one horse had 
to win by a length, and it was evidently an important 
thing that it should come out on the screen as nearly a 
length as possible, and, oh ! the trouble there was to get 
it. It was not only a trouble, but became extremely funny. 
There was one horse which evidently misunderstood the 
plot of the play and thought it was racing in real earnest. 

It absolutely refused to be beaten until it was so terribly 
handicapped that to win was impossible. The finish of 
the race was tried eight times, and this exceedingly game 
horse had to be started back and back until, as I have 
said, the winning horse just won by a length. If they 
had had to go any farther this splendid creature would 
have won again easily. 

It was too late to change over and let this horse be the 
winner in the picture, because the other had figured in 
lots of previous scenes, but it was the first time they had 
taken the finish. How we laughed as this lovely thing 
came flying up and beat the others to a " frazzle." It 
seemed to take a personal interest in the race, and no 
matter how the jockey tried, it positively refused to be 
" pulled." 

I only wish the horses I occasionally put a bit on would 
be as sincere and conscientious in their work as this one. 
I might have more faith in horseflesh than I have at present. 

Of all the rogues knocking about the West End of 
London, perhaps the most pernicious are those engaged 
in the confidence trick. The thing I cannot understand is 


The Confidence Trick 

how they manage to hoodwink their victims. One reads 
in the papers of visitors from the provinces or abroad 
being done down for large sums of money, and in nearly 
all the cases the victims prove to be men who have, until 
then, been considered to be astute men of business. 

There was one case I remember and in which I took a 
part, but only very much in the background. A solicitor 
friend of mine had come up from Liverpool on some 
business, and, as was his usual wont, called to see me. It 
was just a few minutes before my lunch time, and I asked 
him if he would go into the Dutch bar next door and wait 
for me. 

He did so, and in a few moments I joined him. I 
found him in company with four of the most plausible 
rogues to be met with on this side of the prison bars. I 
knew them all by sight, and they knew me. I could tell 
the names of three of them, but if they read this they will 
remember the incident, and that is quite sufficient for me. 

They edged off a little as I went towards my friend, so, 
calling for a drink, I quietly asked him if they were friends 
of his or if he knew anything at all about them. No ! 
he had never met them before — they had asked him to join 
them in a drink, and had only been talking about racing. 
It appeared that the jockey who was to ride a certain horse 
had told one of them that he couldn't possibly lose the 
3.15 race that afternoon. I asked him if he had parted 
with any money, and to my astonishment he said he had 
only put a couple of pounds on with them. Here was a 
case in point. I know for an undeniable fact that my 
friend was a really clever solicitor, and by no means a 
11 mug," and yet these fellows had charmed two pounds 
out of him. 

I said nothing at the moment, but did not wish to lose 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

sight of these men, so invited them to drink up and join 
me in another. This they willingly did. Then I asked 
to be excused a moment as I had forgotten to leave a message 
at the stage-door. Now I must explain that we were play- 
ing a piece in which a lot of bank-notes had to be used, 
and these were really a wonderful imitation of the genuine 
flimsy ; but on reading the printed matter it was found 
to be nothing more than an advertisement for our show. 
But folded up in such a way as only to show the amount 
(they were in fives and tens) they looked exactly like the 
real thing. I went straight to my desk, and getting a few 
of these, folded in the correct way, I got one of the stage- 
hands to go into the Dutch bar and ask for me. They 
would tell him that I had just gone out, and that he would 
find me at the theatre. I instructed him that he was to 
say that he had just come from the stage-door, and the 
telephone bell had been ringing for quite a long time, so 
he had taken the receiver down himself. 

The message was for a Mr. X of Liverpool, a friend of 
Mr. Jupp's, so he must find him if possible. This, of 
course, would get my friend away to answer the telephone, 
and I could play my trick on the four sharpers without 
them suspecting me. It worked well, and when he came 
I beckoned him to come right inside, and then I hurriedly 
told him what I proposed doing, and if it were worked 
properly it would be a bit of fun; and at the same time 
give these fellows reason to think a little less of their 

I got him to put his notes — of which he had quite a 
few — into another pocket, and substitute them for my 
" prop " notes; and quickly I got him to rehearse a little 
speech which he was to make when next we joined the 
gang. I would go first and he could join us a few moments 


Jupp Goes One Better 

after. I went back casually, but not seeing my friend, 
asked one of the four where he had gone. They told 
me he had been called up on the telephone. " Haven't 
you seen him ? He went to the stage-door." " No," I 
replied, " I went to leave a message which was to be 
delivered in case I was out, and have fixed it up all right ; 
he and I are off for a little luncheon." 

Then my friend came in, and I admit that he proved 
himself to be no fool after I had opened his eyes. He 
appeared to be quite excited and said : " Here, you boys, 
what do you think I was wanted on the 'phone for ? The 
very thing you mentioned to me. A pal of mine in Liver- 
pool, who knows Jupp also, and knowing that I was up 
here, 'phoned to give me the very same tip that you've 
just given me. I'm going to have a plunge on it ! 
Then he pulled out his wallet and counted out five of the 
11 dud ' tenners. " Here, give me that couple of quid 
back, and put this on for me. Three-fifteen the race is, 
so there's any amount of time." 

Turning to me he said: " You have a bit on, Jimmy." 
I said that I had no money for horses, so he pleasantly 
said : " All right, old man, you can stand in with me." 
Those notes looked absolutely perfect, and the trick worked 
well ; they were only casually glanced at, and the two 
pounds were returned. This was a real case of cheating 

After another round we had a bottle of "bubbly," then 
my friend and I went off to lunch. That horse is still 
running in search of the winning post, and I wrote and told 
my friend of the sequel. The next day I went into the 
Dutch bar about the same time. There they were, the 
four of them, so I casually remarked, " That tip of yours 
went down, I see ! " What a look I got in return ! It 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

was a mixture of all the emotions except love and kind 
regard. As a last shot I said, " And I was to stand in 
on that bet too ! " 

That same Dutch bar was a very popular place in those 
days, and must have been a veritable gold mine to the 
proprietors. It was frequented by men of the neighbour- 
hood, all of whom were in good positions and able to spend 
plenty of money. It was one long bar without any parti- 
tions, so that there was no distinction between the customers. 
It was all saloon-bar trade, and there were no hangers-on 
of the " sponging " tribe, for even these " tricky " people 
were very profligate with money-'-other people's money 
it is scarcely necessary to mention. 

There was one time I remember. There were four of 
us at the time — Jacques Grebe (Ivan Caryll's understudy 
as conductor, and almost his double) ; Johnny Reinders, 
the leader of the orchestra ; Sinclair Mantell, the pianist 
and chorus master of the theatre ; and myself. I have 
known of some very clever bits of legerdemain, but the 
following is just about the limit. We were having our 
midday libation and Sinclair Mantell had paid. Jacques 
Grebe asked us to have another, but I protested that I 
wanted to pay, as I should have to get off after that. 

Then Grebe* said : " That's all right, Jimmy ; just have 
this one and go off if you must ; but let me pay because 
I want some change. I've only a few coppers and a fiver 
which I've just been paid at the theatre for some ' scoring ' 
(music) I did. I must get some change." 

So I gave way. He was wearing his great-coat, and 
it was buttoned up. He had only received that fiver 
about a quarter of an hour before, and had put it in his 
pocket-book in his inside pocket and buttoned up both 
his coats, yet when he looked for the note to pay for the 


The Spry Waiter 

drinks it was gone. So I did pay utter all. Poor Jacques 
never got that fiver back, and in those days it represented 
quite a good round solid sum. 

There was another occasion I have good reason to 
remember, because I took an active part in it. I must 
preface this story by mentioning that we had among our 
small-part ladies at the Gaiety a particularly attractive girl 

named E L . She had an ardent lover in the 

person of a Mr. Bee, and he and I became good friends. 

We used to frequent the Dutch bar while he was wait- 
ing for Miss L , and kept it up after he came into 

the huge fortune and married the girl. The occasion I 
am writing about was when they came back from a trip 
on the Continent and took a suite of rooms at the Waldorf 
Hotel almost opposite the Gaiety Theatre. 

He called at the stage-door as of old, and we adjourned 
to the Dutch bar. He called for drinks, which the girl 
served, and while he was getting his wallet out to pay for 
them, she went to the other end of the counter to serve 
another gentleman ; we were well known, so that was all 
right. He put a ten-pound note down, and as we were 
having short drinks he called for a repetition of them. 
The girl was still engaged, so we went on with our talk. 
He was telling me about something of interest that had 
happened at Monte Carlo. He had his back turned away 
from the bar, and I saw one of the waiters coming towards 
us, dusting the counter on his way. He picked up a 
waste-paper basket and dexterously flicked the ten-pound 
note into it. At that moment the girl came back and 
said, " Same again, Mr. Jupp." I nodded, but kept a 
close watch on the waiter. He put the basket down and 
went on with his dusting. 

She brought the two Martini cocktails and waited for 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

payment. " I put a ten-pound note down just a moment 
ago, miss." The girl of course had not seen it, and look- 
ing about the counter and on the floor around her said: 
"I'm sorry, Mr. Bee, but there's no note anywhere about 
here, and I haven't a ten-pound note in the till." 

It was time for me to join in, so I said, " It is quite right, 
miss, I saw Mr. Bee put the note down on the counter"; 
then I called the waiter up — " What did you do with 
that note when you were dusting here a moment ago ? " 
His child-like innocence was delightful to see. " Note ! 
Mr. Shupp ! I haf not seen any letter or note of any 
kind 'ere." 

" I don't mean a letter, I mean a ten-pound note "; then 
turning to the girl I asked her to let me have the waste- 
paper basket. She handed it up and I said, " I will show 
you what you did with it," and promptly produced the 
note. I did it in such a manner that all could see it lying 
there before I touched it, and if any further proof were 
necessary one had only to look at his face. It is a pity 
that these fellows don't study acting and facial expression 
a bit. But for the good of the public it is just as well 
that they don't. 

When the manager of the place came in, I thought it 
was only right to tell him what had occurred, so as to put 
him on his guard. It proved to be the means of the 
waiter being caught in another attempt to appropriate 
money. The manager told me afterwards that if I had 
not given him the warning as to this man's propensity, 
he might not have suspected him. 

It appears that the following day he was down in the 
grill-room and a gentleman came up and said: "Mr. 
Benoli, I have just this moment dropped a five-pound 
note. I got it out to pay for my lunch, collected this 


Clearing a Bar 

packet of papers I had been looking over, and came to 
the cash desk. Now, between that table and here I must 
have dropped it, but it is nowhere to be found. As you 
see, there are no customers at the table between the cash 
desk and my table, so where can it have got to ? " 

That same waiter was in the room, and remembering 
what I had told him the day previously, asked the gentle- 
man which waiter had attended on him. He pointed our 
alien friend out, so Mr. Benoli called him over. On 
hearing his name he said, " Yes, sir," and turned his back 
for a second, and Mr. Benoli saw his hand go up to his 
mouth. " Come here at once ; I want you ! " he ordered. 

The fellow came, and Mr. Benoli asked him a lot of 
questions which necessitated him speaking in more than 
monosyllables, and his speech gave him away. It was 
smart work on Mr. Benoli's part to get him to speak 
such a lot, because a mere " yes " or " no " would have 
been easy ; but when one has to offer an explanation in 
lengthy terms, the speech is affected when one has a five- 
pound note in his mouth. He was dismissed on the 
instant. Mr. Benoli told me that even if he had not seen 
his hand go up towards his mouth he would have had 
him searched; but if the fellow had had a little more time 
to screw the note into a little ball he might have got away 
with it. 

While I am on the subject of roguery I must tell of a 
most surprising case in which I was the innocent cause 
of clearing a crowded bar, and also of the means of making 
a lot of men give signs of a very guilty conscience. 

The Gaiety was closed for rehearsals of a new play by 
Paul Reubens called " The Sunshine Girl." This play 
had for its scene the well-known model village belonging 
to Messrs. Lever Brothers known as Port Sunlight, some- 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

where on the River Mersey, just outside Liverpool. Just 
as " Miss Hook of Holland," by the same author and 
composer, was all about liqueur and cheese, so this new 
play was all about soap. 

I had the evenings pretty much to myself during those 
rehearsals, and one of our musical directors, Harold Lons- 
dale, asked me if I would go down to Deptford to see a 
mutual friend. We went, and later on a visit to the music 
hall was suggested. So we went to see the great Lafayette. 

Now it appears that there had been a great fire in Dept- 
ford at some big soap works, and not only had a tremendous 
lot of damage been done, but a huge quantity of soap had 
been stolen. Indeed, so much of it had disappeared that 
the wonder was how the thieves had ever got away with it. 
Enough soap had been stolen to keep the faces of all the 
inhabitants of that vast neighbourhood clean for the rest of 
their lives. The connection between this fact and our new 
play will be seen when I get a little farther into my story. 

After the first house of the music hall was over, Lons- 
dale, his friend, and I adjourned to one of the hostelries 
close by for a drink. This friend knew that I was at the 
Gaiety Theatre and asked me : 

" What's this new thing you are on, Jupp ? All to do 
with the soap business, isn't it ? " 

Now this to me was a perfectly innocent question to 
ask, and I replied in an equally innocent manner, quite 
unconscious of the interpretation that would be understood 
by those people standing round in the bar. If the theatre 
or the play had been mentioned, the whole thing would 
have been made clear to the listeners, but just those plain 
and uncompromising questions and my equally non-com- 
mittal answers had a disastrous effect. 

II Yes," I said. " That's our new job. Soap — soap — 


Expensive Free Luncheons 

tons upon tons of it ; nothing but soap, and we've got a 
lot of extra men on it too." 

In a very brief space of time after I had made that 
remark, the bar was almost entirely cleared. The landlord 
called our friend aside and asked him who I was. He told 
him that I was the stage-doorkeeper of the Gaiety Theatre. 

" Don't tell me any of your lies now ; do you think I 
don't know a ' split ' when I see one ? Besides, he's given 
his game away by admitting that he was on this soap 

My friend was inclined to take it as a joke, but the 
landlord made him realize that it was anything but funny 
to him. 

" Look at my bar — it was full until you brought those 
fellows in. Now it's empty. The ' boys ' tumbled at 
once as to who and what they are by their remarks. For 
the love of Mike take them out and don't bring them in 
here again. My customers don't particularly want to be 
acquainted with them ! " 

Then the whole thing became clear to him, so he brought 
the landlord over to us, and I very quickly convinced him 
as to my real identity. It was noticeable that in another 
few seconds the place was full again, just like a quick- 
change scene, and their fears and misgivings were soon 
dispelled. I made as much a joke of it as I could, and 
with the accompaniment of " What'll you have. ? No ! 
you have one with me," the incident came to a satisfactory 
close — at closing-time. 

It was during the rehearsals of " The Sunshine Girl ' 
that a clearance of quite another kind occurred. The 
Dutch bar next door had always provided a light lunch 
free, something after the style of the American houses 
(Mancunians will remember the free hotpot and stew one 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

used to be able to get at Cox's bar in the " dear dead days 
beyond recall "), and during the rehearsals this free lunch 
was very much appreciated by our chorus boys and girls. 

Now rehearsals of this kind are not of frequent occur- 
rence, because our plays generally had a long run, seldom 
less than eighteen months, so it was a new experience for 
the management of the Dutch bar. They had ham and 
tongue, pressed beef, two or three kinds of salad, various 
sandwiches, and of course biscuits and cheese. When our 
boys and girls were told about it and invited to partake 
of their hospitality they naturally did so, but the first day 
proved that the only thing that was able to withstand this 
great onslaught was an eighty-pound cheese. 

So the next day greater provision was made. Towards 
the end of the first week it became a matter of course 
(excuse me, these things will slip out !). Unfortunately 
the receipts were not in proportion to the outlay, for it 
must be understood that, as the choristers were not paid 
for rehearsals in those days, the chance of a really good 
lunch for the price of a glass of bitter was not to be missed. 

The play was at last produced, and the Dutch bar came 
back to its old appearance, and the manager's brow cleared. 
He had stuck to it all through like a good sportsman, 
but he must have given a sigh of relief when this awful 
pressure ceased. He pointed to the remains of one of 
the great cheeses and said : " That's all that's left out of 
four of them, Mr. Jupp. Ah, well ! they are good 
boys and girls, and I am glad their hard work is finished. 
I do hope the piece is a success and will have a record run." 

I could not help laughing heartily at that last remark, but 
I knew he did not mean it in the way I had taken it. Still, 
he enjoyed the joke himself when I pointed out that he had 
very good reason to wish the piece success and a long run. 


A Visit after Twenty-seven Years 

It has been said that liars should have good memories, 
but without wishing to cast the slightest reflection upon 
my own very truthful calling, I certainly think that one of 
the essential attributes of a stage-doorkeeper is a good 
memory. He frequently has to cast his mind back into 
the past to find a connecting-link between an incident of 
the years gone by and one of the present. Fortunately, 
I have an excellent memory, and especially for faces. If 
I have really known people, it matters not how changed 
they may be, I will not fail to recognize them, and this 
leads up to a little story. 

One morning a lady and gentleman called at the stage- 
door in company with a tall young man of about twenty- 
five years. I was going through the morning post-bag 
at the moment, so I just glanced up in an inquiring manner, 
but as they did not seem in any hurry to tell me their 
business I went on with mine. 

Then the lady said: " I couldn't come up to London 
without calling — I wonder if he is here now ? " I knew 
the voice at once, and leaving my letters looked at her. 
She was about fifty years of age, with hair fast turning 
grey, but I knew her face as well as if she had only left 
us the day before. I supposed I must have changed, 
because it was only my greeting that convinced her that 
I was the " he " she had referred to. 

11 How do you do ? " I asked. " Heavens ! how many 
years is it since I last saw you ? " Then she recognized 
me. " Well ! well ! it is Jupp ! How are you, Mr. 
Jupp ! Let me introduce my husband." He was a 
doctor somewhere in New Zealand, and they were on a 
visit to England with their only son. " Do you mean to 
say that you remember me, Mr. Jupp ? Why, I am old 
and grey now ! " 


The Gaiety Stage Door 

" Remember you ! Of course I do," I said. " Let 
me see now, it must be over twenty-five years ago. You 
were in the chorus with us, weren't you ! " I did not put 
this as a question, but as the assertion. 

" That's quite right, Mr. Jupp — twenty-seven years ago 
to be exact." Then it came back clearly to me. " Why 
— yes, I remember, you went away with the Gaiety Com- 
pany on a tour of the world, but you got married and 
remained out there." " Splendid ! " she cried. " This 
is the gentleman I met ; he was a young doctor then, 
and we were married just before the company left for home. 
I have never been over here since until this trip, and our 
boy here is turned five-and-twenty." I was puzzling 
hard to remember her name, but it had escaped me. 

She asked me if I could remember it, and I told her 
that that was what I was striving to bring back. " Just 
give me the initial letter of your Christian name, and see 
if I can recall it." " M," she told me. " That's it," I 
cried, " M. I am delighted to see you again, Maggie 
Roberts ! Do you know, I believe I have a photo of you 
on the wall somewhere." I had a very fine collection of 
photographs of theatrical and other celebrities on the walls 
of the stage-door entrance, and it formed as interesting a 
collection as could be found anywhere. 

When I said this the son said : " Where ? I should 
love to see a photo of mother as she was when a girl." 
He began to search for it, but nowhere could it be 
found, as it was not autographed. However, he found 
one that took his young fancy. " By Jove, that's a 
sweetly pretty girl. What a lovely smile she has ! ' I 
went over and looked at the photo. It was that of his 

35 2 

^ u