Friday, 20 November 2015

Albemarle Mansions Part Two: Bessie Butt

Embedded image permalink

@RonnieCruwys has started adding colour to the Albemarle Mansions and that means I can tell you about Bessie Butt.

'Music Hall Divorce: Principal 'Boy's' Farewell Letter to Her Husband:

Mr Alfred Earl Sydney Davis, a music hall agent and author, obtained a divorce in Sir Samuel Evans' Court from his wife (who is known on the stage as Bessie Butt, and who stated to be earning £600 a year) on the gound of her miscondunt with Mr. David Pool, also a music hall artiste. The case was not defended, and the jury fixed the damages at £250 against the correspondent, a sum agreed upon between the parties. Married in 1901, the parties lived happily together till February last, when Mr Davis received a letter from his wife from Glasgow, where she was performing the principal boy's part in 'Aladdin' saying that she had left him for ever. Mrs Davis was afterwards discovered living at Albemarle Mansions, Holloway, with correspondent, whom she had met in 1903, when staying with her husband in rooms in Kennington Park Road.' - 25 June 1910, Dundee Courier

'Dave Poole, the ventriloquist and Bessie Butt, the male impersonator, were quietly married at Liverpool March 18.' - 4 April 1911, Variety

She could have done better. Ventriloquist. Pah. 

Bessie Butt (fl. early 20th century), English dancer, actress and singer, as principal boy in Aladdin, pantomime, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Christmas 1909 (photo: Langfier, Glasgow, 1909) ‘Born in London within the sound of Bow Bells [the traditional description of a Cockney], Miss Bessie Butt commenced her stage career at a very early age by playing the child part in [Minnie Palmer's popular vehicle] My Sweetheart. While still in her early ‘teens she toured through many European countries in company with her brothers - the Reed Family - and made quite a big reputation as a transformation dancer, being billed as “Baby Butt.” An unfortunate illness kept her from the stage for a long period, and her next appearance was under the management of Mr. John Tiller, who looked upon her as one of the most promising of his young recruits. ‘Having ambitions, Miss Butt decided on doing a single turn on the halls, and at once sprang into popularity wherever she appeared. The late Walter Summers saw her, and recommended her so highly to Mr Robert Arthur that she was engaged by him as second girl for the Kennington theatre pantomime of Red Riding Hood, and there she made her first great success in [singing] “Ma blushing Rosie.” The late Clement Scott [dramatist and theatre critic, 1841-1904] was so taken with this number that he went several times to hear it. Miss butt’s next appearance was [on tour] under the management of Mr. George Edwardes as Susan in The Toreador [originated by Violet Lloyd, Gaiety, London, 17 June 1901], and this was followed by Sophie in A Country Girl [originated by Ethel Irving, Daly’s, London, 18 January 1902] and Thisbe in The Orchid [originated by Gabrielle Ray, Gaiety, London, 26 October 1903]. After this she was for twelve months at the London Coliseum, where she created several parts, notably the Black Pearl in Mr. Leslie Stuart’s song specially written for Mr. Eugene Stratton, and produced at the Coliseum in 1905. She also appeared as a wonderfully life-like doll in Mr. Will Bishop’s [ballet] My Gollywog. This was in 1906. ‘A pantomime engagement as Cinderella at Cheltenham was followed by a return to the halls under the managements of Mr. Oswald Stoll, the late Mr. G.A. Payne, and others; and then Miss Butt was seen and secured by Mr. Lester Collingwood to play the title roole in his pantomime of Cinderella at the Alexandra, Birmingham, in 1907. The success was phenomenal, as the run of the pantomime was a record for the country. On that occasion also Miss Butt won the “Owl” cake and diamond ring in a local beauty competition. This year Miss Butt has discarded skirts and gone in for principal boy, and as Dandini at the Royal County Theatre, Kingston, she is undoubtedly the hit of a most successful [Cinderella] pantomime [; other members of the cast were Dorothy Grassdorf, Hilda Vining and Laurie Wylie]. During her short career she has introduced many popular songs, of which probably the most successful have been “Scarecrow,” “Amelia Snow,” “Cherries are blooming,” “Peggy, the pride of the Mill,” and “Sunshine Soo,” her latest effusion, which is likely to eclipse in popularity all the others. Gifted with youth, beauty, a sweetly clear and distinct voice, a genius for dancing, and unlimited vivacity, there is no knowing to what heights this clever lady may aspire.’ (The Era, London, Saturday, 30 January 1909, p.13c)

Bessie Butt (photo: White, Bradford, circa 1908)
As principal boy in Aladdin, pantomime, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Christmas 1909.
There's more here.