MABLE WOODS : A LESSER KNOWN “GAIETY GIRL”

The pretty woman featured in this real photo postcard is Mable Woods. She was a theater actress. I could find little biographical information about her. I did discover that sometimes her name appeared as “Mabel” Woods rather than “Mable” Woods. I stumbled across a couple of real photo postcards in which Miss Woods made an appearance. Two of these cards were individual portraits of the actress but another postcard paired her with an actress name Rose de Vella. Mable Woods and Miss de Vella toured India together, performing in the chorus line for one of the “Gaiety Girls” touring companies. Irish born, George Edwards (1852-1915) was the theater manage of London’s Gaiety Theater. At one point he had sixteen touring companies. He had a propensity for hiring pretty young women to work as “Gaiety Girls”. These women were the chorus girls appearing in Edwardian musical comedies that began in the 1890’s. These women were an important ingredient for staging a successful musical production. They danced and appeared on stage in bathing attire and in the latest fashionable clothing. Unlike the corseted actresses from earlier musical burlesque shows, Gaiety Girls were viewed as respectable and refined. One writer reports that Gaiety girls “were polite, well-behaved young women”. Many Gaiety girls progressed to very successful acting careers. The list of former Gaiety girls reads like a hall of fame of celebrated actresses. Gaiety girls that catapulted to major roles include Marie Studholme, Mabel Love, Ellaline Terriss, Lily Elsie, Gladys Cooper, Phyllis Dare, and Gabrielle Ray. These and other starring alumni of the chorus, kept the moniker “Gaiety Girls”. The young women performing in Edward’s shows peaked the interest of wealthy gentlemen who became known as “Stage Door Johnnies”. They would wait outside the stage door and invite the actresses to dinner at fine restaurants. A number of women accepted the invitation.  Sometimes the women would eventually marry one of these dates. A number of these women married noblemen, while others became the wives of professionals. In the book, “The Gaiety Years”, author Alan Hyman refers to the chorus as becoming “a matrimonial agency for girls with ambitions” to marry titled men. This postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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BEAUTIFUL BRITISH STAGE ACTRESS: OLIVE MORRELL (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This vintage real photo postcard features a very beautiful British stage actress named Olive Morrell. She was a successful enough actress to merit having six portraits of her included in the United Kingdom’s National Portrait Gallery. She performed in England and toured in Australia. She was  born as Olive Miller; Morrell was her stage name. In 1908, she married Willie Kelly (1877-1960), an Australian politician. The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (1905) highlights her career including her role in “The Spring Chicken” at the Gaiety Theatre. In researching the play, I was struck by the number of well known actresses appearing alongside her. The cast included Kitty Mason, Kate Cutler, Gaynor Rowlands, Ethel Oliver, and Gertie Millar. This was certainly an all star lineup and any collector of theatrical postcards will be familiar with these actresses. Collectors will also note that these women were  quite pretty and their postcard images were, and still are, very collectible. Miss Morrell is also the subject of an article in The Play Pictorial (1905) which mentions her appearance in a theatre production called “The Talk of the Town”. This postcard was produced by Rotary Photo as part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 1547 C). It is truly a special portrait of Miss Morrell. After viewing many postcard images of this actress; I believe this portrait is one of the finest portraits of Olive Morrell that a postcard collector can find. This photograph captures her beauty as well as provides a close look at fashion during the turn of the century.

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ROMANTIC SCENE FROM THE PLAY “HAVANA” (1908): VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD

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This vintage real photo postcard captures a scene from the the stage production of “Havana” which appeared in 1908 at the Gaiety Theatre in London. The play ran for 221 performances before going on the road around England. The show later played in Berlin, Philadelphia and New York City (The Casino Theatre). Interestingly, future star, Gladys Cooper appeared in the chorus. The play’s plot was that Evie Greene was the daughter of a cigar store owner who also happened to be the mayor of Havana. She was promised to her cousin in marriage but was in love with an English yachtsman (McKay). To complicate matters, the McKay was suspected of being a revolutionary. The actors in this image are Evie Greene and Leonard McKay. Edith Elizabeth (“Evie”) Greene (1875-1917) was an English actress and singer who played in Edwardian Musical Comedies in London and on Broadway. She was quite beautiful and was often photographed. She was most known for starring in the international hit musical “Florodora” (1899). She sang in the cast album of the show which was historic because it was the world’s first original cast album. This postcard was published by Rotary Photo as part of a series (no. 7431 F). It was printed in England. The photograph itself is by “Play Pictorial”. “Play Pictorial” was an English theatre magazine published in London between 1902 and 1939. The publication provided a pictorial presentation of West End theatrical productions with each issue focusing on just one play.  (SOLD)

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MISS AGNES DELAPORTE AS MERCEDES IN “MONTE CRISTO JR” (1886)

delaporteMiss Agnes Delaporte is looking quite beautiful as she poses in her role as Mercedes in “Monte Cristo Jr”. The production first appeared at the Gaiety Theatre in December, 1886. The Cabinet Card was photographed by the Stereoscopic Company in England. The London Stereoscopic Co. billed itself as “Photographers to the Royal Family”. To view other photographics by the London Stereoscopic Company, click on the category “Photographer: London Stereoscopic Company”.