MURIEL FOSTER : ENGLISH OPERA SINGER : PORTRAIT BY ERNEST WALTER HISTED

This vintage real photo postcard features English contralto, Muriel Foster (1877-1937). Foster and her twin sister, Hilda, were trained at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1896, he made her debut in the production of “King Saul”. In 1899, the sisters performed in a series of duets. In 1900, Hilda retired after getting married. Muriel, who had the command of several languages, continued her singing and had a very successful international opera career. Muriel was photographed for this portrait by Ernest Walter Histed (1862-1947). Histed was born in England but achieved his success as a photographer in Chicago, and later, in Pittsburgh. He then returned to England and opened a photography studio there. His subjects there included Clara Butt (Opera Star) Pope Pius X, and the Empress of Germany. Histed returned to the US and opened a studio on Fifth Avenue in New York City. He later moved to Palm Beach, Florida and continued his profession until 1934. The Museum of the City of New York has a large collection of his work. The National Portrait Gallery (England) has 32 of his photographs in their collection. This postcard was published by London’s J. Beagles & Co. as part of a series (No. G386).The company was started by John Beagles (1844-1909). The company produced a variety of postcards including an extensive catalog of celebrity (stage and screen) portrait postcards. After Beagle’s death, the business continued as J. Beagles & Co. until it closed in 1939. This vintage portrait postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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MISS ELIZABETH FIRTH : SINGER, ACTRESS, AND PHILANTHROPIST (1908)

This vintage real photo postcard features soprano, actress, and philanthropist, Elizabeth Firth (1880-1960). Although she was born in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, she became an accomplished singer and actress on the English stage. When she lived in Phillipsburg, she was known as “Jimmy” Firth. The nickname, Jimmy, came courtesy of her beloved father. She went by this moniker with her most intimate friends as well as among those in her theatre world. “Jimmy” graduated from high school in New Jersey and sang as a soprano soloist in the choir of her church. She then entered the New York Conservatory of Music. At a concert at New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria, she came to the attention of a leading London musical directress. Miss Firth then appeared in a few theatrical productions, including a small part in a play starring Viola Allen. In 1903 she accepted an offer to do an English concert tour. Before she could return to the United States, she was signed to a three year contract to act and sing on the English stage. She experienced a great deal of success in Gaiety theatre productions. Among her major roles was her appearance as Natalie, in the “Merry Widow”. The production was in 1907 at the Daly Theatre. Other actors in the play included Lily Elsie and Gabrielle Ray. Five portraits of the actress can be found in England’s National Portrait Gallery. She was known as a beautiful woman. One writer described her as “tall and slender” and that she had a “clear blond complexion along with blue eyes”. She was also considered one of the best dressed women in London. While in England, the actress visited her parents in the US annually and also engaged in theatrical tours there. “Jimmy” was a charitable woman and she established the “Elizabeth Firth Wade Foundation Endowment Fund”. Among the groups work was the building a a Youth Center in Phillipsburg. The foundation is still operating. Firth was married to a widower from Cleveland, Ohio. They wed in New York City in 1931. Miss Firth’s photo portrait was taken by the Foulsham & Banfield studio. Foulsham & Banfield were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio from the 1900’s through the 1920’s.. The postcard was published by Rotary Photo as part of a series (no.4829 B). This postcard was postmarked in 1908 and is in very good condition (see scans). (SOLD)

CLARA JECKS : PRETTY AND TALENTED ENGLISH MUSICAL COMEDY ACTRESS

The pretty woman seen in this vintage photograph is English musical comedy actress, Clara Jecks (1854-1951). She was born in London, England. Her father was an actor and theatrical manager (Adelphi Theatre). Her mother was a popular actress. It is unsurprising that Clara began her stage career when she was a baby. She first appeared on the stage as a toddler. Growing up, she received the music, dance, and voice training needed to prepare her for a performing career. Her London stage debut was in 1873, at about the age of nineteen. Clara’s specialty was playing soubrettes (lively flirtatious roles) and boy roles. In fact, she once said, “I am never so really happy as when acting as a lad”. Clara was mentored by talented actress, Miss Nellie Farren. There is a portrait of Clara in Great Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. In fact, the portrait is identical to the photograph seen above. The NPG reports that this image appeared in “The Theatre” magazine in 1892. She was photographed, for this image, playing her role in “Richard II”, written by William Shakespeare. The photographer of the photo was Alfred Ellis (1854-1930). Ellis was an active photographer between 1884 and 1899. He operated a studio on Upper Baker Street in London. He specialized in theatrical photography and sometimes photographed whole scenes inside his studio. He later went to theaters to photograph performers and play scenes. Now, back to Clara’s career. In 1878, she and her mother toured together with the Comedy Opera Company. A few of Clara’s notable performances were in “Formosa” (1877), “The Black Domino” (1893), Cinderella (1893), and “A Merry Madcap” (1896). Her final London performance was in “The Critic” (1911). In an interview appearing in “The Sketch” (1893), Clara was asked the reason why she never toured America. She answered that she received many good offers to appear there, but preferred to perform in London, “Where I am at home with my audiences”. She then added, as if to change the subject, the following observation. She asserted, “You should see what funny letters I sometimes get from little boys in front, who can hardly believe I’m not one of themselves”. During her career, she appeared in over two hundred opera, drama, and pantomime roles. This image features Clara holding a wine pitcher in one hand, and a wine cup in the other. This photograph measures about 4″ x 5″, has excellent clarity, and is in excellent condition.

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DAISY JEROME : SCANDALOUS STAGE ACTRESS WHO WAS VIEWED AS RAUCOUS, VULGAR, AND “AN ACQUIRED TASTE”

This rare vintage real photo postcard features the red headed actress that electrified the Australian stage. She was noted for her famous wicked wink. The life and times of Daisy Jerome can best be described as scandalous. She arrived in Australia in 1913 for a three year stage tour.  Feminism was rising in the western world. Suffragettes were marching for the right to vote. Women were smoking, driving, wearing less conservative fashion, and even dancing the tango with it’s sexual overtones. She arrived in Adelaide adorned with an excess of jewelry. She was born in America but raised in England. Her place of birth was New York and she was born Daisy Witkowski in 1886. Daisy reported that she was raised in a multilingual household that had been visited by Presidents Lincoln, McKinley, and Roosevelt. After experiencing financial problems, her father moved the family to England. Money was needed and Daisy followed her sister onto the stage. She played the Palace and toured with companies that gave her a chance to do comedic singing and pantomime. Her performances were considered to be amusing and irreverent. She was a comedienne. Her humor has been described as “vibrant” and “wicked”. Daisy was described as “feisty”, “cunning”, and “independent”. She was small and dainty and had compelling eyes and an expressive face. Her performances had a risque tone and she had a hoarse, sensual voice. She could toe dance and wooden shoe dance, but was most known as a mimic and comnic singer. After a year of marriage, she deserted her first husband to live with another man. In 1910, she took a journalist to court for libel. The reporter had accused her of performing encores when audiences had not requested them. She claimed that her professional reputation had been damaged. The court case was a circus. The defense ridiculed one of her songs which caused her to break into tears in the witness chair. She won the case but was barely compensated. When she began her tour of Australia, she was recognized as raucous, vulgar and “an acquired taste”. She quickly charmed those that were hesitant to appreciate her and she soon received a warm welcome and a complimentary nickname, “The Electric Spark”. Her carrot red hair became the subject of much debate. She claimed it was her natural color but most people were not believers of her claim. One day, an Australian comedian told her that a gentleman had taken offence to her hair. The comedian said that the offended man would visit her that night. The comedian then informed the local fire chief that there was great risk of fire during Daisy’s time on stage. The worried fireman came to the theatre and when he saw Daisy’s red hair, he realized he had been a victim of a joke. He kept the joke going when he said that he agreed there was risk of fire and he ordered the scenery to be fireproofed immediately. During Daisy Jerome’s era, there was a bias against redheads. They were considered to be hot tempered and sexually wild and uninhibited. Her theater/music hall background only magnified some people’s negative view of Daisy. After completing her touring contract in Australia, she signed another one. This time she performed on a vaudeville stage which allowed her to showcase her bawdy songs. In 1914 she sang a feminist style song called “The Press, the Pulpit, and the Petticoat”. This song argued that women were more powerful and influential than the media and the church. Daisy was a woman who had unconventional ideas. She would not restrained by political correctness. She stated in a 1914 interview that “I refuse to regulate my acts to accepted rules of conduct”. Despite her views, she remained popular with Australian audiences. She left Australia in 1916 and returned in 1922 for another successful tour. Later, she was involved in another court case which this time involved her suing her maid over missing jewels. With the arrival and subsequent popularity of films, Daisy Jerome faded out of the public’s focus. Two photo portraits of Daisy Jerome can be found in England’s National Portrait Gallery. This vintage postcard was published by J. Beagles & Co. of London, England as part of a series (No. 109 A). The company was started by John Beagles (1844-1909). The company produced a variety of postcards including an extensive catalog of celebrity (stage and screen) portrait postcards. After Beagle’s death, the business continued under it’s original name until it closed in 1939. Miss Jerome’s portrait was taken by the Hutchinson & Svendsen studio. The National Portrait Gallery asserts that this pair of photographers were active in London between 1905 and 1906. This vintage photo postcard is in excellent condition (see scans). This postcard portrait of Daisy Jerome is absolutely beautiful and very uncommon.  (SOLD)

 

 

MISS MARJORIE VILLIS : RISQUE PORTRAIT OF A STRIKINGLY PRETTY BRITISH ACTRESS

This vintage real photo postcard portrait feature British silent film actress, Marjorie Villis (1891-1981). Miss Villis is quite pretty and has a wonderful smile. This photograph captures her in a risque pose and a risque costume. What an amazing elaborate and busy costume. When I first saw this image, I immediately became motivated to find information about this provocative actress. I met little success in learning about Marjorie Villis. Photographs of her appear to be uncommon, and I could not find the postcard above anywhere online. I did learn that she sat for seven postcard portraits that can be found in the UK’s National Portrait Gallery, All of the portraits were taken by celebrated photographer, Alexander Bassano. The IMDb credits Villis with 15 film roles between 1915 and 1922. Villis was most noted for her roles in “The Rugged Path (1918), “A Romany Lass (1918)”, and  “Brenda of the Barge (1920). She had a relatively short career. I wonder why her career ended so abruptly? The first talkie feature film did not get released until 1927, so we know that, unlike many other silent film stars, Villis was not shut out of the film industry because of an unsuitable voice or foreign accent. This postcard was published by J. Beagles & Company (London)  as part of a series (no.142 J). The wonderful portrait of Miss Villis was taken by S. Ward. This vintage postcard is in very good condition (see scans)

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MISS GRACE CHALMERS – HER TALENT PROVES THAT GREAT “ACTRESSES ARE BORN AND NOT MADE”

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This vintage real photo postcard features stage actress Grace Chalmers. Her portrait can be found at Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. Research reveals that Miss Chalmers received acclaim for her role as “Glory Quayle” in “The Christian”. A photo of Grace Chalmers, with a brief caption, appears in the “Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News (1908). She is reviewed in the magazine, “Navy and Army Illustrated” (1905). The reviewer must have been impressed with her acting. He points out that Miss Chalmers has “wonderful histrionic abilities” despite her lack of theatrical training and theatrical genes. According to the writer, Chalmers talent roves that “actresses are born and not made”. This vintage postcard was published by J. Beagles of London, England. It is part of a series (no. 289D). Miss Chalmers portrait was photographed by Denton & Co..   SOLD

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MISS MURIEL BEAUMONT – BEAUTIFUL ENGLISH STAGE ACTRESS

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Muriel Beaumont (Lady du Maurier (1876-1957) is the featured subject of this vintage real photo postcard. She was an English stage actress and was married to actor Sir Gerald du Maurier. He was the first person to play “Captain Hook”. Two of their daughters became accomplished writers. Her stage career ended in 1910. Beaumont was born in Sutton, England. Her father was a solicitor and when Beaumont decided to pursue an acting career, her father disapproved. In 1898 she made her stage debut at the Haymarket Theatre. In 1902 she appeared in “The Admirable Crichton” and met, for the second time, fellow cast member Gerald du Maurier. Within five short months, they were married (1903). Interestingly, they never appeared on stage together again. In 1905 she appeared in “The Merchant of Venice” with Violet Vanbrugh. This photo postcard was published by Rotary Photo and is part of the “Rotary Photographic Series” (no.1763 A).The photographer of Miss Beaumont’s portrait is Reinhold Thiele and he is known for his photographical talent. Thiele (1856-1921) also used the name “Karl Anton”. Seven of his photo portraits can be found in Great Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. He was born in Germany and learned about photography there. He came to London in 1878 and after a stint with photographer, William Henry Prestwich, he was hired by the London Stereoscopic Company (1880). In 1894, he established a studio known as Simmons & Thiele. Initially, Thiele specialized in photographing football teams. He is considered to be one of the early press photographers. Later, he operated a studio in London. He photographed many theatre stars. This vintage postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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LORD WILLIAM CAVENDISH-BENTINCK, 6TH DUKE OF PORTLAND (1857-1943)

Lord William Cavendish-Bentinck was the 6th Duke of Portland and was a conservative British politician. He held office as Master of the Horse under Lord Salisbury (1886-1892 and 1895-1902) and under Arthur Balfour (1902-1905). From 1898 until 1939 he served  as Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire. At the coronation of King George VI he carried the crown of Queen Elizabeth. He was also known for owing a stable of Thoroughbred race horses which included some well known and successful horses. The photographic studio that produced this Cabinet Card is Elliott & Fry of London, England.  This Victorian photographic studio and photographic film manufacturer was founded in 1863 by Joseph John Elliott and Clarence Edmund Fry. For an entire century the studio took and published images of leading Victorian luminaries from the fields of science, public service, art, politics as well as celebrities of the day. Famous Edwardian photographer working for the studio included Francis Henry Hart and Alfred James Philpott. Most of the early negatives from this studio were destroyed in the bombing of London during World War II. The surviving negatives are held by Great Britain’s  National Portrait Gallery.