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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