Tag Archives: Vesta Tilley

Who’s a pretty boy?

Emma Don 1873-1951

Emma Don 1873-1951

Male impersonators are a fascinating part of music hall history and I have a lot of postcards of these artistes. This post is mainly pictorial and then in the next post I’ll choose one performer to talk about in more detail. I can’t resist showing the not so good along with the sublime and I’ll leave you to decide which is which.

Gertie Lewis Photo around 1908.

Gertie Lewis
Photo around 1908.

Hettie (Hetty) King 1883-1972

Hettie (Hetty) King
1883-1972

Vesta Tilley 1864-1952

Vesta Tilley 1864-1952

Deb St Welma  Aka Deb Webb and Teddie Webb. Photo around 1917.

Deb St Welma. Also appeared as Deb Webb and Teddie Webb.    Photo around 1917.

Bessie Bonehill 1855-1902

Bessie Bonehill
1855-1902

Ella Shields 1879-1952

Ella Shields
1879-1952

Flo Dixie  Photo around 1921. Described as the bantam male impersonator.

Flo Dixie
Photo around 1921. Described as the bantam male impersonator.

Advertisements

Male Impersonators

The crowd have settled, the hammer has fallen and the performer moves into the limelight. A song, a dance, a novelty act, a wink and a smile transported women from the Music Hall into the lives of their audiences and sometimes into their hearts. Who were these women? How did they live their lives? Let’s visit their world.

Early male impersonators like Nelly Power, pictured here, wore tights and a curly brimmed bowler hat.

Early male impersonators like Nelly Power, pictured here, wore a man’s hat or jacket with tights.

A popular figure on the Music hall stage was the male impersonator.

Vesta Tilley was the highest paid music hall performer of her time. She started out aged four in 1868 and retired in 1920 at the age of  fifty-six.

Vesta Tilley was the highest paid music hall performer of her time. She started out aged four in 1868 and retired in 1920 .

There were many of them, famous names such as Nelly Power, Vesta Tilley, Hetty King and Ella Shields. Some were not so famous but known to the audiences of the time, among them Bessie Bonehill, Emma Don, Pauline Travis and Louie Tracy ‘the dapper dandy boy.’

Louie Tracy, the dapper dandy boy.

Louie Tracy, the dapper dandy boy.