In this edition of Music Hall Studies you will find these great performers. Click on their names for a short taster.
The showman, George Belmont, was far from an ordinary working man. Born at the end of the Crimean War and dying a few years after the end of the Great War, he lived for sixty-six years during the most exciting years of music hall. Mystery surrounds some aspects of his life, while others were paraded in detail by the press. At several times in his life, he must have been a wealthy man, but, when he died, he made no provision for his family and friends. His estranged second wife, Annie, died two years after him leaving only a couple of hundred pounds. How was it that he died in Bath when he lived in London and with his elder sister, also a Londoner, at his bedside? Where did all the money go? Stranger still, his demise passed without comment in the theatrical press of the day.
The Rudge sisters, professionally known as Letty Lind, Millie Hylton, Adelaide Astor, Lydia Flopp and Fanny Dango, all hailing from Birmingham, were primarily dancers, but later developed their singing talents, working in pantomime, musical comedy and burlesque, often at the Gaiety in the 1880s and 90s. They were the children of Harry Rudge, a brass worker, and his wife, Elizabeth. To some extent, the origin of their stage names remains obscure, but Letty Lind, seventeen years older than her youngest sister, was sometimes credited with giving her siblings nicknames, some of which may have suggested their noms de theatre.
Murder at the stage door
George Gorin was stabbed to death outside the Canterbury on the evening of 21 June 1889. He was the proprietor of the Letine Troupe consisting of attractive young ladies who gyrated on bicycles while performing tricks. No sooner had he stepped out of his vehicle when he was attacked by Nathaniel Curragh. The severity of the wounds inflicted on Letine allowed him to live for only about half an hour. Once Curragh had stabbed Letine, he shot himself, but the shot was not fatal. One of his daughters had seen the Letine troupe perform and from then on begged her father to allow her to join them. The girl left home, a handsome, well-developed young lady. She was brought back by her parents some twelve months later, a total wreck and died in February 1889.
In 1907, the burghers of Coventry commemorated the famous ride of Lady Godiva through the city, which she undertook to try to persuade her husband to remit taxes he had imposed on his tenants. More than twenty applications, mainly from those with a theatrical background, were received for the role. The person chosen to ride the horse through the streets clad in little else than long tresses of cascading hair was a young music hall performer known as “La Milo”. She went on to be a leading exponent of the so-called ‘poses plastiques’ (living statuary) and, although that was at one time thought disreputable, La Milo garnered some adulatory notices.