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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 386

updated
Saturday, 5 Febraury 2005

Marie Studholme and Gladys Cooper
at Downey's studio, Ebury Street, London, in the mid 1890s

Marie Studholme and Gladys Cooper

Marie Studholme (1875-1930), English musical comedy actress, with
Gladys Cooper (1888-1971), English child photographic model and future stage and screen actress

(photo: W. & D. Downey, London, circa 1896)

'At the age of about six I was taken to be photographed by Downey, the Ebury Street photographer, who was then the fashion. I can remember the Downeys quite well - they were father and son. "Old" Downey was a very tall old man with a long white beard, and very red-rimmed eyes. He always wore a long frock-coat with a red ribbon in his buttonhole, and looked a dignified old gentleman, who was quite capable of receiving and greeting Royalties with just the right manner of respectful homage.
'It was considered a great honour to be photographed by "Old" Downey himself. He never "took" anyone lower than one of the Princesses, or perhaps a duchess now and then, if he felt in the mood. His staff treated him rather like Royalty itself, and, when he rode abroad in his carriage, they would stand round with rugs, cushions, etc., until he waved them aside in lordly fashion.
'"Young" Downey (he was always known as "Young" Downey to distinguish him from his father) was a big man - or so he seemed to me then - with a bald head. He was an artist in his work, and used to say that he always knew the best side of anybody's face after one good look at them. He certainly made some fine photographs of the famous beauties of his time, and possessed the art of retaining character in the face of his sitter.
'I used to enjoy my visits to the Downey père at fils. "Young" Downey was very fond of children, and my sisters Doris and Grace and I had plenty of fun playing about in the great studio, or dressing ourselves up in the wonderful assortment of garments that he kept there.
'He would ask my mother, as a great favour, to let him try different studies of me, and as she was always presented with some of the copies, she raised no objections.
'The Downeys were much patronized by Royalty in those days, and one day we were all tremendously thrilled to learn that Queen Alexandra had been into the studio and seen a picture of Doris and me, and asked to have a copy of it. She called me "the little girl with the beautiful hair", and she told me later when I was presented to her, and she recalled the happening.
'It was at Downey's that I first saw Marie Studholme, one of the sweetest and most beautiful women I have known. Marie Studholme was at that time of the great beauties of the stage; her pictures (in silver frames) filled the Bond Street and Regent Street windows '
(Gladys Cooper, Gladys Cooper, Hutchinson & Co (Publishers) Ltd, London, 1931, p.34-36)

Gladys Cooper and Marie Studholme


Gladys Cooper and Marie Studholme

(photo: W. & D. Downey, London, circa 1894)

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© John Culme, 2005