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FOOTLIGHT NOTES

images of theatre and other popular entertainment
1850s-1920s

no. 657

updated
Saturday, 17 April 2010

remembering Patrick O'Connor (1949-2010)

Bessie Wentworth


G.F. Scotson-Clark's caricature of Bessie Wentworth (1873/74-1901), English music hall comedienne
and singer of 'coon' songs, from The ''Halls'', published by T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1899

(photo: unknown, London, circa 1921)

Bessie Wentworth, whose real name was Elizabeth Andrews, gained considerable success during her short career. She sang a string of 'coon' songs, for which she would often appear in the guise of an American plantation negro, but without using burnt cork makeup. Her most famous song was 'Looking for a Coon Like Me.' Others included 'The Alabama Coon,' 'Happy 'Cos Dey Foun' Dis Coon' and 'Dey Loved Each Other all de While.'

'Miss Bessie Wentworth is a great artiste, and her coon song, "This is Love," was sung in a most charming and pathetic manner; her dress was a white ballet skirt, exaggerated cardinal bow and sash, and pants that reminded one of the old-time bed hanging curtains to such an extent that Mrs. Caudle would have risen in her bed to have seen such Vandalism. Then followed another coon song with the usual props, viz., big tie, sash, pants, etc.; the refrain "I 'se an Aristocrat," having a good swing in it. After which she broke into a dance, one of those dances that only Bessie Knows how to execute.'
(The Encore, London, Friday, 1 May 1896, p.10b)

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