Press Clippings for the week ending
Saturday, 10 January 2009

A random selection of clippings
from newspapers and magazines

Cissie Loftus breaks her contract
with Koster & Bial, New York, 1898

Cissie Loftus

Cissie Loftus (1876-1943)
Scottish mimic, actress and singer

(photo: unknown, probably London, circa 1895)

'If Miss Cissie Loftus is entirely sincere in here statement of her reason for breaking her contract to appear at Koster and Bial's, she has set an example that ought to be followed by every decent and self-respecting woman and man on the stage.
'the management of Koster and Bial's music hall is now, as it usually is, giving a vilely indecent exhibition in the course of its variety show. It has hired a couple of degraded women to exhibit themselves half naked in a pantomimic reproduction of the well-known picture, called ''An Affair of Honor,'' [i.e. Émile Bayard's ''Une Affaire d'Honneur,'' shown at the Paris Salon, 1884] representing a couple of ''cocottes'' fighting a duel with rapiers. Miss Cissie Loftus who, in private life, is Mrs. Justin H. McCarthy, signed a contract, in England, to appear at Koster and Bial's this week. When she arrived in New York and became aware of the nature of the nasty performance with which she was to be billed, she promptly notified the managers of Koster and Bial's that she would not degrade herself by appearing in the same bill with the undressing act, and that unless ''An Affair of Honor'' was at once taken off the stage she would not appear on it. The managers notified her that they would not permit her to dictate to them, and that they would hold her to her contract. Whereupon Miss Loftus broke her contract and refused to fulfil her engagement.
'It is to be hoped that the managers of Koster and Bial's will take the matter into the courts. For we believe the courts will uphold Miss Loftus, and that in the course of the trial the managers of Koster and Bial's will have numerous opportunities to learn what decent men think of them.
'The outrageously indecent character of the exhibitions given in such New York theaters and music halls as the Manthattan theater, Sam T. Jack's, the Dewey, Koster and Bial's and others, is a common theme of comment in the New York papers. They get worse and worse yearly, as the public appetite for nastiness grows by what it feeds on. The police can't or, rather, don't stop them. But the decent and self-respecting men and women of the vaudeville stage and of the legitimate stage could easily stop them by united action along the line marked out by Miss Cissy Loftus. There are so many of these that they could dictate to managers in this matter, if they would only stand loyally together. The wonder is that they have not done so long ago. It seems impossible that any decent and self-respecting man or woman could bear to appear on the same stage with Charmion, the Barrisons and their like, to accept a part in such a play as The Turtle, to be sandwiched between flagrant indecencies in the vaudeville bills of Sam T. Jack's and the Dewey. But they constantly do these things.
'The doubt of Miss Cissie Loftus's sincerity, allowed to appear in the opening sentence of this article, is suggested by the fact that after refusing to appear at Koster and Bial's she is appearing at the Casino. For in the matter of decency it seems to us that there is precious little choice between Koster and Bial's and the New York Casino, unless the Casino has very recently reformed.'
(Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, Wednesday, 4 January 1899, p. 6c)

* * * * * * * *

Madge Lessing's little joke, Berlin, 1914

Percy Hutchison and Madge Lessing

Percy Hutchison as George Barker and Madge Lessing as Kitty Vernon
in The Blue Mouse, a farce by Roy Horniman,
Criterion Theatre, London, 12 May 1914

(photo: Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1914

'Probably in the Future Madge Lessing Will Be Wary of Joking With German Newspaper Men.
'Miss Madge Lessing, who is now appearing in The Blue Mouse, has been playing in Berlin for some time, remarks Pearson's Weekly [London].
'She was telling us the other day that soon after she went to Germany she was interviewed by the representative of a Berlin newspaper.
'The interview complimented her on being able to speak her lines in the piece without a trace of a foreign accent.
'''Oh,'' replied Miss Lessing frivolously, ''I play in five languages - German, French, American, English and Irish.''
'Poor Miss Lessing expected at least to smile at her little joke, but the interviewer wrote I down quite seriously, and in due course the statement appeared in print.
'Almost immediately another newspaper chided her, solemnly informing her that American, English and Irish were practically one and the same language. Miss Lessing, it pointed out, ''should know better than to make a mistake like this.'''
(The Nashua Reporter, Iowa, Thursday, 27 August 1914, p. 3f)

* * * * * * * *

Faust on Toast at the Gaiety, London,
fails after 34 performances, 1921

chorus, Faust on Toast

members of the chorus, Faust on Toast,
Gaiety Theatre, London, 19 April 1921

(photo: Stage Photo Co, London, 1921)

'Is Jazz Dying?
'Philadelphia Public Ledger
'Jazz is dying, the sheet-music dealers say. What is taking its place? The old-time waltz that mother used to dance, plus a certain added vivacity of paces and stresses.
'The ''nut'' song is on the toboggan to perdition too, in favor of sweet old sentimental ballads such as soothe the soul that is tired of too much White Way Fifty thousand dollars for a ''nut'' song that lives six weeks. It's not worth the money.
'In London they are withdrawing a revue which the London Times calls the costliest failure in the history of such efforts. It was Faust on Toast. They have spent nearly $150,000 to put it over. But with all the jazz they could buy for the money it has been a dismal failure. Yet Faust itself continues year after year to be a drawing card.
'People get tired even of so-called ''pep'' and ''punch,'' as of a spiced diet all the time.'
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 12 June 1921, p. 4c)

'. . . At the Gaiety 40,000 has been lost in the last two months. Messrs. Grossmith and Laurillard produced a revival of old-time burlesque which they called Faust on Toast. It was intended to recall the glories of Faust Up To Date, which Australians will associate with the memory of the late Fred. Leslie. Faust on Toast was written in rhymed couplets, and proved a dismal failure. After a few weeks' ''run'' the play was re-written in prose by Leslie Hanson, the comedian. But, what with the coal strike, the hot weather, and the trade slump, business at the Gaiety was no better, and 10,000 or so more was lost. Faust on Toast is to be replaced by another revue called Pins and Needles.'
(The Argus, Melbourne, Saturday, 9 July 1921, p. 6e)

* * * * * * * *

Return to home page

© John Culme, 2009