Press Clippings for the week ending
Saturday, 7 March 2009

A random selection of clippings
from newspapers and magazines

Jessie Vokes of the Vokes Family
dies, London, 1884

Vokes Sisters

Jessie Vokes (1851-1884), Victoria Vokes (1853-1894)
and Rosina Vokes (1854-1894), English actresses and dancers

(photo: Mora, New York, circa 1880)

'Miss Jessie Vokes, the actress, a member of the well-known Vokes family, died yesterday in London. She was educated to the stage from a tender age, and when only 4 years old appeared at the Surrey Theatre, where she played in children's characters. In the early part of her career she played Mamillius in The Winter's Tale; Prince Arthur in King John, and the Prince of Wales in Richard III. She attracted special notice first as one of the children in [Charles Reade and Tom Taylor's comedy] Masks and Faces, dancing, with her sister, a jig, when old Benjamin Webster played Triplet at the London Standard Theatre. With her brothers and sisters, Fred and Fawdon and Victoria and Rosina, she began began her career as ''The Vokes Children,'' which was afterward changed to ''The Vokes Family,'' at the Operetta House in Edinburgh. Their success was pronounced and continuous. Their debut was made in London at the Lyceum Theatre on Dec. 26, 1868, in the pantomime of Humpty dumpty, and they traveled through a great part of the civilized world. Jessie Vokes, the eldest of the sisters, was educated in the ''business'' of the stage by Mr. Cheswick, and in dancing, in which she excelled, by Mr. Flexmore. The piece that most successfully carried an audience by storm was The Belles of the Kitchen, in which the ''family'' made its debut in this country at the Union-Square Theatre on April 15, 1872. Jessie's clever recitations and dancing were appreciated, but she was not so prominent in the cast as Victoria and Fred, who were especially happy in their rendering of the tower scene from Il Trovatore, or as Miss Rosina, who was regarded by the young men as the flower of the family.'
(The New York Times, New York, Friday, 8 August 1884, p. 5b)

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John Sleeper Clarke dies,
London, 1899

John Sleeper Clarke

John Sleeper Clarke (1833-1899),
American actor manager

(photo: Fradelle & Marshall, London, circa 1874)

'John Sleeper Clarke Dead.
'London, September 25 [1899]. - John Sleeper Clarke, the celebrated actor and theatrical manager, is dead, aged sixty-four'
(The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, 26 September 1899, p. 2d)

'Funeral of John Sleeper Clarke.
'London, Sept. 29. - The remains of Mr. John Sleeper Clarke, the American comedian, who died suddenly on Monday at his home, Westbourne House, Surbiton-on-Thames, have been interred at Teddinton cemetery. Among the mourners were Mr. and Mrs. Clement Scott, Mr. Charles Hawtrey, the staff of the Strand theater and Mr. Clarke's two daughters. Many beautiful wreaths were placed upon the coffin.'
(The Daily Times, New Brunswick, New Jersey, Friday, 29 September 1899, p. 3d)

'To the ordinary playgoer of this generation even the name of the late John Sleeper Clarke was unknown. He was profusely written-up when he made a professional tour of his native land about eighteen years ago, but I fancy he did not excite much enthusiasm in that tour. He had dwelt abroad so long that even the old stagers had all but forgotten him. They used to say that Mr. Clarke never got over the rough treatment he received from some of his neighbors in Baltimore when his crazy brother-in-law assassinated President Lincoln. But he retained his hold upon the esteem of American playgoers through the seventh decade of the century and everybody who went to theatre at all used to talk about his Major de Boots, his Timothy Toodle and his Dr. Pangloss. There were uncommonly clever comic portrayals, of reckless inebriety, cowardice and meekness beneath a pompous exterior and suave and voluble humbug; but I doubt if one need talk of the talent of Clarke or his greater predecessor, Burton, with bated breath. They were good actors, but, bless your heart, they did not take their calling half so seriously as George William Curtis took it when he called Clarke the ''finest dramatic artist since Rachel.'' One thinks of Toodle's red nose and wonders why Rachel.
'I cherish a very early memory of Clarke in a Christmas eve bill at Winter Garden Theatre. He was Tilly Slowboy in The Cricket on the Hearth, and in the famous Christmas dinner scene Tilly, having one arm occupied by that blessed baby, did not hesitate to put her plate of potatoes on Calabe's chair so that the old man when he sad down would mash them. I doubt if that bit of business would please the refined theatre-goers of this hour, yet it was characteristic of Clarke and the comedians of that simpler day excepting Jefferson, who was of a finer mold. Clarke also played Schnapps that night in the old Lorelei piece, The Natad Queen, and wore a red ''fright'' wig so impossible that Francis Wilson would not dare to use it in the most extravagant of his operettas.
'These things are not to Mr. Clarke's discredit. There was never any humbug about him. He did not debase his art in pleasing his audiences, and there was a good deal of first-hand observation of human nature in his denotements of comic character. He had command of pathos, too, and a fair share of force, and his portrayal of Tyke in Morton's School of Reform was esteemed a homely masterpiece.'
(The New York Times, New York, Sunday, Part Two, 1 October 1899, p. 16b)

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R.G. Knowles, George Robey,
Connie Ediss, and Victoria Monks
entertain guests of
Baron and Baroness de Meyer, London, 1907

Victoria Monks

Victoria Monks (1885/90-1927),
English music hall comedienne

(photo: unknown, circa 1911)

Special Cable to The Washington Post, London, 8 June 1907
'Americans were well represented at the party of Baron and Baroness de Meyer on Thursday, given at their artistic home in Cadogan Gardens - Lady Essex, Lady Craven, Mrs. Richard McCreery, Mrs. Jaffray, Mrs Bradley Martin, Mrs. Newhouse, Mrs. Potter Palmer, Lady Johnstone, and Mrs and Miss Sharman.
'The entertainment was of the music hall variety, with droll people like R.G. Knowles, George Robey, Connie Ediss, and Victoria Monks taking part.'
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Sunday, 9 June 1907, Part One, p. 11h)

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© John Culme, 2009