Press Clippings for the week ending
Saturday, 18 July 2009

A random selection of clippings
from newspapers and magazines

Dolly Adams said to be dying,
New York, 1886

Dolly Adams

Dolly Adams (d. 1888), 'The Water Queen,'
champion swimmer and 'notorious' character in 1880s San Francisco

(photo: unknown, probably San Francisco, early 1880s)

'Just now we are talking about poor little Dolly Adams, the girl who is dying in a horrible tenement on the West side, while a score of desperate and soulless men and women revel around her bedside, keeping their greedy eyes upon her diamond rings and jewelry, waiting until she dies that they may snatch them from her. People who have never seen Dolly Adams, and who are familiar with her only on account of the thousands of photographs with which the country has been flooded, have no idea of the woman herself. The photographs usually represent her in a bathing dress calculated to show off her figure to perfection, and they usually give the impression of a big though decidedly handsome woman. In reality she is extremely petite, and might be described as a delicate and almost dainty little blonde. She is quite ignorant, and knows nothing of the world, despite her experience with the rougher side of it. She was always a good swimmer, and when she made her first appearance as a water queen in the big aquarium she took the town by storm. Her beauty of face and figure drew hundreds to the aquarium every night, and among them were the usual lot of men of pleasure. Dolly Adams' experiences from that time forth were constantly attracting attention. One woman poisoned herself in a boarding-house which Dolly Adams kept in Twenty-seventh street, and just as this scandal died out, Mrs. Uhler died there under tragic circumstances. The mention of Mrs. Uhler calls up a host of recollections - how she left her husband and two beautiful children to live with a man called Haverstick, he in turn being killed by Mrs. Uhler's brother, who himself died under suspicious circumstances in the West a few months afterward, and the series of tragedies being at last wound up by the suicide of Mrs. Uhler herself. Four or five years ago Mrs. Uhler was living in magnificent style, a respectable wife and a fond and happy mother, and Dolly Adams was the pet of the town, with money and jewels showered at her feet, and everything at her beck and call [but now she] lies dying under heart-rending circumstances in a squalid tenement on the West side.'
(The St. Paul Daily Globe, St. Paul, Minnesota, Saturday, 8 May 1886, p. 12b)

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Topsy Venn rumoured to be too poorly
to continue her career, New York, 1890;
she appears in a United States tour of
the extravaganza Sinbad, 1892

Topsy Venn

Topsy Venn (fl. 1880s/1890s), burlesque actress

(photo: The Sparks Studio, Philadelphia, circa 1885)

'A Physical Wreck from using ''Anti-Fat'' Nostrums.
'NEW YORK, Nov. 28 [1890]. - It is very doubtful whether Topsy Venn will ever again be seen on the professional boards. She is known from one end of the country to the other. A year or so ago, however, she began to find herself blessed with an over-abundance of adipose tissue. On the advice of friends she commenced to experiment with various nostrums that are guaranteed to reduce a surplus of flesh without ill effects. She was so far successful that in the course of nine months she reduced her weight from 180 to 115 pounds. At the same time, the ingredients of which the nostrums were compounded had been steadily undermining her system, and when she finally reached the desired weight it was only to find herself a physical wreck. It was stated to-day by one of her intimate friends that her professional days are over.'
(The Centralia Enterprise and Tribune, Centralia, Wisconsin, Saturday, 6 December 1890, p. 19e)

'Spectacular Sinbad.
'Only one day more - to-morrow night - and the famous extravaganza, Sinbad, will be at the Grand. This from an exchange is a good pointer:
'The company is universally a good one, and many old favorites appear in the cast. Pretty Louise Eissing, who will be remembered here by her work with Francis Wilson, makes a statuesque and tuneful Sinbad. Ida Mulle, the dainty and petite, received a warm welcome; Topsy Venn danced in purple silk tights, with her old-time vim, and was lavishly encored for her graceful hornpipe in the second act. The male comedy element is unusually strong and bright. Edwin Foy, who reminds us much of Ned Stevens, is irresistibly comical as Freaco, and the audience could not get enough of him. His topical songs, especially ''In a Minute,'' were vociferously encored. Mr. Gracey, as Count Meledetto, Mr. Dunn, as the Old Man of the Sea, and Mr. Hart, as Nicholo were an uproariously lively trio.
'The music of Harry B. Smith is new and catchy, and there are some dances scattered up and down the four acts that surpass anything seen here for years. The ballet work in the beautiful ''Valley of Diamonds'' is remarkably fine, especially Mlle. Craske and Frauleins Irmler and Rosche. Sinbad is down for a long run at the Grand Opera House, and, judging from last night, it has taken the city by storm.
(The Decatur Daily Republican, Decatur, Illinois, 9 May 1892, p. 3e)

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Bessie Bellwood said to be
disappointed by her reception in
New York, 1894

Bessie Bellwood

Bessie Bellwood (1857-1896)
English music hall comedienne

(photo: Martin & Sannow, London, circa 1888)

'Pen-Picture of Bessie Bellwood.
'Bessie Bellwood, greatly to that buxom beauty's amazement, has failed to achieve the ''bloomink'' success which she anticipated in New York. Her humor is too beefy, broad and brutal to commend itself to the nimble and fine-drawn comprehension of a metropolitan audience. A certain swaggering vulgarity and aptness of impertinent repartee constitute her artistic stock in trade. As a vocalist her technique is displayed chiefly in lingerie, and when her songs necessitate a night note she reaches it with her toe. The trills and cadenzas of this celebrated balladist are executed principally in the embroidery of silken underwear and if a not of particular key cannot be induced from her throat she gets it very successfully out of her petticoats. Examined casually Miss Bessie Bellwood has arrived at that period of life when the refulgence of summer bids farewell to spring and sinks into the embrace of autumn. She is of medium height, with a plump body, thin arms and shapely ankles. Her face is round, her neck and jaw full, her eyes watery in color and set far apart, her nose small and pugnacious, her mouth lively with expression, her hair a mere wisp of reddish brown, supplemented by false bangs, which in moments of excitement she plucks off and throws into the wings. She will never be a great ''go'' with American amusement seekers, says an exchange, who, as a class, prefer the rapier to the bludgeon.'
(The Morning Call, San Francisco, Sunday, 4 February 1894, p. 16c/d)

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