Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 19 September 2009

Beatie & Babs (fl. circa 1909-1916),
English juvenile entertainers

Beatie & Babs
Beatie & Babs

(photo: unknown, England, circa 1911)

'Beatie and Babs.
'Those accomplished and popular youngsters, Beatie and Babs, who are this week [beginning Monday, 8 May 1911] delighting audience at the London Pavilion in their clever and entertaining interlude, A Pavement Rehearsal, have made rapid strides since they first appeared professionally some three years since. The ender of the sisters, Miss Beatie, an enthusiastic and charmingly unaffected girl of fifteen, excels as a dancer, and is a finished and versatile exponent of the Terpsichorean art; and Miss Babs, who is not yet in her teens, is a droll and original little comedienne, who revels in ludicrous make-ups and business.
'Speaking of the early days of their young life, their mother, in a brief talk with an Era representative, remarked that they had had little or no training. "Beatie was a born dancer. It is a gift, as is comedy with Babs." But one gathers that they have been carefully tutored by their mother and father, who are naturally proud of their children's success. Their first experience as entertainers was gained at school and private performances, and the youngsters availed themselves of every opportunity of appearing in public. They may a very gratifying success with their singing and dancing at a charity bazaar promoted by the Duchess of Westminster at Chester, and later appeared at many other similar entertainments. It was Mr. Wilkes, of the Tivoli, Manchester, who gave them their first start at the [music] halls, in A Pavement Rehearsal. In this Babs made her début in character, singing a burlesque of "Il Bacio." And her mother tells how she first got the idea. "She was singing it at home one day in her own quaint way, when a funny little twist of the head and other movements made me think that it would be a good idea to dress her as an old spinster and do a burlesque." The Pavement Rehearsal was such a decided success that the children were immediately booked right away, and since then they have never looked back.
'The barrasford and Broadhead tours and all the Syndicate halls rapidly followed, and then a visit to the Continent was paid. At the Folies Bergères, Paris, the children made a big hit, and stayed there three months. During their continental tour they appeared at the private residences of the Princess Murat, the Prince of Monaco, the Turkish Ambassador, and several other distinguished personages, who personally complimented them on their success. The youngsters greatly treasure two fine dolls presented to them by Princess Murat.
'"Munich, Brussels, and Vienna have also been visited, and an offer for a two years' tour round the world was only declined because it would mean too long an absence from home. Babs, of course, goes to school, and Beatie is also going through a course of lessons. When Babs gets a little older, we might accept an American offer, as we have had several. Their first engagement at the London Pavilion has been a bi success, and they are booked for the Moss and Stoll tours by their English representative. Mr. Ernest Edelsten, through whom Beatie and Babs have also been secured for pantomime at the Gaiety, Dublin, as the Babes in the Wood." And we may here remark that they should give very original and amusing readings of these characters.'

Beatie & Babs

Beatie & Babs

(photo: Novelty Photo Co, London, circa 1914)

'"Babs is quite as amusing at home as on the stage. She loves her dolls and Teddy bear, and is as childish as any other youngster of her age, and not at all precocious. We were in Paris at the time of the flood, and in Brussels when the Exhibition was burnt down, and when we went to Vienna Babs, in her own quaint way, remarked: 'We had the floods in Paris and the fire at Brussels; I hope we shan't have an earthquake in Vienna.' The children are delighted with stage life, and are never happier than when working. Both speak French and German fluently, and are fond of travelling, but are always glad to get home again."
'The tragic death of Lafayette [in a fire at the Empire, Edinburgh, 9 May 1911] recalled the fact that the dead entertainer was very fond of children, and at Munich came especially to see Beatie and Babs after the show, speaking very flatteringly of their performance, and remarking: "We know how to fill the house, don't we?" The youngsters have also bee personally complimented by Mr. Harry Lauder and other notable artists.
'Beatie laughingly tells of one occasion when on the Continent she and her sister were invited out to dinner by an admirer. When he discovered their youth he confessed he thought they were much older, and begged their acceptance of a box of chocolates. In addition to The Pavement Rehearsal, the sisters have an entertaining and smartly -worked musical interlude, entitled The Little Sargegette, in which Babs gives a ludicrously funny Spanish impersonation, and Beatie contributes some specially clever dancing. Offers for Berlin, Hanover, and several other Continental towns are under consideration; meanwhile, they start on Monday [15 May 1911] a tour of the provinces at Glasgow. The glorious privilege of youth is theirs, and splendidly equipped for their business, they should go far.'
(The Era, London, Saturday, 13 May 1911, p.27c)

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© John Culme, 2009