Postcard of the week ending
Saturday, 27 June 2009

Hetty King (1883-1972),
English music hall male impersonator
and pantomime principal boy,
in the United States of America in 1907

Hetty King

'All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor'

Hetty King

(photo: R. Brown, England, 1906)

This real photograph postcard, Philco Series 3136 G, was published by the Philco Publishing Co of London in 1906.

Hetty King in New York, October 1907
'Hetty King, the English ''male impersonator,'' who made her American debut as a ''star'' of ''advanced vaudeville'' in the New York Theater on Monday night, has made a hit that eclipses even the successes achieved in this country by Vesta Tilley and Bessie Bonehill, who presented similar acts here. Miss King equals Vesta Tilley in the perfection of her sartorial effects, while her impersonations are as artistic as those of Bessie Bonehill. In addition she possesses a voice and a beauty that neither of her predecessors here can rival.'
(The New York Press, New York, Wednesday, 9 October 1907)

'Miss Hetty King, the male impersonator, who has made perhaps the most distinct hit of any of the English vaudevillians who have been here this season, and who is acknowledged to be the equal of any artist who has ever come here from abroad, again will head the ''advanced vaudeville'' bill. Miss King, in a single week, has leaped into phenomenal favour by her manner of characterisation, her personal magnetism, and her clever singing and dancing. For the second week of her engagement Miss king will introduce several new characters and songs, retaining, however, those that have become most popular. Notable among these are her Piccadilly swell's song, ''When a Fellow is Twenty-one,'' and her sailor song, ''I'm Going Away.''
(The New York Press, New York, Sunday, 13 October 1907)

'Hetty King might be a boy really for all that one can see when she stands forth in the evening suit of a London beau. Her hair is cropped short, her trousers are not bulged at the hips nor her coat at the breast and nothing in her aspect contradicts the assertion of her first song that she is a fellow of twenty one. Not since Ella Wesner have we had anything like so real looking a girl chap. Hetty doesn't make as handsome a fellow as Ella did nor is her contralto voice as boyish but she might saunter in Fifth avenue by bright daylight without raising a suspicion of sexual fraud. She introduces five portraitures that make a rogue's gallery of London dandies each in his own ultra modish change of clothes and his fashionable escapades to sing about from flirtation to inebriety. These are bright young gentlemen not haw haw swells, silly asses or cockney chappies but true studies in Mayfair. A common fellow on an outing at Brighton and a sailor off for a voyage are contrasts. The Jacky's [i.e. Jack Tar = sailor] song has been marked for special popularity. A force of whistlers in the gallery joins in the melody of its chorus. I've too many sweethearts in one port, and it's rot to think of marrying the lot, so I'm going to sail away. Hetty's sailor dances a nimble hornpipe, too. Hetty is incidentally a monitor and model for New York fops. Her suits will serve for the winter's guides to perfections in dress. From her we learn that the right morning coat is a double breasted jacket, that the evening swallow tail still has a white vest, that the afternoon coat is a long cutaway and that the Prince Albert frock has become an overcoat to a tweed undercoat. Thus does the stage teach its lessons.'
(The Washington Post, Washington DC, Sunday, 13 October 1907, p.12h)

Hetty King in Chicago, December 1907
'All Chicago agrees that Hetty King is "the neatest creation in men's attire" in Chicago, and the vociferous applause given her twice daily during the past week indicates that Chicago wants to see some more. She will remain for just this week, and then sail for England, where she is booked for an entire year. If you have not heard her sing "I Am Going Away," you have missed the greatest song of Britain's greatest male impersonator.'
(Palatine Enterprise, Palatine, Illinois, Friday, 6 December 1907, p.1a)

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Ella Wesner

Ella Wesner (1841-1917), American dancer, singer and male impersonator.

Miss Wesner's sisters Mary, Sallie, Lizzie and Margaret were also actresses.

(photo: Sarony, New York, circa 1870)

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© John Culme, 2009