Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 21 November 2009

Ada Lundberg (1850-1899),
'The Gem of Comedy,'
English music hall commedienne

Ada Lundberg

'The Postman was positively rude' / 'The Pleeceman is hutterly disgusted'
'Pack your box and leave the house at once' / 'The butcher boy says, Well, - There! And then language fails him'

Lithograph portrait of Ada Lundberg, probably after a photograph,
on the song sheet cover of one of her most popular ditties, 'All Thro' Sticking to a Soldier,'
written and composed by Harry Wincott, circa 1890.

(lithograph by H.G. Banks, printed by W. Stannard,
published by B. Mocatta & Co, London, circa 1890)

Canterbury music hall, London, week beginning Monday, 2 June 1884
'The Albert and Edmunds Troupe kept the fun at a high pitch with their clever "Cab Act," and Miss Ada Lundberg's singing made a very favourable impression.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 7 June 1884, p.11a)

Sun music hall, London, week beginning Monday, 14 June 1884
'Miss Ada Lundberg, as the "Broken-Hearted Slavey," causes loud laughter.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 19 July 1884, p.6b)

Little Red Riding Hood, Pavilion, 26 December 1884

An advertisement for Little Red Riding Hood,
the Christmas pantomime at the Pavilion Theatre, Mile End Road, east London, 1884.

(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 24 January 1885, p.2a)

As much as it is a surprise to find Ada Lundberg playing Prince Delightful, the principal boy in this version of the pantomime Little Red Riding Hood at the Pavilion Theatre, Mile End Road, during the Christmas season of 1884/1885, it is also interesting to note two younger members of the cast who were later stars. The first, 'A. Reeves,' became known all over the United Kingdom and Australia as Ada Reeve (1876-1966) as she extended her music hall career to the legitimate stage and subsequently also to films, radio and television. The second, 'W. Evans,' was Will Evans (1873/75-1931), son of the celebrated pantomimist and acrobatic dancer, Fred Evans, also among the Little Red Riding Hood cast. Will, who trained as a pantomimist, developed into a highly popular music hall comedian whose sketches and knockabout routines kept audiences amused for a quarter of a century; he also made many recordings.

'Miss Ada Lundberg as Prince Delightful was somewhat out of her usual line, but managed to arouse the greatest enthusiasm by her singing and dancing, her song "Too-rool-laddy" gaining most vociferous encores and creating quite a furore.'
(The Era, London, Saturday, 27 December 1884, p.9b/c)

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Sun music hall, London, week beginning Monday, 6 April 1885
'Miss Ada Lundberg is one of those queens of low-comedy who help to make merry the heart of man and woman. This lady adheres to delineation of character of a lowly type, and her plebeian realisations are of a faithful and, withal, amusing order. Miss Lundberg knows her strength, and never sails in regions with which she is not familiar.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 11 April 1885, p.12a)

Star music hall, London, week beginning Monday, 13 April 1885
'Miss Ada Lundberg is a lady who delineates character very faithfully. It is quite true that she selects humble models, but she realises with much fidelity.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 18 April 1885, p.11b)

Queen's music hall, Poplar, East London, week beginning Monday, 28 December 1885
'Miss Ada Lundberg's low-comedy essays are of a merry type, and the excellent spirit of the singer seems to communicate itself to the audience.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 2 January 1886, p.5b)

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South London Palace, week beginning Monday, 11 January 1886
'They were followed by Miss Ada Lundberg, a very clever character comic lady, who sang three songs in her usual lively style, but her second songs was, to a certain extent, marred by the loud accompaniment of the band. Her last song, "Cowardy, Cowardy, Custard!" was so ably rendered that the loud applause which followed was well-merited, and Miss Lundberg was obliged to come forward and bow her acknowledgements before that most genial of chairmen, Mr. Courtney, could quiet the audience."
(Interlude, London, 16 January 1886)

Deacon's North London Palace of Varieties, week beginning Monday, 18 January 1886
'The character songs of Miss Ada Lundberg were completely successful. It is rare, indeed, that an artist gets such a reception as that accorded to this lever low comedy lady. She was enthusiastically recalled, and had to sing "Too-ral-la-di," which amuses as much as ever. Even then the audience were not appeased until she pleased other engagements as an excuse for retiring.'
(The Era, London, Saturday, 23 January 1886)

Royal music hall, Holborn, London, week beginning Monday, 18 January 1886
'Ada Lundberg gives a first-class rendering of her songs. The one which she defies her husband to get rid of her � his fourth wife � through he may have been lucky in despatching his three previous ones, is very good; but her greatest success is undoubtedly "Too-ral-la-di." Her make-up is ludicrous enough, but her action and remarkably funny rendering of the song make the impersonation quite an artistic success.'
(Interlude, London, 23 January 1886)

Deacon's North London Palace of Varieties, week beginning Monday, 25 January 1886
'Miss Ada Lundberg is an admirable character-actress, who keeps entirely faithful to the models she follows in her various delineations, which are full of spirit and "go." Miss Lundberg is thoroughly earnest, and never by any chance does her work assume a lukewarm appearance.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 30 January 1886, p.11a)

Parthenon music hall, Greenwich, week beginning Monday, 10 May 1886
'Miss Ada Lundberg is a most lively delineator of enterprising ladies in a lowly phase of life. Miss Lundberg abandons herself most completely in favour of the character she portrays, and the consequence is she furnishes an excellent likeness.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 15 May 1886, p.11b)

Parthenon music hall, Greenwich, week beginning Monday, 17 May 1886
'Miss Ada Lundberg's reception increased in fervour as she followed one amusing character song with another. As an Irish mother singing of her son James, a scholar chock-full of "book learning," this really clever comedienne gave a finished study of middle age. The make-up, business, and dress were all conspicuously good. Miss Lundberg's great success with the audience, however, came with her portraiture of a young, very skittish, and irrepressible romp, which secured for her the loudest applause of the night. In responding to the loudly expressed and unanimous desire for an encore, she gave that favourite sketch of a slavey in the song, "Tooralladdie," of which the Greenwich public do not seem as yet likely to tire.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 29 May 1886, p.13b)

Gatti's music hall, London, week beginning Monday, 2 August 1886
'Miss Ada Lundberg is a thorough-going character-vocalist, who, in her delineation of the pleasure-loving ladies in the lower walks, shows great earnestness and an enjoyable amount of humour. Miss Lundberg evidently revels in her work, and her results are those which not only satisfies herself, but they must be eminently gratifying to the managements of the halls where she so merrily disports.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Monday, 7 August 1886, p.12a/b)

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Paragon Theatre of Varieties, Mile End Road, London.
'Miss Ada Lundberg's varied delineations of character are excellent and thorough, more especially that of the lady, who loves her glass "not wisely, but too well." There is a genuineness about Miss Lundberg's performances which carries conviction with it.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 2 April 1887, p.6b)

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Empire, Leicester Square, London, week beginning Monday, 20 February 1888
'Miss Ada Lundberg's low-comedy contributions are made with that spirit which invariably characterises the service of that lady.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 25 February 1888, p.6b)

Peckham Theatre of Varieties, south London, week beginning Monday, 20 February 1888
'Miss Ada Lundberg is a merry performer, and whatever she takes in hand she accomplishes with a heartiness which is worthy of imitation. Her "Vivandière" song goes well, and the ditty treating of the payment of taxes ['Why Do We Pay the Taxes?" by James Holmaz] even better.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 25 February 1888, p.11a)

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Ada Lundberg by Walter Sickert

Ada Lundberg and her audience

(Black and white half-tone reproduction of an original painting by Walter Sickert
from The Yellow Book, vol.II, London, July 1894)

Although the above oil painting by Walter Sickert (1860-1942) was first published in the second volume of The Yellow Book in July 1894, it has been suggested that it dates from as early as 1887. When it was shown in the 1992/93 exhibition devoted to Sickert�s work at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, the compilers of the catalogue noted that it was originally called 'Ada Lundberg,' but that it is also known as 'Bonnet et Claque' and 'It all comes from sticking to a soldier,' the latter being the title of Miss Lundberg�s most popular song. As Wendy Baron wrote in that catalogue, Ada Lundberg 'was a pioneer of "low-life" character sketches and ribald songs.' (p.66). Her repertoire also included 'The Coster�s Night Out,' 'That's a Bit of Comfort to a Poor Old Maid,' 'Sich a Nice Gal, Too,' 'My First Young Man,' and 'Sarah of the Fried Fish Shop.'

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'LUNDBERG. � Sept. 30th [1899], Margaret Ada Clegg Everard (Ada Lundberg), music hall comedienne, aged forty-nine.'
(The Era, London, Saturday, 7 October 1899, p.14b)


'The death of Miss Ada Lundberg removes from our midst one of the most successful low comediennes of the music halls. She retained her popularity, too, up to the commencement of her last and fatal illness, and had been for years a very welcome turn at the Syndicate halls and at other of the most important London variety theatres. Like most of the prominent artistes on the lesser stage Miss Lundberg had a song that will always be associated with her memory. "Tooralladdie" was the refrain of the selection sung by a broken-down slavey, a cross between the "Marchioness" of Dickens and the Belinda of Henry J. Byron's Our Boys. The love reminiscences of the smutty-faced maid-of-all-work, with her red hair knotted with rags, can never be effaced from the memories of those who saw Ada Lundberg in this wonderful impersonation � one in which oddity and eeriness were at times streaked with pathos. It was some eight years since that the deceased lady appeared as principal boy in pantomime at the pavilion theatre, Mile-end, then under the management of Mr Morris Abrahams, and this we believe was her only engagement at a London theatre. Miss Lundberg died at twelve o'clock on Saturday night [30 September 1899] at her residence in Stockwell Park-road, [London] S.W., at the age of forty-nine. She was buried in the family grave at Tooting Cemetery on Wednesday. Wreaths were sent by her son, Mr George Everard; her daughter-in-law, Ethel Yorke; George Lill, and others. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr Theophilus Dunkley.
'The deceased, who was born in May, 1850, was a native of Bristol, and ran away from home at the early age of eleven. Following the circus business for some years, she posed in the ten popular "Poses Plastiques," afterwards going to the theatre to play chambermaid parts. She also did male impersonations, and appeared as Peg Woffington. Miss Lundberg migrated to the music halls in the [eighteen] sixties, when artists' salaries were not nearly so large as at present, an artiste in those days "topping the bill" at �2. One of her earliest songs was "My First Young Man," in which she made up as a "baby romp," an impersonation that has since become popular to the profession. "Betsy Barlow," a well-known song of hers about 1874, embraced topics, politics, &c.
'Miss Lundberg became a popular artiste in London about 1876, appearing both at the Marylebone and Middlesex, then two of the best known places of amusement in the metropolis. She was always successful in the provinces, and had entertained at every hall, big and little, in the country. She first appeared at the London Pavilion in 1876, also at the Cambridge, Winchester, &c. Subsequently, she was engaged by the Syndicate for six years. Miss Lundberg went to America in 1893, and performed successfully at Koster and Bial's.
'She was the wife of T.C. Everard [born Rochdale, circa 1847], a well-known artist in his day, and the mother of George Everard, a popular composer of melodies.
'Her most successful songs included "Tooralladdie," "Such a nice gal, too," "All through sticking to a soldier," "Mother-in-law," "That's a bit of comfort for a poor old maid," &c. Her Irish characters were always studies, and her drunken woman's song, "I'm all right up till now," was considered a fine piece of work. It was first heard in the 'seventies, and was popular up till the time of her inability to perform. She made her last appearance at the Tivoli, Manchester, in June, 1899. Since then she had been very ill. The deceased artiste was beloved by all who knew her, and was a good friend to her sister and brother professionals, particularly to those in adversity or distress.' (The Era, London, Saturday, 7 October 1899, p.19c)

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© John Culme, 2009