Cigarette card for the week ending
Saturday, 7 March 2009

Alice Leamar (1869-1950)
English music hall vocalist and dancer,
the original singer in England of
'And Her Golden Hair was Hanging Down her Back'

Alice Leamar

Alice Leamar

(photo: unknown, circa 1899)

This real photograph cigarette card was issued in England by Ogden's in one of their Guinea Gold series about 1900. The subject is the English music hall singer and dancer, Alice Leamar. Among her many songs was Felix McGlennon's 'And Her Golden Hair was Hanging Down her Back', introduced in 1894. Her success with this was somewhat overshadowed by Seymour Hicks's rendering, who was swift to introduce it into the musical comedy The Shop Girl, then running at the Gaiety Theatre, London. Many years later Miss Leamar had the satisfaction of singing 'And Her Golden Hair was Hanging Down her Back' at the Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium on 29 October 1935. This was recorded for the HMV label (C-2795); for an instrumental version by Banta's Orchestra, recorded about 1895, see www.tinfoil.com.

Alice Leamar

Alice Leamar

(photo: Boning & Small, London, circa 1888)

'Miss Leamar has the advantage of youth, for she will only reach her 21st birthday in June next, and this, combined with unquestionable ability as one of the most delightful dancers on the stage, and a bewitching power of enchanting all and sundry of her thousands of admirers with her graceful and refined performances, assuredly places the charming young artiste in the front rank of entertainers.
'Her first appearance was made when quite a little girl, at the old Royal and Collins's. Previously to this, however, and when only nine years old, Miss Leamar appeared as an angel in a sketch at the Princess's Palace, Leeds. She was taught dancing by old Mr. Buckingham, who had a school at the back of the Pavilion Theatre, in the Mile End Road . . . She also appeared at the old Standard, and remained hard at work for about a year. After a holiday at home for a year her sister [Eugenie], the wife of the well-known comic actor, T.P. Haynes, sent for her to go to Portsmouth, where she made a most successful début as second in the pantomime, Babes in the Wood. On her return to town she started singing and dancing at the halls in earnest, and secured a continuous run of good engagements, till the pantomime of 1885 at the Grand, Islington, in which she played second girl. The following year she played the principal part at Portsmouth, and made a big hit. Of course the interval was filled up in town. She was engaged by Mr. McIville, for the Grand Theatre pantomime at Birmingham, and we can ourselves say she was a big hit in her part - having seen the show. After a short rest she took a tour in the provinces, and was greatly applauded by the public of Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, Brighton and Dublin. She is now delighting the audiences at the Royal, Collins's, and the Trocadero, and under the guidance of her able agent, good old George Ware - to use the lady's own words - numerous other engagements are in hand.'
(The Music Hall, London, Saturday, 12 April 1890, p.8a/b)

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© John Culme, 2009