Footlight Notes banner with Doris Stocker, photo by Bassano, circa 1909

Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 20 February 2010

Gertie Lena (Mrs Roberto Lena, b. 1880),
English actress and singer

Gertie Lena

Gertie Lena

(photo: unknown, probably UK, circa 1905)

Gertie Lena (neé Gertrude Sarah Whitfield) was born in 1880 at Exeter, Devon, the daughter of John Whitfield, a painter, and his wife Eliza. She married on 7 February 1897 at Reddal-Hill, near Dudley, Stafford, the actor Roberto Ernesto Frederico Lena, professionally known as Roberto Lena, and they subsequently appeared together on tour with Arthur Carlton's Company in Our British Empire; or, The Gordon Highlanders, a five act drama by C.A. Aldin, he playing Captain Hawke and she Polly Slapstring. On 17 September 1899 a daughter, Alba Gertrude Lena, was born to the couple; she later became an actress, professionally known as Alba Lena. Mr and Mrs Lena established their own touring company about 1903, playing all over the United Kingdom and many times in Ireland. Meanwhile, Gertie Lena appeared in various pantomimes, including as Poo-Poo (son of The Bendi Nee, Grand Vizier, played by Victor Scoble) in Aladdin, at the Victoria Theatre, Walthamstow, London, Christmas 1899; and as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderalla at the Palace Theatre, Durham, Christmas 1913.

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© John Culme, 2010