Postcard of the week ending
Saturday, 6 December 2008

Denise Orme (1884-1960),
English actress, musician and singer


Denise Orme

(photo: various, including Bassano, London, 1905-1906)

This real photograph postcard with in-house artwork by the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd of London was published in the firm's Rotary Photographic Series (no. 5544 A), probably in 1906. It is one of a small group issued in tribute to popular young actresses of the day, including Zena Dare. The subject of this example, Denise Orme (whose real name was Jessie Smither), was a student at the Royal College of Music when she came to the notice of the impresario George Edwardes. Under his management, her first appearance on stage was in the chorus of the English version of Andreé Messager's The Little Michus, produced at Daly's Theatre, London, on 29 April 1905. During the July of that year Miss Orme succeeded Mabel Green in the role of Marie Blanche Michu and was in turn succeeded in the same part by Themla Raye. Miss Orme's successful subsequent career, briefly interrupted in 1907 by marriage, continued in various shows and other appearances until her last, as Lady Elizabeth Thanet in the musical comedy Our Miss Gibbs, produced at the Gaiety, London, on 23 January 1909.

'London, Sept. 21 [1907]. - Miss Denise Orme, a celebrated English stage beauty, was married last April to Capt. John Reginald Lopes Yarde-Buller, but they succeeded in keeping their wedding secret until now. Miss Orme continued with her company until the end of the season last spring, and nobody even suspected that she was a bride. Captain Yarde-Buller is the heir of Lord Churston, who is many times a millionaire. The Young man is an officer in the English army.'
(San Antonio Gazette, San Antonio, Texas, Saturday, 21 September 1907, p. Extra News Section, p. 1b/c)

'Actress is Raised to Nobility.
'London, Nov. 20 [1910]. - Death to-day raised a former burlesque [sic] actress to the ranks of Great Britain's titled nobility. With the demise of Baron Churston, the former Denise Orme, as the wife of the Baron's heir, the Hon. John Reginald Lopes Yarde-Buller becomes Lady Churston. She was formerly one of the best known actresses upon the English burlesque [sic] stage. Baron Churston was 64 years of age.'
(Utica Herald-Dispatch, New York, Wednesday, 10 November 1910, p. 6d)

'An American girl attended last month the O.P. Club dinner whereat four peeresses, formerly Gaity girls [sic] appeared - the Countess of Orkey [Orkney] (Connie Gilchrist), the Marchioness of Headfort (Rosie Boot [sic]), Countess Churston (Denise Orme) [and Countess Poulett (Sylvia Storey)].
'''George Grossmith, at the dinner,'' said the American girl, ''advised the peeresses to be content with their husbands and satisfied with life. Nothing was so bad, George declared but what it might be worse.
'''He said the bride of an impoverished peer look up from the Gentlewoman [a ladies' magazine] one evening and remarked bitterly:
'''Here's a Park lane magnate gives his wife a Riviera villa. Nothing like that happens to me.
'''Her husband, buried in the News of the World, replied:
'''Well, my dear, here's a New Cut man gives his wife a black eye. Nothing like that ever happens to you, either.'''
(from Los Angeles Times, The Binghampton Press, New York, Wednesday, 8 April 1914, p. 6d)

Between 1905 and 1905 Denise Orme (occasionally using the pseudonym of May Loveday) made a number of recordings for the G&T and Zonophone labels, including a cover version, with Arthur Grover, of André Messager's 'The Swing Song' (Zonophone X-44061, mx 3464e, recorded London, 30 January 1906), the well known duet from Véronique, which was sung in the first London production by Ruth Vincent as Helen de Solanges and Lawrence Rae as Florestan de Valiancourt, Apollo Theatre, London, 18 May 1904

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© John Culme, 2008