Minor Player / Variety Act for the week ending
Saturday, 19 July 2008

Frank Sturgis (fl. circa 1913񮕍),
American journalist, vaudevillian and lyricist

Frank Stugis

Frank Sturgis

(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, probably 1913)

'LONDON, May 31 [1913]. . . . Among the many American theatrical people now working in London is a former New York newspaper man, who made a hit in a revue and has come over here for the London Opera House [to feature in the revue, Come Over Here]. he is Frank Sturgis, and his first theatrical engagement came about under peculiar circumstances.
'Mr. Sturgis, after working on the staff of various New York papers, found his eyes were giving out. He suffered from temporary blindness and gave up writing. At Amherst College he had been the star performer in the Glee Club. When misfortune came he got out his guitar and decided to work his way around the world. He embarked for London with $2, besides his fare, and happened to choose the same boat in which the London Opera House management was bringing over the present troupe. Mr. Sturgis entertained on deck with his guitar, and a small part was offered him. Recently he had the contract extended for several years, as he had proved to be one of the most useful members of the company.'
(The New York Times, New York, Sunday, 1 June 1913)

'LONDON, June 28 [1913]. - To-night marks the close of the ten weeks' contract under which the majority of the American principals were engaged for the London Opera House revue. Very few are being re-engaged. Arthur Deagon is about to take a ''flyer'' in British vaudeville at the Holborn Empire Theatre. Perle Barti quit early in the week and says she is studying for grand opera. Grace Washburn, who was in the Egyptian pantomime, which has been withdrawn, will go to Berlin, where, she says, she has received an offer from the Winter Garden and where she hopes to obtain an engagement in a Reinhardt production. Frank Sturgis, the former American newspaper man, has been retained.'
(The New York Times, New York, 29 June 1913)

Very little is known of Frank Sturgis (whose name is often incorrectly spelled Sturgess), although it is clear that for a short time between about 1913 and 1917 he was a successful lyricist, working with such composers as J. Rosamond Johnson ('I See Your Face in Ev'ry Rose,' 'Life is a Dancing Roman Holiday,' 'That Sandman Glide,' 'The Scandinavian Glide' and 'Will You Waltz on the Ice with Me? all published in New York or London about 1913/14); Sam Smart ('Good Old Broadway,' 'Never Take the Rubber off the Bank Roll' and 'She Was Just a Dancer in a French Café,' circa 1913); Gilbert Dodge ('You Promised Me That Some Day You'd Be Mine,' 1915), and Anita Doré ('Where Tears are Stars,' 1917). Sturgis also wrote the lyrics to a number of his own songs, including the sentimental ballad 'Joan of Arc, They're Calling You,' published in 1915 (not to be confused with another song of the same name by Jack Wells, lyrics by Alfred Bryan and Willie Weston, published in 1917).

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© John Culme, 2008