Postcard of the week ending
Saturday, 25 September 2004

Phyllis Dare (1890-1975)
popular English musical comedy star as a Sandow Girl

 Phyllis Dare

Phyllis Dare

(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, probably 1907)

This real photograph postcard from a photograph by Foulsham & Banfield, was published, probably in 1907, in the Rotary Photographic Series (4821 A) of the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd of London. It shows Phyllis Dare in the song 'The Sandow Girl' from the farcical musical play, The Dairymaids. This show was originally produced at the Apollo Theatre, London, on 14 April 1906, with the Australian actress Carrie Moore in the leading role of Peggy. 'The Sandow Girl' was introduced into the play by Miss Moore and was subsequently sung by Phyllis Dare when she took up the part of Peggy in The Dairymaids on tour in 1907, the original run having ended after 239 performances at the Apollo on 8 December 1906. Phyllis Dare continued to play Peggy and to feature 'The Sandow Girl' when The Dairymaids was revived for a further 76 performances at the Queen's Theatre, London, on 5 May 1908.

'Little did I think when, year ago, my sister Zena and I used to lie awake at night and build castles in the air about the wonderful parts we fondly hoped, some day, to play that I should ever figure in public as a "strong woman" or, in other words, as a "Sandow Girl." Still, as those happy-go-lucky people, who take life just as it comes and never seem surprised at anything, are wont to say, "one never knows what will happen in a lifetime"; so, sure enough, although, had I been a bookmaker I should have laid at least one hundred pounds to a shilling against such a chance, I have, nevertheless, actually figures as the one and only "Sandow Girl."
'However, I should like to say at once that I am not really a strong woman at all, as, since I have been playing my present part, many people have, apparently, jumped to the conclusion that I have suddenly developed into a weight-lifting champion, or a lady Hercules of some kind or other.
'And this reminds me that, on the second night of my appearance as a Sandow Girl, I received the following offer of marriage:- '"Until to-night, although, of course, I have seen your photograph in hundreds of shop-windows, I was unaware that you were a strong woman. In ten days' time I leave to join an exploration party in West Africa, but as I shall be away for a number of years I should very much like to take my wife with me. Will you be my wife? I have never met another woman in the world I should care to marry, and, as you are a Sandow Girl, you should well be able to stand the climate on the West Coast of Africa, which, as you may have heard, is not of the best. I would add that I am a comparatively rich man I have an income of between six and seven thousand a year. In consequence, it would be unnecessary for you ever to have to return to the stage again."
'Truly well, "truth is stranger that fiction," and the letters that actresses receive are stranger than both!
'Before I lay down my pen you don't know what hard work writing a sort of biography is to one who is not used to literary work I should just like to try and remove the opinion so many members of the outside public hold that the life of an actress is nothing more serious than a few rehearsals and three or four hours at the theatre in the evening.
'Let me, for example, just sketch out an account of what I did during the last two days before I set out on a recent tour with The Dairymaids. The following are some of the more urgent duties I had to attend to:-
'Three visits to my theatrical dressmaker; two visits to my own dressmaker; measured for theatrical shoes; measured for private footgear; six hours at Messrs. Foulsham & Banfield's, my theatrical photographers; four hours at rehearsals; business connected with my appearance in pantomime at Birmingham at Christmas; two visits to theatrical milliners; visit to a well-known song-writer to try over some new songs he was writing for me; an hour's practice at two new dances; singed over three hundred picture postcards, and replied personally to thirty-four letters.'
(Phyllis Dare, From School to Stage, Collier & Co, London, 1907, pp.127-132)

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John Culme, 2004