Bertram Wallis

Last updated

Wallis as Alexis in King of Cadonia, 1908 Bertram-wallis-king-of-cadonia1.jpg
Wallis as Alexis in King of Cadonia , 1908

Bertram Wallis (22 February 1874 – 11 April 1952) was an English actor and singer known for his performances in plays, musical comedies and operettas in the early 20th century, first as leading men and then in character roles. He also later appeared in several film roles.

Contents

Early years

Wallis was born in London. [1] He was the son of Frederick Augustus Wallis and Sarah Mary (née Williams). [2] A huge man who stood almost 7 feet tall, [ citation needed ] he won the Westmorland Scholarship to study voice at the Royal Academy of Music, [3] where he won the Parepa-Rosa gold medal and the Evill Prize. [4]

After his studies, his first role was Amiens in George Alexander's production of As You Like It in 1896. [5] Edward German composed the music for the production, and Wallis's performance of his songs won praise: "Mr. Bertram Wallis as Amiens sings his solos so well as to quite justify Jacques's remark, 'More, I pr'y thee, more'." [6] Soon afterwards, he played in Much Ado About Nothing , his last production of a Shakespeare play. In the early years of the 20th century, Wallis had his first successes on the musical stage. He sang in a five-man act called "The Musketeers" music hall at the Tivoli Theatre in 1901. [7] In 1902 he appeared in the musical comedy Three Little Maids at the Apollo Theatre, with Lottie Venne, Sybil Grey and Edna May. [8] In 1904 he appeared with Kate Cutler in The Love Birds. [9] He then travelled to New York City to play in several Broadway productions, including A Madcap Princess (1904), Princess Beggar (1907) and Miss Hook of Holland (1907–08), with Christie MacDonald.[ citation needed ]

After this, Wallis starred in a series of successful London musicals, often with Isabel Jay or Jose Collins, including King of Cadonia (1908), Dear Little Denmark (1909) [10] and The Balkan Princess (1910). Playgoer magazine commented, "What a ... fine specimen of mankind is the Grand Duke Sergius as played by Mr. Bertram Wallis!" [11] He next starred in The Count of Luxembourg (1911). In 1911, Wallis temporarily left the musical stage to appear in a non-musical melodrama, Beau Brocade at the Globe Theatre, for which he won good notices. [12]

World War I and later years

In 1913, Wallis wrote the libretto for Betty's Little Joke, a musical comedietta in three acts, with music by Cola Robinson. It was staged at the Palladium, with Wallis heading the cast. [13] In the same year, he was in Love and Laughter by Oscar Straus: one reviewer commented, "Mr. Bertram Wallis, a little stouter than he used to be, is the handsome, brave and loving Prince." [14] He returned to musical comedy in The Happy Day (1916), the hit revue Zig Zag! (1917) and A Southern Maid (1920).

In the 1920s, the now mature Wallis began to play character parts, appearing with great success as Louis XV in Madame Pompadour (1923) by Leo Fall, Frederick Lonsdale and Harry Graham, starring with Evelyn Laye and Derek Oldham. [15] He then appeared in Blue Eyes (1928) and So This is Love (1929). He continued to play roles in West End theatres in the 1930s. In 1935 he appeared with W.H. Berry in a revival of Straus's A Waltz Dream . [16] His last West End appearance was in Waltz Without End, produced by Jack Buchanan in 1942. [17]

Between the wars, Wallis also made a number of films, including The Cost of a Kiss (1917), as Lord Darlington; Victory and Peace (1918), as Bob Brierley; The Wandering Jew (1933), as Prince Bohemund; A Dream of Love (1938), as Liszt 'old'; Chips (1938), as Smuggler; A People Eternal (1939), as The English Prince; and Shipbuilders (1944), as Caven Watson.

Wallis died in London at the age of 78. [18]

Related Research Articles

Lily Elsie Stage and film actor

Elsie Cotton, known professionally as Lily Elsie, was an English actress and singer during the Edwardian era. She was best known for her starring role in the London premiere of Franz Lehár's operetta The Merry Widow.

Leo Fall Austrian composer

Leopold Fall was an Austrian Kapellmeister and composer of operettas.

Rutland Barrington British opera singer and actor

Rutland Barrington was an English singer, actor, comedian and Edwardian musical comedy star. Best remembered for originating the lyric baritone roles in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas from 1877 to 1896, his performing career spanned more than four decades. He also wrote at least a dozen works for the stage.

Walter Passmore British actor and singer

Walter Henry Passmore was an English singer and actor best known as the first successor to George Grossmith in the comic baritone roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

<i>The Balkan Princess</i> musical

The Balkan Princess is a British musical in three acts by Frederick Lonsdale and Frank Curzon, with lyrics by Paul Rubens and Arthur Wimperis, and music by Paul Rubens. It opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre on 19 February 1910. The cast included Isabel Jay and Bertram Wallis. There was a successful Broadway run in 1911, and the show toured widely thereafter.

<i>King of Cadonia</i> musical

King of Cadonia is an English musical in two acts with a book by Frederick Lonsdale, lyrics by Adrian Ross and Arthur Wimperis and music by Sidney Jones and Frederick Rosse. It opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London on 3 September 1908, produced by Frank Curzon, and ran for 333 performances. It starred Isabel Jay, Huntley Wright, and Bertram Wallis. There was a brief Broadway production in 1910 with additional music by Jerome Kern at the Fifth Avenue Theatre and directed by Joseph W. Herbert.

<i>The Count of Luxembourg</i> opera

The Count of Luxembourg is an operetta in two acts with English lyrics and libretto by Basil Hood and Adrian Ross, music by Franz Lehár, based on Lehár's three-act German operetta Der Graf von Luxemburg which had premiered in Vienna in 1909. Lehár made amendments to his Viennese score to accommodate the two-act adaptation. He also interpolated into the score three new pieces: a waltz that he had written for a commemorative performance of Der Graf in Vienna; a song from his first operetta, Wiener Frauen; and a Russian dance from the opera Tatjana.

Robert Evett British opera singer, actor and theatre manager

Robert Evett was an English singer, actor, theatre manager and producer. He was best known as a leading man in Edwardian musical comedies and later managed the George Edwardes theatrical empire.

George Grossmith Jr. Theatrical producer, actor, singer, manager, and author

George Grossmith Jr. was a British actor, theatre producer and manager, director, playwright and songwriter, best remembered for his work in and with Edwardian musical comedies. Grossmith was also an important innovator in bringing "cabaret" and "revues" to the London stage. Born in London, he took his first role on the musical stage at the age of 18 in Haste to the Wedding (1892), a West End collaboration between his famous songwriter and actor father and W. S. Gilbert.

<i>The Happy Day</i> musical

The Happy Day is a musical comedy in two acts by Seymour Hicks, with music by Sidney Jones and Paul Rubens, and lyrics by Adrian Ross and Rubens. It was produced by George Edwardes's company and was directed by Evett. The story concerns a royal couple who dislike each other but ultimately fall in love. A masquerade scene provides opportunities for mistaken identity.

<i>Madame Pompadour</i> (operetta) opera

Madame Pompadour is an operetta in three acts, composed by Leo Fall with a libretto by Rudolph Schanzer and Ernst Welisch. Conducted by the composer, it opened at the Berliner Theater in Berlin on 9 September 1922 and then at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on 2 March 1923.

Phyllis Dare British singer and actress

Phyllis Dare was an English singer and actress, famous for her performances in Edwardian musical comedy and other musical theatre in the first half of the 20th century.

Willie Warde English actor-dancer

Willie Warde was an English actor, dancer, singer and choreographer. The son of a dancer, his first theatre work was with a dance company. He was engaged to arrange dances for London productions and was later cast as a comic actor in musical theatre. He was associated for over two decades with the Gaiety and Daly's theatres under the management of George Edwardes, playing in and choreographing burlesques and, later, Edwardian musical comedies. In later years he played character roles in West End comic plays.

Christie MacDonald Canadian opera singer and stage actor

Christie MacDonald was a Canadian-born American musical comedy actress and opera singer. She was perhaps best remembered as the Princess of Bozena in the 1910 operetta Spring Maid. The 1913 musical Sweethearts specifically was written for MacDonald by composer Victor Herbert. She retired from the stage after appearing in a 1920 revival of the musical comedy Florodora.

W. H. Berry British actor

William Henry Berry, always billed as W. H. Berry, was an English comic actor. After learning his craft in pierrot and concert entertainments, he was spotted by the actor-manager George Grossmith Jr., and appeared in a series of musical comedies in comic character roles. His greatest success was as Mr. Meebles, the hapless magistrate in The Boy in 1917.

Harry Welchman Musical theatre and film actor

Harry Welchman was an English star of musical theatre. He made several appearances in non-musical plays, but was remembered as, in the words of The Times, "perhaps the most popular musical comedy hero on the London stage in the years between the wars."

George Graves (actor) English comic actor

George Windsor Graves was an English comic actor. Although he could neither sing nor dance, he became a leading comedian in musical comedies, adapting the French and Viennese opéra-bouffe style of light comic relief into a broader comedy popular with English audiences of the period. His comic portrayals did much to ensure the West End success of Véronique (1904) The Little Michus, and The Merry Widow (1907).

Emmy Wehlen German actress

Emmy Wehlen (1887–1977) was a German-born Edwardian musical comedy and silent film actress who vanished from the public eye while in her early thirties.

Vera Michelena American stage and screen actor

Vera Michelena was an American actress, contralto prima donna and dancer who appeared in light opera, musical comedy, vaudeville and silent film. She was perhaps best remembered for her starring roles in the musicals The Princess Chic, Flo Flo and The Waltz Dream, her rendition of the vampire dance in the musical Take It from Me and as a Ziegfeld Follies performer.

<i>Arlette</i> (musical)

Arlette is a 1917 operetta in three acts by Austen Hurgon and George Arthurs with lyrics by Adrian Ross and Clifford Grey. Produced by George Grossmith, Jr and Edward Laurillard it was adapted from the French with music by Jane Vieu, Guy Le Feuvre and Ivor Novello. It opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London on 6 September 1917 where it ran for 260 performances. It starred Winifred Barnes, Joseph Coyne and Stanley Lupino.

References

  1. "Academical", The Musical Standard, 6 July 1895, p. 14
  2. Who Was Who in the Theatre: 1912-1976, vol. 4 Q-Z, p. 2484; compiled from editions originally published annually by John Parker; this 1976 edition by Gale Research
  3. "Royal Academy of Music", The Musical Times , August 1895, p.528
  4. "Academical", The Musical Standard, 27 July 1895, p. 66
  5. "As You Like It", The Theatre, 1 January 1897, p. 37
  6. "Mr Edward German's Music to As You Like It", The Musical Times, 1 January 1897, p. 26
  7. Judy, 25 April 1901, p. 201
  8. "Players and Playthings", Judy, 11 June 1902, p. 284
  9. "Players and Playthings", Judy, 2 March 1904, p. 729
  10. "Casts of New Plays and Important Revivals", Era Almanack, January 1910, p.126
  11. "The Balkan Princess", Playgoer and Society Illustrated, March 1910, p. 236
  12. Parker, Oscar, "The London Stage", English Illustrated Magazine, February 1911, p. 475; and "The Theatre", Academy and Literature, 4 February 1911, p. 138
  13. "Casts of New Sketches", Era Almanack, January 1913, p. 165
  14. Mew, Egan, "Love and Laughter at the Lyric Theatre", Academy and Literature, September 1913, p. 337
  15. "Madame Pompadour", The Times, 21 December 1923, p. 8
  16. "A Waltz Dream, Winter Garden Theatre", Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, 12 January 1935, p. 56
  17. "Cambridge Theatre, Waltz Without End", The Times, 30 September 1942, p. 6
  18. "Obituary", The Times 15 April 1952, p. 4