Vera Pearce

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Vera Pearce
Vera Pearce - May and Mina Moore.jpg
Portrait by May and Mina Moore
Annie Vera Pearce

(1895-05-27)27 May 1895
Died18 January 1966(1966-01-18) (aged 70)
Lambeth, London, England
Years activec. 1900–1961
Relatives Harold Holt (nephew)
Pearce in 1919 Vera Pearce - Murmann Studios.jpg
Pearce in 1919

Annie Vera Pearce (27 May 1895 – 18 January 1966) was an Australian stage and film actress. Her lengthy career was carried out in both her home country and in England. [1] [2]



Pearce in 1918 Vera Pearce 1918.jpg
Pearce in 1918

Born in Broken Hill (New South Wales), Pearce spent much of her youth in Adelaide, and made her stage debut there at age five with the World's Entertainers [3] She went on to train as a juvenile performer in pantomimes and musical comedies produced by J. C. Williamson Ltd, and in 1910 scored much acclaim for her role in the Firm's hit production Our Miss Gibbs (1910). [4]

After making her film debut in The Shepherd of the Southern Cross (1914), Pearce went to England with the aim of carving out a career there but was induced to return to Australia shortly afterwards by Hugh D. McIntosh, General Manager of Harry Rickards Tivoli Theatres Ltd. [5]

Pearce made her return to the Australian stage in November 1914 as one of the stars of the Tivoli Follies revue, and remained with the show throughout its two and a half year tour around the country. Among the other productions she appeared in over the next seven years were The Beauty Shop (1917), My Lady Frayle (1919), The Officers' Mess (1919), His Little Widows (1920) and Chu Chin Chow (1920), in which she played Zahrat-al-Kulub opposite Charles H. Workman (as Ali Baba). [6] [7]

Pearce moved to the UK in 1922, with one of her earliest shows being Love's Awakening. She went on to work consistently on the London stage in musicals and pantomimes up until her death. In 1954 she appeared with Ralph Lynn and Robertson Hare in the West End farce The Party Spirit . Her last notable appearance, though, was in a 1957 New York City production of Georges Feydeau's farce Hotel Paradise (aka L'Hôtel du libre échange ). [8] She also appeared in at least 16 films between 1931 and 1966.

Personal life

Pearce was in a long-term relationship with a married man, Hugh D. McIntosh. Her nephew Harold Holt became Prime Minister of Australia ten days after Pearce's death. [9]

Historical note

Pearce won two beauty contests in Australia. The first was promoted by West's Pictures in Sydney in 1911. The second event, the 1916 White City Beauty Competition, created controversy when it became known that the judges were linked to the vaudeville industry. The revelation also led to a number of 100-1 bets being placed by well-known "sporting gentlemen" for Pearce to win. When she was announced the winner the huge audience reportedly went "frigidly silent [being] too astounded to take the result seriously" [10]


Pearce towards the end of her career Actress Vera Pearce.jpg
Pearce towards the end of her career
1914 The Shepherd of the Southern Cross Lady Helen Reynolds
1916 The Martyrdom of Nurse Cavell Short
1933 Yes, Mr. Brown Franzi
1933 That's a Good Girl Suny Berata
1933 Just My Luck Lady Croft
1935 So You Won't Talk Edith
1935 Heat Wave Gloria Spania
1935 Royal Cavalcade
1936 Southern Roses Carrie, the Cannon-Ball Queen
1937 Please Teacher Petunia Trundle
1938 What a Man! Emily Pennyfeather
1939 Yes, Madam? Pansy Beresford
1947 Nicholas Nickleby Mrs. Crummles
1951 One Wild Oat Mrs. Gilbey
1954 The Men of Sherwood Forest Elvira
1959 The Night We Dropped a Clanger Madame Grilby
1961 The Night We Got the Bird Aunt
1961 Nothing Barred Lady Millicent(final film role)

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  1. "Vera Pearce." BFI. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  2. "The Stage". The Mail . Adelaide. 4 July 1914. p. 22. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
  3. "Miss Vera Pearce." The Mail (Adelaide) 28 June 1913, p.12. [Retrieved 16 February 2014]
  4. "Vera Pearce" at Australian Variety Theatre Archive. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  5. "West's Gala Night". The Mail . Adelaide. 11 July 1914. p. 22. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
  6. Murphy, Lynne. "Vera Pearce." Companion to Theatre in Australia. Sydney: Currency Press, 1995, p. 429
  7. Gänzl, Kurt. "Chu Chin Chow Musical Tale of the East In 3 Acts, Music by Frederic Norton", Operetta Research Center, 9 July 2016
  8. Murphy, Lynne. "Vera Pearce." Companion to Theatre in Australia. Sydney: Currency Press, 1995, p.429.
  9. Hugh D. McIntosh at Live Performance Hall of Fame
  10. "How Vera Won." Theatre Magazine June 1916, p.42 (Cited in "Vera Pearce" at the Australian Variety Theatre Archive). Retrieved 16 February 2014.