Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The A-Z of Sherlock Holmes Performers - A Special Tribute & Contribution.

"Silver Blaze" Granada TV.
Horse-whisperer: "Three thousand, you say?"
Silver Blaze: (with a wink) "From the horse's mouth, Mr Holmes."

In this case, the horse's mouth is Sherlockian media expert, Howard Ostrom of Florida, whose alphabetical index of the world's Sherlock Holmes performers since 1893 recently passed a milestone: 3000 entries. The A-Z may be viewed HERE on the "No Place Like Holmes" website hosted by Ross K. Foad and this special post is by way of tribute to an admirable endeavour. 

I am delighted to see both these gentlemen in the record. Ross has the distinction of being the first to play Sherlock Holmes in a web series and he has just returned from a self-imposed hiatus to trail NPLH series 6. In the stories, Holmes is, to my mind, revealed as more than a detective in his love of music and Ross comes across as a man of more (creative) parts too in the personal statement that introduces his trailer. I think this a salutary lesson for all Sherlockians. See his 27/11/2016 post HERE .

It's been a researcher's delight to play a minor role in the project. Behind every find is a tale that educates the detective in unpredictable ways and you come away with far more than another name. It's just like the pattern of most Sherlock Holmes stories: revelation of the solution never matches (for Holmes, Watson or the reader) the thrill of the chase.

Sherlock Holmes on the New World Stage: First Landfall.


1893 poster for the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition.
Just 29 years had elapsed since the end of the American Civil War when Arthur Conan Doyle embarked on his first lecture tour of a United States. In the first week he encountered two reminders of that conflict in the person of veteran Major James B Pond - a recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism at Baxter Springs, organizer of the author's itinerary - and Bronson Howard's stage drama, "Shenandoah"

Under the management of a young Charles Frohman, General Philip Sheridan's 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign was brought to astonishingly realistic life on the cavernous stage of New York's Academy of Music, deploying 300 soldiers, sundry cannon and 40 horses to spectacular effect. The Sacramento Daily Union for 29 September carried a full description (scroll down column 1 HERE ). Conan Doyle saw it on October 2 and would unwittingly cross Frohman's path again in Chicago on the 14th when his future associate (with the Gillette "Sherlock Holmes") happened also to attend the Opera House to see a very different spectacle, the extravaganza "Aladdin Jr" with Sophie Harris in the title role. The production had premiered in June but elsewhere that October (in Elizabeth NJ and Providence RI) another, much more successful extravaganza was touring that, in a later incarnation, would, for the first time, bring Sherlock Holmes to the New World stage: "Hendrick Hudson; or, The Discovery of Columbus".


Alhambra, Chicago c 1907.
Chicago's Columbian Exposition opened belatedly the year after the quatercentenary it marked and was over by Doyle's arrival. Had he travelled there in the summer of '93 apart from visiting the strangely modest British pavilion, he may well have seized the opportunity to see the Houdini Brothers who performed in the Curio Hall that August (see HERE ).  
British Pavilion 1893
For entertainment he may well have been directed beyond the White City to the most popular show in town: "Hendrick Hudson" at the Alhambra, starring Corinne aka Little Corinne, the girl with the mandoline, in the extravaganza's title role.

Hendrick Hudson 1890-97.
The evolution of this historically impossible fantasy (Henry Hudson meets Christopher Columbus) is only one story in the Naked City of 19th century theatre but exemplifies survival through canny adaptation. For the Sherlockian it also illustrates elegantly the gradual assimilation of Holmes into American hearts and minds. Four distinct phases are apparent.

1890 (The failed Mark 1)
In an attempt to cash in on the current taste for females in 'trouser roles', Fay Templeton starred in the new musical burlesque by Robert Frazer and William Gill. It premiered at the 14th Street Theatre, New York on August 18, lasting just 16 performances. Panned as "merely twaddle and tights", the show went on the road, returning after some tinkering to the Park Theatre. Irretrievably poor, a fortnight that October saw its deserved demise.

1893-4 (The successful Mark 2)
By contrast, "Hendrick Hudson", newly and expertly adapted, hit the ground running during the World's Fair, arriving at The Academy in September after 75 performances in H R Jacobs' Chicago theatres, the Alhambra and Clark St. In early November it went on tour, playing essentially the Alhambra version for the next twelve months. The happily detailed 1893 programme for a November 3 performance at London, Ontario's Grand Opera House survives. Please view it HERE . There are features of special interest. In describing the Acts it is clear the original burlesque was revamped wholesale as an occasional celebration, site-specific to the World's Fair, accounting in part for the show's success. Just as apparent is the care taken to incorporate its star in a way that played to her strengths and confirmed her as the centrepiece. In this most lavishly extravagent of extravaganzas (think English pantomime on steroids), Corinne is at the fictional focal point as actress/singer and the main attraction as renowned mandolin player amid a miscellany of support vaudeville acts.

This was the work of one of the most astute businesswomen of the era, retired actress, Jennie Kimball, foster mother and business manager to Corinne.


  

 I shall tell their story in greater detail at a later date (such is its drama), restricting reference here to matters in hand - "Hendrick Hudson" ... and, in the fullness of time, Sherlock Holmes. 

Corinne, a child star like Fay Templeton, was 19 and much more established than the 25 year old Fay had been in 1890. Under the guiding hand of Jennie Kimball, 'Little Corinne' had captured the nation's heart. She often performed decked in a spangle of jewels, expensively dressed. The mandolin was the instrument of the day and she was groomed to great profit as its ultimate poster-girl.  

   
While her 'mother' lived, the pair grew ever more wealthy. Corinne was worked hard (without resentment) and shielded from frivolous distraction. So successful was "Hendrick Hudson" that Jennie bought for her daughter at Christmas the special high class $1,500 mandolin that had been displayed at the World's Fair (see column 1 HERE ). 

And there the trail might have ended for, when the show closed in November, 1894, Corinne's attention was turned to Paris. 

1896 (Hendrick Hudson Jr)

However, in January 1896 after a summer of mandolin and dance tuition in France, Corinne was back on the Los Angeles stage in "Hendrick Hudson Jr". The Los Angeles Herald details her European adventure and the revised show in column 2 HERE . Seemingly happier and more accomplished than ever 'Peerless Corinne' is lauded by the Sacramento Daily Union in February before and during the staging of "Hendrick Hudson Jr" at the Metropolitan. See HERE and HERE ).

Tragically, as the New York Times reported the very next day, Jennie died of pneumonia at 7 am on March 23, alone, in her special company box car in the Union Station of St Paul, Minn. She left Corinne an estate estimated at $600,000 and the thriving Kimball Opera Bouffe Company. I find no more performances of the revived show until the end of October, by which time it has again undergone significant change.

1896-7 (Hendrick Hudson Jr and Sherlock Holmes)

Now in sole charge of her own company, Corinne makes what I think is a tactical error, forgivable in one new to management and doubly so as her action brings Sherlock Holmes onto the American stage.


Hendrick Hudson cast 1893.
 The dramatis personae listed in the London Ontario programme included two deputy sheriffs, McCann and McFarlan. Autumn 1896 discarded these to make room for two of the three outstanding vaudeville comedians engaged by Corinne. By May 1897 when she quit a new show "Excelsior Jr" featuring the same trio, Corinne appears to have realised belatedly her stardom was effectively paled, eclipsed by greater comedic talents. Joe Cawthorne, John Page and Neil McNeil would not, I think, have been engaged by her late mother. Even as deputy sheriffs. Let alone (as if to underline their thespian dominance) endow John Page with the name 'Sherlock', Neil McNeil with 'Holmes' and give them the stage.

Chronology of performances (including casting evidence) October 1896-February 1897 with links:

Oct 29-31 Denver Broadway: HERE
Nov 6-7    Sacramento Metropolitan: column 3 HERE and HERE
Nov 9-16  San Francisco Columbia: block ad far right HERE and page foot HERE
Nov 27-8  Los Angeles Theatre: HERE & HERE & HERE
Dec 4       Roseburg Opera House: HERE and HERE 
Dec 10     New Columbia Opera House: HERE 
Dec 18-20 Seattle: HERE and HERE


from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Dec 19, 1896.
 Christmas 1896 Anaconda Opera House: HERE
 February 7 1897 Ninth St Theatre, Kansas City: HERE

John Page, Neil McNeil and Sherlock Holmes.

The reader will have learned something of these half-forgotten comedians from the newspapers cited. I shall return to this post in a few days to add a pdf file listing other productions in which they figured. As yet I have found no image of any production of "Hendrick Hudson" nor of John (aka Johnnie) Page.

Neil McNeil  (sometimes McNeill) is the better documented. Here he is in the title role of "Simple Simon Simple" (1905):


AND (on the left of the photograph) as April Fool in 1910's "The Land of Nod" :


  Neil McNeil already appears in the A-Z as Kid Connor (Watson) in "The Red Mill" (1909) with Walter S Wills as Con Kidder (Holmes). The article HERE refers to "the Sherlock Holmes business" AND, ironically, precedes a piece about Ferris Hartman, also listed in the A-Z for "The Man in the Moon" (1899). 

Hitherto, Hartman was thought to be the first American actor to play Sherlock Holmes. That honour is surely shared equally by Page and McNeil, with the latter additionally America's first Holmes AND Watson performer.


I began this post with a poster. Take a closer look. At the man holding the Union Jack. Is he meant to be Sherlock Holmes? Or a typical Englishman? It hardly matters; they are soon indistinguishable. Holmes has made his first landfall.


ⒸRAYWILCOCKSON2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An East Wind - Part One: Sherlock Holmes and the Internees, 1916.

A Sombre Sherlock Holmes 
"There's an east wind coming, Watson" ["His Last Bow" 1917]

I have noted elsewhere how the bitter experience of three hellish years informs and enriches the 1917 chronicle of 1914 subtitled 'The War Service of Sherlock Holmes'. It is, I think, to his credit as an illustrator that Frederic Dorr Steele achieves comparable profundity in the image above, published with LION in 1926. Internally dating to 1907 and recounted by Holmes of the Sussex Downs four years into retirement, LION should stand as coda, an Indian Summer to a glittering career. It was not to be: 'all changed, changed utterly'.

From his vantage point in 1926, Dorr Steele movingly incorporates through the aging detective's brooding, ominous disquiet the sad poetry that will create Altamont within five years and a war to end all wars in the fullness of time.

Ironically, the years 1906-07 were vintage ones for European stage productions of Sherlock Holmes, coinciding, especially, with  brief, golden ages in Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and German theatre - the theatrical equivalent of 1895 in the detective's career. Of special relevance here are the Berliner Theater's premiers of Ferdinand Bonn's "Sherlock Holmes" and "Der Hund von Baskerville" in July '06 and January '07, respectively.


Bonn's "Sherlock Holmes" 1906 (Wikimedia Commons)
[ "Footprints of a Gigantic Hund" by Michael Ross is excellent on German versions of HOUN on stage and screen: pdf HERE ]

By contrast, just as Germany enthusiastically embraced the British detective that country's Deutsches Theater in London was on the wane. Since leasing Great Queen Street Theatre in 1902, Hans Andresen and the German Theatre Company had performed classics in German but audiences had lost interest by 1907 (see HERE for further details and, from p 276, a complete list of plays performed).
The Novelty (1882) renamed Great Queen Street 1900-7

 Nicholas Decker traces the rise and fall of the company: pages 35-41 HERE . After the Great Queen Street years (the theatre was renamed "The Kingsway" in 1907), some members returned to Berlin and Hanover while others stayed on, including Andreson, performing sporadically until 1912.  Paul Wind, whom I can trace in productions from 1905 to 1909 was one such. He would find himself stranded, interned on the Isle of Man when hostilities commenced. 

And i wonder if Herr Paul Wind felt that chill, Holmesian foreboding but could not believe it presaged so arctic an eastern wind.


"Man Ploughing" by Robert Brough (Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums)
In his painting, "Man Ploughing", Scottish colourist, Robert Brough seems to prefigure the future as strikingly as Dorr Steele evokes the past. He did not live to see the Great War, suffering his own premature tragedy dying from burns aged 32 after a rail crash in 1905. Yet, I know no other image that so sensitively mirrors the poem Thomas Hardy submitted to the Saturday Review in January, 1916, to help raise the nation's faltering morale.

In Time of "The Breaking of Nations" 1916

It's the simple, famous one that begins: "Only a man harrowing clods". Read it HERE . And whenever I re-read it, I have to remind myself that no one in 1916 knew when or how war would end. If you were at Verdun you could be forgiven for thinking it would last till Doomsday.


Verdun 1916 - Man & Horse in Gas Masks (anon French photographer)

Apocalyptic.

Verdun. The longest battle of World War I. February to December, 1916.

Beneath that dark umbrella what else was happening that dreadful year?

April: The Easter Rebellion.
May/June: The Battle of Jutland.
May 15: "Sherlock Holmes" starring William Gillette is released on film.
June 11: "The Mystery of the Leaping Fish" with Douglas Fairbanks as Coke Ennyday is released on film.
July 1 to November 18: Battle of the Somme.
In May and June Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was visiting the Western Front.
In July, Doyle's son, Kingsley, was seriously wounded on the Somme and would succumb to pneumonia in 1918.
In October, Paul Wind was one of two German internees known to have played Sherlock Holmes that month on the Isle of Man.

Some year.

Barbed-wire Disease.


Coke Ennyday's Clock
"The Mystery of the Leaping Fish", penned by Tod Browning while recovering from a horrific car crash, is a fevered, bizarre, blithely non-pc, psychedelic comic fantasy that re-imagines Sherlock Holmes as the utterly addicted (to cocaine) 'Coke Ennyday'. It is the cinematic equivalent of reading only the opening and closing sentences of "The Sign of the Four". 

Coke's is not Sherlock's clock. For him, rather, it is 'Dope' only when he is denied his 'proper atmosphere': work. For the mind.

William Gillette in "Sherlock Holmes" 1916

"My mind", he said, "rebels at stagnation...I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation." (SIGN chapter 1).

While time on the Somme, at Verdun and elsewhere ticked to the most surreal clock of all, those confined to concentration and internee camps experienced something akin to Holmes's state in what's termed "barbed-wire disease".

For a fuller appreciation of the context in which interned aliens performed plays on the Isle of Man please take a moment to read, especially, 'Life Behind Barbed Wire' HERE and the October 1916 report by journalists who visited the Manx camps HERE .

Sherlock Holmes and the Internees.

We should not know of the performances I shall now document without the survival of camp newspapers such as Die Lager Laterne written and published by the internees themselves. Nor would these by so readily accessible without the initiative of the Manx National Heritage iMuseum archive. So, in presenting what detail is available on the October 1916 Sherlock Holmes plays, I shall let the internees speak largely for themselves. Beyond the 'barbed wire' below are links to the evidence held in the archive. In each case just click on the short title to view. I credit all such images to Manx National Heritage with grateful thanks.

Two distinct productions are recorded:

1) Lager Zeitung (newspaper of Knockaloe Camp 4) for 22 October, 1916 carries a review of "Der Hund von Baskerville" performed by Compound 1 with Paul Wind as Sherlock Holmes in what is explicitly the play by Ferdinand Bonn.

2) Lager Laterne (newspaper of Douglas Camp) for Sunday 29 October reviewed 'last Sunday's' "Sherlock Holmes" with Willy Schmieder in the title role. Given that Dr Mor is named as a character, this would seem to be Bonn's 1906 play.




                        PAUL WIND IN HUND


                 
[Thus far Paul Wind remains faceless: just 'the figure of a man upon the tor'.]

1) Internee record
2)  Lager Zeitung HUND review in German
3)  Lager Zeitung HUND review in English
4)  Possibly Bruno Paul Wind

 WILHELM SCHMIEDER IN SHERLOCK HOLMES





Willy Schmieder is elsewhere spelled 'Schmeider'. I have chosen the spelling favoured in 'Quoesque Tandem', a short-lived camp magazine he edited. His photograph (above) appears in the issue for October 1, 1915. His name & title 'Director of Camp Theatres' clipped separately - see HERE .

1)  Internee record
2)  Lager Laterne Sherlock Holmes review
3)  Quarter of an hour with Willy Schmieder
4)  Original Photo cutting
5)  Quousque Tandem editor
6)  Theatre Critique

Some fellow performers of interest:

1) Walter Wollanke - Internee record
2)  S. Syffoni - Internee record
3)  Emil Gyori as Actor

Some pages from Quoesque Tandem of interest:

1)  Cover October 1 1915
2)  Camp Photograph
3)  Camp Huts drawing
4)  The Camp as a Town


NB: There are many photographs of Internee theatre productions on the iMuseum site. Most bear no identification of production or personnel.
See HERE for a selection.




The Final Word

I doubt Conan Doyle entered the minds of the German internees. For them, I suspect, the plays of Ferdinand Bonn represented the nostalgic and familiar. Their industry and inventiveness in such conditions is humbling and testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Lord knows what written texts were used just to learn lines. The camp libraries were well stocked but i doubt they ran to multiple copies of plays. Very likely Schmieder et al drew on a single copy to prepare parts in the old Elizabethan way.

I leave the final word to internee L.J. Greiner who said it all in this poem for Quousque Tandem (original German HERE ):

How much longer 
Will it last , this war, this screaming and this shouting,
This thunder, this murderous pounding?
How much longer in the lonely night
Must the heart plead for peace?

How much longer
This burden of terror, fearing the foe
For husband or for son?
When will peace return
To the beloved home?

How much longer
Will this yearning torment the breast?
How much longer, the nerve-racking, powerless waiting
Sap the prisoner's zest for life?
When will the iron bars fall?

 Their Last Bow - the war service of the Isle of Man internees.

ⒸRAYWILCOCKSON2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Where it is Always 1895 - the Story of a Boy and his Sherlock Holmes Story.


In the summer of 1895, newspapers in St Louis, Missouri, and Canton, Ohio, published a story written for his school magazine by a pupil in Concord, Massachusetts. Variant prefatory notes combine sufficiently to identify the school, the author and his family. While the above illustration accompanies both, their titles differ: “A Trip to Hades” and “Up To Date Detective” may be editorial choices.

The story was first published in “The Minute Man”, the school magazine of Concord Home School. Its author was James Richardson, Jr., son of James Richardson of Cabanne Place. James is described as a promising pupil and his story a clever take-off or burlesque on Conan Doyle. Of interest, certainly, as a very early instance of Sherlockian fan fiction (on either side of the Atlantic), this adventure of Padlock Homes and Dr. Hotson in Hades provides a revealing, window into the reading habits and juvenile imagination of its author.

Moreover, from the scant facts available, I have been able to flesh out something of the history of Concord Home School and, most significantly, link young James with one of the giants of 20th Century American literature.


This post therefore offers:


  1. A transcription of the story for ease of reading along with links to the newspapers.
  2. A commentary on the pastiche.
  3. A history of Concord Home School.
  4. A family history of James Richardson Jr
The Story.

Please click on this link for the transcription [opens as pdf]: The Story .

Commentary.

James was 16 at the time of writing (see family history) and I think this shows both in the story's weaknesses and strengths. Lightly (if at all) edited for publication, it feels, as it stands, a third too long and would benefit from the excision of passages of pedestrian narrative commonly found in juvenile story-telling. Were I his teacher, I'd have recommended James enrich with descriptive detail and additional dramatic action. It is the product of an undisciplined imagination so carried away the author doesn't quite know what he intends to create. It's less a conscious burlesque than a spontaneous melange of youthful literary pleasures.

This very lack of focus opens a fascinating window on the reading of an American boy in 1895. Holmes, of course, is understandably at the imaginative forefront. To fill the void (hiatus) after the detective's demise, American newspapers serialised "A Study in Scarlet" and "The Sign of Four". Of greater relevance here, Conan Doyle's early work "The Mystery of Cloomber" was made available in a cheap edition to sate public thirst for more Doyle and hyped as "the new novel from Dr. Doyle". 

My blog on "The Empty House" [see Cree] locates the source of the abyss image in that early novel's "Hole of Cree" and I detect its influence on James who may also have read a contemporary article noting precisely this prototypical aspect [see May 1895 ].

Equally, Jules Verne figures strongly in the steampunk imagination at work here. All his relevant major works were printed in English and immensely popular well before 1895. To Verne and Doyle James adds a native American spin when he engineers that the climactic discovery of Hotson's story take place by the crater on Mount Shasta. California's volcano is shrouded in supernatural legend.
Mount Shasta from Castle Lake by Thomas Hill (circa 1888)
The process of Americanisation clearly delights young James. Taunton, Mass., and not Taunton, Devon, hosts the murderer, James Blake - himself endowed with a name identical with a national landmark but 20 miles from Concord. Boston's oldest 17th century house was built by James Blake, an immigrant from England's West Country. It is one of only two surviving homes in Massachusetts in the West-of-England style.
Intriguingly, the building was moving to Richardson Park as James Richardson wrote his story. The makeover is completed by a natural transformation of London's Baker St. into a New York Faker. 

It's New York, December 3, 1997. Hotson and the author bestride the future as well as the past. As did a certain H G Wells in "The Time Machine", a work eight years in the making. Whether James had read some or all of the story by 1895 is not known but possible. [see Time Machine for a detailed chronology of publication]. He could certainly have read "The Chronic Argonauts" (1888) A teenager's lack of artistic control over his time slip is, I think, masked by a leaping imagination that relishes the surreal. It's there in Homes, Hotson and (shades of Restoration drama) "Mrs Slimdiet". Perhaps the devil's "hash" is a schoolboy side-swipe at the Concord School dinner lady, but is aptly absurd.

Finally, James Richardson Jr. is bang up to date with two allusions. Hotson discovers an embarrassed Homes playing "And Her Golden Hair Was Hanging Down Her Back" on his violin. Frank Tousey's music hall song was published in 1894 and here is the version James would know: Tousey .
Listen to Dale Evans singing it Here .

Young James has a taste for the risque. Cue Trilby O'Ferrell.  

Virginia Harned as Trilby, Boston 1895
In the year 1895 America was in the grip of a "Trilby" craze. Published serially in "Harper's Monthly" in 1894, George du Maurier's novel sold 200,000 copies in America alone when available in book form in 1895. London would lap up Beerbohm Tree's stage version; America had its own. With Wilton Lackaye as Svengali and Boston's own 27 year old Virginia Harned as O'Ferrell, Mr. Palmer's Company staged "Trilby" at the Garden Theatre, New York in April, having premiered at Boston Museum on March 4th. 


Boston Museum Theatre 1872.
 James is careful to couch the topical allusion in a moral (if comical) context. Hotson, we are to believe, freed the mesmerised girl from her Svengali by removing the 'wheels' from her head. Perhaps James too is mesmerised, as most young men were by this bohemian beauty. I reckon he'd have jumped at a theatre trip down the road from school.

 Concord School.



Advert in The Nation, 1894.
It's a moot point whether Principal Garland would have arranged such a theatre visit. The reader may judge perhaps from the following links to further information about James Garland's private school which opened in 1890 and changed its name to Concord School in 1897.
1. Concord Directory and Guide: Directory .
2. Unitarian Year Book: Year Book 
3. Concord Library Holdings (inc some issues of "Minute Man" Library .
4. Surviving South Bridge Boathouse: Boathouse .
NB: Click Google Earth on this present day map to see the surviving boathouse and gain a sense of the (wooded) 75 acres of school estate: Estate .

Family History.

A private boarding school. $600 per annum - James has a wealthy father, back on Cabanne Place, St Louis, Missouri. Here he is, banker, James Clifford Richardson, son of James Richardson and so usually referred to as "Jr., like his own son, the schoolboy author:


Father of schoolboy James (1849-1903).

To read the links below is to encounter multiple tragedy and one of the great love stories of the 20th Century. Young James born in 1879 will disappear from history but we know he suffered the successive losses of father, sister and mother and lived to see his famous younger sister (age 3 in 1895) take the bohemian literary road of Trilby O'Ferrell to Paris as the first Mrs. Ernest Hemingway. And the rest is history and a moveable feast.
1. Family: Family .
2. Father's History: Father .
3. The Road to Suicide: Suicide .
4. Elizabeth Hadley Richardson Elizabeth .


James's Little Sister.

ⒸRAYWILCOCKSON2016.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Theodore Lorch as Sherlock Holmes ( on stage 1906 - 10 )

Theodore Lorch Salt Lake City 1907
The film actor,Theodore Lorch, has largely eclipsed the illustrious man of the stage he became in the first decade of the 20th Century. Versatile and prolific, his face is familiar from cowboy films; from his appearances with The Three Stooges; notably as Chingachgook ( in the 1920 silent “The Last of the Mohicans” ) and especially as a High Priest in “Flash Gordon”, 1936. Lorch was 40 by the time his film career took off after the war. He had made but one short before it, in 1908, called “Shamus O’Brien”.

This post records evidence from news archives of Lorch’s appearances in the role of Sherlock Holmes between 1906 and 1910. For those interested, notes and links expanding on his life and activities on the pre-war stage follow.

Read More (This link will open as pdf )


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"In the Power of Sherlock Holmes" - A Distinctly Australian Cry.

Shire Hall, Mildura, Queensland, 1912
    In the Power/In the Grip/At the Mercy of Sherlock Holmes.


                          “A distinctly  Australian cry” [The Boscombe Valley Mystery]


By 1910, Sherlock Holmes was a familiar figure to theatregoers in Australia and New Zealand, most notably through the performances of Cuyler Hastings, in Gillette’s “Sherlock Holmes” and Charles Blake in  Max Goldberg’s “Bank of England”. It was therefore good business on the part of J C Williamson to secure (within a month of its first UK performance) Australian and New Zealand rights to perform Conan Doyle’s new play, “The Speckled Band”. The company’s 1911 production, starring William Desmond, having done well in Australia, embarked on a short New Zealand tour early in 1912, taking in only select venues as they were due back in Sydney by 24 February and Desmond was returning to America. [ see  NZ Tour ].


“In the Power of Sherlock Holmes” by the Australian author, Norman Campbell.  

Meanwhile, back in Victoria, Australia, a new four act play about Sherlock Holmes was staged by The Campbell Dramatic Company. “In the Power of Sherlock Holmes” premiered in the Shire Hall, Mildura on 2 February, 1912 with J L Lawrence as Holmes.

Read More (this link will open as pdf).