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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Nellie Wallace born 18 March 1870

 
 
Nellie Wallace (18 March 1870 – 24 November 1948) was a British music hall star, actress, comedienne, dancer and songwriter who became one of the most famous and best loved music hall performers. She became known as "The Essence Of Eccentricity". she dressed in ultra-tight skirts (so tight in fact, that she would lie down on the stage and shuffle back and forth on her back to pick up whatever she had contrived to drop), her hat sported a lone daisy, feather or a fish bone and once even a lit candle (supposedly, so she could see where she was going and where she had been).
 
Nellie was born in Glasgow in 1870 as Eleanor Jane Wallis Tayler. Her father Francis George Tayler was a vocalist and musician and her mother a retired actress who became a teacher and governess. Nellie's first Solo performance on the stage was as a clog dancer at the age of 12 in Birmingham. Prior to this she had performed with her sisters Emma and Fanny, also singers and dancers. She had a rapid rise to fame and became much loved by her audiences.
 
Not a naturally pretty woman, a reviewer noted her 'grotesque get-up' which started the audience laughing the moment she appeared on stage; her cleverness, vivacity and facial expressions were second to none. Her style was known as grotesque. Performers like her wore bizarre outfits and illustrated their comic songs and patter with outlandish dances that required considerable dancing skills.
 
Nellie's London debut came in 1903 and by 1910 she was given billing at the London Palladium. Nellie's career lasted until her death in 1948, she appeared in the Royal Command Performance of that year.
 
Her main character was as a frustrated spinster, singing ribald songs such as Under the Bed, Let's Have a Tiddley at the Milk Bar and Mother's Pie Crust. Other well known songs in her repertoire included: Meet Me, The Sniff Song, Three Cheers for the Red White & Blue, Half Past Nine, Geranium, Tally Ho!,The Blasted Oak, Three Times a Day and Bang! Bang! Bang!. Her appearance made her unusually successful as a pantomime dame — a role usually performed by men. She usually wore a fur stole which she described as her "little bit of vermin.
 

 
 
Here's Nellie Wallace with Orchestral accompaniment with "Three Times a Day" recorded 19 September 1934. Released on Decca F 5227.
 
Nellie appeared in a short filmed in 1902 entitled: A Lady's First lesson On A Bicycle. She later moved into bigger budget productions and appeared in The Golden Pippin Girl (1920), The Wishbone (1933), Radio Parade of 1935 (1934)...alongside fellow Music Hall performer Lily Morris and established actor Will Hay. Variety (1935) and Boys Will Be Girls (1936).
 
She toured America with great success, turned her hand to review, and from 1931-1934 was part of George Black's original "Crazy" shows.
 
 
In 1948 Nellie joined the touring show "Thanks for the memory" and took part in the Royal Variety performance that November. After her spot she collapsed in the wings and although she insisted on going on for the finale, was later taken to hospital where she died the next day. She had spent sixty-six of her seventy-eight years on the boards and died, as she would have wished, in harness.  (Info mainly Wikipedia & Tony Watts from sleeve notes)
 

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

I only have one Nellie Wallace recording which appears on this post. I edited the biography after discovering more information.