Surrey County Show #animals #photographs

At this time of the year there are County Shows all over Britain.  Some, like the Bath and Wells Show last for three days, but the one day show which I have visited many times in the last 30 years is the Surrey County Show in Stoke Park, Guildford.

There are many different classes of animal to be judged.

There are competitions and displays.

There are tractors, cars and carriages.

The sheep even put on a show.

But some were just cuddly.

Billie Burke and the Ziegfeld Follies #wwwblogs #actress #moviestar

Born in 1884 in Washington DC, Mary William Appleton Burke was called Billie after her father, an American clown of Irish descent who appeared in Barnum and Bailey’s circus.  After an early childhood touring the US and Europe, Billie’s family settled in London where she had the opportunity to visit the theatres.  Her ambition to be an actress was achieved when, at the age of 18, she appeared in George Edwardes’ musical “The Schoolgirl” with Edna May and Marie Studholme.  But Billie Burke’s real fame came in 1907 when she returned to the States to star in musical comedies on Broadway.

The Ziegfeld Girls were a more relaxed version of the Gibson Girls of the early 20th century.  Billie joined this group of showgirls who looked very similar in appearance and in stature. They were beautiful young women with many young male admirers.  They danced in complete synchronization, wearing costumes designed by the Russian fashion designer Erté.  Inspired by the Folies Bergère, the Ziegfeld Follies, the creation of Florence Zeigfeld, were a series of stunning revues which incorporated the best of Vaudeville and the Broadway shows.

Ziegfeld’s common-law wife Anna Held was a Ziegfeld girl, but she divorced him in 1913 for his infidelity with another Ziegfeld girl, Lillian Lorraine and early the following year he married Billie Burke.  Three years later their daughter Patricia was born and they moved into a 22 acre estate with a mansion of 19 rooms and a swimming pool. They kept a herd of deer, two lion cubs, an elephant and many other animals.

The Ziegfeld Follies continued on Broadway until 1931 and Florenz Ziegfeld died in 1932. The Follies became a radio programme in 1932 and 1936.  Many of the girls left the show to make wealthy marriages.  Billie continued to appear in stage comedies and in film.

“I never was the great‐actress type,” she remarked years later. “I generally did light, gay things. I often had cute plays but never a fine one.”

Much of the wealth of Florenz and Billie had gone in the stock market crash of 1929 so it was lucky that Billie was able to move successfully from silent movies to spoken film roles.  Her success continued into the 1950s and her last appearance was in 1960.  She is perhaps most famous for her performance as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North in “The Wizard of Oz” originally released in 1939.  She died in Los Angeles on May 14th 1970, aged 84.


And here are two lovely postcards of Billie Burke I have just received from Sarah Talbot @Bea2Sarah

©Elizabeth Lloyd

The disappearance of Mabel Love #Edwardian actress #wwwblogs

Mabel Love, a beautiful child star from a theatrical dynasty caused consternation in 1889 when she suddenly disappeared in the middle of London.  The Star newspaper reported, “The Disappearance of a Burlesque Actress.”  Only 14 years old, she was described as, “of fresh complexion, with light grey eyes and fair hair, curling and hanging loose over the shoulders. She was wearing, when she left home, a black and white striped fish-wife skirt, Oxford patent shoes, black plush hat and feathers, and a terra-cotta coloured cloak trimmed with white fur round the collar and cuffs and with large metal buttons.”

She had already been on the stage for two years, appearing in the first play version of “Alice in Wonderland,” in a Christmas pantomime at Covent Garden and had recently been contracted by George Edwardes at the Gaiety to dance in the burlesque "Faust up-to-date".  A very pretty girl, she had many admirers and a great deal of pressure.

But she had been spotted by several people after leaving her parents house in Arundel Street, The Strand with her payment from The Gaiety Theatre.  Luckily she was traced a few days later in Dublin and returned to Euston Station to crowds of admirers.

Article from "The Era" newspaper 
Mabel was the granddaughter of entertainer and ventriloquist William Edward Love and the daughter of actress Kate Watson (Love). Mabel's father was the brother of Robert Grant Watson, who served in the diplomatic service and had held the posts of First Secretary to the British Embassy in Washington, and Charge d'affaires in Japan.

Sadly Mabel still suffered from a distressed state of mind as a few months later she made a suicide attempt.

Mr Vaughan showed great sympathy for her and gave her the following advice.

Subsequently she was able to return to her career and no more dramatic events were recorded.  By the age of 20 she was even more popular with the public as well as young Winston Churchill and Edward the Prince of Wales.  She appeared in musical comedy and burlesque and when photographer Frank Foulsham produced postcards of her, they widely bought and sent.

In 1913 Mabel gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Mary, later called Mrs Mary Lorraine.  There is mystery about Mary’s father but she was acclaimed for her bravery during the second world war. Originally an actress like her mother, she became a secret agent for the SOE in France and was captured and tortured by the Gestapo.  After the war she suffered from mental health problems and died in poverty unaware that her mother had left her a substantial legacy.

After retiring, Mabel Love continued to enjoy visits to the theatre. She moved into an hotel in Weybridge with her best friend Vesta Tilley and died there in 1953 at the age of 78.
©Elizabeth Lloyd
More tales of scandal on the Edwardian stage:

Jean Alwyn the lady Harry Lauder

The notorious Maud Allan

Lily Elsie the most photographed woman in the British Empire

The murder of William Terriss

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge #travel #photography

Cee’s Which Way challenge is all about capturing the roads, walks, trails, rails, steps, signs, etc. we move from one place to another on.  You can walk on them, climb them, drive them, ride on them, as long as the specific way is visible.  Any angle of a bridge is acceptable as are any signs.

And here is our latest journey back through Spain.