Two of the better known were Little Tich and Marie Lloyd. Little Tich often appeared as the Dame and though not pretty by average standards Marie played both Principal Girl and Principal Boy at various times with great success.
I was surprised to find this restored film of Little Tich doing his famous boot dance from French Pathe (he was a great favorite in France and the USA.) I think its a remarkable piece of footage.
And though I could find no film of Marie Lloyd I did find a Halls star and Principal Boy of a slightly later period, Lily Morris singing one of Marie's hits: My Old Man Said Follow The Van.
We had to move away
'Cos the rent we couldn't pay.
The moving van came round just after dark.
There was me and my old man,
Shoving things inside the van,
Which we'd often done before, let me remark.
We packed all that could be packed
In the van, and that's a fact.
And we got inside all that we could get inside.
Then we packed all we could pack
On the tailboard at the back,
Till there wasn't any room for me to ride.
My old man said: "Foller the van,
And don't dilly-dally on the way".
Off went the van wiv me 'ome packed in it.
I walked be'ind wiv me old cock linnet.
But I dillied and dallied,
Dallied and dillied;
Lost me way and don't know where to roam.
And you can't trust a "Special"
Like the old-time copper
When you can't find your way home.
I gave a helping hand
With the marble wash hand-stand,
And straight, we wasn't getting on so bad.
All at once, the car-man bloke
Had an accident and broke,
Well, the nicest bit of china that we had.
You'll understand, of course,
I was cross about the loss.
Same as any other human woman would.
But I soon got over that,
What with "two out" and a chat,
'Cos it's little things like that what does you good.
Oh! I'm in such a mess.
I don't know the new address -
Don't even know the blessed neighbourhood.
And I feel as if I might
Have to stay out here all night.
And that ain't a goin' to do me any good.
I don't make no complaint
But I'm coming over faint,
What I want now's a good substantial feed,
And I sort 'o kind 'o feel,
If I don't soon have a meal,
I shall have to rob the linnet of its seed!
written by Fred W. Leigh and Charles Collins.
I grew up hearing a fair bit of these Old Music Halls songs - though in bowdlerized versions - and I love them. I'm amazed when performers and acts I've read about show up on UpTube.
18 gennaio - Santa Prisca