Monday, October 4, 2010

Tragic Comedians

I've spent today writing an article about Tivoli comedian Tom Dawson.

Tom was a cheerful man who thrilled Australian Tivoli audiences for over a decade. For some reason at age 41, he decided to go to war and died on the fields of France. Tragic.

This lead me to think of that other tragic comedian, George Lauri.

George was an English man who came from a theatrical family. He really had no choice but to become a stage performer.He came to Australia in 1891 and about 4 years later, replaced J C Williamson's star comic, William Elton, in the Royal Comic Opera Company. George worked for Wiliamson's for many many years, but he also met a tragic end.

Here is George in costume in a wonderful Talma photograph.

I like this photo because of the sly smile on George's face, and also for what it says about images of orientalism in the theatre in the 19th century. By my guess, this is a late 19th century photo.

Below is George's wife, Marietta Nash, who was also a performer. She wasn't as famous as George.

Poor George had a nervous breakdown in 1907 after working for Williamson for 16 years without a real holiday. He returned to the stage but was still suffering from exhaustion and depression

In January 1909, George, whilst on holiday with Marietta, sat on the balcony of their beach cottage. Marietta went inside for a moment and heard a cry. She ran out to find George bleeding profusely from a cut to his throat. He had sliced his jugular vein with a straight razor.

His last words were;

'I am tired of life.'

Poor George, and poor Marietta.


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