Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lennon, Hyman and Lennon- Australian Jugglers

I'm posting this because I really just wanted to post the photo. 

Albert Lennon, Ted Lennon and Frank Hyman were an Australian acrobatic juggling trio who were very well known in Australia during the early 20th Century.

Burt was the best known of the three. His real name was Albert Spinks and he was a Sydney man. He and his 'brother' Ted began their career as the Lennon Brothers, working in an amateur group called the Electric Minstrels in Sydney.

Ted and Burt then toured Australia with a troupe which included a very famous former minstrel performer, Irving Sayles. Sayles was an African American man who had arrived in Australia with an American minstrel touring group and never left. He was a mainstay of the Tivoli circuit for many years.

Being associated with Irving gave Ted and Burt some cache with managers and audiences. Irving was very well regarded by both. It was during this time that they met Frank Hyman, a contortionist, and formed a trio, becoming Lennon, Hyman and Lennon. It was as this trio that they gained fame at home and abroad.

Around  1901 the three left Australia and visited England. Whilst there they created a short skit focusing on an Australian outback bush theme. The skit included tumbling and acrobatics and was presented as a novelty act. It was a very popular turn in England.

Their fame overseas led to them being recruited for pantomimes in Australia . And in 1906 they had a feature role in the Sinbad the Sailor pantomime, staged by William Anderson .
This role featured the trio doing comedic juggling, and this aspect of their work was included in all their future vaudeville performances.

Their act seemed to be primarily a club passing act. A review of their vaudeville turn described it as follows.
'The first turn was a display of juggling with Indian clubs which they handled with remarkable proficiency, exchanging flying clubs with one another and sometimes surrendering three clubs in mid air with an air of perfect nonchalance.'

Their juggling was characterised by very fast passing and deft catching that had onlookers seeing the clubs as a blur.
"the varied manipulations were really astounding, the concluding turn in which the nine clubs were kept twirling in the air created the greatest enthusiasm.'

After several pantomime performances, the three men created their own vaudeville touring troupe, which apparently included their wives. The troupe, known as the Lennon, Hyman, Lennon troupe, toured country towns in Australia. During 1908 they visited Rockhampton, the Darling Downs, Lismore and Mackay. In each place they demonstrated their excellent juggling and acrobatic skills.

By 1910, the trio had made enough money to settle down, and they invested in their own theatre, The Empire in Adelaide. They soon became respectable citizens of the city. Originally the Empire showed vaudeville shows, but gradually the theatre changed from a mixture of vaudeville and movies to showing exclusively movies.

They were in partnership for some time, however, during the War years, references to Ted and Frank become scarce and it seems that the partnership dissolved shortly after the end of the war.

Burt, however, continued to be an entrepreneur. He invested with the Fullers in the Majestic Theatre in Adelaide and remained a prominent member of the Adelaide theatrical community for some time.


Burt died in 1954, but I have yet to discover what happened to Frank and Ted. 

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