Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Celia Ghiloni

Celia Ghiloni was a J C Williamson stalwart during the early years of the 20th Century.

She was born in Victoria on Febrary 22nd 1879 the daughter of Italian immigrant Raffallo and his Australian born wife Isabelle. Celia's name at birth was Rosabelle Ethel Celia.

She spent her early years in Western Australia and was singing at the Fremantle Town Hall at the age of 18. A year later she was managing Sunday concerts at the Town Hall and steadily building a reputation as a talented singer and performer. She married a local man, in Perth in 1898.

Soon she was discovered byJ C Williamson and was off on an adventure that took her through Australia and New Zealand. She was rarely without work and was a fixture in Royal Comic Opera Productions between 1900 and 1908.

Perhaps her most memorable performances for Williamson were in a famous series of Gilbert and Sullivan productions which toured the country in 1905-1906.

In 1908, Celia went to London with a Hugh Ward Company which featured Grace Palotta. Whilst there, her husband divorced her. Celia had told him by letter that she preferred the stage to spending time with him.
The divorce didn't seem to bother Celia because on her way home to Australia later in 1908, she married a man she met in India. Upon her return to Australia, Celia and the Ward Company performed a long tour of Australia.

By 1911 she was back with Williamson and performing in musical comedy and revues. Later in the decade she performed at the Tivoli and with stars such as Dorothy Brunton and Jack Cannot in variety .

She was also quite active in the Actors Union movement, signing her name to an application to have an actor's association formed in the post war period.

Celia was a plump woman and tended to act in roles suited for her shape, such as the fairy godmother in pantomime and the jolly nurse in musical comedies. By 1911 she was sick of these roles and publicly trying to lose weight. At one stage she had the whole cast of her latest show on a diet and the newspapers joked that the famous stars were fading away to nothing.

Celia divorced her second husband after World War 1 and then married a third time in 1920.
After this she gave up the stage and settled into private life. The couple stayed together until 1950 when her husband died. Celia died in 1955 in Perth.

More about Celia

Friday, December 24, 2010

History of Australian Theatre at the ibookstore

I now have some titles available at the ibookstore, so if you are looking for some light reading.....

Houdini's Tour of Australia- A detailed account of Harry Houdini's tour of Australia in 1910.

Stars of Australian Theatre History

Australian theatre in the late 19th and early 20th centuries produced stars that shone nationally and internationally. Some of these stars were Maesmore Morris, dancers Saharet and Maggie Dickinson, pantomime dame, Arthur Stigant and American import Minnie Tittell Brune.

Stars of the Early Australian Stage- The Royal Comic Opera Company

The Royal Comic Opera Company was the most popular musical comedy company in Australia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The members of this company included George Lauri, Florence Young, Carrie Moore and Celia Ghiloni. Their stories are detailed here.

Pantomime in Australia-Pantomime in Australia reached its highest point during the Edwardian period. The people, the passion and the form combined to produce elaborate entertainment for early Australian audiences.

Magical Tours of Australia-Magicians regularly toured Australia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this booklet discusses the tours of Chung Ling Soo, The Davenport Brothers and a Maskelyne Company of 1908


A History of Some Australian Theatres-Australia was once home to some beautiful theatres. Her Majesty's in Sydney and the Tivoli in Melbourne being two of them. The performers and performances of a golden era are outlined here.

Great Performances from Australian Theatre History-A selection of essays about great performances in Australian Theatre History. These include accounts of Blondin, Cinquevalli, The Oliviers and Nellie Melba's tours of Australia.

A history of Australian Theatre from Convict theatre to Depression.-A short history of Australian theatre covering the early convict years to the depression.

You can look up the titles or just seach by my name- Leann Richards, free samples available.



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mrs Maesmore Morris

Actress Mrs Maesmore Morris was a renowned beauty who overcame domestic violence to have an international career.
She was born in England in 1872 as Gertrude Willmot the daughter of an doctor. Ten years later she arrived in Australia with her father and at the age of 20 she married Maesmore Morris, an accountant and son of a prosperous iron merchant.
After the birth of a son and the loss of his job, Maesmore turned to alcohol and subsequently became violent towards Gertrude.

The family had no means of support so Gertrrude, with her husband's permission, took to the stage.

She worked for J C Williamson and played with Julius Knight for two years, but this relief in the family finances did not calm her husband.Maesmore began threatening Gertrude's life and he made a scene at the theatre in 1897 yelling obscenities at her as she appeared on stage.

He threw her out of the family home and Gertrude went on tour with Knight, hoping to avoid her abusive husband.

In 1899 she was offered a contract with an English manager and eagerly left for London. She remained there for almost five years and returned to Australia to support Nellie Stewart in a series of plays in 1904.

In 1905 she finally divorced Maesmore, although throughout her theatrical career she had continued to use the name Mrs Maesmore Morris.

The next year she returned to England and remarried. She retired into private life and left a legacy as one of the most beautiful and bravest actresses to appear on the Australian stage.

She died in England in 1951