Archive for the ‘1909’ Category

Howard Brothers at Newcastle Empire

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant of 27 February 1909 describes a performance by the Howard Brothers at Newcastle Empire:

Howard Brothers at Newcastle Empire article from Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant 27 February 1909 - From Newcastle City Library

From Newcastle City Library

In the 1996 Andrew Conway posted an extract from Variety Magazine of 23 December 1911 in this rec.juggling post. It describes the routine beautifully:


There are many players of banjo touring the vaudeville circuits, and banjo playing acts must posess exceptional features in order to be classed among the Novelties. The exacting demands of modern vaudeville fall most heavily
upon acts of this sort. The Howard Brothers are far in advance of all other exponents of this form of entertainment, and the musical possibilities of the banjo have never been shown to greater advantage than by these young men who play classical and popular airs, and give pleasing imitations, and cap their performance by juggling the banjos like Indian clubs between them, and at the same time playing popular airs with wonderful precision and real art.

Andrew adds “The illustration shows the two brothers standing back to back and passing
eight banjos. Now that’s what I call entertainment…”

The Great Weiland at Sunderland Empire

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The Great Weiland, “America’s Funniest Juggler” performed at the Sunderland Empire for the week of 15 March 1909:

The Great Weiland at Sunderland Empire Poster - From Tyne & Wear Archives

From Tyne & Wear Archives

My brain is playing tricks on me – I’m sure I’ve seen references to him all over the place, but all I can find is this 6 April 1912 article from the New York Clipper (towards the bottom of the final column) were we see The Great Weiland appearing in Birmingham at the Grand alongside the great magician Chung Ling Soo.

There are poster prints of a cartoon of Weiland available form lots of sources around the internet – you can see an example at Can you help my faulty memory?




The Juggling McBanns at the Pavillion Theatre, Newcastle

Friday, April 8th, 2011

The Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant of 6 Feb 1909 gives a longer than usual description of a juggling routine when The Juggling McBanns appear:

The Juggling McBanns at the Pavillion, Newcastle Weekly Journal & Courant Article 6 Feb 1909 - From Newcastle City Library

From Newcastle City Library

They “gave an exhibition of club swinging in which they showed themselves to be highly proficient, and the variety and dexterity of their manoeuvres in this line were apparently very highly appreciated, as they concluded their performance amid a very hearty round of applause”.

The Juggler’s Bulletin of May 1946 gives a little biography and history: “The McBann name is a contraction of the two names – Pat McGreevey and Tommy Bannahan. They were the original McBanns and afterward Pat put his brother Henry in the act and the act really made a big name for itself. They were known as the fastest double act of their time (1908 – 1912). When Pat died in Lucerne, Switzerland, Henry continued the act with Jerry Buckley. Pat McBann was the first juggler to attempt six clubs. I’ve been told he juggled four in one hand and two in the other but he passed away before he could get it perfected to put on the stage.”

There are a couple of sources that show Pat and Tommy performing together before Henry joined in 1908. The New York Times article from 16 July 1905 mentions them as performing at as far back of 1904 at Hammerstein’s Roof Garden alongside, amongst others, legendary trick-roper Will Rogers. That must have been early in the partnership as Franciso Alverez’s book, Juggling – its history and greatest performers says “McBann and his twin brother had played Hammerstein’s Victoria in 1904 in the well-known act, the Juggling Johnsons.” It adds “Pat McBann was an outstanding club juggler during the first part of the century…Some old-timers used to say that Pat could juggle four clubs in one hand. Harry Lind, who had seen this trick, had this to say, “Pat kept the four clubs going with an underthrow, all the time turning his body to the left as he made the passes.” Many believe that, while Cinquevalli may have been more spectacular, McBann was the better juggler. Pat’s sudden death came as he was performing on the stage of Berlin’s Wintergarten. He is said to be buried in the Alps in Switzerland.”

The act was still going strong in 1912 (whether this was Pat and Henry or Henry and Jerry Buckley isn’t clear), by which time they had added  hat throwing and electrical illusions to the club swinging as you can see from this advertisement for their performance at the Theatre Royal in the Brisbane Courier from 24 April 1912.

The Schmettans and The Riogoku Family at Tynemouth Palace and

Friday, January 7th, 2011

I’ve really enjoyed my time in dusty archives and libraries looking for material for this blog, but I’ve also been amazed by how much stuff there is online which you can stumble across. I’ve got two newspaper clippings for you this week, but they’re really brought to life by photos from the Jaap Best collection – all the work of Japp Best, a Dutch circus fan and collector, whose archive is now photographed and on the web at

On 3 July 1909 The Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant reported on The Schmettans “posing, juggling and hand-balancing performance” at the Tynemouth Palace:

The Schmettans at Tynemouth Place - Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant Article, 3 July 1909

From Newcastle City Library

In Jaap Best’s collection you can see a poster of the Schmettans from 1906 (complete with greengrocer’s apostrophe) showing a really impressive 8-ball juggle while in a head-to-head balance.

Two weeks later the Riogoku Family where also at the Tynemouth Place, and the same publication described says that this Japanese troupe gave “a marvellous exhibition of hand-balancing, acrobatic and juggling work” and “nothing to approach it has been seen at the Palace in recent years”:

The Schmettans at Tynemouth Place - Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant Article, 3 July 1909

From Newcastle City Library

There are four items in the Jaap Best collection relating to the Riogokus and the poster from their 1901 performance with the Grand Cirque National Suisse shows that they included ball spinning and mouthstick work and a foot juggling act amongst their acrobatic feats. There’s also a general promotional poster and two photos of them, one against a decorated wall, and one with an outdoor scene in the background.

The juggling material in Jaap’s collection is fantastic to trawl through – try starting at this link to the juggling section, or have a play with the search facility.

Derenda and Green at Newcastle Empire

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant described the “amusing and clever juggling act of Derenda and Green” on 31 July 1909:

Derenda and Green Article Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant 31 July 1909 - From Newcastle Central Library

From Newcastle Central Library

It’s not a fascinating article by any means – but after a bit of searching I realised that just 6 months later these two young performers would be tragically dead.  This site about the wreck of the General Chanzy as she sailed from Marseille to Algiers on 10 February 1910 tells the story in Spanish – click here to read the google translation. 139 out of the 140 passengers and crew were killed when she sank, including eleven performers who were travelling to perform at Algiers casino; the others are listed in the third column of this page from New York’s Sun newspaper from 13 February 1910.

The biographies of Leo Derenda and the mysteriously named Mr Green from the General Chanzy site give some intersting detail about their histories and the act – they’re well worth a read.

Edit: Thanks to The Void for the correction to the Mr Green link

Troba at the Hartlepool Theatre of Varieties and Tynemouth Palace

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Troba was a German juggler and contemporary of Cinquevalli. According to this article in the Juggler’s Bulletin of July 1947 he even did some similar tricks – but his speciality was juggling rifles and firing them as he caught them.

He appeared at the Empress Theatre of Varieties in Hartlepool on 25 April 1904 with headline billing as “the phenomenal juggler”:

Troba at the Empress Theatre of Varieties Poster - From the Tyne and Wear Archives

From the Tyne and Wear Archives

It’s truly a night of variety though – as there’s also a photography competition on the bill!

Along with the poster we’re lucky to also have a programme from that evening with an elegant lady illustrated on the cover:

Troba at the Empress Theatre of Varieties Programme (Front Cover) - From the Tyne and Wear Archives

From the Tyne and Wear Archives

…and the running order and some marvellous advertisements inside; you need never wonder where to go for a French sailor hat ever again!

Troba at the Empress Theatre of Varieties Programme (Front Cover) - From the Tyne and Wear Archives

From the Tyne and Wear Archives

Just over four years later Troba was back in the North East – this time performing at the Tynemouth Palace. In this article from the Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant from 12 June 1909 he’s “truly described as a “great juggler”” and he “provides many thrilling feats in which strength and smartness are combined”:

Troba at the Tynemouth Palace Article - From Newcastle City Library

From Newcastle City Library

Kara at Sunderland Empire

Friday, September 17th, 2010

By 22 March of 1909 Kara was already so known that he could be highly billed without any flourish simply as a “juggler” when he appeared at the Sunderland Empire:

Kara at the Sunderland Empire Poster, March 22 1909

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

 As one of the originators of the Gentleman Juggler style he’s a hero of mine. Check out these links for more information on the great man: the JIS hall of fame entry has some good biography, the IJA newsletter of January 1957 had description of the routine by Horace Lerrette, who saw him live around the time of the poster above. No one who cares about the history of juggling should skip Francisco Alvarez’s book ‘Juggling – its history and greatest performers’ – check out parts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 for Kara.  Finally there’s the article about the Salerno Ring from Juggle magazine that I linked from a previous entry of this blog about Salerno, which has the story of great rivals coperating in the aftermath of the Great War.

Emerson and Baldwin

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Emerson and Baldwin appeared at the Pavilion Theatre in Newcastle in 1909 as this article from the Newcastle Weekly Journal & Courant, 30 January 1909 shows:

Emerson and Baldwin Article for the Newcastle Weekly Journal & Courant, 30 January 1909

From Newcastle City Library

Not only are they considered “clever comedians” but they performed “some wonderfully smart and unique juggling feats”.

There’s some good biography of Eddie Emerson with some description of his act and relationship with Jerry Baldwin in this miracle factory article. It’s not explicit, but it appears that they’re Americans – so their appearances in North East England are obviously part of trips abroad.

It seems that they were no strangers to travel – while there are internet resources that show them in the USA in New York in 1907 (The Evening Telegram article, 16 February 1907), 1912 (New York Times article, 29 December 1912) and 1913 (New York Times, 8 April 1913), they also show up in Perth, Australia in 1912 as this article in The Western Australian from 12 April shows.

After all of that they were back in the UK, at Sunderland Empire on  21 July 1913:

Emerson and Baldwin at Sunderland Empire Poster, 21 July 1913

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

WC Fields at the Sunderland Empire

Friday, July 9th, 2010

This week I’ve got another of the multi-coloured posters from the Sunderland Empire featuring a big star, W.C. Fields who appeared in the week of October 12 1908:

WC Fields at the Sunderland Empire Poster - From the Tyne & Wear Archives

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

Of course Fields was a well known star of the Vaudeville stage before he went on to find success in films. A lot of his stage routine can be seen in his film ‘The Old Fashioned Way’.

There were some other treats on the bill that night though – I’d love to see what Conway & Leland “the Cheerful Monopedes” did. I’ve seen them billed elsewhere as “one-legged acrobats” – that’s a fairly specialist gimmick! Also notice that Glee isn’t the new phenomenon that some people might have you believe.

William Claude may have headlined in Sunderland, but  he’s certainly not the big hit at the Newcastle Empire the following year, as this article from the Newcastle Journal and Courant of August 21 1909 shows:

WC Fields at the Newcastle Empire - Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant August 21 1909 Article - From Newcastle City Library

From Newcastle City Library

While the “programme has a bright star in Mr W. C. Fields, a very clever and original eccentric juggler” they’re much more interested in the antics of “Consul, the anthropoid ape”. Fields was well known for his short temper; imagine his reaction to being upstaged by a monkey!

The Frank L Gregory Troupe at the Sunderland Empire

Friday, June 25th, 2010

The Frank L Gregory Troupe appeared at the Sunderland Empire for the week of 21 September 1906 “in a marvellous exhibition of hoop rolling and juggling” where there are “hoops made to act like human beings”:

Frank L Gregory Troupe Poster - From the Tyne & Wear Archives

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

This article from the Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant, published on 23 January 1909 mentions the troupe a few months later when they appeared at the Pavilion Theatre, Newcastle:

Frank L Gregory Troupe Article in Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant Jan 23 1909 - From Newcastle City Library

From Newcastle City Library

Unfortunately the journalist is reduced to the stock description of “novel and clever” with no details of the routine. However we do know that they were still working in 1914 as this article in the New York Times on 29 December 1914 mention them as the “Marvellous Gregory Troupe, hoop rollers and jugglers” performing at Keith Alhambra Theatre.

There is some more information looking back on the heyday of hoop performers in this article from the Juggler’s Bulletin on September 1947 – scroll down to the “Out of my Scrapbook” column by Jack Greene. He describes how Frank Gregory “tossed a hoop in the air and made it light on a string held by his partner several feet away from him, then roll back to the tosser”.